"My stepfather abused me and my sisters as children, and our family's been torn apart," says Micki, 23. "He called us a lot of names. My younger sister, Hollie, was the 'dumbass,' I was the 'slut,' and Cathy was the 'fat' one. He would tell you, 'Go get me my coffee, stupid.'"
Her sister agrees. "I was in constant fear of my stepfather," says Cathy, 27. "He would threaten to beat us up. He would threaten to kill us, or hurt our dogs. He was extremely mean. My stomach would turn when I would hear him drive up, anytime I could hear his boots coming down the hall."
But their half sister, Hollie, 20, remembers it differently. "When we were growing up, my dad was the best dad in the world. My sisters hate my dad. My dad was 23 and he didn't have a stable job. They were poor."
Cathy and Micki haven't had contact with their stepfather in 12 years, but Hollie has grown close with him. "He has Hollie convinced that he's no longer abusive," says Micki. Which is why these sisters are divided. "There's so much screaming and yelling between Hollie and me. She has told me to grow up and get over it. It makes me want to punch her right in her face."
"The more Hollie dismisses what her dad did to us, the more I feel like I have to scream it louder and louder, and I end up screaming and yelling at her and making her cry," says Cathy.
"We have fought, we have cried. I feel like my relationship with Hollie will not last if we do not get some help," says Micki.
Hollie is tired of the fighting. "It's a big triangle, and I'm in the middle of it because I love my sisters, and I love my dad," she says, sadly. "I've forgiven my father for everything. He lives with guilt and shame every day. He's suffered enough. There's a lot of things I want to say about my dad, about how I feel about him now, but I can't. I'm afraid if I defend him, my sisters will be mad at me," she says.
Hollie will soon graduate, and wants her entire family to be there. "My dad said if my sisters come, then he won't come. I feel like their love for me should be greater than the hate that they have for each other."
When Hollie gives deeper consideration to her childhood, she remembers that not all the times were happy. "Maybe I have a tendency to block out the bad," she admits. "What hurts me the most is the fact that my sisters are letting this ruin our relationship. He's not that person, that monster who did raise them. I want peace in my family. I want my dad to let his demons go and live a normal, healthy life, and my sisters to be able to let all that hatred out. If I had a microphone and was standing on the top of the world, the one thing I would say to my whole family is, he did what he did, and you can't change that. Get over it, move on with your life."
Cathy and Micki haven't seen Hollie in a year, and whenever they talk on the phone, their conversation winds up a screaming match. They miss their sister.
"Do you miss them?" Dr. Phil asks Hollie.
"Yes," she says, holding back tears. "I think it would be better and easier knowing them, and them knowing my daughter, and me knowing my nephews, and just being family, instead of doing it on your own," she says.
But Micki says this is their last attempt at reconciliation. "I just feel like we've exhausted all avenues. There is so much pain and hurt. We can't even talk to each other without crying or screaming, and I just don't see how we could go on living this way. It would ultimately just be easier to just cut each other out of our lives," she explains.
"You guys feel like what happened to you has changed you and altered you so much, that you can't listen to [Hollie] bring him up and talk about how wonderful he is and what a great dad he's being, because you're just not ready for that introduction in your world," says Dr. Phil.
"Absolutely," says Cathy.
"For me, it's more that I don't think he's ever taken responsibility for what he's done, and now he just wants to kind of smooth it over, and wants us to forget about it," says Micki. "But I don't feel like he's ever done anything to make himself better. To me, he is still the same person."
Hollie disagrees. "They just have to see that he has changed, and he's not that same monster that they know of," she says.
"This goes beyond just physical abuse, and threats, and name-calling," says Dr. Phil. He asks Hollie, "If they have open wounds, if they're hurting about this, is it fair to expect them to say, 'Well, OK, we'll just put that aside'?"
"No," Hollie says. "I don't care if they ever have a relationship with him, but don't let it alter our relationship. And don't let that come in between us. Every time I go to see them or talk to them or anything, it's them against me. They don't hear what I have to say. And you know, half the time, I don't even want to talk to them about my dad. I just want them to be in my life, and be my sisters, regardless of whom I have in my life."