WATCH ABOVE: Patrick Stewart gives passionate response to question at 2013 Comicpalooza (Courtesy Oswald Vinueza)
TORONTO – Actor Patrick Stewart has proved that you don’t need to be the captain of the Enterprise to be seen as a hero.
During a Q&A at 2013 Comicpalooza in Texas last weekend, Stewart received a standing ovation after giving a passionate response about violence against women and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Stewart, widely known for his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and its successor films as well as Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men film series is a long-time advocate against domestic violence.
During a panel discussion at Comicpalooza, fan Heather Wainright asked Stewart if he could share one thing he was most proud of in his life that was not related to acting.
He spoke about the work he has done for campaigns that advocate against domestic violence and, more recently, his work for “Combat Stress,” a charity in the U.K. offering residential treatment to former servicemen and women suffering from PTSD and other mental health illnesses.
“The people who could do most to improve the situation of so many women and children are in fact men. It’s in our hands to stop violence towards women.”
During his speech, Stewart said the work he does in campaigns to end domestic violence against women is something that grew out of his own childhood experience—a part of his life that he has publicly spoken about before.
“I do what I do in my mother’s name because I couldn’t help her then. Now I can.”
In 2009, Stewart spoke about his personal experience on domestic violence for Amnesty International at the launch of Created Equal, a book on women’s rights.
Stewart said that last year he and his brother learned for the first time that his father, a World War II veteran, suffered from what was then called severe shell shock—now known as PTSD.
“In 1940, soldiers were told they were suffering from shellshock and were told to ‘pull themselves together, get out there and be a man,’” he said. “Now we know what it is and we know how to deal with is.”
In the video, Stewart said his father was never treated for his illness and recalls a conversation he had with an expert on mental illnesses.
“All the conditions of your childhood that you describe to me are classic symptoms of veterans who were suffering from this series psychological and physical illness.”
Stewart said he now devotes his time to two separate causes.
“I work for refuge for my mother and work for Combat Stress for my father in equal measure.”
Just as the moderator of the panel was prepared to move to another question, Stewart stopped, asking Wainright, “My dear are you okay?”
Wainright, the fan in the video, then spoke of her own struggle as a victim of abuse and “the shaming of the women” that she said she, and many other victims of domestic abuse in general, experience.
“Mrs. Stewart, it takes two to make an argument,” Stewart recalled.
“Wrong, wrong, my mother did nothing to provoke that,” said Stewart. “And even if she had, violence is never, ever a choice that man should make. Ever.”
In an e-mail interview with Global News, Wainright called Stewart an “honourable man” and said it was his speech at Amnesty International that helped her realize what she was going through was abuse.
Wainright said that she kept thanking Stewart after he came up to her to hug her and told her that she never “has to go through that again.”
“You’re safe now,” were Stewart’s words to her, Wainright told Global News.
Wainright said she hopes the video helps anyone going through physical or sexually abuse to seek help.