Patrick Stewart hugs domestic-abuse survivor, tells of violence in his childhood

IMAGE: Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart told the Comicpalooza audience that his mother was blamed for the abuse rained on her by his father.Today

On television, he was the almost unflappable Captain Jean-Luc Picard on "Star Trek: The Next Generation." But Patrick Stewart was raised in a poor household with an abusive father, and the experience gave him the fire to work for such causes once he had the fame to make himself heard.

Stewart appeared at Comicpalooza in Texas over the Memorial Day weekend, and while there, answered questions from audience members.

Heather Skye, who blogs at Lemon Sweetie, thanked Stewart for a speech he gave at an Amnesty International event about domestic violence, saying that she had come through a similar event and appreciated his speaking out, and asked him about what non-acting work he's the most proud of.

And then things got personal. Stewart, who has spoken about his father's abuse before, referenced his own childhood in 1940s England. "The work that I do in campaigns about violence towards women, particularly domestic violence, grew out of my own childhood experience," he said.

He discussed the specific groups he works with, and went on to say, "I do what I do in my mother's name, because I couldn't help her then. Now I can."

Stewart said his father, a World War II veteran, was then said to suffer from severe shellshock, but would today be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He works with both the veterans' mental-health charity Combat Stress as well as the domestic-violence shelter Refuge, saying he does so because of both of his parents.

"As a child, I heard in my home doctors and ambulance men say, 'Mrs. Stewart, you must have done something to provoke him,'" Stewart said to Skye and the crowd. "'Mrs. Stewart, it takes two to make an argument.' Wrong! WRONG! My mother did nothing to provoke that, and even if she had, violence is never ever a choice that a man should make. Ever!"

The crowd gave Stewart a standing ovation, and shortly after, he walked into the crowd and hugged Skye. She wrote on her blog, "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 (straight) in my eyes, like he was promising that. He told me to take care. And I will."