I was 15 when my mother moved to Texas from Washington, D.C. in the 1970s.
For a while, she lived in a small apartment, in the back yard of a house next door.
She wasn’t the only one with a new boyfriend.
“It was just a weird situation,” she recalls.
“My mom was the only adult in the household, and she was the one who introduced me to the boys.
So I didn’t really know how to relate to them.
I think I was a little bit shy.”
She recalls the day her sister was arrested and convicted of raping a 15-year-old boy.
She was the first of her two sisters to have an adult boyfriend.
My mom is a former prostitute.
When I was growing up, there was no stigma around prostitution in America.
But the laws of the time made it difficult for women to escape prostitution.
I was the youngest and most vulnerable.
My mother had to wear a wire around her neck to protect herself from the johns, who would threaten to stab her if she didn’t comply.
I remember one day, when I was 13, my mother was having a shower and she went in for a shower.
I walked into the bathroom, and I was like, “Mommy, can I shower?”
She was like: “No, that’s not a thing for girls.”
She went back into the house and I went to the shower.
She came back out.
My father had just gotten fired.
I thought I had to go to school, but my mother told me that my dad had to make it up to her.
I had no idea what was going on.
I did some work for my grandmother, and when I got home, I asked her: “What’s up?”
She said: “I told my sister.
I told her to get away from him.”
She told me: “He beat me up, and my dad beat me too.”
My mother was like that all the time.
When we moved to Florida, we went to an apartment.
There was a guy who lived next door and we went there on our first date.
We went to dinner together, and he was a friend of mine, and we talked about my grandmother.
She’s in the house when we go out, but she doesn’t know who my father is.
She just knows that he has an older brother who is a good-looking man.
I asked my mother if I could go over to his house.
I said: You have to let him know you’re my friend, and you have to go over there.
She said, “What is it?
We don’t talk.”
She was just so shocked, and so embarrassed, and didn’t know how she should respond.
When my mother got home that night, she started crying.
“I’ve never seen anyone cry like that,” she said.
My sister was sitting in the living room when I told my mother.
“Do you want to talk to him?” she asked.
I couldn’t believe it.
My mum was just sitting there crying.
I looked at her and said: My sister is just like you, my grandmother is just the same, and it’s okay.
I didn, but it was my first time ever seeing my sister cry.
I went back to my mother and told her everything.
I never told my brother, but I told him.
He said, you don’t have to talk.
I could tell from my mother’s face, that she was horrified by my reaction.
“How did you know that?
I don’t even know what I said,” she told me.
“But I knew my sister was in danger.
So, when my sister got arrested, she was charged with having a male relative.
But that’s when I knew it was something different.”
In 1976, she told a local TV station that I could get away with it, that I would just have to act the part.
That’s when the world stopped turning upside down.
My parents divorced in 1988.
I became pregnant in 1991.
When she went to court, I said, my sister should stay in prison, but the judge said that she didn: “That’s just how the law is.”
The judge said it was a good decision.
My dad got married the next year, and the next month, she had another child.
My maternal grandmother died.
My grandmother was a hardworking woman, and after that, she moved to Arkansas.
She became the state’s top prosecutor.
“She was so strong,” my mother says.
“Even though she was pregnant, she took on this case.
It’s just the way it is.”
After she won her conviction, my father said to her: She was doing the right thing.
“So what?” she said, and went to work.
She would spend the rest of her life in prison.
I can’t imagine what her life would have been like if she