RR LogoUnmasking the Pain Within - An Interview with Patty McCall

Patty McCall Photo OneWhile many get ready to celebrate Christmas with families and laughter, festivities and gift exchanges, there are also many who for various reasons will not experience the same joy during this holiday season. Some are homeless, some unemployed, some have recently lost a loved one and then there are those who are victims of domestic abuse, who live in terror and who are subjected to physical and verbal abuse. My guest recently was actress and author Patty McCall founder of the P.A.I.N. Foundation (Prevent Abuse In Neighborhoods) an organization that reaches out to women in shelters, recognizes the work of those who produce and direct short films that deal with the subject matter of abuse and educates those who are vulnerable or could be vulnerable about what signs to watch for so they do not become victims.

“I have my new career as a motivational speaker and I will be traveling and (the theme) is You Can Too Unmask the Pain Overcome and Move On.  I was just out in Los Angeles and I did my program there at a women’s shelter in Oceanside. Now that I am back here in Oklahoma, next Friday I am speaking at a youth walk-in.  I am hoping this grows and I will be able to take the book (her book Unmasking the Pain Within), the CD (a compilation album by several artists) and some of our films with me.  I just want to be able to speak to and to help others and to help them break the cycle of abuse,” says Patty McCall.

Patty McCall is not a pyschologist or a pyschiatrist. She is an author and actress and a survivor of domestic abuse, which she talks about in her book Unmasking the Pain Within.  When we talked in late November (2014) a feature film based upon her book was in the pre-production stage and she had made a trailer to attract investors, producers and directors.

“I did a trailer a few years ago, just to get people interested and I played myself. People were crying. There was a scene when I was locked in a closet and I was begging for my life to get out.  He (her former husband) used to kick me in the side with his steel boots. I just wanted to try (making the trailer) and we did. It was weird to see that I could bring those emotions to life. It was so empowering! (her voice rises). On the big screen I want someone younger who can actually play me, but I will have my hands in the production end of it. It is going to be a suspensful movie also and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat and wondering what is going to happen next,” says McCall.

She talks about the search for the right people to produce this film. “At first I had a few people that wanted to go off in their own direction with it and I said no. This is to really make a difference and of course it is not to bash my ex-husband, none of this is. It is really what I am meant to do now and it is to tell the story and to help others. A friend of mine is a casting director, who has read many scripts, she has done a lot of short films and writing and she said to me, let’s get this into a script and let’s keep it true to the book. It is going to have a message to it and it is going to be faith based.

The script is done and it is in the hands of a couple of big directors in Los Angeles right now.  We are supposed to finalize in December (2014) who the director will be.  It is a catch 22 you have to get the money, the actors and the director. We have some actors in mind that will play me. They would be between twenty-eight and thirty-two.  That way we can make them a little younger and then age them.”

Patty McCall relates the story of how her book Unmasking the Pain Within came to be written. The story begins after she relocated from Oklahoma to Los Angeles where she eventually became an actress following in the footsteps of her two daughters and at the invitation of a casting director.

“While I was in Los Angeles I thought I would start this new life and I thought oh my goodness I have got to get this out, to write about it and all of the things that happened to me. I thought my daughters are grown now, but someday I want them to understand what really happened in the marriage between their father and me.  I wrote it down in chronological order and I started way back from when I met him and it was more of a journal after the fact. I kept collecting all of these things that had happened and of course the teardrops covered my journal.  I put it up in my closet and I thought someday I am going to give this to my daughters.

I never told my story in Los Angeles until I met (my friend) Lisa and we became close. She had started some production work and she finally asked me, what are you doing here? I told her the story and what had happened and she said oh my goodness girl, you have got to share this with others, so you can give them hope and let them know that they can move on.  (Lisa said that she came) from child abuse and then (ended up in) three to four abusive relationships as an adult. When she heard my story she felt compelled to help me get it out, because she had been through this and she always wanted to help other ladies. She felt that was meant to be her passion in life. She didn’t want to share her story, because she wasn’t ready yet.  I said I’m not sure that I want to share mine either.

We spent three months talking about what was in my journal and we spent that time together writing and typing it into manuscript form. (The publisher) said, Patty we would love to put this picture of your house on the cover, because we want to show people that all walks of life can be going through this. It doesn’t matter what color, how much money you have or what race you are. It could be your nextdoor neighbor going through something.

I think part of the reason that I picked the gentleman that I did (to marry) is because my father was verbally abusive and he was an alcoholic. I think that may be why I gravitated towards that type of a man.  Patty McCall Photo Two

My father was always abusive to my mom and she loved him and she just put up with it, but that shouldn’t be normal to us. That is why when we hear these things and we meet these people we don’t realize how bad it gets. Sometimes it starts off as being a minor thing like them putting us down or different things that we should not (tolerate). Now I am so careful about that. People say that they cannot believe that I went through all of that, because I am so strong now. It has made me the person that I am today and I won’t put up with (abuse) anymore.

There is what we call a cycle of abuse. With my ex-husband, his father was an alcoholic and he was very abusive. That is why I know these things do trickle down from one generation to another,” she says.

In 2011 P.A.I.N. began collaborating with Journey Coaching and Counseling Services in California.

“I would send people over there to get counselling if they were going through a bad relationship or if they just needed help to pick a different type of man when they had just gotten out of a relationship. I think it has been really beneficial to people to know why they keep going back to a similar type of personality. The owner Renee Miller has worked with many ladies from shelters and she has given her time. She is the perfect person to relate to people who have gone through abuse,” she says

Patty McCall says she tries to teach youth to watch out for signs that their significant other is trying to control or isolate them. It can take the form of them cutting off or restricting access to the victim’s friends or isolation from their families and wanting to spend all of their time together. They are signs that the abuser does not want their victim to have a life of their own.

“We are getting ready to do our next short film and it is called But He Loves Me and that is exactly what this is about, (things like) cutting them down or telling them, you shouldn’t wear that. Most of the time when you are attracted to somebody you are attracted to them, because of how they look and then they want to try to change the way you look and not let you look that way, because they don’t want other guys looking at you. You shouldn’t wear your makeup or you look too sexy in that dress, so they don’t want you wearing it. All of those are just little signs of how it will escalate later. If you see temper right away that is another thing to watch for,” she says.

Films that have received an award from P.A.I.N.’s Bare Bones Film Festival include, Not Today, a film about human trafficking, a film called No Way Out But One, which is about a lady who was abused and how through the legal system she almost lost her children. No Way Out But One has also appeared on television since receiving an award from P.A.I.N.  There was also the riveting Telling Amy’s Story, the story about the life of and the abuse and violence endured by Amy Homan McGee who died when she was murdered by her husband. Another film that was screened at the Bare Bones Film Festival was Self Defense that chronicles the lives of five different people and the abuse and violence to which they were subjected.

McCall talks about when she first took her book Unmasking the Pain Within on tour. “Lisa and I went across the United States to different shelters and talking to women. We were on TV shows and radio shows. It wasn’t really about the numbers, it was about meeting these people, hearing their stories and giving them hope or helping them to get into a shelter or helping them to change their lives.

A friend told me if you go out there and change one life or two lives or fifty lives that is what you are meant to do. Some people are like, I have to get on the best seller list or I have to do this. Mine really wasn’t like that. It came down to sharing my story, helping others and giving them hope. I finally realized that when this lady came up to me and said, Patty you have given me hope.  (I thought) is that what I am really meant to do? Is it that simple?”

There is a lot more that we could tell you about Patty McCall and the P.A.I.N. Foundation, but we think the mission statement and vision statement on the foundation’s website sum things up the best, “To educate women and teens in the community and schools about prevention and awareness of domestic violence in their relationships. This organization networks with other organizations to provide a means of escape and a safe place to start over and move on,” and “To teach teens in the communities to combine an understanding of filmmaking, while making short films on the theme of child abuse and domestic violence.”

Interviewed by Joe Montague, protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved.

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