"I remember one night my father had come home, it was a weekend -- he was drunk as usual," Debbi told ET. "And my father went to the stove, grabbed the big pot of spaghetti, threw it at my mother's head, my mother ducked, so he grabbed her by her hair and was swinging her across the floor and threw her into the refrigerator. It was just a horrible night."
The former All My Children star turned her fear into courage in the pages of her memoir.
"So many times these men that I was looking to for protection were the ones I really needed protection from," Debbi said.
After three failed marriages, the Emmy winner has found love with businessman Jeffrey Winston. They wed in 2009, bringing an end to her family's cycle of abuse that lasted three generations.
"I was reading some passages [from my book] to my mother for the very first time and she just broke down in tears," Debbi said. "I thought it was because she was reliving those episodes all over again. I felt so terrible. She said to me, 'Do you know this is the first time that I ever realized the trauma that this had inflicted upon you.'"