Sir Patrick Stewart has shared his traumatic childhood story about domestic violence in HELLO!, in order to shine a light on the charity Refuge. The actor, who is patron of the charity, revealed that his mother was a victim of domestic abuse. "As a child, I witnessed repeated violence against my mother," Sir Patrick, 76, wrote in a comment piece in HELLO!. "I knew the exact moment when I should move to put myself between my father's fist and my mother's body – a skill no child should have to acquire. Yet sadly, my experiences are far from unique. In the UK, 750,000 children witness domestic violence every year."
Patrick Stewart and the Duchess of Cornwall chat at a reception held for domestic violence survivors
He continued: "I remember the police coming to my house, all those years ago, and saying things like: 'She must have provoked him,' or: 'Well, Mrs Stewart, it takes two to make a fight.' It makes me angry that this kind of behaviour still goes on today." Sir Patrick went on to say that his father's shell shock following the Second World War was "a factor in his abuse". But the X-Men star added: "Whatever my father was experiencing or had experienced, it does not ameliorate what he did. Violence is always a choice a man makes and he alone is responsible for it."
Through his work with Refuge, Sir Patrick has met many survivors and their families and he has noticed that domestic violence "permeates all of society" regardless of education, income, class and quality of life. He has chosen to share his own personal story to give others hope that they can survive and thrive following abuse.
The actor received his knighthood from the Queen in June 2010
The actor ended his commentary by saying that Refuge – the largest UK provider of specialist services for women and children escaping domestic violence – gives women and children the "building blocks" they need to begin a new life, free from fear. However Refuge, which supports 3,800 women and children on any given day, has experienced funding cuts to 80 per cent of its services since 2011. Sir Patrick urged: "The demand on Refuge's services is enormous and this lifesaving work costs money. I would urge you to support Refuge in any way you can so that it can keep the doors to its vital services open."