Baseball fans know Joe Torre as a former MLB catcher and MLB manager. But they may know not that he was exposed to violence as a child, an experience that played a major role in shaping his life. He recently wrote an op-ed in the Miami Herald, explaining why preventing children's exposure to violence is so important to him.
I was the youngest of five kids who grew up in an abusive home. My father, a New York City police officer, physically abused my mother and emotionally abused us all. My older siblings protected me from the violence, but they couldn’t shield me from the fear. Baseball became my shelter — the place to which I escaped to feel safe.
I didn’t know until decades later how much the way I felt about myself had been shaped by that fear. More than just fear, though, I felt shame, as well. As a kid, I was embarrassed by the belief that my house was the only one where things like this were happening. I worried that I had done something to cause the problem, and felt ashamed that I couldn’t stop it. As an adult, it took counseling for me to see myself as the innocent child I really had been, and to understand how deeply the violence I had witnessed affected me.
Because of these traumatic experiences, Joe and his wife founded the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation, which provides education and safe rooms in middle schools for kids caught in an abusive environment. Joe also serves as co-chair of Attorney General Eric Holder's National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, which is part of the DOJ's Defending Childhood Initiative.