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Many may know Naomi Judd from her successful mother-daughter country music duo The Judds or her incredibly successful daughters.

But what Judd is recently opening up about and hopes to bring more awareness to is her experiences as a single mother, bringing up two daughters while working minimum wage jobs, and being the survivor of an abusive relationship which almost took her life.

"You've got to know your story. People today have no idea what they believe, what they value and what their passions are, and I learned mine the hard way," said Judd of the domestic violence incident which happened 40 years ago.

Judd said that she was threatened, assaulted and beaten by an ex-convict on heroin she started dating soon after her marriage with Michael Ciminella ended. Judd was able to get out with her two daughters before anything more serious happened.

"Now I understand I had no self-esteem, so I got kind of sucked into a relationship with him," Judd said. "I had no sense of self-worth. I was working minimum wage jobs, had no education, and had no self-respect."

The country star, who says she sees herself in other women who have experienced domestic violence, shared her story recently at the "Home Free" luncheon sponsored by the Family Services and the Children's Law Center in North Carolina as October is domestic violence awareness month.

Judd advises single parents who are struggling to take time for themselves in order to be better parents.

"This may sound selfish but you have to take care of yourself or you're not going to have anything left over for them," said Judd.

Parents who practice self-care and self-respect also are good examples for their kids, something Judd didn’t see growing up.

"The thing is, my mother was a martyr," Judd said about her mom who was a homemaker turned riverboat cook. "She only had a couple of dresses and she didn't take care of herself. I always felt so sad about mom, that she didn't have friends, that she didn't have activities outside of the home."

As a mom herself, Judd worried about the influence that Hollywood culture would have on her daughters Wynonna and Ashley. She moved the family from Los Angeles to Kentucky when she was 24, a time that she describes as magical.

"We lived on a mountain-top for over a year without a TV or a telephone. Very remote, very isolated. Wynonna was 12 and Ashley was 8."

Judd says that this period in their lives was when her and her daughters discovered their passions.

"Ashley started reading Chronicles of Narnia and became a voracious reader and her imagination blossomed and now she's an actress. I handed Wynonna a guitar for those lonely quiet nights and of course, the rest is history for her," she said.

Judd originally planned to pursue nursing in Appalachia until she saw Wynonna’s rising star.

"Wynonna was so talented, I knew we had to take a humongous risk and come to Nashville," Judd said of her decision to leave Kentucky.

Judd eventually ended her successful music career because of illness but has continued speaking at events, which she says she’d rather go to than a vacation!

"I love being around people who think outside the box, people who have enough self-esteem to have found their creative genius," Judd said. "Those are the people that really stimulate me. Every time I do something like this, it seems like I meet new people and make new friends."

Speaking of which, she is one of the top draws for this week’s Chicago Ideas Week. Judd will speak at the Cadillac Palace Theater about the current depression epidemic, which she says is the worst in history, as well as how to get happier.

A good place to start? Return to those family traditions, no excuses.

"Sundays and Thursdays, no matter how busy everybody is, everybody comes to my house and I cook. Tonight is Italian so I'm making lasagna. I think we have to get away from what I call the ‘weapons of mass distraction,’ namely computers and phones," said Judd, adding "I had a table made so we could all sit around and actually see each other’s faces. That’s how important it is to me."

Photo Credit: Splash 

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