Saturday, June 24, 2006

There's more

I have a student studying social work and who went to a social work-themed high school writing her researched argument on emotional and verbal abuse, that it should be considered as much as physical or sexual abuse when child protection workers consider removing a child from a home or environment. She is one of a handful of students I enjoy talking to about their projects. Then I saw The Carnival Against Child Abuse link at Abyss2hope's blog and was disappointed to see it all focused on sexual abuse. "Disappointed" is too strong word. The posts I read were good, the carnival itself is good and I look forward to its growth, it is something that should not be in the shadows and that does take a lifetime to heal. But the same applies to emotional abuse and verbal abuse. If you are only hit, from those who talk about physical abuse, your bruises and marks heal. When you are sexually, emotionally or verbally abused, the core of your existence is attacked and it takes a lifetime to pull yourself 90% together. Posts at the carnival urge education and understanding the signs of sexual abuse and as a parent, I have read and been lectured on these signs and to emphasize to your child that her body is hers. But nothing about the shredding of a child's identity, existence, self. What about the signs of emotional and verbal abuse? Years ago, when I worked with a literacy program, a tutor told a student he was smart, he was powerful, he was a winner and the boy burst into tears. The tutor and I were baffled. But it is a sign--a child who cannot hear she is worthy is one who has heard too often that she is unworthy. I know all too well. I was ignored or micromanaged and overcontrolled, told I was stupid and lazy and selfish and self-centered when I dared to disagree about things like what food or color or shoe or book I liked, told what to feel (as little as possible) and think (whatever the prevailing mood was), told the older I got that I was fat and ugly and mean and a bitch. I was always wrong--a hair out of place (with naturally fuzzy, thick, wavy-kinky hair, this was daily torture that was blamed on me), not "matching" perfectly (it was just not possible), not walking properly, not sitting properly, not chewing properly or breathing properly or having the proper expression on my face. Surprise was (and still is) expressed whenever it was revealed I had a friend or an interest or a talent. (When I first met Mister, in my late 20s, I heard my mother regularly spit, "I don't see how he puts up with you." I told him. He confronted her. She stopped saying it.) I reached adulthood convinced I was evil and unlikable (love was out of the question), stupid (with a 3.4 average at an Ivy League college), fat (at 125 lbs., I dabbled in anorexia and bulimia and settled on a steady diet of cigarettes through most of my 20s), ugly, unbearable and self-centered. And no one had hit me or raped me or sold me or kicked me onto the streets. I got an excellent education, always had food and clothes, had a car in high school. She talked glowingly of me to her friends and co-workers--when it made her look good. (I never heard this stuff.) But I could have had 4 PhDs and still thought of myself as incompetent and ignorant. I saw only my flaws. I was a shredded person. And I haven't gotten into the it's-your-father's-fault-I-didn't-abort aspects of childhood.

It is not worse or milder than sexual abuse. That is not my point. But any attacks upon a child's person, including her existence, including his right to breathe and live and eat, are abusive. Children must know they have bodily integrity and internal integrity, that no adult, or other child, has a right to attack the You of You.

6-24-06: See Marcella's response at abyss2hope. Thanks, Marcella.

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Blogger Professor Zero said...

Yes--sounds familiar--but don't forget to add the general abuse of women, not just within the family...and which for me, at least, is often very hard to see, I am so used to it...

Sun Jun 25, 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger Schroeder said...

Happens to men as well. I can remember my mother smacking my head against the wall when I was little. Then she went to "transactional analysis" sessions, otherwise known as "group therapy." I think she learned a lot about how to manipulate people without using physical violence. I think she was exorcising her own skeletons from the closet -- I can see that now. I also learned a lot from her about myself, too late at my age, and it took a divorce to get there, but I'm much better now at more productive and loving communication. Jeez. It really does take a lifetime.

Mon Jun 26, 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

The more I learn about bad/abusive parenting, the more I find in myself to heal/fix/recover.

Tue Jun 27, 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

I'm so sorry that stuff happened to you. You didn't deserve it: no one does. I am glad that you have a good strong voice to speak out about it now.

Wed Jun 28, 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Admin said...

Hi G Bitch Spot,
Any form of abuse is unacceptable. Many areas need to be addressed, education awareness, prevention, national hotlines in Canada. We as bloggers have the forum to tell our stories, and the impact it had on our life's, it only the beginning. We still need to do more, and bring awareness, I admire the honesty in this post. I would like to link it, all the best in bringing awareness to everyone.

Mon Jul 03, 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Marj aka Thriver said...

Thanks for the link to the Carnival Against Child Abuse. See my comment on Marcella's Abbys2Hope blog about the verbal and emotional abuse that often goes along with sexual abuse. I'll be looking around some more at your blog--glad I found it! Again, thanks for the link.

Wed Jul 05, 10:53:00 AM  

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