Judge William Adams beat his 16-year old daughter with a belt for downloading music and computer games
November 2, 2011 10:52 AM   Subscribe

In 2004, Texas Judge William Adams beat his 16-year old daughter with a belt for downloading music and computer games. Unbeknownst to him, she filmed the whole thing. Seven years later, fed up with the continued harassment and abuse from her father, she uploaded it to YouTube (warning: graphic language and violence, NSFW). Less than 24 hours after hitting Reddit, the video is all over the news. Hillary Adams says on Twitter that she hopes her father will receive help, not condemnation.
posted by miskatonic (660 comments total) 81 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tech-savvy disabled teen, being beaten for using a website not approved of by hyper-luddite father who's a FAMILY LAW JUDGE, films it and uses that footage as retaliation to (probably) destroy his career? If you gave me that plot as a TV movie, I'd tell you it was too much.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:57 AM on November 2, 2011 [58 favorites]


I can't watch that.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:58 AM on November 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


Turns out the personal is political. Christ what an asshole.
posted by Felex at 10:59 AM on November 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


Her Twitter feed is great, she sounds like she's grown into a really smart reasonable person despite the abuse and just wants to see her dad get help. I'm sure the internet has her back if this goes at all badly (she says she can't afford a lawyer but I'm sure reddit can raise 100k in a heartbeat to get her the best lawyers possible if need be).
posted by mathowie at 11:00 AM on November 2, 2011 [15 favorites]


The ethics of downloading are certainly debatable and requiring a daughter or son to adhere to certain legal standards while living in one's house is just common sense but the whole beating with a belt thing is over the top abuse so good on her for shaming her father publicly for it. I wish more such people were publicly humiliated for their reprehensible abusive conduct .
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:00 AM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


He said the conduct is "not as bad as it looks on tape"

Obviously. It's common knowledge that the video camera adds twenty child abuse
posted by griphus at 11:01 AM on November 2, 2011 [390 favorites]


I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the video, but it was quite enlightening to read the Reddit thread and see how people go through the steps of reporting it to law enforcement, digging through the appropriate legislature, and basically try to figure out how to help and protect those involved.
posted by Phire at 11:01 AM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


shoeofallcosmos Hillary
@GamePlaya3159 Sonic Generations is AMAZING so far! I wish I could be playing it right now still, but bigger things are happening.
Life goes on. (I guess I need to pick up the new Sonic).
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:01 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I couldn't watch the whole thing. The early parts of the reddit conversation were split on whether the dad here is still legally culpable. On the one hand, the statute of limitations has expired, but then there's no SOL in TX if the victim is disabled, and apparently she has cerebral palsy, but is that considered a disability in Texas, and is her younger sister still in danger, well, the wife left him, so maybe she took the daughter....I need someone to sum this up for me. And watch the video.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:02 AM on November 2, 2011


again?
posted by xbonesgt at 11:03 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just glad the daughter seems to have come out of it okay, and I hope she's still not living with him.
posted by MegoSteve at 11:03 AM on November 2, 2011


I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the video, but it was quite enlightening to read the Reddit thread and see how people go through the steps of reporting it to law enforcement, digging through the appropriate legislature, and basically try to figure out how to help and protect those involved.

...and posting pics of themselves nude in the shower...
posted by Pyrogenesis at 11:03 AM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wish more such people were publicly humiliated for their reprehensible abusive conduct.

I wrote a story on my blog about how my parents (mostly my dad, but my mom too) would beat us with a belt about once a month or so, but worse than that was near daily threats of "I'm getting the belt!" and they would go into their closet and shake a belt so I could hear the buckle. So while the physical abuse was sporadic and relatively rare, the mental abuse was a constant.

My parents' response after reading it? My mom called me up crying saying she never hit me, never remembered doing that, and says she wouldn't ever do such a thing.
posted by mathowie at 11:06 AM on November 2, 2011 [254 favorites]


I used to get beat worse than that from nuns in my catholic grammar school, and if you thought the guy in the video had a mouth...
posted by any major dude at 11:08 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


What a fucking coward. The judge, I mean. What kinda troglodyte is such a weenie that he has to protect his hand and use a belt?

These are the types that are scared of Sharia law, too.
posted by notsnot at 11:08 AM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


The father seems pretty clearly to have some pretty dramatic mental health issues, so like his daughter I hope he gets some help.

I found the mother to be a much more interesting figure though. First she makes tells her to take her beating "like a grown woman," his her once and tries to leave, but when the father comes back, she's quick to defend and assist him. It makes her seem less mentally ill and a lot more insidious than the father; I'm guessing she's as much a victim of the father's abuse as her daughter and that's what's driving it, but it's still pretty chilling.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:08 AM on November 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Easily one of the worst things Ive seen. Ive never understood the need to beat a child, let alone an adolescent.
posted by handbanana at 11:08 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tried to watch the video and lasted maybe a minute or so before I had to shut it off.

People are broken.
posted by tittergrrl at 11:09 AM on November 2, 2011 [17 favorites]


I found the mother to be a much more interesting figure though. First she makes tells her to take her beating "like a grown woman," his her once and tries to leave, but when the father comes back, she's quick to defend and assist him. It makes her seem less mentally ill and a lot more insidious than the father; I'm guessing she's as much a victim of the father's abuse as her daughter and that's what's driving it, but it's still pretty chilling.

In an abusive family system, the enablers often seem the most monstrous. They've made a bargain with the devil, and that's often harder to understand than the Devil himself.
posted by verb at 11:11 AM on November 2, 2011 [58 favorites]


I wrote a story on my blog about how my parents

Geezuz Christ Matt. You just described my growing up situation down to the very fucking words ("I'm getting the belt!"). I honestly have no idea if it is better or worse to know that others in other families went through the very same thing. Frankly I wish I was the only one so that I could keep some semblance of hope that most of the world isn't really all fucked up. As I'm sure you are aware , you grow out of it , you leave most of it behind....but there is always some bullshit that remains isn't there?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:12 AM on November 2, 2011 [29 favorites]


I wrote a story on my blog

Fuck that, Matt. You're a better person than they are. I know it does nothing to remove the scars. Mine are still there, too.

I'm an infinitely better parent than my parents. My wife just laughs if you ask her if she's a better parent than her parents.

If my kids defiantly say the same thing about me when they're older, I've done my job, and my corner of the world is a better place. I can take satisfaction in knowing that I've broken the cycle. Broken it, stuffed it in a well, and set that fucker on fire.
posted by thanotopsis at 11:16 AM on November 2, 2011 [67 favorites]


Goes even further - as a judge he dismissed testimony of kids claiming abuse.

It will be interesting to see how much the Internet destroys his life now.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:16 AM on November 2, 2011 [32 favorites]


CNN tried repeatedly on Wednesday to reach William Adams at his Rockport, Texas, office, but received a constant busy signal.

This was posted to Reddit 19 hours ago, or 4pm PST on Tuesday. A mere 14 hours ago, a Google search for "Judge William Adams" turns up only this video. I don't think you'll be reaching his office for a while.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:17 AM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I know some will think me a bad person for saying so, but if the next video in the YouTube playlist was "Judge William Adams gets his kneecaps smashed in with a baseball bat" I would have clicked it.
posted by meadowlark lime at 11:17 AM on November 2, 2011 [24 favorites]


Well Poet_Lariat, it did teach me to never hit my kid ever, and to be careful and not raise my voice and I never swear in front of her.

I've told my wife that I have an internal voice in the voice of my dad and it tells me to say shitty things all the time (my dad would call my mom a "bitch" about 2-3 times a week, I haven't used the word outloud in 5+ years and likely never will again) but it's pretty easy to not say the things your evil asshole voice inside is telling you, even in times of full frustration. It sucks that people succumb to their stupid urges in that way.
posted by mathowie at 11:17 AM on November 2, 2011 [129 favorites]


I propose we start a fund to buy very small cameras for children.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:18 AM on November 2, 2011 [36 favorites]


And, fuck, my life is positively idyllic. I need to call my parents and tell them for thanks for being kind and loving.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:18 AM on November 2, 2011 [76 favorites]


Do you think he got confused into thinking that Aransas County lies in East Texas and that copyrights were patents? ;)
posted by jeffburdges at 11:19 AM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wrote a story on my blog about how my parents (mostly my dad, but my mom too) would beat us with a belt about once a month or so

My mom always said "I'm gonna get The Strap!" The strap was her belt. I remember getting spanked, and I remember the belt (strap) once or twice but I seem to remember getting threatened with it a whole lot.

My dad would just give me a single rap on the side of the head when I least expected it.

I can't imagine hitting my kid and now that he knows how to use the webcam and upload stuff to YouTube, I probably shouldn't start any time soon.
posted by bondcliff at 11:19 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


People are broken.

Many, yes. I had a father who hit for distance and an uncle who could have qualified for a halo. On the whole, there are more of the latter, but it's so, so sad to hear about the people who are afflicted by the former.
posted by Mooski at 11:20 AM on November 2, 2011


Please leave this up? I understand the outragefilter concern, but this is a legitimate story. (yes, this is the third time of asking for this post)

1) It has a direct bearing on this guy's re-election campaign. He's acknowledged that yes, this is him, and yes, this happened. He says he apologized, which of course makes it all better.

2) It's a fascinating example of the connection between the net's 'bottom half' and the larger media. I've been watching the interesting exponential growth of coverage -- from Reddit and YouTube (last night) to Gawker (at about 1:30 AM) and the Daily Mail to the local TV news, to CNN, and onward. Last night there were 4 news hits, now there are 98.

3) The younger daughter, who appears at the very opening of the video, is still in this man's care and custody: the mother has divorced the father. That's something that might be looked into, yes?

Also: when people talk about allowing parents to 'discipline' their children, they often mean something like this.
posted by jrochest at 11:20 AM on November 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


And, fuck, my life is positively idyllic. I need to call my parents and tell them for thanks for being kind and loving.

I know, right? I mean, I get pissed off at my mom sometimes because she keeps claiming I was allowed to stop going to synagogue every single week after my Bar Mitzvah and I find this hilarious because I clearly kept going till I was 16 and it's not like I'd have ever done that voluntarily - but god it's good to be reminded of how insanely lucky I really am, and have been for basically my entire life.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:20 AM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Please leave this up? I understand the outragefilter concern, but this is a legitimate story. (yes, this is the third time of asking for this post)

This is definitely a better post than the previous ones and there's more of a story out there at this point than seemed to have been available previously, so, yeah, we'll keep this one.
posted by cortex at 11:21 AM on November 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


Re-election

The thought makes me gag. He ought to be in jail. My opinion of humanity is already lowered from what it used to be. His re-election, though, could drop it another notch.
posted by tyllwin at 11:22 AM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I propose we start a fund to buy very small cameras for children.

We're already there. Did you think the government would be bearing all the costs of your surveillance?
posted by swift at 11:24 AM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm wondering about the legalities of secretly taking and posting this video. A while back I asked a cop (in MA) if I could video tape my dirtbag neighbor being an ass at 4:00 AM (said neighbor has since smartened up and become a pretty good neighbor) and the cop told me I could only do so if I first warned my neighbor that I was going to do it and I should video myself giving that warning. What are the laws like in Texas? Does the fact that this was done in a private home change anything either way?

Don't get me wrong, I think this guy is an ass and he deserves whatever shit he gets from this, but I would hate for it to backfire on her.
posted by bondcliff at 11:24 AM on November 2, 2011


Thanks for linking to this. I can't express in words what makes this so important, so I'm going to leave it at that.
posted by odinsdream at 11:25 AM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


and I hope she's still not living with him it.

ftfy
posted by spitbull at 11:25 AM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


The pain and fear is bad enough, but second to that is the powerlessness and utter fucking humiliation of getting beaten. That this girl was desperate enough to record it, and release it to the internet when she was ready, shows how bad it all must have been. I couldn't imagine admitting to anyone that my parents hit me, and what they did was nowhere near what this man is reported to have done. (I can't watch the video.)
posted by cereselle at 11:25 AM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm just glad the daughter seems to have come out of it okay, and I hope she's still not living with him.
posted by MegoSteve


She commented on Reddit that she had her own apartment and living on her own. Shes a pretty talented piano player as well.

I watched part of this video and the amount of rage that just boiled up inside me I had to shut it off and go for a walk.
posted by lilkeith07 at 11:26 AM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


In case you did not go through the Reddit link - this all happened back in '04 - 8 years ago. The girl being beaten is now 23 and lives on her own now but she has a younger sister, around 12 now, still living with the abusive father so putting pressure on the father and appropriate authorities to investigate will likely help the young sister still living at home. I am beginning to wonder if that may be the unstated intent of the woman who posted the YouTube video.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:26 AM on November 2, 2011 [25 favorites]


This guy is pretty twisted. Not just for the "take it like a woman" comment (for real dude!?) but a lot of the other things he says really seem, I dunno… honestly it seems like he's getting a sexual thrill from the act of beating his daughter. The dialogue sounds almost scripted from a porn flick. And that's not a young daughter: she's 16 years old in the video. That's beating a woman. From the comments, his daughter accuses him of hitting his wife (who has since divorced him) and I'm not at all surprised.

sounds like she's grown into a really smart reasonable person despite the abuse

Despite… or because of? Not that it matters.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:26 AM on November 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


What are the laws like in Texas?

It is legal in Texas to record a conversation so long as one of the parties consents. The daughter was the consenting party.

And her father is an asshole. I hope his career is ruined, and I hope he gets the help he needs.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:27 AM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


I could only make it to 1:36, because by then it already looked to me that the beating had already crossed into the point of being sadistic and I didn't have the strength to continue.

For the benefit of anyone contemplating watching that, I will tell you that I think it's going to be along time before I am going to be able to get the sound of her screams out of my head. It's visceral.

Bravo to reddit (and the other news outlets) for publicizing this. Now it's time to see if Texas public policy can put its money where its mouth is vis-à-vis protecting its own citizens from violence.
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:27 AM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


He has a history of dismissing child abuse cases in his court, too.
posted by empath at 11:27 AM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


Kudos to her for revealing the true colors of this douchebag judge.

I only wish this kind of technology existed decades ago. There are plenty of people out there that could've used it (myself included.)
posted by Anima Mundi at 11:28 AM on November 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


My parents' response after reading it? My mom called me up crying saying she never hit me, never remembered doing that, and says she wouldn't ever do such a thing.

My parents don't deny that they hit us (with belts, paint sticks, the three-foot flexible plastic tracks for my brothers' dinky car set, and my father broke a hairbrush on me once), but they still insist there was absolutely nothing wrong with hitting us — though I don't hear them going around telling everyone they hit their kids, and I've never known them to hit any of their grandchildren. It's a generational thing, I think. Up until the eighties and nineties, hitting kids was just what the majority of parents did to make their kids misbehave.

And there's no way I'm watching this video.
posted by orange swan at 11:29 AM on November 2, 2011 [19 favorites]


I'm wondering about the legalities of secretly taking and posting this video.
posted by bondcliff at 1:24 PM on November 2


It varies according to state but in most places if one of the people being taped has consented it's okay. IANAL.
posted by joannemerriam at 11:30 AM on November 2, 2011


Now we know who cheered during the Republican debates.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:30 AM on November 2, 2011 [32 favorites]


I am currently at an Oakland public school, subbing for a teacher who is downtown participating in th General Strike. (which makes me a scab of sorts, I know, but the day is long.)

May I take this opportunity to remind or inform anyone who needs to know that in several states, most notably Texas and Florida, teachers are allowed to mete out corporal punishment which, at the hands of parents would be prosecutable as child abuse.

Not okay. Never ever. Hands off.
posted by emhutchinson at 11:31 AM on November 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


There's no way in hell that I could ever watch even a second of this. I lived this in one way or another through almost all my childhood and have no need to dredge bad memories up. That said, I hope everything turns out all right for the woman and for her younger sister and that this man gets justice.
posted by blucevalo at 11:32 AM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I couldn't imagine admitting to anyone that my parents hit me

It's a really weird thing for me personally. I lived a life like this as a child, and looking back it doesn't *seem* bad, and at this point I would not want any repercussions on my family. I've joked about it with friends, and other young parents who have sworn to not discipline this way. I did get hit with a bible in a restaurant once though - that one I can laugh about.
posted by Big_B at 11:32 AM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


My parents' response after reading it? My mom called me up crying saying she never hit me, never remembered doing that, and says she wouldn't ever do such a thing.

Yeah it's this kind of denial that makes me a firm believer in psychohistory and its theory of dissociative identity disorder as an all-pervasive spectrum disease. Abusive parents never seem to remember what they did to their children.

I'd pay half a grand to see the Judges' reaction video.
posted by clarknova at 11:32 AM on November 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


Forbes has a slightly icky, but also informative, write-up on this, with links to comments within Reddit.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:33 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been keeping an eye on this story from a distance because my childhood is such that the idea of watching another kid getting hit with a belt freaks me out to think about, never mind watch. I'm glad this is getting exposed and I hope this guy is removed from office and prosecuted for abusing his daughter.
posted by immlass at 11:33 AM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't feel like I need to see this to know it is wrong. I was never hit worse than a mild spanking, but traveling I've seen enough kids being beaten to last me a lifetime. I'm glad this has been released, and I hope things work out for the sister.
posted by Forktine at 11:33 AM on November 2, 2011


Now we know who cheered during the Republican debates.

Precisely.
posted by clarknova at 11:34 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


It sucks that people succumb to their stupid urges in that way.
posted by infini at 11:34 AM on November 2, 2011


I'll admit it, my parents hit me. Like Matt, sometimes with a belt, which was always a threat. It stopped when I was 12 or 13 and my mom slapped me across the face and I didn't even flinch. I grew up at a time when such punishment was commonplace so we weren't unique in any way. Which is not to say it was right.

I vowed I would never do that to my children and I haven't. It's possible to break that cycle.
posted by tommasz at 11:37 AM on November 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


My parents don't deny that they hit us (with belts, paint sticks, the three-foot flexible plastic tracks for my brothers' dinky car set, and my father broke a hairbrush on me once), but they still insist there was absolutely nothing wrong with hitting us

The last time my mother hit me was with a wooden spoon and it broke. She never hit me again. My father, though, well that's a different story.

It's funny - growing up it never occurred to me that there was any other way it could be. When I discovered that some kids didn't grow up getting hit/choked/punched/whatever when they 'acted out of line,' it was honestly shocking. Now of course I can't imagine hitting a child (or anyone, really), or imagine it being at all ok in any circumstance. And my parents and I never talk about it, and my dad has calmed down and become softer as he's gotten older. It's nice.

And fuck that guy. That he is an elected official in charge of people's fates is incredibly fucked up. The fucking pajama pants he's got on...like this is part of his lounging routine. And when he says, "I'm getting another one..." Makes me shudder. It also makes me sad for all the kids without cameras and the wherewithal to take a stand against their abusive parents.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:37 AM on November 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


I've been following this story a little bit since the original (rightly) deleted thread yesterday on MeFi. What an awful situation for everyone, but I do hope some good comes out of all of this for Hillary. Based on her Twitter, she certainly sounds like she could use some immediate legal representation, and I hope she gets that now, but she does come across as one heck of a person. I'm not sure any of us can comprehend the utter firestorm of media that is starting to descend on this story along with the chaos of the legal system and subsequent family turmoil. I hope she's strong enough to come out the other side better then when she started, and I hope she gets the good advice and support she needs right now.

I am a bit curious about the decision to film the beating and now her decision to post it. Was she intending to film it as "evidence?" She said in the reddit post that she held on to it for years, but decided to post it after an unpleasant phone call with her father. It's hard to imagine putting something so personal out there, to know that horrific scene is available for instant viewing by billions of people just a click away from Rebecca Black and Star Wars Kid. Most abuse victims have enough of a struggle just to speak out in a courtroom or even to the police, but she posts actual footage of such a personal horror in the most public way possible.

Also, beyond the NSFW tag on the video, viewers should consider whether this is something they want to watch. It's darn pretty horrifying. An enormous trigger warning certainly applies here.
posted by zachlipton at 11:39 AM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


The fucking pajama pants he's got on...like this is part of his lounging routine.

I'm sure if you think back there was usually some element of the domestically tranquil and ridiculous in the episodes of your own abuse.

If you choose not to I understand completely.
posted by clarknova at 11:41 AM on November 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't need a trigger warning to know I am not touching that vid with a barge pole.
posted by everichon at 11:41 AM on November 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


I couldn't imagine admitting to anyone that my parents hit me, and what they did was nowhere near what this man is reported to have done.

I couldn't, either, until I did, and did it over and over again, until I had talked enough about it to heal it. I am somewhat lucky (morbid to say it but true) that my abusive parents died/disappeared from my life when I was still a teenager. "Somewhat" in the sense that they are no longer here to inflict pain on me and on themselves, but also "somewhat" in the sense that I never got the chance to confront them about the living hell they put me through, not just as a kid, but for much of my adult life getting over it all.
posted by blucevalo at 11:41 AM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Holy shit. At 1:10 I almost threw up and had to stop. I didn't expect that at all. I think my kids have irrevocably settled my views on corporal punishment. Or, as I like to call it "inhuman beating of the weak."
posted by rusty at 11:41 AM on November 2, 2011


I'm sure reddit can raise 100k in a heartbeat to get her the best lawyers possible if need be

Careful. If she is receiving Medicaid or SSI, these funds might jeopardize her eligibility.
posted by sswiller at 11:42 AM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]



If you have triggers based on trauma, then no, you should not watch this video. Otherwise I would urge people to, this is not as uncommon as we would like to believe, and sadistic assholes like this need to be exposed for what they are. I am a big guy, and I watched my father lose his temper one time and hurl my brother through the drywall of his bedroom.

I have kids, and always swore I would control my temper and never lay a hand on them in anger, because I know what sort of physical and mental harm that causes. I have also seen people who have gone through so much worse, and watching this video from beginning to end made even my fairly even temper start to boil and reflexively clench my fists. But it's things like this that can help stop this sort of thing from happening, make it required reading for people who want to be parents.
posted by Leth at 11:42 AM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can see why she didn't post it immediately. I was beaten by my mom regularly when I was growing up, and a big part of what goes along with it is shame and embarrassment. No one wants to admit their family life isn't perfect, especially when they're that age. I never talked about it with anyone at the time it was going on.
posted by empath at 11:43 AM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


I've been following this on reddit (I know, I only read it for the informative articles) and I'm glad to see it on mefi too - the more visible this is the better. I'd like to think it could provide someone else the tools and confidence to escape a similar situation.

(Hands up here too for a fairly nasty background: my sister recently made loud accusations of childhood abuse and our mother is still denying it equally loudly...but I remember the time she smashed my head into the wall when I was 13.)
posted by tracicle at 11:43 AM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also: when people talk about allowing parents to 'discipline' their children, they often mean something like this.

And the ones calling loudest for the right to discipline/beat their kids are the right-wing Christians. Irrational religion is a cancer on this country.
posted by cereselle at 11:44 AM on November 2, 2011 [31 favorites]


I am a bit curious about the decision to film the beating and now her decision to post it. Was she intending to film it as "evidence?" She said in the reddit post that she held on to it for years, but decided to post it after an unpleasant phone call with her father. It's hard to imagine putting something so personal out there, to know that horrific scene is available for instant viewing by billions of people just a click away from Rebecca Black and Star Wars Kid. Most abuse victims have enough of a struggle just to speak out in a courtroom or even to the police, but she posts actual footage of such a personal horror in the most public way possible.

A big part of domestic violence healing process is the need for validation and more importantly the need for "witnessing" - I wouldn't be surprised if this release came through her own process of dealing with these issues - do we know if she's been through counselling etc since she moved out?
posted by infini at 11:45 AM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am a bit curious about the decision to film the beating and now her decision to post it.

It is because the father is up for re-election?
posted by phaedon at 11:47 AM on November 2, 2011


If someone comes into your room and enthusiastically beats the shit out of you, I personally bless any decision you make regarding the footage.
posted by SharkParty at 11:48 AM on November 2, 2011 [54 favorites]


It's funny - growing up it never occurred to me that there was any other way it could be. When I discovered that some kids didn't grow up getting hit/choked/punched/whatever when they 'acted out of line,' it was honestly shocking.

I had basically the opposite experience. I can kvetch about my childhood in some ways, but my parents were both sane, non-physical people when us kids got in trouble. The closest I ever got to this sort of thing was listening to Bill Cosby's "To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With" on vinyl with my parents, and Bill would do the routine about THE BELT and it was funny because it was Bill Cosby telling a story but it was also hard for me to figure out what the hell the context was because the idea of someone beating their kids with a belt, or threatening to do as much, was totally foreign to me. Young as I was I didn't really know how to tell absurdist humor from dark satire on that stuff.

I have come to terms with the reality that this is what a lot of people grew up or are growing up with, but even at that it still seems alien to me.
posted by cortex at 11:48 AM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm wondering about the legalities of secretly taking and posting this video.

I believe it's punishable by 20 strokes of the belt -- more if you wriggle and squeal.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:49 AM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wow, that was really tough to watch. I was also hit with a variety of objects. Mainly belts, hangers, shoes...what ever was really handy. I also had a serious fear of my father because he used to chase me down around the house. One day my mom who had also hit me was raising her hand to reach something over my head and I totally flinched and covered my face. She quickly realized why my reaction had been so sudden and she broke down in tears.

I can remember that day like it was yesterday and jesus, it must have been 25 years ago.
posted by adverse_conditions at 11:50 AM on November 2, 2011 [35 favorites]


Otherwise I would urge people to, this is not as uncommon as we would like to believe

It's horrifyingly common. Just two days ago my much younger cousin confessed that her dad routinely beat her when she was living at home. I thought bitter experience had taught me how to spot child abuse, and I still had no idea. Until last week l considered her father an exemplary man and a fine friend.

If I could be blind to it when it was that close we must be saturated with it.
posted by clarknova at 11:52 AM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


...the idea of someone beating their kids with a belt, or threatening to do as much, was totally foreign to me

You know, I'm in a weird place in this considering that my close friends and I all got hit plenty growing up -- we were from the Old Country and it was pretty much a given that you hit your kids for discipline -- but I always wondered about people talking about getting hit with things or fists, and for not doing anything. So for the longest time I figured that because I got (regularly) hit (hard) with an open hand and I usually did something to "deserve" it, it wasn't anything to worry about.

...except then I eventually sort of figured out that kids can't really do anything to deserve getting hit, much less on a regular basis.
posted by griphus at 11:53 AM on November 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


My parents' response after reading it? My mom called me up crying saying she never hit me, never remembered doing that, and says she wouldn't ever do such a thing.

It's pretty remarkable how the "emotional intelligence" has been progressed over the past generation. My parents as well threatened us with the belt, and there was all sorts of physical and mental abuse. But my parents grew up in a different age - their own parents lived through a war and the Depression.

Funnily enough, my own mother chooses not to remember the bad stuff, and gets quite, quite angry with me if I mention any of it. On the plus side, both of my parents have mellowed out considerably. Their own childhoods were not pretty.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:53 AM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I am a peaceful man and say I am a pacifist. But watching this video was like my own personal 'Straw Dogs' (the original of course, not the remake), because I am so full of rage and hate right now that the "man" in this video would not be safe if we were in the same room.

I have never hit anyone in my life, but I would beat him until he begged for mercy. And then I would continue to beat him until he was unconscious. I am not exaggerating for dramatic effect.

I know that is not the right response and would not solve anything, make him a better person or change the past. And I won't pretend to be all chill and say, 'but at least I'd feel better' because I wouldn't. I feel sick now and I would feel sick then.

I feel sick simply knowing this (and worse) goes on behind closed doors day after day, in every neighborhood. Yours. Mine. And I feel sick knowing this horrible truth about myself that I can call myself a pacifist only because I haven't been pushed.
posted by rough at 11:56 AM on November 2, 2011 [30 favorites]


I was also beat as a child. With belts, sandals and open hands. This video is BAD, I only watched the first 10 seconds of the beating and had enough.

I have a very bad aural imagination. When I imagine music in my head, instead of hearing the instruments I literally hear my own voice making instruments "sounds" with words like "boom boom crash boom boom". When I try to recall a conversation or movie, all the voices are my own voice.

But I can perfectly hear, in hi-fi surround sound, my father's voice saying "I am going to go get my belt" and the sound of the belt hitting my skin.

My parents say they can't recall, and if that they ever hit my, it must have been a light spanking once or twice. I don't hold it against them now, they have told me stories about they way they were raised, and they are an order of magnitude better parents than their parents were.

Most kids of my generation that I know got beaten, some rarely, some often. For most of them the standing up to the parents thing was like a rite of passage. The ones that stood up, even if they got beaten even worse, seem to be doing better. We did not make a secret of it, it was common conversation topic during recess.

The beating stopped when I was 13 or 14. My mother was about to slap me with a sandal, I snatched it out of her hand and told her I was ready to hit my mother one time. One time only, but I would make it count. She went to get my dad, and when he showed up with a belt in his hand I had a bigger belt in my left hand and a machete in my right. I must have looked really mad, they both left me alone after that and we never mentioned it again.

One of my friends started standing up to his dad at 14, they would get into fistfights and my friend would get beaten purple and bloody. It took my friend 3 years to finally beat his dad. He threw him down the stairs, the dad broke both ankles, and my friend stood at the top of the stairs eating ham (the cause of the fight) for a couple of hours before calling an ambulance. After that they would drink together and fist fight once or twice a year.

I tell this stories because I can't figure out how me and my friends thought this was OK. How our whole society accepted this as normal. I am happy to see things change. I hope many kids get to see this and find out that there is something they can do.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 11:56 AM on November 2, 2011 [47 favorites]


It is because the father is up for re-election?

He's not. There is an election coming up, but not for him, not for a while. I wonder if she got confused.

The Forbes piece suggests that this is the sort of thing that might encourage him to step down, though.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:56 AM on November 2, 2011


That was brutal, couldn't watch much of it.

We had light physical force used (belt snapped on hands), but our parents always doled it out like calm, disciplined jailors, and not like a swearing sailor in a steroid rage.
posted by benzenedream at 11:57 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


So for the longest time I figured that because I got (regularly) hit (hard) with an open hand and I usually did something to "deserve" it, it wasn't anything to worry about.

This was exactly my experience too (though I got more than hit with an open hand). But my parents always assured me that I wasn't abused, because abuse was things like being made to soak your hands in lye for no reason at all, and that as long as I had brought it upon myself, it was just normal discipline.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:57 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Saw this on Reddit but didn't realize the video was taken 7 years ago, I thought it was much more recent. What are the chances that the judge could see legal repercussions from this? Is there a statue of limitations on this kind of thing?
posted by gregoryg at 11:57 AM on November 2, 2011


I felt I could watch it because I've been beat with the belt myself quite a few times. While it isn't something I could ever do to my own kids I don't recall having too many bad feelings about it (not too many). So I thought it would be like what I experienced...but no. That was just the worst. He just goes on and on "I didn't get my licks!" and hits her all over her body. On and on. Sadistic. Reveling in it. And gah he won't shut up.

I found the mother to be a much more interesting figure though. First she makes tells her to take her beating "like a grown woman," his her once and tries to leave, but when the father comes back, she's quick to defend and assist him. It makes her seem less mentally ill and a lot more insidious than the father; I'm guessing she's as much a victim of the father's abuse as her daughter and that's what's driving it, but it's still pretty chilling.

I can see that point of view but I had a different take. Or maybe what I saw is happening at the same time as what you saw.

It seemed to me that she was trying to get in between the father and her daughter by trying to administer the beating herself (and unlike him she never tried to hit her daughter in the face or arms, only the backside). She kept telling him "no" when he would say "let me give her some more" and I think she was trying to get her daughter to obey and lie on her stomach so she could hit her once in some small hope that it would end sooner if the girl just gave in. She had to find a way to minimize the damage and try to make it end sooner. I don't know if it was conscious or not but it seemed really clear to me that she was trying to come in between them and take over the role of "disciplining" her daughter.

I mean, every time the parents walk away I hear him going on and on and then the mom comes back and relays his orders ("you're sleeping on the couch").

He abused her as well. I can't imagine being an abused wife married to a powerful man who is also abusive to the children. The children you love and want to protect. I can't really know the mental and emotional leaps she had to make in order to find a way to live in it every day. The justifications and twists. I'm sure after watching it that there is an element of codependency and she is angry with her daughter, but I do think some part of her was trying to make things "less bad". It is a really sick situation.
posted by Danila at 11:58 AM on November 2, 2011 [27 favorites]


Even after I became a parent, it's been hard to deprogram myself from the idea that "spanking" is not "beating." Because of course, it is. But I still have to resist the urge to do it when my kid gets really obnoxious, because that's what my parents would have done. I have had to decide that I'd rather deal with people thinking I'm spoiling my kid than be a person who hits her kid.

My dad hit us with a belt, though he wasn't as out of control as this guy, and the last time he hit me I was 12. Which was extra traumatic as I considered myself past the age for it, and so it was humiliating as well as painful. I never forgave him for it.

But then, his dad hit his kids with tree switches, for small infractions, all the time, until they moved away and got married (girls) or were strong enough to take the switch away from him (boys).
posted by emjaybee at 12:01 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


What are the chances that the judge could see legal repercussions from this? Is there a statue of limitations on this kind of thing?

He has a 12 year old daughter at home right now. I imagine that someone from family services is going to be visiting the home.
posted by empath at 12:01 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


It is because the father is up for re-election?

From filthy light thief's linked Forbes article (above):
Aransas County does have an election coming up next week, but Adams’s term is not up this time around. Of course, the public attention to this could well lead to his stepping down, though he tells a local news affiliate that the incident “happened years ago,” that he “apologized,” and that “it’s not as bad as it looks on tape.”
posted by ericb at 12:01 PM on November 2, 2011


Forget watching the video. I can't even read this thread without crying.

All of you that grew up with corporal punishment and refuse to us it on your own children - I'm not sure how to express my admiration for that.

To this day, if you so much as suggest that you perhaps don't have to hit your children, that it's not required, people get mad. Which is understandable, in some ways. Their parents hit them, are you saying they're broken? They've hit their kids a couple times, are you saying they've broken their children forever? Are you saying their parents were bad parents, or that they are? Am I suggesting that they're like this guy who is clearly a monster and not at all like them? Hell, even the judge himself can't really face up to it - it's not as bad as it looks. The parents of everyone in this thread seem to be convinced that they weren't really abusive.

I always try to explain that no, no, no, none of that. Just... you don't have to. There's always alternatives.

Your kid's a kid. A little child. You don't have to hit him or her.
posted by kavasa at 12:02 PM on November 2, 2011 [26 favorites]



The last time my mother hit me was with a wooden spoon and it broke.


My mother hit me with a wooden spoon, until one day, when I was big enough I grabbed it from her and broke it. When she pulled and dragged me around by my hair, I cut it off. Now that my daughter is older, and she's asked what her grandma did when I was naughty as a kid, I don't really know what to say, beyond the fact that I got "spanked" - how can a my seven year old daughter ever reconcile that her loving grandmother would hurt a little kid her age? When I found myself not knowing how to cope without wanting to spank, because I didn't know how other parents disciplined without it, I called my doctor and asked for help.

I only made it through the first beating, and couldn't believe that wasn't enough - her waiting for him to come back, the quiet sobs... It's painful to watch. The thing that gets me, is that she could set this up just so, because it wasn't the first time. Or the second time. Or, sadly, the -nth time. And yet, she still hasn't given up enough with him to just assume the position right off, and she's hopeful enough, along with her mom, that the one from her mom will be what it takes to end it (that time) and of course, it's not.
posted by peagood at 12:02 PM on November 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


My parents' response after reading it? My mom called me up crying saying she never hit me, never remembered doing that, and says she wouldn't ever do such a thing.

I had an interesting conversation with my dad back in September where he asked me to tell him things that he'd done when I was a kid, because he knew now that he'd been abusive but couldn't remember a lot. He's about 5 years sober now and is trying to come to terms with the very drunk period of his life: "coming out of the fog", as he puts it. To his credit, although he didn't like the stories very much, he didn't disbelieve me, which was a novel experience.
posted by Errant at 12:03 PM on November 2, 2011 [26 favorites]


I can't watch that video.

I am so sorry for anyone in this thread who was regularly hit by their parents. So sorry. If you got out of that and raised yourself into a loving person and especially if you turned yourself into a loving parent who does not use hitting as punishment for your own kids, for what it's worth, I think you are a morally heroic individual who deserves a parade. I imagine that it's really hard to walk away from what you know and choose a radically different path.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:04 PM on November 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Related:
Results: The majority of respondents indicated that they had been slapped or spanked, or both, by an adult during childhood "sometimes" (33.4%) or "rarely" (40.9%); 5.5% reported that this occurred "often." The remainder (20.2%) reported "never" experiencing these behaviours. Among the respondents without a history of physical or sexual abuse during childhood, those who reported being slapped or spanked "often" or "sometimes" had significantly higher lifetime rates of anxiety disorders (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.43, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.04-1.96), alcohol abuse or dependence (adjusted OR 2.02, 95% CI 1.27-3.21) and one or more externalizing problems (adjusted OR 2.08, 95% CI 1.36-3.16), compared with those who reported "never" being slapped or spanked. There was also an association between a history of slapping or spanking and major depression, but it was not statistically significant (adjusted OR 1.64, 95% CI 0.96-2.80).

Interpretation: There appears to be a linear association between the frequency of slapping and spanking during childhood and a lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorder, alcohol abuse or dependence and externalizing problems.
posted by mullingitover at 12:05 PM on November 2, 2011 [35 favorites]


It is because the father is up for re-election?

According to Reddit there is a younger sister, around 12 years of age, still living with the parents.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:05 PM on November 2, 2011


These are the types that are scared of Sharia law, too.

They're not scared of Sharia law. They hate it because they're competing with it for the same ecological niche.
posted by aught at 12:07 PM on November 2, 2011 [51 favorites]


What really gets me is the anger and uncontrollable rage from her father (and, of course, on the part of anyone watching the viewer toward her father). In some ways, the kind of dispassionate school corporal punishment emhutchinson talks about is more creepy, an adult calmly administering pain to a child (and in the case of schools, we're talking about some principal hitting other people's children). But that kind of "discipline" at least is vaguely coming from the same place of most common punishments: you've done something wrong, we're going to talk about it, and then we're going to impose some kind of unpleasant consequence. I'm not saying a calm spanking is the same thing as a time-out or being grounded from the TV, because it's not, but they are at least generally within an overall realm of punishments.

This...beating, on the other hand, isn't remotely within that category. It's just straight up "I'm bigger then you and I'm damn pissed so I'm going to dominate over you physically and emotionally." The swearing, screaming, hitting all over her lower body, these are all signs that this guy has no sense of control at any point. That degree of pure rage on his part is somehow more horrific than the beating itself.
posted by zachlipton at 12:08 PM on November 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


I have never hit anyone in my life, but I would beat him until he begged for mercy. And then I would continue to beat him until he was unconscious. I am not exaggerating for dramatic effect.

As I said earlier, the way this spins out will be really interesting. A good combination of the right time in terms of current morals and outrage, and the right time in terms of really massive Internet vigilantism from 4chan and reddit. Plenty of people over there are saying similar things, and it seems to me that a bunch of righteous nerd anger and jockeying for the most righteous avenger could have some real world repercussions for this guy.

He has already had mass pizza deliveries, and photos of his home posted. A few big looking guys posting camshots and challenging him physically.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if he gets the shit beaten out of him in the next 48-72 hours.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:08 PM on November 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


I couldn't watch this either. I was hit with a belt, and the occasional chair or garbage can when the belt was to far away. It stopped when I was 16, and at 17 I got the hell out of dodge, but I left 4 siblings behind, and I still feel guilty about it. I hope this man is kicked out of office, and never allowed to have power over anyone weaker than him again.
posted by snickerdoodle at 12:08 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


It makes her seem less mentally ill and a lot more insidious than the father; I'm guessing she's as much a victim of the father's abuse as her daughter and that's what's driving it, but it's still pretty chilling.

It seemed to me like she wanted him to stop and tried to make it less bad. She disarmed him and wanted her to just roll over and take a single whack so they could call it done. But dad couldn't even stand that for a moment. He really seemed to be getting something out of beating her, while I guess I could believe it pained the mom. Not that that's ok.
posted by floam at 12:09 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


A nice twist of justice, isn't it? A judge beats his daughter for using the Internet, so his daughter uses the Internet to beat him.
posted by George Clooney at 12:10 PM on November 2, 2011 [116 favorites]


To this day, if you so much as suggest that you perhaps don't have to hit your children, that it's not required, people get mad. Which is understandable, in some ways. Their parents hit them, are you saying they're broken?

It's never really occurred to me before, but that's gotta be how the circumcision thing works here as well.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:10 PM on November 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


Clooney, if this is viral advertising for your latest movie, I am going to be very disappointed.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:11 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


... she says she can't afford a lawyer but I'm sure reddit can raise 100k in a heartbeat to get her the best lawyers possible if need be.

MeFi is my smart arty friends. Reddit is my Rotarian uncle who loves pictures of puppies so much that it embarrasses me a little, but has a huge heart and loves seeing that right beats wrong.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:11 PM on November 2, 2011 [32 favorites]


I think saying that the mother is insidious or complicit is pretty reductive and unfair. She is not operating in a vacuum. She is almost definitely abused herself and the abused don't always act the way you want them to.
posted by SharkParty at 12:12 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Danila, I didn't mean to convey any sort of blame attached to the mother, just to say that as an outside observer her role seemed more disturbing, because she was more clearly in control of what she was doing(with the obvious caveat that most of what she was doing was driven by the father's abuse). I'm glad she got away from him, she almost certainly suffered and one way you can tell that is the way she acts on that tape (to my eyes, anyway).

In general, I'm personally unsure of how I feel about corporal punishment of children. I have no plans to use it when I have kids, but I got spanked occasionally as a kid and I don't feel that I was ever spanked in a way that was abusive. Outside of spanking with the hand, I think I was probably hit with a belt once or twice, and my mother slapped me once when I literally did ask for it. I don't think it helped my behavior, but it didn't hurt me much either. It wasn't good, but I don't get worked up about it.

I've also (in my own family) seen people who are seriously messing up their kids by hitting them because they have short tempers and no idea what they're doing when it comes to child rearing. These aren't people are sadistic (like Judge Adams); they're just way out of their depth with their children, and I have a lot sympathy for them. I just wish someone could teach them how to do it without the hitting.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:13 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


This guy needs help. But the younger daughter needs help first, and the county needs help to get rid of him as a judge second. Once he stops being able to abuse others, that's when I care about his interests and needs as human.
posted by Jehan at 12:14 PM on November 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Looking at the local Rockport newspaper article it almost looks like they had to be prodded into carrying the story (and it ain't much of one). Though they do promise an update this weekend. Since they have all the local connections it will be interesting to see whether they rise to the national spotlight or whether they sink back into the dregs of the usual small-town journalism.

That said, I hope that this is in fact the judge in the video, and that this video or the audio track are not doctored. I know I've duped by enough stuff on the Internet to question anything and everything. If it's all legit, it is nice for once to see some accountability placed on public officials, especially in places where the good-old boy network prospers.
posted by crapmatic at 12:15 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the text now on the Aransas Co., TX, web page:

N E W S R E L E A S E
County of Aransas, 301 N. Live Oak, Rockport, Texas 78382
Aransas County Judge C. H. "Burt" Mills, Jr., 361-790-0100
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 2, 2011

ARANSAS COUNTY, TEXAS - Judge Burt Mills has today announced that Aransas County is aware of the video posted on YouTube regarding County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, and the matter is now under review by the Police Department. Please refrain from communication with County offices or the Sheriff's Department on this matter until the review has been completed. Calls, emails, and faxes only create disruptions for other ongoing county business. The public's cooperation would be most appreciated.
posted by aught at 12:15 PM on November 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


I can't imagine being an abused wife married to a powerful man who is also abusive to the children.

Yeah his power is the real problem here. As a judge (especially in Texas) he was, for all practical purposes, above the law. That woman knew from her hair to her toenails there was no way out of that house. So did the daughter.

You might think documentary evidence of abuse turns the tables, but it rarely does. There's a reason this girl never did a thing with the film until just now.
posted by clarknova at 12:15 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


Oh belt, my biggest nemesis. I didn't know you had so many relatives.
posted by Tarumba at 12:16 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know those posters "There's no excuse for elder abuse!"?

YES THERE IS. THERE SO IS.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:16 PM on November 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


Wow, I really can't watch that whole video.

I am shocked at how many people are reporting that they were spanked or hit with a belt as a kid. My parents rarely laid a finger on me; my mom had a hot temper though and would occasionally (maybe once every couple years) fly into a rage and give me a slap, but it was not even from the same universe as this video depicts. The humiliation, the utter delight he seems to take in getting her to obey, it's horrible, what a sadist. My roommate and another friend told me casually the other day that their parents spanked and beat them as kids. It was the first time I'd realized this was actually a common thing, because neither of them comes from particularly unusual backgrounds.

I agree that the mother is interesting. You see these studies which show that you have to start thinking of people you're behaving badly to as bad people, in order to deal with the cognitive dissonance. I wonder how much of that is going on with the mother -- you make this pact with the devil and then in order to continue you have to pretend that it all makes sense somehow, to stay sane.
posted by peacheater at 12:18 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


(Parents should treat their children in such a way that when their time comes to be pushed in a wheelchair, it's not over an embankment or down the basement stairs.)
posted by dunkadunc at 12:18 PM on November 2, 2011 [37 favorites]


I only got two minutes in, and I'm deep within my dark place now. Thanks, internet.

Tell you what. I'll refrain from describing what I'd like to do to the judge, and if you feel the urge to tell me that you had it worse, kindly put a cork in it. Deal?
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:19 PM on November 2, 2011


That guy really needs to get help.

But first, he should be whipped with a belt.
posted by freakazoid at 12:19 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where the FUCK is walker texas ranger when you need him?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:19 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you got out of that and raised yourself into a loving person and especially if you turned yourself into a loving parent who does not use hitting as punishment for your own kids, for what it's worth, I think you are a morally heroic individual who deserves a parade.

No, don't say that. Not hitting a child should be the baseline of being decent, not a heroic feat. It needs to become unthinkable to do it. We're a long way from that yet.
posted by emjaybee at 12:19 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


Please refrain from communication with County offices or the Sheriff's Department on this matter until the review has been completed so that we can sweep this one under the rug once the furor dies down

There. Fixed that for them.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:20 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


YES THERE IS. THERE SO IS.

I'm pretty sure most cases of elder abuse are delayed revenge. People raised in a healthy, loving home don't let helpless relatives die of dehydration and neglected bedsores.
posted by clarknova at 12:20 PM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Pillory the motherfucker. I feel sick and I managed about five seconds of it. Sadistic, cowardly piece of shit.
posted by tigrefacile at 12:20 PM on November 2, 2011


Also...the mom is complicit in this as well. Send her to prison as well.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:21 PM on November 2, 2011


Costume for next Halloween: Texas Judge
posted by uraniumwilly at 12:22 PM on November 2, 2011


neat-- try this algorhythm:
type in "Texas" and any one-word occupation in public service, and something idiotic, immoral, or insane pops up.
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:22 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


That guy really needs to get help.

No. You have to apply his cultural norms to this. In Texas, he would get the shit beat out of him. I think its unfair to give him help rather than what he would have deserved in his culture.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:23 PM on November 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


There appears to be a linear association between the frequency of slapping and spanking during childhood and a lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorder, alcohol abuse or dependence and externalizing problems.

... huh, says the girl with a lifetime anxiety disorder...
posted by cereselle at 12:23 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was never struck by my father (at least not that I REMEMBER) but I was often threatened and always took the threats seriously growing up. Maybe he did things I blanked from my memories or maybe you don't need to be physical to abuse your kids. I do know Cosby's 'parenting' jokes were never funny to me.

It took me until a couple years ago, when he was 88 years old, to finally, truly 'stand up' to him, probably because he had helped me out financially more than once as an adult (amazing what money can do). I had just started getting back in contact with him seven months ago when he was struck by a car while jaywalking (for the second time) and died of his injuries. Of course, by now, his assets had dwindled to nothing and the 'estate' I inherited is a bunch of legal bother and boxes of junk associated with bad memories. Well played, dad.


I expect that the internet's 'righteous rage' will backfire big time, and William Adams will become a sympathetic figure to the Christianists and Right-Wingers who WANT heroes like him who stand up to the Godless kids, and who can raise him much more money in a 'defense fund' than Reddit can for his daughter and buy him enough law to get off with a light tap on the wrist. I can see his name on a best-selling book in a few months and getting five-digit speaking fees. If he keeps his job, after this turns around he just might get appointed a Texas State Supreme Court Justice by Rick Perry. Because let's face it, that's the way things work.

Where the FUCK is walker texas ranger when you need him?
Not the fictional character, but the real Chuck Norris will certainly be among those coming to his defense. Please.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:24 PM on November 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


dunkadunc: You know those posters "There's no excuse for elder abuse!"?

YES THERE IS. THERE SO IS.


No, there isn't. We beat people like this by being better than them. If someone does make good on the threats to beat him in return, it will only validate the worldview that drove his sadism. If this ends well, he will get justice, not revenge. Just like his daughter should have gotten for her minor misdeeds.

As she should have been told something like, "We can't allow you to use the Internet unsupervised if you can't demonstrate the ability to use it within the law," rather than receive a heinous beating; so we, as a society, should say "We can't allow you control over people unsupervised if you can't demonstrate the ability to not abuse them, tather than, "Yes. You're right. Might does make right, but there's a new might in town. Me."
posted by gilrain at 12:24 PM on November 2, 2011 [48 favorites]


I got spanked with a wooden spoon when I was a kid. It didn't destroy me as a person or anything, and out of a lot of things from my childhood that I'm not crazy about, it honestly doesn't even rank up there. I'm not excusing this stuff, just explaining where I come from.

The thing is, when I was spanked, I knew why I was being spanked and it was never more than a few hits. I'd still never do even that to a child, but it's a far cry from what's being done here. This is fucking savage, with repeated hard hits with a leather belt. And I agree with the person upstream who noted the thrill this guy is getting.
posted by Legomancer at 12:24 PM on November 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


He has a 12 year old daughter at home right now. I imagine that someone from family services is going to be visiting the home.

He'll come through this okay. One can watch a snippet of the video footage to know that he's a good ol' boy who undoubtedly has connections from his years as a judge.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:24 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've written some about my childhood around here before, so I'm not going to repeat it now, except to say that this video looked really familiar, and I didn't realize until today that one of this lingering effects of my upbringing is that it doesn't bother me to watch it. I truly wish it did, but apparently I got acclimated. I don't like being numb to it, but I don't see how to undo that.

One of my simple pleasures in life is to occasionally ask my five-year-old if she knows what "spanking" means just so I can see the look of utter confusion and innocence on her face. If you told her that some parents hurt their children when they misbehave, I'm not sure she would believe it. Knowing that her mental imaging of "normal" parenting and mine are completely opposite is one of the best things about my life. Actually, it might just be the best thing.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:25 PM on November 2, 2011 [80 favorites]


If you got out of that and raised yourself into a loving person and especially if you turned yourself into a loving parent who does not use hitting as punishment for your own kids, for what it's worth, I think you are a morally heroic individual who deserves a parade.

I generally consider myself to be a pretty good parent (though I do have my moments) but I often wonder if I'd be half as good if both my parents weren't such goddamn total failures at it. I have learned so much from their mistakes.* I can safely say this shit here because neither of my parents knows what an internet is.

*I should say, for the record, that whatever shitty parenting occurred was nothing like what is depicted in this video.
posted by bondcliff at 12:25 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


[Folks, I know this is upsetting stuff, but one of the things that is going to make it okay for this to be a thread on Metafilter is not going in the direction of ugly retaliatory stuff. Please let's not go there.]
posted by cortex at 12:27 PM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


I saw this yesterday in the deleted thread (and watched it be deleted before my eyes, which was weird). I want to say thank you to Cortex for the moderation on that one--this is a better post and thread.
posted by donovan at 12:28 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think its unfair to give him help rather than what he would have deserved in his culture.

If you want to change that culture, someone has to take the first step. Joking about beating the shit out of him isn't really funny, thanks. And seriously talking about it, for all that it would be rough justice--I'd rather see him prosecuted for abuse and put in jail and that behavior normalized than continuing the cycle of violence as normal. Shit runs downhill and beating grown men up means they beat littler people up, like their daughters.

I doubt from what people are saying about the contents of video that anything I went through is on the radar of what's happening in the video, but the lesson I want people to take away is strength is not for hitting, especially not in anger.
posted by immlass at 12:29 PM on November 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm pretty sure most cases of elder abuse are delayed revenge. People raised in a healthy, loving home don't let helpless relatives die of dehydration and neglected bedsores.

Because the helpless never blamelessly receive abuse. Or something. Let's not do this.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:29 PM on November 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


I guess it says something that I expected worse. It sucks but it did come across as punishment, as opposed to the cigarette burns, electric cord beating scars, and the random clouts to the face that seem normal in a lot of the neighborhoods around here.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:29 PM on November 2, 2011


You know those long, thin, green wood switches they sell at garden centers to tie-up tomatoes with? Yeah...That's what my mom would take to me and my brother when we were kids. Eventually, she escalated to ping-pong paddles. The last time she laid a hand on me was when she sprained her wrist trying to spank me on the run.

I sometimes wonder if that treatment accounts for my ambivalence toward her now, and her dealing with Alzheimer's.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:30 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please refrain from communication with County offices or the Sheriff's Department on this matter until the review has been completed. Calls, emails, and faxes only create disruptions for other ongoing county business. The public's cooperation would be most appreciated.

TRANSLATION: It would be fantastic if all of you would allow this to blow over as quickly as possible, kthnxbye.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if he gets the shit beaten out of him in the next 48-72 hours.

One can only hope.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:31 PM on November 2, 2011


Abusers minimize. Also, abusers can benefit from appropriate counseling IF they seek it out and IF they want to change their behavior. William Adams does not fit the "future reformed batterer" profile at this point. For Hillary's sake (and her sister's), I hope he seeks out the best counseling professionals available. I am not surprised this man is a Family Court judge. There are deep-rooted systemic problems regarding DV (criminal and family) cases in all state courts.
posted by psylosyren at 12:32 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I expect that the internet's 'righteous rage' will backfire big time, and William Adams will become a sympathetic figure to the Christianists and Right-Wingers who WANT heroes like him who stand up to the Godless kids, and who can raise him much more money in a 'defense fund' than Reddit can for his daughter and buy him enough law to get off with a light tap on the wrist.

I could almost see that happening, and I'm inclined to say that if the child had been a boy and if he hadn't used such extreme profanity, this would blow over pretty quickly in Texas. But standard Texas-culture (in my experience) is you don't spank adolescent girls and you don't drop the F bomb on your kids. There will be a few people who try to defend his actions, but I don't think it's going to catch any traction.

And if it does, that might be okay, too. I wouldn't mind if the extreme right-wing became permanently marked as defenders of blatant child abuse.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:33 PM on November 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


I debated whether or not to post this (outragefilter concerns, etc) but in a weird way I sort of do think it's a "best of the web" kind of thing - the video was posted less than a week ago and is mainstream news now. And it seems pretty clear that the investigation of this judge that has started in the past 24 hours is a direct consequence of all the eyes on the video coming from Reddit.

Apart from being shocking (the threads here and elsewhere are so full of stories of similar abuse that it's made me weepy several times today), it's also sort of heartening to know that he's a lot less likely to get away with this now, and at least part of that is thanks to Internet folk like us.
posted by miskatonic at 12:34 PM on November 2, 2011


What the hell people? You teach others that it's not ok to beat up someone by openly fantasizing about beating someone up? The cognitive dissonance is staggering.
posted by Kimberly at 12:34 PM on November 2, 2011 [23 favorites]


I am so angry. Expressing that in any particular way would not be useful. But I am going to go somewhere that is useful, that some of you may not like.

This is conservatism. This is what is stands for. These are the values of yore that conservatives want to see restored to a normal practice. This is what Republican voters tolerate when they think civil liberties are good, but they like GOP fiscal policy. They take the bribe, and get this. This. You can talk around it all you want, but it is not just about a hurt man hurting another person. It is not an individual pathology. It is about a corrupt moral structure that has a political face. And it is time to stop being fucking cowards about the moral nature of the political struggle to destroy conservatism, to pretend conservatism has a useful political contribution. It is about the right to systematize torture by the powerful. It's about making men like this your cultural models, or about surrendering to them.

It would not be enough to destroy this wretched abuser's political and social life. You should hurt every partisan position he and his stand for. Those are the stakes, because the thing in this man is the thing in an entire disgusting movement. It is a disease.
posted by mobunited at 12:35 PM on November 2, 2011 [30 favorites]


To preface, I'm from a South Asian family. I had parents who both hit me and told me that I would never be anything, that I was stupid, etc. On one occasion, my mom chased my sister around the house with a butter knife while me and my sister ran after the both of them to make sure no one got seriously hurt. Unlike some of the others in the thread who made peace with their parents or got apologies, my parents are defiant and unapologetic. They say that it was necessary to corral us unruly kids and to prevent us from running wild.

What I find interesting is that even though I am scarred by my experience, when I see an unruly kid, my first thought is "That kid needs an ass whipping." Even though it hurts me to think about how the hitting and cruel words affected me, it's all I know. I see my friends who are parents and use nonviolent methods to discipline, and think "Well, that can't be effective in the long term." I consciously know that nonviolent methods are way better, but there's something programmed in me that makes me subconsciously think violence is the way to keep a kid quiet or in line.

Abuse is a nebulous thing. If someone's been abused since childhood, then it takes a lot to deprogram and be different. It's one of the reasons I don't want kids. I don't want anyone to grow up the way I did.
posted by reenum at 12:35 PM on November 2, 2011 [29 favorites]


I guess it says something that I expected worse. It sucks but it did come across as punishment

That this is within the lower end of what many children receive from their parents is particularly horrifying.
posted by howfar at 12:38 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you want to change that culture, someone has to take the first step. Joking about beating the shit out of him isn't really funny, thanks. And seriously talking about it, for all that it would be rough justice--I'd rather see him prosecuted for abuse and put in jail and that behavior normalized than continuing the cycle of violence as normal. Shit runs downhill and beating grown men up means they beat littler people up, like their daughters.

Seriously. As angry as this makes me and all of us, rage and violence are not the answer here. I don't mean that force never has a role. If a guy is beating the shit out of his kid right before your eyes, throw him to the ground by all means. But then be better then him.

Vigilantism might do something in this particular case, but 99.95% of abusive parents aren't going to stop because they fear the internet will descend upon them in an angry mob. They are going to stop (we can hope) because society and the legal system has their kids' backs and everyone has made it darn clear that this is simply not how people are allowed to behave in our society.
posted by zachlipton at 12:40 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


You teach others that it's not ok to beat up someone by openly fantasizing about beating someone up?

Because the impulse for punitive revenge is somehow inhuman? All of history says otherwise. I'm not sure it's necessary to take the higher ground when a big, strong, grown man is beating a child.
posted by tigrefacile at 12:40 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's on the front page of the HuffPo now.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:41 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because the helpless never blamelessly receive abuse.

Not saying that at all.
posted by clarknova at 12:42 PM on November 2, 2011


I sometimes wonder if that treatment accounts for my ambivalence toward her now, and her dealing with Alzheimer's.

I know exactly what you're talking about here. I have a really, really hard time not letting my father push my buttons these days (he has dementia and has really become obnoxious and condescending) and I know it's because of all the anger I have toward him. There's a really ugly part of me that doesn't care how confused and scared he is about losing his memory; I just want him to shut up. Don't you dare talk to me that way, you fucker--I've taken all I'm going to take from you. The child in me doesn't care that he's a sickly 83-year-old man who's descending into a fantasy world; he still has those huge hands and he still shakes his fist at me and I'M STILL SO ANGRY.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 12:42 PM on November 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


OK, I don't want to see him beaten up. But I do want to see his life completely and utterly ruined. As in living on the street like a feral dog, devoid of money, comfort and human interactions. Shivering at night, burnt by the summer sun. Hungry, thirsty.

Is that morally acceptable around here?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:43 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Not saying that at all.

No, because you clearly didn't look at it that way. Instead, you're speculating about which victims might have deserved their abuse. I say again: let's not do that.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:44 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


We could just beat the shit out of him while screaming: "Don't beat your kid!! It's not nice to hit people!!"

That might get the point across.
posted by Floydd at 12:45 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was spanked as a kid, too, either with a belt or a hand, but it was almost a clinical thing. Prior to the actual hitting, I had to stand there and be told exactly why I was going to be spanked now. In some ways, the talk was even more torturous than the three or four licks. I don't condone spanking kids, but if you feel like it should be done, that's the best way to do it. This guy is off the charts, and I don't feel bad in saying that I'd like to hear that he was ganged up on and spanked on the legs, back, and chest until he begged for mercy that never came.
posted by Gilbert at 12:45 PM on November 2, 2011


These are the values of yore that conservatives want to see restored to a normal practice.

This is generalizing a very specific thing in a way that kind of sucks. I don't have any real love for conservativism as a political and cultural movement in the United States but conflating it with child abuse on a one-to-one basis is misguided at best and tars a shitload of people with whom I might otherwise agree, and strongly, on some things as complicit in child-beating.

In any case, it'd be nice not to have this thread turn into yet another general argument about political movements. There have been, and will no doubt yet be, plenty of other threads for that.
posted by cortex at 12:45 PM on November 2, 2011 [29 favorites]


I don't want to see this man hurt, but I do have a dream that this incident is the impetus to get the US on this list of civilized nations.
posted by mullingitover at 12:47 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is that morally acceptable around here?

No, and it's not even a suitably vicious punishment. I want him to realize, and deeply understand what he did, how he made his daughter feel, the damage he did to her, and how much his own daughter loathes him now. He will wake up every day of his life horrified at what he did, and know he can never undo what he did.

That is justice.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:47 PM on November 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


Because the impulse for punitive revenge is somehow inhuman? All of history says otherwise. I'm not sure it's necessary to take the higher ground when a big, strong, grown man is beating a child.

While he's beating that child, do whatever you've got to do. Beyond that, if you can't claim the high ground from an abusive father flying into an uncontrollable rage at his teenage daughter with a belt, you're somewhere down in the Mariana Trench. That's what the high ground is for: separating yourself from the behavior you don't want to be part of our society.
posted by zachlipton at 12:48 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


So it's wrong to hit children, but if they grow up to be an asshole then it's time to throwdown?
posted by Dark Messiah at 12:49 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is that morally acceptable around here?

If you thirst to see the heads of tyrants on their rightful pikes you'll always have a comrade in me.
posted by clarknova at 12:50 PM on November 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


The last time my mother hit me was with a wooden spoon and it broke. She never hit me again. My father, though, well that's a different story.

Man, been there. Exactly there.

I grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Southern California in the 70s/80s. Hitting your kid with the belt, the spoon, or whatever object was handy was de rigueur then. Me and every kid I knew dealt with it. No one thought it outlandish or abusive. Shit, walk around an amusement park or a mall or a grocery store back then and you'd see parents pull there kids out of crowds to spank or slap them. It was really, really different then.

But that video crosses whatever imaginary line we even had then about what constituted child abuse. I can hardly watch it.

I'll never hit my kid as punishment. The very idea goes totally against the notion of being a parent. For fuck's sake, your job, the core of your responsibility as a parent, is to protect your kid. Even as a kid, getting the spoon, I understood that. I understood that I'd never punish my own kid like that.

The thing is, I don't judge my parents for that. I have a really good relationship with them these days, so it feels a little like a betrayal to even talk about it. They aren't the same people they were then. And even then, the punishment was more of a cultural norm. I don't excuse it, I just don't really dwell on it.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:50 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want him to realize, and deeply understand what he did, how he made his daughter feel, the damage he did to her, and how much his own daughter loathes him now. He will wake up every day of his life horrified at what he did, and know he can never undo what he did.

Worse than that would be for him to realize and deeply understand how he made his daughter feel, the damage he did to her, and how much she still loves him in spite of it all.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:50 PM on November 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is generalizing a very specific thing in a way that kind of sucks. I don't have any real love for conservativism as a political and cultural movement in the United States but conflating it with child abuse on a one-to-one basis is misguided at best and tars a shitload of people with whom I might otherwise agree, and strongly, on some things as complicit in child-beating.

They deserve to be tarred. They tolerate it with their allegiance. They are complicit. They are appeasers. If they don't like it, then they can get the fuck out of that camp.
posted by mobunited at 12:50 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Slap*Happy: Nice thought, but frankly that'll never happen outside of some Oscar-bait Hollywood movie.

He's a vicious, dangerous beast who deserves to be outcast.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:50 PM on November 2, 2011


He will wake up every day of his life horrified at what he did, and know he can never undo what he did.

That is justice.


Really? Wouldn't justice actually involve him truly repenting and making recompense for what he has done? Perhaps growing in such a way that, while horrified by what he has done, he is able to learn from it and become a decent, worthwhile person. It's unlikely to happen, for all kinds of reasons, but it seems better to me.
posted by howfar at 12:51 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is interesting work on the psychology associated with various political alignments, cortex, meaning you might find authoritarianism-like traits that serve as major risk factors for both conservatism and child abuse. Just say'n.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:53 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


You teach others that it's not ok to beat up someone by openly fantasizing about beating someone up? The cognitive dissonance is staggering.

I don't think it's helpful to fantasize about beating the guy up either, but I also don't think it requires any cognitive dissonance. The important point is that this is a grown man beating a young girl, who is no match for him either physically or socially. She is helpless to prevent what is being done to her -- the power differential is inescapable. That is what prompts the reflex desire to beat him up. It would be, in its way, justice.

Violence is not just violence, indistinguishable in all circumstances. It isn't ever just someone beating up someone. Violence encodes power relationships, and is one of humanity's reflex ways of expressing power relationships. In this case, the original abuse and the desire to beat the judge black and blue in retaliation both also encode power relationships, but they don't stem from the same impulse. The former is a violent outburst of control and dominance, and the latter is a violent outburst of revenge and justice.
posted by rusty at 12:53 PM on November 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


Reminds me so much of Tree of Life. The panning exterior shot of the idyllic home, the wind delivering a cool breeze through the open windows in front, while Brad Pitt's delivering a beatdown in the kitchen. The scene of the young boy contemplating the idea of killing his dad while he's working on the family car.

This is a deeply personal part of growing up that not a lot of people talk about. I'd be surprised if anyone can muster a rational reaction to all of this.
posted by phaedon at 12:54 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


No, don't say that. Not hitting a child should be the baseline of being decent, not a heroic feat. It needs to become unthinkable to do it. We're a long way from that yet.

I totally get what you're saying, and of course not hitting your kid should be normal... But choosing to walk away from what your parents did to you means admitting in black-and-white terms that how your parents raised you was wrong and you don't want to pass it on. That can require real willingness to be honest and thoughtful even if it means thinking unpleasant about your own mom or dad, especially if you love them and generally have a decent relationship with them. Maybe even like you're being disloyal, or somehow betraying them.

For a lot of people, it also means that they have to reject pretty strong cultural messages about parents and kids. People can get very heavily invested in this mythology of the parent-child dynamic that says: the child is bad and its spirit must be broken, you must teach it common decency because it was born without it, the child is a savage, you must bring it into the light, the child owes you respect but shouldn't expect same, the child is constantly trying to manipulate you, you must be eternally vigilant and not let them get away with this, family life is a zero-sum game and you must, at all costs, make the child behave.

I think there is a continuum of violence that starts with that attitude and ends with what almost everyone would call ABUSE, but in between is a long slope where things like "Don't tell me how to discipline my child" and "I was spanked and I'm fine" live. And for a lot of people I think it can be hard, if they were raised in that in-between area where there was maybe spanking and a lot of yelling and fear, but not stuff they feel comfortable calling "abuse", to just confront those feelings of disloyalty, old anger, love, betrayal, etc., and still think "That was wrong and I'm not passing it on."

So I do think that's pretty brave, I guess.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:54 PM on November 2, 2011 [19 favorites]


This is conservatism. This is what is stands for.

I'm sorry, but can we please not do this?
posted by downing street memo at 12:55 PM on November 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


All I need to know about conservatism and child abuse I got while reading the comments on the Freeper thread about this video. Most of them involve something along the lines of "We haven't seen the whole story" and "Look how quickly she stopped crying" and "This video seems awfully professional for a teenager in 2004 if you know what I mean".
posted by schroedinger at 12:56 PM on November 2, 2011 [23 favorites]


Girl In Beating Video: "People Believe Me Now"

"I told him that I had the video, and he acted like he had nothing to worry about," Adams said. "And I said, I can post the video of you beating me on the internet and he said, 'well, you can do that if it makes you feel better.' So I did."
posted by R. Mutt at 12:57 PM on November 2, 2011 [31 favorites]


If anyone not personally familiar with excessive physical correction of children wants to understand it better, I highly recommend reading "Royal Beatings," the first chapter of The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose. It captures the roles and emotions of the parents and child with scarry accuracy. Closest thing to being there.
posted by jsturgill at 12:59 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I expect that the internet's 'righteous rage' will backfire big time, and William Adams will become a sympathetic figure to the Christianists and Right-Wingers who WANT heroes like him who stand up to the Godless kids

I felt masochistic and went to a Freeper thread on the subject. The comments were about equal parts condemnation, claiming it was fake or set up in some way, and approval, with quite a few along the lines of "Well, this particular situation was over-the-top, but..."
posted by dirigibleman at 12:59 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a child who has some behavioral challenges, and I've heard (sometimes to my face, more often muttered under the breath) something to the effect of "That kid just needs a good whoopin" or "If that were MY kid..." Here in the South corporal punishment is still very acceptable and NOT hitting your kids is seen as neglectful by much of the population (spare the rod, etc.) All I can think is, oh yeah, THAT's going to go well. Let's teach the child who has issues with aggression and empathy that hurting people who are smaller and weaker than you is the right way to get them to do what you want.

It takes a real bully to hit a child.
posted by Daily Alice at 1:01 PM on November 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


You teach others that it's not ok to beat up someone by openly fantasizing about beating someone up?

I won't watch the video, but I'm pretty sure if I did, I would want to beat up the father. That doesn't mean that, if I were put in a room with a belt and that guy, I would actually do it. It doesn't mean that I condone corporal punishment in the justice system. It means that, like many people, I feel an urge for vengeance which I understand is not actually a good way to run a society but which exists in me anyhow.
posted by jeather at 1:01 PM on November 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


hal_c_on: "Also...the mom is complicit in this as well. Send her to prison as well."

I was just wrestling with the idea of the mother as enabler in my head and was just working through the analysis in my head of what legal options she had that were realistically available to her to be able to get her and the kids out of the home given the position of her husband as a judge, assuming she knew she had legal options available to her. I don't know Texas family law well enough to be able to opine on what her options actually were, but assuming Texas has plenty of domestic violence remedies available to victims of abuse it's not only tough for a layperson to know what legal means are available to protect them, as a practical matter, it can be tough on the enforcement end as well.

For example, if I were in her position, my first thought would be to get out of the jurisdiction, and then get some type of emergency protective order in place based upon the domestic abuse, along with a temp emergency child custody order; that's assuming the mother had resources available and the means to leave. Now, assuming she had the means to get out, she may be worried about being subject to claims of kidnapping under the PKPA.

Further, the mother probably didn't know about the existence of this video, so she was probably concerned about having enough evidence to be able to prove up her allegations versus the risks of "tipping her hand" to her husband and being subjected to additional abuse, and/or preemptive legal measures by her husband (e.g., maybe he runs right quick to file for divorce in their county, and gets one of his buddies to issue a protective order preventing her from leaving with the kids, if not having any custody of the kids on the basis of allegations that she's an unfit mother). She may not have known about the protections available to her under VAWA, and she may have been afraid to consult a local attorney (who, after all, would practice in that county before that judge) to be able to understand her legal options.

Now, let's assume she (or anyone) was aware of the existence of abuse and contacted Texas child protective services. An investigator shows up the the house to investigate: He's probably smart enough to tell them to go away and that he won't be interviewed without the presence of a lawyer, which could limit the effectiveness of an investigator. Alternatively, say she goes to the cops; in a small jurisdiction, the cops and the DA tend to work together pretty closely. Also, the cops generally know all the judges and testify in front of them all the time, so the cops might be inclined to disbelieve her.

That only scratches the surface of the legal obstacles. I'm sure there are thousands and thousands of similar stories and situations like this all over the country. I'm ashamed that it takes the horrifying screams of a child being abused to make me stop and think about how deep these issues run and the struggles of women who are victims of domestic violence.
posted by Dr. Zira at 1:04 PM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


"This is conservatism. This is what is stands for... [etc etc]."

@mobunited, I'm not going to bother to point out the logical fallacies in this nonsense. I do have one question though.

I noticed that the stories all say the judge is an elected official, but I haven't seen a single one that mentioned his political party. It's certainly possible I missed something, so could you tell me: What is the source for your contention that the judge is a Republican?

Respectfully,

Alaska Jack
posted by Alaska Jack at 1:05 PM on November 2, 2011


Also, I'm surprised at the number of people in this thread who are about my age and who were both hit as children and knew all their friends were too. I grew up in New England in the 80s and I didn't know anyone who was hit regularly -- or if I did, they never talked about it. I was only hit one time, when I was very little, and it's possible that even that didn't happen. I might have been four, so it's very hard to distinguish true memory from fantasy.

Could it have been that regionally different? Or was it all class? We were solidly white-collar upper-middle. Lots of executives and teachers in my neighborhood.
posted by rusty at 1:06 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, I never knew that The-Wooden-Spoon-Breaks was such a rite of passage. Think I was 14 when that happened- spoon broke, I didn't cry, that was the end of it. Mom was never a sadist, but she did get *really* mad... nothing like this (not that I'm going to watch the video, though) but still, it's hard to understand why everyone seemed to think that stuff was OK. And heartening as hell to see that they don't anymore.
posted by hap_hazard at 1:06 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's amazing that an abstract piece of corporate intellectual property like copyright trumps the right of your own child to live without fear, shaming, or beatings.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:07 PM on November 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


The closest I ever got to this sort of thing was listening to Bill Cosby's "To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With" on vinyl with my parents, and Bill would do the routine about THE BELT and it was funny because it was Bill Cosby telling a story but it was also hard for me to figure out what the hell the context was because the idea of someone beating their kids with a belt, or threatening to do as much, was totally foreign to me. Young as I was I didn't really know how to tell absurdist humor from dark satire on that stuff.

And my siblings and I wondered if Mr. Cosby had been spying on us through the window!

Except in that routine, if I remember correctly, Bill and Russell never see The Belt, but only hear it about it. (It had hooks that would tear your flesh off!) They lived in fear of a belt they never saw, and we lived in hear of a belt we saw all too often. (Or, if The Belt wasn't handy, Hot Wheels tracks, or extension cords would do.) The humor for us was that anyone would realy use a belt with hooks that would actually tear their children's flesh off?! Perposterous! Yet we thought a belt that left bruises and welts was perfectly acceptable, since that was our experience.

It was a given that we and our peers would "get a whipping" for "being bad," a very ill-defined state, by the way, whose definition changed based on the whims, stress-levels, and sobriety of our parents. When a classmate suggested that my cousin report her parents to the police for hitting her with a belt, my 10 year old mind could not even grasp of a world in which that would seem prudent or even possible. Wouldn't the police laugh at you, tell your parents, and get you in bigger trouble? There seemed to be no way of escape.

I was raised in a constant cloud of domestic violence, parent-on-child as well as parent-on-parent. Many things happened that I will never tell anyone, simply because there is no point getting those things into anyone else's head. Like watching the linked video, you can never un-see it, or get the thoughts from your mind.

I hope we are living in a more enlightened age, where such abuse is not considered a family matter or just a form of discipline. Thankfully, my parents saw the error of their ways, and asked forgiveness. It took them years after we were all grown, as well as being confronted about it by us, for them to come to that point, but at least they did it. My father died this year, and I was able to let him go without holding bitterness against him. It's no excuse, but he passed down some of the ignorance he was raised with.

My mother was raised in a similar manner, and their combined ignorance was a disasterous combination. I have, of course, forgiven her as well and enjoy a great relationship with her. She and her husband of 14 years are nearing 80, and need a lot of help from me. I do her shopping and errands every week and make sure she makes her doctor's appointments, and I can do all these things gladly, because of her ability to ask forgiveness and my ability to give it. She has developed short-term memory loss, but remembers every detail of everything in the past. I think it would be better if she remembered the new things and forgot the old.
posted by The Deej at 1:08 PM on November 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


Read the comments in the Free Republic thread. You will get no crazier as wingnut hotbeds go. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2801191/posts#comment

Nearly all of them condemn this behavior. This isn't "conservatism". Having grown up in a quasi-abusive southern family myself, I'm willing to make some gestures at cultural factors making this kind of family structure more acceptable, but let's not do the politics thing.
posted by downing street memo at 1:09 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I didn't know anyone who was hit regularly, or I didn't know that I knew anyone.

I did have one babysitter who, I am told, hit me. I remember clearly that she took a belt to hit her son, who she brought over while watching me (I remember also telling her to take a different belt, because that one was my aunt's, not my mother's, though I cannot imagine why this mattered to me); I remember clearly that she made fun of me. But apparently she hit me, too, and told me not to tell my parents, and I didn't until eventually I did (I suspect after being asked why I didn't like her after having been excited to meet her at first, but who knows), after which she was fired. All of this is something my parents told me. I have absolutely zero memory of this, and would have sworn she only hit her son.
posted by jeather at 1:10 PM on November 2, 2011


I really don't want to get into this right now because as you can see my life's been made very difficult over this child," Adams continued.

You mean the 23 year old woman you abused when she was a child. Yes, I'm sure your life is so difficult because of her disobedience. How dare she do this to you.
posted by yeti at 1:10 PM on November 2, 2011 [23 favorites]


"This is conservatism. This is what is stands for... [etc etc]."

This is authoritarianism. In the United States, in the present day, our so-called conservative party has a stronger authoritarian leaning. Or at least is more willing to openly identify with authoritarianism. That is not true for all times and places. There is a non-authoritarian right, and there is (god knows there is) an authoritarian left. If you want to make it political, please refer to it as authoritarianism, because as little love as I have for conservatism, it doesn't deserve to be identified with this.
posted by rusty at 1:10 PM on November 2, 2011 [31 favorites]


"I really don't want to get into this right now because as you can see my life's been made very difficult over this child."*

I'd imagine you'd not, Judge Adams.
posted by grabbingsand at 1:11 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will be the first to admit that as I watched this I had a mental play in my head about returning the violence upon him, stopping the beatings and giving it back to him.

It is the wrong way to approach this, however. His abuse is born out of a combination of rage and a sociopathic lack of empathy. Beating the problem of abuse does not start with beating the abusers, but redirecting that rage into energy to make sure this never happens again to any kid. This is why Rule Of Law generally works best, let the system, ponderous and flawed though it is, deal with the individual and let us all work more on education, showing people this sort of video, educate them about how this is not fucking okay to do.

Just read the comments above me. With every crack of leather on skin, hundreds and thousands of people felt the pain from their own memory. As a leader in a youth group I have seen kids come in with bruises, heard "I fell down the stairs" and then watch them flinch when someone moves quickly in their vicinity or their parents moves in a way they are not expecting. This is the kind of thing that this video and her courage gives an opportunity to be used as a tool against.
posted by Leth at 1:12 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


downing street memo, you're reading a different thread than me. The ones condemning the beatings still uphold hitting your kid, and there are a large number of people saying people just don't know what it's like to raise a teenager, etc etc.
posted by schroedinger at 1:12 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you let the mother off the hook for her role in the abuse under the theory that she is also being abused in some way by her husband and therefore isn't fully culpable for her own actions, then what happens when someone proves that the father was horribly beaten as a child and carries permanent psychological trauma from that experience--an experience which has made him much more likely to become an abuser in his own right? Does he get off the hook, too, while we do the pitchforks and torches routine down at the old folks' home where former child abuser Grandpa Adams is living out his days?

I really don't think there are easy answers. But the only practical answer is to hold adults of normal mental capacity accountable for their actions, while acknowledging and bemoaning the fact that other circumstances made their potential to become abusers much higher than it otherwise would have been.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:12 PM on November 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


yeti, grabbingsand - where are you reading that horrifying quote?
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:12 PM on November 2, 2011


I guess I did grow up pretty fucked up after all. When I was a kid, it was literally unthinkable to have fought like she did. You took your whipping. Period. It was never any other way.

That's how her father grew up, and that's why he becomes so incredibly angry. He is frustrated that she won't just take her whipping and get it over with.

This may seem monstrous, but at least he hasn't forced his daughter into the mental prison that he was in as a child. He never fought back, and he doesn't understand why she won't capitulate. In some tiny way, that's an improvement.

Someone posted earlier in the thread, what people are talking about when they talk about their right to discipline their child. This is exactly what they are talking about.

I am surprised and glad to see so many people become so incredibly outraged by this. I wouldn't have given it a second thought.
posted by Xoebe at 1:13 PM on November 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


My father broke my brother's arm for lying to him once. I imagine he was drunk at the time. At any rate, after that he never hit my brother again, and never hit me.

This is horrifying, and while I wish all sorts of terrible thing on the judge in question, I hope at the very least the daughter who is still living with him is safe from the sadistic asshole. And I sort of hope he gets help, but I'm a little torn on that one.
posted by tr33hggr at 1:13 PM on November 2, 2011


Add mine to the chorus of voices saying they were beaten by an enraged, out of control parent with a belt as a child. Wooden spoons and wooden hangers. A leather riding crop. Metal and wooden canes, Etc., etc. Anything that was handy.

There is no way I'm watching that video. No way, no thank you. I do not wish to relive that. Confronting my mother about it years later, she also denied everything. The same woman who watched my father literally break a wooden cane against my ribs and send me to the ER denied it had ever happened.

I don't wish this man harm, but I truly hope this video gets his ass thrown off the bench. And I hope his family is able to get the fuck away from him as rapidly as possible. He does not deserve to be in a position of power, and certainly not one where he can have any power over them.
posted by zarq at 1:14 PM on November 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


choosing to walk away from what your parents did to you means admitting in black-and-white terms that how your parents raised you was wrong and you don't want to pass it on

I decided while I was in college (and a fairly conservative college) NEVER to have children. I couldn't trust myself not to raise a kid right. I also told myself for years that it wasn't a good world to raise your kids in and would only get worse (which I regret to say was right), but mostly I felt the only way to avoid turning into my father was not to be a father. And I'm happy to say I have made very few of the same mistakes he did; my mistakes are quite original!


[Folks, I know this is upsetting stuff, but one of the things that is going to make it okay for this to be a thread on Metafilter is not going in the direction of ugly retaliatory stuff. Please let's not go there.]

Trust me, every bit of over-reaction here, even if it's deleted a few minutes later, is being stored in a Breitbart data base for future "See? They're WORSE" arguments. That is the Way the Internet Really Works. Not the "wingnut hotbeds", the smart and savvy activists and political manipulators.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:14 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Interview with Judge William Adams

There are some references to him being a Republican online, none to him beinga Democrat.

No info is available on the Aransas County website.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:15 PM on November 2, 2011


"In my mind I have not done anything wrong other than discipline my child when she was caught stealing. I did lose my temper, I've apologized.. it looks worse than it is."

I don't have it in me to feel compassion for this creature. I do not consider this to be a personality flaw.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:17 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


There are some references to him being a Republican online, none to him being a Democrat.

@themanoftwistsandturns:

Would you mind citing and/or linking to these references? The only ones I've seen are speculation/assumption (like this thread).

(I hope it's clear I'm not saying he's NOT a Republican. I'm only saying that I see a ton of people assuming that he is, and I'm curious as to whether they're right.)

- Alaska Jack
posted by Alaska Jack at 1:18 PM on November 2, 2011


My parents don't deny that they hit us (with belts, paint sticks, the three-foot flexible plastic tracks for my brothers' dinky car set, and my father broke a hairbrush on me once), but they still insist there was absolutely nothing wrong with hitting us.

Next time one of them annoys you, maybe you should pick up the nearest object and hit them with it. Then ask if they still don't see your point of view.
posted by reynir at 1:19 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Aransas County Republican Party 'Elected Officials' page

"County Court-at-Law Judge – William “Bill” Adams"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:21 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


* Things are getting a little testy in this thread, here's a little break brought to you by Prima Praire Dog Ballerina! *
posted by phaedon at 1:22 PM on November 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


He could've been a Democrat, one of those getting campaign contributions from the MPAA and RIAA to fight piracy.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:22 PM on November 2, 2011


George Clooney, someone stole your comment and is getting all sorts of popular with it on the Facebook section of the news site linked above.
posted by jeremy b at 1:22 PM on November 2, 2011


downing street memo, you're reading a different thread than me. The ones condemning the beatings still uphold hitting your kid, and there are a large number of people saying people just don't know what it's like to raise a teenager, etc etc.

I see some idiot, late-thread contrarians, but the initial reaction was pretty heartening. I think hitting kids is horrific and would never do it, but can accept people, in good faith, who consider methodical, dispassionate, minor physical discipline a tool for extreme circumstances.
posted by downing street memo at 1:23 PM on November 2, 2011


the man of twists and turns: "Aransas County Republican Party 'Elected Officials' page"

In that interview, he explains that he was disciplining her for taking the car without permission:

"ROCKPORT - We caught up with Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams as he left his home in Rockport today. At first he told us he would not comment on the video showing a girl being beaten with a belt and a board that was posted online.

Then he confirmed it is in fact his daughter being beaten and he tried to explain what happened when the video was shot in 2004.

"She's mad because I've ordered her to bring the car back, in a nutshell, but yeah that's me, I lost my temper," Adams told us. "Her mother was there, she wasn't hurt.. it was a long time ago.. I really don't want to get into this right now because as you can see my life's been made very difficult over this child," Adams continued
."

If this incident in the video involved the computer, that tells me he was confused about what led to the beating, which tells me he's done this more than once.
posted by Dr. Zira at 1:25 PM on November 2, 2011 [17 favorites]


Trust me, every bit of over-reaction here, even if it's deleted a few minutes later, is being stored in a Breitbart data base for future "See? They're WORSE" arguments. That is the Way the Internet Really Works. Not the "wingnut hotbeds", the smart and savvy activists and political manipulators.

Curtailing your own speech for fear of it being twisted by Breitbart et al only cedes a victory to those clowns. If their enemy's words provide them them with no ammunition they will not want for other bullets. They have power by virtue of the platform that has been purchased for them. Don't grant them any more.
posted by clarknova at 1:25 PM on November 2, 2011


If you let the mother off the hook for her role in the abuse under the theory that she is also being abused in some way by her husband and therefore isn't fully culpable for her own actions, then what happens when someone proves that the father was horribly beaten as a child...

This isn't the same thing. The mother's abuse in that situation is most likely current and ongoing and what appears to be complicity is almost definitely a seriously imperfect attempt to minimize her daughter's beating while also preventing her own.

Victims don't necessarily have access to the same bottomless well of strength, resolve, and bright ideas as passive observers.
posted by SharkParty at 1:25 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


If this incident in the video involved the computer, that tells me he was confused about what led to the beating, which tells me he's done this more than once.

I think he may be referring to the incident which sparked the leaking of the video in the first place.
posted by downing street memo at 1:28 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


i just spent a few hours with my sibling recently. like most of our visits, we spent most of it speaking truth. he told stories of our mom beating him with her fists, and then lying to my father who then beat him with a belt. we talked about always being scared, worried.

we talked about how our mother always, always, always hit us out of anger (and like many here, with whatever was closest - the metal end of the fly swatter was the topic of discussion on this visit). our father always hit us out of punishment - the very cold, measured, "this is what you did wrong and this is the punishment as you knew it would be, so lets do that and then go have dinner." but, my father would sometimes believe our crazy mother so we'd get beat twice for something we didn't do.

sometimes my mom will joke about the things she did, always downplaying, always laughingly blaming us for the shit she made up in the first place. if you call her on it, she'll start to cry and lay on the guilt trips. and suddenly you're the asshole who made your mom feel bad (for shit she did and refuses to drop).

part of the reason i'm never having kids is because sometimes i see my mother's temper in myself, sometimes i feel her dysfunction in my blood, and i can't chance that one day i'd lose my cool and ever humiliate my child like she humiliated us.

it would destroy her to know we thought this about her. she thinks she's a wonderful mother who did the best she could with what she had. she thinks we had a happy home, filled with laughter. she doesn't understand why none of us want big holidays together. she came from an abusive home and she just can't handle that she created an abusive home. it's a story i see repeated all over my extended family - broken kids becoming adults and breaking their kids - i just couldn't feed any more babies into this system.
posted by nadawi at 1:28 PM on November 2, 2011 [55 favorites]


EatTheWeak, it was the link to KRIS TV a little upthread.
posted by yeti at 1:28 PM on November 2, 2011


I wouldn't be at all surprised if he gets the shit beaten out of him in the next 48-72 hours.
Local officials said they're stepping up the police presence in Rockport, a city of 9,000 residents, after people flooded police phone lines to complain about the judge and have called in death threats to the courthouse.

"Let's just say that I had more than 40 emails in my personal account, compared to my average of none and we haven't talked to people in London before," he said.*
posted by ericb at 1:29 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


clarknova, I'm only calling for curtailing threats and violent speech; I'm sure they have gigabytesof content they can never use against us because it's reasonable, smart, honest and moral.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:29 PM on November 2, 2011


There is a non-authoritarian right, and there is (god knows there is) an authoritarian left. If you want to make it political, please refer to it as authoritarianism, because as little love as I have for conservatism, it doesn't deserve to be identified with this.

I used the term "appeaser" up thread specifically for all those nice gents who won't walk away from the Omelas of their damaged political conceits.
posted by mobunited at 1:29 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


...hitting kids was just what the majority of parents did to make their kids misbehave.

Worked on me.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:30 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


... which tells me he's done this more than once.

Yep.
"My father's harassment was getting really bad, so I decided to finally publish the video that I had been sitting on for seven years," Adams told KRIS-TV.

"It had happened before, and had been escalating," Adams said. "I set up a camera, and I caught it."
posted by ericb at 1:32 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, ok, I know I don't like this, but is it illegal?

Texas law allows parents to paddle kids, as long as the punishment is not abusive
"Every case is different, but some things that could constitute abuse would be using something other than your hand, leaving marks or bruises, or hitting in the face," said Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services.
1999 Texas Penal Code, Sec. 9.61.
Sec. 9.61. PARENT--CHILD. (a) The use of force, but not deadly force, against a child younger than 18 years is justified:
(1) if the actor is the child's parent or stepparent or is acting in loco parentis to the child; and
(2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is necessary to discipline the child or to safeguard or promote his welfare.
(b) For purposes of this section, "in loco parentis" includes grandparent and guardian, any person acting by, through, or under the direction of a court with jurisdiction over the child, and anyone who has express or implied consent of the parent or parents.
posted by mazola at 1:32 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


yeti - Cool, thanks. I had it in another tab but hadn't refreshed it for a minute.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:32 PM on November 2, 2011


Ayn Rand and God: I tell this stories because I can't figure out how me and my friends thought this was OK. How our whole society accepted this as normal. I am happy to see things change. I hope many kids get to see this and find out that there is something they can do.

"Spare the rod and spoil the child" was a common saying. My parents even said it, in jest (my brother and I got time outs at worse, and that was rare). And The Bible Says: "He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24) and "Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell." (Proverbs 23:13-14) (The page, with much of the content dated to the early 1990s or before, goes on to say "light spanking is OK, as long as they deserve it.") And I don't think the Bible is the lone old religious/moral tome that says it's good to keep your kids in line with physical punishment.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:34 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, his asshole quote:

"She's mad because I've ordered her to bring the car back, in a nutshell, but yeah that's me, I lost my temper," Adams told us. "Her mother was there, she wasn't hurt.. it was a long time ago.. I really don't want to get into this right now because as you can see my life's been made very difficult over this child," Adams continued."

What a narcissistic, abusive prick. Even in the video, he was telling her that the beating was her fault, along the lines of the classic abuser taunt, "See what you made me do?" And now he's whining about HIS life being made difficult?

For me, it boils down to the fact that at a human level, I understand rage. I experience it myself -- everyone does. But how could a parent hear their child screaming like that, in pain and absolute terror -- and only want to make it worse? Isn't part of parenting wanting to make it better? That's not 'losing your temper.' That's being something less than human.

And now it's about something happening to him because of "this child"?

The man should be kept far away from his children, and from others' as well.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:34 PM on November 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


I really don't want to get into this right now because as you can see my life's been made very difficult over this child ... In my mind I have not done anything wrong other than discipline my child."
The video told us 95% of what we needed to know about this man. This quote tells us the rest.
posted by williampratt at 1:34 PM on November 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


As someone that has decided not to have children, it strikes me how often that sentiment is coming out in this thread.

Victims of abuse that are afraid of what kind of parents they might be.

I wonder how common this reason is for people to decide not to have children.
posted by el io at 1:34 PM on November 2, 2011 [19 favorites]


it's a story i see repeated all over my extended family - broken kids becoming adults and breaking their kids - i just couldn't feed any more babies into this system.

That thing people say about how we are our parents? That's bullshit. One of the greatest feelings in the world is knowing you're the one who broke the cycle.
posted by bondcliff at 1:34 PM on November 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


the man of twists and turns: "Aransas County Republican Party 'Elected Officials' page

"County Court-at-Law Judge – William “Bill” Adams"


Look, not for nothing, but I think it would be nice if all of you trying to figure out whether this guy was a Republican or not would stop. It's not relevant, and as cortex said above, adds to the inappropriate tarring of everyone who votes a particular way or follows a specific political philosophy.

Abusers do not fit a specific Republican or Democrat profile. They aren't solely or more likely to be one or the other. They come from all walks of life, from everywhere across the political spectrum. Every race. Both sexes. All ages. They abuse for all sorts of reasons, and often take advantage of power imbalances between them and their victims. And when we claim that all people of a single group are likely to be rapists, or physically abusive, or pedophiles, or serial killers, we're contributing to the problematic idea that they can be identified that way.

His being a member of a political party is incidental to his being an abuser.
posted by zarq at 1:36 PM on November 2, 2011 [23 favorites]


...then what happens when someone proves that the father was horribly beaten as a child and carries permanent psychological trauma from that experience--an experience which has made him much more likely to become an abuser in his own right?

You get him help, which is what he needs. I would not at all be surprised, in fact, if that were indeed his background.

But the mother was still living with her abuser. In the video, it looks to me like she's trying to spare her daughter from worse punishment. She takes the belt away from her then husband and tries to prevent him from taking it back several times, then hits her exactly once, probably hoping that would be the end of it. And she has to convince him that she really means it, hence her own "going along with it."

There's a quote from Memoirs of a Geisha that comes to mind. "I will beat you hard so that Mother does not beat you harder."

This is not to say she's completely blameless, but it makes her situation slightly forgivable.
posted by katillathehun at 1:37 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I really wish I could type something useful here and emotionally brave like I've been known to do in the past.

I was regularly beaten worse than this, along with all of the psychological (and sexually sadistic) abuse that seems to always be found not far away from this kind of physical abuse.

I didn't sleep much last night because watching this video yesterday (via reddit) triggered my PTSD so heavily that I spent the night having nightmares and waking up yelling in my sleep.

My nightmares are ridiculous. They're not always about panic and terror or being beaten. Last night the most vivid and terrifying one was being instructed (presumably by my stepdad) to beat/brain puppies. With a baseball bat. Puppies. I can still "feel" the realism of that dream-violence. No, it doesn't make any fucking sense, but I woke up crying.

Those of you who know me as kind and gentle (if fucked up, cynical and acidic)... you have no idea how much terror and poison I've had to eat to be that way. I've chosen not to have kids because I'm terrified of passing on the virus of abuse. I've sabotaged my own healthy relationships to avoid getting too close, to actually having a functioning, healthy intimacy and friendships and relationships with emotional risks.

I just want the pain to be over. I'm tired of being tired, of hurting, of flinching every time someone shouts or whenever there's a loud, unexpected noise. For all of the healing and patching I've done, mere threads hold me together.

Because of all this I'll probably die much too young. It may even be by my own hands, but even if not, it'll still be "too young". I've eaten too much emotional poison. I've lived my life in fear and without enough happiness. I've felt too much pain. I can see it in my face when I look in the mirror. I'm old and shattered, and rapidly running out of the reserve energy of youth that I once relied on.

But this is why. If you want to know why, watch this video over and over again. Watch it for a decade, back to back, without stopping. Watch it until you're numb. That was much of my childhood.

*crawls back into bed*
posted by loquacious at 1:38 PM on November 2, 2011 [61 favorites]


el io: "Victims of abuse that are afraid of what kind of parents they might be.

I wonder how common this reason is for people to decide not to have children.
"

Very.
posted by zarq at 1:38 PM on November 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


Hillary:
"It is my wish that people stop threatening my father and start offering professional help. That is what he really needs."
posted by ericb at 1:42 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


In that interview, he explains that he was disciplining her for taking the car without permission:

What? Did you watch the video? She was disciplined for using KaZaA to download video games. He's claiming she's mad now about a car.
posted by floam at 1:43 PM on November 2, 2011


yeah - but what a thing to be wrong about. i don't think my mother is a monster. i know my father is a kind man. yet, they had a child who abused their other children in the grossest ways and our mother beat us out of anger. they didn't go into it expecting that would be the result.

i don't have a single aunt who wasn't sexually abused. more than 50% of my male family over the age of 30 are abusers. i'm not from a small family.

i have a lot of reasons for not having kids, but my anxiety and addictions along with refusing to repeat the cycle are very high on the list. i was actually discussing this with my husband after the visit with my brother - when i was very young i decided that any abuser wouldn't have access to my (imaginary) children. then as i got older i realized that i had to draw the line further back - no one who protected abusers could be around my kids either. and sometime later i realized that my brainwashing about the importance of family made it likely i'd fold on that point. and that was about the time i realized i couldn't have kids.
posted by nadawi at 1:43 PM on November 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


This is like how every corrupt cop and abusing priest is a bad-apple phenomenon with no causal relationship with and culture any time ever.

Or really fucking not.
posted by mobunited at 1:43 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


I have an entertaining little fantasy running in my mind right now. It features a child loving factory worker, sabotaging the handles of wooden spoons. Few enough that his acts aren't detected, but yet sufficiently many to have made a lasting effect in the countless lives...
Although getting one broken over me didn't stop nothin'.

It's pretty clear to me that the mam is trying to mitigate the situation, while at the same time being genuinely pissed as fuck at this kid for causing it. Like others have stated, I have a really hard time judging how bad the video is. I didn't react to it particularly, and while I think most people I know got "smacked" when we were kids, I don't quite know what counts. You've got spanking that lots of people think is ok, whuppin' that some people do, and it can be within the range of normal, and then you've got whatever counts as abuse.

A friend once told of how her mam turned around from the front seat once and managed to hit all three kids in the back with one swing. We laughed at the heartwarming anecdote while my Swedish wife looked at us like we were all mad. It did occur to me though how messed up stuff is when I tried to verbalize once how safe and loved my grandmother had made me feel growing up, and the best way I could phrase is was that she only hit me once, and I really deserved it. Pater Aletheias, you've said so much smart in this thread, but what tickles me the most is your kid not knowing even the meaning of the word spanking. Thank you for that.
posted by Iteki at 1:43 PM on November 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


I'm only calling for curtailing threats and violent speech; I'm sure they have gigabytesof content they can never use against us because it's reasonable, smart, honest and moral.

Like I said: you give them nothing they'll make something else. Nobody ever got a representative democracy by fearing to be called dangerous rabble.

Threats and violent speech are primary tools against the powerful and their toadies. If they don't seem to be working at present look to demographics.
posted by clarknova at 1:46 PM on November 2, 2011


Last night the most vivid and terrifying one was being instructed (presumably by my stepdad) to beat/brain puppies.

God. That just reminded me of all the nightmares I used to have of being forced to kill my school friends. For days at a time I tried to stay awake to avoid these dreams, and just ended up crazier and very close to suicide.

I was terrified that if I ran away to someone's house, my dad would hunt them down and kill them and the people they loved, so I had a kit in the closet for living in the woods for when I finally ran away, which I never did. My biggest problem was how I'd still be able to go to school... Sort of like that joke about the kid who runs away around and around the block because his mom won't let him cross the street. But my school friends felt like my only support, such as it was.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:49 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Parents can change, if they get the right help. When I was a child, everything that went wrong in my father's life was my fault. Nothing wore out or was used up in our house, I broke it or wasted it. Getting my first C in junior high meant getting thrown across the room, into a concrete wall, and then my ass spanked for daring to ask for help at school (seriously, fuck the school staff that responded to a kid saying his dad was gonna kill him if he didn't bring a grade up to at least a B, while sporting a black eye, by calling the dad to let him know his kid was bad mouthing him).

When my sister was born, my mom put her foot down, anger management therapy or divorce. My littlest sister was raised by a different man, full of all the patience in the world and accepting.

I will not watch the video.
I will not read this thread.

I will hope that everyone involved gets the help they need.
posted by No1UKnow at 1:49 PM on November 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


We had light physical force used (belt snapped on hands), but our parents always doled it out like calm, disciplined jailors, and not like a swearing sailor in a steroid rage.
This is the most chilling thing in this thread. You were abused. Sure, not as badly as the kid in the video, but you were a victim of child abuse. Stop excusing your parents' bad behavior--it doesn't matter that they didn't swear, that they didn't rage. They abused you.

And, for god's sake, do not mete out such "light physical force" on your kids, or you'll be a child abuser, too.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:54 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


I to was beat with a belt and it usually required my mother calling my father home from the bar to administer the punishment. I also went to a Baptist school for a number of years (4th-8th grade) where I was beat with a wooden paddle. It was somehow easier to reconcile being hit at school then being hit at home.

Anyway, I have an 11yr old daughter that I have never hit and never will. You can break the cycle.
posted by Sailormom at 1:56 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I watched the video, and felt relieved and validated that so many people were responding with horror. I was afraid people would defend his behavior as being in the ballpark of normal discipline-- or at least understandable expression of anger. I'm still afraid of a groundswell of opinion on that side. Not here, but in the world at large.
posted by BibiRose at 1:57 PM on November 2, 2011


This is the most chilling thing in this thread. You were abused. Sure, not as badly as the kid in the video, but you were a victim of child abuse. Stop excusing your parents' bad behavior--it doesn't matter that they didn't swear, that they didn't rage. They abused you.

I don't know. I was spanked as a kid, by my mother, but never in rage, and I certainly don't feel that I was abused. It was an accepted corrective practice then. I'm glad it's not anymore, but just because I was spanked doesn't mean I was abused. I wasn't. And I'm not apologizing for anyone by saying it.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:57 PM on November 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


This is not to say she's completely blameless, but it makes her situation slightly forgivable.

Whether or not it's forgivable is up to Hillary, I think. For me, the roles were reversed: my mom was the sick and abusive one, and my dad was the enabler. My mother was basically insane and there wasn't a lot I could have done about it, but when I told my dad so I got smacked around and told not to speak badly about my parents. My dad was a drunk, but that doesn't absolve him of the responsibility to see the damage that was being caused and to do something about it, nor does it absolve him of the damage he caused himself. My sister and I needed protection that was not forthcoming, and that was his job. He chose instead to cause additional damage in the hopes of keeping things quiet and in the hopes of not being bothered.

Hillary says that her mother has apologized and that she's accepted that apology and moved on. I can respect that. For me, apologies don't heal wounds and they don't undo the damage. I'm going to be clinically depressed, anxious, and suicidal the rest of my life. I don't think there's an apology for that that I could accept, and though I wish it were otherwise, I don't think I can really forgive him. All I can do is try to move on.
posted by Errant at 1:59 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Related: Did the Disturbing Philosophy of To Train Up a Child Lead to Hana Williams' Death?

Carri and Larry Williams starved Hana for days, put her in a locked closet, shower room and forced her to sleep outside in the barn in the cold. She wasn't allowed to use the bathroom in the house, instead a porta-potty behind the barn. In addition, Hana was struck daily with a plumbing tool, a tube with a round ball on the end.

When police found Hana, her naked body—30 pounds underweight—was wrapped in sheet in the backyard.

The story goes on to mention that a controversial child-rearing book—To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl—was found in the Williams home. Since the book’s original publication in 1994, a bevy of child abuse cases have citied the Pearls' evangelical guidebook as the source of the offending parents’ behavior, but formal action has never been taken against the authors. (A substantial collection of reports can be found here.) A tragically common theme among the stories is the use of a quarter-inch thick length of plumbing pipe used to hit badly behaving kids; the Pearls call it the “Rod of Reproof,” citing a passage from the biblical book Proverbs as justification.

posted by emjaybee at 1:59 PM on November 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is the most chilling thing in this thread

Well, they did corporal punishment the way you're "supposed to", with restraint. How is the story of someone who got pretty run-of-the-mill treatment and emerged OK more chilling than some of the other terrible stories here? People are really hurting.
posted by floam at 2:00 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


emjaybee: "The story goes on to mention that a controversial child-rearing book—To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl"

The Pearls and that book were the subject of a post on Metafilter last year.
posted by zarq at 2:02 PM on November 2, 2011


This is the most chilling thing in this thread. You were abused. Sure, not as badly as the kid in the video, but you were a victim of child abuse. Stop excusing your parents' bad behavior--it doesn't matter that they didn't swear, that they didn't rage. They abused you. And, for god's sake, do not mete out such "light physical force" on your kids, or you'll be a child abuser, too.

I'm ditto all the responses to this comment above, and also say that I reject the statement that anyone who uses corporal punishment to discipline their kids in a child abuser. Life is not that black and white.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:02 PM on November 2, 2011 [17 favorites]


I have an 11yr old daughter that I have never hit and never will. You can break the cycle.
Yes, you can. Both of my parents were beaten as children, and swore that they were going to be the ones to break the cycle. They did, waaaay back in the 60s and 70s when I was being raised.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:03 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is not to say she's completely blameless, but it makes her situation slightly forgivable.

She is broken, like a torture victim. Or maybe a horse. Either way, she both enables and tries to mitigate it. Her involvement made me both angry and very sad. She seems lost to the depths of the situation, and while not excusing her, still made me sad for her.
posted by Leth at 2:03 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


i absolutely believe the cycle can be broken and i'm in no way judging other survivors who have decided to have kids. i find you all brave and wonderful for overcoming your upbringing.
posted by nadawi at 2:03 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Did the Disturbing Philosophy of To Train Up a Child Lead to Hana Williams' Death?

CNN's Gary Tuchman's report: Ungodly Discipline.
posted by ericb at 2:05 PM on November 2, 2011


This is the most chilling thing in this thread. You were abused. Sure, not as badly as the kid in the video, but you were a victim of child abuse. Stop excusing your parents' bad behavior--it doesn't matter that they didn't swear, that they didn't rage. They abused you. And, for god's sake, do not mete out such "light physical force" on your kids, or you'll be a child abuser, too.

I'm ditto all the responses to this comment above, and also say that I reject the statement that anyone who uses corporal punishment to discipline their kids in a child abuser. Life is not that black and white.


I'd support what The Pink Superhero said here, and add that it's really up to the individual whether or not they choose to describe their own experiences as abuse; it's fine to point out that people might want to consider whether or not they've been abused, but telling someone else that they WERE abused it really beyond what we as outsiders can do.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:08 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


she thinks she's a wonderful mother who did the best she could with what she had. she thinks we had a happy home, filled with laughter. she doesn't understand why none of us want big holidays together.

My mom's the same way. When I bring up old stuff, like the abuse or the times she left the country and I had to take care of my 2 younger sisters, she gets angry and says I'm living in the past.

I'm very heartened to see how alien this sort of abuse is for so many of you. I didn't realize that families could be nice to each other until I started spending time at friends' houses in high school. For the first time, I saw that parents could talk nicely to their kids. Kids didn't hole up in their room with the music turned up, fearfully waiting for a parent to come and hit or berate them. Families actually discussed things, rather than ending any hint of discussion with "Shut the hell up! What do you know?" It gave me hope that maybe there was something better out there for me.
posted by reenum at 2:10 PM on November 2, 2011 [15 favorites]


I can't watch the video. But I know how it went. My mother used a belt on me and my sister up until I was thirteen. Then I snapped and fought her for the belt. I've told this story here before.

Sigh

She's legally blind now, using a wheelchair and rollator because of long term diabetic complications. She lives with me and I take care of her. Once in a while when my autistic son is having a particularly bad day, she'll remark that I don't discipline him enough. Then I remind her of the beatings and point out where she is now, and that perhaps there's a system of checks and balances in the universe.

I hug my son a lot. A lot.
posted by FunkyHelix at 2:11 PM on November 2, 2011 [39 favorites]


reenum, I could have written your comment.
posted by Tarumba at 2:12 PM on November 2, 2011


loquacious:My nightmares are ridiculous. They're not always about panic and terror or being beaten. Last night the most vivid and terrifying one was being instructed (presumably by my stepdad) to beat/brain puppies. With a baseball bat. Puppies. I can still "feel" the realism of that dream-violence. No, it doesn't make any fucking sense, but I woke up crying.

That makes complete sense, and I had those horrible, realistic nightmares for years--vivid dreams where I was either forced to torture someone or helpless to intervene while I watched someone being beaten. Those dreams were themselves a kind of emotional abuse all over again. I have had worse nightmares than anyone else I've ever talked with--truly unspeakable things.

But a couple of years ago, I finally asked a therapist friend if anything could be done about that, and he and I worked on it for a few months. The nightmares stopped, entirely. I retrained my brain that when things start getting bad, the help that I need appears and evil is stopped in its tracks. Nightmares are common for PTSD sufferers, but there are effective therapies for them. You don't have to live with that forever. I'm so relieved that mine are over.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:16 PM on November 2, 2011 [15 favorites]


Pater Aletheias: " But a couple of years ago, I finally asked a therapist friend if anything could be done about that, and he and I worked on it for a few months. The nightmares stopped, entirely. I retrained my brain that when things start getting bad, the help that I need appears and evil is stopped in its tracks. Nightmares are common for PTSD sufferers, but there are effective therapies for them. You don't have to live with that forever. I'm so relieved that mine are over."

Um.

Is there a specific type of therapist one would look for if they are trying to rid themselves of nightmares stemming from PTSD? Perhaps related insomnia as well?
posted by zarq at 2:23 PM on November 2, 2011


You should take more care when correcting people definitions, rusty. Right-wing is the opposite of left-wing with both describing economic directions. Liberal is the opposite of conservative with both describing policy making strategies. I would not claim that authoritarianism is synonymous with conservatism, but the correlation looks fairly strong.

Is authoritarianism linked with child abuse? I donno, but "A major problem of authoritarian parenting styles is that over reliance on coercion may impair a childs development of social competence and moral reasoning" according to David Wolfe's Child Abuse (via google).
posted by jeffburdges at 2:24 PM on November 2, 2011


I feel for you guys. Makes me appreciate my mom, who aside for her overly radical ideas about feminism ,is practically a saint. Thanks mom!
posted by Ad hominem at 2:24 PM on November 2, 2011


I had to stop watching because I am trying to watch my inchoate rage levels.

I know that revenge isn't helping, and we need to fix the systemic violence that causes this sort of thing, but the father in me wants to beat both her parents with my own belt.

It isn't just the beatings. The swearing, belittling and emotional abuse is what puts me over the edge. We need to stop harming generations in ways that create more of this.
posted by clvrmnky at 2:24 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have nothing to add to this discussion beyond saying how enlightening it has been for me, and that my heart goes out to those of you still dealing with the fallout of the trauma you suffered. Hang in there.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:28 PM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Today I have a headache the size of a train-wreck. I have them every few years. They are the result of my mother beating me so badly with her fists 30 years ago that she fractured my neck. I won't be watching the video, don't need to. A similar one plays in my mind on a regular basis.
posted by the fish at 2:29 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I grew up in Texas and went to public schools where we, the students, were regularly beaten with wooden paddles that looked more or less like a cricket bat. Many of my teachers had them hanging in their classrooms, individually decorated, on display as a reminder.

I remember, at some point, realizing what BS it all was and deciding, right then, that if a teacher ever tried to use one on me that I was going to take it when he wasn't looking and smash his face with it.

It wouldn't surprise me if that was a common reaction because the paddle usage seemed to stop pretty suddenly. As in, it was considered safe to hit 7th graders but dangerous to try it with 8th graders, or something like that.

Crazy times.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 2:31 PM on November 2, 2011


My grandmother grew up on a small farm with two sisters, and she went to a small school. She told me that her father was responsible for administering corporal punishment there. He didn't like it, but the community had decided that he was the best person for the job, so he did it. He never spanked any of his daughters.

Sometime I wonder what it was like, to have to hit a child because you are the person least likely to do it on your own. I don't think that corporal punishment is good for anyone.
posted by Quonab at 2:32 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there a specific type of therapist one would look for if they are trying to rid themselves of nightmares stemming from PTSD?

EMDR got rid of mine, fwiw. It didn't take that long either- a few sessions.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:33 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


This would have happened around 1920.
posted by Quonab at 2:33 PM on November 2, 2011


You know, the thing about growing up as a kid who got slapped a lot (among other things) as a form of discipline, is that now that I've become a parent, when things get tough, the slap is right there in my hand too, like an itch. I have to will myself to walk away. I've taken, and still take, "Mommy's Little Helpers" so that I'm not screaming mom and so that I don't get mean and hurt my kid.

And when my mother sees my daughter and I engaged in some power struggle or she witnesses a tantrum, she will still say things like "I don't know why you talk everything to death with her - when you were a kid, I knew how to shut you up." And I wonder, too, for a minute, if it wouldn't just be easier to swat the little brat and leave her shocked and tearful, and just walk away, too. Then, I remember - it would only be easier for me. And I call my husband to take over, or take a walk or a drive, and only come back when I can trust myself not to do anything we'll all regret.

The thing about the beating on this video? I can see it's out of control. Not from his yelling or threats or anything. But how if he took more time to plan, a thin belt would hurt more; and that holding her and using his whole arm to thwack her legs is not as effective as what he's going for by telling her to lie on the bed. It's more painful, the results, when you get some wrist action and only the belt is moving. Just like how the small thin wooden spoon stings more, and the big thick one leaves more a bruise than a welt.
posted by peagood at 2:36 PM on November 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


Is there a specific type of therapist one would look for if they are trying to rid themselves of nightmares stemming from PTSD? Perhaps related insomnia as well?

I honestly don't know. My friend was actually a psychiatrist who shifted his career trajectory away from medical practice and into (primarily) marriage and relationship counseling. But he's an all around smart guy and what he told me worked. I really don't know if it came from any particular perspective within the mental health field.

I will pass on the exercise that I think made the most difference for me, which was both simple and effective, and which you could try yourself. He told me that when I wake up from a nightmare (which I almost always did, screaming) that I should stop right then and picture what was happening, and then imagine whatever it would take to fix the situation. It's a dream, so it doesn't have to be realistic. Have Superman fly in and help. Discover that you are wearing a ring that will reverse time and undo the damage. Your pal, the SWAT Team Leader and his elite force jumps in the building just in time. All the weapons in the room turn into dandelions. Whatever appeals to you, just imagine it.

So I practiced that for a while, and it became a habit. Wake up screaming, then imagine what the solution would be. And I was completely amazed the first time I found myself right in the middle of what would normally turn into a hellish torture-fest, and all of the sudden, my brother (who is a burly cop in real life, too) bursts into the dream with his buddies, and save the day. I'm starting to well up a little here just remembering what a huge relief it was to know that dreams don't have to carry through to the climax. I remember vividly what it was like when they came in and set things right. And that's how all might nightmares have gone for about two years now. Things look horrible at first but then the plot twists and we all come out of it okay. It's amazing.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:38 PM on November 2, 2011 [67 favorites]


My daughter caught me gasping for air and hulking and told me to get off those goddam internets. So thats what I did.
I tried to talk about how my reaction might have to do with things I have experienced and forgot ( according to my sister), and daughter just repeated: get off those goddam internets.
But goodness, how can this still be happening in our day and age..
posted by mumimor at 2:40 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


small_ruminant and Pater, thank you.
posted by zarq at 2:40 PM on November 2, 2011


I'm also the child of abused parents who never laid a hand on me in anger, and rarely even spoke harshly. My dad said he never believed that abusive parents would "naturally" abuse their own children because they know for a fact how much it hurts.

But one of the things that happened in his life was that one aunt protected him, at least once that he can remember. As his abuser, another aunt's husband, came after him (Dad would have been about 10 or so), this protective aunt hid my dad behind her and said to the abuser, "You'll have to get through me first." The abuser was not willing to take on Dad's protector. Further beatings happened when the aunt wasn't around, but my dad remembers that one incident.

I've read that one of the things that makes abused children resilient is the support of even one adult. Maybe knowing that at least one adult thought it was wrong was enough for my dad to break the cycle with me. My own kids heard some old folks laughingly reminiscing about Christmases in their past and how switches would be left in the shoes of naughty children. After asking me what a switch was (they were trying to figure out why anyone would leave a light switch in shoes) they were horrified. They also said that there was nothing funny about hitting children with sticks and could we leave, now, please.

I wonder if that one aunt protected not only my dad, but me, my kids, and who knows how many other generations?
posted by angiep at 2:45 PM on November 2, 2011 [32 favorites]


The cycle can absolutely be broken. My parents were both abused in the 50s: my Mom by her parents and my Dad was shipped off to military school at 12 so he got it from his peers. They got married a few months after he graduated college and set about doing everything their own way. No military school for me like my Dad and his Dad and his father. No yelling. Absolutely no hitting. My parents were so detested with how they were raised that they became their own little team and did everything differently. It was very jarring to go stay with my Grandparents because it was so not what I was accustomed to.

I did have friends who got whacked a lot growing up in the 70s/80s though. This would be middle class Chicago suburbs FWIW to the commenter upthread who wondered in geography had anything to do with it. One of my good friend's parents kept the paddle hanging on the wall in the kitchen. It was wood, with two metal mini-horseshoes on it. It would leave red horseshoe welts on their ass cheeks after use.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 2:53 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


How is the story of someone who got pretty run-of-the-mill treatment and emerged OK more chilling than some of the other terrible stories here?
Because of the shocking cognitive dissonance. Because you and others dismiss child abuse as "run-of-the-mill treatment." Hillary turned out OK, too, you know, plays piano and has her own place now.

It's easy to look at extreme cases and shake your head and go "tsk tsk" and spout internet revenge fantasies. It's far more difficult to examine your own upbringing, and that of your children, and find flaws.

Anyone who uses corporal punishment to discipline their kids is a child abuser. If you do, you are.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:55 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Poet_lariat and Eat The Weak, what kind of statement from the county would you expect at this point? They aren't going to say, "he's officially a monster," without investigating first.

Imagine if someone who works at your company that you've never met did what this guy did and it was posted to the web. Now imagine your phones lines, email and any other tools you use to interact with your customers were being flooded by messages about the guy from people who just read about it online. You can't help people who genuinely need help. Wouldn't you issue a similar statement? Obviously this should be dealt with, but the rest of the county should also be allowed to function.

A Police Department is investigating this, so it may not even be under the county's or sheriff's jurisdiction.
posted by soelo at 2:56 PM on November 2, 2011


Getting beaten was only the icing on the cake for me. More often it was dealing with the incredible rage my mother doled out into humiliation, control, and verbal abuse. The backhand would come when you least expected it. My college years were kind of a numb recovery/rebellion, and then a few years into living at my own place, a bookcase collapsed in my living room in the middle of the night. I woke up in terror, thinking that it was my mother. This brought back a flood of memories. She was very fond of waiting til I was sound asleep, and then busting into my room and emptying all my drawers on the floor... because they weren't neat enough. Which I would then have to repack, in the dark, with her screaming over me while I sobbed in shock.

Result: chronic insomnia/light sleeping and an anxiety disorder. And I too am one of those people who thought the family tree should die on my branch, because early on I was convinced that my out of control emotions would go into overdrive with my own child. With stepchildren, I am just distanced enough to manage myself, but I still find her in my internal dialogue all too often.

Now, I can accept that she is basically mentally ill. Something something narcissism, perhaps. But I also know that while she now does a half assed job of hiding her resentment and disgust of me, she will undoubtedly revert to that raw and horrid person as she ages, unable to censor that shit. I saw her endure the reprise of her mother's abuse as she aged and died, and I though I did pity her and recognize the pattern then, I still saw clearly what was yet in store for me. I kind of hope she drops dead of a heart attack or drowns in one of her swims in the ocean. (Don't judge me too much--she says that's how she wants to die too. My guilt is in hoping it's sooner rather than later.)

Also: FUCK Hotwheels tracks. I still can't look at them without remembering how they were used on me. Sounds like a 70s trend I could have lived without.
posted by RedEmma at 2:59 PM on November 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


[[Disclaimer: multiple triggers & other not nice stuff discussed below. Please exercise the same caution as you would watching the video when reading this reply]]






Space....



The final frontier....




Safety zone....



(Sorry, missing the tag to hide things - if there's a mod who is around, and views this text as harmful, could you just it unless clicked?




I've watched the video. In fact, I watched it three times. If a person cannot watch it, then so be it - but this kind of behaviour, in my mind, can't be "forgotten" or "unseeable" or "hidden". It has to be faced.

So, I watched it three times.

The first was emotionally hurtful, but I thought I owed it to the suffering woman/girl to stick with it through what she went through. I then watched it, looking at the interactions and emotional content of the people in it. I then watched it stripped down to analysis.

Ok, who am I fooling? I did all of those at the same time, but it makes you appear a monster if your emotional compassion is going haywire whilst at the same time you're noticing the dynamics of the father-mother abuse cycle, and then pondering on the premeditated staging of videoing the entire event. I watched it a second time to remind myself that this was a young woman, who was recording the punishment that she knew was coming.


Some thoughts (and you won't like them):

I've been physically 'disciplined' along the lines of 'old school' authority in my life. i.e. A person with authority states I have broken the rules of conduct, and as such there is a penalty. A physical penalty that includes pain, and (public) humiliation. The rules of that game are simple: you admit the 'crime', you accept the authority of the punishing party (and so, submit passively / willingly to the process - this is a key element to the escalation that goes on in the video) and then you fucking take it, and you do not utter a sound if you can help it. "Like a woman". In my case, I accepted the punishment on behalf of another, because he was a friend, and if he'd been up for punishment, it would have been much more severe.

So we have the actions in play that the Father/Judge is expecting: Admission - Subjugation - Acceptance.

His 16 year old daughter didn't play by any of those rules. She refuted the charges, refused to submit and then refused to accept 'due punishment'. In the playbook of the Father/Judge, she wasn't playing fair.
.

However, let's look at it from her perspective: she's being abused, but has the foresight to record the incident. (Annnnnd... here it comes, close your eyes).

Question: Is she aware enough of the "rules" of punishment that she is escalating the situation to provide damning evidence?

Heck, at 16 I know I was. I taunted power figures. I pushed their buttons. And when they lost control, I knew I'd won - and it was worth the punishments, the endless detentions [27 weeks in a row at one point], just to know that I was a person, and that I could win. When someone has hit you a thousand times before, what's one more session? Nothing, barring the added delicious knowledge that this time. Yes, this time. You've fucking won.

Now... wouldn't you act up (and by 'act up' I do NOT mean fakery, I mean pushing-those-buttons) and antagonise your tormentor to the nth degree to get the best results? Hell yes. I know, because I've done it.


What you saw (and heard, by the Father/Judge's own words - "defiance") is actually an act of courage. Because, Mr. Big Man, you were on tape and you were acting out insurance / M.A.D. for a sister.


So fuck you, you got played.




[[To analyse the rest of it is simple, and boring. Hint - all people seeking public office should have to have in-depth psych profiles. He's an ape, lacking in self control and pathetically insecure. Help should include some chemical castration. ]]

posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 3:00 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


My parents used my dad's old fraternity paddles on us. One day, I said, "No way," and slammed the door to my room, forcing my mom to come up with grounding as an alternate punishment.

I made a mental note to never hit my kids, and I don't hit my kids. I often wonder if I am too tough on my children, but anger is a weakness that we all deal with in one way or another. The whole submission by violence thing is ingrained in the psyche of Americans, and has been for a long time.
posted by Chuffy at 3:07 PM on November 2, 2011


Sorry... parser hates < .. spoiler ... > tag references. I did try.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 3:08 PM on November 2, 2011


"it's fine to point out that people might want to consider whether or not they've been abused, but telling someone else that they WERE abused it really beyond what we as outsiders can do."

I get the urge to let everyone define their pst experiences as abusive or not. But the reality is many people normalize their own experiences even when they where awful. It really EXACTLY the method by which such cycles can easily be repeated, and by which people get confused about whether they are allowed to say anything or whether that other family just has a "culturally different discipline system."

I get what people mean about it being gray. That's the other reason this is scary. If this girl had told (general) you her dad was using corporal punishment as discipline, would you have reported him? Or might you have filed it in your mind "Ah well it happens, plenty of kids who get spanked and light corporal punishment turned out ok, probably best not to disturb the family as that would be worse than dealing with a few corporal punishment situations as discipline and that's just how some families are."

I just honestly hope corporal punishment will eventually phase out of parenting entirely.
posted by xarnop at 3:12 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


RedEmma, you are singing my childhood song. That used to happen to me all the time. It was years before the sound of footsteps on stairs didn't make my heart race, even living a thousand miles away from her.
posted by katillathehun at 3:13 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cheradine Zakalwe, is your comment another piece of your trademark performance art therapy?

Because you are making me think that you want us to believe that the Judge was somehow entrapped by the daughter, and that is bullshit.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 3:14 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I just want to thank everyone for giving me several reasons to hug my children.
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:15 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Some thoughts (and you won't like them)
posted by mazola at 3:15 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


This gave me flashbacks. Sure, I have a funny story about my mom borrowing a cowboy belt from a stranger to spank me in the grocery store in the early 80s, but I *deserved* it that time. I also have lots of memories of my drunken abusive alcoholic father getting out the belt and pulling my brother or I out of bed to spank us if we did so much as leave a toy out.

Fortunately my mother divorced him when I was nine and raised us on her own. I can forgive the man, but I can't forget. I've not spoken to him since 2008 after a little disagreement we had about that whole "Obama's a Muslim" thing.

You know it's bad when three out of his four children refer to him as "the sperm donor".
posted by mrbill at 3:15 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow. This is what made it on video. I'm horrified to think about what wasn't recorded.

I want to think of this guy as a little boy. A victim of another person and for whatever reason, he couldn't break the cycle. Sometime, somewhere, he was the victim and sadly he became the kind of person he probably hated.

Yeah, I try to think of him as a victim too....but it's so hard.
posted by hot_monster at 3:21 PM on November 2, 2011


hm, mrbill, if it's of any help, I am sending serious "fuck you" vibes to your dad and your brother, whoever they are. And not for Obama. For you.
posted by Tarumba at 3:21 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have a very strange reaction to discussions like these. I was occassionally punished with a spanking, sometimes with a wooden spoon, once with a belt. As much as I agree that it's wrong, part of me always resists because to believe it's wrong is to condemn my parents, who were and are amazing people and who have brought up a very loving family.

I suspect part of the long-term trouble in ending 'discipline' like this is that too many people experienced similar, though vastly different in scale, childhoods, and are therefore reticent to label either their parents or themselves as 'broken'.
posted by twirlypen at 3:21 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Blergh. These stories give me heartache. I had no idea so many mefites would have stories like this. Thank you for writing them down.

I hope this thread somehow turns up really high in the google results for searches like "spanking" and "corporal punishment" and "my kid is being a brat": I think people must kid themselves about how their little ones perceive physical punishment. The stories people are telling here are difficult, good reminders to think really hard before you choose physical punishment.

Man have mentioned their parents' seeming amnesia about the corporal punishment after the fact. Has anyone ever had a parent admit what they were doing and discuss their thought process? I would be very curious to hear a decades-later analysis from the person involved.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 3:22 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Cheradine Zakalwe: "Now... wouldn't you act up (and by 'act up' I do NOT mean fakery, I mean pushing-those-buttons) and antagonise your tormentor to the nth degree to get the best results? Hell yes. I know, because I've done it. "

Here in LA the police use 'bait cars' to catch car thieves. They'll leave a car parked with the keys in it, in a high crime area. With the car under surveillance, they wait for a car thief to try to drive away with it. You could say that this is entrapment, but you'd be wrong. Nobody forces the car thieves to get in the bait car and try to drive away with it. It's a completely legally valid strategy.

Likewise, regardless of whether she 'antagonized her tormentor to get the best results,' it's not entrapment. Nobody forced him to beat and verbally abuse a disabled girl. And like the car thieves, he deserves a little prison time. Perhaps his fellow prisoners can help correct his perspective on the morality of physical abuse.
posted by mullingitover at 3:26 PM on November 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


My mom once called me from my old country to talk about it, thehmsbeagle. She was fairly ambiguous about it, but she cried and told me she "regretted things". I found myself making excuses for her (you didn't know, it's OK, we turned out alright, we never doubted you loved us, etc), and ever since she's like our (my sister's and mine) child. I really think she regrets her insane violence. I think she just has mental issues that she never figured out. She's like a different person now, anyway.
posted by Tarumba at 3:27 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ayn Rand

No, I'm attempting to seriously address the issue. And seriously address the courage it takes to know that you're about to be abused, but set up a camera to record it. And then ramp it up.


That's the issue. I'd ask you to read closely this part: What you saw (and heard, by the Father/Judge's own words - "defiance") is actually an act of courage



And, less interestingly, if you analyse the behaviour patterns, the young woman is being explicitly defiant (when through past abuse, the abused usually immediately goes passive to minimise pain through enough cycles of abuse, thus why altar boys can be labeled as "not protesting' to their abuse) when she is well aware of the punishment regime her Father/Judge enacts, her mother is walking through a pattern of her own abuse (thus the initial "I'll take over", one hit, then realising the situation has gone nuclear so enabling the abuse to avoid later repercussions on herself) and the Father/Judge is just... being escalated.

Its vile to watch. And it hurts to watch.


But never think that this is simply a child being hit. There's layers of behaviour here that don't fit the "lost in anger, hit in rage, felt sorry". To think this would be to underestimate the abuse going on. And so, yes, I do think that the young woman enacted defiance (when perhaps the last twenty times she was submissive, and just bent over to take a hit) because she had her witness present.


Hopefully this is explicit enough this time to remove doubts over trolling.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 3:29 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Fair enough.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 3:32 PM on November 2, 2011


The whole submission by violence thing is ingrained in the psyche of Americans, and has been for a long time.

This indeed. As others have noted, it's actually quite difficult to have the "no hitting children" conversation with people. I'm not entirely sure it's a geographic thing as others have suggested, as I've been in the uncomfortable position of being against hitting in a variety of places. It's a very small sample, though.

The other thing that drives me crazy about this is that resorting to violence against children is a weakness, not a value. Despite the enormous amount of evidence that hitting children, regardless of degree, is psychologically damaging, and the fact that there's literally no reason to think it's beneficial, people still hang on to it.
posted by odinsdream at 3:33 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I do think it is interesting to speculate on why Hillary chose to release the video now, after seven years. The backstory seems to be that her father is still ragging on her, and he did something that finally pushed her to use the one weapon she had gathered. Why did she sit on that weapon for so long? I suspect that she has a much better idea than papa "What's an Internet" as to just how destructive that weapon could be. She warned him and warned him, and he stupidly said "then do it." How's that working out, Your Honor?

Hillary has just effectively destroyed her father. She probably knew this was a likely outcome when she pushed the upload button, but Dad is still in denial, thinking that his position and connections in Podunk, TX will shield him as they always have. After all, how many divorces end with the father having custody of the remaining minor child? I'll bet my last nickel that he took his wife to the cleaners financially too. She must have been willing to do anything to get away from him if one of the things she did was let him have the other daughter. And Hillary probably didn't have the means to provide for herself to the degree Dad could provide for her, while maintaining his control over her life.

So he has probably spent the last seven years continuing to run her down, and he finally did something that caused her to Push the Button. This isn't all in Hillary's past. Her father did something to her, apparently just said something, which was insulting, spiteful, and self-congratulatingly narcissistic to push her over the edge. He didn't do this seven years ago; he did it a few days ago.

And so now she has now destroyed him. He might actually survive his next election if there is enough of a reaction to those "interfering outsiders" in Podunk County, but worldwide he will always be That Guy Who Beat The Snot Out Of His Daughter On YouTube. As famous as the Star Wars Kid, but with EXTRA BLINDING FAN RAGE.

Of course, Hillary is now famous too, but her fate is much more benign; she will be offered help from corners she never knew existed, and maybe that was the endgame; it's not so much a lawyer she needs as a ticket out of Podunk, an apartment, a decent job with benefits, and maybe some tuition. I'm guessing she will find all of that soon.

And I think it's fucking great.
posted by localroger at 3:35 PM on November 2, 2011 [49 favorites]


My father did what my father did (details and scale unimportant), methodically and coldly. I remember it vividly, and it had a significant impact on my willingness to have kids at all, and how I raise them.

My mother slapped me once, in an emotional moment. I don't remember it at all, not even a little. When she finally worked up the nerve to tell me (as an adult), the idea of it made me laugh, and I had to reassure her.

This makes me somewhat unsure that cold and methodical is somehow better than emotional and out of control. But, of course, not at all is best, and if it happens, better once than repeatedly.

actually best of all is when you do something bad and your parents say "oh, you must feel terrible about having done that. do you need a hug?" -- I need to strive to be that kind of parent.
posted by davejay at 3:39 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Result: chronic insomnia/light sleeping and an anxiety disorder. And I too am one of those people who thought the family tree should die on my branch, because early on I was convinced that my out of control emotions would go into overdrive with my own child. With stepchildren, I am just distanced enough to manage myself, but I still find her in my internal dialogue all too often.

Your story is mine as well. I couldn't handle the tape for more than 30 seconds. Because even now, as a man grown with a family of my own, that tape brings it all back. I have lived with anxiety my whole life and have never slept well and have awoken with nightmares as long as I can remember. Good to see you are hanging in there. I am too.
posted by UseyurBrain at 3:41 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I told him that I had the video, and he acted like he had nothing to worry about," Adams said. "And I said, I can post the video of you beating me on the internet and he said, 'well, you can do that if it makes you feel better.' So I did."

I wish I'd had the guts to follow through when I told my dad that if he ever again did what he'd done that day to me, I'd call CPS and report him. He calmly put down his book, interlaced his fingers, and replied so matter-of-factly that it still gives me goosebumps to think of it, "If you ever again do what you did today to make me do what I did, I'll do what I did again, and you can call anyone you want. It's not going to stop me parenting you." Not that it matters, but what had done was be bad at math. I had a hard time with my math homework that day, with him standing over me as I failed miserably to complete simple, one-digit arithmetic problems, five plus eight, specifically, slapping me in the head over and over with the back of his hand, his big ass Mensa ring cutting gouges in my scalp. I still hate math.

But you know, now that I'm actually thinking about it for the first time in forever, I did drop a dime on him, eventually. Not for that incident, but later, when I had some physical signs of distress my teachers couldn't miss. I had cuts on my legs and my socks were crusted in dried blood from the night before. I imagine the school nurse made a call to him to feel out the situation, he claimed I'd done it to myself, and I dropped it. Because yeah, I had other cuts that were my own doing, so who was going to believe me anyway, plus fuck foster care.

I was hit by all three of my parents until I was 17 and moved out. The last straw was one morning when my stepmother woke me up with a glass of cold water to the face. I was opting out of that bullshit for the day, so I swore at her, then rolled over and pulled my wet blanket up. She came back with a bucket and dumped it, and I snapped. I jumped up and rushed her. I didn't even know if I intended to hit her, or what. But the way she scampered backward, with her arms up in defense, she looked tiny. And the terror on her face was plain enough. I realized in that instant she'd been treated to her share of "discipline" as well, by my father and her own. So I stopped in my tracks, and let her be. She let me be as well. From then on I slept in my car, or on friends couches, until I left early for college. My dad got a few licks in after that, when I came home on break, but I guess he lost his taste for it once he started thinking of me as an adult.

Now that I'm a parent, we've decided to never use any corporal punishment of any kind. It's hugs all the way down. We're reading Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting together and trying not to ADOPT ALL THE KIDS.
posted by pajamazon at 3:44 PM on November 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


thehmsbeagle: I can't really remember if we've talked about it that specifically, I think maybe? But the general vibe since my father died in my teens has been a reconstruction of my entire background, she and my brother have put him on a pedstal. She had the sense for many years not to broach any of the subject of before, but now we are getting along better (living abroad for many years helps that), she has started asking for reassurance "I did alright by youse, didn't I?" and "I did the best I could, didn't I?" and "We didn't have it too bad, did we?". No, no and yes. I don't know what it is I say when she says that.
posted by Iteki at 3:52 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the video was astonishing in how out of control he was. Hitting her in her front, and on her legs, when she wouldn't stay on her stomach. The complete abandon with which he was pummeling her. The profanity (referring to her behavior as "dis-fucking-obedience"). The video had a really creepy sexual/porn vibe and it really seemed like the lunatic was getting turned on by his sadism. Something about her being a teen girl and him repeatedly ordering her to "bend over the bed" to receive the beating just made it seem even more sadistically sexual.
posted by jayder at 4:16 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


meta
posted by zarq at 4:16 PM on November 2, 2011


I'm so happy that the internet exists to help people share information and experiences like this, and to get help for those who need it.

My nan was physically and sexually abused by her mother and father, to whom she bore a child at sixteen. Exactly seven years later, after two more children and pregnant with a third, she finally broke and ran away to the workhouse. She had to stay in the workhouse with her children for a decade until her father died. She was socially rejected, unsuitable for marriage and all but the lowest jobs, meaning she could not afford to leave with her kids. If she had tried to leave without them, her father could claim control, exposing them to the same abuse. Even as recently as 2005, 75 years after she entered the workhouse, the local catholic priest claimed that she was a prostitute and effectively brought the situation on herself. Her mother was a prostitute, but she wasn't, yet the church still felt the need to trot it out as justification and turn her into the guilty party.

All that, and she was still the kindest, happiest person. It took a lot for her to break the cycle of abuse in 1930, and I hope the internet makes it easier for everybody to break out.
posted by Jehan at 4:30 PM on November 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


I suspect part of the long-term trouble in ending 'discipline' like this is that too many people experienced similar, though vastly different in scale, childhoods, and are therefore reticent to label either their parents or themselves as 'broken'.

Indeed. I remember almost all the times I was hit, or beaten, and my parents don't hardly recall them at all. But, I suspect that has more to do with the fact that for me, it was a traumatic event. For them it was just something that happened between coming home from a 14 hour workday to a cold dinner and messy house and a bunch of misbehaving kids and whatever happened on the next day.

Plus, compared to what my parents went through, they had progressed.

So, it's hard to fault your parents, who were in all likelihood working from an incomplete toolbox. And if anything, it demonstrates just how resilient kids really are.

Also, these same people were the ones who took me to every hockey game and every stupid school choir concert. My dad taught me how to rebuild a transmission and field dress a deer. The times weren't all bad. They made mistakes and decisions they wouldn't make now. They aren't all bad people.

This guy though - he was out of control. He needs help. He has gone well beyond using corporal punishment to reinforce some family norm to just flat out beating and harassing her.

As bad I ever got spanked - and it was bad - it was never like that.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:33 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


this is why I refuse to talk to my relatives on the phone, only via email so I have a record--I hope my mother sees this and feels lucky that I left home when I did.

As for people here who don't really give a shit about their abusive parents--got an email from a relative about my mother surviving heart surgery and my only thought was "too bad". There's just no love left there and it's depressing.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:35 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Heartbreaking. My father, now in his seventies, had a horrific, Dickensian childhood including near death and permanent injury at the hands of his mentally ill mother. He chose a different way to raise me; despite a stressful childhood with the financial insecurity that comes from being working class, the only fear I ever felt was the fear of disappointing my parents. The public shame is important as we let EVERYONE, abusers, abused and enablers, know that abuse and violence of all kinds can end and must end.
posted by saucysault at 4:35 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am incapable of saying anything useful about the video, but thanks to everyone for what you've shared.

If you need a breather before you come back here, there's this video from this thread.
posted by maudlin at 4:38 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


The reason some are bigger is to protect the smaller. This is not acceptable, ever. Also, thanks mom and dad, you never really know how good you have it until you see the other side.
posted by real_paris at 4:40 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


zarq: Look into CBT first, old-school CBT. Then check out DBT.

I couldn't watch that video on a regular day, let alone this week.

It's the twice-as-long anniversary this week this year of my own exodus from abuse. Sixteen years ago, when I was sixteen, on my father's forty-ninth birthday (Halloween), I told a guidance counselor I needed to leave home. My mom and I left the next day. Within the space of a week we alerted the family, went to the police, met with an assistant district attorney, went to family court for an order of protection. And then on Nov. 7, 1995, the police found my father's body on my bedroom floor, with a shrine built up around it.

So I've been alive this week for exactly twice as long as I was abused, and I feel like I should have something to show for it. I feel like I should have something important and wise to say about surviving abuse. But I don't, not this week. Right now all I can say is, "I'm here, too."
posted by brina at 4:50 PM on November 2, 2011 [41 favorites]


This is so big a coincidence that I almost don't believe it myself, but just this moment, with no way of knowing what I've been reading today, my five-year-old just walked in and said "Daddy, I just want to thank you for being a good Daddy!" So, if you'll excuse me, it's an hour until bedtime and there are games to play and bellies to tickle. Also: I just won at life. Catch you later.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:59 PM on November 2, 2011 [110 favorites]


I was yelled at and spanked and smacked. I have incredibly mixed feelings about it. But I remember my dad and uncles talking about how when they were kids, that wasn't child abuse that was 'just life' and how they'd get smacked by nuns at school too. My aunt always told me that if my alcoholic grandpa didn't like what you said at the dinner table, he'd throw a fork at you. So I always was thankful that I never got it that bad.
posted by jonmc at 5:01 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


odinsdream: " The other thing that drives me crazy about this is that resorting to violence against children is a weakness, not a value. Despite the enormous amount of evidence that hitting children, regardless of degree, is psychologically damaging, and the fact that there's literally no reason to think it's beneficial, people still hang on to it."

I think pain and fear do keep people obedient. So whether it's beneficial or not, harmful or not, it will likely give many parents the immediate outcome they desire: control and obedience.

The damage is not always immediately apparent.
posted by zarq at 5:01 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, they did corporal punishment the way you're "supposed to", with restraint. How is the story of someone who got pretty run-of-the-mill treatment and emerged OK more chilling than some of the other terrible stories here? People are really hurting.

Well that's pretty much the problem isn't it? Let's take an entire continuum of unpleasant things parents do to their kids on purpose:

On one extreme, we have things like forcing your child to gulp down yucky tasting antibiotics or suffer through a vaccination. These are situations where the pain is more of a side-effect of a beneficial outcome, so as parents you step in and inflict that pain because the child is not capable of evaluating the long-term reward against the short-term pain of the procedure. Pretty much everyone (anti-vaxers aside, and that's a different situation) can agree that this is not only ok, but pretty much a mandatory part of being a parent.

Further along, we have things like forcing your kid to practice the piano or handwriting or drill math facts. We could put things like making your child clean her room or do normal family chores in this category too. For some children of a certain age, putting on pants in order to leave the house might fall into this category. Obviously, the goal here would be for your kid to do these things totally voluntarily, but in the real world, there's always going to be some degree of "do this thing you don't really want to do because blah blah blah..." The unpleasantness is more-or-less a key part of the task (though you can, and should, do whatever you can to make the activity as fun and interesting as possible), but as the parent, you get your child to do it anyway because 100% child-led anarchy is overrated, and polite requests without some kind of rules structure in place only go so far with a six-year-old. This can be taken to ridiculous extremes, but again, most would agree that "forcing" a child to clean up her room or do her homework is acceptable.

Moving further down the line, we've got intentional infliction of minor discomfort as a consequence. Whether a "logical consequence" or not, time-outs, taking away toys/electronics/car keys, grounding, etc... are punishments, and in using them a parent is intentionally making their child "suffer" in some way as the result of breaking a rule. Experts would say that these sorts of punishments are often overused, but there's still pretty much universal agreement that making your child sit on the step for a couple minutes or taking away the video games for a night is utterly reasonable.

Then we start to get physical. On the mild end, say a few calm mild open-hand spanks on a child's jeans along with a discussion about the rules broken and a hug. Basically, a quick physical form of operant conditioning. Acceptable? Many in this thread would say never, and some countries agree. Many Americans would disagree and call it perfectly fine, if not good practice. The real question though isn't whether you'd ever do it to your own kid, but whether our society wants to deem it criminal and/or take away your kids for it. Certainly, there are plenty of worse ways to screw up your kids that are completely accepted by the legal system.

From there, we can just go further and further down the rabbit hole. What about school corporal punishment, which some states clearly have no problem with? If a principal can repeatedly strike a child's rear end with a large board at school, crazy as that is for me to comprehend, presumably a parent can inflict an equivalent amount of pain to their own child at home?

Ultimately, this is one heck of a slippery slope. We can all agree on the extremes (antibiotics=good; setting your child on fire=murder), but there's no obvious place to draw the line that seems remotely practical. As much as I'd like to put that line at "no hitting children, ever," there are clearly millions of people in this country who would very much disagree. Pathetically, there'd probably be too much opposition in some states to a bright-line rule against hitting children with belts. After all, if a legislature approves of paddles, why ban belts?

I think we need a better legal framework, because ultimately this kind of abuse is allowed to happen because there's way too much of a grey area between spanking and beating. Serious abusers know this and figure, often rightly, that they can get away with most anything as long as they aren't leaving serious physical damage behind, nevermind the inevitable emotional damage. I think we need a better legal framework for this, but I don't know how on earth we do that when large numbers of our society have strong views that range from zero-tolerance for any kind of spanking to believing that God commands them to physically discipline their children with a rod. I don't know how on earth to deal with that big of a grey area, but we've got to, because that's the grey area that creeps like this guy hide behind.
posted by zachlipton at 5:03 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Is there a specific type of therapist one would look for if they are trying to rid themselves of nightmares stemming from PTSD?

Look into EMDR. May sound crazy, but worth investigation.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:04 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I really don't want to get into this right now because as you can see my life's been made very difficult over this child."

You vile, vile human being.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:14 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


(Upon review, I'd like to say that my comment was not meant to be some minimizing, it-happened-to-my-family-too-no-biggie comment. I was just..talking)
posted by jonmc at 5:14 PM on November 2, 2011


When my father hit me, it was with his fists. I was also hit with a belt on one occasion and I didn't think it hurt much at all. I was afraid of my father at times as a kid, but I don't feel anger about it now, or consider myself an abuse victim at all. I miss my father, who died when I was 15. He started hitting me because I had frustrated his efforts to get through to me in other ways. It definitely shocked me into a realization that my behavior had to change and I think it was a good thing for me to experience. In my opinion the ultimate difference between corporal punishment and physical child abuse is whether the child comes away feeling that the punishment was motivated by a genuine desire to help the child, empathy and love on the one hand, or sadistic impulses on the other. The difference has much more to do with the context of the relationship than the details of the act. I don't really want to watch the video, but it sounds like the father was plainly hateful and sadistic in his attitude.

If I have kids I don't think I would do the same thing that my father did to me. It's just not something that I would naturally do. But I would never promise not to hit my kids if I had them, because I think that it's possible that not hitting a child can be a disservice.
posted by knoyers at 5:14 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


My thought after reading all of these comments is that I'm so glad so many here were able stop the cycle. It ain't easy, so BIG KUDOS and HUGS! Not kidding.
posted by snsranch at 5:17 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


From Washington Post: "Elected in 2001, Adams draws an annual salary of $138,055 as Aransas County’s top judge. He dealt with at least 349 family law cases in the past year, nearly 50 of which involved state caseworkers seeking to determine whether parents were fit to raise their children."
posted by williampratt at 5:22 PM on November 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


But I would never promise not to hit my kids if I had them, because I think that it's possible that not hitting a child can be a disservice.

You're obviously entitled to your opinion, and depending on where you live, you may have the right to act on it with any children you may have. But I honestly could not disagree with you more, and that's a right I won't be defending. In fact, it's those possible children's right not to be hit that I would defend.
posted by pajamazon at 5:23 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


I still have gotten a chance to watch this video, so I don't know the extent of what's happening here. But I will say that when I was far younger, my parents spanked. It wasn't a big deal; it wasn't anything intense. I don't consider it abuse. My parents can have frank conversations with us even now about it because they don't consider it a big deal either (I come from a black, middle class family. My dad was in the army. I have no idea whether any of those details matter at all.)

My dad's explanation (which, honestly, seems reasonable to me) is that when kids are younger, they can't really appreciate anything else. But, you know after we were, I dunno, there were never any spankings anymore. Instead, we had to assume the pushup position, and then we would get a lecture. It was completely reasonable, completely evenly toned, etc. But long. My dad can lecture for hours abs/core was pretty awesome.

Anyway, as we grew up even more (12 or 13), we didn't even have to assume the position, we just got the lecture. Nothing physical is necessary if you can understand that your parents are DISAPPOINTED IN you.

In that sense, I think that spanking, etc., is completely unnecessary.

Anyway, I don't want to minimize the fact that there are people who are really suffering... Whether it be posters remembering bad childhood experiences in this topic, or the girl from the video (I'll definitely watch, just gave to get back rro a real computer.)
posted by subversiveasset at 5:28 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're obviously entitled to your opinion, and depending on where you live, you may have the right to act on it with any children you may have. But I honestly could not disagree with you more, and that's a right I won't be defending. In fact, it's those possible children's right not to be hit that I would defend

I'd like to begin this comment by stating that what the Judge did goes way beyond any idea of corporal punishment into wackjob psycho territory.

That said, I'm actually very ambivalent about physical discipline. Working in retail, I see boatloads of spoiled obnoxious brats all the time and I always say to myself that they weren't hit enough. Which of course is a vulgar exaggeration, but I can't deny that fear of getting smacked probably tempered my behavior when I was younger, but it probably had negative effects as well. So they jury's out.
posted by jonmc at 5:28 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


My father has spanked me exactly once in all of my life. We were having a picnic in our backyard, I was being snitty about something or other, and Dad told me to go inside. So I did, still full of piss and vinegar, and so I locked everyone else out. Haha, revenge!

The spanking was rather light. Certainly, I had no trouble walking afterward, and it left no marks. I can't remember whether it hurt; I was too shocked that he was hitting me at all.

Was it abuse? I suppose he didn't need to punish me in that particular fashion, though it might have been the most efficient way. "Unnecessary violence in an interpersonal relationship" seems to be the definition of abuse that the absolutists in this thread subscribe to, so I suppose he must be an abuser.

That still seems like a misleading way to characterize the man. Most of his parenting strategy involved long, contentious conversations that might have eventually resulted in my understanding what he wanted and why.

Perhaps every sufficiently long relationship has a little bit of abuse in it, and only becomes abusive when its fundamental dynamics require injury to one party at another's benefit.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:33 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


subversiveasset: that's called a stress position. It's classed with the "enhanced interrogation methods" and condemned by Amnesty.
posted by Iteki at 5:39 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


It definitely shocked me into a realization that my behavior had to change and I think it was a good thing for me to experience. In my opinion the ultimate difference between corporal punishment and physical child abuse is whether the child comes away feeling that the punishment was motivated by a genuine desire to help the child, empathy and love on the one hand, or sadistic impulses on the other. The difference has much more to do with the context of the relationship than the details of the act. I don't really want to watch the video, but it sounds like the father was plainly hateful and sadistic in his attitude.

I honestly can't tell if the video would have been more or less horrifying if the father meted out the same beating while staying perfectly calm and collected. You'd think that the screaming and swearing would make it worse, but in some ways it lets me see the father as someone with an enormous anger problem who has no control over his actions. Take away all that rage and you have someone who calmly and rationally decided that inflicting this kind of beating on his 16-year-old daughter with a belt is his best way to respond to the situation. I thankfully don't know which is truly worse for the recipient of the abuse, but I'm really finding myself thinking that I would be more creeped out if he dispassionately administered the same punishment out of "empathy and love!"
posted by zachlipton at 5:40 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


My parents' response after reading it? My mom called me up crying saying she never hit me, never remembered doing that, and says she wouldn't ever do such a thing.

Been there, man.

I lived through many years of abuse, CPS had a file a good six inches thick. One afternoon, the sperm donor came home in a rage, beat the fuck out of me, and threw me through a wall. A neighbor coming up the walk saw the whole thing. The egg donor sat there and said nothing.

I somehow made it out the door and across the alley to another neighbor's house, where I collapsed and was taken to the ER. I spent three weeks in the hospital - two of them comatose. While I was out, my paternal grandparents got emergency temporary custody of me. A year later, at my permanent custody hearing, my sorry excuses for "parents" swore up and down that they never touched me. The tongue lashing the judge gave them before she granted my grandparents permanent custody of me was the first time I'd ever heard a judge swear in court.

A year after that, the sperm donor managed to get himself drowned in a boating accident, and I cut all contact with the egg donor. That was 27 years ago. She found me on Facebook recently, and had herself quite the tantrum when I reminded her why I wanted nothing to do with her. She insists that I made it all up!

Denial is a powerful thing.
posted by MissySedai at 5:42 PM on November 2, 2011 [33 favorites]


Working in retail, I see boatloads of spoiled obnoxious brats all the time and I always say to myself that they weren't hit enough.

Okay, at the very least you're ignoring the many cases where obnoxious brats were, indeed, beaten as children.
posted by odinsdream at 5:42 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


mathowie :My parents' response after reading it? My mom called me up crying saying she never hit me, never remembered doing that, and says she wouldn't ever do such a thing.

Do we have the same parents? Other things that apparently never happened was my father's habit of drinking two hi-balls and a couple of beers every night, hearing my mother telling my father that she wished that she never had "retard kids" with him, seeing blood on the wall from my brother knocking over and stepping on a glass on as he was being chased by my belt wielding dad, my mom punching me in the stomach so hard that she knocked the wind out of me and then laughed in my face. Yeah, no memory at all.
posted by echolalia67 at 5:43 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Okay, at the very least you're ignoring the many cases where obnoxious brats were, indeed, beaten as children.

Possibly. I'm just saying that maybe being physically disciplined kept me from becoming like spoiled kids who think their entitled to be difficult and obnoxious. Who the hell knows.
posted by jonmc at 5:48 PM on November 2, 2011


jonmc, there are many "spoiled obnoxious brats" who get beaten privately for their public behavior and still do the same thing again and again. Some parents are just self-conscious about whuppin' their kids in front of everybody. Haven't you heard the "wait 'til you get home" a million times? If beatings were really effective for changing kids' behavior, Judge Adams never would've been caught on video for doing it the umpteenth time.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:48 PM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


In my opinion the ultimate difference between corporal punishment and physical child abuse is whether the child comes away feeling that the punishment was motivated by a genuine desire to help the child, empathy and love on the one hand, or sadistic impulses on the other.

Part of what makes the cycle so vicious is that it's incredibly easy to convince a child that you're doing it for their own good, they deserve it, and they should be grateful for the correction. How does a child learn the difference between sadism and a genuine desire to help if they both involve the same techniques?

There's a recent askme from someone who still wonders if she deserved the abuse and bullying she received when she was in college: she has come to half-believe what her bullies told her: that she was a horrible fuckup and a terrible person. That's what abuse can do to a person, even an adult person.
posted by rtha at 5:53 PM on November 2, 2011 [32 favorites]


Last night the most vivid and terrifying one was being instructed (presumably by my stepdad) to beat/brain puppies.

God. That just reminded me of all the nightmares I used to have of being forced to kill my school friends. For days at a time I tried to stay awake to avoid these dreams


For my part, even talking to my father in a fairly friendly conversation, or listening to a voicemail he's left, can be enough to trigger dreams later in which I beat him to death in horribly violent ways, like taking a rock and smashing in his skull, or fighting him and kicking him to death. That's one reason I have about five unheard voice messages right now, in fact. And I haven't lived at home for almost 10 years now.

So I won't be watching this video, but good for her for taking it and posting it.
posted by limeonaire at 5:53 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


oneswellfoop, I'm not defending this prick. I'm just saying that I'm not 100% convinced that physical discipline is always bad. I'm sure it's had mixed effects on me. And I'll admit that the anger I feel when dealing with onoxious bratty customers children or otherwise makes me undertand my parents better since I was a very difficult child and they were working from difficult backgrounds themselves.

But honestly, I'm just spitballing.
posted by jonmc at 5:54 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Working in retail, I see boatloads of spoiled obnoxious brats all the time and I always say to myself that they weren't hit enough."

Yeah, this is wrong thinking. What you are seeing is kids who are in an unstructured inconsistant environment without set upheld boundaries and guidance and reinforcement for positive behavior. As a nany/babysitter/montessori assistant I've seen plenty of these parental environments.

And I can assure you that spanking or beating when there is no structure, shitty neglectful parenting, poor diet, complete lack of teaching children what positive behavior is or consequences/redirection for inappropriate behavior will not do anything but make things worse.

Being a reliable, consinstant, loving, warm, interactive, knowledgable parent who guides a child into cultivating positive behavior is really really hard and parents don't always know to do it or they are dealing with mental illness/life stress/poverty/their own crappy beliefs about parenting/being workaholics/just not caring etc etc etc and choose not to do this, or are unable to do this. A lot of people just don't realize that the way they run their house, emotional stress in their house, how they handle stress or difficulty, the level of structure and consistancy (on and on) really do affect their child's behavior. Further more they don't realize/believe that there are in fact ways to provide that consistancy and to set appropriate boundaries and teach positive behavior without spanking at all.

In the homes I've worked in where children are recieving such poor conditions there is a lot of spanking after the child has repeatedly misbehaved in a way that finally pisses off the parent enough to act. It does nothing.
posted by xarnop at 6:02 PM on November 2, 2011 [24 favorites]


It's a little easier to watch the video without the audio.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:02 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not the belt that gets me in this. It's the conversation. I might just be reading my own past into this, but the constant subtext of not being good enough is what really makes this rough -- "She's too immature," "stop and take it like a woman," "she doesn't deserve to live in this house," "you lie, cheat, and steal."

Getting smacked around stop hurting quickly. The attacks on your esteem are far more insidious and take far longer to heal.
posted by bfranklin at 6:13 PM on November 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


That guy lives five minutes from me and I can tell you, very few people in town know/care about this. It's unfortunate.
posted by Malice at 6:19 PM on November 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


You're obviously entitled to your opinion, and depending on where you live, you may have the right to act on it with any children you may have. But I honestly could not disagree with you more, and that's a right I won't be defending. In fact, it's those possible children's right not to be hit that I would defend.
posted by pajamazon at 5:23 PM on November 2 [1 favorite +] [!]


It is legal here. Children don't have the full rights of an adult citizen with respect to their parents and guardians for good reasons that should be readily apparent. The personal freedom we enjoy includes the right to bring up children according to our own values. I don't think that corporal punishment that is not significantly injurious or "cruel and unusual" is a grave enough issue for the state to intrude into family life, regardless of its arguable merits as a way to discipline kids.

I honestly can't tell if the video would have been more or less horrifying if the father meted out the same beating while staying perfectly calm and collected. You'd think that the screaming and swearing would make it worse, but in some ways it lets me see the father as someone with an enormous anger problem who has no control over his actions. Take away all that rage and you have someone who calmly and rationally decided that inflicting this kind of beating on his 16-year-old daughter with a belt is his best way to respond to the situation. I thankfully don't know which is truly worse for the recipient of the abuse, but I'm really finding myself thinking that I would be more creeped out if he dispassionately administered the same punishment out of "empathy and love!"
posted by zachlipton at 5:40 PM on November 2


Part of what makes the cycle so vicious is that it's incredibly easy to convince a child that you're doing it for their own good, they deserve it, and they should be grateful for the correction. How does a child learn the difference between sadism and a genuine desire to help if they both involve the same techniques?

There's a recent askme from someone who still wonders if she deserved the abuse and bullying she received when she was in college: she has come to half-believe what her bullies told her: that she was a horrible fuckup and a terrible person. That's what abuse can do to a person, even an adult person.
posted by rtha at 5:53 PM on November 2


I don't think that anger versus dispassion separates cruelty and "tough love." That is more the outcome of individual personality. I think that kids are mostly perceptive enough to feel cruelty and to realize when someone is trying to demean them or is going out of their way to be cruel toward them, or when someone doesn't care about them or is being selfish towards them.

Even if you don't think that what your parents did was right, if you know that they loved you and did the best they could with the knowledge and resources that they had, you will forgive them for what may have been wrong in your eyes and feel secure in being loved by them. If not, then you will feel used and a victim. That, in my opinion, is the fundamental difference between the "I was spanked and I'm OK whatever" crowd and the "my parents abused me" set.

The act of a spanking (or other kinds of childhood punishment) can be a genuine act to help or sadistic bullying. The whole interpersonal context of it is what makes the difference to the person spanked.
posted by knoyers at 6:27 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was abused by my mother when I was a child. She only beat me when we were alone, mostly when she was feeling upset and depressed. She denies it was anything more than a casual spanking but who uses a wire hanger to hit their seven year old kid? I will also never ever use the line "it hurts me more than it hurts you" because no, it hurt me infinitely more.
posted by ichimunki at 6:28 PM on November 2, 2011


Working in retail, I see boatloads of spoiled obnoxious brats all the time and I always say to myself that they weren't hit enough.

So let me get this right, you think of someone beats the shit out of you it makes you a more cooperative consumer? You dont have to beat kids. Ever. It represents a complete failure of imagination and intelligence. Unequivocally.
posted by jcworth at 6:33 PM on November 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm honestly baffled by people who equate the horrible, horrible abuse in this video, and the horrible abuse many folks in this thread have clearly suffered, with the mild & occasional spanking that many parents use with their non-teenage children. I can see not *liking* spanking, not wanting to use it as a parent, etc. Sure!

The only way it makes sense to me at *all* is that victims of abuse want to draw a very had line so they know they'll never do to others what was done to them. Like a child of alcoholics avoiding alcohol.

I like that, as a society, we are moving away from corporal punishment as our primary tool in child-rearing. But calling spanking -- all spanking of any form -- child abuse, and equating it very directly with what this man did to his daughter, is insane.
posted by feckless at 6:33 PM on November 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


"You just described my growing up situation down to the very fucking words ("I'm getting the belt!")."

My dad used to to fold the belt in half and "snap" it. No words just the snapping and then the belt.
posted by MikeMc at 6:34 PM on November 2, 2011


jonmc:
Working in retail, I see boatloads of spoiled obnoxious brats all the time and I always say to myself that they weren't hit enough.

xarnop:
Yeah, this is wrong thinking. What you are seeing is kids who are in an unstructured inconsistant environment without set upheld boundaries and guidance and reinforcement for positive behavior. As a nany/babysitter/montessori assistant I've seen plenty of these parental environments.

What you are seeing is quite possibly neither kids who haven't been hit enough, nor kids who have lazy parents with no boundaries and guidance and reinforcement. What presents to the outside world as "whiny bratty spoiled entitled obnoxious" is often, from the inside, difficulty with impulse control, frustration tolerance, and perspective taking. These are cognitive skills, just as math and reading are cognitive skills. They are not moral virtues. People develop them at different rates. Hitting kids doesn't help them develop these skills faster any more than hitting kids helps them learn to read faster.

Of course good consistent parenting with boundaries and guidance etc. is important. But, just as there are kids whose parents read to them and encourage reading and have them do "Hooked on Phonics" but are nonetheless dyslexic and so slower to read, there are kids who have good conscientious parents and consistent environments but are still slower to pick up on social skills.
posted by Daily Alice at 6:38 PM on November 2, 2011 [27 favorites]


So many stories. So many emotions. I feel sad when I think about my childhood and I realize I don't remember any good times with my family. I know we had them, but all of my good memories come from Girl Scouts or school or playing with other kids. My memories of my parents are mostly about how afraid I was around them. How confused and nervous I was because I was never quite sure of what I might say or do that would set them off. My mother had a raging temper and would lash out immediately, but my father was more frightening because he was icy cold and would stay angry for days.

There was a point in time when I was around 7 and my brother was 4 when we were getting spanked daily. For god's sake. What kind of horrible monsters were we that we deserved to be beaten daily? Actually to hear my mother's friends reminisce we were little angels-- such good, clean quiet children. That was father's influence-- he didn't like dirt and he didn't like noise so my mother was his Sargent-at-Arms beating us into shape.

On the other hand my mother didn't like sullen children. She thought children should be smiling, pleasant, and polite. So any deviancy on those ideals earned you a beating. I remember the time we were at Back to School night and I was acting sullen. My brother asked my mom why I was so mad. My mother replied quite cheerfully, "Don't worry, she'll get a spanking when she gets home." And I did. Strangely it didn't turn me into a cheerful child no matter how much my mother beat me.

I do have one good memory. Once my mom was so furious that she immediately spanked the both of us with her hand. Usually she would calm down long enough to grab a wooden spoon or paddle, but this time she just hauled off and smacked us. We were sent sobbing to the bathroom and as soon as she left my brother and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. Because it didn't really hurt! What a joke.

What's weird is not only does my mom claim that she only whipped me once, she also seems to have forgotten most of her own beatings as a child. Her older sister says that her childhood was miserable with constant beatings but my mom says she is crazy-- it didn't happen that way. I do know this: Back when my grandparents were engaged they were both school teachers and when my grandmother could not handle the big boys in her class she asked my grandfather to come over and beat them.

My daughter is 18 and I can honestly say I never used corporal punishment and I never yelled at her. I think waiting to be a parent until I was older helped me keep my temper. And when she was little I taught myself to sing whenever I felt like I was about to get mad. Girl Scout songs, Raffi songs, nursery songs. They soothed me and they soothed her and helped us get through the terrible twos.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:39 PM on November 2, 2011 [17 favorites]


Even if you don't think that what your parents did was right, if you know that they loved you and did the best they could with the knowledge and resources that they had, you will forgive them for what may have been wrong in your eyes and feel secure in being loved by them. If not, then you will feel used and a victim. That, in my opinion, is the fundamental difference between the "I was spanked and I'm OK whatever" crowd and the "my parents abused me" set.

For me, its more complicated.
I know my parents abused me (for instance, when I was 16, my Dad dragged me up the stairs by my hair after hitting me with a chair), and that in their own fucked up way, they loved me. I forgive them for the most part (though it's difficult after seeing videos like this), not for their sakes and not because they have ever apologized but for my own. I just couldn't live with the anger any more. It was destroying me and those I cared about. They did change over time though, my Dad was a different person after retiring, so we are still in contact.
We're not close though. It's fucked up and mostly, just sad.
posted by Hutch at 6:43 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Imagine if we could go two generations of general non-violence. How different our society could become.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:47 PM on November 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


You know, I have no sympathy for the judge's wife/Hillary's mom in all this. None. Zero. Negative one.

And I'll tell you why.

My husband and I, we both have "enabler" mothers. (My mom divorced my dad, after 30 years of marriage, finally. My in laws are still married.) We bonded over this, funny as it is to say that. His dad's a drunk, mine is 31 different flavors of mentally ill, and that sucks and all, but our moms are the ones who are *really* fucked up. Because being in the teeth of addiction or crazy in the head, those are pretty good explanations for terrible behavior.

The enabler just doesn't want to step outside her comfort zone.

I'm a stay at home mom. Divorce would leave me destitute. I have very young children to raise. My husband is seven inches taller and eighty pounds heavier than I am.

And yet, about a month ago, my husband and both kids were upstairs. I heard a slapping noise. My abused child's knee jerk was to grab the two nearest weapons- an oak pizza peel and a cast iron skillet- and race up the stairs. I had, suddenly yet methodically, a plan: I was going to beat my bear of a husband senseless and throw him down the stairs. I got up there, in full fight mode, and both my sweet little kids just looked at me. "Did Daddy smack you?" I asked. My daughter showed me these soft plastic toys that they had just gotten. "I was smacking these on the wall," she said, quietly. She was afraid of me, redfaced and wielding kitchen implements.

The toilet flushed. My husband came out of the bathroom. "What's going on?" Like I said, we had similar childhoods. He looked at the two heavy, serious items in my hands. "I heard a smacking sound," I said. His eyes got big. "It wasn't me," he said. We both giggled a little. He hugged me. "Let's go put those away, you thug," he said.

So, yeah, no sympathy. Now that I'm a mom, I can't even muster human pity. These women get my disgust. It is all I have for them.

And, seriously, WHAT is up the parental forgetting? I mentioned to my mom, in a casual way, that she used to put the mail in my bedroom. My bedroom was just off the kitchen, my dresser right inside the door. My dad ran a homebased business and the mail nearly drowned us. I know she just wanted it out of the way. It wasn't evil, just aggravating.

I'd come home from school to a giant pile of paperwork on top of folded laundry. That's how I got in the habit of opening his mail, and filing it- invoices, bills to be paid, junk. As I got older, he started paying me for this. My mom did this for fifteen years! Regularly!

She got very short and bitchy with me, and utterly denied EVER having done such a thing. "That's ridiculous! I would never put business mail in a child's room!" I dropped it, I don't argue in front of my kids, but it really made me distrust her memory, and wonder what else she's blocked out.
posted by Leta at 6:57 PM on November 2, 2011 [30 favorites]


My parents smacked me and they smacked my brother more (mainly my dad but my mum too) but I could hardly say I was abused. It stopped when I was younger than ten years old. As an adult and having talked about this with my dad in particular I can recognise where the anger in my dad that prompted the smacking came from. It was never more than hard smacking and never with anything more than a hand. It's not something my dad (or mum for that matter) has to apologise for.

But reading about the video (haven't watched it, may watch it when I get home from work) and especially peoples' stories in this thread I've gained an insight into the degree to which my father has worked to not repeat the (mainly emotional) abuse he suffered at his mother's hands -- she was a piece of work.

My mind is boggling (and I'm crying at my desk, never a good look) to look at my old familiar story from a very new point of view.

Thanks and kudos to those who have shared their stories.
posted by prettypretty at 7:00 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that kids are mostly perceptive enough to feel cruelty and to realize when someone is trying to demean them or is going out of their way to be cruel toward them, or when someone doesn't care about them or is being selfish towards them.

I don't think is is true. This thread has a number of people saying things like "I didn't realize this wasn't normal until I was older and going to friends' houses." Given that fully operational grown-ups can have an awfully hard time interpreting the motives and intentions of other fully operational grown-ups and get themselves into all kinds of messes because of this (cf. the relationshipfilter questions on the green), I think it's an awful lot to ask of someone who has a decade or much less on this planet.

It is stunningly easy to basically brainwash someone into believing all kinds of terrible things about themselves, and into believing that you are a loving person who cares about them. This is beyond question.

As a data point, I was spanked a couple of times as a child (under age 10), once with a bare hand and once with a rice paddle. I'm not comfortable putting myself into the same "abused child" category as someone like this girl (well, woman, now), because I think it really dilutes what she and others have endured. But it's all part of a continuum.
posted by rtha at 7:01 PM on November 2, 2011 [15 favorites]


"Children don't have the full rights of an adult citizen with respect to their parents and guardians for good reasons that should be readily apparent."

No with regard to the right to not be hit, I really don't think this is readily apparant. If you got in a car accident and became a dependant tomorrow should it be legal for any caregiver to hit you if they feel it is part of consistant discipline? If sometimes you didn't want to eat your pea soup and they felt you should?

Daily Alice: This is a good point. Because I'm plugged into the differently abled community and occupational therapy techniques I tend to see kids as being right where their environment (starting with the environment of their ancestral DNA and epigenetics and through prenatal and early childhood environment) has brought them. Usually differently functioning kids have a combination of heritable traits and family environment cues that interact to shape the personality and behavior. If a child is simply differently functioning and not ready or able to stop themselves from damaging property or saying harmful things to people around them, it is still important to protect others and store property and employees etc from harmful behavior. And it's possible to do this without damaging the child's integrity or expecting them to do more than they are capable of. (Though for people with resource limitations all things are less possible.)

(sometimes store employees simply have unreasonable expectations of child behavior. Not to *cough* insinuate anything here...) : )


I don't see struggling parents as a sign for judgement, nor as a sign the parent has done anything wrong. Usually when a parent is struggling we could help the family most by... helping.
I absolutely agree with you, Daily Alice, that no matter how one works with child behavior, spanking or hitting children is really not the solution. I think a "light spanking" is "of course" a different matter than "real child abuse"

the problem is that the reality is most people think they are using "reasonable spanking".

And some of them are doing shit like this.
posted by xarnop at 7:03 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Every time you hit a child this is what you teach them:

Problems can be solved with violence
The bigger and stronger you are, the more you are "right"
Parents are to be feared; they will hurt you if they think it is necessary
Losing your temper is OK if you are the parent


Every time you talk to your child about a problem this is what you teach them:

Logic and reasoning solves problems
Using your brain to control the situation is preferable
Parents can be relied upon to be calm and know what to do
Talking it out is the right way to handle problems
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:03 PM on November 2, 2011 [52 favorites]


The enabler just doesn't want to step outside her comfort zone.

While I understand what you're saying, I think the underestimate the power of abuse on an adult. The power of fear. The weakness that is being in that person's shoes. I'm not sure how you can claim they should know better.
posted by sunshinesky at 7:05 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


For me, its more complicated.
I know my parents abused me (for instance, when I was 16, my Dad dragged me up the stairs by my hair after hitting me with a chair), and that in their own fucked up way, they loved me. I forgive them for the most part (though it's difficult after seeing videos like this), not for their sakes and not because they have ever apologized but for my own. I just couldn't live with the anger any more. It was destroying me and those I cared about. They did change over time though, my Dad was a different person after retiring, so we are still in contact.
We're not close though. It's fucked up and mostly, just sad.
posted by Hutch at 6:43 PM on November 2


Yes I realize that what I wrote above is simplistic compared to the variety of actual experience and a very sensitive and ambivalent issue.

Technically my father probably did abuse me since I would get bruises. Technically my mother was an enabler (none of this has ever been mentioned in my family since it happened). But I never felt like I was abused then or now or that my father was really wrong, since I did a lot to deserve it and changed my attitude when other punishments didn't or just alienated me.

I don't think is is true. This thread has a number of people saying things like "I didn't realize this wasn't normal until I was older and going to friends' houses." Given that fully operational grown-ups can have an awfully hard time interpreting the motives and intentions of other fully operational grown-ups and get themselves into all kinds of messes because of this (cf. the relationshipfilter questions on the green), I think it's an awful lot to ask of someone who has a decade or much less on this planet.

Kids want to think that what's happening to them is normal and if they know it isn't, they want to preserve and project an image of normalcy. But I think that they can certainly feel the emotional reality of what is going on in their families and toward them and as time passes, the way they regard their parents and other people in their lives will usually reflect that. I don't think that fake love successfully passes for real love most of the time. But denial can and does happen of course.
posted by knoyers at 7:09 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because they certainly know better than their child, who doesn't have the experience to know anything. Are they victims too? Very likely. Are they culpable? Also yes.
posted by Errant at 7:10 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, I don't think I underestimate it, sunshinesky. And I know what abuse does to a person, mentally.

I just don't care. When you are parent, you do hard things to protect your children. If you don't, you're a shit parent. And I am disgusted by shit.
posted by Leta at 7:12 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I practiced that for a while, and it became a habit. Wake up screaming, then imagine what the solution would be. And I was completely amazed the first time I found myself right in the middle of what would normally turn into a hellish torture-fest, and all of the sudden, my brother (who is a burly cop in real life, too) bursts into the dream with his buddies, and save the day.

I can't say that it's uncontroversial, but a close family member went through many of the same struggles: a decade or more of abuse at the hands of trusted adults, and decades of problems following that were eventually diagnosed as PTSD. In her case, EMDR and a really, really good therapist were used in much the same way that you describe above: either post-nightmare, or in visualized scenarios of past abuse, consciously presenting solutions that were not available to an abused child, but can be "offered" by the recovering adult.

I'm not an expert and I can't say I know the clinical details, but it's been a really, really profound thing to see the improvements in her daily life that it has helped accelerate.
posted by verb at 7:12 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


A Redditor asks: Are there any scientific studies that support corporal punishment of children as helpful or conducive to their mental and emotional maturity?
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:13 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Working in retail, I see boatloads of spoiled obnoxious brats all the time and I always say to myself that they weren't hit enough.

I'd say that's a little tone deaf way of phrasing it in this context.

I'm no expert, and I willingly attribute a good 2/3rds of how good my kids are to them just being good kids, but it seems to me that almost to the child, every spoiled brat I know has a parent that acts like a spoiled brat.

I'm quite capable of punishing my child without spanking him, but I've found the most effective way to get him to change his behavior is to change mine.
posted by Gygesringtone at 7:16 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Just to be clear, despite my ambivalence at my own life history and my aggravation at brats, I am not actually advocating hitting kids more. It's just something I think when I'm pissed off.
posted by jonmc at 7:18 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hutch: "Even if you don't think that what your parents did was right, if you know that they loved you and did the best they could with the knowledge and resources that they had, you will forgive them for what may have been wrong in your eyes and feel secure in being loved by them. If not, then you will feel used and a victim. That, in my opinion, is the fundamental difference between the "I was spanked and I'm OK whatever" crowd and the "my parents abused me" set.


My mother was 18 when I was born and she was married to an abuser. When I was six month old, I was thrown across a room and lay in the corner while my mother was beaten with a vacuum cleaner hose. This is what my mother shared with me. As I grew older, my mother seemed to seek these type of men out and most, if not all, felt completely ok with hauling off and beating the shit out of me and my brother. Even one of my mothers female friends beat us with a wooden, steel-tipped club for going into the fridge (a lot of our beatings had to do with us eating). To this day, I can still remember the stinging sensation in my legs from that club. And to this day, as a forty-eight year old man, I STILL ask if it's ok to eat my own food in my own house that I paid for with my own money. Flash forward to my mother's wonderful ex-con boyfriend who found my brother and I in his car once, playing with the headlight switch. He beat me so hard I wet myself. Then he duct taped our mouths, hands and feet and made us sleep in the trunk of the car. The next day he was still angry and tore off my pants and put a diaper on me while I lay on the kitchen floor in front of my mother and her friends. I was thirteen and my brother was eleven.

So as I watched that video, I nodded in acknowledgement that yes - been there, done that. But I also had the same sick feeling of doom in my stomach as I wondered if that girl would ever recover from something like that. Honestly, I don't feel like one ever does. Coupled with the fact that both parents were complicit in the abuse, one can help but think that we have a girl who will grow up feeling somewhat lost and devastated. I am of course seeing this through my eyes where I can still remember EVERYTHING from those beatings and still feel the weird effects from them today.

When I was in rehab, I was encouraged to forgive my parents for what they had done. I did for the most part but there is still this small, small part of me that never will. That is the part I hold on to. I have not spoken to my mother in over ten years. For all I know, she could be dead. I do not care. I do not care that she was only 18 or that she didn't have the resources to deal with it. She took a part of my life with her so she will pay for it, every single day. I simply do not give a rat-fuck about her in any way. I cannot stress that enough.

What does that make me? Any worse for holding on to that? I really don't know. I've lived both ways, at one point honestly feeling like I forgave. But every time I was around my mother, the old bullshit started creeping back in and could feel my skin begin to crawl. So the part I choose to live with, the never forgiving, has served me well in terms of never EVER putting myself in an abusive situation. More than that, it has been a blueprint for how to NOT be a parent to my ten-year old daughter. I consider every day with her a gift and never, ever want her to have these experiences. They didn't make me necessarily stronger, just smarter.

So I guess for that, "thanks mom?"
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:21 PM on November 2, 2011 [43 favorites]


Speaking personally, every single time I was abused the adult in question was clearly emotionally out of control and hitting me despite themselves. Frequently there would be apologies a day later, or even later that day. As a child taught me to always be on the defensive, to implicitly distrust authority, to keep as much to myself as possible (as stimulus needed to cause these outbursts was totally unpredictable, all you need is "that mood"), and it's still a struggle to communicate intimately or show any kind of vulnerability. Asking for help was a real foreign concept for awhile there. Oh, and then there's the anxiety disorder. I'm not saying it's impossible to respectfully but physically and firmly discipline a child, I'm just saying that the vast majority of the time the violent adult is in a position of authority and is using the kid as a punching bag and kids are more perceptive and empathic than you give them credit for. And you're teaching them a lesson all right, just not the one you intend.

I do know that if/when I lose control of my emotions then that is the last time I should be physically interacting with children in my care. I think a great deal of the problem is the "atomic family" structure isolates struggling and hardworking parents and prevents them from asking for help. As work weeks grow longer and pay stagnates, of course we're all going to struggle all that much more.
posted by mek at 7:21 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


This has sparked all kinds of feelings in me. I haven't seen anyone talk about this so far, so I will. My dad was a spanker. A much more controlled, 'you did this wrong, you get a spanking' part of the continuum. I never did the rebel thing the girl in the video did. It was all so incredibly fucking serious.

Jump to 'my parents get a divorce.' One of the major reasons given to me by my grandmother was that my grandfather had told my mom that 'hitting was child abuse' and my mother used this reason as part of her reason to leave. And that's fine. Awesome, in fact. I agree.

Jump to - my dad gets remarried and has 3 kids, years and years later. I have moved in with him to help take care of the kids. He is gone all the time for work. Spanking is the punishment of the household. Step-mom doesn't do the spanking (never-the-mind why. I dont know why.) and suddenly, I am the one who has to do the spanking.

I will never forget having to do the spanking. Every fiber of my being is completely against this - but I am doing it. I do the spanking. I am stern. I have - serious face and voice. Just like dad. I am out of my body. There is much sobbing and drama. I leave the room, close the door. And I hear laughter as my twin brothers laugh it off. I am more abused then they are.

I have no doubt after watching the video this is abuse. He was so out of control. This is wrong. I hate myself for the thing I did. The laughter still rings in my ears and screams at the pointlessness.

I will never do that again.
posted by jopreacher at 7:21 PM on November 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


My dad used to to fold the belt in half and "snap" it. No words just the snapping and then the belt.

With my dad, it was a progression. He used to start very slowly taking his belt off. Then he'd snap it. Then he'd use it on me.
posted by orange swan at 7:22 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just don't care. When you are parent, you do hard things to protect your children. If you don't, you're a shit parent. And I am disgusted by shit.

I'd really like to think that, were I in that situation as a parent, I would have the strength within me to protect my kids, whatever it took. I can't say that I know I would though. I'm not that woman at this time in my life. I think it's unfair to judge a situation you haven't been in from that perspective.

Maybe I have too much faith in people? I simply try not to judge personal situations I have little understanding of so harshly. I'd like to think people have their reasons, lousy as they may seem. As much as I'll never forgive my mother for the abuse I suffered through her lack of action, I can't say with much confidence that she wasn't as much a victim in that situation as I was. It saddens me to think that you can't allow for that. Calling a parent "shit" for being weakened by their situation is a lazy form of prejudice.
posted by sunshinesky at 7:42 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not actually advocating hitting kids more.

No, I got that. I just thought it was worth pointing out that thinking unruly kid=not enough punishment runs counter to my experience. Especially since that particular mode of thought has been used as a justification for the kind of culture that turns a blind eye to abuse.
posted by Gygesringtone at 7:43 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would not claim that authoritarianism is synonymous with conservatism, but the correlation looks fairly strong.

Wut?

Wikipedia's definition: "Conservatism (Latin: conservare, "to preserve")[1] is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism and seek a return to the way things were."

Corporal punishment, like capital punishment, are traditional methods of dealing with the problem of a lack of obedience. Conservatives traditionally and historically have portrayed the world as suffering from a breakdown in adherence to the old values of respect and obedience, and have traditionally advocated corporal and capital punishment as essential to regaining that social order that we're at threat of losing.

That looks pretty damn close to synonymous to me.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:43 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've physically disciplined my five-year-old daughter. Lots. Of course, what I mean by "physical discipline" in this context is "If you don't put your pajamas on by the time I count to five, I will put them on for you" or "OK, if you won't put your shoes on, then I'll carry you out to the car and forcibly strap you into your carseat." That's physical discipline, and it's an important part of parenting my incredibly stubborn kid. (I also have wheeled her through the grocery store while she was chucking an absolutely epic tantrum, because what she wanted was to leave the store, and I was damned if I was going to teach her that screaming gets her what she wants.)

I have also hit her, twice. Both times was immediately after she'd bitten me; the first time I grabbed her head by the hair and PULLED her off me with such force that she flew backwards and her head hit the mattress. The second time was worse; I was fastening her into her carseat and she leaned forward, full of fury, and sank her teeth into my arm, and without even forming a conscious thought I stood up and slapped her cold across the face.

Those were NOT OK. Each of those instances was a grievous error; in each case, I apologized to her. There have actually been a half-dozen other instances where I was seized by the urge to hit her, and managed to restrain myself ONLY because I was damned if I was going to cede the moral high ground to her when she was acting so awful. I count those as victories, as small and mean as they are.

I am not an outstanding mother. I think I'm a pretty good mom, but I scream, I lose my temper, I threaten, I bloviate and holler. But I also apologize, and I let her know that my anger is my problem and not her problem. I just asked her if she knew what spanking was, and she didn't, and when I told her, her jaw literally dropped. "Why would a mommy or daddy hit their kid?!" she said. "Mommies and Daddies LOVE their kids!"

so yeah. I fuck it up sometimes, and that's bad. I have my own weird baggage (not from my parents), and my personality and hers are an exceptionally explosive combination, and well, sometimes I'm just Loud Mommy. But I try, really hard, to never put that on her, because even if her actions do contribute to the dynamic, she's fricking FIVE YEARS OLD. I'm the grownup, it's my job to DE-escalate. I've been told by my shrink and by her teachers that I'm fine and a perfectly good parent, and I just hope they're right, because she's precious and amazing and deserves even more than perfectly good.
posted by KathrynT at 7:51 PM on November 2, 2011 [29 favorites]


Jeez. All of this stuff is heartbreaking and if any of it was any closer to home I...really just can't talk about it.

Fuck. I will say that sometimes it's difficult just to deal with/interact with people IRL. Sometimes you just feel broken, damaged, disabled.

I try not to blame my parents though. The ordeals they went through in the '50s, while no excuse, was much worse than what left me a trembling wreck of a human. There's a story that my Grandpa threw a newborn (aunt or uncle of mine) out of a second story window into the snow. FWIW, my Grandpa was probably one of the last of American chattel, sold as an orphan and actually owned by people.

I'm glad this story has become a Big Fucking Deal and I wouldn't be ashamed to add my stories to others if anyone could arrange a MeFi book deal benefiting kid's rights or any anti-child abuse campaign.
posted by snsranch at 7:55 PM on November 2, 2011


But, just as there are kids whose parents read to them and encourage reading and have them do "Hooked on Phonics" but are nonetheless dyslexic and so slower to read, there are kids who have good conscientious parents and consistent environments but are still slower to pick up on social skills.

There are also kids whose parents apparently do not expect them to pick up on social skills at all. Whatever the kid does, the parents protect that kid against any unpleasant, unwelcome, or otherwise ungood consequences. They also defend the kid against negative feedback from other children, parents, and teachers throughout high school and, if possible, into college.

Their children are props and projects, their chance at a do-over. They can't see their children as anything other than a reflection of their selves.

I've watched kids like this grow up. Some of them are interesting people, immersed in and pursuing a real passion. Most... not so much. I'm watching the same thing now. "Caleb, honey, let's go to Oslo Coffee before we go home. Okay? We'll get you a steamed milk!" Caleb is 18 months old, in a stroller, having a toddler meltdown, and does not speak English. Or: "Oh my god, Violet, are you okay? Do you have a booboo? How bad does it hurt? Let Mommy fix it." Violet is 3 years old, she fell off a swing onto the playground's padded surface and once she sat up, there was a moment when she was deciding between screaming or going on about her business. Her mother made that decision for her.

All of which seems far afield from the original topic. It's not. Adams does not, cannot, see Hillary as anything but the object of his... rage? fetish? whatever.
posted by dogrose at 7:56 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ages ago, and for some strange reason I can't remember, I was having this sort of conversation with a cab driver who told me that he spanked his kids. Just "normal" spankings. He figured that sometimes kids need sharp and immediate "correction" and the spankings worked. He said he was spanked as a kid and it never did him any harm.

Oh yes it did. He grew up to be someone who hits children.
posted by angiep at 7:57 PM on November 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


Maybe I have too much faith in people? I simply try not to judge personal situations I have little understanding of so harshly. I'd like to think people have their reasons, lousy as they may seem. As much as I'll never forgive my mother for the abuse I suffered through her lack of action, I can't say with much confidence that she wasn't as much a victim in that situation as I was. It saddens me to think that you can't allow for that. Calling a parent "shit" for being weakened by their situation is a lazy form of prejudice.
posted by sunshinesky


Bolding mine. I am judging, and harshly. But I am very familiar with this kind of situation. And I know they have their reasons, their explanations, their denials, their justifications. I know. Which is why I said that enablers don't want to step outside their comfort zones- they can't change it, but boy howdy, do they have their reasons.

Also, I don't think it's prejudice. I haven't pre-judged anyone. My mom watched my dad beat my ass, and then told me what I did to antagonize him. Mrs. Adams watched her daughter getting beaten with a fucking belt. I have levied judgement after knowing those very pertinent facts. They failed in the primary job of a parent- to protect your child.

If that were me, if that were my kid? Gah, I can't even go there. Let's just say that I wouldn't "protect" my child by offering to do the beating in wimpier way. Disgusting, servile, pathetic.
posted by Leta at 7:57 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


So apparently at one moment when he comes back he says "I didn't get my lick in" can anybody explain what that means? I'm not very good with English idioms.
posted by Tarumba at 7:58 PM on November 2, 2011


Sometimes it takes years to come to grips with what you've gone through. It took me forever to finally put it into words. I posted it some years ago. Why I didn't do it sooner - it's a shame of being. Nothing more nothing less. Here's my experience with this kind of monster.

---------

One of my earliest memories is sitting on the bar in a tavern. I was young. So young that I really couldn’t focus on anything. I remember maraschino cherries and cheap cologne. The jukebox played loud country songs. I felt like I was on a Tilt-A-Whirl. We stayed for hours. I was a star.

This tavern became my second home. Never by choice. It was where he went. Everyday.

The apartment on Lloyd Drive was where I grew up. In fear. Constant fear.

This pussy of a man would come home drunk and take out his frustrations on a child. He would beat me until he had the strength to hit no more. I remember being choked up on the wall while he laughed at me. I blacked out and was dropped onto my toy box. I woke up and crawled into the bunk bed. My sister looked at me wide eyed. “ I though you were dead” she said quietly. I tried to shush her. The monster has good ears.

Later that night, after a few more beers, he returned to the bedroom. I was asleep. Dreaming of a world without monsters. It’s funny, when there are monsters in your life your dreams are mostly of happiness and warm things.

He never awoke me gently. It was a punch or I was thrown to the ground from the top bunk. It was always in the dark. He liked to be the one to surprise with terror. The weak never work their deeds in the light. It is always in the shadows. The beatings were always loud. No neighbor ever called the police. It wasn’t done back then.

The thing I remember most was the few seconds he would take between each hit. The spittle flew as he attempted to justify his actions through the rage. It was a lesson that seemed to come from his soul. I wanted to listen. I wanted to learn. It was obviously my fault. It was in those seconds that I looked to his face for the truth. I realized that the truth lie within my actions. I would do no wrong and have no pain.

Wrong was never defined. It could be anything. It's a trap.

It would last as long as he decided. There was no magic word to make it end. If it became really bad, my mom would try to intercede. This usually resulted in her being the focus of the monster. He turned from me to her. I cringed as she then took my beating. I knew it was my fault for crying out too loudly. The next time I would protect her by not making a noise when I was punched. I tried. I really tried. Sometimes I couldn’t and I knew I had failed her.

------------

I want to tell Hillary Adams that she is not alone - and by posting this video, she has taken a giant step towards her recovery from the monster. There are good people out there. The monsters hide in the shadows. You live in the light.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 8:00 PM on November 2, 2011 [30 favorites]


No, I got that. I just thought it was worth pointing out that thinking unruly kid=not enough punishment runs counter to my experience.

I dunno. The one tale that has become legend at my store goes like this:

We have a staircase that people are not allowed to sit on. One it's a fire code violation, and two it's just rude. One weekday morning, some kid was not just sitting, but lounging on the stairs and texting away on his phone. I was told by my boss to ask him to move and I went over and said "C'mon man, you can't sit here," making a 'get up' gesture with my hand. He rolled his eyes at me and said "Wow,' in a bored voice like I was infringing on his basic human rights. A very large part of me wanted to kick his ass down the stairs; one for being rude to me, and two to teach him the valuable lesson that being a smartass to strangers has consequences. But I didn't. But that's where that aggravation comes from.
posted by jonmc at 8:01 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tarumba, a lick is a hit. Usually a painful one; it's sarcastic. He's saying that he's not satisfied.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:04 PM on November 2, 2011


(by 'kid' I mean 16-17 year old)
posted by jonmc at 8:04 PM on November 2, 2011


Oh, god.
posted by Tarumba at 8:04 PM on November 2, 2011


I can't speak for anyone else, and I understand the "higher ground" arguments, but I think not everyone knows how this gets deeply encoded in you.

Maybe it's luck, maybe it's maturity, maybe it's some virtue, but my urge for revenge, physical revenge, would not be satisfied by taking it out on someone else. I don't re-direct my anger. If I did, I'd be a different, and far worse, man.
posted by spaltavian at 8:05 PM on November 2, 2011


Secret Life of Gravy: "Every time you hit a child this is what you teach them:

Problems can be solved with violence
The bigger and stronger you are, the more you are "right"
Parents are to be feared; they will hurt you if they think it is necessary
Losing your temper is OK if you are the parent


Every time you talk to your child about a problem this is what you teach them:

Logic and reasoning solves problems
Using your brain to control the situation is preferable
Parents can be relied upon to be calm and know what to do
Talking it out is the right way to handle problems
"

You are so dead on with this. I have lost my temper with my daughter and I did spank her once. I had such a Clockwork Orange/Skinner moment from that that I never ever did it again. Thanks SLoG!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:07 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ah yes, the denial. That can be as damaging as the initial event/s. As an adult I once confronted my mother about her abuse, particularly the neck-fracturing beating, and she denied it outright, called me delusioned, a liar, weak, deserving of the beating (even as she was denying it occurred) and then stuck her fingers in her ears, wagged her tongue and repeated over and over "la la la I can't hear you! la la la." I have never, ever come so close to killing myself as I did that night.

I was the scapegoat of the family and I suffered my mother's violence much more than my siblings. Recently I mentioned the abuse to my older brother. He tried to make excuses for her behaviour. He didn't go so far as to say I must have provoked it but I could hear it on the tip of his tongue. He wants to deny it happened too.

As to forgiveness.... without acknowledgement and apology there can be none. I will probably cry when she finally dies, not from the loss of her, but from the loss of the healthy child and adult I could have been if I hadn't suffered at her hands.

I hug you all.
posted by the fish at 8:13 PM on November 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


Y'all remember yardsticks? The wooden measuring sticks that you could get free with or without purchase at furniture and hardware stores? That was my folks' weapon of choice. It started when I was oh, four, I think. Once a month or so, more often when mom was feeling stressed, some infraction or other would provoke her into telling my father to get the stick. Then they'd take turns holding one of my ankles up in the air and beating along the inside of my legs, and when I squirmed, on the butt. The beating lasted until the stick broke. A serious session was a two or three stick affair.

Later, when I was 12 or so, we progressed to the belt. The buckle side was often used as point of impact, because it made the swinging a little easier on the arms during prolonged corrections. I still have dents in my shins. But the worst was "I am too angry to discipline you right now, I might kill you. Go to your room, and I will come give you your punishment when I have calmed down." So, I learned to up the ante and push hard, provoking early release just to get it over with. I then started doing this at even the first whiff of tension in the air. You know, fuck it.

My sister avoided most of the beatings because she almost immediately began to cry hysterically once a session was announced. Me, I tried not to cry or make any sound at all. I got good at it. I had to retrain myself to cry as an adult, and it still doesn't come easily. It was such a matter of pride for so long. I can remember that for the longest time I also felt that I couldn't fight back - hell, I shouldn't even try to protect myself, to avoid blows, to shield parts of my body. I eventually got over that. The last beating was when I was around 16-17, fought back, took out a chunk out of my father's arm with my teeth, and won.

And then amnesia struck my parents, while I struggled with the after-effects, learned to stop telling myself that it was all my fault, really, for being such a difficult child, and eventually got on with my life. Many many years later, they began to regularly spout criticism of others' parenting skills. One blithe remark too many, and I decided it was time for a come to Jesus. I told them it was rich the felt they were qualified to have so much as an opinion about others' far superior parenting skills. I told them there was a reason it took me a while to find my way as an adult, what with the rage, adrenaline addition, PTSD and depression resulting from their tender care. I told them there was a reason I had decided never to have children. I didn't know if I could trust myself, and I never wanted to find out I couldn't. The naked hatred and contempt in that judge's voice? I am intimately acquainted with it, and I never want to visit it on another human being, let alone a small child. And I could. I could.

My parents' reaction? Complete, stunned shock and horror that I could even think of accusing them of such behavior. They took turns (yeah) on the phone, my father outraged, my mother screaming and crying dramatically. I finally wound up with something like well, these were my experiences, and this is my truth. I can't apologise, though I hear that this has upset you and your views of yourselves. This conversation was long ago, and it has never been spoken of again. If it weren't for the witnessing of my sister and one childhood friend, I'd seriously have doubted the accuracy of my memories as well as my sanity.
posted by likeso at 8:13 PM on November 2, 2011 [30 favorites]


I wasted years believing I’d been abused by my parents, because I’d been abused and you don’t really get a handle on these things until you’ve really grown up. As it happened, I was abused by a system that also abused my parents, and things that seemed nonsensical in my youth are altogether more clear now.

My father wasn’t against corporal punishment, being the son of a Georgia widow in the 1930s, but he seldom used it. As the most capable character actor in the Jewish Community Center actors’ guild, despite our being Presbyterians, he had a voice, and had PROJECTION at his disposal, a kind of Howitzer blast of outrage that would shake the house to its foundations when he was crossed. You’d hear rolling thunder of your name invoked at the start of the phrase “—I WANT YOU DOWN HERE RIGHT NOWWWWWWW!” and, somehow, the implied threat was usually enough to force compliance and a quick capitulation.


"I’M TAKING OFF MY BELT!"

Sadly, for my father, the actual deployment of the belt seldom worked the way he wanted it to work, largely because the moment he whipped it out of his slacks, his pants would either fall down, or at least begin to fall down, and there were many times when a tense situation would be unexpectedly defused by the comic relief of my angry, red-faced father standing there with his pants down with his ridiculous yolk-style boxers that my mother had to special order from the Sears catalogue on display.

Sometimes, he’d preemptively grab a belt loop to keep them up, but we’d learned the golden secret—if he’s holding his belt, he can’t run, because his pants will eventually fall down in the effort, and he’ll shuffle along for a few moments with his pants around his ankles and give up. When he was sufficiently composed to actually give chase, with the belt in one hand and a handful of trouser in the other, his bowlegged, bouncy, cartoon-monkey gait was so unspeakably hilarious that we’d all laugh at him, and again the spirit of the moment would dissipate.

In the times when he did catch up, and it’s just a few times for any of us, because there was something wrong there we never understood until years after he was gone, it usually meant one wicked, violent lash, another stroke, half as hard and half-hearted, and he’d stand there, out of breath, and say, with watery eyes, “do you know why I’m doing this?”

As a child, I always snapped back with a standard answer, “so we’ll understand about discipline?” If you answered with a self-satisfied huff, as if to point out that, yes, I’ve heard it before, it felt like we were turning the tables, but he always broke off the attack.

As an adult, I recognize that it really was a question, asked of no one in particular and not rhetorical in the least.

Are you asking yourself, Dad?

It is so hard to be a parent. For my parents, it was doubly so, because I grew up with issues that didn’t even have names when I was a kid, and behavior problems that I understand now from the inside, but in my day and in the sort of silly, psychiatrist-laden, educational fad-afflicted school system that was meant to be my steward in teaching me to become an adult, 1968 was the year when things would start to get hard for them. It's hard to be a parent when your kids are regulation kids, with the requisite amount of joy and frustration, but I was not an easy kid to raise. I was supposedly smart, but did poorly in school. I was gregarious and articulate, but I seemed to make every possible choice in such a way that made my life harder.

The school system responded by putting me in special education, and that was the one thing they did that wasn't actively destructive, hurtful, and muddleheaded. My mother, in particular, was called on to go to bat for me, time and time again, and the system told her she was doing everything wrong. Dr. Spock said she was doing everything wrong. Society told her she was doing it wrong. They beat her down, and sometimes, she'd crack.

My mother was not the most capable actor in the Jewish Community Center's troupe, but she and I had moments that prefigured some of David Lynch's best work.

Once, in a screaming argument over a lamp timer, of all things, we ended up battling in my room, and the lamp timer ended up swinging around like a lasso over the sound of scurrilous doggerel until it came around, clouted me square in the temple, and broke apart. My mother recoiled, let go of the cord, held her hands over her mouth as I dabbed at it and looked into a bloody hand. She burst into tears and ran out of the room.

Me? Well, I'm a fucking drag queen at heart, and I ran to the bathroom, watching the blood flow dwindling from a wound that really wasn't quite so bad, and I dipped my fingers into the blood and smeared it around and around until I'd covered my whole face. In the mirror, I took it all in, even where my own tear tracks had cut sharp lines into the bloody mask, and I felt a smile come curling across my lips like the smoke from a burning trash bag.

"Oh yeah," I said, nonchalantly strolling through the kitchen with my face starting to crackle as the blood dried, "You almost killed me. I hope you're happy."

As a kid, this felt like a major thematic victory.

As an adult, well—holy crap. I was insufferable, and a pretentious, overwrought little prick when things were at their worst, largely because I felt like it was me against the world. The systemic abuse fired that in me, and it fed an undercurrent of frustration with my parents. They rarely ever resorted to a smack or the hilarity of the belt.

One of the last fights with my mother was over my security blanket, and whether it was proper for a sixteen year-old boy to still have the wreckage of a twin-sized sky blue insulated comforter, used in combination with my thumb, as a means of coping with the world. Somehow, we ended up in the yard, holding opposite ends of the blanket, spinning around and around and screaming like participants at a particularly unsuccessful Maypole, until the whole thing tore apart. I got the ragged grey stained outer covering and she got the polyfill intestines of the poor old comforter.

"Ha!" she yelled, waving the intestines, and ran for the garden, where she'd bury them in the compost heap.

Me, well, I'm sitting here writing this with the wreckage of a twin-sized sky blue insulated comforter, now winnowed down to a square approximately a yard on a side, slung around my neck like a grotesque, grimy scarf. At forty-three, I have never had a drug problem, have never been particularly interested in alcohol, and never smoked, though my right thumb is slightly flattened, if you hold my thumbs side by side. I won this round.

My mother is so dear to me, more so as the time passes. She did the best she could, even in the face of things I never knew about.

As a child, I couldn't understand why she didn't stand up for me, and why she didn't save me from the constant abuse at school, and by the school, and by the adults in the system who were charged with the most important task there is beyond being a parent.

As an adult, I'm sorry. I wish I'd known.

I watched the video and read through most of the responses in the eye-ruining majesty of my little telephone on the train ride home, and I watched the video all the way through. It was not hard to watch, and I have been that girl, in a broader sense, and even more, I watched the sort of insatiable, histrionic escalation of the guy with the belt, and I knew that feeling, too.

Thing is, there's this little light inside me, this little spark of a flame that's way down in there, somewhere near the heart and just north of the liver, and it's a pilot light.

If I was to say there were tantrums, I'd barely scratch the surface. With all the bullying I endured, I never fought back, because I'd already started to become aware of my strength, and of the destructive possibilities of the body. I just curled up like a little sowbug, trying to present as small a target as possible. When I did fight, it was in this curiously flaily way, with arms and legs windmilling like propellers, trying to be a giant bristling object of repulsion.

There were tantrums. Shattered furniture, broken household items, all easy targets when that rage would well up and MY GOD the RAGE, the rage fueled by how small and powerless and impotent I felt and how things would start to go wrong and I'd just feel it coming on, the wash of hot chemicals in the blood, the rising barrier to completion that made resolution harder to reach the more I beat and battered and busted my own life to pieces. Like a rioter in a red hot city, I destroyed mostly my own things, and my own spaces, and it was a rage that was impossible to soothe, unlikely to find reason, and I'd crash when my blood sugar did, disintegrating into a sodden sobbing slack mess of complete and utter failure.

Like my father, I am as strong as a mountain ape. Watching my dad pick up the tractor in my youth, the whole goddamned son of a bitch, as he called it, the whole goddamned cast iron Gravely monstrous monolithic mountainous machine, and hurl it bodily across the driveway, I was in awe of my dad, who was stronger than anyone.

So why can't he help me?

I curse like my father. Lots of "GODDAMMIT" and "SON OF A BITCH," even though I don't specifically believe in god or think there's anything wrong with being a bitch. I've had similar tantrums, back in my day.

I was pulled over once on the DC Beltway in my old beat-up MGB GT, given a ticket, and confused the crap out of the cop by bursting into tears and crying like a little kid. My ex was with me, and he was thrown as well, but I was okay, it was going to be okay, and it's just a ticket and okay, okay? Turned the key to start the car and it snapped off in the lock...with the starter engaged. I leapt out, flung open the back hatch, grabbed the battery (that's where they are in an MGB), yanked it out with the cables trailing, and threw it overhand across three lanes of traffic.

I was neither shot nor put in St. Elizabeths. I'm a lucky guy, sometimes.

Had a similar experience with my Fiat Strada, which made the mistake of shedding its gearshift for the tenth time as I was running very, very late for a final exam in a class I was retaking for the third time. I tried to reattach it, failed, leapt out of the car, and slammed my door, which broke the window. As I watched the little cubes of glass pouring out of the rust holes at the bottom of the door, that pilot light flared, the moment of no return came, and I flung open the door, kicked it off its hinges, then threw the door in the back, jammed a screwdriver into the remains of the gearshift lever and sped to school in an oriental red 1980 Fiat Strada with no driver's door. Other people on the road are lucky, too.

I regret so much.

There's something to this rage, and it doesn't get much coverage because those of us who've felt it usually don't talk about it. When the fire comes, when your face flushes red from the burning, roaring, thundering flame that's raging in your chest, it doesn't feel bad, what you're doing—it feels like it just might solve the problem, like if you just surrender enough to that uncontrollable fury, and lose it just enough, you'll beat the unbearable reality that's there.

I had one serious fight in my life, right in my first month of high school, and after a lifetime of bullying by mean kids, stupid adults, and a system designed to mash all the kids down into a nice grey paste suitable for framing in life-sized cubicles, the kid who jumped me and punched me in the back, breaking my supercool sunglasses that were, at that moment in time, the coolest thing I'd ever own, set boilers roaring. I turned around with flames darting through the whites of my eyes, and acted.

I choked the kid until he passed out, until his big lummox of a cousin, the muscular enforcer in his little bullies' circle, burst into tears and cried, "you're killing him!"

I should say it was a bad feeling, but it wasn't. It was glorious. It was like what I think heroin must feel like. It flushed my system and sinews like swirling clouds of sweet poison, icy cool satisfaction driving out the weakness and the powerlessness in a kind of explosive moment of transcendence through destruction that parallels orgasm, even if it's nothing of the sort.

The air cleared, my actual self rushed back in to fill the void, and I never fought again.

The tantrums faded, too. Someone gave me a book by Pema Chödrön, and I started studying buddhism, then taoism. I took my love of Brian Eno and Satie and other masters of quiet sound and started making quiet music. When my dad died, I spent a year raging, halfway between panic and desolation, and the bank official who dogged my dad's heels and went after him as our family business collapsed took my house, and then my mother's, the magical old log house where I grew up, and I had a new flush of that wicked flame, the antidote to powerlessness.

One year to the day after my father's death, I waited in the parking lot of the bank's office building with a length of 2x4, and waited for the man who'd taunted my father on the phone when my father broke down and cried because he couldn't make any more payments and the bank was calling in all their loans, telling a man who'd run two hundred million dollars through that bank that it was his own fault, and that he should just stop being such a big baby, crying like a little girl.

I stood there, at the edge of the asphalt, holding that 2x4, and let the fire come. I've got a perfectly clean record when it comes to the law, and the highest civilian security clearance, and I'd talked to my cop friend, just out curiosity, you know, and determined exactly how to beat the guy to get the least penalty. He stepped out of the building, walking the long path to where his 7-series was parked at an angle at the very back of the lot, to protect the paint, mind you, and I let it burn.

I'd worked for years processing crash site reports for the NTSB. I knew how bones break, how they splinter in greenstick fractures, and how they shatter, how the knobby end of a junction can break and grind into the joint. I saw myself raise the 2x4 and bring it down again, and again, and again, and the rush was electric, the joyous anticipation of justice, of the kind of justice that just ain't there in the real world, and I imagined the look in his eyes, and the speech I'd always kind of imagined delivering, and he came closer and I felt the blood rush and my ears got hot and I ground my teeth and...

...and nothing. I watched him, and I saw how small he looked, and how unimportant he was, despite the bravura bounce in his step and the fancy suit, and something just tripped, like circuit breakers firing, set off by the heat of what could happen, because the victory of bulk, muscle, rage, and violence isn't a victory against anything. It's just paltry, just...lifeless, and life-negating. The rage is insatiable because rage doesn't answer anything. Bad people do bad things and still end up happy. Good people treat others with compassion, fairness, and respect, and get screwed. In life, we are powerless more often than not.

We can still live well. We can learn to trip the breakers.

Watching the video, I can't help but feel a sympathetic vibration to the buzz of violent surrender, but it's not because I think the judge is anything but a bad parent and a bad man. It's because I know how intoxicating that momentary sense of possible completion is. I'm going to get resolution. I'm going to exercise power and control. This is what happens when you don't listen. This man is, as far too many humans turn out to be, a bad parent, toxic to his wife, torturous to his children, and the fact that he can go to that brink and learn nothing about how worthless it is, and how empty, makes me question if it's remotely possible that he'd be a good judge.

My dad would get one good whack in, and he'd back off, on those rare moments when he'd catch us with his pants still up. You could see why in his eyes.

"Do you know why I'm doing this?"

Yes. I know why you stopped, too, Dad.

I watched the video and I felt a burn, too. I wanted him to pay, and wanted him to suffer. You see such cruelty, and it breeds itself in response.

I want him to lose his career. I want justice. I want—

More than that, though, I want him to learn. It's never too late to save a soul, metaphorically speaking, that is. Revenge, though, is an insatiable, unreal desire, just like rage, and it's never enough.

I stepped off the train tonight and the sky was just the most magnificent sweep of blues, of teals and turquoise fading into sweet, quiet indigo, and I had my Eno playing in my earphones, and a lot of things to think about and a long, rambling story to tell.

Autumn's here, the sweet season when men get to accessorize, and I tossed one end of my scarf over my shoulder in what I hoped would look rakish and smart, and as everyone on that train filtered out through the parking lot, I headed for Main Street, walking past the place that used to be the bus station, and that was the first building our family business was in, with a facade different where a drunk woman once crashed through the wall and landed on my father's desk in her LeSabre. Passed the old pizza place where I worked for seven years, and the place where my dad bought his pipe tobacco, that's now a wedding rental joint, and it's all here. I live among the ghosts of my whole history, where I've always lived. It's all so fresh, even now.

Except, well, the systemic abuse doesn't hurt any more. I am who I am because of all the steps in the path that brought me here, and I am, at this moment, a bit lonesome, but happy nonetheless. My parents' misjudgments—they're just lessons now. My appalling youth? Well, that's going to get me a book deal one day, though it's likely to be posthumous if I don't get myself organized.

Do you know why I'm doing this?

You did this because you grew up in a time where children and women were treated like property at times and animals at other times. You did this because your father did this. He did this because his father did this, and we were good Bible-fearing Southerners, true and true, and it said "spare the rod," and thus, His will be done. You did this because you were angry, because you had a lousy day, because you just couldn't get us to do right, because you were frustrated, because you were boxed in. Sometimes, you did this because you were scared.

You stopped because things don't always have to stay the same, and because while we complain how bad the world's getting, it is and will almost always be better the next time around. You stopped, and caught yourself, and quenched the fire, and now I'm telling people why.

You stopped because you are better than the people who raised you.

You stopped because we can learn.

We can learn. We can pass the lesson along, and that's the best revenge—making life better. Sounds like a greeting card, maybe, or a platitude, but when it sinks in, when you know it's all planted firmly in your rear view mirror, dwindling down to a pinpoint, you feel it.

Walking home under a sweet, quiet indigo sky, on my little small town street, and reflecting on this video and the conversation and the things I've revisited, it's all just a story, and all those bad days can't hurt me now. The good stuff, though—the things that were right, the moments in which I faced a challenge and did the right thing, and all the progress I've made—these things keep me warm in a way that rage never could. I let my smart, rakish scarf droop, think of my dogs, who are probably pacing around, waiting for me to come home, and it's all okay.
posted by sonascope at 8:14 PM on November 2, 2011 [163 favorites]


sonascope: "Walking home under a sweet, quiet indigo sky, on my little small town street, and reflecting on this video and the conversation and the things I've revisited, it's all just a story, and all those bad days can't hurt me now."

Words I live by. Thanks Sonascope. That was sweet.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:28 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even if you don't think that what your parents did was right, if you know that they loved you and did the best they could with the knowledge and resources that they had, you will forgive them for what may have been wrong in your eyes and feel secure in being loved by them. If not, then you will feel used and a victim. That, in my opinion, is the fundamental difference between the "I was spanked and I'm OK whatever" crowd and the "my parents abused me" set.

I'm not sure I understand what distinction you're trying to make here, but I know that my parents both loved me and did the best they could. I also know this: they were alcoholics, my mother was a drug addict as well as an alcoholic, my father was constitutionally full of rage and spent some of the formative years of my early childhood in prison, and no matter how much they loved me, the love couldn't override the psychosis and the rage and the physical and emotional abuse that it engendered all through my childhood, which is a period in life when you're supposed to feel secure in your parents' love so that you can eventually learn to stand on your own two feet and love yourself. And their abuse has taken years off my life -- I mean that literally, that all other things being equal, I will probably die sooner than I would have if they had not abused me (this is a pretty well-accepted hypothesis), and that for other reasons related to this truth, I'm lucky I'm still alive right now and not lying in a gutter stewed in alcohol myself.

In other words, I know I was loved. I also know that I never felt entirely safe a single day I was under a roof with them over me. And my forgiving them or not forgiving them -- frankly, my forgiveness is nobody's business but mine -- has NOTHING to do with whether I'm a "victim" or not. And so what if I am/was a victim? Whose business is that, either, except my own?
posted by blucevalo at 8:33 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I have also hit her, twice. Both times was immediately after she'd bitten me; the first time I grabbed her head by the hair and PULLED her off me with such force that she flew backwards and her head hit the mattress. The second time was worse; I was fastening her into her carseat and she leaned forward, full of fury, and sank her teeth into my arm, and without even forming a conscious thought I stood up and slapped her cold across the face.

KathrynT: I wanted to acknowledge your courage in admitting this and being honest. Reading this thread, I'd been wondering whether anyone would be able to speak up like this. Not that anyone here is a monster who beats their teenaged daughter with a belt, but there's something really important and humanizing about acknowledging just how easy and quick it is for what sounds like an excellent and super-well-meaning parent to cross that line.

So many posters have revealed some pretty deep personal demons in this thread, and I'm thankful for the caring of this entire community, but it especially takes real guts to come out and share your own imperfect moments like this. Thanks.
posted by zachlipton at 8:42 PM on November 2, 2011 [30 favorites]


Sonascope - that little essay was one of the best things I have ever read on Metafilter.
posted by tdismukes at 8:45 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other words, I know I was loved. I also know that I never felt entirely safe a single day I was under a roof with them over me. And my forgiving them or not forgiving them -- frankly, my forgiveness is nobody's business but mine -- has NOTHING to do with whether I'm a "victim" or not. And so what if I am/was a victim? Whose business is that, either, except my own?
posted by blucevalo at 8:33 PM on November 2


Difficult for me to be articulate about this. Of course there are many parents who are obviously abusive because they really injure their children and yet may still love their children in some way. That may be the case with the family in the now famous video, since the daughter says she wants help for the dad. If parents have addiction or criminal problems that compromise their children's security and stability, the children will not feel "secure in being loved." People who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs probably cannot deliver physical punishments to their children without frightening them in a negative and traumatic way since they are, by definition, "out of control." I was thinking more about parents that might be interpreted either as abusive or as non abusive.

My point was that child abuse and victimhood are defined by the feelings and reaction of the child over time as much as by the facts of whatever took place.
posted by knoyers at 8:49 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tarumba, a lick is a hit. Usually a painful one

So in some parts of the world, you might threaten somebody by saying "I'm going to lick the living shit out of you"?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:51 PM on November 2, 2011


Now that Kathryn's made it easy, I have had a similar experience. It was biting, too. My daughter just latched onto my face with her sharp little baby teeth and it was just my instant reaction to slap her away.

I try not to beat myself up over this. It feels shitty, though.


And Kathryn's definition of physical punishment is spot on. I think there are honestly parents confused about this. They think that "no corporal punishment" means that you can't wrestle the razor out of your toddler's hand. Which, of course, is ridiculous.

Physicality is big part of parenting young children. Smacking should not be.
posted by Leta at 8:54 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


UbuRoivas, it's generally sufficient to say "I'm gonna lick you!" or some variant.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:54 PM on November 2, 2011


So in some parts of the world, you might threaten somebody by saying "I'm going to lick the living shit out of you"?
posted by UbuRoivas


It would probably be more like, "I'm gonna lick you," or, "I'm gonna lick you but good," but, yeah, you're close.
posted by Leta at 8:56 PM on November 2, 2011


That's some weird slang.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:00 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Somewhat relevant: It takes a licking and keeps on ticking!
posted by likeso at 9:00 PM on November 2, 2011


The video made my stomach hurt, made me nauseated. This thread makes my heart hurt for everyone who went through something similar. I've said before that I'd rather not speak to specifics, but I know some of what you've been through, where you may be in your life emotionally. My best wishes to you all and Ms. Adams.
posted by deborah at 9:03 PM on November 2, 2011



I guess we were lucky that our kids were just naturally well behaved. But the threat of a lecture from my wife when occasionally necessary usually got the job done. In the rare instance that failed, the threat of having me escort them to the bus stop and wait with them and their friends always got the desired apology necessary to get family life back on the right track.
posted by notreally at 9:08 PM on November 2, 2011


So in some parts of the world, you might threaten somebody by saying "I'm going to lick the living shit out of you"?

"You are gonna get a lickin' when your father gets home."
posted by rtha at 9:09 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


My husband and I, we both have "enabler" mothers.

At my house it was my father. He used to plead with me to just be quiet, get along, don't argue. So I essentially learned to stop talking unless it was required. But it doesn't do any good not to talk when you get punished for the look on your face, or a deeper-than-normal exhale, or moving too abruptly. I used to lie in bed at night and wish with all my heart he would leave her, because then it would be a house with two silent people, not us and the screaming woman who used to smack me like a dog for the look on my face. I say smack me like a dog, but I would never hit a dog with that casual contemptuous power, knowing that no one would stop me from doing it.

She, too, pretends that none of it ever happened. I have given up trying to make her remember hitting me around the head and shoulders with a wire hanger because I'd left my coat on my desk chair instead of hanging it up, or the time she told me as an eight-year-old that I was so unpleasant it was no wonder no one liked me, or the last time she ever raised a hand to me.

I was home from my freshman year of college, and she wanted me to fix her computer. I was sitting there trying to figure out what was wrong and she kept screaming at me that I broke it, that it was all my fault. I asked her to give me a minute in the expressionless voice I had learned to use, and she clouted me across the head. I snapped.

I jumped up and grabbed her by the throat and shook her like a maraca, screaming and crying that she would never hit me again, that if she laid a finger on me again I'd kill her. My aunt (because of course it was matter of fact that my mother felt no shame about backhanding me in public, including in the mall) separated us, me screaming that I would kill the next person to ever touch me again, and my mother, standing there screaming that I was her daughter and she'd hit me if she wanted to do it.

But she never touched me again. No one has ever laid a finger on me again. My mother doesn't understand why I won't go home, but my father, who wanted his peace at the expense of my own, probably can.
posted by winna at 9:09 PM on November 2, 2011 [17 favorites]


I watched parts of the video mostly skipping through.

My parents both hit me, my mom mostly being under current abuse by my dad who was a far more efficient and vastly superior psychological abuser. My mom has never once denied anything she put my brother and I through when I brought it up to her. I also understand that she was a victim of an occasionally physically abusive alcoholic husband who was also wonderfully, amazingly good at mental control and abuse. I have forgiven her and love her and still talk to her to this day because she raised us as best she could and damnit we came out pretty all right.

On the other hand, my dad doesn't acknowledge anything that doesn't fit within his worldview of him as the most saintly person on the planet. I haven't spoken to him for about 4-5 years. I know he lives, but don't particular care one way or another, well actually not true, his death would make me twenty forms of happy.

Regardless, around the time I was 10-13 I can't quite remember, was the last time either one of them hit me. My mom came at me with the belt and as she swung I took the hit with my arm so it would wrap around and held the belt with my hand. I looked into her eyes and told her in a quiet rage that if she ever thought of hitting me again I would get a knife and kill her. I told her if she thought she could overpower me I would do it in her sleep. My dad who came over a second later got the same threats. For a while, nothing happened, then one day I knew that something was about to happen so as a reminder I picked up the biggest kitchen knife we had and held it up in proper slashing position and when they approached, separately, reminded them that I was done and would prefer to go to jail after killing both of them than to receive another beating.

The beatings stopped though the general psychological trauma of having to say that to your parents and as far as I knew at the time have the conviction to carry it out makes my hands shake right now as I type this. I did eventually try to get help with my mom and my brother but I learned that it's best for me to do it alone. After that, I vaguely remember being closer to my mom, and her never ever after that even trying to physically attack me or my older brother.

It is a horrible experience to go through. I went through it, she went through it, and my brother went through it. Though at the time, she may or may not have been complicit, she was under significant mental duress as a victim of both her parent's abuse and the abuse my dad put her through. I would NEVER under any circumstances place any blame on her for the beatings I went through and I still don't and even then I didn't. Soon after defending myself, I told my dad that if he ever hit her in front of me ever again I would slit his through while he was busy with her.

I say this to share, but also to point out that though the woman in the video may seem like she is complicit she is possibly as others have pointed out trying to minimize the damage done. I can't type reasonably about this right now, can't really see anymore ya know? Anyway, thought I'd share and put my two cents in as much as I could. It's all rambling, but there ya go.
posted by lizarrd at 9:11 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


Wow. My mother's tool of choice for spanking with a section of Hot Wheels track. Nothing like this, and I was a problem child, but it was 30 years before I realized there was something particularly perverse in beating a child with his toys.

My mother remarried when I was 6 and her new husband didn't believe in physical dicipline so that sort of thing either completely stopped or became so rare that I do not remember it. I consider that man to be my father and was formally adopted when I was 12.

I am writing this judge asshole a letter and looking into what it takes in Texas to have him recalled. What a fuckhead.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:20 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


That's some weird slang.

More archaism than slang, really; "lick" as in sharp blow is one of the oldest attested uses of the word in English. Goes back centuries.
posted by cortex at 9:27 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've been wanting to say something about this video to someone, anyone, since I found it on Reddit yesterday. And. I. Just. Can't.

Not even my husband.

----

This was actually tamer than mine at that age, yet eerily similar with the two parent dynamic. My mom was in the judge's role, my dad was in the wife's.

----

Everyone's stories shared above mean a lot to me. I wish I had more to say.

-----

I know I've been very very happy since I saw this video because I sense a REAL change in the dialogue regarding child abuse.

I love this new world we are are living in. I know this will never happen to my son. Nice to know the chances things will be different by the time he hits school and he might not have friends in this threatening situation due to social exposure and an elevated discourse about child abuse - WOW.

People above are angry. I'm thankful things are changing.

That's me today!
posted by jbenben at 9:32 PM on November 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


I just want to say thank you to all of you. The stories are astounding, and what's even more astounding is the fact that so many have learnt to heal, to adapt and to grow.

And I'm with tdismukes. Sonascope wins the internet: that's one of the best pieces of writing I've read all year.
posted by jrochest at 9:44 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Threads like this remind me that the impression that the world is going to hell in a handbasket is entirely illusory. Generally, and pervasively, people today care for each other more than their parents did. While mass media and the internet give voice to a vocal hateful minority, they also allow us to connect with each other and sympathise with each other's common humanity, like never before. Our problems are daunting, but things are better than they were.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:47 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


He'd snap the belt because he knew the sound alone was scary. It was worse when he used the buckle end. A year before we left my dad, my mom started taking pictures of my bruises. I was nine, and she'd make me take off my clothes to get pictures of the welts and blue black splotches up and down my back and legs. The flash sounded so loud and I shivered.

Once when he was holding me down to beat me with his belt, he twisted my arm at a weird angle. It hurt and I struggled, and he just pushed harder and hit more because he thought I was defying him. He wouldn't let mom take me to the doctor for two days, and when she finally snuck me there, we had to make up a story. That it had happen while I was playing.

We left him at night. That night he came home high and held the pistol to my mom's head and fired saying if she called the police, all they'd find when they got there was four corpses. She'd unloaded it that afternoon. When he went to look for more bullets, she ran next door and called the cops.

The next morning they let him out of jail, and he drove around with his shotgun looking for us. We hid for months, living out of the trash bags we'd thrown our stuff into when we left.

While we hid, my mom got a lawyer. She showed him the x-rays of my arm and the pictures of my bruises. I didn't know then that she'd been collecting evidence for when we finally left. All I knew was that I was so awfully, burningly ashamed. I was afraid that someone would see those pictures and think I deserved it, think I was a bad kid.
posted by mostlymartha at 9:47 PM on November 2, 2011 [26 favorites]


For the people who seem to think thos is a problem limited to conservatives: My atheist left leaning parents beat their four kids until we would shit our (ill fitting, already filthy) pants.

We were made to stand in the corner overnight, with hell to pay if we were caught napping on the floor, or worse, sneaking off to bed.

My mother once threw my brother head first into a wall and my refusal to go home that night earned me some time in foster care. I would have been taken home by the sheriff, except my debate team skills saved my ass. Actually, I just kept repeating, "I'm a runaway. That's illegal here. I am not safe at home. You can take me to jail or you can take me to foster care. I know what happens at the jail, and I know the scarcity of foster home placements. I'm safer in jail than at home. You cannot take me home." repeat. Repeat. Repeat. "yes, it's snowing. Yes, I'm cold. No, I will not get in the car until you arrest me or find me a foster placement."

That is my second biggest/proudest achievement. I don't have the energy to describe my biggest, but it's all written up because I read it before a live audience a few years ago. Absolutely cathartic to share with hundreds of people how I emancipated myself. I've never made or executed a more clever plan.

And still, my mother's mother once told me in a courthouse, minutes before a hearing which detailed abuses against my younger sister, "you should consider yourself lucky. I beat my kids with 2x4s." As though having the heavy ancient canister vacuum 'hose' swept back and forth across my face while I tried to hide under the bed should have been less terrifying.

After all this and so so much more, I'm still able to hope that my parents might just admit that my childhood was 'less than ideal' I've given up on hoping for apology, or acceptance of responsibility. And just when I think my depression is "probably not from the trauma anymore, but just chemical misfiring," I realize that, no. This shit will stay with me forever. Glad I'm back in therapy, and I hope she and her sister are too.
posted by bilabial at 9:47 PM on November 2, 2011 [26 favorites]


After separating from my wife several years back - one of the reasons for our separation being my unwillingness and perhaps even inability to have children - I went through an horrifically rough time and, when I was cognizant enough, did a lot of self-reflection. One of the conclusions I reached is that I would never have children because I didn't want to turn out like my father. Or, worse, one of my brothers in particular, who I have to say is essentially a maniac. Maybe I'd be able to circumvent the programming somehow - I like to believe I've remade myself out of good enough stuff to do so - but even the slim chance that I couldn't has taken the option off the table for me.

Not wanting - well, really, it's not "risking" - to have children of my own, because of a fear of what kind of dad I might turn out to be, sometimes makes me pitiably sad.
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:02 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


My Mom did her best not to repeat the horrible child abuse she suffered as a kid. I was probably spanked ten times during my childhood. No more than a few swats per incident. Her rage and emotional abuse wasn't a picnic, but I do feel lucky she never beat me.

My Dad slapped my hand exactly once, when I touched something that did not belong to me. All he had to do was give me "The Look" or say "Luckynerd" in a low, stern voice and I knew it was time to behave.

Mr. L's Mom denies ever beating him with a dog leash. The memory is seared into his brain.

I often say that I'm preventing child abuse by not having any of my own. At least with my cats I can cuss at them without risking psychological damage.
posted by luckynerd at 10:08 PM on November 2, 2011


He dealt with at least 349 family law cases in the past year, nearly 50 of which involved state caseworkers seeking to determine whether parents were fit to raise their children."


To paraphrase a paraphrase, "Childhood is a nightmare from which History is trying to awaken."
posted by clarknova at 10:16 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


So many posters have revealed some pretty deep personal demons in this thread, and I'm thankful for the caring of this entire community, but it especially takes real guts to come out and share your own imperfect moments like this. Thanks.

Thank you. When I called my mom sobbing after dropping my daughter off at preschool after the slapping incident, she said: "It wasn't an OK thing to do, but it's OK that it happened." Meaning, slapping your child is never a choice you should make, it's not an action you should keep in your toolbox. It's always a mistake.

BUT: when considered as a response to being bitten, it's an understandable reaction even if it's not OK. It doesn't make you a monster, and if you handle it acceptably (ie "That was wrong of me. It is wrong to hit. Also, it's wrong to bite, just sayin'," not "Look at what you made me do!") it's a wince-inducing but not ruinous bump in the highway of parenthood.

I still feel like crap about it though. :-(
posted by KathrynT at 10:28 PM on November 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm so happy I have a child to raise the right way, after my awful childhood, even though I planned on not having any kids at all since I was 12 years old because I just wasn't sure I'd be a good enough mom.

I'm a good enough mother, after a lot of self-work. It turns out!

Just wanted to add that.
posted by jbenben at 10:33 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


A user going by the same "Shoe of all Cosmos" handle as Hilary and with a whole host of details matching up with those we know here started an interesting thread on the Something Awful forums a couple months back about not wanting to ever be a parent and "hating children" (I think this link is just her posts on that thread):
Despite smiling at customers all day, people close to me would say I can be stingingly insensitive and mean when it comes to other people's shortcomings, due to my own conquering of a physical disability that left me having to train myself to walk normally. I was abnormally mature as a young teenager, learning from other kids' mistakes and making virtually none of my own. My sense of humor is really dumb and goofy and more than once I've been told that I come off stupider than I actually am. My parents whipped me as punishment for things like playing video games and installing KaZaA. I never saw or touched drugs until I was 19 and felt like I deserved to do them. Lastly, I adore animals. Birds, cats, dogs, reptiles, chickens, cows, bugs, you name it, I love 'em. But human babies...
...
The thing that shocked me into thinking about all this was recreating the two of us as a married couple in The Sims, and I gave my character a hatred of children, because the option was there and I was curious. Then I decided to have them reproduce to see how the game's genes worked. My character ignored the infant's cries and just walked away, leaving the kid hungry. It's just a game, but at the same time it really scared me. What if I have a kid and I still hate motherhood? That's a threat to the baby's safety. Of course, I will never have a kid as long as I still hate motherhood, but these thoughts just keep running through my mind because they're unsolved. I'm frightened about this part of my future and I'm in a phase where I can't stop thinking about it.
...
Another bad flaw of mine stems from when my father told me every single day when I was little that I was better than everyone else, that I was smart, beautiful, etc. Surprise surprise when it gradually dawned on me that it was bullshit and there are millions of people ahead of me on the bell curve in every subject. The attitude my dad taught me is sick and unhealthy and I hate that it seeped into my personality. There's another problem for the shrink to hear about. And it could very well be connected to my intolerance of people who make mistakes, i.e. children and teenagers, and thinking I am "above" them on the inside. Which makes me think about all those stories about people loving up their lives with bad decisions... I think we're on to something.
While psychoanalyzing a stranger over the internet isn't exactly a very accurate endeavor, it's fascinating to me how much these comments demonstrate the pattern so many posters here have mentioned about not wanting to have kids for fear of being unable to break the cycle of abuse.
posted by zachlipton at 10:36 PM on November 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Put me down as another one who was surprised to see that the broke-a-wooden-spoon was a common experience. It happened to me, but I didn't realize so many others had that happen too.
posted by klangklangston at 10:52 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


So I guess I finally understand what trigger warnings are for. This made me remember a bunch of shit I never even knew I forgot. At least now I know I don't have to feel guilty in those parental estrangement askme threads where everyone talks about how you only have one mother/father, and won't you be sorry when they're gone.

I don't have the words for how grateful I am to have the relationship I do with my daughter. It's more than I deserve, and I wish for healing for all of us.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:55 PM on November 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


A lot of folk have mentioned that beatings were normal and acceptable in the 70s and 80s and I'm not sure that's exactly true. I grew up in the 60s and 70s (graduated in '82) and my sister, who is ten years younger than me, in the 70s and 80s. In Texas.

Our father was psychologically and emotionally abusive and, believe me, that was bad enough. His father had been viciously physically abusive to his wife and all his children on a regular basis and I think that my father always felt that the fact that he regularly released his (manipulative) rage on us rather than physical violence meant that he was doing okay. Regardless, spanking was extremely rare from both parents, close to non-existent, and on the one occasion, when I was a teenager, when he pushed me tumbling over some furniture, he came very close to moving out in fear of himself. But my own experience is not what I meant to mention.

Around 1985—again this is in Texas—my sister was 11 and one of her friends revealed to her on a few occasions her bruises from her regular beatings. During a sleepover at my parent's house, my sister talked her friend into allowing my mom to look at her bruises. After about a day of discussion (with both my father and myself, and perhaps some others) and soul-searching, my mom called the authorities to report the child abuse. Someone involved called her back to tell her what happened...when child services arrived at the girl's home to investigate, the girl's mother greeted them with great relief and said, "I'm so glad you finally came." I don't know if this actually ended the abuse—it's nice to think that it did, but it might not have.

The point is that, as others have said, sure, a limited spanking and perhaps an occasional slap was considered acceptable in the 70s and 80s, but there were still pretty strong social limitations on how severe this could get and pretty much anything that leaves bruises and such was considered beyond that limit. And, even in Texas, a report to the authorities about physical abuse in 1985 caused immediate action. As well as it being the case that my family (non-Texas transplanted into Texas, though my sister considers herself a Texan) didn't think this kind of beating was acceptable and took action to stop it.

And for what it's worth, my sister and her husband are both conservative evangelical conservatives and they have never and would never hit their two boys for any reason, ever.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:03 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


tumid dahlia: "Not wanting - well, really, it's not "risking" - to have children of my own, because of a fear of what kind of dad I might turn out to be, sometimes makes me pitiably sad."

If it's any consolation TD, I had the exact same thoughts before our daughter was born. As you have no doubt heard over the years, abuse runs in families. I had myself convinced I'd turn out like one of my mothers' crazy-assed boyfriends. In a way, having a child gave me a chance at some sort of redemption. To be able to treat her the right way, healed me in some respect. I'm not advocating having children for that reason. It's just one of those amazing things I have felt on top of having a kid.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:28 PM on November 2, 2011


It's hard reading this stuff. I am touched by the raw honesty. I am ashamed to say that I am still too ashamed to tell my own story.
posted by taff at 12:20 AM on November 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Space Kitty: those parental estrangement askme threads where everyone talks about how you only have one mother/father, and won't you be sorry when they're gone.

People who do that to me can fuck right off. Fuck 'em and fuck the guilt. Removing oneself from the reach of hurtful people who downplay and deny the hurt they inflict can be the most healing option possible.

Thanks all for sharing your stories.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:21 AM on November 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


I started reading this thread thinking that, while the video obviously shows abuse beyond any reason, it's all part of a continuum and that what's happening in that room is at the unacceptable end of a long line, with the occasional sharp smack on the backside so far on the other end that they aren't even the same thing.

Having read so many people's comments sharing stories of what happened to them as kids and the way that they have been affected and, in particular, Secret Life of Gravy's comment here, I don't know what to think any more. I've smacked my kids on rare occasions when it seems like nothing else is going to get through to them - kind of a 'reset button' when they are being particularly naughty. Now, though, I feel like my doing so is failing as a parent, because I've lost my temper with a child that depends on me to be the one that knows what to do in all situations. In a way, it's like blaming the child for me not having the answer to the situation. I don't think I can do that any more - it's my job to come up with a solution that doesn't involve violence, obviously.

I grew up in the '60s and '70s when smacking kids was absolutely the norm and the wooden spoon featured high on that score - I've had a lot of them broken across my backside in my time. I don't know that it's right to say I deserved this, but I must admit that I was a right little arsehole at times and my mother was literally driven mad (she spent some time in a psychiatric hospital) by having to deal with four young kids (one with severe developmental disabilities) on her own in a time when single parents were shunned by society and kids like me lived in a 'broken home'. I don't think being smacked did me any particular harm, but I guess it's led to an in-built lack of aversion to using this method myself.

What was, if anything, more harmful to me was institutionalised violence at school. Teachers used to carry around leather straps for punishing kids, although they were only allowed to hit on the palm of the hand and never more than six hits at a time. I guess it was a sign of the times that, not only were female students not allowed to be punished in this way, female teachers were not allowed to hand it out either. They used to fetch their favourite male teacher to do the dirty work for them instead. The straps were very thick leather, worn smooth from use and decorated with carving. The most infamous teacher at my intermediate school was Mr Jones, who had a special technique - he would only ever hit you once, as long as you could keep a heavy textbook balanced on your forearm while he did it. My first year there, I had a female teacher (clearly not emotionally equipped to teach teenagers) that openly stated it was fine for her to grab students by the hair and bang their heads against the desk, because hair isn't a living part of the body and the law stated that teachers could not directly touch a student's body. Then on to College (high school in most countries) where the strap went away and the cane came into play - applied to either the palm of the hand or the backside. One teacher used to make students bend over with their head under a desk so that they smacked their head under the desk in reaction to each swipe of the cane. There was the phys-ed teacher who used to hang people upside-down on the bars up the wall of the gym for up to an hour - that got stopped when a student feel and fractured his skull, but no other ramifications came his way.

I do feel that the pendulum of discipline has swung too far the other way (I feel some sympathy with jonmc's comment, except 'not enough discipline' is what I think rather than 'not enough hitting', but who am I to judge). Parents who grew up with 'discipline' meaning a smack or a kick up the arse are now told they can't use those methods and they haven't developed any other tools to use, so they do nothing and kids run riot. Teachers are genuinely scared to discipline students in any way, parents don't know what to do and we end up with a bunch of kids running wild with no boundaries. But I guess that's a discussion for another day.

Like others, I appreciate those who have shared personal stories here - I can't imagine how that that has been for some and the demons that it has brought to light.

Thanks.
posted by dg at 12:24 AM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


KathrynT, I'd like to just say that I think you were very brave to admit what you wrote above about your daughter. I'm not a perfect mom, either. I keep trying, though.
posted by misozaki at 12:30 AM on November 3, 2011


The reason I didn't become a parent is similar. It wasn't that I knew I'd never deal with a child sexually - there was no way I'd become like my dad - but I had no model of how to protect a kid. I was afraid I'd become like my mother. Unreliable. Unprotective. Useless. Ineffectual.

Then, a few years ago I complained to everyone in the family that my father was handling his young granddaughter in a way that I thought sexual. The reaction was similar to when I left home and shouted out about the abuse I knew: oh, you know goofyfoot. She exaggerates, she overreacts - remember how she skeddadled years ago and didn't talk to any of us for a decade?

But my family keep a sharp eye on my dad now. So maybe I'm useful enough to be somebody's foster parent.
posted by goofyfoot at 12:38 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've been grieving this whole long thread for this young woman and the Mefites who have posted their stories here in solidarity. It is heartbreaking to me that you who are so young have this story to tell today. I was thinking it surely should be better today than it was in my youth but obviously it is not enough better yet.

My story is of long ago; it was sixty years ago this week that I ran away from home to get away from a father who beat me like this. I ran for a while but then I stopped and I've made of my life what I could. I feel extremely fortunate to have loving family and friends around me in my old age, so I know you can recover at least enough to find this peace. I still have an exaggerated startle response and I know where that comes from.

Sometimes I think I was luckier than my younger siblings because it was bad enough that I finally convinced myself that he must be wrong and I determined to break free. After four of us ran away, he modified his behavior, or so I was told.

I think women who grow up like this have real trouble learning to form good relationships with men. The horror of that unbuckling belt is always lurking. Some of us are lucky but some of us never manage it.

My father was usually in a "righteous" rage when he beat us; he never cursed but he did instill in me a great wariness of all religion and especially of those people who do their meanness in God's name. Today I consider this an unintended benefit of my upbringing but, believe me, it is an added dimension of abuse to teach a child that God is love and then beat them to demonstrate your meaning.

Ms. Adams has won some freedom today and I think this thread rings of freedoms hard won by others as well as some of the sacrifices those freedoms demanded. I just wanted to add encouragement, to say, many people do care that you find good in your life and, even if it takes a long time, it is worth it.

Earlier, reading Sonoscope, I was reminded of the line in the Desiderata about not being cynical about love, "for it is as perennial as the grass." That always makes me feel a little like crying and also like lying in a field of clover and watching the clouds -- that too is from my childhood.
posted by Anitanola at 12:46 AM on November 3, 2011 [21 favorites]


My dad was beaten with a belt when he was a kid, but he broke the cycle and never raised a hand to me. I can't describe how much I love and admire him for that.
posted by homunculus at 12:48 AM on November 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


My mother is starting to slip mentally and now every time I see her she apologizes for "being so hard on me" when I was a kid. It's pretty emotionally draining for me to forgive her every time I go to visit.
posted by Megafly at 1:06 AM on November 3, 2011


..those parental estrangement askme threads where everyone talks about how you only have one mother/father, and won't you be sorry when they're gone.

You know what I say when people tell me this?

Sure, I say. I only have one mother. And I wish someone had reminded her of that while she was screaming and yelling and leaving hand-shaped bruises on my face. Hey, they'd say, this kid only gets one mother. You're it. If you don't control your anger, she's never going to get another mother who will. She's going to associate her mother with fear and violence for the rest of her life.

So yes, I only have one mother. I'm sad for both of us that she messed up so badly. But I'm not going to give an angry, abusive tyrant a central role in my life. I've been grieving my lack of a sane, non-violent mother for years. I am not at all afraid of the day when I finally have to grieve for the mother I actually got.
posted by embrangled at 1:31 AM on November 3, 2011 [29 favorites]


Not to derail, but part of the reason I spoke was KathrynT -- the other was the hate given the mother. I've seen it happen, it sucks.

So thank you KathrynT for letting me share,
posted by lizarrd at 2:16 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The stories in this thread have been pretty intense. I saw the video yesterday and I just had such a visceral sense of anger. What's striking to me is that so many of the people who share these kinds of stories still have relationships with their parents. It's hard to imagine forgiving that kind of behavior.
posted by delmoi at 2:27 AM on November 3, 2011


On the father's part I can agree, however the mother seems like a standard victim. I can understand forgiving that behavior only because I have already and for the best reason there is. She admitted her faults, apologized, asked for forgiveness, and I gave it. Why? Because she raised me and she did well.
posted by lizarrd at 2:30 AM on November 3, 2011


I need some help and I'm afraid if I don't say something now there won't be a better chance. I really need some help trying to figure out what to do. It's probably very simple. I've watched the video a bunch of times now, at first not sure why I kept watching it. After watching it again I realized that the situation felt very comfortable and familiar to me. Although earlier I didn't really remember too many beatings like that, now I do. I remember being wrestled to the bed and hit at the same time. I remember being told to "assume the position". I remember being beat out of anger and I remember a parent crying afterward. I remember watching my brother have to sit in a chair and get hit with the belt all over his front. I remember a parent completely out of control and beating me with whatever they could grab - the worst thing being that thing you turn to open the blinds, so light and fast. I remember being thrown to the floor and stepped on because I didn't feel enough sympathy for my asthmatic sibling, so I had to "feel what it is like". I actually remember a lot of violence and threats of violence (which somehow disturbed me more) from parents, grandparents, aunts. I also know that far worse things happened to others in my family.

What I don't know is what to do with these memories or even if I should allow myself to keep remembering them. I am good at pushing things away and telling myself not to think about them because it does no good. I've been doing that. I don't want to feel any more resentment towards my parents and I really don't want to think of myself as a victim of abuse even though I was. I feel like I already feel too sorry for myself in general. I don't want more frustration and anger.

I read all these comments with stories of abuse and I genuinely don't understand what good comes of talking about it, but I desperately want that good. I never ever talk about any of this, and I don't think about it and as I said, usually don't remember it. I just think of myself as having had a very "unhappy childhood" but mostly blame it on myself for having a depressive, sour disposition. Now it occurs to me that maybe I was a chronically depressed five-year-old because I had seen and experienced a lot of violence and misery and poverty. Not because I was just born depressed, which is usually how I explain it.

Could writing all this out and just allowing myself to really remember the bad help to deal with it? I've allowed myself to get good and mad at my parents many times, though not for physical abuse, usually for neglect and emotional wrongness. I don't feel like going down that path again, but what is the alternative? What is a person supposed to do with any of this? I've been told so many bad things about myself and I have taken most of it to heart, I see that now. I know how I feel but I don't know what to do with these feelings. Knowing what to do has always been so hard.
posted by Danila at 2:54 AM on November 3, 2011 [18 favorites]


Sonascope - that's beautiful. And, also, yeah, that's a common problem on that model of Fiat.
posted by Jofus at 2:59 AM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have a temper. I have a toddler, who has occasionally seen this temper. I am terrified.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:04 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm starting to feel like I'm the only person here who was neither beaten nor bullied as a kid.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:32 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Danila: I'm so sorry. What happened to you was wrong. Part of abuse is training the victim to believe they deserve it. You didn't deserve it. No child does. Heck, no person does. The best thing you can do is get therapy. Talking to sympathetic siblings who can corroborate your memories can also help.

I don't want to feel any more resentment towards my parents and I really don't want to think of myself as a victim of abuse even though I was. I feel like I already feel too sorry for myself in general. I don't want more frustration and anger.

I used to feel this way. I thought naming what happened to me as abuse would somehow make a victim and that my life would be more miserable because of it. What it actually did was set me free. See, somewhere in the back of my head, I had grown to believe that to deserve so much anger and violence, I must be a truly worthless piece of shit. I might have fooled my friends, but my mother, the person who knew me best, knew I was rotten to the core. Why else would she have done what she did? Naming her behaviour as abuse helped me let go of that belief. It's changed the narrative of my life from one in which everything is my fault to one in which I'm a decent human being whose parent made some really bad decisions. That's a much happier place to be, and I encourage you be courageous and do the therapy necessary to get there.

(It doesn't have to ruin your relationship with your parents, by the way. It did for me, but only because her abusive behaviour continues. If your parents have mellowed out, you can choose to draw a line under the past, condemn their past actions and accept that they're better people now.)
posted by embrangled at 3:34 AM on November 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Danila, I'm glad you wrote it out. I'm no expert, but I think that seeing things in black and white (or blue and white?) or hearing them out loud is the first step to working out what to do about it. It doesn't magically fix everything, but it helps you gain perspective. It lets other people help you comb through the evidence and compare your opinion of yourself as sour and depressive against the reality of the life you lived. It lets you see how the personality traits you might not like about yourself now were actually a sophisticated way of coping with a situation too difficult for a child to understand. You might not need them any more, but they worked well for you at the time, and are the reason you're still around now to tell the tale.

You don't have to get mad at your parents if you don't feel like doing it again. You can forgive them. Or just ignore them, whatever - this is about you now, not them. But maybe treat this as an opportunity to sort of become a detective of your developmental history: compare the bad things you feel about yourself to the evidence of your life, and see if you can find a friend or therapist who will give you objective feedback about it. I bet a million dollars all those bad things you were told were wrong. This could be your chance to start thinking different things about yourself, better things that make you stronger. Good luck. Lots of hugs to you, and to everyone who's shared their story here. And to all the people who aren't ready to share it yet - we'll still be here when you are, if you need a friendly ear.
posted by harriet vane at 3:36 AM on November 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Danita: "Knowing what to do has always been so hard."

You can start by treating this like a quest, reading to find your way and get started. It's good to have someone to talk with as you go through the process of trying to root out and rid yourself of all the poison that you swallowed before you even knew that it was poison or had any way to protect yourself. There are therapists and there is group therapy. Some of the groups are about particular kinds of abuse, such as that suffered by the adult children of alcoholics. This might not apply but there are many options.

The goal is not just to remember or get angry but also to acknowledge that you were treated this badly and to affirm that it was not your fault. It's about becoming aware of the ways that the abuse has impaired you so you can start refuting what the abuse told you and take away the power it has to keep on hampering you. It's not even about forgiving the abuser, really. The idea seems to be that you can get into your memory and find the child you were before the abuse made you shut down so much of yourself and you can be the parent that child still needs. You can love your child self and value all that was stifled and begin to coax yourself to risk having good experiences, even taking risks to make your life better.

There is a book Healing the Child Within by Charles Whitfield (this one is rather heavily ACOA) and also some books by Alice Miller who has done outstanding work in this field. I'm sure there are newer works but hese helped me find a place to start. When you find cases and chapters that resonate with you, you'll know more about what kind of help to ask for and you can seek out therapists and groups that will help you work on those things.

It's not magic; it's more like treating an infection. I think it is important to have someone to hang onto when you are first getting into this and before you find the right therapist or group and my way of getting there was reading. There are now blogs, probably groups, on the internet and we certainly have empathetic people in this thread. Please count me as one who is available for whatever questions I could answer and for moral support and memail me anytime.
posted by Anitanola at 4:03 AM on November 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


I hate this thread.

It reminds me of things I'd rather forget or not think about. Things such as why I haven't spoken to my father or stepfather in years, have no plans to do and won't feel sorrow when they're gone.

It reminds me of time spent outside with cousins in the hot New Orleans sun, as the shouting and other sounds continued inside.

It reminds me of moving to the cold streets of Baltimore, with my mother and a strange new man.

It reminds me of being six and wondering why this strange man was beating me, just for being a few minutes late getting home.

It reminds me of the quiet realization, made at some point in my early teens, that I was getting larger and stronger and that one day I would be the one doing the beating.

It reminds of being sixteen and packing up a van with my mother and a few friends while he was away at work.

It reminds me of being denied the justice I saw as righteous and my birthright.

It reminds me of a seething anger and shame turned inward.

It reminds me of The Incident a few years later, when I woke up in a hospital with a breathing tube down my throat.

It reminds me of my wife, who takes cold showers, because of her father's use of hot water as punishment.

It reminds me that that was only the beginning for her.

It reminds me of my daughter, a smart and mouthy child who tested me one day when she was eight and I discovered that though I could be angry with her, I could not hit her. Ever. She was so tiny and fragile and really just being a kid, how could I? Through fate and then marriage she had been placed in my care, by a mother who knew my past, yet trusted me to do the right thing.

It reminds me that it's been ten years since that day and my daughter will be home soon for holidays. It reminds me that she writes on my Facebook wall and texts me and says it out loud, in public and private, "I love you" and then laughs and hugs me and asks which game are we going to play, which scary or scifi movie are we going to see, what what what are we going to do together, as her mother looks on and laughs at us both.

This thread has reminded of all that, yes the bad, but that final good, where I won something I didn't know I needed and I won it without lifting a finger.

That's why I love this thread.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:10 AM on November 3, 2011 [102 favorites]


Even if you don't think that what your parents did was right, if you know that they loved you and did the best they could with the knowledge and resources that they had, you will forgive them for what may have been wrong in your eyes and feel secure in being loved by them.

Life isn't a movie. It doesn't work like this. People don't automatically deserve forgivness, forgiveness doesn't magically heal the wounds of those abused, and not everyone can be sure their parents loved them or did the best they can.
posted by spaltavian at 4:36 AM on November 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


there are many parents who are obviously abusive because they really injure their children and yet may still love their children in some way.

Reminds me of how, during the Vietnam war, they'd say "We had to destroy the village in order to save it."
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:57 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


taff: "It's hard reading this stuff. I am touched by the raw honesty. I am ashamed to say that I am still too ashamed to tell my own story."

Don't be. Sincerely, you have no reason to be ashamed of that. Everyone handles this stuff in their own way, and its best to let us process what happened (whatever that might be) at our own pace.

People who have been abused usually have trust issues. Trusting ourselves. Trusting others. It often doesn't come easily. It took me years to talk about my childhood experiences in any but the most general terms. Years. And there are still things I won't talk about. Can't bring myself to discuss publicly. Or even with people I trust, privately. It's an emotional rabbit hole. I don't know if this will make sense to you, but having finally come to a point in my life where I feel like I'm on solid ground and making emotional and mental progress, I'm afraid revisiting the past will throw me off balance. I don't want to relive the past; just doing so once was enough. So, I could not do what Sonascope did, above. Talk about what he went through and find the humor, the love and perhaps even forgiveness and pity. Right now, I'm not capable of that. Perhaps I never will be.

It's a process for all of us, I think. Be kind to yourself -- you're in a particular place in your life where you're not comfortable talking about it and that's okay. 100% okay and nothing to be ashamed of.
posted by zarq at 5:15 AM on November 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm starting to feel like I'm the only person here who was neither beaten nor bullied as a kid.

Hopefully not! But this is in many ways the beaten-and-bullied thread, I fear, so it's kind of inevitable.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:37 AM on November 3, 2011


The rage I felt at the judge while watching this video actually gave me some empathy with the rage he was feeling.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:44 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


"That, in my opinion, is the fundamental difference between the "I was spanked and I'm OK whatever" crowd and the "my parents abused me" set."

There's a study, and forgive me for not having an academic citation, that's been getting written up for laymen in the various school journals/magazines I get. I'm drawing from memory, but it talks about exactly this point, and the conclusions from the study are that corporal punishment doesn't "mess kids up" when:

*It's not done in a rage
*It's done to punish, correct, or teach, but not to shame
*It's a brief spanking or a slapped hand, not a beating; it's not very hard, it doesn't leave marks
*It's done on fairly small children, who are typically too young for "grounding" (more in the "time out" age range), but not on babies. In some cultures (see below) it may be continued until adolescence, but it's generally viewed as something done on children considered too young (in that cultural group) to understand a more complex punishment
*It's done relatively rarely
*It is not accompanied by threats
And this was one of the biggest correlates, the article said, which I thought was very interesting:
*It doesn't have a psychological effect on kids when it is considered normal in that community/cultural group

Now, it still has to not be in a rage, not for the purpose of shaming, not very hard, etc. etc. etc., while considered normal, to meet the "not messing your kid up" criteria. But for those who grew up before the 90s and who got spanked a few times when they were pretty little and "Hey, I got spanked, I'm okay" -- that's why. It was common and normal, not a source of shame about your family, and it typically follows some community standards that don't allow children to be actually BEATEN. Similarly, you could follow all the top rules today, but if you live in a community where there is no spanking, it might be a source of shame and othering for your child.

We don't spank, but I do think it's problematic when "simple" spanking is conflated with child abuse, which makes it possible for people to dismiss actual abuse by saying, "Look, I was spanked, I'm fine, you're overreacting." I'm not a big fan of spanking, not least because I don't think it's a particularly EFFECTIVE child-training tool (I think you'll still have to tell the toddler not to eat sand 40 times, but if you spank them once in those 40 times it may reset your parental frustration counter and feel like you only had to tell them 20, because telling a kid not to eat sand 40 times is totally frustrating), but I don't think a simple spanking is abuse. (I do think there are parents who start with the idea "spanking isn't abuse" and go down the road to actual abuse, justifying it to themselves with "spanking is not abuse" all the way down.) IOW, I'm happier with a bright line in my life of "we don't hit kids," but I think it's a problem when people dismiss actual abuse by thinking these are people who are just shrinking flowers about a "little spanking."

---

Slightly different note, and on the idea of different communities or cultural groups, when I talk with my community college students about child abuse, who typically live in a different social milieu than I do, not only are most of them in the "I was spanked, I'm okay" category, but they actually do not believe it is possible to raise a child without corporal punishment. I tell them we don't spank our kids, and they at first do not believe me, and then when they do believe me, become convinced my kids must be spoiled, entitled, badly-behaved monsters. I explain some of the disciplinary tools we use, and they are terrifically skeptical.

It makes me sad. Obviously there's a long way for education to go; they simply don't believe there are disciplinary options for children OTHER THAN spanking until they're old enough to ground them. The ones who do know there are other options? Almost all learned that from Supernanny, God bless her. But somewhere we need to be providing the option of parenting skills classes or child development classes or even supernanny-style home interventions to parents who need some help.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:46 AM on November 3, 2011 [17 favorites]


Actually this video (and this thread) make a compelling argument against any and all spanking. It isn't so much that "proper" spanking is damaging but that if you say that spanking is OK, then some parents are just going to take it to far. I'm sure William Adams thought that what he was doing was a normal and proper spanking. It's just that he's a fucking idiot.

On the other hand, if you make spanking as a whole taboo, then there is no real 'out' for this guy to self-justify.
posted by delmoi at 6:05 AM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


No sign around town at any outrage against this guy. Will report back later in the day if things change. It's only 8am here.
posted by Malice at 6:10 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I really don't want to get into this right now because as you can see my life's been made very difficult over this child."

Passive voice here is very telling. This dude has no ownership and no remorse over what he's done. It's all done by some unknown source, or done TO him.
posted by litnerd at 6:21 AM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


What's striking to me is that so many of the people who share these kinds of stories still have relationships with their parents. It's hard to imagine forgiving that kind of behavior.

It makes you feel like maybe you can have the normal family you always wanted.
posted by Tarumba at 6:29 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is difficult to talk about, and I already posted a brief comment on the topic, but as there have been discussion of reprisals against abusers, I think my own experience is relevant.

As I mentioned, my father was very emotionally abusive. And manipulative. I think the biggest lesson was that he was apparently capable of pretty much anything at any time and it never had to make any more sense than that he was irrationally angry. He didn't beat me—but, as I eventually yelled at him pointedly during the event I'm describing, there was an ever-present threat of physical violence, like a promise. He trained us to be afraid of him and that training never wore off, not even when years had gone by and he'd changed (partly) and I'd changed and become a middle-aged man.

I found myself living with him for a period of time about five years ago. And I quickly realized that although he behaved better toward me than he ever had, I lived in a constant state of anxiety. But then, the second year I lived with him, a sibling of his unexpectedly died and so did his only close adulthood friend. I could tell that this was eating at him, but he wouldn't talk about. He became even more sullen and reclusive. And, eventually, probably predictably (as numerous family members, including my mother, said later), he struck out against me.

There's no good way to describe the things he did and said, except to say that they were extreme, irrational, and viciously hurtful. But here I was a middle-aged man who'd struggled through my anger about my childhood (and following it, for a while) for a long time and one of the things that had happened is that I had, at some point, resolved to be as scary a person as he was. I don't think he really understood that I wasn't going to react as the terrified child I'd once been, nor that a big part of me had been waiting my whole life for this event.

His manner became more and more violent as I told him that he was behaving like an angry, irrational child. And I think that I almost certainly engineered an escalating confrontation. He tried to leave the room, I blocked his path. The next thing I know, I was sprawled half on a coffee table and a couch, where he'd shoved me, two-handed, with that fighter's shove I know he was familiar with as a brawler in his youth. He turned and walked away. Without thinking about it, I got up and knocked him down from behind. He muttered something about that being "unfair" and this enraged me. I knocked him down again and yelled at him that he was nuts, what was happening here was domestic violence, we were already off the map, "fair fighting" was entirely irrelevant. And then, to make the point absolutely clear, I stepped forward and kicked him once in the chest.

I think I will always recall the terrified look on his face as I stood over him.

The thing is, that first time I pushed him down, it was pure rage in reaction to him laying hands on me. But after that? It was a conscious choice. Most especially, it was a choice to kick him. I didn't actually kick him that hard. But what I knew in that moment was that he'd always allowed himself to behave badly because, in his own mind, "he couldn't control his temper". And that carried no weight with me. In fact, no excuses carried weight with me. In the first year of my marriage, when I was twenty-six, I found myself occasionally acting crazy and hurtful like my dad did, when I was seized with some anger that possessed me and found its target in the nearest person, my spouse. Then, on one occasion, I had sort of an epiphany. I suddenly saw myself from the outside. And I became aware that the rage I was feeling wasn't reality, it was this feeling that was distorting my view of reality. I couldn't make the rage disappear, but I kept that clarity, apologized to my spouse, and I've never once since behaved that way with anyone, again. That I could learn this in my twenties when my father never learned it, was something I couldn't forgive him.

And so, this not being able to control his temper thing, assuming that he did, in fact, consciously or unconsciously excuse his behavior on that basis, just infuriated me. And so my decision to strike out at him, in full control, in a cold and calculating manner, was quite deliberately intended to frighten him. The message was, see? I am scarier than you are. Be afraid.

And it worked. Not the least because he had, in his youth, undoubtedly been in that position beneath his father, who regularly beat him.

I moved out that day. He claimed at the time that he wanted any keys I might have because he feared me. I thought this was a silly melodrama, though today I don't know.

We never spoke again. Slightly more than a year later, he had unexpected complications from surgery and died as he bled out, internally, within minutes before a nurse found him on the floor of his hospital room.

No one I've spoken to about this has blamed me. Even my sister, who was fiercely loyal to my father in his last years (because he had been emotionally distant her entire life and in the final years, they forged a bond) could bring herself to condemn me for it, though I had greatly feared it. Most people see it in terms of him striking first, and me reacting with an understandable lifetime of hurt and anger.

Even so. First and foremost, I learned something that day about myself that I just don't want to know. I'd cultivated that part of myself, because I didn't want to be afraid, but learning that it was real and that I would act upon it is another matter entirely. Once done, it can never be undone. Who I want to be, really, is someone who could have walked away from him that morning, knowing that I was the better person. I can't help but feel that my life goal, which has sadly in many ways to not be him, has failed. I became even more him than he was.

Secondly, I think that when I was a very hurt and angry teenager, thinking about the horrible things he would yell at me (seriously, imagine really bad things), I know I would have imagined that a day thirty years later where I struck back would be something wonderful, something to savor. But it was so not that. It was horrible. It is horrible. That look on his face is something that no child should ever see on their parent's face. Mind you, it's also a look that no parent should ever see on their child's face, either, but we know how often they do, as we've seen in this video and this thread. Still. We expect to fear our parents, at least a little (or maybe not, how can I know?), but we certainly don't expect them to fear us. It wasn't an empowering thing for me to see, it just makes me feel like shit.

Following what I've described, I vented at him for about a half-an-hour, somewhat yelling at him but actually being pretty reasonable, telling him some hard truths that I'd basically been rehearsing in my head for several decades. I think that if that had been all that I had done that day, that would have been an empowering accomplishment. That I also committed violence against him was not.

Violence isn't the answer. I know as well as anyone that it feels like it is. But it's not. I speak from experience. But then, I don't presume to speak for anyone else. Just myself. It wasn't a good answer for me.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:47 AM on November 3, 2011 [20 favorites]


Halloween Jack: Tell you what. I'll refrain from describing what I'd like to do to the judge, and if you feel the urge to tell me that you had it worse, kindly put a cork in it. Deal?

This comment really rankled me when I saw it yesterday, and I wanted to respond then, but was really too angry about it to do it well. I can't just let it slide, though.

I'm trying to read this the most generous way possible, so I'm going to assume that maybe you don't want anyone dismissing or negating the troubling experiences that Hillary went through. Or is it that you think that no one could have had it worse, or at least no one on Metafilter? Because I think what might have happened is in an effort to ensure that one abuse survivor's story was told without impediment, you wound up trying to shut down equally valid stories from other survivors.

And now that I've let myself sit on it for a day, I'll tell you more completely what my honest reaction was when I watched the video: (1) there was no blood, (2) no hard objects were thrown at her, (3) no one punched her with their fists, (4) no one threw her to the floor and kicked her, (5) no one put their hands around her throat to try to choke her, (6) no one spat on her as she lay curled up on the floor weeping, (7) she was able to stand up and walk when it was over and (8) she's sixteen here, not eight. So, no, I won't accept your deal that I need to put a cork in it, because the reality is that as bad as this video seems to a lot of you (and, yes, it is horrible), as a child I would have gladly switched fathers with her and been delighted at the improvement. Plus, it's a lot easier to avoid illegally downloading music than it is to refrain from existing.

I don't want to dismiss her experience, and I hope that her father gets hounded out of office and out of respectable society. But you need to understand that a whipping like that would have been a fairly good day in my house, and I'm not alone in that.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:47 AM on November 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'm curious now if this will bring about review of any of his decisions. If he's a family court judge, and this behavior is not something he would consider abuse, has he placed or left other kids in danger? Are his decisions (if any involved allegations of abuse) consistent with his private behavior, or has he in court condemned the kind of behavior he's been caught at?
posted by fallacy of the beard at 6:48 AM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


"But you need to understand that a whipping like that would have been a fairly good day in my house, and I'm not alone in that."

Yes, of course.

There is no profit in comparing severity of abuse. There just isn't. What we know is what we know, and the pain that we've felt and feel is the pain that we've felt and feel. And any two people that experience the exact same trauma may react to it entirely differently, with one person finding it of little concern and the other being deeply scarred by it. While we can talk about severity of a beating, of seriousness of physical wounds, it becomes essentially impossible to compare severity of emotional wounds on the basis of the physical trauma.

And, again, it just doesn't do anyone—anyone—any good.

I know that you're a mature and wise man. I've seen this repeatedly in your comments over the years. So I know that you must know that there is no commensurability of pain.

Pain is pain. I weep that so many feel so much of it. I don't ever want anyone to feel that I've disregarded the pain and suffering they've experienced as unimportant. It's always important.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:54 AM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


The worst part of the abuse and the "I never saw any abuse!" is that I can't love my parents.

I try, but I don't.
posted by goofyfoot at 7:02 AM on November 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh dear, I remember the hysterical crying. That really hopeless sound coming out of you, when you're not allowed to be angry at a situation that demands anger, and you can't really make rational sense out of how you're feeling, like you're facing a math problem with an answer that you know can't be right.

And it's the noise of shame, because as much as you hate what's happening to you, you're hating yourself worse. There's an internal argument where you feel like if you were a better person this never would have happened, even if a part of you (the animal/instinct part I guess) has an awareness that this isn't right. I really wish I didn't know what this sounded like.
posted by Phalene at 7:07 AM on November 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'm feeling so many things after reading this thread (and the meta) as both a parent and a child (I'm 44 but man, decades disappear when you start thinking about this kind of thing).

I too will admit to having smacked my children. Whenever it's happened it's been pretty much exactly in line with what Eyebrows posted above but I'm thinking really long and hard about it now. Really fucking hard. The thing that I dread most in life is being a bad parent. I love my children so much but they do infuriate me sometimes. It's true. They do. It's mostly having to say the same things over and over and feeling like I'm not being listened to that shits me the most. And sometimes I lose my temper and overreact (those aren't the times when I've smacked, however). I've never sworn at my children but I do lecture and I have given short, sharp smacks when it's seemed that my words were not getting through. I apologise and explain but words are just words. I feel sick admitting to that in this thread.

I was smacked as a child but not badly and not what I would consider abusively. My Dad did, however, lose his temper very badly one day when I wasn't home and did something that caused him to never again raise a hand to any one of his children in any form at all. He must have scared the shit out of himself. I heard about what happened when I got home and I've never forgotten it (I was probably about 9 at the time) but my brothers and sister have never spoken about it. Dad hasn't either. If I remember it second hand I can only imagine what it must have been like for my siblings.

I don't want my children to be scared of me or think that I'm not 100% on their side.

I'm thinking really hard about all of this.
posted by h00py at 7:14 AM on November 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


In a prepared statement, County Judge Burt Mills Jr. said the matter is “under review” by Rockport police, and he asked the public to refrain from calling county offices about it.

“Judge Adams remains on the bench” and has agreed to let a visiting judge hear any cases involving children for at least the next week, said Bianchi, the county attorney, who prosecutes misdemeanor cases. “When the police conduct their investigation, and if they bring anything, we'll review it, and consider the statutes of limitations.”

Mary Walker, a spokeswoman for Texas Child Protective Services, said the agency was aware of the video, was investigating and “will take appropriate steps.”

The executive director of the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct, which oversees judges in Texas, would not confirm that the agency was receiving complaints about Adams.

“We can't confirm we've received any complaints or are investigating any judge,” Executive Director Seana Willing said.

Child abuse experts said it's not clear whether the video will result in a criminal charge, though the case shows the impact of social media. The daughter “outed” the violence via YouTube, and the vast online community is pillorying the judge.

“Ten years ago, we wouldn't have ever considered somebody disclosing through social media,” said Robert Bell, children's justice coordinator for Maricopa County, Ariz. and a spokesman for Childhelp Inc. “But obviously, this has spread, and it's brought it to the attention of the media, it's brought it to the attention of law enforcement.”

David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, said corporal punishment by parents is legal in all 50 states, and Texas is a state where it is still prevalent.

But a video such as this exposes what may go on behind closed doors in many homes, he said, and the reaction to it speaks for itself.

“I am encouraged by the fact that people are talking about this,” Finkelhor said. “I do think it certainly provides some fuel for people like myself who want to point out that the permission that we give parents to use corporal punishment on their children does make it much more difficult to sanction people who go over the line.”

posted by zarq at 7:17 AM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


The best part of having grown up with non-abusive parents--really, the best part--is that I can look at my mother's face and not see the face of the person who hit me. My father died 10 years ago, but the same is true there--when he was lying in his open casket, and I looked at his face for the last time, my emotions were not complex, were not some sort of confused stretch between conflicting emotions or anything. I loved him and he loved me and I was sad that I wasn't going to be able to see him anymore.

My parents were not perfect. I do have resentments and bad feelings and lessons learned and all that. We argued. We fought. But I never--never--have to sort through my feelings about having been abused by those who should have protected me. I did encounter bullying in school, and especially at the hands of my brother. I do have my own stories to tell. But the stories don't involve my parents, and that has made an enormous difference as I've aged and become a parent myself. I never feared my parents. I respected them, still do, and that respect didn't evaporate as soon as I was out of hitting range.

My greatest hope is that I'm as good a parent to my daughter. How lucky am I that this is my greatest hope?
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:19 AM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I was a kid, short sharp smacks weren't really what got to me and I wouldn't really consider that abusive -- I don't think I'd even remember that. Like one or two hits on the butt or on the arm if i was reaching for something I wasn't supposed to or whatever. An 'attention grabber', is okay, if the purpose isn't really punishment and the infliction of sustained pain.

What bothered me (and still bothers me) was my mom completely losing control, and screaming and just wailing on me. Then she would come back later and cry and apologize to me and tell me that she loved me. She did this over and over and over and over again for years.
posted by empath at 7:20 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh my god empath that's exactly what my mom did. She would hit me savagely and she would yell and scream (this is the reason why I can't listen to music like this) and I would feel her bad breath, the heat of her face and her crazy eyes just centimeters from my face, I mean the content of the screaming was pretty bad, but the screaming themselves, it was revolting.
posted by Tarumba at 7:24 AM on November 3, 2011


it was more like squeals, no I think about it. Very loud squealing.
posted by Tarumba at 7:25 AM on November 3, 2011


I can't watch the video.

I was severely abused from age 10 to age 17. I tried to forgive and move on. My mother was schizophrenic, her I could forgive; my father had no such excuse and has never acknowledged that he did anything wrong. My two younger sisters took his side. I have had no contact with him in the 20+ years since my mother's death and will not ever see him again. He's led a charmed life and, in my estimation, he's a sociopath. I have minimal contact with my sisters.

I've raised three sons. I was not a perfect parent but I was never physically abusive and I tried my best not to hurt them emotionally. They're grown and they still like me and each other. Two of the three have children and they're both wonderful dads.
posted by mareli at 7:31 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, not to turn this into a therapy session, but she was a door slammer and a screamer, and my dad got it as bad as we did, though she didn't hit him. She threatened to leave the family constantly, too, when she wasn't being super needy. And she kept score with people for slights, etc.

She grew out of it, mostly. She's very calm now and has been for years, especially after she started getting treatment for thyroid problems and when she started going through menopause.

But I'll probably never forgive her for it. She left me an anxious wreck who had no ability to deal with people. I couldn't even make eye-contact with people until I was in my mid 20s and still don't do it unless I force myself to. I had to take unhealthy amounts of drugs before I could even begin to deal with it myself or admit that it was a problem or talk to people about it.
posted by empath at 7:31 AM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, also, I guess a comment about my mom is warranted. I sent a link to this thread to her before I decided to post my story, and I suppose that I ought not to have subsequently told my story, and especially now not to mention her. On the other hand, I feel like there's some responsibility to speak to what's already been posted by others.

She was as frightened by my father as I was. When they finally divorced, after almost three decades of marriage, it was followed by an outpouring of fury and resentment from her against him. This was very difficult for me because she kept wanting to talk about it with me, as we've always been very close. Yet, when I was a child, she had always made excuses for him. He loves you, she said. She was in that enabler role, both cooperating with him and, in her mostly passive way, trying to shield me. She'd been trained to feel absolutely sure that non-confrontation was the solution, that the absolutely best thing was to carefully monitor his moods and try to avoid being in the line of fire. Consequently, when I became more and more angry at his abuse, it frightened her because, to her, I was making it worse. At one point, she angrily accused me of being the true source of discord.

So when she wanted to talk about how angry she was at living in fear of him, I had trouble with it. Why didn't you protect me?, I always wanted to ask. I knew the answer, of course. I didn't have to have learned about abusive people and families to understand that she was as much a victim trapped as I was. But we expect our parents, especially our mothers, to protect us.

In later years—it's been almost twenty years since their divorce—she has become preoccupied with wondering why she doesn't remember so much of the things he did and why, more than anything, she didn't try to stop him from hurting me. And she apologizes to me. She's apologized many times and it breaks my heart, really, because she's such a kind and loving person and she's been a great parent to me in many ways, especially in the last ten years which have been difficult for me. I actually can't say, though, that I've told her I forgive her. Funny, that. I've never thought about it before this moment. But maybe that's what she's waiting for.

And I probably haven't because I'm still at least a little angry with her about it. And not just her—what's bothered me over the years more than anything else is that I did try to discuss my father's abusive behavior with her and numerous relatives and, every one, they dismissed what I told them and made excuses for him. If it weren't the fact that the years ended up proving to others outside the family what we inside had known all along, I'd possibly have ended up thinking they might have been right to refuse to listen to me. But he later did some things that everyone saw and couldn't rationalize away, and at that point I wanted to grab people and ask them why the hell they didn't listen to me all those years ago.

My ex-wife was an incest survivor who disclosed to her mother and yet her mother didn't divorce her husband. When she was my mother-in-law, I couldn't forgive her for that, even though I saw firsthand what a true evil monster my father-in-law was and that he made my father look like a saint in comparison. I understood, both intuitively and from learning about incest, what a truly horrifying place she had long been in and I tried very hard to understand and forgive her. My divorce meant that I no longer had to concern myself about this matter, though I confess my ex-wife's abuse is something that will stay with me forever, as will having spent time with her father.

The point is that there's something perversely sad about what happens to the non-abusive parent in these situations. They are not the abusers, but we, and they, hold them somewhat responsible.

Abuse in a family spreads outward, like a disease, like an infection, from its source and causes pain and suffering for everyone it touches, even tangentially. More than anything else, while I cannot bring myself to feel much empathy or sorrow toward the abusers, I do feel a huge amount of empathy and sorrow for everyone else involved, including the non-abusive parents who we so easily and quickly blame.

I think I need to tell my mom I forgive her, but when I do, eventually, I think I will also be wanting to say that I forgive all such parents, placed in a situation by an abusive spouse to which there are only less worse solutions. I don't mean to say that there aren't things they can and should do. I only mean to say that they are victims, and survivors, too.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:33 AM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh my gosh, there are so many of you - it breaks my heart.

My dad was beaten with a belt as a child, and he has worked very hard to be a better parent than his own dad was. The spankings I got as a child were mild and extremely infrequent (the only one I remember with any clarity was the last one, when I was maybe 12 or so, and what I remember most is the shame of feeling "too old" to be punished this way), and in another universe from what people are talking about here, with one exception: my dad denies that it ever happened. If you were to ask him if he ever spanked his kids, he would say, "Nope, I'm not like my dad, never, not once, never laid a hand on them." Which annoys me, but indeed, he's not like his dad, and has never been physically abusive, and I am both grateful and proud of him that he has been able to overcome this part of his childhood. My own goal, should I ever have kids of my own, is to not repeat the yelling, swearing, insults, etc. that my dad didn't manage to prevent from transferring from his childhood to mine. Figuring out how to be a good parent has been a multigenerational project for us, but it's getting better.
posted by naoko at 7:37 AM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


In her first sit-down interview, Hillary Adams, the daughter of accused child abuser Judge William Adams, tells the Today Show’s Matt Lauer why she decided to release the video of her beating 7 years later, and talks about the firestorm sparked by its posting.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:39 AM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


The screaming mother thing reminds me that some people are really not suited to have kids. (I'm one of them and not solely because I worry about my temper and control, but that's for sure a part of it.) I'm pretty sure my own mother was one of them, and to a lesser extent, my father. But having kids was what you did back then, so that was what they did, and it wasn't like there were really any lessons in how to cope beyond reading Dr. Spock.

My parents did the best they knew how to do. To be fair, we did therapy after my mother hit me with my own toys and other things in a rage one time too many. My dad hit me with the belt but that was "discipline" and even if I didn't feel like I deserved it, and even if he was angry, it was easier for me personally to swallow than my mother losing her shit and smashing my heavy ceramic brush over my head. But I hate and despise that therapist to this day, worse than I do my parents: when I was taking teacher education courses I learned that the behavior modification system I was put on to stop my parents from beating me was an emergency system meant to be used no longer than six months. I was on it for at least two years. And all this to modify my behavior when the behavior that needed modifying was adults hitting a grade-school child. This is part of why I grimace at the standard "therapy" answer in Ask all the time: therapy is not always the right answer.

And after all that, the last time she hit me, I was a senior in high school and bigger than she was, and it stopped because I snapped and hit her back.

(My dad was born in east Texas in 1917, so the belt was normal to him. My mother was raised by an east Texas family best described as "complicated" and had a falling-down-drunk alcoholic father who I'm pretty sure beat her and my grandmother, and lived for years with her own abusive grandmother, who locked her in the closet when she was "bad" even though she had claustrophobia. Abuse really is cyclical.)

My husband grew up in a non-abusive family and I think it freaks him out when I talk about this kind of thing, so I don't very often. I wouldn't say it's "healed" and obviously it's not something you go to therapy over when the shitty therapy was part of the problem, but it's mostly scarred over and doesn't bleed unless I poke it. That's why I know better than to watch this video.

You folks who are raising kids without perpetuating the cycle, my hat is off to you.
posted by immlass at 7:42 AM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


A few years ago my mother told me that her husband raped her.

"And then you let me spend weekends alone with him?"

"That was the divorce agreement."
posted by goofyfoot at 8:07 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ivan Fyodorovich: " The point is that there's something perversely sad about what happens to the non-abusive parent in these situations. They are not the abusers, but we, and they, hold them somewhat responsible."

When it comes to physical abuse of a child, the other spouse often knows what is happening, and either acts as an enabler (passively, by deliberately doing nothing, or aggressively, by getting involved as the mother in this video did,) or is simply unable to stop it for any number of reasons. Each situation is different.

One of the things that is often brought up in ACOA is that the alcoholic (or addicted) parent often creates an environment, with or without the help of their spouse, in which a veil of secrecy, privacy and shame are drawn over the entire household. Often, the other spouse or eldest child in the house will try to keep the other family members from discussing things that go on inside the home with outsiders. Out of shame, embarrassment, intimidation, etc. The family becomes isolated. This is extremely common, and becomes a pattern of behavior that can be passed down through generations of family members, even when neither parent is an alcoholic in the current family structure.

What this means is that one alcoholic parent can quite literally create a cycle of trust issues with the outside world that a family, and subsequent generations of that family, believe are perfectly natural, but are not. It also means that people within the household become what might possibly be referred to as unconscious enablers. They don't trust outsiders, are afraid of the consequences that might befall them and the other members of their family if they speak out. So they perpetuate the cycle.

This often also applies to those of us who lived with an abusive adult as a child, because similar dynamics are created.

I posted this as part of another comment in the Bill Zeller thread back in January. Perhaps it's also appropriate here:

In early 2004, I happened upon a Livejournal community called ACOA: Adult Children of Alcoholics. Neither of my parents drink. They weren't alcoholics. I don't drink at all and am not an alcoholic. But the profile page for the community had a "traits list" that shook me.

Here it is:

Traits List for Adult Children of Alcoholics

Situations - those states over which we have no control:

We were raised in alcoholic, emotionally abusive households. Consequently, each of us has many issues to resolve. One issue is that we acted as parents to our parents, and took responsibility for our siblings. As a result, we need to explore our sense of never having had a childhood.

Attitudes - reactions to self-perceptions:
1) We judge ourselves harshly
2) We take ourselves seriously and have difficulty having fun
3) We are approval-seekers and fear personal criticism
4) We feel isolated, different from other people
5) We focus on others rather than look honestly at ourselves
6) We are attracted to people who are rarely there emotionally for us
7) We guess at what normal is
8) We live from the viewpoint of victims

Character Traits - defenses developed as a result of having been raised in an alcoholic household:
1) We are overly responsible
2) We are frightened by angry people and authority figures
3) We need intimacy, yet have difficulty with intimate relationships
4) We fear abandonment
5) We have an exaggerated need to control
6) We have strong guilt feelings
7) We are overly reactive
8) We are loyal to others even though that loyalty may be undeserved
9) We stuff our feelings, unable to either feel or express them
10) Our impulsivity leads to anger, self-hate and loss of control
11) We tend to look for immediate rather than deferred gratification
12) We are angry people
13) We find it easier to give in to others than to stand up for ourselves
14) We are addicted to excitement
15) We often confuse love and pity
16) We have a tendency toward procrastination
17) We have difficulty trusting both ourselves and others
18) We have problems with self-esteem
19) We are anxious people, often dwelling on our past and future fears
20) We have the potential for, and tendency towards, becoming alcoholics and/or marrying them

28 traits. In 2004, I unconsciously fit about 25 of them. My parents weren't alcoholics. It made no sense that I would so closely fit that profile. I eventually discovered that the traits list also often matches people who have endured abuse for the reasons I've outlined above. Especially if they were unable to talk about it publicly.

I was already aware that what I was dealing with was not normal. But seeing that list... it truly stunned me at the time: I wasn't unique. There were people out there who were much like me, because they'd lived through similar traumas.

Much like this thread has shown.
posted by zarq at 8:11 AM on November 3, 2011 [59 favorites]


Wow, zarq. I've never seen that list before, but damn. I've overcome about 10 of those, but all 28 applied at one time or another. Character trait #20 has caused me a world of trouble - didn't fully move on (from the last alcoholic, emotionally abusive wife, & sober up) until I was 35. Wow. #19 still kicks my ass every damn day.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:36 AM on November 3, 2011


28 traits. In 2004, I unconsciously fit about 25 of them. My parents weren't alcoholics. It made no sense that I would so closely fit that profile. I eventually discovered that the traits list also often matches people who have endured abuse for the reasons I've outlined above. Especially if they were unable to talk about it publicly.

I think I came out relatively good from my childhood, from a mental and emotional perspective, but your list really hit a few of my hot buttons. I really understand the veil of secrecy and shame and being isolated from those outside the family. I'm really only starting to reconnect with my dad's siblings after almost 2 decades of very limited contact. I also, to this day, feel myself tighten up whenever my wife casually shares something incidental that I bungled with close friends -- normal stuff, like a funny story at my expense.

It's just built into me to hide, hide, hide anything that I could be judged negatively on.
posted by bfranklin at 8:43 AM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks, sonascope, for your beautiful words. Thank you, zarq, for posting that link -- very useful. Thank all of you for sharing your stories and being so articulate and making me think in a helpful way about my own past -- because it's so easy for me to think about it darkly, or uniformly, or monolithically -- and of course it's even easier just to forget it, to think of my own life now that is so many years removed from that hell, and pretend that it never happened, that it's some strange overdramatized memory that I constructed out of whole cloth (because, as a middle school teacher once told me in front of the class, I was a "phony" -- good at inventing stories and fables and lies, not good at anything else). But it wasn't. It happened, all of that. It happened to me. It happened over and over again, and it happened every day. And I'm here, all these years later, perhaps worn and bedraggled and imperfect in many ways, an introvert at heart who worries too much and flinches at the first sign of physical confrontation and who startles at loud sounds and who grits my teeth whenever anyone whistles because it reminds me of someone else who abused me who wasn't a parent but a teacher -- but I'm here, and I'm better than I was, and I used to hold a reserve of internal snark for Émile Coué, but not so much anymore.
posted by blucevalo at 8:45 AM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


"A few years ago my mother told me that her husband raped her.

"And then you let me spend weekends alone with him?"

"That was the divorce agreement."


I understand this powerless though. If you have no evidence, how do you prove something like that? Ever? We can't have a system where rape can be convicted with absolutely no evidence, and yet having set up where you need evidence means you can't ever prove it in the context of a relationship if there aren't bruises or video evidence.

I guess the moral of the story if for a non abusive parent forced into allowing their hcild visitation with ab abusive parent to just break the law if it means saving a child that the law won't save. ?


We do in fact need to help parents with tools BEFORE things get crazy, so that they pressume that hitting is not the appropriate way to discipline, so that they have tools to help them deal with their childs (and their own) ranges of moods and behavior and environmental modifications to make changes to that without using spanking or hitting--- and so that when a parent acts out in anger, they can identify it's really not ok and know where to get support to work through what lead them there.

Most people could stand to review their parents history of behavior, their emotional belief system, whatever cycles are present, how they developed and how to go a different direction, tools to enhance emotional well being and healthy belief patterns--- etc etc before becoming parents. Also, many behavioral patterns are in fact deeply set in the biology. So for some people having detailed knowledge and compassion for the deep rooted cycles, and damaged biology, that may have been in place in an abusive parent, might actually be part of what keeps you stronger than those behaviors.

Many people don't realize this is a good thing to do before they become parents because most people dont think they ever could be abusers, or they think "I won't do what my parents did", or they think "My parents hit/spanked me some and yelled but I'm not damaged or broken so I don't need to work on it."

People probably do need to work on it, exactly if they have that attitude about it, before having kids.

The yelling thing: this is so tricky. There is usually no evidence of it and the emotional scars run deep. And what can CPS do if it's just yelling and there is no video footage? And what can they even do if they HAVE video footage? We need to change this by generating awareness as much as possible that yelling at your children is not a form of discipline. Insulting your children is not discipline. Cursing at your children is not discipline. Telling them they are horrible until you see them collapse in shame and self hatred is not discipline. Kid DO NEED boundaries and guidance and requirements and reliable responses to their behavior. But yelling, insulting, hitting, breaking your child down emotionally until they crumble before you--- this is not the way.

We need to make sure people know there is a better way, and that these kinds of techniques are abuse, whatever CPS is able to do or not do about it.
posted by xarnop at 8:52 AM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


zarq, that ACOA list hits way too close to home for me. I think I'm going to bring this up in therapy. Thank you for sharing that; I needed to see it. Really. Hugs to you. There's a lot of secrecy and shame involved in families that deal with mental illness, so I think a bunch of the experiences are similar, if not exact.

My grandfather is where things went wrong for me. I never met him; he died when I was a toddler. There's a reason I never met him, and that reason is the things he did to my mother. I'm not going to get into detail, because while she is alive it isn't my story to tell. The part I can tell is this: the things that happened to her, as a child, triggered a particularly nasty case of schizoaffective bipolar disorder.

The things that happened to me, as a child, in trying to understand how to survive with a mother who had a monstrous mental illness that frequently shook its chains loose and ran rampant over our lives -- that is nothing compared to what happened to my mother. Nothing. And still those experiences have damaged me in more ways than I even know. I keep tripping across landmines buried in my head. I am not sure if I'll ever be "normal." I'm not sure I even know what that is.

My grandmother lived with us, my mom and me, from the day I was born until the day she died. She was great to me, and looking back at that with the information I have now, I think she wanted to do right by me because she couldn't protect my mother. Neither of us know what my grandfather did to my grandmother. I don't blame her for what happened, either. I doubt she got away unscathed. My mother never asked, and honestly I think I am happier not knowing.

I was hit a total of three times as a child: two were "oh fuck, I did not just do that" moments like KathrynT mentions, which didn't harm me in any lasting way. The only one that had any affect on my life was a slap to the hand with a ruler wrapped in electrical tape, by a private-school principal. ("Do you know why I am doing this?" he asked. I think I squeaked out an assent. I was too scared to speak.) My mother withdrew me from that school the next day and read that man the riot act about daring to lay his filthy hands on her daughter. She did what she could to break that cycle, but the damaged she'd sustained, the monster inside her head, hurt us all.

So it goes on, however that quote works, yea unto the seventh generation or some similar bullshit. I've never met the man who ruined my mother's mind, and by extension mine, and it is a fucking good thing for all involved that he died before I learned any of this, because I honestly do not know what I would have done if I'd ever had the chance to confront him. (Desecrating his gravestone is on my bucket list, just for my own personal satisfaction. Anyone in NH want to help?)

By the end of my grandmother's life, she and my mother had gone over all of this and healed their hurts as best they could. Similarly, my mother and I are doing the same thing. I'm twenty-nine now, and while I can't say never to having kids of my own, I can emphatically say that there is no fucking way in the foreseeable future. The cycle ends with me, either by snipping off this branch of progeny, or by waiting until I have healed myself enough to handle caring for more than a dog. We'll see. I don't know. I might get there someday. I'll find out.

This is hard to write out (yeah, I'm crying hard enough to ditch the glasses, so I apologize for wonky typing) and scary to post. Scary to put out in the public. But you all have shared your horror stories, and it's made me feel stronger. Less alone. So I'll put mine out there too.

We're none of us alone. We can stop this horror before it happens again. One person at a time, one day at a time. And I think we can learn a thing from my mother, too: when the monster in her head lay dormant, she worked with social services, placing children in foster homes. She asked for and got that gig because she had personal knowledge of abuse, and to her the hidden signs were blindingly obvious. Those of us who know these things... we can stop them, if we speak up, if we say fuck-you to the shame and the silence.

Hugs to all of you. I hope you find healing. And again, I'm honored to be part of a community like this.
posted by cmyk at 8:57 AM on November 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


Devils Rancher: "Wow, zarq. I've never seen that list before, but damn. I've overcome about 10 of those, but all 28 applied at one time or another. Character trait #20 has caused me a world of trouble - didn't fully move on (from the last alcoholic, emotionally abusive wife, & sober up) until I was 35. Wow. #19 still kicks my ass every damn day."

Yeah. It's a kick in the gut, isn't it? Reading that list, it was like someone I didn't know had sat down and sketched my whole personality in broad strokes.

At the time I didn't fit 11, 14 or 20. BUT switch the word "alcoholics" for "abusers" in #20 and that one fit me too. I dated a series of women in my teens and 20's who had been abused and were themselves abusive. Who had lived through some sort of trauma.

19 kicks my ass too. It affects everything I do. I married a saint. I really did. Because she's patient with my craziness and keeps me grounded.
posted by zarq at 9:04 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoa, I have never seen that list. That is a very weird shibboleth, and it's making me feel a bunch of intense things all at once.

Ugh. I lovehate this thread.
posted by everichon at 9:24 AM on November 3, 2011


In her first sit-down interview, Hillary Adams, the daughter of accused child abuser Judge William Adams, tells the Today Show’s Matt Lauer why she decided to release the video of her beating 7 years later, and talks about the firestorm sparked by its posting.

I'm really not convinced that national television is the best forum to air so much of the video and to try to come to terms with an incredibly sad family drama. It's clear that Hillary and her mother are just starting to come to terms with some of this, and Matt Lauer's sofa is not to be confused with the safe environs of a therapist's office.

On the other hand, this started in public, and seeing how helpful the process of sharing has been for so many in this thread, maybe continuing the discussion publicly can help others. I just worry that the national media isn't the best place to be when you're still working some of this out for yourself. Hillary sure seems strong and incredibly self-confident though, and I think she'll navigate this in her own way.

The cynical part of me wonders how much NBC/Today paid for the clips.

Most disturbing is her father, who is ambushed in his car. He admits that he lost his temper and apologized, but is also adamant that he did nothing wrong and was merely "disciplining" his daughter.

Hillary on recording the video: "It did happen regularly for a period of time and I could tell because of the pattern that things were escalating again, so I set up my video camera on my dresser and covered the little red light with the scarf. And about a half an hour after I set the camera up, this happened, and it was amazing that I was able to capture this."
posted by zachlipton at 9:25 AM on November 3, 2011


Not too long ago, after our wonderful daughter had done something that had us gritting our teeth and taking deep breaths, I remarked to my wife that dear daughter does dozens of things every day that would have earned her spankings or yelling that bordered on emotional abuse ("You stupid child!") from my mother, relatives, and friends of the family when I was her age. Pretty much all of those punishment-worthy acts were things that any energetic, inquisitive, and active child trying to define her/himself would do:

- Not immediately complying with a command from an adult
- Voicing displeasure or disapproval with something an adult did or said -- even if you were complying with a command while doing so
- Making too much noise
- Trying to prepare food and spilling or otherwise ruining a large amount of food
- Drawing/writing on the walls
- Ripping, losing or permanently staining clothing -- especially an adult's clothing
- Crying "too much", even if it was crying caused by the beating or yelling

And so on.

I love my mother, and I'm thankful for the support we got from friends and family members growing up, but I look back on those punishments with horror and disgust. That last one was especially insidious: you were expected to bear the punishment in near silence.

Needless to say, like many here, I decided there was no way in hell I would spank my children. And I remain convinced that the adults who spanked and screamed at us when I was a child were doing so at least in part due to their frustrations with their own station in life, and the abuse they had to bear as poor black people in a somewhat less enlightened time.

I think this is one of the most amazing threads I've ever read on the blue. There's a lot of pain out there, but there's also a lot of strength. I'm in awe of many of you, and I'm praying to whatever it is I pray to that others of you find some inner strength of your own. Peace.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:32 AM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


To those of you who have told your stories and have mentioned sometimes wondering if all that really actually did happen, and to anyone reading who hasn't told their story because they still have their doubts as to what was real and what was childhood invention, let me share something my therapist told me.

I have some very sketchy memory myself of ages 11-14; in particular, the year I was 14 is almost entirely lost to me, just gone. I see pictures of myself from that age and I don't remember them being taken, don't remember the events they mark. The one thing that all those photos have in common is that no matter how much fun I seem to be having, no matter how big the smile is or how candid or formal the picture, my hands are always clenched into fists. The beginning of that sketchy period is marked by a weird hash of fairly awful events and experiences, all mixed up and overlaid with each other, and I was talking about it with my shrink and I told her I honestly don't know if this really happened, or if I made it up.

"I don't know," she said. "Kids at that age aren't always reliable narrators. But if it is a story, it's not a story you made up to tell someone else, it's a story you made up to tell yourself. And in my experience, kids only make up stories for themselves if they need to cover up something that's worse. A perfectly healthy, happy kid who randomly invents a self-story about multiple-perpetrator sexual assault, which is then followed up by three years of traumatic memory loss and a psychotic break? That just doesn't happen. So I can't tell you for sure that your self-story is 100% accurate, but I can tell you that if it isn't that, it's something worse."

So, there you go. all of you. Your feelings are your truth. The actual events that caused the feelings can be distorted by youth, time, and the need to have a more comforting story, but probably either your memories are accurate, or they're covering up for something worse. You deserve to be believed.
posted by KathrynT at 9:35 AM on November 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


My three year old daughter likes Moonshadow by Cat Stevens.
So this morning, just like twenty minutes ago, while the five month old boy was having a nap, we sat and watched Cat's in the Cradle and also Wild World.

I hadn't heard these songs in decades.

I sat with her in my lap watching while I literally wept openly at the beauty of the message of love for a man's children and his heartfelt lament at them growing up and leaving home. She then wandered off and I decided to surf MetaFilter and found this post. After reading about this and seeing the first moments of the video I am weeping again. This kind of behavior is completely alien to me. I cannot imagine a father treating a child this way.
posted by No Shmoobles at 9:36 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Re: "calm" corporal punishment.

I can see how maintaining calmness and rationality is one sign of a less-harmful kind of corporal punishment, but on it's own it doesn't signify much (I suspect that out of all the factors that can signify non-problematic corporal punishment, "rarity" is the most important).

Michael and Debi Pearl are possibly the most popular advocates of "biblical corporal punishment" in the Christian community, and they stress that a calm and loving demeanor while administering punishment is the center of their philosophy. However, they also advocate that punishment must not stop until the child is obedient - crying, wiggling, pleading are all signs that the punishment must continue. The only thing that should end a beating, according the Pearls, is a submissive and obedient demeanor - holding still, not crying, accepting each blow quietly. The No Longer Quivering blog is an amazing resource for criticisms of this movement, and a recent post gives a first-hand account of how calm, loving punishment can "work so well" on naturally-obedient children and spiral out of control for those who are not.
Michael Pearl has only three methods to deal with continued rebellion in children, since his teachings are straight from the Bible, and therefore infallible:

1. Blame yourself. You must not be getting my teaching right.
2. Hit harder. Pain is of the essence.
3. Blame the kid. What else is left? Other people’s kids give in and act godly...

Options b. and c. are hard to do without getting angry. They are hard to do without leaving bruises, especially since Pearl discipline is cumulative: faced with entrenched rebellion, you are supposed to hit repeatedly and in the same areas. My ex-husband got angry with the kids for thwarting the Pearl method, but he remained coldly self-controlled. He also left bruises. A lot of bruises.
Of course, we don't know if Adams is specifically following the Pearl's teachings, but it's not like Michael and Debi invented their philosophy whole-cloth. Their justifications for abuse have clearly been common for years and years (adding a "biblical basis", of course, makes it more palatable and sets them up as cultural warriors fighting against secularization) It's very possible that Adams learned such justifications from his own parents. But the point is that, in many many circumstances, "acceptable" corporal punishment devolves very easily into "unacceptable" punishment (and Hillary Adams herself implies that the "disciplining" devolved into the situation which she recorded). It is likely that many families have the kind of temperment where parents can administer occasional corporal punishment, and children can accept that punishment as correction. But it's also true that many many families simply aren't equipped for this kind of mutual restraint.
posted by muddgirl at 9:41 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Now I don't know about other states, but here in Texas, judges are untouchable as a general rule. They're not fair and balanced, usually have the temper problems of a retired police officer with a strong superiority complex, and I've seen bribes happen right before my eyes. They strike under the table deals with slum lords, and really don't care about justice. I will be surprised if anything comes of this for him. Of course he thinks he's in the right. That's how guys like that are. No matter what public statements he makes, nothing is going to change him or how he works. He gets his rocks off on having power over other people and making them feel small.
posted by Malice at 9:49 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


For two very dark years of our lives, my mom was a pathologist in Saskatchewan who—presumably because she was young and a woman and non-white—was the designated specialist in pediatric forensics. In other words, she did all the autopsies on children who died violent deaths. Many, many years later, she told me about some of the things she had to investigate and report on there. I grew up in a family where detailed descriptions of disease and violent death were part of banal dinner conversation, but those Saskatchewan stories gave me nightmares. And so, what's so chilling for me about this video is that I know in a very visceral way that it can be much, much worse.
posted by LMGM at 9:50 AM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


In an abusive family system, the enablers often seem the most monstrous. They've made a bargain with the devil, and that's often harder to understand than the Devil himself.

Every so often, I need an outlet. So I retire into the depths of my mind where I keep a memory bank of such "devils". Its a free for all there, and I feel no remorse for what I think and wish there. People who hurt children get no amnesty in my hell.

But even deeper...there is a *special* hell I reserve for mothers of children who are complicit in this kind of abuse. These are the kind of mothers who believe they owe loyalty to a man that abuses her child(ren) rather than loyalty to the child. I know the kinds of tricks abuse can play on the mind of women who live in fear...but they are making a conscious decision to sacrifice the well-being of a child for their own well-being. The child has NO protection in the world if even the mother is supporting the actions of such "devils". It doesn't make her Susan Smith...but you're god-damn wrong if you think people like that aren't chained by the neck and ankle in the same bolgia.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:51 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


And after posting, I feel like a bit of a coward for distancing myself from this issue. My mother, who I love with all my heart, threw hair brushes at me and slapped me several times as a child. I can remember each incident quite clearly to this day (although that's probably a trick of memory). There was no calm discipline when this occured - they were clearly, even to me as a child, momentary acts of anger and frustration. It's difficult to say how this has affected me - I find myself falling into the same patterns when I am tired and frustrated (and I don't yet have a child who can become the locus of such feelings), but how much of this was learned and how much is a function of our similar biochemistry? I suppose it is a bit of both.

Also, my husband, as a child, was a terror. He threw temper tantrums from the age of 2 to 6. I'm sure many many bystanders like jonmc silently judges my in-laws for conceeding to his tantrums just to get him to shut up (even as an adult, I judge their prior parenting skills as "too lenient" compared to my parents' more authoritarian style). I'm sure many people thought he was in need of a good spanking. However, my husband has grown into an competent, controlled, disciplined man. He handles everyday stresses and frustrations much better than I do. He can let things roll of his back that make me react with anger and even physicality if I am not thinking. It's clear that, while throwing tantrums was not ideal, his parent's lack of discipline didn't turn him into a wild and uncontrolled adult. Ergo, my parent's discipline didn't turn me into a stable and successful adult. Culturally, we give corporal punishment an unduly-large share of the credit when it comes to successful upbringings, and ignore the many, many cases where it turns out so, so tragically.
posted by muddgirl at 9:55 AM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I need to call my Mom and Dad tonight, and thank them for being awesome.
posted by schmod at 10:02 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


That list is pretty interesting. Most of me is thinking something like this:
But surely that's everybody? That this list is like how horoscopes and cold reading work, you can show it to any damned person, and like 90% of it will fit. Everyone can identify themselves with that list.
Then there's a really small part of me that's wondering if I am wrong, and it's an actual list.
posted by Iteki at 10:07 AM on November 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


My son woke me up around 2 am this morning and I never was able to get back to sleep. Instead, I laid in bed next to him and read this entire thread on my phone.

My husband's mother was a spoon-wielder, and both he and his brother joke about her finding a giant cache of spoons hidden in the house when they were moving at one time or another. I have to confess I can't reconcile an image of this wonderful, warm woman whipping her kids with a spoon with the woman I know as my grandson's beloved Mimi. But there it is.

I was never spanked (that I remember - it's possible that I was spanked when I was still in diapers, but if so I don't recall it and it certainly wasn't the way I was disciplined regularly). I have hit my son once, and only once. He was about two, and (rather like Kathryn's story) was wiggling around trying to avoid getting ready for bed. He's a strong kid, and he's injured me by kicking me or head-butting me before. This time, in frustration, I gave him a firm swat on his (diapered) bottom. He sat straight up, looked me square in the eye, and with all the indignation a toddler can muster said "no hitting, mama!"

We have friends whose children are now young adults, who were spankers. I recall one particularly pointed after-dinner conversation with them where I held firm to the idea that violence leads to nothing but more violence. They sort of dismissed me as a (then) non-parent. "I had no idea," they said, "how to bring up a child." About a year or so later, they were horrified when their son (aged, I think, about 10) hit his grandmother - not once, but several time. Blackened her eye. "She wasn't listening," their son said, by way of excuse. I'm fairly sure that all corporal punishment in their home stopped at that time. But what a way to learn the lesson.

My kid is one of the "behaviorally challenged" ones that I suspect Jon has seen in his bookstore. He's five now, and will likely be formally diagnosed with ADHD in the next year or two (as much as I fight to prevent it). I'm sure that at a different time I would have been encouraged to spank him. "For his own good." I'm thankful that we live in a place, at a time, in a marriage, where that just isn't even something that is on the table.
posted by anastasiav at 10:07 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Daughter in beating video: Why I released the tape (with video interview).
posted by ericb at 10:21 AM on November 3, 2011


I have a temper. I have a toddler, who has occasionally seen this temper. I am terrified.

OK Here is your plan: You have to outsmart him/her. He might by wily and good at manipulation, he might be very clever at pushing your buttons, he might just be an obstinate kid. But you are much older and wiser. So ask yourself, what is he doing when you lose your temper and how can you short circuit that response?

Most parents have trouble with whining. Whining can drive you crazy and I have seen parents resist, resist, resist, and then give in. And then get angry about something else because they secretly resent losing control. When my daughter started whining that was always a trigger for me to put on my parenting face: "concerned and interested but low key" and mention conversationally, "I can't hear whining. If you want something or need something tell me in a normal tone and we will discuss it." If the whining went on I would tell her she sounded tired and probably needed a nap and I put her somewhere to take a nap or have a time out.

Learn to differentiate between small differences and big differences. My daughter used to drive me crazy because no matter how much time I put into making her hair look nice-- even consulting her on what we should do with it-- the minute we walked out the door her hands took out the braid/ponytail/barrettes/headband. I finally asked myself why I was so concerned about how her hair looked. It was because I felt that I was being judged by other people for her appearance. Putting it that way, I realized this was not something I wanted to fight with her about.

On the other hand there are emergencies like when she was 2 and ran out into the street. My husband grabbed her and began hitting her butt and my mother screamed at her and cried. I just reminded the two adults that we needed to be more in control-- she was at the stage where she liked playing "run away from mommy." Smacking a dog doesn't teach them to come when you call and it doesn't teach a kid that either. As parents of toddlers WE are the ones who need to make sure they stay out of danger by watching, baby-proofing, and keeping them distracted when they want to do something naughty. When your baby won't stop touching the TV, smacking his hands is a short-cut and easy to do, what is harder is leading him away to go play with blocks in the other room.

Probably the hardest thing to handle is the public melt down-- the screaming tantrum in the store or at a friend's house. Try not to see this as You, the Parent, On Trial, but remember that toddlers are little and learning how to interact with all the stimuli around them. Sometimes it is overwhelming to them and they lose it. My advice is be aware it can and will happen and try to be prepared. Figure out what you will do before it happens. If you can, leave the area and go to a quiet place like the car or bathroom.

And like I stated before, my coping mechanism was singing, lots and lots of singing. Also laughter. I tried very hard to see the funny side of things.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:27 AM on November 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


That list is pretty interesting. Most of me is thinking something like this:
But surely that's everybody? That this list is like how horoscopes and cold reading work, you can show it to any damned person, and like 90% of it will fit. Everyone can identify themselves with that list.
Then there's a really small part of me that's wondering if I am wrong, and it's an actual list.


It's an actual list. Some of those traits are a little more common or generic, but you're not taking into account that the list is detailing chronic or persistent traits, not just things that happen from time to time. But it definitely doesn't describe everyone, or even most people.
posted by Errant at 10:32 AM on November 3, 2011


Malice: here in Texas, judges are untouchable as a general rule.

This. This is a man who is used to getting what he wants and you can tell from his interview that it still hasn't dawned on him that this thing is bigger than his sphere of power. He is not used to having his control challenged. And he isn't going to seek help, because he doesn't want help; he wants people to do the fuck what he tells them to, and right now.

Hillary obviously knew she was doing something very dangerous by putting the video online, since she sat on it for seven years of apparent ongoing emotional abuse. However it appears she didn't anticipate that it would get quite this big, and her father has probably leaned on her about it and so she's making noises about stuffing the genie back in the bottle.

Paging Ms. Streisand ... How did that work out for you? I see.

That hizzoner's associates are already making concessions to the outrage, such as having other judges handle cases involving children during the "investigation," is already extraordinary. There will obviously be no real investigation, but if they have gone this far you can bet everyone is weighing hizzoner's wrath against that of the entire world beyond the Podunk County Line. They are probably hoping the shitstorm will quietly wind down so they can go back to the status quo, but I doubt that will happen. This thing has triggered an almost perfect storm of mass outrage and everything done in Podunk is going to happen under a microscope as long as hizzoner has a position of power there.

I seriously doubt this is going to end well for him. Long before it's over he's going to wish somebody had only beat the snot out of him. And since he's going to blame it all on Hillary, she is going to have to do what I suggested upthread and cut off contact with him. Fortunately, I think she will soon have opportunities to monetize this which she can use to extract herself from whatever support he is using to maintain his control over her. If she's already on the Today show a book deal can't be far behind.
posted by localroger at 10:53 AM on November 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


I have my grandmother's wooden spoon, which she used throughout my childhood for cooking, and which I have used as well for years. It's 30-some years old. I can't imagine buying a durable good intended for some mundane household task and which was made to last years, and then breaking it myself, out of anger, by striking a child with it. And then regularly going and buying another one to use for the same. I can hardly believe this is a widespread thing! Like a memo went out, or wooden spoons were always on sale.

(I got the bug-guts end of the fly swatter. The gross-out factor was worst than the swat. )
posted by pajamazon at 11:04 AM on November 3, 2011


It's an actual list. Some of those traits are a little more common or generic, but you're not taking into account that the list is detailing chronic or persistent traits, not just things that happen from time to time. But it definitely doesn't describe everyone, or even most people.

Exactly. Taken one at a time, pretty much everyone procrastinates about something, doesn't like getting yelled at, gets mad sometimes, has something about themselves they don't like very much, etc.

But it's very much not normal to feel all or a majority of the things on that list, always, for years.
posted by rtha at 11:08 AM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm not going into all the detail that Brandon Blatcher did, because his was more than terrifying enough as a representation of the South (and Baltimore?!?), but there is one thing my mother did that always stands out in my memory. When I was 8, I got mad at my little sister (2 years old) because she was playing with my barbies. So I called her a name, the same name that my mom called us when she was angry. I whispered - I don't know how my mom even heard me - under my breath, alone in my room, I whispered the word "bitch." My mom held me up against the wall by my throat - at 8. I got a lot of spankings with belts, I knelt on rice, I was called a lot of names and my self-esteem dropped lower every day, because of my mom and step-dad's reactions to my actions, which were never out of line. Saying "bitch" out loud was the worst thing I did until I tried to take other, more permanent actions in high school - and I didn't tell my mom until the scars from that were healed completely.

I can't believe that there were so many of us. I was singled out among us three girls, and we lived in a rural area, so I always felt like the only one. I didn't realize it was this prevalent.

Things do work out for the better, sometimes: I have a wonderful dad, though, who never, ever touched me, and tried really hard to make things better for me. I talk to my dad and see him every single day. I've stopped talking to my mom completely. Like a lot of you, I have wonderful kids who are everything to me. They're worth it.
posted by doyouknowwhoIam? at 11:22 AM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


This thread is one of the most important things I've read on the internet. I thank all of you very much for sharing.

I had once assumed that my experience growing up* (unconditional love always, the absence of any verbal or physical abuse ever) was typical but long ago realized that it unfortunately was not. Watching this story blow up all over and reading this thread (as heart-breaking as much of it is) gives me hope that it will become more than just "a thing on the internet" and help to solidify a cultural change that this kind of thing is simply not acceptable.

*FWIW, 60s/70s in a US military family.
posted by williampratt at 11:23 AM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


From the TODAY show interview:
[Hillary's mother] Hallie defended her participation in the incident, saying that her husband's physical and emotional abuse had “brainwashed’’ her.

She left her husband, she told TODAY, when Hillary was six months old, but he convinced her to return. She told him to stop texting and contacting her this past June, she claimed, and added that he has threatened to have her younger daughter removed from her custody.

“I lived in an environment of dysfunction, and it steadily got worse,’’ Hallie said. “I was completely brainwashed and controlled. I did every single thing that he did. When I leave the room, he’s telling me what to say, what to do.’’

.... “I think the story that’s going to come out in due time in his mind is that he has projected his problem on to me,’’ Hallie told TODAY. “For the entire four years since I’ve left the marriage, I’ve been abused and harassed with texts (and) emails.’’
Hillary held on to the video for seven years until a series of small disputes with her father led her to post it on the site Reddit. It quickly went viral.

“I waited seven years because back then I was still a minor and living under his roof and releasing it then, I don’t know what would’ve happened to me and my mother and my little sister,’’ Hillary said. “So waiting until today, seven years later, was about me being able to pull away and distance myself from the consequences.

“It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It wasn’t any huge happening. I told him I had the video, and he didn’t seem to think anything of it and basically dared me to post it.’’

.... Hillary, who lives on her own, has reconciled with her mother.
“We’re very close now, and when I showed her the video, she started crying and hasn’t stopped apologizing,’’ Hillary said. “I forgive her because she knows everything that happened.’’
This asshole thinks he's beyond reproach. He dared his daughter to release the video. Well, fucker, she did!
posted by ericb at 11:24 AM on November 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


The executive director of the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct, which oversees judges in Texas, would not confirm that the agency was receiving complaints about Adams.

And, today ...
Texas Judicial Panel Probes Beating Video
After being flooded with calls, faxes and emails calling for action, a Texas judicial panel is investigating an internet video that shows a judge beating his teenage daughter with a belt.

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct says in a statement released Thursday that it has "commenced an investigation into the incident."

The statement does not name Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, but it does reference "a YouTube video purporting to depict a Texas judge engaging in the act of striking his teenage daughter with a belt."

The 13-member panel comprises judges, lawyers and regular citizens. After a formal proceeding and hearing, it has the authority to censure a judge or recommend to the Texas Supreme Court that the judge be suspended or removed.
posted by ericb at 11:29 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rockport is, in my mind, a 'pretend town'. It's a major vacation spot for Texans and snowbirds. A great majority of the town is taken up by vacationers and RVers who have little to with day to day politics of the place. The rest are retired staunch republicans and drug addicts/dealers. It's a very strange mix of people. It's a port town, nestled right on the water and has some beautiful places. I don't know why I am explaining this really except that I'm trying to give some context to the area this happened in. It'd be easy to write it off as Hodunk-Texas, but where this actually happened should, by all means, make more outrage in the area, than day, it happening in a place like, say, Fred, Texas. There are some news vans hanging around. Maybe people will start asking questions soon.
posted by Malice at 11:30 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please ignore my typos, Swype hates me.
posted by Malice at 11:32 AM on November 3, 2011


But surely that's everybody? That this list is like how horoscopes and cold reading work, you can show it to any damned person, and like 90% of it will fit. Everyone can identify themselves with that list.

Iteki: As I mentioned above, I have my share of personal history weirdness, and I am far from a totally stable and well-adjusted individual. But that list does not describe me particularly well. I do not see myself in it.

It's an actual list.
posted by KathrynT at 11:39 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


KathrynT and h00py, and everyone else who shared your stories about parenting, thank you. Being the one to break the cycle ... It is so much harder than anyone who says "just don't hit/yell at your kids, it's that easy" can ever guess. How we parent can come so much from the way we were parented, good or bad, because it can be so ingrained. Finding, learning, and using new tools is a lot of hard work. There is no excuse not to do that work, though, and I try so hard to do it every day. I don't ever want my kids to write a history like those so many of you have been brave enough to share here, histories like the one I could write but try so hard to keep locked down because going back there would only hurt me at this point.

Thank you.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 11:40 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


That video, which I almost didn't watch, is very familiar. Regarding my history, I thought I'd be able to watch it without bawling. Needless to say, I am now bawling all over my paperwork. For anyone that's on the fence about watching it, my vote is don't watch it. It's exactly what it sounds like, and it just goes on and on.

That list is unbelievable. I had 26 matches. I'm going to leave this thread now, and finish working, and when I go home, I'm going to play Crazy 8s with my kids.
posted by doyouknowwhoIam? at 11:43 AM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


That video was so horribly familiar to me that I went into my old standby dissociation mode just watching it. "This isn't real, this is just a movie, I feel nothing." I don't think I even realized that until I came into this thread and started reading all of y'all's comments. I feel it now. I feel sick, and angry, and very sad.

It is extremely good -- really, really, making-me-cry-good -- to hear from those of you who say you broke the cycle with your own kids. Even if it's hard, even if it's a constant struggle -- it is good to know that it's possible. Thank you.
posted by ourobouros at 11:46 AM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


On the forgiveness thing...that was huge when I first had to go in to therapy in the 80's for this stuff. I believed then, as I do now, that some things are unforgivable. I was a child. They were adults.

The actively abusing parent, when confronted, denied everything. AAP blamed my "accusations" on me being controlled by drugs by a lesbian witch cult (which sounds like a lot of fun, not to mention a lot saner than the environment I grew up in, so I'm really disappointed I've never found these people). AAP is no longer in my life, hasn't been for ages, took restraining orders to start that process. Makes me happy.

The enabling parent (who had a few bad times with a belt, too), on the other hand, has made amends hard. EP has admitted doing wrong, asked what they could do to help, apologized (the smallest part, really, apologies are cheap) and tried very, very hard to rebuild our relationship. For a few years, it worked pretty well. In the long term, it didn't, and that may be more me than them. But, I have forgiven them, because they took responsibility for what they did. Huge difference.

As a data point, I'm another one who doesn't want children. For years, I made sure I was never around them. To this day, I keep an extra close eye on myself when I am. A friend of mine, when I asked her why she'd let her son stay over at my house (at his request) told me she trusted me more than other adults, because she knew I'd kill anyone who messed with her son and would cut off my own arm before striking or verbally abusing him. I'm touched, but I still don't trust me. Probably never will.
posted by QIbHom at 11:47 AM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


As a data point, I'm another one who doesn't want children.

Here too. Not the sole factor, but a heavily weighted one.
posted by everichon at 12:12 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just want to thank everyone who has shared something personal in this thread, this has been really incredible.

And that list, wow. I am an adult child of an alcoholic (who was never abusive), and I hit 21 out of 28.
posted by utsutsu at 12:18 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


People don't automatically deserve forgivness

Forgiveness is for the person doing the forgiving, to allow their own healing to begin. It's not so much for the person being forgiven- honestly they don't have to know.

forgiveness doesn't magically heal the wounds of those abused

No, but it's a place to start.

I say this as someone who has dealt with these problems. I'm still coming to terms with forgiving someone in my family, and it's harder doing it than just saying it, believe me I know. Maybe I'll relate the story here later. For now it's still kind of hard to think about.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:34 PM on November 3, 2011


Man, after reading this thread yesterday, I woke my daughter up this morning with gentle tickles and butterfly kisses on her nose.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:40 PM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


krinklyfig: "Forgiveness is for the person doing the forgiving, to allow their own healing to begin. It's not so much for the person being forgiven- honestly they don't have to know."

For me, part of the abuse was having my feelings, if even noticed, completely discounted. Anything I thought I was feeling was wrong and, besides, I couldn't possibly be feeling that.

So, to forgive them before they make even a small effort at amends is to feed that old, nasty tape that I am unimportant and my feelings are false.

I realize that forgiveness is useful for many. It is not for me. I only mentioned it because there are many paths to healing and I felt guilty for years because so many told me I had to forgive. It held up my healing rather than facilitating it.
posted by QIbHom at 12:47 PM on November 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


I'm reminded of Eva Kor's (controversial) words:

"Forgiveness is really nothing more than an act of self-healing and self-empowerment. I call it a miracle medicine. It is free, it works and has no side effects."
posted by litnerd at 12:52 PM on November 3, 2011


So, to forgive them before they make even a small effort at amends is to feed that old, nasty tape that I am unimportant and my feelings are false.

I understand what you're saying, but forgiveness isn't about making amends. It's about letting go of your own anger. It's for you, not for anyone else. But I also understand everyone has to go through their own process and not discounting the way you have to go through yours.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:55 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


a sad story about breaking the cycle...

so, i mentioned upthread that i come from a long line of abusers and enablers and victims. physical and emotional abuse are certainly in the wheelhouse, but my family's sickness is sexual abuse.

when i finally told my story, a few years after it was done (when i was terrified my brother had moved on to my sisters, which he had) - i had aunts telling me, "i knew something was wrong, and i just prayed it wasn't that."

years later when my cousin's story got told, one of my aunts (not her mom) was driving with me to run errands and the topic came up. she said some reveling and ultimately damaging things. she said that she keeps a black box inside of her where she stuffs all these feelings and that when my cousin's story came out, the box peeked open and stuff started falling out, so she had to figure out how to shut it up tight again. she said that she had so hoped the cycle had stopped with her and her sisters. she looked at me and said that it was my job, that i was the one to stop the cycle.

i was 16 years old.

the message i got, that i don't think she intended is that my cousin's abuse was on my shoulders. that my aunts (and mother) were obviously not strong enough to not be enablers and i was stronger, so i had to do it. i protected that girl as much as i could from hours away.

a few years after that my cousin got cancer and died. i have a letter she wrote me before she got sick where she talked about how excited she was to one day fall in love and get married. sometimes i find it when i'm packing up boxes and i cry for hours. she never got the chance to have someone she loved touch her and kiss her and protect her. she was never given the chance all of the women in my family, myself included, got - to try to erase some of the sexual abuse with sex on our own terms.

intellectually, i know it wasn't my fault. i know i was just a child myself. i know that it was her mother and father's job to protect her from the monster in their house. i know my aunt was just processing and didn't mean to lay all of that on me.

but, emotionally, i feel like i failed. like if i had ignored the church's council about "family matter" and "repentance" and "don't tell the authorities," that maybe the lurking molesters in my family would have seen that it's no longer a free for all on the girls.

i don't really know where this story is going. it's just been on my mind as we talk about breaking the cycle. i guess this is part of what i mean when i said upthread that i can't feed any more babies into this family.
posted by nadawi at 12:56 PM on November 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


krinklyfig: "forgiveness isn't about making amends. It's about letting go of your own anger."

There are other ways of letting go of anger. Lots of them, from physical exertion of various kinds to the kind of re-imaging of old tapes described above to self-help groups to focusing on other things.

With the EP, there were concrete things we both could did and did do to repair the relationship. With the AAP, it felt, at a deep, gut level, and still does, that if I forgive them what they did, I would be both belittling my experiences and saying that the pain was really not that bad.

Sure, everyone has their own process, and if someone is happy with their life (as I mostly am-I'd be worried if I were totally happy) and healing, the process is good. Whether or not it conforms to other people's expectations. I'm certainly not running around, spewing rage at everyone. Anger is the dubious luxury of normal people. I can't afford it. But I've also watched a lot of people over the years, and while there are things that tend to work well, not every technique works for every person. I see this as a feature (how wonderful is human variety and resiliance!) not as a bug.
posted by QIbHom at 1:07 PM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


i've forgiven all sorts of people for all sorts of things - but when part of what fucked you up is the people in charge telling you that you have to repent for being molested, because the devil has been allowed inside of you, forgiving to heal is a pretty big fucking stumbling block.

i am just fine never forgiving my brother. it doesn't lessen me to hate him. as long as i make sure that the hate doesn't overtake my living well is the best revenge, i think it's all ok.
posted by nadawi at 1:23 PM on November 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


it's fascinating to me how much these comments demonstrate the pattern so many posters here have mentioned about not wanting to have kids for fear of being unable to break the cycle of abuse.

I read that statement while scrolling to catch up with comments before I posted a little followup to my "story" way up above. I will note that yes, I got an occasional spanking from my mom, purely as discipline when I *deserved it*, but she never *abused* me. My drunken father was a flat-out abuser.

After Mom divorced my father when I was 9, I had to help and occasionally be the "man of the house" now and then; help raise my younger brother (four years age difference) and so forth. At one point I came home from college on a weekend, along with a couple of fraternity brothers, to kick Mom's husband out of the house. Not abusive, just a lazy asshole. He'd been served divorce papers but refused to leave, and then tried to say "I need to talk to your mother alone". I told him "No, you've done all the talking you're going to do, now you can get the fuck out of MY house." I'm 5'10" and was about 225 at the time. Not a violent person, but I think he saw something in my eyes, and left quickly and quietly.

I grew up telling myself that even if I didn't do anything else worthwhile with my life, I was going to NOT END UP LIKE MY FATHER. I mostly avoid alcohol (might have one or two glasses of wine a year). I did (and do) what I can to prevent violence against women and children. I turn 37 in two days and will most likely never have kids, because I know that alcoholism can run in families and I don't want any children of mine to go through what I went through.

I don't deny that this viewpoint on life - "Don't be my dad" has messed me up in some ways. Only a couple of years ago did I finally start realizing that something like being a little "energetic" in bed with a partner was *okay*; that there was nothing whatsoever wrong with it, and that being a little rough when the other person wanted it didn't go against my "no violence" creedo. It's *hard* to let that side of me come out, even a little bit at a time - because I've held it in for so long.

That "Adult children of alcoholics" list made me flinch. It hits way too close to home. Lots of reflections about my relationship with my late wife going through my head right now.

I look at myself and think "I'm a grownup. I'm not perfect by a long shot, but am recognizant of all my flaws. I have friends who say that I'm an awesome, great, nice guy, or one of the best people they've ever met. I've never hit a woman out of anger, or even in self-defense. Good enough."

Thank you for letting me get this out and put it into words.
posted by mrbill at 1:39 PM on November 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


Whether or not it conforms to other people's expectations

Just to be clear I'm not putting any expectations on you. Whether you forgive anyone is entirely your choice alone.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:46 PM on November 3, 2011


Fuck this guy. What a monster.
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 2:40 PM on November 3, 2011


Well, it's made Global News here in Ontario. I just saw their report. They say Adams is now on two weeks leave pending judicial review.
posted by aclevername at 2:47 PM on November 3, 2011


Quick note to jonmc regarding this:

"Possibly. I'm just saying that maybe being physically disciplined kept me from becoming like spoiled kids who think their entitled to be difficult and obnoxious. Who the hell knows."

Boundaries.

It is boundaries that are required, and a lack thereof encourages kids to be difficult and obnoxious. Consistent, thoughtfully applied boundaries. Violence -- when consistently applied for specific cause -- can be a way of enforcing such boundaries, and I can see how a kid might come out better for having had the boundary enforced (not for the violence per se), but that success comes despite the violence, and the violence can derail the success. I think many here (including myself) think it is much better to enforce boundaries using non-violent means.

Meanwhile, random, non-violent enforcement of boundaries (that is, flexible boundaries) is a recipe for growing obnoxious kids, and I think some parents think "well, I'm a good parent, I don't hit my kids" but that isn't enough if boundaries aren't being set and enforced. And if a parent is using violence in a random, unpredictable way -- that is, not only giving their child no consistently-enforced boundaries, but also beating up their kids whenever they're angry -- well, that's about as bad as things get for the child now and the child in the future.
posted by davejay at 2:51 PM on November 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Judge Adams's three-page statement [pdf]
posted by mynameisluka at 2:57 PM on November 3, 2011


What a weasel. Who cares why she's releasing the tape now? Who cares how severe her cerebral palsy is? Who cares if she was downloading pirated video games or music or whatever?

NONE OF THOSE THINGS JUSTIFY BEATING ON A 16-YEAR-OLD GIRL THAT WAY.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:03 PM on November 3, 2011 [20 favorites]


as my brother abused me he threatened that if i ever told, our family would be destroyed and it'd be all my fault. it's exactly what happened - slowly, horribly - it took me so many years to realize that he ruined the family, i just brought it to light.

i can't help but feel like that's the sort of shitty blame-shifting the judge is doing in his statement - that she's at fault for the shitty time her sister is having, that she's at fault for inconveniencing the texas courts. that her telling (and her motivations for it) are the thing we should be focusing on, not his fatherly "discipline."

what a fucking asshole.
posted by nadawi at 3:03 PM on November 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


That "statement" has done nothing but make me angrier.
posted by mrbill at 3:05 PM on November 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


Ugh, that "statement" makes me sick. For anyone who wonders why Hillary waited 5 years to release the video: can you imagine how much worse this would be if she were still living under his roof?
posted by muddgirl at 3:05 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jesus god.

One the one hand, I'm having some kind of survivor's guilt for not having played in that league so to speak. On the other hand, I'm pissed at myself for plotting the abuse on a spectrum. Judging child abuse on a relative scale unfairly "exonerates" adults who were, lets say, more creative about their methodology. It's the problem I wrestled with for many years. I hope she is as well adjusted as she seems and feels brilliant about getting to where she is.
posted by Fezboy! at 3:11 PM on November 3, 2011


I sincerely, sincerely hope that statement is used against the Judge in court. I want to see a lawyer just destroy it, point by point, for the fucking disgusting, victim-blaming, responsibility-dodging piece of work it truly is.

What a horrible, reprehensible man.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 3:13 PM on November 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Really, Judge Adams needs to shut his mouth, stop talking to the press, and get a better lawyer (maybe from Houston, not his divorce attorney from Corpus Christi).
posted by muddgirl at 3:16 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


i know so many survivors who were financially supported by their abusers. he paid her way for so many years probably partially to keep her mouth shut - it's just another branch of the control game.
posted by nadawi at 3:22 PM on November 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


From the statement: "16 year old daughter, who had been caught [...] engaged in repeated criminal activity"

Is copyright violation criminal there? I thought it was normally a civil suit?

In any case, as a judge he ought to know that there is a due process for dealing with criminal or civil violations, and that does not justify vigilante action.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:22 PM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


And so now she has now destroyed him.

I disagree. I see a broken man in that video, one living in abject emotional poverty. My hope is that this event leads to his eventual realisation of the pain and suffering he has caused; and I think Hillary has done him a huge kindness.

She may have affected his income and his status, but he was destroyed a long time ago, probably by his own parents.

About "spare the rod", there is an interesting video here.
posted by misterG at 3:26 PM on November 3, 2011


I have at least 25 of the 28 traits in the list Zarq posted... and neither of my parents was an alcoholic. I, however, self-medicate quite a bit.

I don't have children and never will. During some beatings or episodes of verbal abuse my mother would shout at me: "I hope you have a child just like you so you know what it's like!" That was just one of the 10,000 ways she made it all my fault. If my older (by 4yrs) and much bigger brother beat and bullied me, it was my fault, I must have "provoked" him. We abused children can be easily trained to believe that it is all our fault - that we are inherently flawed and thus blame-worthy. I didn't have children because I didn't want to have a child that I didn't like, just as my mother said she didn't like me.

I am tearing up as I write this, crying for the young person who had so many talents and dreams to fulfil. The scholarship winner who had to leave home and school at 16 or risk death (at mother's hands or my own). The excellent worker who self-sabotaged every promotion due to lack of faith in myself. The middle-aged adult whose siblings think is a failure because I don't have a career with an important title. I am so jealous of my siblings, especially my younger one who never had a hand (or the ubiquitous wooden spoon) raised to her, never had her birthday presents stolen and broken by the person who gave them to her, who got to complete her education and never had to change schools time and again because of her embarrassment at being abused...

I smoke and I drink both to excess. In my siblings' eyes, this behaviour is shows my lack of morality and is indicative of the reason why I was treated so poorly - I am inherently flawed. They don't realise that the behaviour metered out to me as a child is the cause of my desire to self-medicate now. Because I was the scapegoat, am still the scapegoat, it is easier for them to find flaws in me than in our mother. Our mother never abused them so it must be my fault right?

Like Ivan F, I too went home as an adult to care for my mother. And like him, I too discovered that the viper still lived inside the person everyone else saw as a sweet little old lady. I thought she had mellowed, I'd even come close to forgiving and forgetting but then it comes, a spew of ugly accusing disgusting abuse that takes me right back to 8 years old and her big strong hands slapping my face for crying because my older brother hit me.

Re the 'no children' thing: I wish I could have realised 20yrs ago that I was not flawed but abused. Then I might have had at least one child who I would have cherished and protected from the inheritance of abuse. I am not a violent person, I don't hit or scream awful words. I have always been a gentle and caring and I would have made a good parent, I know that now.

On some days, especially days like today reading this thread and listening to all you loving kind, humane parents, my greatest regret is not being amongst your cohort.
posted by the fish at 3:28 PM on November 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


Wow- that statement sure makes that judge sound like a pompous ass.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:33 PM on November 3, 2011


Really, Judge Adams needs to shut his mouth, stop talking to the press, and get a better lawyer

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. He must realize that he's not helping his case at all from a legal POV, but it appears he's in denial about the fact that he's abusive in the first place. Even so, can't believe he'd want to keep digging his hole like this instead of keep his mouth shut until legal hearings take place.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:34 PM on November 3, 2011


Ugly video, great thread. Much thanks to everyone who shared their stories. Those who accept corporal punishment as a valid parenting practice (my perspective - with reservations) have an easier time talking about it, and that should be acknowledged. You can't criticize without sharing your own vulnerability. It's one thing to tell a story, laugh and conclude with the idiotic "It worked for me!" and another to share your feelings on its negative impact.

For what it's worth, I think it should continue to be a legal option for parents, and while there are likely better options for getting behavioral results, i.e. animal trainers make a strong argument for the efficiency of reinforcing desired behavior, punishment is important as well and I can see a place for corporal punishment. As I'm very unlikely to ever raise a child, this is all academic. Partly for reasons relating to my own childhood where I was rarely physically punished, but often yelled at or lectured for hours, I haven't seen the appeal in family life.

-----

What the hell people? You teach others that it's not ok to beat up someone by openly fantasizing about beating someone up? The cognitive dissonance is staggering.

So it's wrong to hit children, but if they grow up to be an asshole then it's time to throwdown?


Interesting observations. We (that is Westerners, especially those of us sharing the worldview of the upper middle class) tend to minimize the connection between retribution and justice. And so the delivery of physical pain seems to have no place. But that's been part of how we reckon justice from the very beginning, "An eye for an eye...". But more than that, it's visceral. When we see an injustice, one of the most closely connected feelings is a desire to get your hands on somebody, and not just some body, a specific body. All the threats and the wishes to see Judge Adams beaten, show that there is nothing deviant or abnormal or even wrong about wanting to inflict pain on the offender. Respondingly forcefully to an offender is a big part of justice. It's the opposite idea that's abnormal, that there can be some sort of moral absolute against using force. Reminds me of President Clinton solemnly telling the nation "We must teach our children that violence is always wrong." - such a blatant lie.

-----

In my opinion the ultimate difference between corporal punishment and physical child abuse is whether the child comes away feeling that the punishment was motivated by a genuine desire to help the child, empathy and love on the one hand, or sadistic impulses on the other. The difference has much more to do with the context of the relationship than the details of the act.

Yeah, I agree.

There's a lot of condemnation here of families that discipline with spanking. As Krauthamer pointed out in his essay "Defining Deviancy Up" by the standard of "today" (from 1993) the vast majority of his parents' generation were victims of child abuse. This is a bit rich. Many of them, and of course many members of later generations as well, were punished much more severely and for longer periods of their childhood than what had been given partial approval here. Somehow I doubt there was a shortage of well adjusted individuals while spanking was more common. There's an interview with one of the men who intervened at the My Lai massacre where he attributes his morals to the harsh punishments administered by his loving but very strict parents. It's a gross simplification to equate all spanking with abuse.

On the other hand, as more families find other more effective means to parent, we should expect that future studies will show spanking to be less effective as the proportion of parents that have a crappy relationship with their kids and use it out of frustration increases.

I'm also reminded of an old AskMe thread that has always bothered me. The thought of the poster's brother raising a child turns my stomach. It's not even that he's physical with the child, it wouldn't matter if he wasn't. It's that someone described as "(If I) ask(ed) him to reconsider his child rearing tactics he'd step up his mistreatment to prove he could" is responsible for someone else. He sounds like he shouldn't be trusted with a viper, let alone a toddler.

-----

Actually this video (and this thread) make a compelling argument against any and all spanking. It isn't so much that "proper" spanking is damaging but that if you say that spanking is OK, then some parents are just going to take it to far. I'm sure William Adams thought that what he was doing was a normal and proper spanking. It's just that he's a fucking idiot.

On the other hand, if you make spanking as a whole taboo, then there is no real 'out' for this guy to self-justify.


This is the kind of logic used to destroy other people's options through regulation - it drives all attempts at social engineering.

Don't judge by the worst case scenario. Err on the side of giving people options. Some families may have circumstances where it's their best option - perhaps the child's personality, or the parent is rarely at home and wants punishments to be short in order to spend time doing something else with their child. Idiots will find a way to fuck up no matter what laws you have in place. Do something when the cost of the remedy when applied to the entire population, including the false positives, is less than the cost of leaving it a private matter. The cost of the remedy is not just fiscal but also stress and time in having to deal with CPS and the police.
posted by BigSky at 3:35 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


But that's been part of how we reckon justice from the very beginning, "An eye for an eye..."

That was apparently supposed to define the limits of punishment: no more than an eye for an eye; not a life for an eye.

Admittedly though, "you should or must take an eye for an eye" is the common interpretation.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:39 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Judge Adams's three-page statement [pdf]

Christ what an asshole.

I am sure that Hillary is not a faultless paragon of virtue in every way. I imagine that she, like many abuse survivors, has held a complicated relationship with her father over the years, and I'm nearly certain that she, like pretty much every young adult in contact with their parents, has experienced various disagreements with her family about her life and financial support.

But as sure as I am of those things, I am even more sure that the above letter shows an enormous disregard the way in which any father should speak to and treat his own daughter, especially on a national stage. Frankly, that letter reads as though he wishes he could be beating the living shit out of his daughter instead of drafting a press release.

The Judge describes the video simply as "two parents disciplining their 16 year old daughter, who had been caught, by her own televised and internet reported admissions, engaged in repeated criminal activity." In other words, he sees nothing remotely wrong with his conduct (seemingly backpedaling from statements yesterday in which he said he had "apologized" for it) and then goes on the offensive, attacking his daughter by claiming that the video was "posted for reasons other than as professed by the publisher."

From what I've read, the video was posted for the exact reasons professed by Hillary: her father beat her repeatedly as a child, she was pissed at him, and she wanted to make the conversation be about him instead of her. I have no particular problem with the fact that she was out for revenge here, and the so-called "hidden motive" was pretty clear to anyone following the story.

However, Hillary's motives are not the issue here. The only issue for Judge Adams is his conduct as depicted in that video and otherwise as a father. That video does not depict the discipline of a 16-year-old criminal. Rather, it depicts a cruel beating of a 16-year-old young woman at the hands of her enraged and out of control father for the "crime" of downloading music from P2P networks.
posted by zachlipton at 3:39 PM on November 3, 2011 [18 favorites]


"You teach others that it's not ok to beat up someone by openly fantasizing about beating someone up?"

In my experience getting the tables turned is the only thing that changes the behavior of these scumbags.
My mother was my abuser. She hit me nearly daily all my childhood. She also loved the wooden spoon, but as I became a teenager she gained a fondness for the stainless steel spatula (has holes to make blisters and turned sideways draws plenty of blood). I stopped fighting and crying around the age of 9 or 10 so as to just get it over with. These scenes absolutely terrified my younger brother and sister. Yes, I kept it a secret. Bruises and scabs were usually attributable to a sports mishap or some such. I often thought my best friend's parents knew I was lying. (I don't know where I would be today without them.)
Finally, when I was fifteen I put an end to it. She came at me with the spatula again and I took it away from her. She screamed and cursed and threatened if I didn't give it back. So I opened the back door and threw it over the fence. She then slapped me in the face with all her might. I did the same back instantly, knocking her to the kitchen floor. More screaming and threatening, but she retreated to her room...just wait until your dad gets home. When he got home he came to my room to threaten and beat me (though he was never the one to do it before). Long story short, I had him on his back on my bed with his hands pinned in very little time. I was prepared to pound him to a bloody pulp and told the two of them. Mom threatened to call the police. I told her to do it! The police might be real interested in the conditions of my life. And in the meantime my dad would be unconcious from me beating him long before the police could get there. My dad yelled at my mom to leave the room then quietly said to let him up. No one would ever hit me again. No one did.
No one gets out of families like this unscathed. Abusers are monsters. I still have a relationship with my mom and help take care of her affairs in her old age. A very real part of me still hates her with a passion...I will never let that go. Oh yeah...to her the stories of the beatings are just from the collective imagination of my siblings and me. She maybe spanked a couple of times in my whole childhood, and never with anything but her hand.

She was not beaten or even spanked as a child. My grandfather would never have put up with it. Just plane vicious.
posted by txmon at 3:42 PM on November 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Does anyone know if there's any way of contributing to her legal costs, or if that would disqualify her from getting aid? I'd love to donate if it would help.
posted by everydayanewday at 3:48 PM on November 3, 2011


Good grief. Judge Adams' letter reads like an abuser's script. He's the victim, not her. He was the only one who really took care of her. She made him beat her, and she should shut up about it because hardly anyone believes her anyway. He didn't abuse her, but she would have deserved if he had.

What a sick, sad little man.
posted by katillathehun at 3:55 PM on November 3, 2011 [17 favorites]


Judge Adams's three-page statement [pdf]

Non-PDF version of his statement.
posted by ericb at 3:57 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some update on the views of the local wildlife.

Basically, the guy is now officially all over the news and everyone's pissed in Rockport and the surrounding area. They want him out of office and in jail. I doubt he'll go to jail but there's some real hope here for him being removed from any position of power. That's something anyway.

Something I noticed in the video is that that girl's room is pristine. No teenager's room should look that way. That's the room of someone (clearly) being abused.

Anyway, there is now anger in Aransas County.
posted by Malice at 4:17 PM on November 3, 2011 [15 favorites]


As Krauthamer pointed out in his essay "Defining Deviancy Up" by the standard of "today" (from 1993) the vast majority of his parents' generation were victims of child abuse.

He starts the essay comparing surveys from 1940 and 1990 as to what teachers felt were the five most important problems in school. What he fails to recognize is that the problems listed in 1990 were all present in 1940 but never spoken in "polite company."

This is a bit rich. Many of them, and of course many members of later generations as well, were punished much more severely and for longer periods of their childhood than what had been given partial approval here.

Since those days we have come to recognize what child abuse means. In 1940 the problem was not acknowledged in the same way. Adhering to cultural norms can be considered non-abusive, but plenty of abuse occurred which was never reported, mostly because that wasn't an option.

Krauthamer is not someone I trust to speak with any authority on the matter. His job is to be a political pundit with a specific angle, one which is often the moral scold.

This is the kind of logic used to destroy other people's options through regulation - it drives all attempts at social engineering.

There are worse evils than regulation, such as a culturally ingrained and legally endorsed attitude that violence is the way to solve problems. As was mentioned upthread, several nations have outlawed spanking and have managed to do just fine without it.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:19 PM on November 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Something I noticed in the video is that that girl's room is pristine. No teenager's room should look that way. That's the room of someone (clearly) being abused.

Did you notice what appeared to be a poster of Bart Simpson writing lines on the chalkboard? That's quite chilling, if you think about it.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]



That dude's statement is a bunch of point missing asshattery. He's a judge - they aren't supposed to be that pants-on-head stupid.

And he makes more than me. I am, evidently, in entirely the wrong line of work.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:29 PM on November 3, 2011


I sure wish I could kick that dude in the shins. I'm not normally a violent person, but I really would like to kick him in the shins. If anyone deserves a shin kick....

*shin-kick*
posted by mudpuppie at 4:32 PM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


As someone with Cerebral Palsy that is likely as mild as Hilary's is, I want to say a giant 'fuck you' to Judge Adams for saying 'disabled' is mislabeling her. I know how my body feels and what a challenge it is to get around, to move, to not be exhausted. CP is a disability, physically mild, 'superior IQ' or otherwise.

And as others have said, he never even addresses the abuse in the video, just all the 'reasons' for why Hilary released it. Who cares why she released it, the actions in the video are what matter.
posted by aclevername at 4:32 PM on November 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


pants-on-head stupid

♬ keeping... ♪
posted by everichon at 4:33 PM on November 3, 2011


Judge William Adams will not be prosecuted.
posted by likeso at 4:42 PM on November 3, 2011


So basically, according to the Judge's statement -- he didn't do it, it wasn't that bad, she deserved it, she's not THAT disabled, it's suspicious that she released it when she's a legal adult and not when she was a minor in his care, and she only released it because she hates him.

good lord. I'd call him a shitcock, but that's not fair to people who get shit on their cocks.
posted by KathrynT at 4:44 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's too bad, by the end of this he may wish he had been prosecuted. Vigilante public can be much harsher than a jury of peers.
posted by litnerd at 4:45 PM on November 3, 2011


It's as if he doesn't know we've seen the video. Also he seems to think remarking that it is a viral video reflects badly on his daughter, that the internet has marked her as virulent, not him.
posted by Anitanola at 4:48 PM on November 3, 2011


I've spent the last few hours reading through these, and am only three quarters through. I want to share, too, before I go up and read the rest.

I wrote this in my private journal recently:
The first time you ever remember feeling this way is two years before your dad dies. Summer. There's supposed to be a backyard BBQ. Your grandparents are over. Your mom and dad take a walk and don't come back. He has a seizure, but no one tells you that. You just hear nebulous conversations on the phone. Go upstairs, tuck yourself in bed, watch the sun sink down.

After that it happens a lot. He gets depressed. She gets mad at him for being depressed. In bed all day, smoking cigarettes, nothing but skin and bone and vultures drawn on napkins. ("When you're dead," he says, "the vultures come.") She screams and screams and screams. You remember the day he tore the utility bill, the chaos after. A few days later, in the tub, you ask him if they're going to get divorced. He says he doesn't believe in divorce--you think this is strange. Believe? You think of all the books on Buddhism on the bookshelves. What's it matter? He tries to read to you from The Secret Garden but can hardly get the words out (emphysema . . . years later, she tells you that you knew about this, they all did. But you don't remember anyone explaining that your Daddy was dying. And it surprised you when he did).

After that, the feeling comes more and more often. Soggy. Empty. You pull your stuffed dog to your chest at night, wondering how to put the pieces back together. Listening to your mom downstairs slam dishes and sob. All of your dreams are about your father running off to some other family, about being lied to. Your mother drags you to therapy once, and only once. Her therapist. "You have to be good for your mother," she tells you. Good? You think of all the nights you've hugged her, hoping it will Fix This. You get good grades, don't even tell anyone about how the girls in summer camp tease you, call you a freak. Good? You thought you were good.

All those nights, sobbing against your stuffed animals, your pillows. Retreating into books. When you have to get glasses your mother tells you it's your fault for staying up to read by the hallway light. Something is burning inside of you, yellow on black.

Puberty means giving up on being good. It means breaking things. You feel powerful when you slam drawers and kick holes in the wall. Your mother tells you you're crazy, you're crazy, just like your crazy father. You remember following her around the house begging her to give you rules. You remember the night she refused to speak to you and sent you to your grandfather's house and in the morning he made you oatmeal and told you he thought your mother was too hard on you. The only person in your family who ever seemed to understand.

Why are you always leaving her? That's what she always asks. When you stay overnight at your friend's, when you meet a boy and stay out late. She hates everyone you ever loved, at least at first. She cries over the dishes, always the dishes. Frank why did you leave me, et cetera et cetera.

But you work hard. At not being crazy. At not being angry anymore. Every year you get further and further away from all that until your daily life is happy: laughter, love, reasonable conversation? You didn't know family could be like this, could be peace. But it is. God, it feels good to be home, to be safe, to be level, even, sane.

But sometimes it still happens. Your mother calls you up angry about . . . something. The rain. Tonight it was the rain. How you don't take the rain seriously enough and the place where you live is terrible and you really should be looking for a new home. No, you say, this is hurting my feelings. I'm upset by this conversation. Please . . . you act like I'm always such a bitch to you. Well, then I'll be a bitch you you and she unleashes a string of obscenities that stuns you into silence. She rants herself into exhaustion. Then hangs up.

Don't get me wrong. It isn't always like this [or else why would you stay?]. You love your mother [she's just crazy, is all]. But when, at twenty-seven, you pull yourself into bed and pull your stuffed dog to your chest, and don't even cry--soggy around the edges, your brain pounding, the light in the house yellow on the black outside the windows--you think that this feeling [strange, hollow, small] is all too familiar, is almost like coming home.
What I didn't write was this: how often my mother not only shamed me, but smacked me or screamed at me, too. My father was abusive to her, but I never saw it. What I remember is her rage on me--she was always the one doling out spankings, and always angry, and they didn't lessen as I got older but got so much worse. I'd be thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, up too late on the computer. I never had a bedtime, never had "rules"--it was "do as you want until I get pissed at you." I didn't have many local friends. I spent most of my time online, in online roleplaying clubs--my creative compatriots, my friends. Until she'd start screaming at me. "Go to bed." "Go the fuck to bed." "You're obsessed. You're sick. You're an addict." And then she'd come down, get in my face, start smacking me or shaking her finger in my eyes.

That's what gets to me about the video. The waiting at the beginning. You know she's going to get it. Your whole body tenses up. There's nothing you can do. You wait for the inevitable. What Hilary got is so much worse than what I got, and it makes me feel horrible for even comparing myself. But still, I know what it is to be hurt and to wait for it. That inescapable rage. After my mother would finish, I'd hit my head over and over again on the wall, kick things, slam the computer tray, break drawers. If my mother saw, she'd tell me I was sick--just like my dead, violent father. I felt so helpless. So angry and powerless. And I couldn't run to my friends for support, because they were on the internet, which was always the source of her rage.

I realized recently how deeply the seeds of parent-planted self-loathing go. I injured myself twice recently, stupid mistakes--dropped a part of an exercise bike on my foot, slipped in a bathroom and gave myself a shiner. My first response to both of these was to apologize to whoever was around to hear it. Why? Because when I was a kid, hurting yourself meant that someone was going to tell you how dumb you were, how it was all your fault and you deserved it. The apology was a deflection.

I'm working on that now. Working on a lot of things.

I love my mother. I always will. But things will never be healthy between us--how could they? I talked to her a few months ago about the hitting. We were walking her dogs through her neighborhood. Her reaction was to "jokingly" hit me on the side of the face and tell me it was no big deal. I stood there in the middle of the street and burst into tears. A 27 year old woman. Recently, she told me that her only regret was mourning my father for so long--that's what screwed her up, she says. Maybe so. But my sister and I were the ones who were, and are, damaged by it.

My husband and I work hard at being healthier than our parents were--because his were no treat, either. At communicating and not hitting (I pushed him once, when I was 19. He smacked me once, as a joke. Both of our reactions made clear that this was nothing approaching acceptable or okay for either of us in our relationship). And you know what? Ten years down the road, it worked. I'm not a violent person. I haven't hit anyone or broken anything in years and years and years. I'm not the person my mother told me I would be. I'm still working on a lot of things, but I'm really fucking proud of that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:53 PM on November 3, 2011 [18 favorites]


From the Corpus Christi Caller Times:

"The judge regrets the interruption and inconvenience the situation has caused the Aransas County community and expressed confidence that the situation will be settled through the justice system."

Of course he's confident. And from what I've read above, he's right. It's been resolved, and there will be no legal recourse. Now all he has to do is wait for it to blow over.

People like him make me sick.
posted by Malice at 5:01 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also he seems to think remarking that it is a viral video reflects badly on his daughter, that the internet has marked her as virulent, not him.

In the video, he remarks to his wife something to the effect that he always knew that "computers were nothing but trouble." He's clearly not a big fan of the internet in general, and I suspect this incident has hardened that stance.
posted by zachlipton at 5:02 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, what then? This is all over for him now? Not even going to lose his post? Really?
posted by everydayanewday at 5:03 PM on November 3, 2011


Not even going to lose his post? Really?

I was hopeful, but most likely not. As I said above, judges in Texas are untouchable.
posted by Malice at 5:05 PM on November 3, 2011


The thought of a total and complete lack of consequences for this scares the shit out of me. Hasn't he got a 12 year old in his custody right now? What will happen to her?
posted by everydayanewday at 5:13 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks to everyone for the advice and support. I printed it out to read later because it is hard to process things while reading this thread. This thread is deep. I have been thinking about this all day.

harriet vane: But maybe treat this as an opportunity to sort of become a detective of your developmental history: compare the bad things you feel about yourself to the evidence of your life, and see if you can find a friend or therapist who will give you objective feedback about it.

This is very good advice. Something good that is happening for me is the rewriting of certain impressions in my mind. I have lived with so many contradictions about myself, who I am and who I can be. I do not want to have children because I don't want a problem child like me and I am afraid of my own potential for violence. I have been adamant about it. At the same time, I strongly feel I would be a good mother and have been told that by others (one of many positive things I tend to dismiss until I can't anymore). I could never reconcile my intuition about being a good mother with my negative beliefs. But I would not be like my mother, that's what I realized today. I am not like her now and I never have been. I also now know that I was not necessarily a bad child, although I am sure I need a lot of help even to see my childhood self as neutral, much less as a good person.

I have had so many mindgames played on me I really can't believe it. I would not have realized any of this if not for the hundreds of comments in this thread. One of the hardest things is holding on to the truth that I am not being unfair to my loved ones just by saying these things out loud. I don't have to police myself so much and scrutinize my thoughts for badness.
posted by Danila at 5:21 PM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hillary has tweeted a picture that she says depicts a text message from her father to her mother. In it, he claims "I have never harmed either child and you know it. We all said we were sorry after that and you were involved just as much if not more than me in the spanking." What planet is he on?

At this point, this has become an incredibly sad family drama that is playing out on the most public of stages. It feels entirely too voyeuristic to be privy to all this.
posted by zachlipton at 6:02 PM on November 3, 2011


I was OK with it until the mother's reaction.

No matter how hard you're hit, no matter how often, no matter the method (the heel of a dress shoe was the preferred weapon), the worst part was always regaining consciousness (thank god for the times you lose consciousness and finally get a little bit of peace, if only for a few minutes), and getting the final kick in the teeth by your mother shaking you and, after confirming you're alive, telling you that you shouldn't have (done that/said that/not done that/not said that/whichever) because you know it makes him angry. Why do you want to make him angry?

Bones mend, bruises fade, cuts heal. But the words.

You never forget the words.
posted by geckoinpdx at 6:28 PM on November 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


In the video, he remarks to his wife something to the effect that he always knew that "computers were nothing but trouble."

"Hoist with his own petard."
posted by Anitanola at 6:47 PM on November 3, 2011


Is it just me, or does zarq's ACOA list seem to be a much more general summary of the ennui of being an adult in the 21st century? I grew up in what I'd consider to be a pretty good household, and can still relate to most of those. Am I damaged and just don't know it, or was that list written to be broad enough as to have universal appeal?
posted by schmod at 6:50 PM on November 3, 2011


schmod, I think the key is whether or not those things on the list are things you feel pretty much all the time, or if they're fleeting. Someone upthread said basically the same thing you did, that everyone can find something on that list that they identify with now and then. But I personally am not affected by those things "now and then". It's constant. Every day. There's no end.
posted by palomar at 6:57 PM on November 3, 2011


gilrain: "We beat people like this by being better than them. If someone does make good on the threats to beat him in return, it will only validate the worldview that drove his sadism. If this ends well, he will get justice, not revenge. "

What if the abuser is untouchable in court?
posted by dunkadunc at 6:59 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Deeply, deeply offensive.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:02 PM on November 3, 2011


Bones mend, bruises fade, cuts heal. But the words.

You never forget the words.


Yes. The well known version is a false rhyme:

Sticks and stones
may break my bones.
But words will never hurt me.

The true verse runs:

Sticks and stones
may break my bones.
But words?
Words last forever.
posted by BigSky at 7:09 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let's create a system where Adam's isn't untouchable. Perhaps violence is one tool to get there, but I think that activists like MLK Jr also recognized the value of what Hillary is doing - naming and shaming. A troll upthread criticized Hillary for seemingly instigating violence for the camera, but didn't the Selma protesters "welcome" police brutality, if it was in the public eye?
posted by muddgirl at 7:20 PM on November 3, 2011


Adams already isn't untouchable; the statute of limitations has expired. Had this video been posted a few years ago he probably would have been indicted.
posted by Justinian at 7:39 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Forgiveness is for the person doing the forgiving, to allow their own healing to begin

If that works for you, great. But this is constantly repeated as received wisdom to the point of becoming a Hallmark card. I find all it does is marginalize what was done. "Anger" isn't an invalid emotion that I need to get rid of whatever the cost.
posted by spaltavian at 7:50 PM on November 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


the statute of limitations has expired. Had this video been posted a few years ago he probably would have been indicted.

First order of business should probably be extending the statute of limitations on beating the hell out of a child.
posted by spaltavian at 7:51 PM on November 3, 2011


Adams already isn't untouchable.

Even if the statute of limitations was expired (which I don't know is true considering Hillary has cerebral palsy), Adams could be asked/encouraged/strong-armed to step down. Child protective services could step in to investigate if he is abusing Hillary's sister. I think in Texas he can be recalled.

I will be pleasantly surprised if any of these occur. Maybe if he keeps releasing statements along the lines of "my daughter is a bitch," but considering Rockport, I honestlly doubt there are enough permanent residents to care.
posted by muddgirl at 7:52 PM on November 3, 2011


It's a real list. Think of it as a general profile, which shows that a person raised in a dysfunctional home environment often exhibits certain behavioral patterns. Patterns which, once someone is aware of them, can then be examined more closely and perhaps avoided.

For me, it was a sign that I might be able to shift things. I'm not really sure I can convey properly how deeply that knowledge affected me and my perceptions about myself.

I fell in love. Got married. Was terrified. I didn't want to hurt anyone I loved. You hear all the time that people who were abused become abusers themselves. I thought it was inevitable. An unbreakable cycle. I thought I was fated to be a vicious, bitter, worn down man like my father, or fury incarnate, like my mother. They used to rage and rage. My father hit my mother. They both hit me. I lived in fear throughout my childhood.

I was scared to have children. I loved the idea of being a father, but... what if despite all my best efforts, I screwed them up the way my parents did to me. How could I live with myself if I did that to them? I don't want to raise a child to live in fear of his or her parents. And now that I'm a father, I worry about that a lot. More than is probably rational. But still, it's there. What if? What if? What if?

My wife says, "and what if you don't?" She doesn't understand.

But here's the interesting thing: She's right.

That judge is not accepting responsibility for what he's done. But we can and should accept responsibility for our actions and for the choices we make in life.

The list is an indicator, not an indictment. It's a way of telling people, 'if you fit most or almost all of this list and you grew up in a dysfunctional home, you may be able to do something about it. Break a pattern you might not even be aware you were following."

It gives you a choice, and a way to accept responsibility for yourself. How you treat the people you love and raise a family is in your hands. It's not fated. The outcome isn't inevitable. And as stupid as it probably sounds, that gave me a great deal of hope for the future.

I have two kids. I make conscious choices to be the best possible parent I can be for them. I don't hit them. I have learned to defuse situations and redirect their anger, sadness and ornery-ness when I need to. And I am always, always aware of how I am reacting to them. Am I escalating a problem or defusing it? That is how I consciously accept responsibility for my own actions and attempt to break the cycle.

I grew up in a truly fucked up home. That may have shaped the person I am today, but it doesn't define me. I do that.
posted by zarq at 8:06 PM on November 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


And oh, dear lord, please don't anyone read my last comment and think that I think I'm a perfect parent. Because my kids are only three and it's a freakin' miracle I haven't caused more damage to them from my own incompetence or frustration or fear, or obsessiveness.
posted by zarq at 8:17 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


You just described the rest of us parents too, zarq.

None of us is perfect -- I for one shudder at the thought of some of my parenting past -- but your mindfulness about your background is your ally. Would that there were more parents like you.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:56 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


First order of business should probably be extending the statute of limitations on beating the hell out of a child.

What on Earth is the legal thinking behind a 5-yr (or even a 10-yr) SoL on chid abuse in the first place?? Unlike adult victims of crimes, a dependent minor almost certainly doesn't have the [intellectual, social, or financial] resources to bring -- or even contemplate -- a charge against an abusive parent upon whom they depend. In this context, it seems that the more reasonable SoL would be measured not from the time of the offense, but rather from the time the victim reaches majority. What purpose does the SoL serve?

[SOL indeed.]
posted by Westringia F. at 9:28 PM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Right now the texas law covers people under 14 as 'children'. So the laws that the judge would be charged under would be laws about 'family abuse' rather then 'child abuse'. I think having a statute of limitations isn't that big of a deal, you wouldn't want people bringing up ancient history and trying to get each other indicted because of some recent fight. It doesn't even sound like Hillary wants her father in jail over this at all.
posted by delmoi at 9:36 PM on November 3, 2011


> What on Earth is the legal thinking behind a 5-yr (or even a 10-yr) SoL on chid abuse

Not a lawyer, but from what I read here, it's probably not directly related to child abuse, but rather to the crime being felony/misdemeanor etc.

The first child comment also suggests that it might indeed be the case that 5/10 years would be counted from her 18th birthday.
posted by egor83 at 9:38 PM on November 3, 2011


Nth-ing generational, regional, ethnic, class, etc. variations on norms for child correction make people see this video differently; for example, see some of the comments in an AOL-level Black-oriented site. I am, among other things, a childfree Black Southern aunt in my 30s with working poor roots. During my childhood, I knew people who were abused and who their community agreed were abusive (read:excessive) and a little abused white girl who lived next to me had her dad beat her mom a lot and then he finally killed her. The police and child protective services were all up in that family's life, but the mom still died, and the little girl I spent a summer playing with was still sad. If they had been rich in relatives, money, or other resources, maybe they could have all survived, or maybe not.

Most people I have known in the South and Midwest got hit, however, lightly or calmly, as punishment at some point in their young lives. As for me, I only received spankins or whuppins from relatives who babysat me. My mother talked things out with me as soon as I was able.

I think that the history of slavery in our country's history, the prevalence of might makes right in the US cultural mythos, and domestic violence infused with sexism all contribute to the fact that children can be so mistreated in the US. This is in sharp contrast with the US people who over-indulge/spoil/neglect to teach their children boundaries. These circles co-exist and sometimes even overlap.

Kids are the recipients of so much adult frustration. Not king or queen of your own domain? Got a lousy job or marriage relationship? Stressed and/or oppressed? You can still lord it over kids and even use them as punching bags to a certain extent without much social sanction.

Having seen so many kids beaten/whupped/smacked/hit etc., when I see an unruly kid, I might be annoyed, and I might think the parents need to discipline them, but smack that ass is not the best way to do it.

Let's decide as a nation whether kids should be treated better and advocate for balanced treatment of kids whether we are guardians our not. Some pets get treated better than some kids.

I'd also like to reiterate that since this is a white man in a position of power, this story has gotten a lot of traction. If the white guy was not from Texas, I would think it would get even more. So often physical and emotional abuse of privileged people can be muffled whereas for the underclass, there may be fewer social layers of protection.

Anyways this was abuse.
posted by MidSouthern Mouth at 10:30 PM on November 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'm in the same boat as so many of you here, and the recent confrontations I've had with my father over his treatment of me has gone down the denial path too. I am comforted by this confirmation you've provided here of pattern thinking in abusive parents - that is, to minimise or dismiss or deny outrageous treatment of their children. My father told me "I've never hit anyone in my life" [snort, really] to which I replied "you've never hit anyone your own size." He really hasn't thought of his children as "anyone in [his] life" - just as this judge seems to be talking about his daughter as though she is just some random girl who clogs up his life.

It really gets me that people who assault others their own size/ unrelated adults can be charged with assault, but the family is a site for state-protected violence. Why is it argued that it is especially okay to hit your own children? It shits me to tears when I see mass marketing of family at holidays - it's a farcical representation of what is legally, and as this case shows, a social prison.

I haven't had children and have wanted to, but like Nadawi, I feel like it would have been a dangerous thing for me to do. I'm not sure I've got all the rage of my upbringing under control.
posted by honey-barbara at 10:30 PM on November 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's a miracle the species has made it this far. Beating one's children to excess seems like it should be an evolutionary dead end.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:53 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Adams already isn't untouchable; the statute of limitations has expired. Had this video been posted a few years ago he probably would have been indicted.

According to Hillary her intent was not to bring the law down on her father but to encourage him to get help and stop his continuing harassment. Not sure as to his status on the bench from this point, but I can't imagine his current position as a family law judge beneficial for the community.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:41 PM on November 3, 2011


That (non) statement is the biggest piece of shit I've read on a long time and I read stupid shit all the time at work, so I know.

It occurred to me that, given the well-known treatment meted out to both those involved in law enforcement and child abusers in prison (and what that would entail for someone who is both), there is a simple (possible) solution as to why she held on to the video for so long. If you desperately wanted someone to get help and to prevent any further abuse, but still cared enough about them to not want to be the cause of them being abused themselves in prison, one way to do that would be to wait until the statute of limitations expires and then release the video - the person can't be prosecuted, but just may be forced into doing something about the root cause of the abuse. If so (and this is obviously just speculation on my part), she's a better person than me, by a long shot.

Lots of animal species eat their young or leave them to starve when food is scarce, so I don't think this is about an evolutionary dead-end. I did think, though, that we had evolved beyond that point. Perhaps not.
posted by dg at 1:21 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree, dg – and I also think that another reason to do this "now" is fairly obvious; her little sister is now getting to the age when this abuse either began, or ramped way up for Hillary, and this would also be a thing that she may not feel like being explicit about publicly for many reasons. Save for some sort of turnaround on his part, which is obviously something that wasn't and isn't going to happen, I don't know how else she could protect her sister against someone who was effectually untouchable by virtue of his position and power.
posted by taz at 1:35 AM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I hadn't though of the sister angle. Putting the spotlight on her (which it surely must be now) may be the only way to protect her.

I'm trying not to think about how he is apparently immune to any action from this and could well end up remaining a judge (a family law judge, no less!). If I really admitted to myself that this could happen, I don't know what I'd do. I don't even have the words to describe how much that saddens and angers me.
posted by dg at 2:09 AM on November 4, 2011


The Today show piece states that the mom has custody of the younger sister, but that he is puahing for custody. Whether that push is since the release of the tape, or the cause of the release I don't know.

Regarding my question on the list, I wasnt trying to blow the list off, the question was genuine, thanks for the answers. It kinda helps answer one of my other big existential questions about whether everyone else is just faking how they get through their days and lives. Guess not.
posted by Iteki at 3:06 AM on November 4, 2011


I do not mean to defend this judge, nor to minimize this young woman's ordeal; that the judge's prepared statement focuses so much on the motivation behind the release of the video, and never even approaches anything like regret for his conduct, is perhaps the clearest indictment of his present character thus far.

But the mere fact that her father is monstrous does not make Hillary a paragon of virtue, and the judge's statement - if the facts within are true - does explain the timing and nature of the video's release far better than Hillary's own non-specific explanations.

My skeptical take on Hillary's motives derives from my own experience as a child:

I was slapped on the face as a child, whipped with a belt (occasionally hard enough to leave bruises and raised welts on my legs, and once even hard enough to draw a bit of blood, though my memory on that point might be compromised), and subjected to the dreaded fingers-clenched-painfully-on-the-jawbone-to-compel-eye-contact maneuver.

I was also an obnoxious little shit as a child: a liar, a thief (who once stole sixty hard-earned dollars from his mother), and pathologically unable to maintain a clean, orderly environment and person (a failing that I'm sorry to say follows me even to this day).

Although I am with the majority of contributors to this thread in believing that physical discipline of the sort I endured was not ideal, and I hope never to practice it myself, I hesitate to name it abuse. The punishment was always clearly defined as punishment for a recently committed wrong, and although it was sometimes not exactly stoic, it was certainly never delivered with quite as much... relish as that judge.

But even if we were to name it abuse, it does not change the fact that I was an obnoxious little shit.
posted by The Confessor at 3:54 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Life seems to be a lot easier when I recognize that no one is a "paragon of virtue" - we're all human dealing with our human shit, and no amount of human shit "deserves" to be responded to with intentional, pre-planned violence. Furthermore, it really clearly doesn't work.

My mom smacked me to get my attention. Sure, it got my attention in the moment, but it didn't cure my underlying attention and anxiety disorders, the latter of which was probably exacerbated by the shocking physical violence. My mom threw hairbrushes at me when she was angry that I wasn't taking care of myself - it's an understandable instinct, but it didn't really help - my self-neglect only got worse as I got older.

So given that violence didn't help, saying "it didn't hurt" seems like a half-hearted and ineffective defense.
posted by muddgirl at 5:12 AM on November 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Even children who are obnoxious little shits don't deserve to be beaten up. Even if they lie, even if they steal, even if they're messy and dirty. They're children. Parents are supposed to teach them not to be obnoxious little shits, and how to be well-rounded and moral people. Violence does nothing to help them learn. It only fools them into thinking that they're bad inside.
posted by harriet vane at 5:30 AM on November 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


What is forgiveness, anyway? Is it an emotion? A thought? An action? I don't believe it's something you can force yourself to do. It either happens or it doesn't, and I will never judge anyone who can't or won't forgive someone who has given them lifelong scars.

I think it was someone here on MeFi who pointed out that forgiveness is just the point where you realise that the past is never going to have been any different. Please do let me know what the proper wording was, or who came up with it. I found it useful.

No matter how I feel about my childhood (and my issues were different from the ones we've heard here), my rage, my disappointment, my hurt, my coldness, my apathy, my logic and reasoning, my whatever at all will not undo a single moment of what happened. It will not change the people who hurt me, who have to change by themselves if it ever happens at all. So whatever I feel or think, I do it because I want to or need to for the present or future. I do it for me, not because I'm so virtuous and high-minded, but because it's literally impossible for me to help or change anyone but myself.

I've forgiven, for a certain definition of 'forgive'. It doesn't heal anything, but I think maybe it stops you from picking at the scab long enough that maybe the healing could get a start. Maybe some people aren't scab-pickers to begin with, so it's not necessary. I'm no expert, but my experience tells me it was a good thing to do, when you look at the big picture.
posted by harriet vane at 5:56 AM on November 4, 2011


I'm so glad for MetaFilter threads like this. The vast majority of you calling it for what it is: sadistic, brutal, completely unacceptable.

I didn't want to watch the video at first. Read through about a hundred comments, and was oddly (hope y'all can relate) reassured by fellow survivors of child abuse. Then decided I might try watching it, with my mouse outside the video popup so that I could reflexively click and stop it if needed. I ended up watching the whole thing.

It made me blanche because it was so much like what my cousins went through. Just a little worse than what I went through. And so, even though I've mentioned my childhood in AskMe, even though I've been in therapy for a few years, even though I have wonderful friends who support me, here I am realizing, thanks to you, that my childhood was still more violent than I've entirely realized. I've even been hesitant in the past to call it violent, since my parents "only" smacked me with their hands, not a belt, but just like the father smacks Hillary - wildly, in a rage, indiscriminately. Then the "reasonable discourse."

It's like this type of parent all have the same script. I had an old PC in my room, one that my drafter-designer parents didn't use any more. I had a 600-baud modem at first. Would dial into Prodigy (I think it was) and use gopher to check out local library stuff. My parents hated it. Hated "that damn computer that causes so many problems." I was punished so many times for using it, and yet I never stopped. Here I am 20 years later, working as a software tester in spite of a Masters in comparative literature, because I still love fiddling around with that sort of thing. But they never saw potential. Instead, this crap spewed by Hillary's father was said to me so many times, that hearing it again was like feeling a bolt of lightning blaze through old, such old, familiar memories.

"You don't deserve to be in this house. Disobedient. What happened to you, Hillary? Once you were obedient, nice, little girl. Now you lie, cheat and steal. Puttin' the fuckin' ?? on the ??, I'm gonna keep beatin' you, and BEATIN' you. That's how upset I am."

"You don't deserve to be in this house." "You were a nice little girl once." My parents had something, lord only knows what, about sexuality too, so I had the extra "Now you lie, cheat, and are a dirty whore." (Never had a boyfriend 'til I was 19. Still don't know where it came from, other than their mental illness, probably.) "We're going to keep coming in here, you are gonna keep paying for the consequences of your evil behavior, and when you go to hell someday, it will be your own damn fault. Look at what you have! You don't deserve it!" Screaming. Shouting. Throwing things. Hitting me when I didn't expect it (despite being used to it...). "You're so difficult." "Our daughter makes life so difficult for us."

Not enough food for dinner, didn't deserve it. No heat in my bedroom, didn't deserve it. No birthday parties, didn't deserve it. Couldn't have friends over, didn't deserve it. Wasn't taken to the hospital when I hemorrhaged from the condition my parents knew I had, I was "exaggerating" and would "get over it." (Turns out I could have died, since I very nearly did when the same thing happened to me two years later, but I was living overseas and got myself to a hospital. They'd probably have said I deserved it if I had. What am I saying? My mother did repeatedly say I deserved to die in the years following... that's why I stopped speaking with them.)

But one of the things that happened in his life was that one aunt protected him, at least once that he can remember. As his abuser, another aunt's husband, came after him (Dad would have been about 10 or so), this protective aunt hid my dad behind her and said to the abuser, "You'll have to get through me first." The abuser was not willing to take on Dad's protector. Further beatings happened when the aunt wasn't around, but my dad remembers that one incident.

My younger gay cousin was regularly shut in closets for hours at a time, wasn't let out to go to the bathroom, and was beaten with hangers. One day my uncle was even worse than usual. I was 14 and so sick and tired of hearing my happy, imaginative, giggly cousin scream in terror. "IF YOU HIT HIM ONE MORE TIME, I'LL PUNCH YOU!" I hollered at my uncle. He stopped. "ooh, it works," the desperate hope went through my mind. Out loud, I added, "I'll punch you and everyone will know a GIRL hit you!" knowing my uncle was a former star quarterback and had strange ideas about "being a real man." He went for my cousin anyway. I jumped at him and socked him in the gut. "Now I'm gonna call the police and everyone will know a girl hit you because you beat your kids!!" And I did.

My uncle phoned our grandmother. She got there before the police did. All the adults agreed that us kids had been playing bad pranks and making up stories. The police left. My cousin was punished. I was sent home and punished.

But my uncle never forgot that I punched him, and never told anyone about it. He wasn't quite as bad with my cousin when I was around after that. I've never hit anyone since. Don't want to. Hated that I had, in fact. Hated that it worked that time.

Am glad my cousin got out. He lives far away from our family now, like me.
posted by fraula at 6:12 AM on November 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


If this guy remains a judge I hope that every single time he 'presides' in the future that the event is marked by the expulsion from his court of someone playing the audio from that video. Society needs to make him step down if his judicial buddies won't make him.
posted by aychedee at 6:15 AM on November 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Although I am with the majority of contributors to this thread in believing that physical discipline of the sort I endured was not ideal, and I hope never to practice it myself, I hesitate to name it abuse.

Even if you advocate for its use, the age of 16 is way past the point when corporal punishment should be used at all.

I don't have any problem calling Judge Adams did to his daughter abuse regardless.

I was also an obnoxious little shit as a child: a liar, a thief (who once stole sixty hard-earned dollars from his mother), and pathologically unable to maintain a clean, orderly environment and person (a failing that I'm sorry to say follows me even to this day).

But even if we were to name it abuse, it does not change the fact that I was an obnoxious little shit.


You were also a child. It's unfortunate that you continue to blame yourself and carry around guilt, as well as such negative feelings about who you were and are.

I used to feel the same way about myself. Eventually I got therapy. You won't learn to be a better person (or learn how to be orderly) by continuing to carry this around. All you're doing is continuing to damage yourself. I sincerely hope you can find some healing and get beyond that.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:43 AM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think she might be quite spoiled, entitled and obnoxious. It doesn't matter. As much as any of us may or may not dislike her personality, what happened is inexcusable. If you think your child is so terrible that you can't help but raise an abusive hand to them, then give them up.
posted by Malice at 6:44 AM on November 4, 2011


It is official, there will be no charges filed as too much time as past.
posted by 2manyusernames at 6:48 AM on November 4, 2011


But the mere fact that her father is monstrous does not make Hillary a paragon of virtue, and the judge's statement - if the facts within are true - does explain the timing and nature of the video's release far better than Hillary's own non-specific explanations.

I'm not really sure what difference that makes. The man beat his daughter; no matter what her motivations were for telling the world what happened, he deserved it, and she did not. That's the point. If she had stolen twenty grand from a liquor store, she did not deserve to be beaten. If she was simply angry that he didn't give her a pony, he still deserved to be exposed as a child abuser.

Abusers always have a narrative that explains both why they abused, and why the "ungrateful" victim is cruel and selfish enough to make such terrible accusations. That's all the judge offers in his statements: the language of a self-justifying abuser. Watch that statement and you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he will likely abuse again if he is put in a position of power over a child. The "check" on his behavior will not be internal decency or conviction, but nagging fear that maybe he's being taped a second time.

There's something strangely perverse about the reflexive "They're not so good, either!" response to victims. No, being a victim doesn't confer moral goodness or nobility. But neither does being a victim require it -- even terrible people can be victims, and their abusers are still guilty.
posted by verb at 6:50 AM on November 4, 2011 [38 favorites]


It is official, there will be no charges filed as too much time as past.

The article I read included a little more information: County officials confirmed that Adams will not hear cases related to Child Protective Services for at least the next two weeks. And the top administrator in Aransas County cast doubt on whether Adams could credibly return to the bench. "I would think it would be very difficult," said Aransas County Judge C.H. "Burt" Mills Jr. "Personally I don't see how he can recover from this."
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:55 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Although I am with the majority of contributors to this thread in believing that physical discipline of the sort I endured was not ideal, and I hope never to practice it myself, I hesitate to name it abuse.

Even if you advocate for its use, the age of 16 is way past the point when corporal of punishment should be used at all.

I don't have any problem calling Judge Adams did to his daughter abuse regardless.


Once discussions about labeling start, they tend to pull everyone down into them, like quicksand. They're very hard to get out of, but they ultimately boil down to "Is not!" "Is so!"

To the italicized person, above, I'd ask, "Since you say that this sort of discipline is 'not ideal,' should we work to stop it from happening, whether or not we label it 'abuse'?" If so, you and boldface are probably more in agrement than in disagreement.

In my view, beating up a 16-year-old is wrong and, almost always, permanently damaging. I really don't care if we call beating-up-a-16-year-old "abuse" or "less-than-ideal disciplining." We can call it X27B, as long as we work to stop it.

I do realized that how we label things effects how we feel about them (and sometimes think about them), and sometimes the law can only respond to things if they're labeled in a specific way, so there's value in discussing labels. But all too often we get mired in those discussions, when surely the target should be this: is it okay for a parent to beat up his kids?
posted by grumblebee at 7:14 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow- that statement sure makes that judge sound like a pompous ass.

Really, Judge Adams needs to shut his mouth, stop talking to the press, and get a better lawyer

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. He must realize that he's not helping his case at all from a legal POV, but it appears he's in denial about the fact that he's abusive in the first place. Even so, can't believe he'd want to keep digging his hole like this instead of keep his mouth shut until legal hearings take place.


This is one of occupational hazards of being a judge. They are in a position of extreme authority and control. Their word is literally law. They routinely make decisions that have a far-reaching and lasting impact on other people's lives. If they tell someone to shut up, that person has to shut up or be removed from the courtroom, or can even be sent to jail on the judge's say so. And many of them get a raging case of situational narcissism as a result — although the job itself may attract overbearing, self-righteous types, and perhaps working as judge only exacerbates pre-existing character traits. A co-worker of mine is friends with a judge, and that judge told her that it was a wake-up call for her one day when she was at the grocery store and found herself getting outraged because the people in front of her weren't stepping aside with their carts to let her through with hers. Then realization dawned that in the context of the grocery store, these people were under no obligation to let her go first.

But that judge is one of the good ones. I've dealt with a few judges in my time working in legal publishing. One who was author of a book I was editing expected to be called "Your Honour" in ordinary conversation. (For the record, I didn't comply.) I won't get into more details of what working with him was like. A friend of mine once worked at a ritzy club in Toronto and, though he worked in the office and handled membership registration, if one of the club members saw him passing by and wanted something, he'd have to wait on the person. So one time a judge who belonged to the club barked at him to get him a drink (no "please" attached, of course). Sonny brought him the drink, and said, "Here you are, Mr. Smith." The judge snarled, "That's Mr. Justice to you."

There really ought to be better checks and balances built into the system to keep judges from becoming raging assholes. But at least this one judge is going to get put in his place.
posted by orange swan at 7:16 AM on November 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


verb: " I'm not really sure what difference that makes. The man beat his daughter; no matter what her motivations were for telling the world what happened, he deserved it, and she did not. That's the point. If she had stolen twenty grand from a liquor store, she did not deserve to be beaten. If she was simply angry that he didn't give her a pony, he still deserved to be exposed as a child abuser.

Abusers always have a narrative that explains both why they abused, and why the "ungrateful" victim is cruel and selfish enough to make such terrible accusations. That's all the judge offers in his statements: the language of a self-justifying abuser. Watch that statement and you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he will likely abuse again if he is put in a position of power over a child. The "check" on his behavior will not be internal decency or conviction, but nagging fear that maybe he's being taped a second time.
"

Thank you for saying this. You are exactly right.
posted by zarq at 8:09 AM on November 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


But even if we were to name it abuse, it does not change the fact that I was an obnoxious little shit.

Even if we were to name you an obnoxious little shit, it does not change the fact that it was abuse.

I slapped my daughter when she bit me. She was, in that moment, an obnoxious little shit -- I love her dearly, but she was being a brat. Biting me was absolutely 100% bar-none unacceptable, but she still did not deserve to be hit. Slapping her in retaliation was understandable, common, and WRONG.
posted by KathrynT at 8:34 AM on November 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


But the mere fact that her father is monstrous does not make Hillary a paragon of virtue, and the judge's statement - if the facts within are true - does explain the timing and nature of the video's release far better than Hillary's own non-specific explanations.

So? Revenge for torture sounds like a damn fine motivation to me. This was done to her, who the hell is anyone else to condemn her reasons for telling the truth.

Biting me was absolutely 100% bar-none unacceptable, but she still did not deserve to be hit. Slapping her in retaliation was understandable, common, and WRONG

And I just want to point out to The Confessor her that I disagree with this- you're statement is rankling not because everyone else shares a belief that force or corporal punishment is wrong all the time and in every scenario. I'm not for what you might see as "spoiling" a kid, calling out this woman for showing the world what was done to her seems to miss the point spectacularly.
posted by spaltavian at 8:56 AM on November 4, 2011


If the judge was so all-fired concerned about his law-breaking daughter breaking the law, he should have called the cops on her, and let the system that he himself works in run its course.

I was thinking a lot about this thread as I drove to work this morning. I thought about how, if that guy who was speeding and who almost clipped me somehow magically stopped so that I could punish him by whipping him with a belt - well, it might be personally satisfying for me to do that, but I'd still likely get charged with assault. The almost-clipped-me speeder deserves a big fine and maybe a weekend in jail and a suspended license, but as self-important an asshole as he may be, his actions still don't mean that he'd "deserve" to be beaten by the side of the road.
posted by rtha at 9:21 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


rtha: " I was thinking a lot about this thread as I drove to work this morning. I thought about how, if that guy who was speeding and who almost clipped me somehow magically stopped so that I could punish him by whipping him with a belt - well, it might be personally satisfying for me to do that, but I'd still likely get charged with assault. The almost-clipped-me speeder deserves a big fine and maybe a weekend in jail and a suspended license, but as self-important an asshole as he may be, his actions still don't mean that he'd "deserve" to be beaten by the side of the road."

Yes, but as we see from this example, if you were his legal guardian, you could have and gotten off scott free.
posted by zarq at 9:57 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, I was wondering about that.

Is it legal to beat an adult if you're their legal guardian? Like, if your adult brother is incapacitated in some way, and you have guardianship, are you allowed to spank him or hit him as if he were a five-year-old?
posted by rtha at 10:06 AM on November 4, 2011


I'm just going to pose this as a question: What do you do when a person in a position of power doesn't have to answer for their misdeeds, because the rest of the system is protecting their ass? I'm not just talking about this judge who beat his daughter, but also cops who beat and torture people, or even politicians who cook evidence to invade countries?

What do you do? Because naming and shaming isn't always enough.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:07 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suspect, dunkadunc, that one ends up having to take the longer view and working slowly to change the system. Even if it'd be a lot more satisfying (and possibly more effective) to call a bunch of your biker buddies and go have a blanket party.

Sucks being an adult sometimes.
posted by QIbHom at 11:03 AM on November 4, 2011


Regarding that text message from him to his ex-wife: do you think that, as a judge, if someone was caught red-handed on video committing a crime and sent a text saying "we all said we were sorry after we did that", he'd let them go?
posted by davejay at 11:09 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have more traits on that list than I care to admit. And recently I overcame one, and it was like an epiphany. I felt tremendous. And now I look at the list and I think, oh crap, do I have that many epiphanies left to go?
posted by davejay at 11:17 AM on November 4, 2011


The age thing is something I did not address in my comment, and would of course make her father's actions inappropriate even absent the swearing, apparent sadism, and myriad other factors that made that scenario abuse rather than simply punishment.

I thought I did make it clear in my comment, however, that my aim was not to excuse or explain her father's conduct in the video, but merely to facilitate seeking the truth for its own sake, by considering Hillary in human, fallible terms... something that the last few comments before my own seemed reluctant to do.

If her direct motivation for releasing the video was truly something as altruistic as "to protect her sister," for example, that would be among the first things mentioned in the description for the uploaded YouTube video, not to mention all the media that she's done since. Instead, we are treated to unspecified allegations of continuing harassment (again, I am not minimizing the gravity of the filmed conduct) and phrases like "the right time was approaching". Even her desire that her father receive help rather than condemnation seems like a late addition to the narrative; you'll find none of that in the video description either.

Even if her motives for releasing the video were truly as pedantic as her father suggests, it of course has no bearing on the consequences due his conduct... which is what makes it so bewildering that his statement focuses on them to the exclusion of any regret.
posted by The Confessor at 11:22 AM on November 4, 2011


The Associated Press is now saying: "County officials confirmed that Adams will not hear cases related to Child Protective Services for at least the next two weeks. And the top administrator in Aransas County cast doubt on whether Adams could credibly return to the bench."

“I would think it would be very difficult,” said Aransas County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills Jr. “Personally I don’t see how he can recover from this.”
posted by longsleeves at 11:27 AM on November 4, 2011


abuse victims are imperfect - some would say it's why we were targeted (or bred to be that way). we are unreliable. we are "problem kids." we get into trouble, into drugs, into sex, into loud music and staying out late and our grades drop.

my brother used to barter and then blackmail me with my abuse. he would force me to start with, but that wasn't giving him his jollies - so he'd wait for me to do something wrong - to play nintendo when we were grounded, to go outside when my parents left when i was supposed to be cleaning my room, any small infraction - and there he'd be, he'd find me in the corner of the house, alone, and he'd say something like "if you don't _______, then i'll tell mom and dad what you did." he was always left "in charge" and so i'd go along to not get in trouble. then next time he wanted to "play," if i refused, he'd threaten to tell that i let him last time and why i let him. sometimes he'd stack up my crimes if he had something especially awful he wanted me to do.

and that's how he kept me for years. he made sure i believed that my bad behavior caused this and that good girls wouldn't ever be in this position because they weren't as wicked as i was.

when i finally told, i think i was angry at him about something totally unrelated. he had pissed me off, so i dropped the bomb. were my motives clean and clear? of course not. i wanted him punished. and i was worried for my foster sisters. these two things can exist together. but in my young mind, i was probably more concerned with "getting him" than i was with protecting them.

if her father never beat the shit out of her, she wouldn't have had that gotcha in her pocket for when she felt like throwing a tantrum. i don't care what her motives are and it makes perfect sense that releasing the tape is her own shot back in the struggle of control. at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. he beat her and she can tell the whole world that even if what prompted the telling was being mad about her car. [as an aside - that whole interaction as he tells it shows their dynamic - he spoke, expected her to take his word as god, she didn't, he got angry and punished his adult child, and she lashed out. i have no doubt that if she were still under his roof, he would have just beat her instead]

abusers and their victims don't have an equal relationship and victims are often imperfect.
posted by nadawi at 11:46 AM on November 4, 2011 [30 favorites]


“I would think it would be very difficult,” said Aransas County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills Jr. “Personally I don’t see how he can recover from this.”

Never mind that, what about his previous rulings?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:09 PM on November 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


There's a study, and forgive me for not having an academic citation, that's been getting written up for laymen in the various school journals/magazines I get. I'm drawing from memory, but it talks about exactly this point, and the conclusions from the study are that corporal punishment doesn't "mess kids up" when:

*It's not done in a rage
*It's done to punish, correct, or teach, but not to shame
*It's a brief spanking or a slapped hand, not a beating; it's not very hard, it doesn't leave marks
*It's done on fairly small children, who are typically too young for "grounding" (more in the "time out" age range), but not on babies. In some cultures (see below) it may be continued until adolescence, but it's generally viewed as something done on children considered too young (in that cultural group) to understand a more complex punishment
*It's done relatively rarely
*It is not accompanied by threats
And this was one of the biggest correlates, the article said, which I thought was very interesting:
*It doesn't have a psychological effect on kids when it is considered normal in that community/cultural group

Now, it still has to not be in a rage, not for the purpose of shaming, not very hard, etc. etc. etc., while considered normal, to meet the "not messing your kid up" criteria. But for those who grew up before the 90s and who got spanked a few times when they were pretty little and "Hey, I got spanked, I'm okay" -- that's why. It was common and normal, not a source of shame about your family, and it typically follows some community standards that don't allow children to be actually BEATEN.



And this finally explains why I'm in the "Spanked-But-Okay" range. I have spent most of my life wondering why my experience with being spanked is so very different than other people. Not in the since of "Your mom hit you with a 2x4? I can't understand why that upsets you" but more like "You do realize that every spanked kid doesn't get hit by a 2x4, right?"

What you listed fits my situation perfectly:

-Spankings were never done in anger.
-They were always done to punish or reinforce teaching (after regular methods of punishment or teaching failed).
-They were typically done on the 8-9-10 year-old range; after that, parents felt they'd get better results talking to you or using other punishments.
-They happened rarely--you could easily go years and not get spanked.
-You were never threatened, but you were always warned: "This is the fourth time I've had to talk to you about [dangerous transgression]. I've told you that's dangerous. If it happens again, you leave me no choice but to spank you."
-It was normal for our group. All the other black kids I knew got spanked. We talked about it. Parents talked about it with each other. There was no hiding or shame. We talked about getting "whuppins" the way white kids talked about being grounded or having their allowance taken away.


The thing I remember most: I only got spanked when I had done something dangerous, and done it repeatedly. It may have been stubborness on my part, or more likely overestimating my capabilities (did that a lot as a kid), but that's the only time us kids were spanked, and it didn't happen very often.

Worst spanking I ever got was when I did something that could have gotten my baby brother killed (long story). My mother spanked me with one hand, the other cradling my sobbing infant baby brother, yelling and crying with fear as she hit me four or five times. She didn't do anything wrong, trust me. I was arrogant and thought I knew everything, and it nearly cost my brother his life. My parents talked to me about it later, but things had already sunk in by that point.



We don't spank, but I do think it's problematic when "simple" spanking is conflated with child abuse, which makes it possible for people to dismiss actual abuse by saying, "Look, I was spanked, I'm fine, you're overreacting." I'm not a big fan of spanking, not least because I don't think it's a particularly EFFECTIVE child-training tool (I think you'll still have to tell the toddler not to eat sand 40 times, but if you spank them once in those 40 times it may reset your parental frustration counter and feel like you only had to tell them 20, because telling a kid not to eat sand 40 times is totally frustrating), but I don't think a simple spanking is abuse. (I do think there are parents who start with the idea "spanking isn't abuse" and go down the road to actual abuse, justifying it to themselves with "spanking is not abuse" all the way down.) IOW, I'm happier with a bright line in my life of "we don't hit kids," but I think it's a problem when people dismiss actual abuse by thinking these are people who are just shrinking flowers about a "little spanking."

I agree, and I also think the reverse is true. It's not a popular view around here, but spanking and child abuse are two different things. If any of you had told me and my nine-year-old friends about some of the things that people have said their parents did to them in this thread, we would have stared back at you wide-eyed and said, "That ain't a whuppin'! You need to call the police!" Any of our parents would have called the police, period.


Slightly different note, and on the idea of different communities or cultural groups, when I talk with my community college students about child abuse, who typically live in a different social milieu than I do, not only are most of them in the "I was spanked, I'm okay" category, but they actually do not believe it is possible to raise a child without corporal punishment. I tell them we don't spank our kids, and they at first do not believe me, and then when they do believe me, become convinced my kids must be spoiled, entitled, badly-behaved monsters. I explain some of the disciplinary tools we use, and they are terrifically skeptical.

Yup. Until recently, I was one of the same mind set. You know what changed it for me? Watching SuperNanny, of all things.

...The ones who do know there are other options? Almost all learned that from Supernanny, God bless her.

Heh.

But seriously, watching that show made it clear to me that there are different ways, ways which are far more effective, to discipline young children. SuperNanny may be a reality show, but what she does works. What's more: it works quicker than a whuppin' does. That's what needs to be taught to some parents out there.

Eyebrow, if you ever recall what that study was, I'd dearly love to know about it.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:23 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Like most things, I don't think that there's a clear bright line between abusive punishment and not-abusive punishment. Clearly what Adams did to his daughter is child abuse. We want to say that most spanking isn't child abuse because it's (a) common, and (b) doesn't mess kids up "too bad," but that's completely ignoring the fact that it's all on the same spectrum, from "stress positions" to my mother's open-hand slaps all the way up to Adams' whipping.

Judge Adams believes that his behavior falls into the range of normal, just as my mom thinks her behavior falls into the range of normal, just as all parents believe that their behavior falls into the range of normal. Why is my mom right, but Adams is wrong?

This is a really strange conversation for me, because in so many ways it mirrors conversations that we have about child sexual abuse, except that common morality is on the other side of the line - that all sexual contact is abusive to children, and that all children who are touched sexually are traumatized victims. A Metafilter post with a link to an article arguing that some or many children are not traumatized by sexual abuse (which is very similar to what we're talking about when we say that some corporal punishment "doesn't mess kids up") did not go over particularly well.
posted by muddgirl at 1:10 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


That first sentence should have been specifically about corporal punishment.
posted by muddgirl at 1:11 PM on November 4, 2011


"It was normal for our group. All the other black kids I knew got spanked. We talked about it. Parents talked about it with each other. There was no hiding or shame. We talked about getting "whuppins" the way white kids talked about being grounded or having their allowance taken away."

You actually JUST reminded me WHY it has currency right now (if not what the actual study was). Spanking remains more normalized in African-American communities (as you noted). As more of my state's Baby Boomer teachers are retiring, most of whom were "okay-spanked" as kids, the younger teachers, who are majority white, are making more abuse reports to DCFS about "okay spanking" among their African-American students. Because more and more of our teachers, as they get younger and younger, have never been spanked and didn't grow up in communities where spanking was normal. Similarly spanking's more common among working-class whites than middle-class whites, and teachers are more likely to have been raised middle-class or above. So DCFS has been including in its trainings for teachers (who are mandatory abuse reporters) about how to tell "okay spanking" from abusive physical discipline. The takeaway message is "if you aren't sure if it's abusive or not, report it and let the child abuse specialists decide" but the training now includes items to help teachers identify "okay spanking" and differentiate it from actual abuse.

(The other prong of this training push is to help middle-class teachers understand that poverty is not per se neglect.)

I actually just recently had to do the training, and among the things I did not know is that "whupping" can refer to (as you say above!) a spanking -- I always assumed it meant an actual whipping, probably because I only ever ran across the word in older books when it was referring to parental discipline and never had the context of someone actually saying it to help me pick up the current meaning between parents and children. (I've only heard teenage boys threatening to whup one anothers' asses, which is obviously not helpful in getting "spanking" from "whupping.") I'll look at the take-home training materials and see if it's referenced in those (probably not, it's pretty power-pointy), though it's probably more likely to be referenced in the magazine articles, which unfortunately I recycle right after I read. But I'll keep my eye out, I'm sure it will come up again this year because of the current training push.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:13 PM on November 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


...As more of my state's Baby Boomer teachers are retiring, most of whom were "okay-spanked" as kids, the younger teachers, who are majority white, are making more abuse reports to DCFS about "okay spanking" among their African-American students. Because more and more of our teachers, as they get younger and younger, have never been spanked and didn't grow up in communities where spanking was normal. Similarly spanking's more common among working-class whites than middle-class whites, and teachers are more likely to have been raised middle-class or above. So DCFS has been including in its trainings for teachers (who are mandatory abuse reporters) about how to tell "okay spanking" from abusive physical discipline....

I can see that. I knew lower-income white kids that were spanked, but middle class ones didn't get it at all.

Must say, I would love to see a SuperNanny episode where she deals with a lower-income white or black family. I wonder how much responsiveness she would get from the kids and the parents?

...among the things I did not know is that "whupping" can refer to (as you say above!) a spanking -- I always assumed it meant an actual whipping, probably because I only ever ran across the word in older books when it was referring to parental discipline and never had the context of someone actually saying it to help me pick up the current meaning between parents and children...

I caution you that this was a usage among black kids in the 70s, and its meaning could mean anything from three light swats on the behind, to being bent over a parent's knee for paddling, to being made to go out to pick your own switch and the spanking that followed. I cannot vouch for any of those meanings being current now.
posted by magstheaxe at 1:25 PM on November 4, 2011


As someone who was punched by his father fairly regularly from the ages of about 11-15 and who does not feel "abused", I think I have around nine of the 28 traits on the ACOA list. Some part of those may relate to feelings of shame I had at the time for getting hit the way I did, since I thought it unlikely that my (mostly upper middle class and Jewish) peers in the late 90s were getting the same. But my mother made zero effort to discipline me after my father died and that really did me harm.

A number of people here have said that that they fear becoming parents because they might replicate their abusive parents' behavior. While I don't entirely disapprove of corporal punishment, I don't think that punching a child is the right way either. But I am not at all concerned that I would ever do exactly what happened to me, or more generally that I would lose control of my actions. The reasons I might not be a good father are different. I do not think that I am as warm or as worthy of a man as my father was.
posted by knoyers at 2:56 PM on November 4, 2011


I turned on the television this morning, to some random Spanish-language news channel, courtesy of the remote-chewing baby, and this video was playing. I had deliberately not watched the video to begin with, because I had a good idea what I'd see, and didn't need to go there. To have it suddenly appear before me, and to *hear* it, had me in tears. That sobbing - the noises she was making - I've done that. It was like a knife.

It reinforced in me that I never want to hear my kids make that noise, or know what it feels like to make it. And then it hit me. I have heard my daughter make that sound. Not because she was hit, but during a particularly difficult bout of head-butting between us shortly after the baby was born. She would not stop slamming her bedroom door, no matter what we said, and finally, after repeated warnings that it would happen, we took the door off the hinges (for less than 12 hours). Her absolute hysteria was so close to that sound in that video - without the pain or fear, but just the beyond-consoling tone.

I've spent most of the day hating myself for this. And hearing Hilary's cries - and my daughter's - echoing in my head.

Time to do more work on this parenting skill set. It's so hard, when I see in my daughter the behaviors that were used to justify so much worse than losing my bedroom door overnight when I was her age - I know how my parents reacted to those behaviors. I wasn't a perfect kid, but damn, even if I was twice as sassy and occasionally obnoxious and defiant as she is, I didn't deserve that. And she deserves better.

How anyone can hear that crying and not want to change something, anything, so that they are never the reason for that distress ... I don't know.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 4:24 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


The enabler just doesn't want to step outside her comfort zone.

It's not as clear cut as that.

My dad was abusive to me, and it was always when my mother was out of the house (she worked shifts). As a small child, she occasionally spanked me, in the way that people did to tell their tiny child not to put thewir finger in a socket, or break something after being repeatedly told to leave it alone - never once I was old enough to 'discuss' things with. My dad started up after I was nine, never sure why or how things changed, but they did. And it took me years to realise that my mother got pretty much the same emotional/mental abuse I did, just not the beating (maybe because it's somehow OK to hit your teenage daughter but not your spouse, in his head). She told me my sister used to beg not to be left alone in the house with him., and as a small child (my sister and brother are much older than I) I recall my brother being pinned up against the wall by h and my mum pleading with him to stop because he was frightening me.

I used to think about running away, but never did because I knew the alternative would be to go into care, or get into more 'trouble'. I was too ashamed even to write down how I felt in my diary. It wasn't until I was in my twenties and my mother 'spoke back' to him during an argument that I realised she was the same. His response to her wasn't to hit her with a tray or kick the door down, but to live in the same house for six months without saying a word, without sharing the room with her, without even using the kitchen or bathroom when she was arounfd. He would take meals upstairs and throw his rubbish out of the window onto the outside bin to avoid crossing the room she was in to put it out. And during all this, she would tell me how if she left him, there was nowhere to go. She didn't know how to speak to him, how to confront him, or how to tell him that it wasn't on.

It's frustrating for me because over the past few yerars I find it hard to feel at with the rest of my family (my dad is now dead). My mum never saw me hysterical, or being hit, but she did hear my dad call me subhuman and a selfish bitch and a moron , just as he did for hours at t a time when she was out of the house, and she said nothing. I mentioned it for the first time to my then[-boyfriend when I was seventeen, and her response was 'you shouldn't tell other people what goes on in this house'. For some reason, I do remember an aunt (my dad's sister) sayingsomething mockingly about him hitting me with a tea tray, and laughing -why would she do that? Because she didn't believe it? How did she even know? I have no idea, and I wondered at the time why it was meant to be funny - was I not getting the joke,
like at school when people made fun of me and asked why I couldn't take a joke? Was this something that amused adults?, rather than making them feel like it was wrong?

I still get frequent headaches, and I spend a lot of time wondering how different life would have been for a bright kid who was given a safe place at home with both parents and not just one. I feel guilty that I don't miss my dad now he is gone, as one feels as though this is how one ought to react to these situations. Every Monday I have to go to therapy, and I leave feeling more resentful. I made the decision not to have children early, because I didn't want any risk of them being potentially in the line of fire that I found myself in. and when there are jokes about girls with 'daddy issues', I feel like it's my fault for being just a little bit broken, like some kind of cliche or person with tedious baggage. And there is fuck all now thaI can do about it. There's not going to be any closure.

And I remember too, how strongly I wished that all the people who chose to spend time with him would see the person that I saw. They never did. Good luck to her.
posted by mippy at 5:32 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


There sure are a lot of us who chose not to have kids because… well, it wouldn't be fair to make someone go through the experience of being a child.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:50 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


well, it wouldn't be fair to make someone go through the experience of being a child.

This may be one of the most cynical and depressing sentiments I've ever read.
posted by bfranklin at 6:23 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I grew up in a truly fucked up home. That may have shaped the person I am today, but it doesn't define me. I do that.

I disagree with how it doesn't have to define you. A relative contacted me not too long ago and used the same spiel, "it doesn't have to define you", but whether we like to admit it, imho it very does define us because we fight hard to not be all the things that were done to us. I think there is a huge ever present fear that we'll become those things angry, bitter, out of control ... just a chip off the ol' block. I worried I'd wind up abusive and/or alcoholic and when it came to having my own kids? I never had them I think stemming somewhat from being badly abused well into my teens.

fff, yeah.
posted by squeak at 7:36 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I disagree with how it doesn't have to define you.

It really doesn't. It has shaped you, no question. But it doesn't have to define a person. That truth may seem impossible, unfathomable, but it's still a truth. We are not slaves to the programming, we can make choices about what we will and will not.

Those who are afraid of having kids because they're afraid they'll abuse them? They're probably the ones who should be having kids because they're keenly aware of how detrimental abuse can be.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:52 PM on November 4, 2011


Wow. This thread has taken me so many places into my heart I didn't really know I could go. My father was raised (if you could really call it that) by such terrifyingly evil people who did such terrible things to him...almost all of it I will never know or understand.

The guy has just spent his life terrified. Of pain, betrayal, more pain...the torture he suffered was really rarely and only later shared with us.

He did once try to introduce his two baby kids to his mom once. He tried. I don't know why.

the narrative in his head either, "please finally stop fucking telling me I am a loser degenerate...look at these beautiful children" or maybe " I no longer need you, I've made a family I actually trust"

not sure but the visit lasted about ten minutes, i remember her so well...she looked just like him...but mean. i was a baby and I remember mean. I don't know what the heck she said, but man we bailed so fast.

What my brother and I used to say when we were in our early teens is so messed up, but my dad had it so bad bad bad.

" J- I wish sometimes he would just hit me. At least I'd know he cared."

" I know, S-, the guy is so disconnected---I hate him. I don't care how bad his family life was, his silence, his quiet boiling rage, his constant state of maddening dis-approval. He walksa away every time I want to talk to him. Just up and WALKS THE FUCK AWAY. Often with clenched fists. FUCK HIM."

That is my relationship with my dad. And in my life, the people I have known and the stories I've heard,

Thanks dad. You did a hell of a crap job. But you did the best you could.

Neither of us will ever have kids, this we are clear on. That ladys genes gotta go.
posted by metasav at 11:06 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought I was okay, not watching the video. But I've had to take two breaks from this thread to cry.

The visceral fear that I will hurt my child haunts me. This morning she face planted into pebblecrete while we were out walking and I held her, sitting on the verge in front of a strangers house, desperately trying to make it all okay. She has a graze up her face, and a black eye coming, and I can't stop feeling sick. Yet there are days I just want to haul off and slap her. Or scream in her face. She's only two. She doesn't deserve any of that, and I don't do it, but the urge lurks.

My father waas convinced I was a slut and taught me to defend myself from the inevitable rape by drunkenly head butting me in the kitchen. My mother repeatedly called me useless for not reading her mind, for not knowing how to do things the exact way she does. I have flashbacks at work sometimes, when my boss decides I should have somehow known something that isn't documented and hasn't been part of training. My husband had a far more violent upbringing but never doubted he was loved.

But, I've told this story before, when his sister hits her son and my child goes into hysterics there is a part of me that wants to pack up and run. When his brother tells my daughter that she just has to put up with his son touching her, I struggle to be even remotely civilized. My husband has to handle these incidents because he can see my adrenalin has become unmanageable and it's going to be at least a week of not sleeping, of being unable to emotionally respond to him or our child without a volatile possessive sort of love. We struggle because I need space and time and to nurture myself but when every child around us is being hit, or yelled at, it affects my child too and it affects me and no matter my response, it just keeps happening. I see the future and it's dim and scares me and it makes me want to take my daughter away because what kind of boy are they raising? Just how scared does my child need to be of her cousins who are already bigger than her, being taught violence and ownership over her?

The futility is wearing on me. But I just wanted to commiserate and to share and to give a shout out to all the other parents out there struggling. You are doing well, you are making a step so many don't seem to want to take.
posted by geek anachronism at 11:17 PM on November 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


I really wonder if there is a correlation between people who think spanking is obviously ok as long as it's not too hard and used responsably in a structured way, and people who think a light slap to a spouse responsably used to get a message accross about unacceptable behavior.

Possible correlation? Yes? No?

Why would it "obviously" be totally different to spank a child in a socially sanctioned way and to slap a spouse in order to communicate a message in a socially sanctioned way?
posted by xarnop at 1:53 AM on November 5, 2011


Why would it "obviously" be totally different to spank a child in a socially sanctioned way and to slap a spouse in order to communicate a message in a socially sanctioned way?

For what it's worth, I'm someone who would have argued this with you, on the basis that children are at a different developmental stage and (mild, non-abusive, etc) spanking fit within a normal idea of good child rearing, etc. I was spanked once in a while as a child, and it was thoroughly non-traumatic. But reading this thread has changed my mind, honestly, and made me realize that even though mild spanking is way at the benign end of a spectrum of violence, it is still violence first and foremost and not something I want to be part of.

My saying this is totally meaningless -- I don't have children, and don't expect to ever have them. But I hope we continue to move (however slowly and haltingly) as a culture, from the open acceptance of actual whippings for children a couple generations ago towards eventually a view that violence simply isn't part of childrearing. I think we've made that transition culturally in terms of the acceptability of spousal violence -- a hundred years ago wives could be beaten openly, and while domestic violence is still pervasive, it's now something that can only happen in secret.

I mean, simply in terms of Hollywood portrayals, just a few decades ago it was unexceptional to show a man slapping a hysterical woman to make her calm down; that's no longer a normal, mainstream thing to show. Things are changing, and for the better, I think.
posted by Forktine at 5:10 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why would it "obviously" be totally different to spank a child in a socially sanctioned way and to slap a spouse in order to communicate a message in a socially sanctioned way?

Why would it obviously be different to force a child to silently stand in a corner in a socially sanctioned way and to force your spouse to silently stand in a corner in a socially sanctioned way?

Why would it obviously be different to forcibly detain a child against its wishes in your house in a socially sanctioned way and to forcibly detain your spouse in your house against his or her wishes in a socially sanctioned way?

Why would it obviously be different to expropriate highly valued items from your child than to expropriate highly valued items from your spouse?

Why would it be obviously different to force your child to eat broccoli or do without supper than to do the same to your spouse?

In these and many more cases, because children aren't spouses.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:17 AM on November 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Brandon, I think we disagree over semantics. My point was once you've been abused you worry it will some how rub off on you and that angst it goes on to define who you are as you try ever so hard no to be like Them. I worried for years his alcoholism would magically be transferred to me merely because he left me bloodied and bruised after stealing money because I wanted to run away from him when I was about nine.
posted by squeak at 7:20 AM on November 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Update:
Federal prosecutors said Friday they would not charge a Texas judge seen lashing his teenage daughter with a belt on a video posted online, closing the door on the possibility of criminal charges in the case.

Angela Dodge, a U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman, said prosecutors determined there was no federal crime depicted on the 2004 video of Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams. The decision came a day after the local district attorney decided the statute of limitations blocked any state charges.
posted by odinsdream at 4:59 PM on November 5, 2011


My manipulative, emotional blackmailing, mean spirited, psychologically abusive mother spent a lot of time when I was growing up telling me how good I had it. Her dad beat her. He beat her brothers. He almost killed her mother on a few occasions. My mother "only" yelled, screamed, read my journal, ransacked my bedroom, told me I was fat, stupid, lazy, a slut.

My husband and I are living with my Mom and Dad now while we buy a house in our hometown. Moving back here is so, so troubling. My Mom often says at the dinner table things like, "I am so lucky I'm not crazy like my brothers." "I don't know how I escaped my childhood without being terribly fucked up!" and I just stare at her. I can't help but think if she saw a video of some of her behavior towards me when I was a teenager she'd simply say, "That's not me." I think she really believes it. I think because she only spanked me once, and resorted to terrorizing me with words that she should get a gold star.

She's recently begun volunteering as a mentor. The girl she's mentoring is very overweight and I am terrified my mother is going to humiliate and degrade her the way she did me. I'm equally terrified that she won't, that this girl will have magic that I didn't have to keep my mom from berating her. That there was a secret ingredient that I just didn't know about to make her like and be nice to me.

This video shed some light on what it must have been like growing up for her which is helpful in a way. I know things were bad for her and less bad (or at least different) for me; I just wish it made me feel better about my own childhood.
posted by Saminal at 6:00 PM on November 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


This story was linked far, far above, and it has been updated:
The District Attorney overseeing Aransas County-San Patricio County has decided he will not pursue criminal charges against Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams.

Judge Adams has admitted to beating his daughter in a video she secretly recorded in 2004 and uploaded to the internet last week.

In a release from the Rockport Police Department, DA Patrick Flanigan is quoted as saying, " I have received and reviewed the submitted evidence regarding William Adams and the video incident that was reported to RPD on November 1, 2011. I have also referenced the applicable statutes from the Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure. It is clear that no criminal misdemeanor information nor any criminal felony indictment may be presented for any criminal charge that may be depicted on the subject video. Limitations prevents prosecution of any applicable criminal charge shown on said video."

Lieutenant Larry Sinclair says the Rockport Police Department will be in contact with federal authorities to see if any charges may be filed in a federal court.
So no federal charges as odinstream linked above. No local charges. Great.
posted by Evilspork at 6:34 PM on November 5, 2011


Yeah that sounds about right. This has already passed in Rockport, no one's even talking about it.

Thus, it fades away.
posted by Malice at 6:49 PM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


You guys, this seriously just happened on CNN:

WHITFIELD: Let's move on to this other case involving the Texas Judge William Adams' daughter posting this beating or disciplinary action on YouTube.

FRIEDMAN: No, beating.

WHITFIELD: Yes, well, I guess it's up to various people's interpretation of what it is.


I...just...aauuuugh.
posted by naoko at 7:05 AM on November 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


News item regarding Michael Pearl, mentioned above:

NYT: Preaching Virtue of Spanking, Even as Deaths Fuel Debate
In the latest case, Larry and Carri Williams of Sedro-Woolley, Wash., were home-schooling their six children when they adopted a girl and a boy, ages 11 and 7, from Ethiopia in 2008. The two were seen by their new parents as rebellious, according to friends.

Late one night in May this year, the adopted girl, Hana, was found face down, naked and emaciated in the backyard; her death was caused by hypothermia and malnutrition, officials determined. According to the sheriff’s report, the parents had deprived her of food for days at a time and had made her sleep in a cold barn or a closet and shower outside with a hose. And they often whipped her, leaving marks on her legs. The mother had praised the Pearls’ book and given a copy to a friend, the sheriff’s report said. Hana had been beaten the day of her death, the report said, with the 15-inch plastic tube recommended by Mr. Pearl.

“It’s a good spanking instrument,” Mr. Pearl said in the interview. “It’s too light to cause damage to the muscle or the bone.”

The same kind of plumbing tube was reported to have been used to beat Lydia Schatz, 7, who was adopted at age 4 from Liberia and died in Paradise, Calif., in 2010. Her parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, had the Pearl book but ignored its admonition against extended lashing or harm; they whipped Lydia for hours, with pauses for prayer. She died from severe tissue damage, and her older sister had to be hospitalized, officials said.
posted by odinsdream at 11:20 AM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Serious question: if a child videotapes someone molesting him/her and posts it online to get justice, is that child pornography?
posted by carolinaherrera at 10:43 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish I had videotaped my parents at their worst. Particularly my father's sexual proclivities.
posted by 3491again at 10:58 AM on November 9, 2011


Also, this thread makes me feel really upset at the family members I told about my abuse who had basically the same response as the judge -- that it's a complicated situation, I probably deserved it, etc.

I am debating whether or not to show them this thread. It will probably mean the end of our relationship. At this point, I'm not sure that I care.

Goddamn, it really, really hurts and doesn't stop. I wish I had had video to upload, so someone, somewhere, would have listened to me.
posted by 3491again at 11:17 AM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


You deserved much better, 3491again. You deserved to be listened to. Those people failed you. I'm really sorry. It has gotten better for me over the years and I think there is hope that it will get better for you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:06 PM on November 9, 2011


Wtf -- he was financially supporting her at age 23? He gave her a Mercedes? I don't know what to feel now. I was an abused child who left home with nothing at age 16. I have had to do everything for myself. For the record, I do not have a Mercedes.

Now, she seems more like a spoiled brat than anything. Yes, she was abused. But the reason why most of us feel so much shame and pain is perhaps that we aren't privileged as well as abused. Simply, utterly, abused.
posted by 3491again at 12:42 PM on November 9, 2011


The most polite way I can put this is that I strongly disagree. A Mercedes and an allowance does not, in any way, make up for abuse, and in many cases is just another tool that people like Mr. Adams use to exert control over their victims.
posted by muddgirl at 1:02 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish someone had used that as a tool of control over me.
posted by 3491again at 1:18 PM on November 9, 2011


I know that you don't intend to say "It is OK to beat your child if you support them financially," but that's how it sounds to me.

I'm sorry you have a shitty life, but there's no need to play Shitty Life Olympics. You and Hillary can both have a gold medal.
posted by muddgirl at 1:35 PM on November 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I wish someone had used that as a tool of control over me.

A friend of mine was sexually abused for more than a decade by a family friend who was trusted and viewed as a surrogate grandparent. This person used their relative financial stability and gifts -- both to my friend when they were very young, and to the family -- as a way of maintaining a degree of control over them. Family members were complicit in ignoring what was going on, and my friend struggled for years, questioning whether he/she had been complicit in his/her own abuse because the gifts weren't rejected.

That is a very, very common pattern in abuse. It is by no means universal, and I understand what you're saying -- you were abused, and you didn't even get any bribes out of it, WTF! But like abusers who use the dangled carrot of sporadic kindness and to maintain control, the "gifts and financial support" approach is not some sort of favor or advantage. At the end of the day, it's still abuse.
posted by verb at 2:01 PM on November 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


3491again, I'm also sorry that really shitty things have happened, or do happen, to you. I can guarantee that out there right now, there is someone who, if they heard your story, would tell you "You didn't have it so bad. You want bad? This is bad!"

And maybe it is bad, for them. Maybe it's worse than you had it. Does the fact that someone else had it worse - and they have - mean that you're not allowed to suffer the effects of what happened to you?

I mean, this is a crazy ladder to climb. muddgirl is right - there's no benefit to be gained from strangers who know shit about your life judging it, or you, as Not As Bad As It Could Have Been, So Shut Up, Whiner.

Both my (ordinary, difficult) parents died within a year of each other, and that experience left me with a lower tolerance for what I perceive to be people's willingness to get all dramafied about stuff I think it petty bullshit. But I also try to remember that everyone's hardest battle is their hardest battle; I'm not in their shoes, and I can't know what their struggle looks like from inside their skin.
posted by rtha at 2:01 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: I'm really not sure what to say.

I have an okay life now. I had a shitty life for 16 years because of what was done to me.

There is no Shitty Life Olympics. What a snarky, mean thing to say.

Isn't it interesting? I was abused more than Hillary was, and you feel comfortable snarking at me. Would you snark at her?

And, WHY WOULD I SAY IT'S OKAY TO BEAT YOUR CHILD?

I was abused as a child. On what planet would I say that that it's okay?
posted by 3491again at 2:12 PM on November 9, 2011


Just because a parent is inclined to purchase expensive gifts and provide support for their offspring does not mean that the child was not abused. Abuse comes from all kinds of families and doesn't discriminate between the wealthy and poor. Additionally, making the choice to disconnect from your parent/parental abuse also means that you won't be receiving material items anymore. 3491again, I understand that the horrific abuse plus a lonely struggle at 16 must have been difficult, but making the choice to break away from wealth can be complicated as well. A Mercedes still doesn't fit into the slot where parental love should be.
posted by 200burritos at 2:19 PM on November 9, 2011


It's not okay on any planet. But I think it's also not okay to call someone who grew up getting beaten like that a "spoiled brat" because her abuser still uses money to control her.
posted by rtha at 2:20 PM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I know that wealthy families have their share of troubles, and a car doesn't make up for abuse. I totally agree.

There's no excuse for what he did. But I also think that her motives here are more cynical than what everyone is projecting onto her. She posted the video because he threatened to stop supporting her, long after she was responsible for herself. He bought her a very expensive car.

Where are all of the people who say that you should be totally responsible for yourself at 18? Where are all of the people who would say she's money-grubbing if she had complained that he didn't support her?

I just don't understand why these two situations get such different responses.
posted by 3491again at 2:36 PM on November 9, 2011


To clarify:

If you say:

"I was abused as a child. I live in a beautiful house and was given piano lessons all my life. I illegally downloaded movies and video games. I'm 23 years old now, and my father has threatened to cut me off."

People will call you a whiner and a money-grubber and tell you to grow up.

If you say:

"Here is a 7-year-old video of me being abused as a child. I am disabled. My Dad wants to keep me from the internet."

You are an international sensation.

Why?
posted by 3491again at 2:42 PM on November 9, 2011


I don't understand why you're willing to divorce his financial support (to what extent, we actually don't know) for her from his abuse. They are part of the same continuum. If she had never been regularly beaten and abused, but still wanted Daddy's money when she was an adult, I have no doubt that people would roll their eyes.

But she was abused. She's still getting harassing texts and calls from him. He still exerts control over her. So it's a different situation.

On preview: People will call you a whiner and a money-grubber and tell you to grow up.

Well, some people are assholes. Some people will decide that they know exactly how they would behave in that situation, and their way would be the right way and any other way is wrong.

What I want to know is why, since this father was such an abusive shit to his own child, he shouldn't be (morally, at least) required to support her forever n ever, amen? Why is the response to her accepting support - maybe she views it as reparations? - that *she's* the bad guy in this?

I don't think that a financial relationship like that is healthy, but I'm not her. She needs to work through this the best way she knows how, and maybe that includes, at least for a while, a big dose of "You owe me, dad."
posted by rtha at 2:51 PM on November 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why?

Because different stories result in different reactions, and incomplete information tells different stories. That's the way humanity works. As I said earlier, there is no need to beatify this girl in order to say that her father is an abuser, and that she did not deserve to be abused.
posted by verb at 2:53 PM on November 9, 2011


i said it up thread but i think it needs repeating - i know a lot of people who have had similar situations - powerful, abusive, awful father, supporting his children/victims - and in this situation, the money is always part of the abuse. it's the mental side of "you can't take care of yourself, you need me to do it, you're so worthless" and, yes, you can run away from home and work really hard and have a rough time of it - but it's not as easy as someone saying "i don't want it tough, so i'll keep being abused." it's more like beaten wife syndrome, keep going back to him - it's hard to leave an abusive situation. the money makes it harder, not easier.

i grew up abused, dirt poor, and i started supporting myself at 16. i far prefer that to what i've seen in my friends, controlled and abused well into their 20s.

there's enough empathy to go around for all the victims and survivors. giving some to her doesn't take anything away from anyone else.
posted by nadawi at 3:26 PM on November 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Verb: That's what I don't get. If you point out these differences, you are told, essentially, "Well, life isn't fair. Some stories are better constructed that others. That is how humanity works."

But we don't say "That is how humanity works" to Hillary. Even though milennia of human brutality points to that truth. I'm not coming out in favor of brutality, of course! I'm saying, though, it's an important discussion to have -- why some stories are heard, and others are not.
posted by 3491again at 4:03 PM on November 9, 2011


If you read the comments from the local papers, linked and some quoted in Miko's comment here, there are plenty of people out there telling her to suck it up, that she deserved to be punished for breaking the law, etc. The view of things is different here on the blue, but she's literally surrounded by people who think she's a whiny [bad name]. I guess that makes it fair?
posted by rtha at 4:17 PM on November 9, 2011


I guess the point I'm making here is more subtle.

All of these stories are true: Her father abused her in the video. He gave her lots of nice things and supported her far beyond where he had to. She was doing something illegal, although most of us here think it shouldn't be. She has a disability, but it doesn't seem to keep her from taking advantage of cultural resources such as piano lessons that get her to Carnegie Hall. Etc.

I'm not saying "suck it up"! I'm the last person in the world who would say that! My point of view is totally different from the Texas commenters who think this is appropriate punishment or that she deserved it, or whatever.

I'm just saying... her presentation was biased to make her look good to get our sympathy. And that makes me feel manipulated and kind of icky. And sad for people who have had even less, and don't even know how to present the right kind of story that will make people understand what has happened. Who have suffered from not being heard -- from not being media savvy enough to slant the story just the right way, to know what to omit and what to include so that the story is heard and approved of, so you don't get the response of, "Oh, that's too bad, deal with it". That's how humanity works.

I guess I'm talking about myself here, like so many of us who gave our stories above. I don't know how to tell my story in a way that will make people care. And I wish I did. And it's painful to see others rewarded, who do.
posted by 3491again at 4:27 PM on November 9, 2011


I guess I'm talking about myself here, like so many of us who gave our stories above. I don't know how to tell my story in a way that will make people care. And I wish I did. And it's painful to see others rewarded, who do.

Every victim that gets to tell a story is a win for everyone that was or will be abused.

Ivan Fyodorovich made a great comment that "There is no profit in comparing severity of abuse." It's reprehensible in all its forms.

If your story needs to be told, then tell it. Those that won't listen, won't hear it, and won't care are craven. But I'd also spend some time thinking about what you're looking to get out of having your story told if you're feeling these things towards someone that's had their story told on a large stage.
posted by bfranklin at 4:46 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank you, 3491again. I think I understand your point better now.

Lots of people here who have told their stories and been met with sympathy and empathy and compassion, from strangers on the Internet. They told their stories, without video or anything, just words on a screen, and people care. This thread has been wonderfully free of "oh yeah well I walked to school uphill both ways in the snow with no feet so don't tell me how bad you had it!"

I guess what I'm saying is is up to each person to tell their story in the way they need to, whether it's in a thread like this or on YouTube. Tearing down the way someone else told their story doesn't do any good, I think (not that that's what you're trying to do) - find the way to tell your story in the way that helps you best. What other people do is their own deal, and we're often ill-served by distracting ourselves with how someone else did something. Look to yourself, and try not to be a person you're not.
posted by rtha at 4:48 PM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


another point i made up thread, but this is a long thread - abuse victims are imperfect people. we're often unsympathetic in one way or another. it's what makes us such great victims - we're seen as unreliable narrators.

victims and survivors are often just about the best manipulators there are in the world, we're second only to those who abused us. sometimes we tell our stories for the wrong reasons or at the wrong time, sometimes we use our pain for our own benefit. it's just another part of being imperfect and learning skills we shouldn't need to have.
posted by nadawi at 4:50 PM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Transcript:
TERRY GROSS, host: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. You might not recognize Darrell Hammond if you ran into him on the street because he's more familiar in character - as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John McCain, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Donald Trump and Sean Connery. Those are just some of the characters Darrell Hammond was famous for on "Saturday Night Live," where he was a cast member for 14 seasons, which set a record for longevity.

He's written a new memoir that really threw me. It's called "God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F-ed," and in the first page, he describes being sent to a psychiatric and rehab facility after getting drunk and trying to cut his arm off with a kitchen knife.

As the book goes on, he describes being the victim of his mother's emotional and physical abuse, and suffering mental health problems. As you can imagine, some of this conversation may be upsetting for some listeners to hear. In a couple of minutes, we'll hear what happened backstage just before this sketch, when Hammond did his now-famous impression of Al Gore in his first debate with George Bush. He's talking about the Bush tax-cut plan.

posted by zarq at 8:16 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess it says something that I expected worse.

I guess I could say the same thing -- I did not see the video until I ran into the clip while changing channels. I have no plans to watch the whole thing but it didn't seem so unprecedentedly awful to me. Like many here, I remember much worse.

And like many here, I never wanted to have children.

Which is something I sometimes regret, in part. I have watched so many children of my family and friends grow up over the years, loved them as babies, adored them as children, not so much as sullen teens, saw them grow up and fly off in the world. Which is to say I regret having children but not so much the heartbreak, work and expense of actually being a parent.

The pain and fear is bad enough, but second to that is the powerlessness and utter fucking humiliation of getting beaten.

Neck and neck to that is the powerlessness and utter fucking torture of having to listen to your mother getting beaten as a little kid while cringing in bed over and over until you had the whole ballet memorized and could hear it coming long before the event.

my dad would call my mom a "bitch" about 2-3 times a week, I haven't used the word outloud in 5+ years and likely never will again.

I won't bother to write what my father called my mom, there simply is no point. But ''bitch'' is a hard word for me, too.

My father and mother are both dead, so I can speak freely. My father was a wild man, a grenade with its pin pulled, a land mine buried an inch deep, given to flying in a rage at a pin drop. And he got worse and worse with time. In the last years I lived with him in high school, I thought him an artist at it, a epic poet of obscene invective -- his rages were grand opera with a chorus of broken dishes. I had a dream not long after my mother and I had left him, where in one part I sat frozen in a bathtub while he poured buckets of shit into it. That I spent a couple of years of high school away from him and the town where I was born is the reason why I am still here.

It was in retrospect a sort of feedback loop--the worse he got, the more we kids hated him, the more we hated him, the worse he got. And we could get with each other. Oh, there are so many elephants in the room on those rare times when we get together.

And each of us when young adults, while processing our recent childhoods in conversations, could and would tell true stories that would cause new friends to burst into tears with absolutely no intention of doing so.

Part of it was the times, which are longer ago than those of the bulk of you here--I had teachers in grade school who, by today's standards, would be imprisoned for the way they struck us. I got beaten several times with a wooden paddle by my third grade teacher, who slapped me across the face until I made my 'O' and zeroes from the top instead of bottom. Part of it was cultural--my father was born in what is now Poland but then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire--I was startled to realize to realize that this Christmas will be his hundreth birthday. (And don't get me going about Christmas or Thanksgiving... how I cannot wait for them to be past.) When I heard how his parents were--what I had experienced with was a candle to his bonfire.

Yet when he got got old, well, he got old. And went blind and became, according to all my nieces and nephew, a wonderful, loving grandfather. Who'd a-thunk ?

Once, on the advice of a therapist, I went through an exercise that led me to write my parents a letter of forgiveness. I don't think I can forgive who he was when we were young, though. But for their sakes, at that age, I am glad I did. (And here's a tip, for those inclined to attempt to do, it is so much easier to let your folks off the hook while they are this side of the grave. )

My heart goes out to all those who still struggle with painful memories and awful feelings. I do, too. Even as I may have all this perspective and calm in my head when in dispassionate reflection, my heart is another matter. I wrestle demons every day. It never stops, it never will. But that does not mean that I can not step off the carousel a moment after it starts to turn and try to enjoy what few moments I have. Even so, I do find myself thinking about scoring some propanolol some day soon, just to see if that would help. Life is just too damn short to waste on painful memories, no matter how brief they may be with wiser attention.

Not that I consider myself wise. I used to think that the phrase 'sadder but wiser' was redundant. Now the best I have offer is the project of life should be learning to be kinder.
And there is so much room for improvement and so little time.
posted by y2karl at 11:36 AM on November 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


AP:
Texas' top court suspends judge in beating video
McALLEN, Texas (AP) -- The Texas Supreme Court suspended a judge Tuesday whose beating of his then-teenage daughter in 2004 was viewed millions of times on the Internet.

Aransas County court-at-law Judge William Adams was suspended immediately with pay pending the outcome of the inquiry started earlier this month by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, according to an order signed Tuesday by the clerk of the state's highest court.

The order makes clear that while Adams agreed to the commission's recommended temporary suspension and waived the hearing and notice requirements, he does not admit "guilt, fault or wrongdoing" regarding the allegations. His attorney did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

...

William Adams has not sat on the bench since the video went viral. It has been viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube.

...

William Adams appeared in court Monday for a day-long hearing regarding the custody of his 10-year-old daughter. His wife had sought a change in their joint custody agreement, and another judge imposed a temporary restraining order effectively keeping William Adams from being alone with his younger daughter until he reached a decision. An order was expected in that dispute Wednesday.

As Aransas County's top judge, William Adams has dealt with at least 349 family law cases in the past year alone, nearly 50 of which involved state caseworkers seeking determine whether parents were fit to raise their children. A visiting judge has been handling his caseload.

posted by zarq at 11:56 PM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


thank you, zarq. i was just thinking with the whole football coach thing, this woman and her sister had fallen out of the news. glad to see it's at least not all back to normal, yet.
posted by nadawi at 1:15 AM on November 23, 2011


You're welcome. I admit, I'm pleasantly surprised to see any progress. I expected the situation to be buried by the good ol' boys network that is still a large part of much of Texas politics, sports and business.

This is a good step, and the state Supreme Court should be commended for taking action.
posted by zarq at 5:45 AM on November 23, 2011


More coming out about Judge Adams...

Local Attorney Files New Complaint Against Judge William Adams: "He Is a Liar"

In a 7-page filing, attorney David Sibley, paints what he calls a disturbing picture of Judge William Adams' behavior on the bench from a case last year.

Sibley was representing a mother in a custody case, where the child was alleging abuse.

"Judge Adams created nonexistent law," Sibley writes, "stating that children are 'fantasizers' and the statements of children amount to 'no evidence'. The child's statements were corroborated in several ways and were believable."


Disturbing.
posted by jeanmari at 5:59 AM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


The State Commission on Judicial Conduct wouldn't discipline Sharon Keller and she let a man die by refusing to keep her office open after 5 pm (it was all other people's fault and surely the humiliation of being dragged through the mud was enough punishment). If Adams gets anything more than a temporary suspension and a finger-shake like Keller got, it'll be because he's not in the right network of good ole boys.
posted by immlass at 6:23 AM on November 23, 2011


Yeah but Sharon Keller's affront wasn't photogenic enough to get 6 million hits on YouTube. It's a little harder for the good ole boys to sweep it under when it's gone viral.
posted by localroger at 12:27 PM on November 23, 2011


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