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Dear Walt Disney Co.: Stop Enriching Abusers, Fire My Dad

I watched my father grab my mother’s arms, cross them tight and pin them so she could not move. He pulled them down with such force her knees buckled as she screamed in pain for him to stop. She would later tell me she heard what sounded like pencils snapping in her arm.

My mother’s severely gashed right forearm was covered in blood. It physically sickened me. After being treated by paramedics, she would need surgery and years of physical therapy. The marks and bruises told only a small part of the story.

Her doctor, a respected orthopedic surgeon, concluded her arm was permanently damaged and that she would never regain full use of it. To this day, she needs assistance her with simple tasks because of pain she endures every day of her life.

I witnessed the attack from just a few feet away. At 5' 4", my mother never stood a chance. Every day I live with the horror of seeing my mother attacked. My dad had his face right up to my mother’s and was spitting profanities — “You bitch! You bitch!” — while gouging the flesh of her arm. He had something in his hands (keys maybe) that tore her skin the entire length of her forearm.

As I ran over to help my mom, I remember thinking “Is this really happening? He looks like he wants to kill her!! How can this be that the man who fathered me was doing this in front of me?” The look in my dad’s eyes was rage, and it scared me.

Finally he let go.

This is my mother, Cathy Bernardini.

This is my mother, Cathy Bernardini.

Watching my mother being physically attacked was a nightmare I will never escape. But what makes this incident even more terrifying for me, and my mother, is that the assailant was my father, Mike Rinder, who to this day has never apologized let alone admit that he physically assaulted his wife of more than 30 years in front of his own daughter. He has never had the courage to own up to it.

Last week, my mother and I relived this nightmare because of the sickening hypocrisy of the A&E Network and the Walt Disney Co., half-owner of the network. They gushed and patted themselves on the back on how they are now focused on women, “elevating the cultural conversation.”

If that’s the case, why does my father have a job with you? He is the paid co-host and a producer of A&E’s show with Leah Remini. How can A&E and Disney talk out of one side of their mouth about supporting women while employing someone who shredded my mother’s arm in front of me?

As perpetrators do so often in domestic assaults, my father blames the victim by claiming that my mother provoked him, so it must be her fault. In fact, he has the nerve to portray himself as the victim.

He claims she’s exaggerating the injuries. (Click here to decide for yourself from her medical records and what her doctor says). Of course, he’ll say I’m being put up to speaking. But trust me: this is my decision to do what’s right for my mom and for women.

…why does my father have a job with you?…How can A & E and Disney talk on one side of their mouth about supporting women while employing someone who shredded my mother’s arm in front of me?

So, Disney: Rather than sweep it under the rug and take my father’s word at face value, you and A&E need to look at the medical reports and confront the fact that you are supporting an abusive man.

If you do that, I’m sure you will reach only one conclusion: The production company who hired him needs to fire Mike Rinder. A&E needs to cut him loose. Disney needs to listen up and recognize it cannot have it both ways — punishing those who deserve it for the way they have treated women while giving others a pass they don’t deserve.

This cannot go on unnoticed. You are paying a man who physically attacked a woman — someone he was married to for over 30 years — in front of his own daughter.

Please fire my Dad. He deserves it.

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