November 3rd, 2011

bun:  and a box

My Own Private PTSD

Ah, this story (link to Pandagon, not the actual video, because Amanda Marcotte's take on it is very good) just kills me. 

(For those who do not click through, it's about a Judge in Texas who beat his teenage daughter viciously - and she got it on camera and posted it to YouTube.  Trigger warning for abuse and bullying if you watch the video.)

Amanda's last paragraph is really the thing for me, when it comes to people's attitudes about hitting children:

By the way, I want to quickly address the people who are all over
internet defending Adams by saying, "I was whipped and I turned out
okay." Using the surival
[sic] skills of victims to condone abuse is not okay.
That's like saying it's okay to throw yourself downstairs because two
years from now, that broken leg will be completely healed. The here and
now counts as much as the later. A child is more than the adult they
will become. They are a human being now, and their pain and suffering
now matters.

Children are people, too.  The US is the only country apart from Somalia who refuses to sigh the UN treaty for children's rights, and the Christian Fundamentalist faction is why; they really believe that they have the absolute right to do anything they want to their children.  Even more so than secular abusers, they rationalize abuse as right and good.

My father had a temper; when I was a child, I was his preferred target when he got angry.  It was only one hit, always just one - but it was to the face, and as hard as he could hit.  I can count on one hand the times I remember being hit, but they're seared on my brain.  Once for being late getting up by ten minutes, once because I couldn't remember the name of a flower, once for eating some travel sickness pills (I was four, and they were pink), and once because I didn't get my friend and my stepsister back into the car fast enough when they went for a wander after a picnic.  Each time, I did not see it coming.

Abuse does not teach children submission; if they are naturally obedient, like I was, they become fearful and quietly angry.  If they are braver, they become oppositional and angry.  If they are unlucky, they will grow up to be abusers themselves.  If they are lucky, they will "only" have to deal with low self-esteem, fucked-up notions of what a healthy relationship should be, and a deep well of unresolved anger that can threaten to burn through everything.  Anyone who thinks children are not affected by even one "spanking" are wrong.

I applaud this brave, brave girl for speaking out.  I am amazed at her powers of compassion that she responds to people who demand her father be violently harmed with a statement that he needs therapy, not punishment.   Please note, however, that this video is old - it has come out as part of a custody battle over the girl's younger sister.  Her mother has since left the abuser.

Long ago I forgave my father for his temper, and for other things, but I was *abjectly* terrified of him for years (and, by extension, all tall men).  My mother has openly acknowledged how difficult my childhood was, and that I was the target of my father's anger.  I've made peace with my past, repaired my own internal workings (with lots of help from Bob!), and moved on.  But people who respond to stories like this with commentary that spanking isn't so bad annoy me.  A swat on the butt to a toddler who has run out into the road?  For me, that's probably pushing it, but I'll let it go.  Hitting a child (of any age) repeatedly?  No dice.  Hitting a child in anger?  That's abuse, and no amount of God-bothering will make it okay.

(Comment request:  please, please, if you think hitting your children is okay, keep it to yourself and don't try to justify it to me.  You're not going to make me change my mind, and I'm not going to support you.  The same goes for other abusive behaviors like putting soap in a child's mouth, or hot sauce, or pulling their hair, or anything that uses violence or pain to discipline.  Yes, even for a child who's utterly incorrigible.)

(Also, no "this guy should be beaten himself!"-type comments, please.)