Blogging About the Most Difficult Subject November 3, 2011

I’m no longer a Texan and no longer a child abuse victim, but I was both for many years.  I’ve blogged publicly about my abuse, my survival, and my determination to stop the cycle in my generation. I try hard these days to blog about other subjects of importance, but there are times when I must wade into the most difficult subjects of all because I can speak about them from a unique perspective and with a strong clear voice.

So, here goes.

Three people in the past 24 hours have sent me links to different stories about a Texas girl named Hillary adams who recorded her father, a Texas judge named William Adams, and her mother, beating her viciously with a belt.  The events happened in 2004 and the video is graphic and deeply disturbing.  The father is a judge who hears child abuse cases. To be honest, I haven’t even watched it because I am learning to avoid giving myself new nightmares.  But I’ve read the stories and had nightmares anyway last night.

The Young Turks and Bob Kincaid both played the video yesterday and discussed the implications, but I shut both streams early in the discussion.  I’ve tried to avoid the story entirely, but it’s everywhere and it has sent me back into PTSD mode, re-living both the last night I lived in my brother’s house and my first memory ever — witnessing my father beat that same brother just as viciously with a belt, when I was 5 or 6 and my brother was 11 or 12.

Here’s a summary from a UK paper, and here’s one from Huffington post. Even Fox is somewhat critical of the father, though they’re careful not to criticize the use of belts in discipline, in general.

There are about a dozen disturbing aspects to the story, and the media seem to be focusing on one of the most important ones: how the judge’s willingness to be brutal in his own family may have affected his judgment in the cases he heard.

In my mind, however, there are other, equally important questions that must be asked;

  • Other than the fact that there is a video, why is this news? Many thousands of children and teenagers are beaten throughout the country every day.  To me, this is only news if the country is willing to have a conversation about the role of violence and corporal punishment in raising children.  If we’re not willing to face the consequences of child abuse and family violence, then why are people watching the video?  Why even be surprised that a judge who hears child abuse cases would abuse his own child?
  • Why aren’t people equally disgusted with Hillary’s mom Hallie Adams’ partcipation?  She only hit Hillary once in the video, but she was an active participant and clearly in support of her husband beating Hillary viciously for the crime of downloading music from the internet.  This is a family of violence.  Mrs. Adams has since left her marriage and described her husband as violent, but this does not absolve her of her participation in the abuse of Hillary.
  • Is it worse for someone to beat a disabled person than to beat an able-bodied person.  I know nothing about cerebral palsy, but is it possible that Judge Adams made Hillary’s condition worse by beating her?  Should this matter?  Or is all abuse an equal abomination?
  • Is it possible that there is a racial component?  Would America be shocked by this story if Hillary Adams were black or a dark-skinned Hispanic?  Or is that more acceptable?
  • Why is no one linking this story to the recentBBC report on the disgusting epidemic of child abuse deaths in the US? Even those who support the beating of children can’t possibly support the death penalty as carried out by parents of misbehaving children.  Unless, of course, the bible tells them that it’s acceptable.  Many people in the Bible Belt take this passage literally:

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 2They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.” Deuteronomy 21:18-21

This is a difficult subject to blog about and I know it’s also difficult to read about. But it’s important enough for me to risk further nightmares by wading into some of the horrors of my past. Important enough only if I can help spark a discussion on how to end the horror that is acceptable violence against children.

I am glad that people are shocked by this video, but I wonder at the motivations of some of the 2 million people who have watched it on youtube. Let’s end the nightmares for children currently living with ongoing violence disguised as discipline.

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