08/02/2007 at 01:00 PM EDT
Thandie Newton says she suffered from bulimia and has the scars to prove it.
"I had terrible bulimia for about a year," the British-born, Pursuit of Happyness
actress, 34, tells the U.K.'s Easy Living
magazine in its September issue. "I've still got the scars on my knuckles from where I put my fingers down my throat."
Newton says her obsession started as early as 14, training for her ballet exams and eating "nothing but cottage cheese." A series of abusive relationships followed – as did the eating disorder once she reached her early 20s.
"I'd been involved with this guy for a long time, he was much older than me and I felt a lot of shame about my sexual relationship with him," she tells the magazine. "I would have these dinners with him and then go back to the flat and I'd throw up. Then I went out with someone who was emotionally abusive, criticizing me the whole time."
Eventually Newton sought help while in Los Angeles to shoot a film. "I saw a therapist for the first time," she says. "After that first session, I never threw up again. I had made the connection between shame and self abuse."
Newton, who married screenwriter Ol Parker in 1998, lives in northwest London with their two daughters: 6-year-old Ripley, whom she affectionately calls "Rip," and 2-year-old Nico.
On what she sees now when she looks in the mirror, Newton sees the picture of happyness. Says she: "I see a happy, defiant, loving friend."