The Vicar of Dibley star has revealed the former couple – who adopted mixed-race daughter Billie in 1991 – suffered from horrific racial abuse during their time together, including people putting excrement on their door, and vandalising their car.
Speaking on Australian news programme Sunday Night, she said: “It got pretty bad on some occasions, I mean there’s the big, open, ignorant, cowardly attacks that are things like excrement on your door.
“We had that. We had words scratched into every panel of every car – very offensive, derogatory, racist terminology.”
Dawn, 60, admitted she hadn’t experienced such abuse first-hand until she married the 59-year-old comedian in 1984.
She added: “That took me more by surprise because it’s everywhere and only when you’re married to a black man do you think, ‘Oh hang on, that guy just said that and thought it was OK to say.’ ”
Speaking to The Sunday Times Magazine, she said: “I never thought, ‘Oh, look at me in a mixed-race relationship!’ I fell in love with a man and he happened to be black and we adopted a mixed-race daughter.
“I only realised it was an issue when there was hatred from utter t***s.
“I had to attend to it when people tried to burn our house down.
“But although that was hugely disappointing and shocking, you have to get past it.”
Dawn and Lenny announced their split in April 2010, six months after they had privately decided to go their separate ways. They divorced later that year.
The French and Saunders star is now married to charity worker Mark Bignell.
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