My Sister, My Shadow, My Gypsy Rose
Trigger warning: child abuse, childhood sexual abuse, incest, physical abuse, murder
I am connected to Gypsy Rose Blanchard. The evil we each endured at the hands of our mothers marks us forever, and if we’re not careful, it threatens to consume us. I’m worried for her.
On February 22, 2022, I published I Survived A Mother (I believe has) Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy. I had just seen The Act on Hulu, the fictionalized account of Gypsy Rose Blanchard — the girl medically abused and psychologically tortured by her mother, Dee Dee. It helped me put my childhood into words. I had no idea there was a term for my mother’s illness. Still, there it was, in all of its Patricia Arquette glory, Munchausen’s by Proxy, now called Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s “when someone falsely claims that another person has physical or psychological signs or symptoms of illness or causes injury or disease in another person to deceive others.”
Suddenly, I no longer felt alone. I had a sister. While the specifics of our mothers’ abuses varied, Gypsy and I shared a common truth, a secret known only to us–mothers can be monsters. I’d struggled to understand it for years, laboring beneath the illusion we all share: mothers are good and inherently nurturing. Mothers are women, and women can’t be psychopaths.
Gypsy Rose endured countless unnecessary surgeries, a needless feeding tube, and confinement to a wheelchair, all to defraud charities out of hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout Gypsy’s life. Aside from the financial gain, Dee Dee took great pleasure in manipulating everyone around them while exerting near-total control over every aspect of Gypsy’s life. When Gypsy got her period for the first time, she was “screaming and crying and freaking out,” she told Lifetime for the docuseries, The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Her mother told her to use her diapers. Dee Dee infantilized Gypsy, doing the unimaginable to keep her from growing up. In one photo, Gypsy is sitting in their kitchen sink, naked, the way an infant might sit for her bath. Though she’s gripping her body in a tight ball, it’s clear she’s an adolescent. That’s the level of abuse Gypsy Rose endured until…