File photo: The Quantico star and South African social media queen found it difficult to remain her strong, poised self Picture: Instagram.

Local actress Pearl Thusi broke down in tears during her speech at The Mercury Women's Day lunch held at the Durban ICC on Friday. 

The Quantico star and South African social media queen found it difficult to remain her strong, poised self as she told the audience her experience of gender based violence. 

"I was 13 when I began to rationalize gender based violence."

"I was afraid to call it abuse."

Thusi, sniffing and at one stage dropping her head down onto the podium, never spelt out her experience, but alluded to her mother being abused by her father. Rather she choked up when reading particular aspects of theory. 

She insinuated that all the matriarchs in her family had experienced domestic violence as a way of life and that her mother had been abused. 

"I've been called names. I've been threatened," she said when speaking of children as pawns in abusive relationships. 

"I ran right into what I was trying to get away from," she said when recounting her pregnancy at age 19. 

"Don't wait for some one to save you."

"I've learnt that it ends with me."