Tuesday, October 6, 2009
'Madea' actor-director Tyler Perry reveals history of childhood abuse, molestation on Web site
Filmmaker Tyler Perry, who is promoting a new movie about an abused teenager, has gone public with brutal memories of his own childhood beatings and molestation.
In an email to fans that has Perry's admirers buzzing, he recounts various examples of terrible childhood mistreatment - from his father beating him senseless to a neighbor woman molesting him at age 10.
Even his grandmother, the mother of his hated father, became a threat when she objected to his weekly allergy shot, he recalls.
"Ain't nothing wrong with that damn boy - he just got germs on him. Stop wasting all that money," she said, he recalled.
"She came and got me out of the living room leaving my Matchbox cars on the floor. She said she was going to kill these germs on me once and for all. She gave me a bath in ammonia."
Perry, 38, fled his abusive home in New Orleans and, after a period of homelessness and struggle, became a writer, director, actor and producer.
He is now a mega-millionaire and one of the world's most influential black filmmakers. He is the producer of "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" on TV and his movies, including "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," "Madea's Family Reunion" and "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" have grossed $400 million.
Along with Oprah Winfrey, he executive produced "Precious," the story of an illiterate obese teen mom struggling to rise above horrible sexual and mental abuse. The movie opens nationally Nov. 6.
Perry has made no secret of his unhappy childhood and speaks often of his abusive father, but the raw details in his email were new revelations.
"I'm tired of holding this in. I don't know what to do with it anymore, so, I've decided to give some of it away," he wrote in Saturday's email, which was also posted on his website.
He recounted being beaten by his father for reading books and filching cookies.
"He got the vacuum cleaner extension cord and trapped me in a room and beat me until the skin was coming off my back. To this day, I don't know what would make a person do something like that to a child," Perry wrote.
Without elaborating on what seems to be another molestation incident, he mentioned "a man that I knew from church when I was a kid" who had died broke and whose family asked Perry to pay for the funeral.
"I quickly said no, but I wish I would have said yes. There is something so powerful to me in burying the man that molested me," Perry wrote.
"I would have dug the grave myself."
Perry said God sustained him, and provided comfort in his darkest times.
Terrie Williams, author of "Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting," praised Perry for sharing his old misery.
"When someone like Tyler Perry posts this kind of personal message it helps to free others," Williams said.
"People are suffering unspeakable, horrific horrors and they live with those secrets that tear them up inside," she said.
"There are countless numbers of people who have been violated and haven't addressed their pain and that leads to depression, or self medicating, drinking, drug abuse, compulsive shopping when you don't have any money or eating disorders. Share your story to liberate yourself and get help."