Every family has its secrets. Some of these secrets also happen to be dark to the point that they have to kept from younger family members until they are mature enough to grasp how heavy they truly are.
Take a look at some of the darkest family secrets that people were finally let in on.
All posts have been edited for clarity.
“My grandfather killed his youngest brother to get out of going to Vietnam.
He, his brother, and two of their friends had their numbers called in the draft for Vietnam. They didn’t want to go, obviously, but they didn’t come from money and all worked to support their families. If they got arrested they’d lose their jobs and their families would lose their income. So they decided on a different plan to get out of going.
They would drive to get their medical checks together, and on the way there they would drive the car into a tree. The plan was to get too injured to get sent to war, but not so injured as to be permanently crippled, and it had to look like an accident so nobody got arrested. This was in country Western Australia, so they were all going to say they swerved to miss a kangaroo, and hit the tree.
My grandfather was driving, his friend was in the passenger seat, and the other two were in the back. His brother was behind the passenger seat. They hit the tree doing about twenty-five miles per hour, enough to be serious. A broken leg for my grandfather, a broken arm for the guy behind him, and broken ribs all around. They definitely weren’t going to war.
The problem was that for maximum impact, and because this was rural Australia in the sixties, they weren’t wearing seatbelts. Nobody found them or their car for an hour or so. Also, nobody considered internal injuries in this plan. My grandfather’s brother bled to death from a ruptured spleen in the back seat. He was dead before they got to a hospital.
My grandfather never forgave himself, and he never talked about it. My grandma was the only one he ever told, as far as we know, and she didn’t tell my mother and me until long after his death. We found a small box in their bedroom when we were cleaning out the house after she died last year. It had a clipping from the local newspaper at the time about the accident. It said that they had swerved to miss a kangaroo, and called it a tragedy.”
“My grandfather was an amazing guy. He was a sniper-paratrooper in World War II but always refused to talk about the army. I learned later that he was dishonorably discharged after injury. Turns out the Sargent in his squad was an absolute prick. He had to go behind enemy lines to set a post up, and the plane was flying too low for a safe jump. He protested it to the Sargent who proceeded to shove him out of the plane after calling him a coward. Both my grandfather and his spotter partner were seriously injured in the landing. His partner was paralyzed and lost a leg. My grandfather broke both of his legs, his arm, hand, and some ribs.
They both were rescued shortly after and taken to a military hospital. That’s not what got him discharged, though. Turns out the Sargent showed up to visit them in the infirmary, and my grandfather punched him square in the face with his only good hand, twice. If his army buddy that we knew is to be believed, he knocked the guy out cold. After that, and on top of his injuries, the army sent him home for the rest of the war.
We found out after he passed and had to go through a bunch of newspaper and article clippings that he had kept to learn about the other folks involved. The Sargent was also discharged after a similar incident cost the lives of two other members of his squad a year later that weren’t so lucky. The man apparently drank himself to death years later. We found all of these written but unsent letters to his Sargent, we found photos of my grandfather’s squad and the two that died with him. It was heartbreaking. I never knew any of this. He was such a fun, kind, and a goofy guy you’d never think anything like this would have happened to him. Now I knew why my parents always said never to bring my up the army around him.”
“In My Later 20s, I Finally Found Out That Everyone Knew Where He Was The Whole Time.”
“All I knew growing up was that my older cousin, by about thirteen years, would come and go a lot. He lived with us when I was a baby and after he moved out he would visit every six months or so out of the blue, but we never visited him or called him.
His visits were one of my favorite things in the world. I loved him like a brother.
By the time I was a teenager, I did understand that he had issues with his parents. They had kicked him out at thirteen and my parents took him in. That kind of childhood messes with you. In between visits to my parents, he avoided the rest of the family, moved a lot, and didn’t hold jobs for long, which is why my parents didn’t always know where he was.
In my later teens, he stopped coming over at all. I asked repeatedly if anyone had heard from him and I was told no. I asked about contacting him and was told no one had a number or address for him. He would come around when he felt like it. But it stretched on for years. I really worried he was dead, and I really missed him.
In my later 20s, I finally found out that everyone knew where he was the whole time. He was in prison for murder. From what I hear it was actually somewhat justified. He was defending his new wife, who I never got to meet.
I also found out some horrible things about how the extended family sided with his messed-up parents and refused to help him or his wife when he got arrested. They even shamed my dad into not helping either. I tried to send a message to him in prison but I don’t know if he ever got it. I wish he knew that I didn’t turn my back on him for decades as everyone else did. I just didn’t know.”
“As a teen, I’d heard that my cousin Terry’s engagement had failed just a short time before their scheduled wedding date, and that was all anyone cared to say.
In recent years, I was given more detail. Terry and Joan became engaged after he got her pregnant. All was well, at first.
But two weeks before the wedding, Terry’s mom, Isis, became violently ill and actually nearly died. I can’t remember what the disease was. Terry asked if Joan would postpone the wedding just until Isis got better so she could attend.
Joan instead called off the wedding entirely over the phone. The dark bit was that when Terry went home to see her, their home was cleaned out. Only Terry’s meager belongings remained. Even their bed was gone.
Terry called Joan. No answer. He called her parents. No answer. He went to her parents’ place only to find it completely empty. Not a trace of them was left behind. No note or anything. All of their social media accounts were erased and their phone numbers were deactivated. Even Joan’s siblings had no clue where they’d gone. It was as if they’d vanished.
It turns out, they gathered their possessions and moved from coast to coast and would’ve moved overseas if Terry hadn’t caught them. Joan tried to leave the country with their baby just because Terry wanted his mom to attend their wedding. This whole saga lasted three years.
After a long legal battle, Terry won primary custody of his child. He is currently a single dad who soaks up every moment they have together. I haven’t been told what became of Joan and I’m certainly not going to ask him.”
“It turns out the reason my mom’s parents divorced wasn’t that they ‘fell out of love,’ but because he had an affair with another married woman from church. The families had known each other for years and my mom was good friends with the other woman’s kids. They ended up getting married less than a year after their respective divorces. They each had three kids. It was especially sad because my step-grandmother’s children suffered pretty badly because neither she nor her ex-husband were functional adults. Their kids grew up fast, and the oldest daughter basically became the maternal figure and maid at the ripe age of twelve because the dad refused to step up.
My biological grandmother didn’t tell a soul about this. When I told her I knew, she sort of smiled and nodded like it was a relief that someone else knew besides her. I can’t imagine keeping a secret like that for so long and not being able to tell your kids that it really wasn’t your fault that you divorced and upended their lives.
I learned that little gem while helping with my step grandmother’s hospice care this past Fall. She was always a chatty person but end-of-life medication really amped it up. It was pretty shocking because my grandfather is a pretty laid back, kind, straight-laced church person and you would never suspect him of cheating. The worst part is that in my shock and confusion, I told my mother about it and it was pretty obvious that she had no clue prior to my telling her. I really wish I could take that back.
The step-grandmother and I had a great relationship, but that would have been different if I had known what I know now. It sucks when things like this come up and change how you see people. I still love her and my grandfather but they caused so much suffering for their kids for the sake of being together and in love.”
“My mild-mannered Christian mother casually told me that she dated a gangster who trafficked nose candy in New York during the 80s. He bought her a brand new BMW before getting sentenced to prison for murder for twenty-plus years. Someone who was friends with her and her ex for years turned out to be an FBI informant and she barely escaped jail, had to enter a witness protection program, and moved cross country.
Here’s the craziest part. He’s still stalking her. He has contacted her on her birthday every year for 40 years and still keeps tabs on her! My dad has no idea.
I asked her why she waited so long to tell me. Like, what if she went missing? and she said ‘Oh, honey. He’s the type of person that if he wanted to harm me, I would already be dead by now.’
“Granduncle Harry has had nine wives, over thirty children, and over a hundred girlfriends. He’s currently seventy living in a campervan in California while e-dating his twenty-one-year-old girlfriend from Florida.
His children range from fifteen to forty years old.
This all stems from when my great-grandmother took him to a cult after discovering a gram of ‘flower’ in his dresser. She didn’t know it was a cult at the time but still. Imagine Peoples Temple mixed with Heaven’s Gate. Crazy stuff. He was kicked out of the cult after a few years for repeatedly trying to hook up with girls even though it broke their ‘no relations before marriage’ rule.
He then started an air conditioning business and made millions but has since gone bankrupt and lost his two mansions after he didn’t live in them for multiple years.”
Grandfather on Facebook
“My cousin told me when I was twelve about how my grandfather had a kid before having my dad and uncles. He got a woman pregnant and had asked another woman to marry him so he wouldn’t have to deal with the child. That woman he married is my grandmother. So I have a half-aunt no one in my family has met. No one else in my family has mentioned this to me.
This took place somewhere in Asia decades ago, so I’m not sure about the legality of it all.
One day my grandfather got a tablet for Christmas, and he made a Facebook account. A couple of days later the half-aunt and her mom found him and tried getting in contact with him, and my grandmother got really upset. My parents, without mentioning who they were, asked me to block them for him, and eventually had me delete his account for him. I feigned ignorance, but I knew exactly who they were.”
“She Was The Proudest Woman I’ve Ever Met.”
“My grandmother lived in a conservative and rural area in Belgium when she was a kid. During a fair, she had an adventure in the bushes as any healthy eighteen-year-old should experience. Weeks later it turned out she was pregnant. She tried to hide it from her family and the community in her village for a long time, but when it became clear that she would have a child as an unmarried girl, she became a public enemy. She was booed and insulted, her house was pelted. Her parents were insulted all the time, being called sinners. She was basically banned from her youth village for having premarital relations.
As a single mom, she had to start a new life on the other side of the country. She soon got to know my grandfather, who accepted the child as his. My father was born much later, and it was not until after my grandfather’s death that he was told that his brother was actually a half-brother. It was never talked about within the family. My father always tells me how awesome his mother was. It was very unconventional for a woman to work at an office at that time, but she did. She was a career woman.
After my grandfather passed away, my grandmother moved back to her childhood village. Some sort of revenge, I’ve always thought. She got married again in her old age to a guy she was in love with when she was sixteen and she looked fabulous. She was the proudest woman I’ve ever met. A feminist without making an effort. She just really didn’t give a care. May she rest in peace.”
Multipurpose Dental Office
“My father was a dentist as was his stepfather. They shared an office until my grandfather died when I was five. Dad practiced in the front office while the older back office was kept in pristine shape but unused as far as I could tell. I thought it was out of some kind of respect for his stepmother who continued to live above it.
Many years later I was comparing old dental instruments scavenged from his office with my younger brother. I showed him a giant curved forceps wondering what in the world he used that for. ‘Oh, didn’t you know he used to do other operations in the rear office?’
I didn’t but a lot of pieces finally fell into place; the late nights at the office, the cash, and the bartered items that patients often paid with.
I was too innocent I suppose as I left for college to be let in on his secret but my younger stay-at-home brother was not.
The shock was quickly overcome with pride and joy. There’s nothing good about illegal operations except when they are desperately desired by the people with the most need and the least means. My father had a reputation for kindness and flexibility in billing. If you needed work done, it would get done and best of all done well by all accounts, ‘See this temporary bridge, Doc put that in fifteen years ago and I ever had to go back.’ He was an unhappy dentist with a surgeon’s hands, but surgery was not an option for someone like him in the 40s. I imagine that he provided high-quality health services to hundreds of women who otherwise might have ended up in the ER or worse.”
Mom Of The Year
“It took me until I was older to understand what was happening.
My mom would sometimes have us play a game called ‘Army’ which consisted of me, my mom, and my siblings army crawling around our apartment. Kind of a hide and seek style game. She would yell ‘Hit the deck!’ randomly and we would all drop and find a hiding spot. We would giggle and giggle while my mom army crawled around looking for us. We loved the game so much.
I realized a few years ago while retelling the story that we lived in a really terrible neighborhood, and she would yell it out when she heard shots outside the building. I’m assuming she was worried about stray bullets.”
“My Texan Uncle Got On A Plane To Hawaii”
“My father met my mother in the Philippines when he was stationed there in the Navy. He married her there and conceived me. He went away to finish his tour of duty.
My mother moved to America when she was a month away from giving birth to me. She moved in with relatives in Texas. My father’s tour ended while he was in Hawaii. He met a woman there and called my mom in America, asking for a divorce. He wanted to take back his recent marriage to her with a kid on the way because he had a hot one-night stand.
My mother was already scared as a result of being in a new country and not knowing much English. Add to this that she was pregnant, about to give birth, and her husband was dumping her.
My Texan uncle got on a plane to Hawaii, prepared to kick my father’s rear end. He somehow talked my father into being a man and taking responsibility for his wife and child. The fact that the fling dumped him surely helped. He was back by the time I was born.
I learned all this when I was eleven, around the time my parents got divorced. It was only the first of countless ‘dark family secrets’ I would come to learn during my teenage years.”
“She Had To Literally Flee Away From Him And Even Her Family To Survive.”
“My grandmother was in a very abusive relationship since she was seventeen. Since her then-boyfriend was abusive and forced himself on my grandmother several times she got pregnant and since that was not done in the 50s, they had to get married as soon as possible. After their first child, they ended up having four more kids, one didn’t survive childbirth, but the other three lived.
During this time, my grandmother’s husband was still very abusive. She had to literally flee away from him and even her family to survive. She would definitely have ended up dead if she didn’t. She also met my grandfather during this time, and they fell in love. She left her kids with her mother, who had custody of the kids anyway because that’s how they rolled back then. My grandfather sold the only thing he had which was a small moped so he could help her escape from her husband.
Many, many years later, when my grandma had divorced her husband, married my grandpa, had three more kids with him, grandkids, and moved back to the hometown, they also reconnected with her first four daughters and everything was going well, except for one thing.
It was a tiny town, everybody knows everybody over there and rumors spread fast. There was a rumor about my grandmother from back in the day of her first husband. The rumor was that she had some sort of fling with another man in town (not my grandpa) and one of her first four daughters was his. The daughters didn’t know about this until they heard then asked my grandma about it and she was flabbergasted. She told them it wasn’t true at all, that it definitely didn’t happen, and that this should be the end of it.
It didn’t sit right with the daughters, so they did a DNA test. Then the results came in. There it was, proof that the gossip wasn’t actually gossip, but it was true. Daughter number three was a half-sister of the other three. So they went to my grandmother again. They showed her the proof, it said very clearly that one of them wasn’t their father. My grandma denied again, even though they had it in black and white that it was true.
The daughters no longer contacted my grandmother after this. They never got over the fact that she left them in the first place and this ‘betrayal’ was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I can’t really blame them for that. Still, to this day she claims it didn’t happen and that all four women are from the same man.”
“When I was young, I was told my uncle had died suddenly of cancer. I was around six years old. My grandfather and another uncle had died within the previous two years so I was familiar with death and with funerals. As sad as that was at my age.
It was a closed casket, and when I asked my mom why they didn’t open it as they did for the other funerals, she just said that’s what his family wanted and to not mention it anymore.
Years later when I was around twelve years old, I was staying at my grandmother’s place and she was going off on some religious rant, as she was apt to do, and the topic of came up. My grandma, never one to hold punches, flatly said ‘Like your uncle Charlie! He’s in purgatory, God rest his poor soul.’
Of course, I asked her what she meant by that only to have her look at me like I had asked the stupidest question imaginable. Once the shock of my profound ignorance wore off, she simply said ‘Well yeah, suicide’s a one-way ticket to purgatory and if shooting yourself in the head isn’t suicide, then I don’t know what is!’
That conversation is forever burned into my brain. She was an incredibly warm, caring woman, but she was very matter-of-fact and honest, and she would say some cold stuff sometimes due to her insane religious beliefs. She hugged me and baked me cookies afterward, and apologized for having to be the one to tell me about how he really died.”
“He Was Also The Army National Boxing Champion”
“My Grandpa served during WWII. He was bombed by the Japanese and ended up jumping out of planes as a paratrooper in what would later become the special forces; he was also the Army national boxing champion.
One day during the war he and some mates were sitting in a diner having lunch. At a table nearby was another group of Army boys, one of whom was being very loud, obnoxious, disrespectful to everyone plus being handsy with the waitress.
Grandpa politely told the loudmouth to pull his head out. Loudmouth refused and advised Grandpa to mind his own business. Grandpa stood up and asked him to come outside so they may discuss this matter further.
The loudmouth looks Grandpa up and down – he sees a five-foot-ten, 150-pound bloke. The loudmouth was six-foot-one and at least 200 pounds. He must have thought this would be the easiest fight of his life. They walk outside, loudmouth blustering about the beating he’s about to give Grandpa.
Grandpa gives him one last chance to say sorry to the waitress, go back inside, eat his meal, and shut up. Loudmouth declines and squares up.
Grandpa throws a lightning right hook that hits Loudmouth square in the jaw, there is a crack as his jaw breaks. Loudmouth falls back and there is another even louder crack that ripples through the crowd. It was the sound of Loudmouth’s head smacking the pavement. We don’t know if he died instantly or later on, but he dies.
Grandpa is arrested and court-martialed – he is tried for second-degree murder. Thankfully there were enough witnesses and it was a different time to say that two men had a fair fight and one died by a horrible accident.
Grandpa was acquitted and went on to do some stuff in the war and with the paratroopers that is still under lock and key 80 years later.
Grandpa has been going for years now and all this came out a few years ago completely by accident. It was pretty strange knowing the man I loved as Grandpa killed a bloke with one punch. That doesn’t change what I think of him though. He was a champion bloke who I very much wish was still around today.”