Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Author Speaks Out On Sibling Abuse, Mental Health, & Healing

“It is the first day of summer, and this is what my days will be like for the next three months.  After all, who is going to believe a twelve-year-old girl put her six-year-old sister into an oven and tried to kill her?”

This is in the opening pages of a gripping tale, My Five Sisters, of how one girl, Angela, consumed by undiagnosed Dissociative Identity Disorder, makes life for her younger sister, Patra unbearable. It is a story of courage, perseverance, and survival. The true story dramatizes what happens when sibling abuse at the hands of someone with multiple personalities goes unchecked.

“Mental illness changed my loving sister into something that is hard for most people to understand,” says Franklin, now 68.  “Her life was destroyed, and along with that, she tried to destroy mine.  Fortunately, I came out on the other side a better person, but I know that most people are not so fortunate.

“There is a very dark place these personalities live within someone else’s body, and until you have experienced living within the realm of their mind and their world, it’s hard to understand the horror of their existence.”

Awareness of the disease is the only way to help people who may not even know they are suffering from the-illness.  It is Franklin’s wish that after reading her book someone will recognize these traits in someone they love – and help them.

I have the honor of promoting Pam and her book to the media. Her message is so important, as it speaks to the strong will to survive, to heal, and to protect others from having to go through what she endured. It is so important that parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers recognize the signs of sibling abuse, as opposed to dismissing misbehavior as mere sibling rivalry. It is also important to help those who suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder and to support an increase in mental health care.

Here is an interview with Pam:

1.      Pam, what inspired you to write about growing up the victim of sibling abuse at the hands of someone suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder? I have always wanted to write this book, but I waited until my middle sister passed away because it revealed the sexual abuse she endured.

2.      How difficult was it to relive some tough memories from your childhood during the writing of My Five Sisters?  I wrote eight to ten hours a day and finished the book in three months. It was excruciating. I cried all day every day, but once I started it I knew I could not stop until it was done.

3.      Angela, your sister, who was six years older than you, had five distinct personalities that you labeled as Hero, Kind, Normal, Sad, and Angry.  How did you begin to recognize and deal with each of those personalities? I happened over time. Hero came first, without speaking, she would take my father by the hand, lead him into a room and close the door. She protected me by taking the sexual abuse away from me. Angry came next and she was a crazy wild person that beat me, threw me in closets and made my life a living hell. Sad cut herself, burned herself with cigarettes and cried most of the time. Kind took care of me after Angry hurt me, and Normal-Angela didn’t know about the others.  It took a long time for me to realize these were different people, not the same person.

4.      By bringing awareness of mental disease, what do you hope to accomplish?  Ten percent of the population take antidepressants today. There are a lot more that are undiagnosed. I hope my book helps families and friends recognize someone they know who suffers from some type of mental disorder and can help them recognize their illness and get diagnosed and treated.

5.      What are the signs that a child might be suffering some level of physical or emotional abuse at the hands of a sibling?  The book will tell you children normally don’t tell anyone about what goes on in the home. That’s one reason I wrote the book. Parents need to be made aware that sibling rivalry and sibling abuse are two separate things. Bullying outside the home is newsworthy today. But sibling bullying is ignored by most parents as normal behavior.

6.      What should a parent do if he or she believes there’s a problem at home? The same thing you would do if there is bullying in school, don’t give up until you find out the truth about what is going on. Do not ignore the signs of abuse of any kind.

7.      Why didn’t you tell your mother or anyone else what was happening to you? Most children don’t. First you are scared of these people, second you don’t think anyone will believe you, and for some reason you blame yourself. Your confidence and self- esteem is zero and you are confused about why this is happening to you.

8.      Your father was kicked out of the house when you were very young.  Your mother knew he was a drunk, but did she know he was sexually abusing your siblings? She walked in on my in on father having sex with my 15 year old sister. She threw him out of the house and divorced him. She had no idea he was sexually abusing a 5 year old and an 11 year old. It was the fifties and no one really knew anything about sexual abuse of children.

9.      How did you handle your father during visits?  Fear, terror. He had weekend visitation with us. No one knew he was sexually abusing Angela, she was eleven. Angela and I did not know why our parents got a divorce. No one talked about sexual abuse or molestation  in the 1950’s.

10.  In your book, you seem to express feelings of love and empathy toward your abusive sister.  How did you find a way to separate the good and bad sides to her? They were different people. Kind and Hero loved me and I loved them. Angela and Sad ignored me and I left them alone as much as possible. Angry hated me and I feared her and tried to stay out of her way.

11.  Did she ever get the help she needed? No. She married several times, had five children and abused them the same way she did me. Her children have told me she developed other personalities they also named and had to learn to deal with.

12.  You grew up in the South in the 1950s.  Your family had a loving maid, Mamie, who witnessed how your sister tried to kill you, but she too had to remain silent out of fear.  Why? We are talking about the South in the fifties. “Coloreds People” were not allowed to say anything about a white person. Mamie knew she could not talk about what went on in our house to anyone.

13.  When you told your surviving family members you were writing a book about them, how did they react?  My brother and one sister are still alive, and they both support me.

14.  How did you forgive your sister and move forward?  It helped that I spent ten years in therapy from age twenty to thirty. Even though I have lead a very successful life, I am still a work in progress. That’s why I feel my story could help others. There is hope even when you think there is none.

15.  You started a business at age 28 and for 18 years you ran a successful daycare for 125 children.  Were you able to help children in a way you wished someone could have helped you as a child? Over the eighteen years of working with small children I was on the lookout for behavioral problems and abuse. I think I was hyper-sensitive to children’s needs and I sent more than one family to therapy. In Jackson we had a counseling service called The Shepherd’s Staff that helped single parents and low income families that could not afford to pay full price. They based your fee on your income, and many families were helped by this service.

16.  You got divorced when your daughter was three.  What role, if any, did your childhood’s household dynamics play in how you raised your family?  I lived in fear my daughter would be abused either sexually or physically. I think that is why I had only one child. I was very protective of her, I never left her with a baby sitter or anyone else.

17.  Your sister tried to kill herself and you saved her.  But she tormented and frightened you.  Did you ever just want to see her disappear?  I wanted Angry to disappear, but the other sisters I cared for.

18.  How did your mom never know what was really happening to you?  I was a master at hiding my feelings and the signs of physical abuse. It was survival for me, I thought she would kill me if I told. Later in life I didn’t see any reason to hurt my mother by telling her.

19.  You finally spoke up of the abuse you suffered when you were 18 and confided in your church’s minister.  By the age 23 you were helped by a psychologist.  How did they help you heal?  Without therapy I’m not sure what my life would have been, but I do know I would not be the successful person I am today. I was far too damaged to function in a normal life. Another reason I would like to help others that have dealt with any type of severe abuse.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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