For readers of Alan Cumming’s Not My Father’s Son comes a heart-wrenching memoir that interrogates an abusive father and his dark legacy.
Children who experience physical, mental, and emotional trauma at the hands of a parent often grow into adults who suffer from mental illness and find it difficult to build lasting, healthy relationships. Some find it impossible to integrate into society and are constantly searching for the love and approval that they never received as a child. The abuse impacts all aspects of the survivor’s life.
In his new memoir, Brent LaPorte asks his dead father questions that will never be answered. Unatoned not only explores the dark nature of LaPorte’s father, but the darkness that has, at times, enveloped him, too. In confronting life choices that have hurt those around him, he asks: is it possible to break the cycle of a violent, alcoholic family history and live a life that is productive, loving and, above all, happy?
In exploring the challenges of his youth, married life, and careers, LaPorte lays bare failings and triumphs, sharing pain and struggle to ultimately tell readers: none of us are alone. This is not a “self-help” book, rather the story of a man’s request for atonement for sins past. His father’s — and his own.
I was in bed and was awakened by a madman pounding at our door. It was not a long run for me to see what was going on. I saw and heard my mother from across the small kitchen/living room tell this man that she would not let him in. I could also hear the madman on the other side of the door pleading to be let in. The man on the other side of the door was my father.
My mother was terrified.
We all were.
We knew what he was capable of—we had seen it.
Five young children and one young mother, trapped in a basement apartment, with no telephone and no means of escape.
He was loud. Probably drunk. Yet somehow he convinced my mother to open the door a crack so he could talk to her.
The chain lock was on so he could not get in.
Or so we thought.
Once my Mother opened the door a sliver he shoved his right arm through, reaching, trying to get a hold of her. She jumped back yet he continued to grab at thin air. This arm was just flailing around through this tiny opening, grasping for anything he could get his powerful hand on, all the while yelling what he was going to do to my Mother when he got through.
He got through.
The image of him grabbing my Mother by her hair and spinning her around that small apartment will never leave me. I do not remember what he said but I know what he did. He beat this woman brutally in front of his five children. This was not the first time, but for me, it remains the most brutal and vivid. He did not come home from work, as he had done in the past, angry about supper; no, he broke into what was supposed to be our home and tore down our last line of defense, right before our eyes.
She did nothing to deserve this.
All she did was remove her children from an abusive situation and the result was the beating of a lifetime.
During my time as a police officer I saw many disturbing things. Nothing I’ve seen has ever affected me the way that this event has.
Thankfully another single mother in the building had a telephone and called the police. It took six cops to take my dad off of my Mother and out of that cramped apartment to the street where their cars were parked. I know this because I watched them take my dad out in hand cuffs. I stood on one our beds and pleaded through the window with the officers to leave my father alone as they did their job and dragged him to a waiting police car.
It was awful. Watching my mother get beat by my father and watching my father get beat by the police.
I’ve never been the same.