Patrick Swayze’s widow Lisa Niemi Swayze has opened up about the late actor’s abusive childhood.
Swayze, who died in 2009 aged 57 of pancreatic cancer, is being celebrated in a new documentary, I Am Patrick Swayze, which chronicles his rise to global fame. While the film explores his personal and professional triumphs, it also sheds light on the Dirty Dancing star’s difficult upbringing.
Discussing Swayze’s abusive mother Patsy in the film, Lisa reveals, ”Patsy was really an example of what happens in families in a cycle of abuse. She could be very violent, but it was nothing compared to what she endured growing up and the stories I heard about what she went through with her own mother.”
She also notes her late husband’s strength allowed him to overcome the difficult times.
”But you know what, if somebody pushes you that hard, like his mom did, it could make some people cave, but it made him fight harder.”
The abuse reportedly came to an end after his 18th birthday when Patrick’s father threatened to divorce his mother if the violence continued.
“She never hit him after that,” Lisa adds. “Over the years, he and Patsy came to have a much better relationship. Patsy could be extremely critical and negative. But she figured out that if she was going to be around us, she needed to be a little nicer, and that’s what she did.”
Patsy died at the age of 86, four years after her son passed away, and Lisa says the two never spoke about the abuse.
”I think she would say, ‘Well, you know, sometimes I could be strict, I’m that kind of a teacher,'” Lisa shares. “She was a complicated woman, intense and an amazing life force. Patrick absolutely loved and respected her.”