‘What’s Love Got to Do With It?’: Tina Turner became epitome of ‘Breaking Free’ role model for domestic abuse survivors

Photo of Tina TURNER, performing live onstage (Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns) (Mick Hutson, Getty Images.)

HOUSTON – Fans around the world are mourning after it was announced that legendary artist “Tina Turner” died Tuesday at the age of 83 after battling a long illness. The woman, who dominated as both an R&B showstopper and the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” was a pillar of strength for domestic violence victims.

Turner, who was born Anna Mae Bullock of Nutbush, Tennessee, shot off like a rocket after she joined Ike Turner’s “Kings of Rhythm” band, which later became the “Ike and Tina Turner Revue.”

The young performer became infatuated with her dynamic boss and band leader, who swept her off her feet and made her his wife. The love story was short lived after, according to countless books, documentaries and first-person accounts from witnesses, Ike went from loving husband to abuser.

Their tumultuous relationship was chronicled in the hit movie, “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” starring Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne as the legendary couple.

Through a painful lens, the world got a chance to see what Turner said she endured at the hands of Ike, who, not only allegedly used his fists on his wife, but on backup dancers and other employees who dared to, in his eyes, disobey.

The movie portrayed Ike as a manipulative man, who used guilt to control his wife after his beatings, telling her things like, “I guess you are going to leave me now like all of the other suckas I made famous.”

It showed Tina as loyal - grateful to be discovered by the man who catapulted her to stardom - so she endured the slaps, kicks, verbal assaults and adultery committed by her husband, sometimes with her own friends and bandmates.

In the end of the well-known story, “Tina” walked away, penniless, willing to start over with nothing but “her name,” as she told the judge in divorce court, because “she worked too hard for it.”

She took her stage name and became an international sensation; one of the most famous female performers of all time - known for her “Proud Mary” dance moves and “iconic legs” - rocking stages well into her golden years.

While Turner was triumphant in the end, not everyone is, as domestic violence is one of the number one killers of women across the world. The violence is not limited to race, ethnicity, age or gender and many suffer in silence.

In an effort to help victims, KPRC 2 News created a series, “Breaking Free,” reporting on domestic-related violence and its horrific consequences. The series showcased various stories of survival, heartache, and some even ending in death, but each shared a list of free domestic violence resources on how to get help.

Do you know someone in need of help? KPRC 2 released the following features in “Breaking Free.”

Help is also available immediately if you need it through the following numbers:

About the Author:

Mother of two. Award-winning lover of digital storytelling, sparked by my fascination of being a fashionable gossip like my favorite "Willona Woods" character from "Good Times." On the serious side, president of the Houston Association of Black Journalists and dedicated community servant. Happy to share the news with you each and every day!