London: Oscar-nominated actress Viola Davis has opened up about her tormented childhood, revealing she was beaten and spat on just for being black.

The 'Help' star admits she has plenty of terrible memories from her childhood in Rhode Island to draw from when she needs to play frightened or emotional on-screen, a magazine.

Davis also said she felt a kinship with the maid she portrays in the hit film 'The Help' because she too was targeted for the colour of her skin.

"I have stories of being spit on. You have to realise I was in a predominantly white culture... and third grade was the worst because every day after school I would wait at the door and the bell would ring. And as soon as the bell rang I ran as fast as I could from the front door to my house, which was at least a mile away, because I would have eight to nine boys with sticks, bricks, anything they could find, who were ready to kill me," Davis said.

The actress also said she finally told her parents about her bullying hell and her mother sent her to school with a crochet needle.

"She (mother) said, 'Viola, I want you to take my crochet needle and you put it in your pocket and if they stop you again you tell them you're gonna (stab) 'em," she added.