In a deeply personal new television interview, Gabriel Byrne confessed that he was molested as a child when he was an altar boy at a British Seminary.
Byrne,59, was raised in Ireland but left his family at a young age. “When I was 11 years of age, I left Ireland to go to a Seminary in England,” he said in an interview with Gay Byrne on the Irish show, ‘The Meaning of Life.’
“The world that I lived in from an educational point of view was full of fear,” explained the ‘In Treatment‘ star, who plays a therapist on the underrated HBO drama. “I feared being beaten and I was beaten pretty regularly like everybody else that I knew.”
But the abuse didn’t stop at a few bruises. “Unfortunately, I experienced some sexual abuse,” he continued. “It was a known and admitted fact of life amongst us that there was this particular man, and you didn’t want to be left in the dressing room with him. There were certain boundaries – sexual boundaries – that were crossed.”
At the time, Byrne didn’t feel the need to come out about it. “I was brought up in an atmosphere where religion was tremendously important… I didn’t feel that I suffered at the time for it. I just felt like it was the way of the world.”
But in retrospect, “When I think about my later life and how I had difficulties with certain issues … I’m not saying that they were attributable to that, but there was the real possibility that they could have been.”
He left that world four and a half years later when he discovered his love for women. He explains, “There was an excitement that no kind of religious fairytale or mythology could touch.”
As a father of two, he admits that he’s never laid a hand on either of the children he has with ex-wife Ellen Barkin. “It took many years to come to terms with it and to forgive those incidents that I felt had deeply hurt me.”