TODAY   |  November 13, 2009

Halle Berry helps women in crisis

Nov. 13: TODAY’s Natalie Morales talks to Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry about her work with a center for battered women.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the new name

>>> halle berry may be known as a successful, beautiful, oscar-winning actress, but what you may not know is she's also working with a center that helps women in crisis. she's beautiful, talented and putting a face on a problem many women hide.

>> so many families are involved in domestic violence .

>> reporter: for ten years, halle berry has raised awareness and funds for the jenesse center, a domestic violence shelter in los angeles that helps more than 8,000 women a year. halle, why is this cause so important to you?

>> my mother was a battered woman , so that was my childhood, or a good chunk of it, and i really, i care. i really care about these women and these children.

>> reporter: have you ever asked your mother, why did you put up with that?

>> she's still trying to discover that for herself, answer those tough questions. why did she put up with that and subject her children to growing in that environment? because we're still dealing with the effects of it. my sister and i, too.

>> reporter: berry is a familiar difference at the jenesse center, where women in crisis find everything they need to heal -- counseling, a safe haven, classes in computers and money management and someone to listen.

>> they really don't care about celebrity. they're trying to live day to day. so, i get to come here and be just a woman, be a person who cares, someone that they can talk to, confide in. hi, gail!

>> hi, how are you?

>> reporter: berry was among those who listened when abigail, who prefers her last name not be used, made a critical decision.

>> i felt guilty as a mother taking my kids to a shelter. so, just starting to love myself for who i was and for the choice that i had made. that helped me start turning around.

>> i certainly have been a woman who has struggled with my self worth and my value and choosing the wrong partners in life, and luckily, i've always been smart enough to hit the door the minute violence became slightly an issue. that's something i will not tolerate.

>> reporter: turning around years of low self-esteem is part of the healing process .

>> this is the boutique.

>> reporter: ooh!

>> this is one of my favorite parts of the jenesse center, because this is where the women get to come and get clothes. they get to shop for free.

>> reporter: besides quietly volunteering and giving money herself --

>> thank goodness for this tape because this would be a hot mess.

>> reporter: -- berry makes the donations multiply.

>> our goal is to bring jenesse to the forefront.

>> so much of the stuff she does no one knows. she has revolutionized our world.

>> reporter: and many women who find their way here finally see a way forward .

>> they need to feel that they're valued, that they're worth it, that what they need to do isn't insurmountable, that it can be done.

>> reporter: today, abigail, who left her abuser, works as a property manager and is thriving in her new life.

>> i get to see my kids happy and healthy. there's no screaming, fighting and yelling in this house.

>> reporter: thanks in part to halle berry .

>> thank you. thank you all so very much. my heart is full. thank you.

>> reporter: helping families to heal one woman at a time. and since halle has been involved, the center has grown from two shelters to six shelters in south los angeles . it really is truly such an incredible center, and her involvement has been unbelievable, and they're so appreciative.

>> obviously so much a part of her that she gives a lot of herself.

>> that's very much why she wanted to put a public face on a problem a lot of women tend to be embarrassed about and hide from.