Tina Turner's abusive marriage: Despite being beaten, 'raped' and burned by Ike, singer says she doesn’t hate him
'It wasn’t a good life. The good did not balance the bad,' Tina Turner reflected in a new documentary. 'I had an abusive life, there’s no other way to tell the story. It’s a reality. It’s a truth. That’s what you’ve got, so you have to accept it'
Legendary singer and actress Tina Turner is ready to bid a final farewell to her fans in a touching new documentary that delves into the highs and lows of her life and career including a form of post-traumatic stress disorder from the domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of her first husband and music partner, Ike Turner.
The documentary, titled 'Tina', looks at her younger years filled with struggle and pain. "It wasn’t a good life. The good did not balance the bad," Tina reflected. “I had an abusive life, there’s no other way to tell the story. It’s a reality. It’s a truth. That’s what you’ve got, so you have to accept it."
How did they meet?
Tina crossed paths with Ike Turner, the leader of Kings of Rhythm, while at local nightclub Club Manhattan. At the time Tina was in her teens. Although she was not particularly drawn to Ike romantically upon first sight, finding him almost unattractive, she did admit that she was drawn to his voice. Soon after forming a musical bond together, they became the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. They even scored their first R&B hit in 1960 with 'A Fool in Love', reaching No. 2.
The couple soon started dating and got married in 1962 in Tijuana, Mexico. Apart from sharing a son together, Tina also became a mother to three other children -- a child from her previous relationship with his bandmate Raymond Hill and Ike’s two sons from previous relationships. However, her relationship with Ike was far from a perfect marriage. In fact, it was riddled with both physical and sexual abuse. She even forced herself to sing and dance after being battered by her husband. Ike apparently had survived deep trauma from his childhood, which might have played a part in the allegations brought on by Tina, who said that he constantly lived in fear and pain as her then-husband abused drugs and openly paraded around mistresses.
Ike beat and burned Tina
In her 1986 autobiography 'I, Tina,' she listed several alleged incidents which she claimed to have never told anyone till then. Tina said that on the night of their wedding, Ike took her to a brothel in Mexico. Ike apparently used cocaine in the early ’70s, which Tina said he purportedly did “because someone had told him it would give him more stamina for sex.”
She wrote: "For me, though, sex with Ike had become an expression of hostility — a kind of rape — especially when it began or ended with a beating. What had been ugly and hateful between us before became worse with every snort of cocaine. He threw hot coffee in my face, giving me third-degree burns. He used my nose as a punching bag so many times that I could taste blood running down my throat when I sang. He broke my jaw. And I couldn’t remember what it was like not to have a black eye. The people closest to us saw what was happening, but they couldn’t stop him: any attempt to help me would make him more violent."
In her book, 'Love Story', she wrote “Our life together was defined by abuse and fear.” She added that although she knew she should have left him just a few years into their marriage, she also says, “I had no money and didn’t know how to take the first step." Turner writes, “I convinced myself that death was my only way out.”
Tina attempted suicide
In 1968, Tina attempted suicide by taking prescription sleeping pills. She later revealed that it was due to the abuse from Ike. One of the instances of physical and sexual abuse described by Tina, as reported by the W magazine, stemmed from Ike allegedly wanting Tina to change her name for performance purposes.
“I said I didn’t want to change my name,” she wrote. “First, he was verbally abusive. Then, he picked up a wooden shoe stretcher. Ike knew what he was doing. If you play guitar, you never use your fists in a fight. He used the shoe stretcher to strike me in the head—always the head.” She continued: “I was so shocked I started to cry. Ike ordered me to get on the bed. I hated him at that moment. The very last thing I wanted to do was make love, if you could call it that. When he finished, I laid there with a swollen head, thinking, ‘You’re pregnant and you have no place to go. You really have gotten yourself into something now.’”
Tina does not hate Ike anymore
Ike has vehemently denied ever abusing Tina despite admitting to “slapping Tina upside the head” when she appeared unhappy at times. In the summer of 1976, Tina fled from Ike after a fight and managed to get to safety at a Ramada Inn in Dallas, Texas, with practically no money and clothes covered in blood. She eventually divorced her husband, taking no other assets besides her performance name and two cars.
Even after being put through all the abuse, Tina, who now lives in Switzerland, with her husband and love of her life, Erwin Bach, has said that it makes no sense for her to hold any hate in her heart toward Ike. While promoting her book 'Happiness Becomes You', in an interview with The Guardian, Tina explained why she’s chosen to move forward with grace.
“I suppose it might seem natural to resent bad situations or other people’s bad behavior, but it’s just not in my nature,” she said. “I’ve always felt the most important thing isn’t what happens to us, it’s how we choose to respond. I release negative feelings by taking to heart the importance of forgiveness and self-reflection rather than blame. That’s how I broke the cycles of negativity in my life.”