April 24, 1992
Dear Family Member:
It is nice to feel that I have a family and roots again after so many years of feeling alone and empty. For years, I cut myself off from any attachment to my "Caldwell" side of the family. I now know that this was the only way I could deal with the pain of Dad's betrayal of me as a child. To survive and try to lead a nearly normal adult life I had to disconnect from my painful past and any reminders of it. My family was a very strong reminder of that past.
For over three years I have been dealing with that painful past---working through my anger and grief---and learning to let go of it. For what I am about to tell you, I don't want your pity or your anger. I don't need you to react at all. I am doing this for me and for no one else. I do hope that I can have your support in my working through this.
I know that some of you may be disbelieving and some of you may be angry that I am just now revealing this and you want to know why after all these years of being quiet that I am now stirring up all this trouble. I am not doing this to cause trouble or to seek revenge. I am doing this as a further step in my recovery. I am refusing to keep silent and to carry the burden of this secret anymore. It has become too heavy. Too much of my life has been harmed by it. I still have a lot of anger to deal with over this and to deal with it, the reasons have to brought out into the open. I don't want another generation of children to suffer because of our silence and it will continue to happen unless we speak out and others have the awareness to deal with it. Secrecy hurts too many people.
Most of you know that Daddy has a drinking problem. For my own self, I choose to give it a name---alcoholism. No one else has to agree with me. I won't argue over this point. It is strictly my opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
I thought about talking about this to some of you at the recent Family Reunion, but I decided to just enjoy the day instead. I have worked hard this year and deserved to have that day to savor the pleasant memories and feelings of love that I felt from each of you. This was an important day for me.
I don't make any apology to anyone for the feelings that you have as you read this. This is a family secret that must be exposed for what it is---dangerous and deadly to our children and their self-esteem.
Some of you wonder why [my sister], [my brother] and I aren't close to the family anymore. I can't speak for [my brother]. I don't know his reasons. [My sister] is afraid of Daddy and refuses to be around him or to allow her children contact with him. I don't want him in my life or in my children's lives. I won't let him continue to abuse me.
I won't tell you [my brother's] or [my sister's] story. I will only tell you mine. I won't go into details here. That would take to long. I've already written more than I thought I would.
Starting at least by the age of eleven years old, I was sexually abused by Daddy. I don't have memories of it starting earlier than that, but it may have. Some of the work that I have done leads me to believe that I may have been as young as eight or nine years old. You can't imagine the emotional pain I have gone through because of this. Do you know what it is like to hate the parent that you also love and have to depend upon for your very survival? When I was seventeen years old, I reached the point of having the courage to say no to Daddy. If the abuse had continued, I would have lost my sanity. I knew that. I never again let Daddy abuse me. I think he was afraid I would tell if he continued to push me. He left me alone physically, but the emotional abuse continued until I left home at the age of nineteen. I knew that was my one and only chance to get out from under his control. Living with Dad was like having a dictator tell you everything you could do or not do. I never learned to make decisions or to think for myself until I was a Junior in college. I know that God was with me and keeping me sane. He gave me the courage to do what I had to do. He allowed me to find the people that I needed to guide me in the right direction at each crucial point in my life. I have a husband who loves me and has tried to be understanding of all that I have gone through. That hasn't always been easy. Dan has allowed me the space to find out who I am. For me, the process has been both painful and joyful.
I like who I am today. I am at a good place in my life. I have told Mom about the abuse just this month. She says she didn't know or she would have stopped it. She was as much under Dad's control as I was. I have made my peace with her. I haven't confronted Dad yet, because when I try to contact him person to person he disappears. I have written a letter to him giving him back responsibility for his actions. This step will close a chapter in my life. This is a positive step for me. It has been a long journey to reach this healthy point in my life.
I hope that each of you can still welcome me to future Family Reunions with the same enthusiasm as you did this year. Family means a lot to me. I love everyone of you. Please help me to bring awareness to our next generation of children so the hurt and the abuse can be stopped at least for this family. I love you all.
Patricia Caldwell Singleton
I didn't use my brother or my sister's names here as I did in the original letters. I have been searching for my copy of this letter for over a year and could not find it. My sister a few weeks ago called me and asked me if I would like to have her copy of the letter. She didn't know that I had been looking for my copy. Thanks, Sis for giving me your copy. She also gave me her copy of the copy letter written to her and my brother telling them that they were getting their copy of the "Dear Family Member" letter two weeks before I mailed them out to everyone else. I wrote the above letter on April 24, 1992 but my sister's letter was written on June 10, 1992 so I apparently took a few months after writing the "Dear Family Member" letter before I mailed them out to my dad's brothers and sisters. I chose not to send a copy to my grandmother because she was elderly and in poor health. I didn't want to hurt her with the knowledge of her sons actions. I told each of my aunts and uncles that it was their choice as to whether or not they shared the contents of my letter with their children, most of whom are my age and older. I don't know if they did or not. No one ever said anything to me about it. One of my nephews recently told me he had read his dad's letter when he was a teenager. My youngest niece recently read her mom's copy before my sister gave the letter to me.
I look forward to hearing from you letting me know what you think about my letter.