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Tawny Kitaen: Who she is today

Beauty known for Whitesnake videos has come through hard times to focus on motherhood, helping abused women, she says.

August 27, 2010|By Joanna Clay, joanna.clay@latimes.com

"There was a time when I was struggling — that was a couple years ago," she says. "We wouldn't be sitting here in Chuck's house if I was still struggling."

Due to her experiences with the man she termed abusive, Kitaen became involved with Kathy's House, which offers a place for battered and abused women to live after fleeing dangerous situations.

Kitaen has offered herself as a supportive voice, answering phones and helping young women figure out a part of their day that many of us take for granted: where they will sleep.

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The former model tells a story of one caller who sticks out in her memory. A victim of domestic abuse, the woman and her 10-month-old were forced to live with her parents in a retirement home because they had nowhere to go. The home would only permit her to stay there temporarily so she called Kathy's House for help.

Kitaen answered the phone.

"I called around and tried to find a place for her and her daughter to go," Kitaen says. "I called and I called and no one could take her. Finally, I found her and her daughter a place to live. It was the greatest feeling in the world."

Diana Spitz, director at Kathy's House, was happily surprised by Kitaen's devotion.

"At first I was apprehensive that was I going to get Tawny Kitaen, as I am with any celebrity, but then I experienced a day with her and she was great, upbeat … moving from project to project," Spitz says. "I believe she has a heart to help people in need."

Passionate about the battle facing battered women, Kitaen hopes her story can help other women come out about their relationships, past and present. Kitaen once felt ashamed to tell people that she was being harmed, but now realize that opening up can be of help to those in the throes of abuse.

"You don't want to tell anybody because you feel like a complete fool for staying. You protect them," she says. "You do everything you can so other people don't find out that he's abusing you."

The ordeal inspired the actress to write a book that will include her personal story of domestic violence as well as others. On her Facebook page, Kitaen has been asking people to privately send her their stories. She has been touched and surprised by the results.

"I have gotten letters from women that have said, 'I have never told anybody this before. My family doesn't know this,'" Kitaen says.

She's also been caught off guard by the gender of the writers.

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