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ANDREA THOMPSON'S bright smile hides a dark, heartbreaking secret -- the new CNN star was repeatedly brutalized as a child by her own father.
The pretty anchorwoman -- who played Detective Jill Kirkendall on "NYPD Blue" before switching to a news career -- revealed she was not even 1 year old when her nightmare began.
That's when her abusive dad kicked her across a room and left her unconscious, Andrea recently told an Iowa conference on domestic abuse.
"Before the age of 10, I had been hit, locked in a closet, beaten with a belt and left on the roof of the house," divulged Andrea.
Early in her news career, Andrea Thompson missed her cue, stumbled through her story and then angrily kicked a wall and broke her foot.
"I have survived domestic violence, sexual abuse and a family legacy of alcohol and mental illness.
"No therapy is ever going to cure me of the events. No amount of antidepressants can erase the memories."
Husky-voiced Andrea, 41, hired for a high-profile anchor spot on CNN's Headline News channel, said her now-deceased father Leslie was a violent drunk who needed electroshock therapy for a mental illness.
The dysfunctional dad, a hotel executive, moved Andrea, her mom Mary, two younger brothers and a younger sister from Dayton, Ohio, to Australia when the future anchorwoman was 9.
Two years later, he abandoned the family.
"It was an early lesson for me -- men don't stick around, so you better take care of yourself," Andrea told an interviewer.
Toughened by life's bad breaks, Andrea ended up living in 32 different places by the age of 15.
The resilient model/actress survived two divorces, a broken engagement to the father of her 8-year-old son Alec and a bad relationship with a costume designer who wound up in jail for stalking the beauty.
She also survived a private jet crash at 22 -- but injuries to her legs took six months to heal.
Not one to be hobbled by the past, the hard-driving performer went on to act in numerous films and TV series, including recurring roles on "JAG" and "Babylon 5."
Last year she bravely gave up her seven-figure "NYPD Blue" salary to follow her dream: She became a reporter and anchorwoman at a TV news station in Albuquerque, a career she's craved since her teen years.
Critics howled she was out of her league but Andrea proved them wrong. Co-workers in Albuquerque praised her for putting in 16-hour days and learning the highly competitive business from the ground up.
She then caught the eye of CNN execs who offered Andrea the key spot vacated by Headline News anchor Lynne Russell, who's pursuing other interests.
Critics again cringed, calling Andrea just another pretty face brought in to beef up ratings. As CNN announced her hiring, nude pictures of her taken many years ago showed up on the Internet.
But Andrea's survived worse. As her current boyfriend, aviation magazine publisher Kevin McKown, puts it: "She doesn't let people push her around."