Dr. Thema gives her thoughts. “I think it’s so important for you all to remember that the past and the abuse definitely affected you, but it doesn’t define you. You are more than who your father saw you to be and more than what he treated you as,” she says. She points out that Kiani escaped as well, in her mind. “Sometimes when we’re not able to equip ourselves to run out of the place, we’re able to run by thinking about being in another place or trying to understand it in another way. And I also want to appreciate that you all are going to be breaking the cycle. Elizabeth, you were, unfortunately, exposed to this abuse at a very young age and then didn’t have the equipment, the emotional equipment, to intervene, but I want you all to know that the cycle can stop with you, absolutely.”
[AD]”In psychology, we think about the fact that behaviors have a beginning and an end and people go on,” Dr. Phil tells them. “Abuse has a beginning and an end. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t residuals that you have to manage and deal with forever on â€¦ It will affect you, but she’s right, it doesn’t have to define you, and the fact that you have begun to talk about this and share with one another about it, I think, can be so healing. It can be so helpful to get some of that out because if you keep it in, that suggests to me that you live with it in shame and isolation and that’s not the place to be when you’re a victim. A victim doesn’t live in shame. You have to be willing to have some support and have some help.”
“At this stage of the game, do you think you will have a life where you wake up in the morning and can feel healthy and normal, can maybe get married, maybe have a family, do things where you experience joy in your life, instead of fear and pain? Is that a possibility to you, Kiani?”
“Yeah, I do have joy now. Yeah, I feel that it is a possibility to move forward and have a family of my own, which I do have a kid, and just be happy. I do feel that it’s a possibility, and I am right now,” she says.
Gypsy agrees. “It’s going to be hard. There are some days it hits you harder than it did before, but I feel that it’s definitely possible and that’s something I will try to achieve down the road,” she says.
[AD]Dr. Phil tells Elizabeth that parents never get through parenting, even when their children are grown. “We do it differently, we do it from afar. And sometimes you have to re-parent, and there may have been things that you couldn’t do because you weren’t equipped to do them at the time, but as you continue to heal and get stronger, you can still be a very guiding force in these girls’ lives. Do you get that?”
“Sometimes it’s hard. The kind of relationship with them I do want to have with them I don’t have,” she says.
“What do you want?”
“To be their mother,” she says.
Kiani and Gypsy say they want a normal mother/daughter relationship as well but it’s difficult. “We were raised not to really talk to her, or to confide in her like a regular daughter would, so it’s very hard to do that,” Kiani says. Marcus Wesson wouldn’t allow the children to talk to each other or their mother, nor show her any affection or support.
“How important is that, Dr. Thema?” Dr. Phil asks.
“It’s absolutely integral. The goal of your father was to keep you separated and silenced, and I wonder, if even in this moment, we can interrupt his wishes and ask Mom, if you would switch places with Gypsy,” Dr. Bryant-Davis says.
The women switch seats so Elizabeth is between her daughters.
“Part of the message was you were penalized for talking to each other, for connecting with one another, and so you have to intentionally take steps to shatter the shame, and it’s going to feel uncomfortable, it’s going to feel awkward but the awkwardness is the healing, and so you keep kind of pressing through that sense of distance in order to make the connection with each other,” she says.
Elizabeth feels she owes her daughters an apology, and she does so often.
“What do you apologize for?” Dr. Phil asks her.
“For not being there, for not protecting them, for not stopping him,” she says softly.
[AD]Kiani says they reassure their mother that she has nothing to apologize for, and there was nothing she could’ve done since she was a victim too.
Dr. Thema says, “I just want to say that Elizabeth, because they also see you as a victim, that keeps you all as peers instead of mother and daughters, and so the way we start to shift that balance is for you to walk in your power and your strength, and when they see you as a strong model, that’s when they’ll be able to relate to you in that way. And that’s why I was glad to hear and learn about you going to school and even taking steps to get a divorce, because by you doing those things, you show them that you are an empowered woman, and they can be too.”
Marcus Wesson was convicted of nine counts of first-degree murder and also found guilty of sexually abusing his daughters and nieces. He was sentenced to death and also to 102 years in prison. He now sits on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
Dr. Phil asks Elizabeth why she filed for divorce now.
“I was scared. I didn’t want him to get mad at me,” she says.
“Is there still a part of your mind who thinks that some day he’ll get out?” Dr. Phil asks.
“I know he won’t but the fear is still there. It’s still there. I know that if he ever did come out, I wouldn’t be here,” she says.
“You think he would kill you?”
“Yes,” she says.
[AD]Dr. Phil reminds the women, “It’s so important that you accept each other where you are …. It’s important that you’re willing to say, â€˜I can love and accept you where you are,’ even though you would hope, Gypsy, that they would move along further in the direction that you’ve gone. But people do this at their own pace. And as these things unfold with some professional help and support, then you can really get some strength about that. But you have to be willing to accept the level of adjustment that you have at the time.”