Writer, filmmaker and actor Tyler Perry has always been pretty transparent about his past and difficult childhood. He grew up believing that Emmitt Perry Sr., a carpenter, was his biological father and unfortunately his “answer to everything was to beat it out of you.” He admits to attempting suicide in the past to escape his father’s beatings. Perry also says he was molested as a child by his mother’s friend as well as male relatives and learned that his father had molested one of his friends. In 2010, Perry took a DNA test that proved that Emmitt Perry Sr. was in fact not his biological father. But despite their tumultuous relationship, Perry states that he still financially supports the man who once caused him so much pain.
Perry opens up about the complexities of childhood abuse stating that although Emmitt Perry Sr. was abusive, he was always a decent provider:
“As terrible as he was, and as horrible as he was, he never once left us. We were never hungry. And every time he’d go to work, all week, he’d bring all the money home.”
On a recent episode of Oprah’s Master Class, The man behind the “Madea” franchise divulges grisly details about the relationship he had with the man who he was led to believe was his father, until his mother revealed on her death bed that he was not:
“From a child, I had always known that this man despised me.”
“I could not figure it out for the longest [time]. I could not figure out why he hated me so.”
“Every action was about his hatred or his disdain for me.”
Still, Perry says he feels obligated to provide for his “father-figure” in the same way he did for him as a child:
“I’m giving him what he gave to me.”
“I had shelter; I had food. He has shelter, pretty nice shelter, and any food that he wants to eat.”
“What I missed from him, being in a relationship, is also what he’s missing from me now. So he doesn’t have everything. He has what’s easy.”
Perry’s actions prove that he has made tremendous steps to move past his pain and also sheds light on how confusing a relationship can be for a child with an abusive parent that despite emotional and physical violence still manages to provide their children with basic tools for survival. He’s also an example of the tremendous ability to persevere and the capacity of the human spirit. You can watch a clip of the episode below:
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