Friday, May 13, 2011

Dr. Phil Show on "Forgiving the Unforgivable"

I watched the Dr. Phil Show on Wednesday, May 11 and Thursday, May 12 for a show that he called "Forgiving the Unforgivable."  I am going to include a link here for the first of the two shows. 

Warning:  This may be triggering for some survivors.  I sat and ate through the whole show on Wednesday.  I haven't done that in awhile.  The Show triggered feelings that were intense enough for me to numb them with food. 

"Forgiving the Unforgivable" is about two grown daughters, Marita and Katrina, who confront their mother about the part that she didn't play as a parent when the mother's boyfriend, later husband, was sexually abusing her daughters for years in their own bedroom.  I want to share with you the notes that I wrote down from the show.  I think the mother's name was Kathy.  That is what I am going to call her here.

Dr. Phil said to Kathy:  "What he did is different than what you didn't do."

Kathy said, "These are my daughters."
Dr. Phil to Kathy:  "Then act like a mother."

Dr. Phil to Kathy:  When you tell the victim that they should have told about the abuse, you are blaming the victim rather than the abuser.  Never blame the victim for the abuse.

Dr. Phil to the sisters Marita and Katrina:  Sometimes we have to give ourselves what we wanted from our parents.  What we didn't get from our parents, we can give to ourselves. (Reparenting is what this is called by some.)

Kathy at one point called herself "the wife of a sex offender."  She said this would always be her identity.

Kathy asked God's forgiveness in a moment of high drama.  What got to me was that she never once asked her daughters for their forgiveness.  Kathy kept saying over and over that she didn't know the sexual abuse was going on in her own house.  My question is how could she not know when she saw her husband in her daughter's bedroom on top of her daughter one night.  She looked in; he looked up at her; she went on into the kitchen praying to God for help.  She went back to the room; he was gone and her daughters were pretending to be asleep.  She told herself and Dr. Phil that she just didn't know what she was seeing.

I don't understand and neither do her daughters why she didn't go into the bedroom and turn on the light and ask her husband what he was doing.  She didn't ask because she didn't want to know.  She decided that she had imagined that he was in the room laying on top of her daughter, raping her daughter who was just an innocent little girl at the time.  She never asked her daughters or your husband about what she saw, about what he was doing almost nightly to her daughters.  Kathy kept repeating, yelling, that she didn't know what she saw that night.

Finally one of the girls or both, if it said during the Show then I missed it, told someone about what was happening to them.  The husband was arrested and the girls went to live with their father.  In court, Kathy sat behind her husband giving him support during the trial.  The day of the trial, Kathy went to her daughters and demanded that they call their abuser and apologize to him for putting him in jail.  When Marita and Katrina brought this up, Kathy openly denied that she supported a sex offender rather than supporting her hurting daughters.

Kathy cried and yelled at Dr. Phil and her daughters throughout the whole two days taping of this program.  She finally admitted that she was at fault but still never really took responsibility for not protecting her daughters.  Marita thanked her mother for her honesty during the show.  Marita has had counseling or therapy of some kind from the way she talked and handled the whole situation and is probably the older of the two sisters.  She wasn't as actively angry with her mother as Katrina was. 

I never had this kind of conversation with my mother.  When I told my mother about the incest, I asked if she knew about the incest and I asked if she had ever been sexually abused herself as a child.  She said no to both of my questions.  I believe that confronting the silent parent is in some ways harder than confronting the abuser.  At least, it was for me.  I still wanted my mother's love.  I was still, even as an adult, afraid of what my mother would say or do after I told her. 

I think, like Kathy in the Dr. Phil Show, my mother, at least on some level of consciousness, knew that I was being sexually abused.  She had to at least have wondered with as many trips as I was forced to go on with my dad.  I was never asked if I wanted to go.  I was always told by one or both parents that I was going somewhere with my dad at least several times a week from the age of 11 to 17.  My mother never questioned all of the time that I spent with my dad.  She just knew that he wasn't bothering her.  If she had looked at my face, into my sad eyes, she would have seen that something was wrong but she never did.  I look at pictures of myself as a child and see the sad eyes. 

Eyes tell it all.  Take the time today to talk to your children and to look into their eyes.  Are they happy or are they sad?  Be sure to look beyond what you want to see to what is really there.  My mom never did.  I always wished that she would have seen my pain and done something to stop it.  She didn't.

Thanks, Dr. Phil for doing this show.  Thanks to Marita and Katrina for having the courage to do something that I never did in confronting their mother and her lies.


LadyJtalks said...

though my mother was told about what my brothers did, most I could say was that the things that happened did effect most of your life. later of course because these conversations didn't happen in front of other family members she seemed to forget we had them. so many other things I guess could have been done but I know the truth whether my family wants to believe any of it or not. doesn't matter

Patricia Singleton said...

LadyJTalks, It may not hurt right now that they didn't believe you but it probably once did. I feel sad for the little girls that we both were. Thanks for having the courage to share part of your story here. I appreciate you. I believe you.

Darlene Ouimet said...

Hi Patricia,
I think is is always telling when a parent won't say they are sorry becuase saying they are sorry would be like an admission of guilt to them.
This is a brutal story. The mother standing by him in court was a reabuse to those girls. My mother let one of my abusers (one of her boyfriends) back in the house and it was devastating... the proof that not only didn't she believe me when her own sister caught the guy, but she didn't care enough to keep him away from the house! I never felt safe again after that until I was in my fourties!
I don't think I am going to watch this show, but I am happy that you posted about it. YAY for your courage too! Just reading about it and watching the preview you posted on FB made me want to eat!
Love, Darlene

Patricia Singleton said...

Darlene, thanks. I am not sure what I am feeling about this show still. Even writing this blog post about it has stirred up a nervousness in me that I don't quite know what to do with. I am still not good with sitting with intense feelings or even always being able to identify them for what they are. Thanks for your continued support.

dbrannem said...

Patricia, I applaud your courage and bravery to watch and write about this episode - I know it is/was hard for you. In my situation, I feel like my father was the silent parent. I agree with you that it somehow seems harder to think about talking to him about it. There is more than the abuse tied up in that conversation - maybe it's because the betrayal is more than abuse.

I found the line "Sometimes we have to give ourselves what we wanted from our parents" extremely impactful. I have never considered this - I will need to process what that means to me.

Patricia Singleton said...

DBrannem, there are some wonderful books out there on parenting our inner children. Charles Whitfield comes to mind. I don't recall the specific name of the book but I remember they really helped me. I don't own those books any longer. I passed them on to someone else that I thought would benefit from them years ago. It may be time for me to put together a list of helpful books as resources. I will think about that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia. I personally did not see any sorrow in that woman on Dr. Phil. I saw much self-centeredness and self-protection. I saw a selfish woman who cares more about herself than anyone else in the world. She yelled, 'Oh God, forgive me' but it appeared fake to me, as if it was what she thought she should say, not what was real. And you are 100% correct. She did not ask her daughters for the forgiveness.

When I told my mother about the incest, she denied it and years later, denied it again in a very self-protective way, and she sounded a lot like that woman on TV when she said, "I didn't know about any abuse!" But my mother knew, and so did that woman on TV.

You are absolutely correct when you say that confronting the silent parent is more difficult. I have heard and read that many times, the abuser is much more honest than the silent mother.

I applaud you for your strength in confronting your mother.


Patricia Singleton said...

Alethea, thank you. I agree with your evaluation of the mother on this show. She was playing Drama Queen 100% and wasn't interested in what her daughters were thinking or feeling at all. It was all about her.

There was no real sorrow or remorse for the part that she played in the sexual abuse. She is a great example of a mother putting her own needs first over that of her children. She was so afraid of being alone that she was willing to ignore the fact that her daughters were being molested. She saw the sexual abuse happening with her own eyes and chose to do nothing, say nothing to stop because of her own fears. She could have stopped the abuse and protected her daughters and she chose to do nothing. She didn't even ask what was going on. She did not want to know.

by Barbara K. said...

As the mother of a survivor, and a staunch advocate against child abuse, I wanted to read what what "Kathy" had to say. I know that I did not know. Hindsight shows you a lot, and I also know that in my case I believed my daughter, doubted myself, and believed the many counselors and doctors who also "missed" it. That is why I wrote the poem,"The Cry I Never Heard Still Haunts Me". Kathy should have been convicted of sexual abuse. There was no other explanation for what she saw. In my case, it is what I did not see, and because my own father was wonderful, I doubted my "God's Whisper". Never again...never again. Kathy needs to come to terms with her own psychological and emotional abuse that allowed her to knowingly support a pedophile and not her own babies. The road is difficult with support, but to know that your own mother does not "get" it, is insufferable. Thank you for providing this window, Patricia!

Patricia Singleton said...

Barbara K, thank you for your supportive comment and you are very welcome. I do all that I can to speak out and help others recognise child abuse and the harm that it does to our children. Many of us still carry the scars into adulthood. I agree with you that Kathy should have been arrested and charged with child abuse too.

Colleen said...

I too felt like eating while reading your post! I may watch the episode. Maybe.
You know my mother "story." For years, I lived in denial about what she knew or did not know. She has done a lot to try to help my sister and me over the past several years, including writing my father several angry letters. That really helped me to have my mother finally stand up to him like that.
I forgave her a long time ago and have often thought of her as a victim. The mother on Dr Phil does not seem to be like my mother at all. And I am sorry for her daughters to have to hear some of the stuff they heard - on the show and throughout their lives.

Patricia Singleton said...

Colleen, thank you for your comment and continued support. My mom was the loud drama queen that Kathy was on this show but still she didn't see what she didn't want to see either. I warn you, this show is not an easy one to watch.

Meg said...

Thank you for posting this. Last week I sent a letter to my mother confronting her for not protecting me from her boyfriend. I didn't have the courage to confront her about her own abuse of me. I just received a response letter from her two days ago. She doesn't "remember" me being abused. This post was actually a comfort that my mother is not the only one that denies my reality. Thank you.

Patricia Singleton said...

Meg, you are very welcome. Congratulations on having the courage to confront your mother. I know how hard it is to confront a parent. I feel sad that she says she doesn't remember. How convenient for her. I wish it were so easy for us. It isn't. You have taken an important step with your letter whether she remembers or not. Good for you.

Sharon Rose said...

Oh, this just caused my stomach to tie up in knots reading it.

Literally, I feel like I have just finished a work out at the gym on my abs. This must have been excruciating to watch. It sure had to have been that way to live through it.

Patricia Singleton said...

Pastor Sharon, it was difficult to watch because the mother never once admitted to the abuse and neglect that she caused or went along with from her husband. I wanted to slap the woman, shake her and make her see her part in this. You could tell that the oldest daughter had some therapy but the youngest daughter had not. Watching it affected my stomach too.