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"Very violent." Patrick Swayze's wife on her late husband's 'abusive' childhood.

This post deals with abuse and might be triggering for some readers. 

Patrick Swayze’s widow, Lisa Niemi, has shared details of the alleged abuse the late actor suffered as a young boy at the hands of his mother, Patsy Yvonne Helen.

In the new Paramount documentary ‘I Am Patrick Swayze’, which pays tribute to the inspiring legacy left behind by the talented actor, Niemi reflects on Swayze’s life and shares some of the previously undocumented struggles he experienced.

The documentary explores Swayze’s childhood, including the alleged physical abuse he endured as a result of his mother’s “demand for perfectionism”, People reports.

Niemi, 63, says in the documentary: “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.”

Watch the trailer for ‘I Am Patrick Swayze’ below. Post continues after video.

Niemi adds it wasn’t until he moved out of home that “he became very aware of the positive and the negative aspects of how he was raised.”

“But you know what, if somebody pushes you that hard, like his mum did, it could make some people cave, but it made him fight harder,” the actress and dancer told People.

Despite the alleged abuse, Niemi says the two “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 passed away four years after her son Patrick, who died in September 2009 at the age of 57 from pancreatic cancer.

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Patrick Swayze's mum Patsy Swayze in 1988. Image: Getty.
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Patrick rose to fame as an actor and dancer after his now-iconic roles in Dirty Dancing, Ghost and Point Break.

Swayze and Niemi were childhood sweethearts, after meeting when Niemi enlisted his mother Patsy for dance lessons.

"The first time Buddy [Swayze] and I danced together was at a school exhibition," Neimi recalls in the new documentary. "We walked out on stage... I looked in his eyes, it was like everything came alive."

The pair married in 1975 and were together until his passing in 2009.

Niemi also alludes to a side of the famous actor never shown in the public eye, saying in the documentary: "He'd be bubbly and fun, and as soon as he's by himself and alone, he would just crash. We had so many challenging things to deal with but I still loved him."

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Patrick Swayze with his wife Lisa Niemi in 2005. Image: Getty.

It isn't the first time his secret struggles have been shared publicly.

In his posthumous memoir 'Time of My Life', the actor opened up about his battle with depression and the impact it had on his 34-year-strong marriage.

"I started drinking again to numb myself to the creeping feeling of despair," he wrote.

"As I sank deeper into this hole and drank more and more, Lisa didn’t even recognise me. For years I had been dealing with my demons – feelings of inadequacy, fears I was never good enough."

He added: "Seeing me depressed was scary for Lisa and my response frightened her."

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Lisa Niemi and Patrick Swayze together in 2005. Image: Getty.

Indeed, in 2010, Niemi shared she did struggle immensely with her husband's alcoholism.

"For me the worst thing about him was the drinking," she told the UK's Times. "He had a different personality when he drank that much. He was the nicest man on the planet unless he'd had a drink."

"People or animals could have got hurt when he was like that," she said. "It's not good to be around anyone like that."

The pair briefly separated in the early 2000s with Niemi explaining to the publication: "I told him, 'I have to leave. I can't sit here and watch you die.' I genuinely thought that he was getting to that point. I left in the middle of the night."

The pair sought help from a psychic to repair their relationship, however shortly after reconciling, Patrick was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Two years later, he passed.

"I wish I could say our last conversation had been profound. It was probably, 'What do you want for your birthday?'," she told the Times in 2010.

More recently Niemi explained to Entertainment Tonight: "When you lose someone, you never stop loving them and it's... I feel like I have a different relationship with him now. It's just, he's not physically present, you know what I mean?"

The new 'I Am Patrick Swayze' documentary, which also includes interviews with Demi Moore, Rob Lowe and Jennifer Grey, is available now on Amazon Prime.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

This article was first published on August 17 2019, and was updated on October 6 2019.

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