Ellen Burstyn Tells Oprah of Struggle to Overcome Abusive Past

Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn says she struggled through decades of abuse and hopes her story will inspire other women.

Burstyn, who has written a memoir, "Lessons in Becoming Myself," told Oprah Winfrey on Thursday's show that her mother was violent and her husband stalked her for a decade before his death in the 1970s.

"It's so humiliating to put all this stuff out there," the 73-year-old actress said. "Finally, you have to say, `It's all right. I can be powerful and be a woman and be loved all at once."'

Burstyn won an Oscar for 1974's "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore." She has received Oscar nominations for "Requiem for a Dream," "Resurrection," "Same Time, Next Year," "The Exorcist" and "The Last Picture Show."

When she was young, Burstyn said, she learned to use her sexuality as a means for survival.

"When I was 18 or 19, I wasn't earning very much money, so I ate when I had a date," she said on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." "But that was all the food I got. So I felt the least I could was say `thank you."'

It took nearly 25 years of study, therapy and meditation to feel ready for an emotionally healthy relationship, she said.

"This is quite a book," Winfrey said. "It's easily one of the most candid and most thought-provoking memoirs."