Sir Patrick Stewart was one of the featured speakers at Houston’s COMiCPALOOZA – The Texas International Comic Convention – last weekend.
There were several particularly poignant moments when he spoke out in regard to violence against women in response to a question from the audience from a woman in the audience. He had inspired her to get out of an abusive situation through a speech he had given before Amnesty International back in 2009. The woman, who goes by Heather Skye on YouTube, had gone to the convention specifically to thank Stewart.
During the question and answer portion of the program, Skye asked Stewart:
“Besides acting, what are you most proud of that you have done in you life — that you are willing to share with us?”
Stewart responded by talking about his own experiences with his father who abused both him and his mother beginning when he was only 5 years of age. He went on to speak of his involvement with Refuge, a long-standing organization in the U.K. that provides safe shelter for women and their children and works to prevent domestic violence.
“I do what I do in my mother’s name because I couldn’t help her then. Now I can.”
He also went on to talk about how he discovered just last year that as the result of his “experiences in France with the British expeditionary forces,” his father suffered from what was then called “severe shell shock” beginning in 1940.
We now know it as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and we also know that there are soldiers now all over the world, here in the United States and in the United Kingdom who are returning from combat zones with a serious condition of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Now we know what it is and we know how to deal with it. In 1940 it was shell shock and basically solders were being told ‘pull yourselves together; get a grip on yourself; go out there and be a man.’
Well, it has put into – and an expert in this condition who works with a charity, another organization that I am now happy to be a patron of called Combat Stress, has said to me ‘what your father had in 1940 – because he was never treated – never left him. And all the conditions of your childhood that you have described to me are classic symptoms of veterans who were suffering from this serious psychological and physical illness.’
So, I work for Refuge for my mother and I work for Combat Stress for my father in equal measure.
But the best was yet to come. Here is a recounting from Heather from her LemonSweetie blog:
They were about to move onto the next question when Sir Patrick looked at me and asked me “My Dear, are you okay?” I said yes, and that I was finally able to move on from that part of my life. He then passionately said that his mother had done nothing to provoke his father and that even if she had, violence was never, ever a choice a man should make. That it is in the power of men to stop violence towards women. The moderator then asked “Do you want a hug?”
Sir Patrick didn’t even hesitate, he smiled, hopped off the stage and came over to embrace me in a hug. Which 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 strait in my eyes, like he was promising that. He told me to take care. And I will.