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A Private Family Matter: A Memoir Paperback – April 11, 2006
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"An inspiring story of emergence from isolation and despair into love and community with passion, optimism, and tenderness." -- Publishers Weekly
"A story filled with integrity, courage, and humanity -- all the things that exemplify Mr. Rivers." -- Andy Garcia
"Victor's contribution to the movement to end domestic violence is unparalleled. . . . He serves as a role model for men and a ray of hope for all victims of abuse." -- Lynn Rosenthal, Executive Director, National Network to End Domestic Violence
"A document of [Rivers's] soul's triumph over cruelty." -- Eve Ensler
About the Author
Victor Rivas Rivers, a veteran actor who has starred in more than two dozen films (including The Mask of Zorro, The Distinguished Gentleman, and Blood In, Blood Out), is the spokesperson for the National Network to End Domestic Violence. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.
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This book sat on my shelf for almost a year because I didn't think I'd be interested in reading about domestic violence, but I couldn't put it down once I opened it.
Victor Rivas Rivers was the son of Cuban immigrants. His father, nicknamed El Ciclon (the Cyclone), was shockingly abusive to his whole family. He burned Victor's lips with a cigarette, tied him down and beat him with a dog leash, would wake him from sleep with a hard slap to the face, and punched his pregnant wife in the belly hard enough for the baby to be born developmentally impaired.
Victor, the second of three brothers and two sisters, received the brunt of the abuse for having the unlucky genetic fate of looking exactly like his dad.
I abhor violence (I've seen enough to last a lifetime), but I couldn't help but cheer him on when Victor outgrew his father and was able to return the favor.
The real story here, however, is how Victor, and the rest of his siblings, overcame his demons and became a successful student and athlete, playing football for Florida State under Bobby Bowden. He even had a short stint with the Miami Dolphins and managed to parlay that success into an acting career, starring in more than two dozen films.
It's taken me many, long, hard years to learn what Victor must have known instinctively: that nothing outside me can control me. A story like this strips away all the excuses I've made for the failures in my life, while at the same time inspiring me to live with more courage, integrity, and humanity.
David Allan Reeves
Author of "Running Away From Me"
A big, strong, tough man who was reduced to weeping when taken back to his horrific childhood in countless nightmares. So terrifying, so brutal for his wife to endure, she could only cry as he fought the demons of domestic violence.
Countless women have told their stories. Hoping to save, `just one person.' Reliving their own personal hell with each word. You will relive Mr. Rivers personal hell. He takes the reader from a little boy to a full grown man, still fighting the little guys fight. He tells his story to help others. I believe it will.
If you know nothing of domestic violence, you will have a better understanding after you read this book. You may find it hard to comprehend. You will ask yourself, `How do people let this happen?' `Why not just leave?' Read on.
If you're a victim or a survivor, it is graphic. Mr. Rivers does not soften his story. He shouldn't. You will ask yourself how every domestic violence story can be so similar. You will cry many times. You will laugh a few times. You will love him when his son is born.
No one looks at Victor Rivers, with all of his successes, and thinks of domestic violence. He was a victim, he is a survivor. For all of these reasons I thank him, and his family, for telling his story. I respect him for wanting to help, `just one person.'