Q: How does one "honor" a father who knew that his brother-in-law sexually abused you for many years and did nothing to stop it?
A: I grieve with you for the pain such a situation created for you.
The commandment that charges us to honor our parents pre-supposes that our parents acted properly toward us - that they protected, clothed, fed and educated us. A parent who abdicates the duties implicit in parenthood - and most certainly protecting a child from abuse is primary - is not, by definition, a parent. You have no religious or moral obligation to honor your father or your mother, if she too, was involved in neglecting to protect you from her brother-in-law.
Today, there are many support groups for men and women who suffered from sexual abuse. Recovering from abuse is possible, and very important so that your future is not molded by your past. If you have not connected with one of these groups, please let me know the area of the country in which you live and I'll give you some leads to follow up.
Copyright (c) 1999 by Rabbi Jo David. All Rights Reserved.