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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Patrick Swayze's Widow Opens Up 10 Years After His Death, Says Actor Was Abused at Hands of Mother

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Though Patrick Swayze passed away in 2009 after battling pancreatic cancer, he lives on in the memories of his many fans.

Whether it was “Dirty Dancing,” “Road House,” “Ghost” or any of the many other movies he was involved with that people remember him from, he remains iconic for his time.

And now, 10 years after his death, he’ll be featured in a new film. This time, it’s a documentary featuring his life, dancing and dirty little family secrets.

Those closest to Swayze knew he had something of a tempestuous relationship with his mother, Patsy.

A mover and shaker herself, she founded the Houston Jazz Ballet Company and was known for her choreographing skills.

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Patrick owes a lot of his success to his mother and her influence on his life. He recognized that during an interview with Alex Simon, as published by HuffPost.

“That’s the other side of me: the intensity, the passion, the drive, the belief in communicating something through the arts,” he told Simon.

“It’s all those qualities of my mother’s that have really led me down all these tangential paths in my life. My parents were an amazing couple.”

But growing up was with Patsy as a mother was no walk in the park. Whether out of a desire for her son to excel or merely falling prey to repeating patterns, Patsy wasn’t easy on him.

Lisa Niemi Swayze, Patrick’s wife, knows this better than most — though Patrick did tell others throughout his career. Of course, his mother passed away four years after Patrick, but Lisa thinks she knows how Patsy would describe her relationship with him.

“I think she would say, ‘Well, you know, sometimes I could be strict, I’m that kind of a teacher,'” Lisa said, according to PEOPLE. But the hard-handed lessons didn’t begin with Patsy, and according to some, it’s amazing that she wasn’t as vicious as the woman who raised her.

“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,” Lisa reportedly says in the documentary, calling Patsy and Patrick’s relationship “an example of what happens in families in a cycle of abuse.”

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The physical abuse ended when Patrick was 18. Patsy was allegedly “laying into” the young man when her husband intervened, threatening divorce if Patsy laid hands on Patrick again. She didn’t.

Despite her school of hard knocks approach, Patrick seemed to respect and love her even though her treatment of him wasn’t always all that motherly.

“He always thought Mom was so strict and so hard on him, but the way I saw it she just used that to spur him on,” Don Swayze, Patrick’s brother, says in the documentary, according to USA Today. “He was everything to my mother.”

“He became very aware of the positive and the negative aspects of how he was raised,” Lisa added. “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.”

His mother’s treatment didn’t seem to have the same effect on Patrick that Patsy’s mother’s treatment had had on her.

“The amount of lovingness and kindness, I saw wisdom in him that was beyond anything I’d seen before,” Lisa said.

“She was a complicated woman, intense and an amazing life force. Patrick absolutely loved and respected her.”

“I Am Patrick Swayze” airs on Aug. 18 (Swayze’s birthday) and will be available on Paramount Network.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking