This I Believe

Pamela - Tucson, Arizona
Entered on September 7, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in doing what’s right even if it’s the hardest thing I ever have to do. I learned this when I stood up against my mother, father and 12 brothers and sisters to end the cycle of sexual abuse that had been the dirty little secret of our seemingly perfect family.

When I was 18 years old, I came home for the weekend after my first month at junior college 90 miles away to be greeted by my father; my mother was nowhere to be found. He hugged me, and it felt wrong. He touched my breasts and then apologized, saying he’d been a ‘good boy’ for the past 18 years. Then he left.

I went to my boyfriend’s house and told him what happened. He drove me back to my apartment and said I should not go home again for awhile. I was going to just let it go. But then the letters began to arrive.

My father told me about how surprisingly bountiful my breasts were and that he would give me his car if I would just agree to have sex with him. He went into great detail about what he wanted to do to me. I read these letters in sickened horror, my world as I knew it crashing around me.

My mother came to visit and I showed her the letters. She said, ‘Oh, well, your dad’s sick. It was just a little slip. His mom abused him when he was little. It’s just how he shows he loves you. And besides, it’s a woman’s lot in life. It happened to me when I was 13. Just let it go.’

I began to get letters from my other 9 sisters and 3 brothers. All were variations of a theme. ‘Oh,’ they said, ‘it finally happened to you. Well, it happened to me when I was ‘ … you fill in the blank. Some said as young as 4 years old. I guess I got off easy.

As I started to learn about the cycle of abuse that had been occurring in my family, I got angry. How could everyone know about it and not stop it? How could they have not told me about it until it happened to me?

The day my father was sentenced for 2.5 years in prison, he and mother were on one side of the courtroom and me and my boyfriend and work-study boss who both supported me through the ordeal of bringing charges were on the other. I received hate mail from my brothers and sisters for breaking up the family unit, and none of them showed up.

To this day I do not regret the most difficult decision I ever made, because it was the right thing to do. Because of me, the cycle of abuse was called to a halt. My father was put in prison for what he did and was made to know that it was wrong. Even though he is out of prison now, I have at least the hope that he will think twice before he is temped by my nieces and nephews or any other child that may cross his path.

I lost my family with that decision, but I gained friends who supported me and became my new family. I graduated with a degree in Management Information Systems and became a successful Systems Analyst. The boyfriend became my husband and best friend. And I have no regrets.