Gabriel Byrne plays therapist Paul on HBO’s hit series In Treatement, delving out advice to his patients while simultaneously battling his own neuroses with a personal therapist played by Dianne Wiest. Gabriel has just revealed that his off-screen life has some hidden skeletons in the closet. The actor admitted on an Irish talk show this week that he was sexually abused when he was an 11-year-old altar boy.
“Unfortunately, I experienced some sexual abuse,” Gabriel said on the Irish show The Meaning of Life and reported via PopEater. “It was a known and admitted fact of life amongst us that there was this particular man, and you didn’t want to be left in the dressing room with him.”
The sexual abuse occurred when Gabriel went to England for 4 1/2 years to train for the priesthood. He was molested by a member of the clergy during his religious practice.
“It took many years to come to terms with it and to forgive those incidents that I felt had deeply hurt me,” Gabriel continued. “It didn’t go on over a prolonged period but it happened at a very, very vulnerable moment.”
“Again, I didn’t think it severely impacted me at the time. But when I think about my later life, and how I had difficulties with certain issues, there is the real possibility they could have been attributable to that.”
In the interview, the actor opened up about what he referred to as “black periods” in his life, including depression and alcoholism. He admits he was “beaten very regularly” as a child, but denies ever laying a hand on his two kids and ex-wife Ellen Barkin.
He abandoned seminary after he decided his love of women outweighed his desire to become a priest.