Only On CBS2: LA Mayor Villaraigosa Discusses Childhood Secret

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — “It’s probably the only time in my life that I’ve ever felt helpless,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recalls.

The mayor of Los Angeles sat down for his first in-depth interview with CBS2 to discuss the domestic violence he experienced as a child. Now, he’s coming forward with his story to empower others to seek help.

Villaraigosa said he grew up in an abusive home, watching his alcoholic father repeatedly beat his mother.

mayor antonio villaraigosa Only On CBS2: LA Mayor Villaraigosa Discusses Childhood Secret

(credit: CBS)

More than five decades later, those memories continue to haunt him.

“Being with my little sister, hiding under the bed, hearing the screaming – we had to witness the terror that comes with watching your mom getting beat,” Villaraigosa said. “…Those scenes that get repeated in your mind are images you never forget.”

His father left when he was five years old.

“It wasn’t just physical – it was the psychological violence, and usually in fits of rage that were associated with drinking,” Villaraigosa said.

He said he has no relationship towards his father and does not hold anger towards him either.

When the economy crashed the mayor met many boys with whom he could relate.

mayor antonio villaraigosas family Only On CBS2: LA Mayor Villaraigosa Discusses Childhood Secret

(credit: CBS)

“…And I can almost tell before I ask them about their family situation…because I grew up like they did,” Villaraigosa said.

As a boy, Villaraigosa was kicked out of school and had anger issues. He said his mother helped him to turn his life around. She became his role model, each year becoming stronger, and, later, counseling other victims.

“Deep inside there’s this feeling of helplessness and this feeling that I kind of failed her by not protecting her on some level,” he said.

mayor antonio villaraigosa as a boy Only On CBS2: LA Mayor Villaraigosa Discusses Childhood Secret

(credit: CBS)

Now, as L.A.’s mayor, he has used that feeling to protect others.

Villaraigosa has secured millions in federal funds and private donations to fight domestic violence through an organization called Safe L.A. Last year, he partnered with the Los Angeles Police Department to add domestic abuse response teams to all 21 police divisions.

But fighting the shame is an uphill battle.

“They’ll deny anything happened, even though the whole block heard the screaming,” Villaraigosa said of many victims.

Villaraigosa had recently been elected as mayor when he witnessed a man beating up a woman on a city street.

“I jumped out of the car and I started chasing this guy around and my security just freaked out – ‘Get in the car! Get in the car!’”

The mayor caught the man but he couldn’t save the victim. She wasn’t willing to press charges.

Villaraigosa said he hopes his courage to speak out will empower others to come forward.

“That was the beauty of my mom,” he said, adding, “My mom talked about it and that was the strength of her.”

Mayor Villaraigosa said his new year message, in his mother’s memory, is to stop hiding from his past.

“That’s why I was willing to talk about my own situation, because we should all be willing to put a light on the dark things that happen in our life.”

For more on domestic violence awareness and how you can get involved visit Safe L.A. online.


One Comment

  1. Hardmoney says:


  2. Mel Gibson says:

    He might be a Moron, but he is doing Spiritual work by trying to help others through their Own abuse. Why do you think you are here for?
    Just to criticize others. Someday maybe you will learn that you are here to help others however you can

    1. hardmoney says:

      So he was “HELPING” that reporter he was cheating on his wife with. He is not doing this to help anyone other than himself. Tony Villar is the biggest publicity wh_re this city has ever had as mayor.

      1. Mel Gibson says:

        Well Most acts of helping others are also selfish and self serving.
        Sometimes I do help others cause I know it will make me feel good about myself or that I will be rewarded somehow.
        That reporter was pretty good looking and even though I love my wife dearly I can not say I would have chased her away.

        He is a Phony, but I was told one time the motives really don’t matter as long as you help others

  3. Francine Rodriguez says:

    A story I can relate to. Thank you Mayor!

  4. Mel Gibson says:

    My, My “Glow a pear” you must have some issues, but the Problem with you is your anger blinds you to the truth.
    What do you use to kill the Pain? Alcohol, or Drugs Maybe?

  5. betty litigan says:

    the crazy of villarraigosa is playing the part of victim so people can reelect him again. my opinion he is a monster he divorce his wife and is not a good example with his position now he wants citizens to vote for him again to continue been a crook with tax payers money. don’t play the part as a victim you are not a good person you are evil.where is you wife you crasy clown.

  6. Can't Lie About Your Past says:

    This story was already debunked by Tony Castro at the Daily News. His father went on to have a family with four college educated kids. He’s been married for over 50 years now, not typical of an abusive, alcoholic man. His neighborhood freinds remember it differently. It was the mother that was abusive – dometic abuse goes both ways and she kicked the father out. As proof, what did his mother die of in 1991 – cirrhosis of the liver. Just another political ploy like his sham marriage and name change. Talk to the father and his children, they’ll tell you the truth.

  7. KarrotTop says:

    This story about Tony Villar is as phony as he his!! And, has been forcefully debuncked down thru the years!! Just another example of Mayor Tony doing and saying anything…no matter how phony or damaging….just to further his agenda! The sooner he disappears from the radar the better.

  8. Joey Racano says:

    This is an evil man who chooses to step aside and allow moneyed energy interests destroy the ocean. His economic revitalization plan was the basis for allowing power plants to continue their highly destructive practice of sucking in sea water for cooling, which destroys all life in our oceans. This is an evil man.

    Joey Racano, Director
    Ocean Outfall Group

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