A Mother Who Fell Short

Shirley Sampson, of West Virginia, shared a painful secret for Steve Hartman's "Everyone Has A Story." She knew her second husband was molesting her daughter, and didn't do anything about it.
Naturally, most of the people I pick out of the phone book hope I do a positive portrayal.

But this woman was different.

In fact, Shirley Sampson knows full well that this story will be anything but flattering.

Says she, "I'm to the point where I don't really care. Because it's my daughter now, and if I can do or say anything that's going to heal her, or help her to heal, then this is what I have to do."

The story began back when her daughter Beckie was just 13. They were living with Shirley's second husband, Jimmy Sampson, when one night, Beckie says, her stepdad plied her with alcohol and molested her.

Recalls Beckie, "I was like a little girl. I pretended to be asleep. And regardless of what he did, I tried not to move."

Says her mother, "When she told me what had happened, I absolutely went off. I wanted to kill him…that was my first instinct."

Her second instinct, however, wasn't nearly as maternal. Jimmy adamantly denied the allegation, and Shirley says she was too weak a woman to leave him anyway. So just two months after moving with her daughter out of the house and into a downtown apartment, Shirley moved her -- right back in.

"I wonder how she did it," Beckie says today.

"I don't know why," Shirley says. "I can give you what I thought was reasons why. I didn't want to believe it. I didn't want people talking about us, which they did anyway, I'm sure."

So she had to know it was continuing?

"When I stopped and thought about it, yes," Shirley replies.

How can she live with yourself?

"It's not easy," she says. "It's not easy."

With no one to turn to, Beckie says she accepted Jimmy's abuse as a way of life, while her mother stood silently right by his side, right up to the end. Jimmy died of cancer four years ago.

Says Beckie, "I go by the cemetery every now and then, sometimes tell him I hate him."

Does Shirley ever talk to God about this? Says she, "It's the only peace I get. I know He has forgiven me, and hopefully she will."

Shirley also hopes this story will motivate others who suspect child abuse of any kind to step forward, because, she says, if you don't deal with it now, you live with it forever.