FORGIVING MY WAY OUT OF ABUSE

I GREW UP with six siblings, four brothers and two sisters. My dad was in the Navy, and my recollection of him was that he was rarely around. When he was, fear abounded. Our friends used to throw pebbles at the front door instead of knocking on it, out of fear my dad might answer.

Dad abused alcohol on a regular basis, and when he drank, he was mean. We knew that if we were going to live in his house, it would be under his rules—and his rules included severe penalties. Punishment was doled out with a fist, or worse. This was not an environment fit for children and was devoid of any expression of love by our dad. By today's standards, we would all have been removed from our house by the state.

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