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He was attacking everything about us--our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual selves. My self esteem plummeted, and my sisters' did as well. We had to learn to hide how we felt from everyone (church members, neighbors, peers at school, even my dad's side of the family), because if we seem depressed or even sad in the slightest, he would lecture us and drain us even more. He wanted us to appear constantly happy to the community, to appear to everyone that we were a perfect family and my mom was the 'bad' parent, but those who were closest to us saw when our walls of perfection came down. Those who knew us the closest were aware that we were crumbling inside.
I would like to go into a little more depth about our switching schools. As we sat at a long table in the office of our GAL (who had never even spoken with us before, by the way), and he told us that custody had been changed, we were so shaken that we couldn't speak. When tears began to surface as the weight of what had happened hit me, I looked at him and asked, "We still get to stay at our same schools, right?" His answer of "yes" wasn't enough for me--I asked him to promise us. He and the others in that room promised me. I couldn't imagine moving to a new school, on top of everything else. I knew that I was going to be depressed for a while, and I needed the small amount of social support that came through friends. It wasn't just that I'd lose all my friends, but I was concerned about bullying and other social aspects. I was especially concerned for my little sisters' young vulnerability to bullying. As we fought back sobs when leaving that Provo office, the only thing I could focus on was that I wouldn't have to change schools. So, when my dad told us later that summer that he planned to have us change schools, it shook me to the core. It was the only promise the court people made to me, and my dad broke it like it was nothing.
Something that was terribly difficult for me to watch was the way Dad started treating Angie. As soon as we found out she was going to be our stepmom (a few days before the wedding), I feared for her. I even wrote in my journal about it at age twelve. I hoped with all my heart that my dad could somehow change--that somehow he would never mistreat his new wife the way he had to my mom. When they were married, it was obvious that Angie had no idea about what had gone on in my family's past. He had entirely kept her in the dark about how he abused us (and now its clear to me that she had no clue about the affairs and other marital issues, too). I felt so bad for her, but my sisters and I didn't know if warning her would help anything (we were only 12, 8 and 6 years old at the time). Angie was the sweetest, kindest woman we ever could have asked for as a stepmom. She came into the situation with such grace, and tried her best to make the transition as normal as possible. We love Angie, and seeing the way my dad began to use the same abusive techniques toward her as my mom killed us inside.