Messed up teen decides to keep baby then turns to God.
It’s not the type of story that would usually run on Ellen DeGeneres or on CTV. A memoir on Christian faith and forgiveness doesn’t normally spawn enthusiastic Twitter buzz from followers of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Ashton Kutcher.
But when you’re Justin Bieber’s mom, you gain a pretty incredible platform.
Pattie Mallette was sexually abused as a child—repeatedly. By age 14 she was numbing her pain with drugs and alcohol, and soon she engaged in petty crime and selling pot to support her lifestyle. At 17 she threw herself in front of a truck, landing her in the psych ward. Six months later she was pregnant and got kicked out of her Ontario home.
She was encouraged to abort the baby, but she couldn’t do it. In the next year she found God and her life started to change. At age 21 she committed not to have sex again outside of marriage, and vowed that she wouldn’t even date until her son turned 18, which happened this March.
Although the media is playing down the faith elements in her story (except the surprising celibacy—DeGeneres bought her a six-month membership for dating site Match.com) she is having a far-reaching impact with her honesty about the abuse and depression. Book reviews and tweets are full of heartfelt thanks from women who have experienced shame about similar experiences.
In an interview with the National Post, Mallette talks about the privilege and opportunity of her platform.
“I have over a million Twitter followers because of Justin, and they all call me mom. So I feel somewhat of a responsibility to have something good to say. I feel like there’s a lot of people with a platform and they don’t have anything to say or they don’t have anything good to say.”
Mallette, who is open about her Christian faith and personal struggles on her Twitter account and now in her memoir, is choosing to use her unexpected fame for good. She’s pointing to her ultimate source of hope and is encouraging other young women who know the darkness she’s faced first-hand. Putting action behind her words, she’s also donating partial proceeds from the book to a charity benefiting single-parent homes and addiction support services.