Unrelenting abuse made it nearly impossible for Tyler to trust adults around him. Aside from his aunt Jerry, there was one other woman he loved and turned to—his mother.

Tyler says his mother, Maxine, was also beaten and threatened by his father, and she even tried to leave him when Tyler was very young. One day, Maxine packed up the children into a Cadillac and drove to California to escape. Tyler's father reported the car stolen, and his mother was arrested. They were driven back to Louisiana by Tyler's uncle, and Tyler says his father beat his mother the whole ride home.

"My mother wasn't strong like my aunt," Tyler says. "She was just very passive. She did not have that backbone to stand up for herself, so certainly she couldn't stand up for me."

Tyler's mother passed away December 8, 2009, and now that she's gone, Tyler says he's willing to talk about the abuse he endured. "She suffered so much horror in her life—surviving breast cancer, the abuse from my father, the belittling, the beatings. And I just could not be a source of pain," he says. "I knew if I spoke about this, that she would be hurt. So I didn't. ... I feel this tremendous sense of, 'Now it's time for me to take care of me and get some of this stuff out of me and be free from it.'"


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