Sir Patrick Stewart reveals domestic violence he witnessed as a child by 'weekend alcoholic' father
SIR PATRICK STEWART TALKS ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN HIS CHILDHOOD
Sir Patrick Stewart joined us to talked about the domestic violence he saw at home as a child when his father returned from the Second World War.
After his father, who Sir Patrick described as a 'military service superstar', came back from war, the family dynamic changed and his mother suffered abuse as her husband's hands.
'My brother and I lived with my mother and her sister across the road, we were treated so well. Suddenly there was this big, hairy man in the house. Increasingly things became more and more difficult,' Sir Patrick said.
'What I only learned about a few years ago was that he had suffered what the newspapers described as severe shell shock. Of course he was never treated for it - what we now call PTSD. When I talk to experts and describe my father’s behaviour between my 5th and 15th birthday they said these are classical symptoms of somebody who was never, ever helped at all. That does not justify what he did, not remotely,' Sir Patrick explained.
'He was a weekend alcoholic and it was partly brought about because of his transformation from Regimental Sergeant Major to basically a semi-skilled labourer with no authority at all. I realise now... it must have been very painful for him. He was also suffering from this condition [PTSD]. Monday through Friday he was dedicated to his work, he brought in a modest income. On Friday nights he would bath in front of the fire, he would get himself dressed up and he would drink for most of the weekend.
'He would come home from the pub or the working men’s club. We would hear him singing. The kind of songs he was singing would give us an advance warning of the mood he was in. Very often it was bad. He would initiate arguments and then those arguments advanced into something more extreme – violence.'
Of his own experience of it he said: 'We [he and his brother] became experts in something children should never, ever have to deal with, which was listening to the argument and judging when the argument would transform into violence. At those moments we would go in, we would just try and put our bodies between our mother and our father.'
Asked whether he sought help about the domestic violence Sir Patrick said, 'Not at that time no. One of the problems of domestic violence is that shame attached to it – for everybody, for the victim and the abuser and the children, too. After a weekend of trouble, walking to school, I knew that all of the neighbours... they’d heard everything.'
Sir Patrick continued: 'He never abused his children. It was all directed at my poor mum. If we could have done, yes [we would have taken the blows]. Standing between them would stop it, he [his father] would stand back.'
Speaking of a proposed new government bill to try and help victims, Sir Patrick said: 'At last and there are many good things in this bill. However, the concern of all organisations, like the one I’m attached to, Refuge, is the way they’re going to be financing this is problematic. They’re disbanding the welfare programme, which meant that victims of domestic violence could use housing aid to pay for their time inside a hostel, inside a safe house. That’s how it would be used. That’s no longer going to be available. So financing all the details of this bill, particularly how to make women and children safe…'
Sharing a message to anyone watching who was in need of advice, Sir Patrick said: 'Unlike my time, there is aid available now. There are 24-hour helplines. Women’s Aid is one of the organisations that has a helpline. Call the helpline, you need not be alone.'