"You never have to go through that again, you’re safe now.”
One Star Trek fan’s question regarding Sir Patrick Stewart’s work with Amnesty International prompted a very personal response this past Memorial Day weekend at Comicpalooza, both from the fan and from Stewart himself. Read on to see what drives the actor’s work to eliminate domestic violence and PTSD, and how his efforts have given some Star Trek fans the strength to free themselves from abusive relationships.
Trigger warning: There are no graphic descriptions of domestic violence in this article but the subject is discussed on a very personal level.
At the panel, Tumblr user “LemonSweetie”—in full Jadzia Dax costume—referenced a speech Stewart gave at an Amnesty International event in 2009 where he spoke out against domestic violence, asking the actor and now legendary Star Trek captain about work that he was proud of aside from his roles on the stage and screen.
Stewart, in a measured but guarded tone, answered that his campaign against domestic violence is motivated by the fact that he could never protect his mother against abuse when he was growing up. “I do what I do in my mother’s name... because I couldn’t help her then.” Towards that end, Stewart works with a U.K. organization by the name of Refuge, which has provided safe houses for victims of domestic violence since the 1970s.
He went on to explain that just last year while going through his father’s notes he discovered that his father suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of seeing combat in World War II. Considered an increasingly prevalent and serious condition today, Stewart related that back then “Soldiers were being told to get a grip on themselves. Pull yourself together and be a man.”
Realizing that his father’s trauma was never treated and thus his experiences never truly left him, Patrick Stewart began to assist an organization by the name of Combat Stress, which endeavors to help U.K. combat veterans deal with their experiences in a healthy, non-abusive manner.
“I work for Refuge for my mother, and I work for Combat Stress for my father in equal measure.”
Watch the entire speech here:
Following the explanation, Stewart asked LemonSweetie, “My dear, are you okay?”, prompting her to explain that the actor’s Amnesty International speech was what allowed her to come to terms with her own situation, and that it helped her realize that the shame involved with surviving abuse is truly undeserved.
Sir Patrick Stewart’s response was striking, and what came next is perhaps best told in the fan’s own words:
He then passionately said that it is never the woman’s fault in domestic violence, and how wrong to think that it ever is. 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 [sic] in my eyes, like he was promising that. He told me to take care. And I will.