You may already be a fan of Patrick Stewart, the actor who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the TV and film versions of Star Trek II, but if you have any interest at all in the issue of ending domestic violence, get ready to fall in love all over again.
Taking questions from the audience after a talk in Houston, Texas, Stewart heard from audience member Heather Skye, who thanked him for a speech he gave at Amnesty International in which he spoke out against domestic violence towards women. Skye’s show of gratitude prompted a very candid response on the part of Stewart, who discussed his own childhood experiences of domestic violence involving instances where his alcoholic father beat his mother.
Stewart explained that his father suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from his military service during WWII. “Now we know what it is and we know how to deal with it. In 1940 it was just shell-shock and basically soldiers were being told ‘pull yourself together,’” he said.
Stewart recognizes that his father used alcohol as a way to self-medicate. However, he does not accept that as an excuse for the abuse his mother suffered.
As a child, I heard in my home — doctors and ambulance men say — ‘Mrs. Stewart, you must have done something to provoke him. Mrs. Stewart, it takes two to make an argument.’ Wrong. Wrong! My mother did nothing to provoke that, and even if she had–violence is never ever a choice that a man should make!
Incidents like this are what influenced Stewart to speak out against domestic violence, and support non-profit groups dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence. Holding back tears Stewart said, “I do what I do in my mother’s name because I couldn’t help her then. Now I can.”
He was also frank about who needs to be involved in ending man on woman cases of domestic violence, saying that “the people who could do most to improve the situation of so many (abused) women and children are in fact, men.”
The audience stood and applauded, and also shed a few tears. As Skye later wrote on her blog:
“Sir Patrick didn’t even hesitate, he smiled, hopped off the stage and came over to embrace me in a hug. … He held me there for a long while. He told me ‘You never have to go through that again, you’re safe now.’ I couldn’t stop thanking him. His embrace was so warm and genuine. It was two people, two strangers, supporting and giving love. And when we pulled away he looked straight in my eyes, like he was promising that. He told me to take care. And I will.”
If you are the victim of domestic violence or assault, we have a number of free resources that explain more about how to get the help you need:
New Jersey restraining orders
What is a Temporary Restraining Order and Where Do I Go to File for One in New Jersey?
How to File Forms & Understand The Restraining Order Process in a New Jersey Domestic Violence Case