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The heart-breaking, yet powerfully uplifting story of a family in crisis, and how one man rises from the shadow of a violent, brutal father to become a shining example of transcendance. This is a story about how I was saved by love, at a time when most people considered me beyond rescue. So begins Victor Rivas Rivers in this powerful chronicle of his escape from the war zone of domestic violence-too often regarded as a "private family matter"-and his journey toward independence, recovery, and renewal. In A Private Family Matter, Victor recalls his days as an angry youth living under the rule and wrath of his father. A Cuban immigrant, Victor's dad was nicknamed El Ciclon for his tempestuous temperament, which led him not only to beat his wife but to abuse-and eventually kidnap-his own children. How Victor managed to seek help for his family and criminal punishment for his father, overcome his demons and learn to love himself, and share his experience with other victims and survivors of domestic abuse is at the heart of this profound and affecting memoir.
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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.

Reviews

Rivers's childhood toy, a broken GI Joe action figure, spoke only one phrase: "I've got a tough assignment." The author, an advocate against domestic violence, took on this motto early in life to help himself endure the "war zone" of his upbringing. His story starts in Cuba, where his mother's "gift of sight" didn't help her see through the seductive elegance of Tony Rivas, nephew of Batista's minister of agriculture. As Rivers tells it, his mother's natural radiance was soon beaten down by her demanding, jealous and moody husband. The family moved to Chicago to escape Castro, yet young Victor could not escape his father, who began beating him when he was only 15 months old. An imaginative child, Rivers steeled himself against brutal whippings by emulating tigers, "tensed and ready to pounce or flee at all times." By the time Rivers was 15, he fought back, throwing Rivas to the floor. But when the older man returned with a knife and, experiencing deep feelings of guilt, yelled, "Kill me!" Rivers ran away. Helped by a series of "angels"-a schoolmate's lawyer father, supportive teachers and coaches, a family that informally adopted him, and his own brothers-Rivers overcame his rage and self-loathing. He tells this inspiring story of emergence from isolation and despair into love and community with passion, optimism and tenderness. Photos. Agent, Joe Regal. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"A document of [Rivers's] soul's triumph over cruelty." -- Eve Ensler "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 story filled with integrity, courage, and humanity -- all the things that exemplify Mr. Rivers." -- Andy Garcia "An inspiring story of emergence from isolation and despair into love and community with passion, optimism, and tenderness." -- Publishers Weekly

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