Connolly talks of love for his abusive father

Forgiveness: Billy Connolly. Picture: Robert Perry
Forgiveness: Billy Connolly. Picture: Robert Perry
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ACTOR and comedian Billy Connolly has spoken of how he still loves his late father even though he was sexually abused by him for five years.

In an interview for the BBC’s Review Show, Connolly said the power of forgiveness was “immense” and he still considered his father, who abused him between the ages of ten and 15, to be a “great man”.

He also revealed that his own children – the two eldest of whom knew his father – have never asked him about the abuse. Connolly first revealed the abuse he suffered in a biography written by his wife, Pamela Stephenson, in 2001, 12 years after his alcoholic father, William, died.

The 70-year-old Scot described how his mother walked out on the family when he was three, leaving him to be brought up by his father and two aunts.

Connolly said he had not made a conscious decision to hide the abuse during his rise to stardom in the 1970s and 1980s and explained: “It wasn’t the time to talk about things like that – not like now.

“I just didn’t want to talk about it. It was mine and I kind of liked it being mine. I thought it made me very colourful but it was up to me to make of it what I wanted to, and I always thought it made me kind of special.

“I loved him, and I kept loving him, and I love him today. And you know, forgiveness is a great thing – the power of forgiveness is immense and you can forgive dead people as well.

“It is a very odd affair, sexual abuse. Mine is very, very typical – you don’t tell anybody about it. Everybody wonders why people who are abused don’t rush off to the police or the authorities or an aunt or an uncle and tell them. There is a deep guilt and shame involved and so you don’t tell people”.

Connolly and his father appeared in a BBC documentary together in 1978. When asked what his five children – two of whom were old enough to have known his father – had asked him about the abuse, Connolly replied: “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. They thought he was a great guy, and he was a great guy”.

Connolly also described how his Aunt Mona had regularly humiliated him. Recalling how she found a copy of an erotic poem in his possession, Connolly added: “It was a schoolboy thing, it was a very dirty piece and she found it and humiliated me with it for years and years and years and threatened to take it to school.”