Thursday, 10 December 2009

Hollywood Speaks Out About Domestic Violence

On Friday November 27, actor Patrick Stewart wrote an article in The Guardian about his experience with domestic violence. His father regularly beat his mother, while a young Patrick Stewart would often force himself between his parents to protect his mother:
Our house was small, and when you grow up with domestic violence in a confined space you learn to gauge, very precisely, the temperature of situations. I knew exactly when the shouting was done and a hand was about to be raised – I also knew exactly when to insert a small body between the fist and her face, a skill no child should ever have to learn. Curiously, I never felt fear for myself and he never struck me, an odd moral imposition that would not allow him to strike a child. The situation was barely tolerable: I witnessed terrible things, which I knew were wrong, but there was nowhere to go for help. Worse, there were those who condoned the abuse. I heard police or ambulancemen, standing in our house, say, "She must have provoked him," or, "Mrs Stewart, it takes two to make a fight." They had no idea. The truth is my mother did nothing to deserve the violence she endured. She did not provoke my father, and even if she had, violence is an unacceptable way of dealing with conflict. Violence is a choice a man makes and he alone is responsible for it.
Fortunately, his father never beat him, but his experience with domestic violence as a child has stayed with him his whole life:

Such experiences are destructive. In my adult life I have struggled to overcome the bad lessons of my father's behaviour, this corrosive example of male irresponsibility. But the most oppressive aspect of these experiences was the loneliness. Very recently, during a falling-out with my girlfriend, I felt again as though I were shut out and alone, not heard or understood. I was neither, but it was such a familiar isolation that it was almost a comfort and consolation.

Then on December 1, Reese Witherspoon gave a speech at the House of Commons about domestic violence (unfortunately, this aspect has been largely overshadowed by the media's attention on Prime Minister Gordon Brown's mix-up of Witherspoon witRenĂ©e Zellweger). Witherspoon is a spokesperson for Avon and Refuge's campaign against domestic violence.

Here is a video of Reese Witherspoon on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross (on December 4), talking about the campaign (it starts at 4:48).

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