HELPLESSNESS: Book 1
Fall 1977. In a yellow and white house on 12th Avenue in Los Angeles, California, weeks before my family, The Whitney Family, was to sign the largest recording contract Motown Records had ever offered a new signing group a dark family secret about my sisters, my stepfather, and my mother was exposed. It was a secret kept hidden from my three brothers and me for almost twenty years. In a ten-minute span, my three brothers and I were hit with four emotional earthquakes. Of the four earthquakes, none was deviating when we heard words no brother ever wants or expects to hear when our mother said, “Your two oldest sisters have been sexually abused by Henry (our stepfather) for years.”
Not only did we hear that stunning statement, but stunned to learn our mother knew about the molestations the whole time. Our oldest sister also told us that we boys can’t talk about it to anyone ever because it didn’t happen to us – because we weren’t victims. But the truth was that all four of us brothers had become victims at that moment. In fact, from the very beginning, we were victims. We just didn’t know it. And therein lies the emotional and mental challenge for brothers. When sexual abuse occurs in the home, bothers are never viewed as victims. We are never asked, “Do you need to talk?” or “Are you okay?” Brothers are unceremoniously moved to the back, where we are expected to disappear and conceal our feelings. We are told that we are forbidden to speak to anyone about what happened. We are forbidden to talk about it, even the people we need to talk to the most—our sisters. HELPLESSNESS is the true story of how I failed my sisters. It is the story of how, forty-five years later, I continue to carry the scars of trauma, guilt, and pain because I was afraid to talk with my sisters about what had happened to them after being told I could never talk about it. It is my forty-five-year journey to find HOPE when there was none. It is about how I, terrified as I was, somehow found the courage to speak with my second oldest sister, who, after I approached her, shocked me with her response. It is about how I found the courage to avenge them and slay their monster.
HELPLESSNESS is about six siblings coming together to contribute to a twenty-year account of child sexual abuse in their home for six of nine brothers and sisters in a way never before shared.
HELPLESSNESS is a story about what brothers go through emotionally and mentally and how we struggle to find ourselves after we learn our sisters have been sexually assaulted by how parents.