Patricia and Rosanna Arquette reveal abusive childhood: choking, stabbing

As part of the Oprah interview with David Arquette fresh out of rehab, they had a taped segment in which David’s sisters, actresses Patricia and Rosanna Arquette, discussed their chaotic and abusive childhood. (You can watch that segment on They were very matter-of-fact about it but the details they gave were heartwrenching. At points Rosanna closed her eyes just remembering the hell they went through. There were five kids in that household and it sounds like their parents were nutjobs.

They came from a family of actors, with a grandfather who was on Hollywood Squares, a father who was a character actor and a mother who was a poet. When David was born they lived for a while on a commune in Virginia with no electricity, no running water and no bathroom. When David was about four they moved to Chicago and then to Los Angeles. The two of them discussed what they went through with one parent who was an addict and another who was abusive.

Rosanna – There was a lot of drama in our house

Patricia – There was a lot of chairs flying around

Rosanna – a lot of hole punching in walls

Patricia – My dad had a lot of issues, my mom had a lot of issues. She was abusive to use when we were little.

Rosanna – She stabbed me in the arm with a knife. Concussions. Just terrible, terrible physical abuse.

Patricia – She choked me to the point once where I started blacking out.

Rosanna – My father was an addict

Patricia – When he was using substance, which was usually marijuana, he would also drink whiskey

Rosanna – And so when you grow up in that kind of family, it is a family disease. It affects everybody.

Patricia – It’s like a minefield, and you never knew which one you were going to get, which morning, which mom which dad. Nothing you could really depend on.

Rosanna – In his later years, my dad did get help and get sober. And my mother, there was nothing but forgiveness and love at the end of her life.

Patricia – I think David was impacted my feeling like he needed to be the perfect son… You cannot fix it by being the best kid in the world, you just can’t.

[From The Oprah Winfrey show, aired 2-24-11]

After watching that clip, David got choked up and said that “the beautiful story about that sort of sad background is that my parents healed themselves throughout their lives. My father got sober, my mother became a marriage family counselor. We’re all dealing with processing our pain in different ways.”

David explained that he wanted to fix everything in his childhood by fixing things with Courtney, but instead he repressed his feelings and tried to cope with it by drinking. Courteney tried to get him to stop, but it took a long time until it got bad enough for him to take her seriously. We’ll get to more on his relationship with Courtney in a moment. It’s just so sad to hear what the Arquettes went through as children. As least they had a chance to know their parents and make peace with them once they got sober.


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32 Responses to “Patricia and Rosanna Arquette reveal abusive childhood: choking, stabbing”

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  1. Crash2GO2 says:

    I recall a poster here always extolling the wonderful childhood these 3 had, having been brought up in a commune. Sheesh.

  2. Raven Sparrow says:

    Wow! I’m shocked…that’s so sad…poor kids. ๐Ÿ™

  3. mln76 says:

    I watched Oprah last night. It confirmed my opinion of David that he is a lost soul, with a lot of demons. I hope his sobriety sticks. According to the show he lives in one of Courtney’s houses and does yoga all day. I think that might get old eventually. I also found it very interesting that David said repeatedly (and Oprah never followed up on) that he did believe that Courtney was cheating on him but then ‘found out’ it wasn’t true. I was surprised by that because all along he was the one denying the affair to the press. I still think there was an affair.

  4. PrettyTarheel says:

    That is amazing that they were able to have that forgiveness and relationship after the trauama of that upbringing.
    Side note, Does Patricia look fantastic or what? Did her divorce with Thomas Jane get finalized? Because if so, divorcing a man with a penchant for barefeet certainly agrees with her.

  5. Raven Sparrow says:

    mln76 – What do you mean? Do you think she did have an affair? Or him?

  6. mln76 says:

    @Ravensparrow. He said that he was drinking and she was pushing him to get help and talking about separation and him getting sober. He said he resented her and that at the same time there were all these reports of an affair (he didn’t mention Brian Van Holt but just the rumors that she was having an affair). He said at the time he believed the reports but then he ‘found out’ they weren’t true. Oprah never followed up at all on that line of questioning.

    I believe that she had an affair with the co-star (there are several old CB articles on this)

  7. Me says:

    I feel the whole situation is so sad, but I think it’s great that two of his siblings publically supported his claims. Not knocking the others, they are dealing with it in their own way I’m sure and have the right to be private about it. I’m just tired of siblings in the press giving totally different accounts of their lives and not even showing support that the others siblings experience isn’t valid because of what personally happened to them.

  8. Shay says:

    Now I get why they have experienced rollercoaster relationships, ups and downs. When your family is that dysfunctional, and role models are na-na, then you can’t distinguish normal from abnormal, make bad choices, experience an ongoing treadmill until you have professional help to help you distinguish the functional from the dysfunctional.

  9. RHONYC says:

    in my eyes patricia will always be the badass hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold ‘peaches’ that wiped the floor with gandolfini in ‘true romance’

    & rosanna will always be the lovable quirky girl that got to make out with hot aidan quinn in ‘desperately seeking susan’ ๐Ÿ™‚

    there abusive background sucks…more common than you think though. at least they (the sibs) had each other. what they described was just a regular Tuesday night for many.

    i wish them healing. ๐Ÿ™

  10. Raven Sparrow says:

    @mln76 – Thanks for the explanation.
    Gosh, this is all just so sad.

  11. REALIST says:

    This explains a lot, especially about David. Good for the sisters to come forward.

    Courtney Cox–I still wonder how supportive she really was. I say this from the point of view of someone who quickly declined into mental illness-post-partum depression, depression, and then finally (post divorce)-a diagnosis of BPD-II. During the horrible bouts of depression-thank God I did not self-medicate-I had very little support from my (then) husband. It was pretty much-go fix yourself-no real empathy or help.
    Thanks for letting me vent…we’re co-parenting now, and the past is still painful.
    In my case, it was a difficult childhood-not abusive-and bad genes.

  12. Toot says:

    I feel bad about their childhoods, but on a lighter note. I always think it’s interesting that Rosanna has had two hit songs associated with her by different artist. “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel which was supposedly written for her, which I’ve always loved, and “Rosanna” by Toto.

  13. mln76 says:

    @RavenSparrow no problem

    BTW I love the Arquette sisters. I still remember Rosanna in Desperately Seeking Susan and Patricia in True Romance.

    I think they’d be a hoot to sit down and have a cup of coffee with.

  14. Isabel says:

    What a terrible situation for these people to have lived through, though it is so wonderful to know that they found peace with their parents later in life.

    I think that we can in no way, shape or form accuse Courtney of not being supportive enough. We do not know what they endured as a couple, and for how long. We do not know what she put up with. The disease could likely have been too big of a monster for their relationship to overcome. He may have needed tough love to get him back into shape. You really can’t take your own personal experiences with mental illness and apply them to everyone else.

  15. kiyoshigirl says:

    It does not say whether the parents divorced, but if they did not, it is particularly interesting that both were supposedly able to “heal” and repair the family dysfunctions together….doesn’t typically happen that way.

  16. Isabel says:

    Oh…and when I see Rosanna, I think of Crash (from the 90s…not the Matt Dillon/Ryan Phillippe/yada yada one). That move was craaaaazy.

    Nothing but love for that family!

  17. Kimmy says:

    mln76 I believes that she had an affair with the co-star (there are several old CB articles on this) the articles came from Star and the Enquirer not the reliable of souses.

  18. REALIST says:

    @ Isabel-point taken…

  19. Ivy says:

    I’ve always been both a little annoyed by David and charmed by his “quirkyness” at the same time. But, as I watched this yesterday, I found it so, SO sad…for everyone who bashes him for needing to grow up, etc., the interview certainly gave me pause. While I agree that he has a child and need to pull himself together, it seems like he is truly trying to do this – to work through all those demons and come out the other side.

    From personal experience, I think it’s not uncommon to think you are “past” traumatic events from your youth (especially at the hands of your parents/family), and that the act of having a child yourself can sometimes cause a lot of painful stuff to come bubbling up, with difficulty processing how someone could have done all that to a child, much less to you.

    What a past…ugh. No wonder the whole family has always been considered “eccentric”. Clearly he loves his wife, and seems to be a wonderful, doting father (with the exception of the self-destructive part..whole other ball of wax). I really do wish him the best and appreciate the candor of his interview – it was refreshing.

  20. TG says:

    Is there anyone in hollywood who wasn’t abused growing up? I saw the ETHS re Charlie Sheen and his parents were nudists for awhile and he wasn’t comfortable with that. You could tell his mom and I guess dad too were all in to the new age crap and moving from one idea to the next. No wonder his is messed up. Parents need to get their sh**t together before having children.

  21. Roma says:

    @Isabel: The book that Crash was based on was even more intense. Sometimes I’m surprised when another person says they’ve seen it!

  22. Isabel says:

    @Roma – there was a book?? I need to get my hands on it. Crash and Happiness (have you seen?) are two of the most unbelievably twisted movies I have ever seen.

  23. Roma says:

    @Isabel: JG Ballard wrote it and it is beyond twisted. He writes some really dark but exquisite novels. Another super twisted book? Last Exit to Brooklyn by Selby.

    I haven’t seen Happiness! I’m going to have to go find it…

  24. Raven Sparrow says:

    @Roma & Isabel – I saw Crash too. Very intense, dark and twisted.
    Happyness(are we calling about the same one? ) was very intense as well but for me in another way. It was more like ” oh no, not another piece of bad luck” I wanted to cry during the whole film.

  25. Rosanna says:

    Personally, I think that a stuck-up person like Courtney wasn’t good on him. I hope David recovers fast and stays away from her. The sooner he stops to try to please mom Courtney the better it is for him (and for Coco).

  26. Kim says:

    Did Alexis ever have sex assignment surgery?

  27. original kate says:

    i read “crash” and all i can say is the semen was a-flyin’. oh, and i hated it.

  28. Amy says:

    I went to school with their younger first cousin and she knew Rosanna pretty well. I guess Rosanna ran away from home once and lived with this girl’s family. She would share some gossip with me occasionally.

    She also relayed some crazy stuff about the parents. Total hippy stoners who wouldn’t take care of them properly. Rosanna and Patricia act like mother figures to the rest.

    She confirmed that Nic Cage and Patricia hardly ever spent time together (they were married at the time) and this was before Alexis came out as gay / transgendered.

    At the time, Rosanna was freaking out about his drag act. She didn’t want people to think he was gay. I guess he hadn’t come out to the family yet?

    If you have ever seen that documentary about Alexis, it delves even more into their family life. Apparently, the siblings are loyal but also very competitive with each other career-wise. So weird!

  29. JenJen says:

    @Kim, Alexis did a documentary years ago and I believe went thru the surgery process to become a woman.

    I like both Rosanna and Patricia but they did have to grow on me, more thru seeing what they were like personally and very open and unpretentious. They openly supported Alexis’ sex change and weren’t afraid of how it would affect them. I respect them even more now knowing they weren’t emotionally nurtured themselves growing up. They are both cool and strong women.

  30. Stephanie says:

    Truly a sad story. My heart goes out to them.

  31. Starlight says:

    Oh wow, I never knew that Patricia and David were related! It just never clicked.

    It is so, so sad to hear what happened to them growing up. That’s intense – getting stabbed & chocked by your own parents… The whole situation… The psychological damage :O

    They should be celebrated for having the strength to get through that!!! Even David, what he is going through now is probably PTSD which is really tough to overcome. He seems very sensitive, too. I hope he’s okay.

    Personally I’m a tad annoyed that the parents were able to heal themselves and yet their son is still suffering. That’s not fair, none of it was his fault. On one hand I’m glad they were able to heal but I kind of despise child abusers… sometimes i think we should just throw em in a lake. I know that’s not very compassionate of me :S

  32. Shaz says:

    Abuse is bad, but inconsistency is worse – they say a consistent abuser is less damaging. Lovely talented children, wish them well.