When looking back at photos of himself as a child, Gregg says he now sees a boy who was given no choice, and even if he could have stopped the abuse, he wouldn't have been able to.

"I would not have stopped it. My mother was the center of my universe," he says. "I trusted her. I loved her, and that's how I felt for her, especially at that age."

Gregg says his neighbors and teachers probably noticed signs of neglect and abuse—like visible bruises, dirty clothes, greasy hair and an emaciated face—but everyone was too afraid of his mother to speak up. Especially Gregg.

"I could have gone and told, but I was deathly afraid of my mother. This was my world, my universe. Even though the house was roach-laden and the clothes were rags and there was barely enough food, it was still shelter to me," he says. "This was still the only parent I had."

After neighbors saw how Gregg's mother treated her children, he says they told their children to stay away from them. "We were further ostracized and cut off from the outside world," he says. "Once they heard my last name, they would say: 'Oh, is your mother the whore? Is your mother the crazy woman?'"

Gregg's mother lived up to her reputation. "My mother, because of her advanced alcoholism, could not control her own bowels," he says. "She would defecate herself and urinate while walking up and down this neighborhood, screaming obscenities."


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