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‘He Comes Back in Dreams’: Tina Turner Still Struggles with Memory of Her Abusive Marriage to Ike Turner

Tina Turner prepares to take her final bow after 50 years of music. The 81-year-old is bidding farewell to her fans in the new HBO documentary “Tina.” The movie chronicles the icon’s larger-than-life career and the years of abuse she suffered at the hands of ex-husband Ike Turner.

“Look what I have done in this lifetime with this body, I am a girl from a cotton field that pulled myself above what was not taught to me,” says Tina in the documentary, which premieres on HBO on March 27.

After a career spanning decades and over 200 million records sold, Tina Turner sold out arenas at the height of her career. But behind the scenes of her larger-than-life career was a secret she didn’t want to share with the world

Tina, who was born Anna Mae Bullock, had a childhood filled with poverty, she grew up picking cotton in the fields around Nutbush, Tennessee. In the film she reflects on her strained relationship with her mother.

The superstar alleges that she saw her mother get abused by her father, Fred Bullock, before they both abandoned her as a child. She remembers her mother being what she described as cold and withdrawn when they reunited at the beginning of her stardom. But it was her relationship with Ike Turner that would change her life forever.

“When Ike asked me to marry him I knew it was for a reason, but I had to say yes or I knew it was going to be a fight. So then when we drove to marry … that wasn’t my idea of a wedding,” she told Gayle King in a 2019 interview.

After transforming from Anna Mae Bullock into Tina Turner, she married Ike in 1962. Ike and Tina were a duo who would become soul stars for almost two decades. The duo released hits such as “Proud Mary” and “Nutbush City Limits.”

After being married for over a decade the singer walked away from her marriage in 1976 with nothing but her name.

In the ’80s, Tina came back bigger than ever as a solo artist. With hit albums such as “Private Dancer” and “Break Every Rule,” she became a music icon. But she continued to get bombarded with questions about why she left Ike. She finally told the world about the years of physical and mental abuse in her autobiography “I, Tina: My Life Story.”

“I had a lot of violence, houses burned, cars shot in to — the lowest you can think of in terms of abuse,” she said to Larry King in a 1997 interview.

Although her life was also the subject of the 1994 hit film “What’s Love Got to do With It,” the singer says the biopic only showed a small portion of the abuse she actually endured.  

In her new self-titled documentary, she reveals the abuse was so bad that she now suffers from a form of PTSD.  “When thinking about Ike, he revisits her in nightmares, he comes back in dreams,” she stated in an interview with film’s director T.J. Martin.

She reveals she even considered assisted suicide — which is legal in Switzerland, where she now has full citizenship. Today Tina spends most of her time in Switzerland with her husband, Erwin Bach, whom she married in 2013. She says Bach showed her that “true love doesn’t require the dimming of her light.”

In 2007 Ike Turner died of an accidental drug overdose. In 2018 she lost her son Craig to suicide. The award-winning singer says she now wants to live the remaining years of her life out of the spotlight.

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