Tony’s love of acting, and the human connection he found through it, gave him a pathway to healing after he was abused by a mentor.
"Because of that person abusing that relationship of love, betraying that, the child...feels responsible."
"I think I was very conditioned to not expressing myself honestly emotionally with people. I could do it through a script..."
"I was looking for a father figure, and my perpetrator was someone who was able to seduce through the love of theatre."
"[Healing] has only been through love and through reconnecting with love that was there that just wasn't being recognized."
"They're feelings...not facts. They will be there, you will have them, and they're there for a reason. And they will change and grow."
"The betrayal of love...is why it took me until I was fifty years old...[I was] acting out of fear but not knowing it."
"To have an intimate...relationship now in which the more you trust, the better it gets is like a miracle."
"One of the biggest things that first pops up is shame...because the core of it is, 'I wanted love.'"
"That was the image I saw after I was molested. I went to that bathroom to try to get away...and that sink had those hairs in it."
"I've been incredibly successful, and so much of that was me acting like I'm successful because underneath I was compensating."
"That is part of the scenario in which he then was able to abuse freely."
"The irony...that using a pretend environment is what saved me from a bad environment that was real."
"Bring the age down...Let's bring it to forty, to thirty, to twenty...There's no shame in having had that experience."
"When we step off of a road of self love and mutual love, we go into disease."
"The healing of the damage comes from letting that child play freely, and know that he's not gonna get hurt by being himself fully."
"If you do express your feeling [and] it's not heard, you stop expressing it."
"He didn't have the ability to process those feelings, or to communicate them."
It was an acting mentor who betrayed and profoundly harmed Tony, but it was acting itself that saved him. What at first seems paradoxical is not. Tony Edwards loves acting, deeply. He loves the honesty, the deep connection that can be attained between actors, the trust that is necessary to attain it. He knew this about acting even as a child. When the mentor betrayed Tony’s trust, and preyed on him and other boys whom he had groomed, Tony was pulled into the predator’s orbit of fear and conditional love. But what he experienced in acting enabled Tony to protect that part of himself that is the human source of trust, of connection, and of love.
Like so many survivors of sexual abuse, Tony cordoned off the traumatic experiences and focused his heart and soul on acting. He forged a successful career in television and film. He married and raised his children. He put aside his acting career for a decade to be a full-time father.
But there are internal magnetic forces that resist compartmentalization, that demand integration, that strive for wholeness. In 2013, allegations surfaced in the media about Tony’s former mentor, and suddenly Tony’s inner landscape shifted. With the help of therapy and connection with other survivors, Tony confronted the legacies of what he had suffered in childhood: the betrayal of love and trust that sent filaments across the decades of his life.
In November, 2017, Tony published an article disclosing what he had endured. Soon, other men came forward with their own testaments to the predations of their common mentor. Healing is not simply restoration. It is reconstruction, reconstitution. When the harm of betrayal is identified, when its filaments are recognized, trust is once again possible. And out of that healing is born a commitment to work on behalf of other survivors, the one in six men who have been sexually victimized. “Let’s change that statistic.”