When I got home, I screamed for my son. I called both my sisters and my former sister in-law. I called a friend who knew my brother, one of my sisters and myself. "Ding, ding," she said, "Theres your answer."
His sexual behavior had been notorious for years. He was obsessed. He would pick up anyone. He would sleep with anyone. In family circles it was well known and we would roll our eyes and say, "Well, you know how Tom is."
Here was the beginning of an answer. I thought he should know. I called him. I said, "My therapist says its obvious you were sexually abused."
There was a pause. "It didnt have to be Dad, did it?" he asked. "No," I said, "It didnt have to be Dad."
There was another pause and then he said, "Well, that is ridiculous. I wasnt abused. I remember my entire childhood and nothing happened."
He said he wanted to talk to my therapist. He wanted to get all of this "straightened out." I had no idea if Martha would agree. She was more than willing as long as it was in my presence.
The next few days at work were the hardest I have ever experienced. All that occupied my mind was that someone had done something terrible to my brother. Something terrible to a child.
. There was no turning back now. I would never miss another appointment. Finally, after over a year, I knew that I would find the truth in that little room with Martha. And I knew, that no matter what, I had to know the truth.
He began the conversation with, "Emily, Anne and I have discussed this and we do not believe it is possible that our father abused Becky. We are very concerned about her. We just want her to get better and go back to the happy person she used to be."
He was quick to add, "Nothing happened to me. I remember my entire childhood and no one abused me."
Martha nodded. "Tell me about your parents relationship?" she asked. "Does your family except new members, i.e. spouses, readily?" She asked. "Tell me about your father."
Tom was more than happy to fill her in. I didnt disagree with any of his answers to the questions.
"No," he said. "Our parents never showed affection for each other. They didnt ever kiss or hug or hold hands. They argued a lot."
"No, when they met the woman Quyen was going to marry, they grilled her for forty-five minutes. My mother grilled her. Quyen and I were squirming in our seats."
"No, my father was not involved with his children. He didnt have any time for us. He didnt play with us. He didnt want us around him or under-foot."
"He was a tyrant," he said of my father. "An absolute tyrant. He was the absolute ruler of the household."
I told him at the end of the conversation that none of my brothers and sisters were there for my last four years at Sylvan. They had all left by my freshmen year in high school. I was there alone. They didnt know what had happened.
He again said our father was not capable of sexual abuse and asked, "Why dont we ask Martha if she thinks the man I described could be capable of this?" He was his usual arrogant self sure of what her answer would be.
Martha told him in no uncertain terms that the man he described was capable of sexual abuse. "It was his house. He felt he could do whatever he wanted. You were his children. He felt he owned you. He felt he had the right to do anything he wanted."
Her answer sent a chill through my spine. I hadnt told her yet, but in one of my memories of abuse, my mother said the exact same words to me, "Its his house. He can do whatever he wants."
And it would be months before I would question how my brothers and sisters, and me, could have possibly thought the parents and the family that he described and we grew up with could in any way be considered typical or happy or healthy.
The phone call lasted the full hour of my session. As I left, I told her I couldnt wait until the next visit to discuss it. But before the next visit, the road I was on was going to take a horrific turn.
Tom, Emily and Anne knew what was going on in my life. We shared a mutual childhood and I had been e-mailing and calling with questions and fact checking memories for close to a year.
My younger brother, Steve, was adopted from Vietnam as a baby when I was a teenager. I had not kept him informed. Before Toms phone call with my therapist and me, I had established a cell phone call with Steve for the day after.
I briefly filled him in. At 3:00 p.m. on a phone in my office at work, I listened as Steve said very calmly, "Well, let me tell you what happened to me. Tom molested me when I was thirteen."
All hell broke loose. The e-mail I sent to my brothers and sisters entitled "Brotherly Love" is printed in this paper. I sent my son to Canada to spend a week with Tom one summer when he was eight. I had had trepidations. Something in my gut told me better.
But Tom was insistent and I thought my sisters boys would be there as well. I had put my son on a plane alone to visit his uncle a pedophile.
(The remainder to follow on October 4)