An event called Comicpalooza hardly sounds like a forum for a profound discussion on domestic violence against women. But that's exactly what took place during a Q&A with Star Trek's Sir Patrick Stewart this past Memorial Day weekend in Houston.
Stewart, 72, was taking questions from fans about the upcoming movie X-Men: Days of Future Past -- which he called "the X-Men of all X-Men pictures" and "the blockbuster of 2014" -- when audience member Heather Skye approached the mic with a special message for the star.
Mentioning the actor's recent speech on domestic violence at an Amnesty International event, Skye said his words had helped her through some personal "turmoil." She then asked him what he was most proud of having done in his life, aside from acting.
Stewart's response was a long, impassioned speech about his own experience with abuse, and how that had inspired his advocacy work with various organizations. "The work that I do in campaigns about violence towards women, particularly domestic violence, grew out of my own childhood experience," he told the crowd, explaining how his dad abused his mom after returning from World War II.
"I do what I do in my mother's name, because I couldn't help her then," he said. "Now I can."
What happened next is best told from Skye's perspective. She detailed the experience on her blog, Lemon Sweetie.
"They were about to move onto the next question when Sir Patrick looked at me and asked me, 'My dear, are you okay?'" she recalled. "I said yes, and that I was finally able to move on from that part of my life. He then passionately said that his mother had done nothing to provoke his father and that even if she had, violence was never, ever a choice a man should make. That it is in the power of men to stop violence toward women."
Stewart's statement earned him a standing ovation from the audience. When the applause died down, the moderator asked if Skye wanted a hug.
"Sir Patrick didn't even hesitate," she wrote on her blog. "He smiled, hopped off the stage, and came over to embrace me in a hug...He told me, 'You never have to go through that again, you're safe now.'"
"His embrace was so warm and genuine," she continued. "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."