ty November 2, 2011 4:15 PM   Subscribe

I just wanted to thank everyone who has shared their personal stories, outrage, opinions, wisdom and advice in this thread.

The mods had deleted two previous incarnations yesterday. Considering the topic and the nature of the video we all know that the new thread could have turned into a complete disaster, but instead it developed into a powerful conversation.

I find it comforting to know that people here have been through similar experiences, and reassuring to learn not only how they have dealt with them, but that they were able to do so in the first place. So, thanks.
posted by zarq to MetaFilter-Related at 4:15 PM (163 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

Me too! This thread has been amazing. What happened in my family was mild in comparison to this girl's experience, but then again, it was pretty awful. I still cringe when I hear male voices raised in anger, still have trouble not being afraid to confront others. I struggled (still do sometimes) not to spank my child and am ashamed to say I did spank him a few times when he was younger. I hate that that training is in my head. But after the last time (he was 5), I apologized to him about it and explained that I wasn't going to do it anymore and that I was still learning how to be a mom, and that we won't do any more hitting in our house.

He doesn't really remember it I think, but I feel like I'm constantly on guard when he's pushing my buttons...I can't let myself lose control.
posted by emjaybee at 4:26 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yes, my thanks as well. I didn't feel like I had a comparable experience to relate, or anything else productive to say that had not already been said, so I stayed out of the thread.

But I would really like to give everyone a hug.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:30 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was going to say something to this effect in the thread but hadn't gotten around to it. A really horrible incident that turned into more or less a really heartening, moving, comforting and supportive thread.

Thanks everyone for sharing their stories and experiences and for being generally really awesome. Here's to turning out ok!
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:32 PM on November 2, 2011


MF seems to be geared towards personal exposition rather than clinical detachment, which is no bad thing, but something I had to learn first hand. Different land than I'm used to (where 'signs of weakness' are devoured / destroyed immediately).

Here's hoping everyone who submitted in the thread puts the demons to rest, as it were (and for myself, too clever meta trolling).


One thing - I don't think that you should leave this alone until the safety of the younger sister is determined.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 4:32 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know what to think about the experiences eple related in the thread. Reading through it at times I feel I came out if it lucky, other ties I am hoffified that there are so many similar stories and other times I feel disturbingly better knowing that I am not alone though I don't really know why I feel that way. I never had children despite wanting to raise one and break the cycle because I was too afraid I would bee the same way. My brother is the only one of the three children who had children of his own. According to my mother he used to beat them.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:33 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yep, thanks. My house growing up was not nearly as bad as Hillary's, but it wasn't great, either, and it's incredibly powerful knowing that other people are going through the exact same experience of figuring out how to be mentally-healthy adults after the fact.
posted by downing street memo at 4:33 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, nothing on Metafilter has ever brought on the tears like that thread.
posted by jamjam at 4:35 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


It struck me while reading the thread that the feelings people expressed were so similar to mine, even though what happened to me was relatively mild (or was it? is that just my tendency to minimize emotional abuse?) And I need to do some thinking about how to deal with aging, formerly abusive parents; I'm really struggling with that right now.

Cheradine, wonderful comment. I'm glad to see you're finding your place here. Welcome!
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 4:58 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


jamjam, me too. I only read a few comments, and they're quite moving. Some are so sad, but others show amazing resilience.
posted by theora55 at 4:59 PM on November 2, 2011


That thread was hard to read even though I've never suffered from child abuse but it did make me think of my mother. My grandmother on my mother's side was an evil witch and the abuse she inflicted on my mother would made that judge look like a saint. My mom is the sweetest, most caring and loving person in this world and I'm grateful for her. She said that she wanted a better life for us than she had and that she'd never put someone through what she had to go through. Even in her 50s, she still struggles with depression from what happened to her as a child.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:06 PM on November 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Thanks.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:09 PM on November 2, 2011


I was thinking of making this meTa, zarq.

Thank you all.
posted by rtha at 5:13 PM on November 2, 2011


Truly, thank you all for sharing.
posted by odinsdream at 5:33 PM on November 2, 2011


That thread turned out so much better than I was expecting. Hugs to all involved.
posted by benzenedream at 5:42 PM on November 2, 2011


I don't consider myself an overly sensitive person and I have no personal experience of child abuse, but after watching that video - or really the first two minutes of it - on one of the deleted posts last night I was absolutely wrecked. Took me hours to calm down and even then I was left feeling agitated and occasionally despairing; but the absolute courage and toughness and love shown in that thread today have blown me away and made me feel more able to confront the things I saw in that video. Great post, zarq, couldn't agree more.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:46 PM on November 2, 2011


Yes, an amazing thread. I am grateful to the people who shared their stories. This is such hard stuff to talk about. But it makes me feel hopeful to see so many people saying that they were hit but that they have made a really different choice for their own families, whether that's remaining child-free, or purposefully choosing a new parenting style.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 5:48 PM on November 2, 2011


I couldn't watch the video (too close to home, sorry) but the thread, for the most part, was worth reading. One of the many reasons I like Metafilter.
posted by patheral at 5:54 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


In a lot of ways the comments in that thread have felt like a giant group hug to me. Nthing zarq's thoughts.
posted by bfranklin at 6:16 PM on November 2, 2011


@ WorkingMWH - trying not to be narcissistic / derail / all-about-meeee, but that meant a lot. Thanks.
posted by Cheradine Zakalwe at 6:24 PM on November 2, 2011


I am thankful my parents were such good, loving people that I never had to go through any of that hell.

That's some hard reading in that thread. The video is shocking enough but it's incredibly moving and troubling to hear story upon story, so many people brought right back to their childhood, tapping right into that pain. You're in one thread and people are cracking wise or making some erudite comment, and then bang, you move to the next thread and run into this wall of pain that just goes on and on. I cried a lot while reading it, my god, I am so sorry for all of you who suffered this. I am just going to try to be a better, more perceptive adult and pay a lot more attention to kids.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:45 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


I couldn't watch the video (too close to home, sorry) but the thread, for the most part, was worth reading. One of the many reasons I like Metafilter.

Couldn't have said this better myself.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:45 PM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


This is such hard stuff to talk about.

It is, indeed.

I don't talk much about my childhood experiences, because I find that people think I'm making it up. They cannot wrap their heads around what they're hearing, and I think it's easier for them to say "I don't believe you" than it is to contemplate what utter shits people can be to their children.

But if by talking about it, just one person understands that they're not alone, that what they're going through is NOT "normal" and that it's NOT their fault...well, the whole world can stand up and name me Liar, and I'm OK with that.
posted by MissySedai at 6:55 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can't read the whole thread. Partly because it is soooo long, and partly because it hurts too much.

This is the kind of thing that I live in fear of ever seeing on the news if my dad and I happened to be in the same room together. Because of what one of us might say. Or not say.
posted by hermitosis at 7:04 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Adding my thanks as well. For a long time I felt I was the only one who went through this and thought it was the norm.

That video is painful to watch, but it's a good thing that it's out there for all to see what could very well be happening next door, or has happened to your best friend, partner, or spouse. People don't make this shit up. Well, most people don't.
posted by Anima Mundi at 7:04 PM on November 2, 2011


I was out with a few friends the other night, who know my family history in at least broad strokes. One of them was talking about her mom and their difficult relationship, and then she said "well, what are you going to do, you have to love your mother." And I laughed and said, no, you really don't. And she blushed and said, true, and we clinked glasses and got another round.

All of which is solely to say, it is possible to be open about the things that haunt you with the people who are close to you without the sky caving in. It's hard to do and lots of people are dipshits, but it's possible. I think it is also worth the effort.
posted by Errant at 7:04 PM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


In talking with a friend who has brothers and sisters, she joked "It's nice to have people who share my memories, and can confirm that our parents are crazy." As an only child, I was so saddened by this, because nobody remembers anything but me. After thirteen years of knowing my folks, my husband can confirm, that yes, they're nutty as fruitcakes - but nobody remembers the little kid who was spanked because she wouldn't lie down and go to sleep but me. Though Hillary has had her sister and mother for confirmation, having so many more witnesses after revealing this video must be like a balm. Having all of you share similar stories is like having siblings for me.
posted by peagood at 7:16 PM on November 2, 2011 [17 favorites]


I really appreciated this thread. I was transfixed by the story when I read it over breakfast this morning, and although I had a busy day, I kept checking in on my iPhone because I was hoping Metafilter would provide the kind of commentary that would help, just a little, as much as anything could. I have excellent, loving parents, but I had some childhood experiences with other authority that put this close to home for me.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:16 PM on November 2, 2011


I'm glad that we ended up with a reasonably good post about the story that wasn't just another straight-up LOOK AT THIS AWFUL VIDEO thing like the first two we nixed. But beyond that, I'm hugely relieved that the thread ended up being what it was, and that while it wasn't totally without the occasional wobble it has gone so well and mostly been about people talking about their direct and indirect experiences rather than hollering at each other about stuff.

I said in the thread that I didn't grow up with any of this kind of physical violence, and that's honestly probably why it's been workable to just haunt the thread all day watching for trouble and reading everyone's comments. It's still pretty overwhelming stuff, and it's been a weird and sort of gloomy way to spend the day, and I wrestled for several hours with whether to even watch the whole original video before deciding that I probably ought to.

But I'm so goddam thankful that that's as close as I am to any of it, and as I often am I'm floored and enriched as a person by the kind of sharing of experiences folks in this community can manage even around really personally, emotionally difficult subjects like this.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:41 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


Thanks to that thread (thanks for not deleting that one by the way, mods) and the video, I came face to face with some feelings I had stuffed away. Seeing that video just brought back a flood of things that I hadn't talked about in awhile. Sure, it's just typing on the internet but after I hit post, I hugged and kissed my wife and read to my daughter with an unusual vigor. Piece by piece, day by day, year by year, I guess it does get better.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:49 PM on November 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


Finally worked up the courage to watch the video and read many of the personal stories on this thread. Thank you all so much for sharing your stories. This is such a difficult subject, and this community is the only place I see such in-depth, heartfelt discussion.
posted by blurker at 8:07 PM on November 2, 2011


I didn't grow up with this abuse, either, but I couldn't get through the video, OR the thread. So sorry for you all who went through similar things. Can't believe people could behave this way to children.
posted by sweetkid at 8:11 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


What really took me aback was how many people on here with whom I've interacted for years and consider to be calm, empathetic, rational, rounded people (i.e., Mathowie for starters) were abused as children, some horribly. Just blows my mind how people can be so resilient and grow right past that kind of crap.
posted by orange swan at 8:13 PM on November 2, 2011 [24 favorites]


I came away feeling even more strongly that I can never, ever normalize violence to children. Not even the smallest amount. It's not normal, it's not the default parenting behavior, it's not justifiable, and it should simply never happen. It's all on the same continuum as this kind of terror.

My parents always refused to be physical in their anger and I'm very thankful. It didn't preclude some difficult emotional scenes, but I never, ever had to cringe in physical fear and for that I'm quite thankful. I have no memories of my parents as aggressors or perpetrators of cruelty. No kid should.
posted by Miko at 8:16 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


I always feel weird in these conversations, because my parents rarely laid a hand on me. Sure, they told me I should die, a few times a day for years. Sure, they terrorized me and brutalized my mind and convinced me of my inescapable deficiency. But they never really hit me aside from a couple times, and despite all my training and insistence that emotional damage is just like physical damage, I can't help but feel like it wasn't that bad and that I'm upset over nothing.

I know that's bullshit. I obsess over psychology and I know how the chemicals react and how mental damage is just like physical pain and all the rest of it. But I can't help it. I read your stories and I think, well, no belts, it can't have been that bad.

It's hard to tell people that some asshole saying mean shit to you fucked you up forever. It's hard for that not to feel like weakness. On good days, I remember my training. On bad days, I wish I had more good days.
posted by Errant at 8:30 PM on November 2, 2011 [36 favorites]


I hugged and kissed my wife and read to my daughter with an unusual vigor
I'm so glad people share these parts, too. But thank you to everyone.
posted by Glinn at 8:41 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thanks for this MetaTalk post, zarq. When I saw the post and saw that it had 300+ comments I decided to avoid it. "Fuck, I hope there's not a flamewar over this of all things." I would've not started reading it if not for this post to the Gray. I can't quite bring myself to favorite a comment where someone talks about being abused as a child (a mental block on my part, not a slight against those who did favorite) but I'd like to say that I admire everyone who can share openly their horrible personal experiences. I am lucky in that my parents never used mental or physical violence against me growing up (only my fellow children) but I know from people close to me how deep the scar tissue from these kinds of wounds runs in the psyche. Speaking out can be fraught but it is liberating for others and encourages those who have never been able to share their painful memories to open up.

Thank you all.
posted by Kattullus at 8:45 PM on November 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


But they never really hit me aside from a couple times, and despite all my training and insistence that emotional damage is just like physical damage, I can't help but feel like it wasn't that bad and that I'm upset over nothing.

You and me both, Errant. It is hard to make people understand that when you're a child, your parents are your whole world; when they tell you that you're worthless, it's like it's coming out of God's mouth. There's no question that they could be wrong. And that destroys you. It really does. I'm 47 years old and I'm still trying to convince myself that I'm worth loving, that I don't have to buy love by selling myself, that I deserve good things to happen to me.

Hugs to you, Errant. Keep putting one foot in front of the other; sometimes that's all you can do, but it's enough.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 8:49 PM on November 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


I don't have children, so my attitudes on this are pretty much academic, but reading that thread has convinced me that violence really is on a continuum, and while mild spanking didn't do me any harm, that's not a continuum I want to be on, were I to have a kid.
posted by Forktine at 8:52 PM on November 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


KevinSkomsvold: "Thanks to that thread (thanks for not deleting that one by the way, mods) and the video, I came face to face with some feelings I had stuffed away. Seeing that video just brought back a flood of things that I hadn't talked about in awhile. Sure, it's just typing on the internet but after I hit post, I hugged and kissed my wife and read to my daughter with an unusual vigor. Piece by piece, day by day, year by year, I guess it does get better."

It does. I think that being immersed in a non-violent, non-fearful environment at home tends to help the healing process. So does having people in your life who build you up, rather than tear you down. Stabilizing influences, that remove certain stressors. And once you have that a lot of introspection, encouragement towards self-awareness and learning. This book: Toxic Parents, saved me. It teaches, among other things that we shouldn't blame ourselves.

Didn't watch the video. Could not bring myself to. I spent years trying to forget and bury the past for sanity's sake and revisiting that would have been tortuous. But it was a little surprising to find how difficult it was to read the thread, too. I had to stop for a while several times, after developing tightness in my chest and the beginnings of a panic reaction. The first trigger for me was the various objects that people said they had been hit with. Shoes. Wooden-soled sandals. Wooden spoons. I don't know why, but it never occurred to me that other people might also have been hit with wooden spoons or had them broken against them. It seems obvious in retrospect.

I missed tucking my kids in tonight. But I just spent an hour in the dark, sitting in a rocking chair in their room, cradling each of them in my arms (one at a time) as they slept. Kissing their cheeks and foreheads. Being a bit emotional. I worry about them. I worry about being a good parent, and (to be perfectly honest) not screwing them up. Breaking the cycle.
posted by zarq at 9:06 PM on November 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


This show that while we do not always choose to do every topic well, we can in fact do any topic well.

(I think the blue hit comment 4,000,000 today, right?)
posted by shothotbot at 9:08 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the spoon thing was super common. My friends in elementary school all thought it was weird that I had never had one broken on me, and that my parents never used a belt. It was just sort of normal, in a way. Some of their parents probably even thought that they were doing the right thing by not using the yet more brutal punishments of a generation before.
posted by Forktine at 9:15 PM on November 2, 2011


Thank you all for sharing, I lucked out in the parent department so can't imagine growing up with abuse. I was spanked, but not frequently. Hugs to everyone who shared.
posted by arcticseal at 9:23 PM on November 2, 2011


I didn't participate in the thread (I used up my allotment of MetaFilter spoons in the depression post), but I read it all through. The crappy thing is that I'm not remotely surprised. When I get into conversations about "our childhoods" with people (at least in conversations where people are being open, rather than shallow), I talk honestly about my childhood, and sometimes someone will have an "Oh my God, you actually said it out loud; I've never been able to" reaction, but mostly people are just shocked and horrified. And even after going into what my childhood and adolescence were like, when I say that I want my parents to die, most people cannot process that information as truthful--but there's always someone with the "I've felt that way my entire adult life. I didn't know you were allowed to tell people that."

So, I guess what I'm saying is that I'm glad that the conversation let people know that they are not alone, even in their most socially unacceptable thoughts. I'm glad about the depression discussion, too, for some of the same reasons, but more on that later, I think.
posted by tzikeh at 9:47 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thank you, everyone. I've spent way too long (thirty years too long) feeling hopeless and very much alone because of being abused as a kid, and that thread, as painful as it was to read, makes me feel less alone, and gives me a little bit of hope. Thanks.
posted by smilingtiger at 9:56 PM on November 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


(I think the blue hit comment 4,000,000 today, right?)

Not today, but in just the last two or three days, yeah. I think it was during the weekend.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:57 PM on November 2, 2011


I read through it this evening. (I typed and deleted some rage-filled comments two or three times during the course of the afternoon. It's only now really subsiding - I just want to reach back in time & protect that kid from him, more than anything. It hurts me, just thinking about her, living through that.) The healing that's been shown here & the testimonials of those of you who have broken the chain are an inspiriation. I really love you guys - hugs.

I didn't get hit much -- I had the opposite problem, in that I was pretty much ignored most of the time. I was just along for the ride, and was a pretty big inconvenience to my parents a lot of the time. There were outbursts, and I can recall the fear of my step-father who would rage pretty frequently, though I think he only paddled me hard 2 or 3 times, and there were never fists. Still, break the chain. It doesn't take physical violence - Imagine how I felt when my mother told me when I was 16 that "if abortion had been legal in 1962, you would never have been born." Just kind of matter-of-factly, as some sort of an aside, as we were talking in the kitchen. It wasn't even shouted - it was just utterly thoughtlessly cruel. Whenever I'm faced with a crucial parenting decision, I've been held in good stead by imagining how my folks would have handled it, then doing the opposite.

That, and learning from good people like you guys.

My son had to sort of wriggle free when he'd had enough of his goodnight hug tonight.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:13 PM on November 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know if this is appropriate, but--

The stories people have shared have moved me very deeply. I can't stop thinking about them. I don't know what form this would take, but is there perhaps some way to... I don't know, collect these stories? Seeing all of those comments, one after another after another, seems so powerful to me.

I'm a professional writer and have basically-adequate editing skills; if anyone knows how to use me I am happy to volunteer my time. Please forgive me if this is an uncool comment. I mean well.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:17 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm also a professional writer with decent editing skills but far better interviewing skills. I would be thrilled to take oral histories, or to join an effort to create a MeFi Trauma Writing Group. I think it would be a wonderful way of healing together as a community. thehmsbeagle, MeFiMail me if you want a partner in crime on this venture. This is something I've thought about for a long time and would love to do.
posted by brina at 11:59 PM on November 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


You guys wouldn't anthologize anything without the writer's permission, right? No, of course not. You understand that above all else people who've endured trauma need to control where and when and how they tell their stories. Right? I'm sorry for even asking.
posted by gingerest at 12:17 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I couldn't watch the video but wow, that thread was so very hard to read - in the end made me wish I could somehow send everyone cookies and a note of, well, thanks for just hanging in there through all that and still being able to write about it. It's hard enough being a kid anyway, that those sorts of experiences don't help. I had school friends in similar situations - and thanks to them I learned from a very young age how lucky I've been not to grow up like that.

I always appreciate these threads - but damn I can't just walk away afterwards, I very much feel and am moved by the words, and can't shake off some of the images of all those children. As it should be I suppose, but I hate that so many have to walk around with such pain.
posted by batgrlHG at 1:13 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've never thrown so many favorites around as in that thread. And to all of you who were abused, and broke that chain by being an excellent parent, I salute you!
posted by DreamerFi at 1:20 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Feel free to use my story, and if you wish to speak to me more about it, just MeMail me. I am more than willing to talk, though it might me slow and hesitant as it still sort of affects me mentally.

I do mean it though let me know if you want to write something, I will speak and at length because why not? It's worth doing,
posted by lizarrd at 2:19 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, kinda had to drink after sharing, I meant I might be slow* etc.
posted by lizarrd at 2:19 AM on November 3, 2011


I'm 33 years old and it took that thread and video and just all of this to make me realize - right now, today - that I was abused as a child. I can't remember with precision the frequency, the things that were said, or even all the things that were used. I feel like I've intentionally chosen to forget these details. I remember the belt, though.

I can't believe I've never realized this before.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:15 AM on November 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


I couldn't finish the thread... both because I was so sad and heartsick that so many people experienced such pain as children. And partly because I had to go and nurse my son. Who'd you best believe got an extra dose of snuggles.

It's fully my intention that, like Pater Aletheias' daughter, my son won't even know what a spanking is.

Is it kind of weird that I've got Elmo talking about family in the background? Yeah, a little.
posted by sonika at 4:33 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


many people on here with whom I've interacted for years and consider to be calm, empathetic, rational, rounded people (i.e., Mathowie for starters)

Just to clarify — the "g" on my home computer keyboard is sticking. I consider the people I was describing to be grounded, not fat.
posted by orange swan at 5:39 AM on November 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hugs to all of you.

I was spanked as a child, but never in anger. It was always with a lot of explanation, seriousness, and genuine regret on the side of my parents. It was always really clear to me that I did indeed deserve the punishment I was getting, too.

I have only spanked my son twice, in similar circumstances, and we have an excellent loving bond. He is well aware that crossing certain lines of behavior could well bring us to another spanking, but as it has been about a year since the last one I don't imagine we'll ever need to go there again (he's 5 1/2 now).

Maybe I am just too cynical, but might does make right in this world. Why pretend to kids that it doesn't? I do my very best to be a well-meaning benevolent dictator with those in my charge, but a five tear old is not a full member of a democracy in my family.
______

I was able to watch that video, all the way through, and yeah it made me angry and disgusted with that man but I can't really imagine anything that I would not be able to watch on a screen. I have seen 2 girls 1 cup, Ogrish, people being dumped into ovens at Auschwitz... Maybe there is some point where you've just seen too much, but what to do, it can't be unseen now eh?

My Dad can't watch overly gory / gruesome movies. I just don't get it, he's an educated well read guy of the modern era. And it isn't a trigger type thing, he's had a normal life, it's like "What are you saving yourself for, man? This is the world we live in."

Maybe I just haven't had bad enough things happen to me, or to those around me, but who wants to get PTSD? Not trying to belittle those who say they can't watch it, just something hard for me to get my head around.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:51 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to thank Matt for opening up about his own past. It broke the ice and got a lot of others, myself included, to talk about their own. That openness is what makes this place special.
posted by tommasz at 6:00 AM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Meatbomb, a screen ususally introduces enough distancing that most folks can watch most things. In fact, there's an argument to be made that this can result in acclimatization to the truely horrific, normalizing things which should remain shocking and near taboo. Some say this has then led to an increase in violence, some say this has led to an increase in empathy, some say it has no effect at all.

But show any male a video of a swift kick to the balls and they will immediately cringe and often protect with legs or hands. This video is like that. Folks avoiding it realize this.
posted by likeso at 6:25 AM on November 3, 2011


I avoided the thread and wasn't interested in watching much of the video, which might be why this comment by sonascope really got me ... wow
posted by exogenous at 6:28 AM on November 3, 2011


I couldn't watch the video either. Some of the comments were equally hard to read, but I felt better after reading the thread.

Hugs all around!
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:47 AM on November 3, 2011


Meatbomb, I think a lot of what's troubling people is that they've experienced what's going on in the screen. It's not just a video for them, it's a memory. A very, very, vivid memory. It's much harder to watch something that hits (no pun intended) so close to home.

I know for me, I'd never had trouble watching anything dark, sordid, morbid, or gory on a screen. Maybe a few overblown moments here and there, but I was nothing close to squeamish.

And then I had a baby. And now? I can't. I just can't. I hear about a child being hurt and suddenly it's my child. Even an adult - that person being the subject of violence is suddenly someone's baby and I fall apart inside. I never anticipated this, but that's what it is for me. I can't watch that video because suddenly, even though I would never even dream of doing anything like that, it becomes my son in my mind at the other end of that belt and the only way I can save him is to turn it off.
posted by sonika at 7:51 AM on November 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


Word, sonika. I thought that was just a postpartum hormonal thing that would fade, but I don't think so anymore. For me, becoming a mother meant that a whole lot of stuff that might have at one time made me uncomfortable has now become unbearable.
posted by pajamazon at 7:58 AM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've never experienced a beating like that and I can watch fictional violence in TV and film without too much trouble. But I have not watched that video and will not watch it—I even skipped over the excerpt in the Today interview with Hillary Adams I just watched.

For me, it's not so much the violence that I know would disturb me, but the pain and suffering experienced by Hillary. Knowing that this was something real that happened to a real person would greatly upset me because, more than anything, I would want to somehow make it better. Other people's pain and suffering makes me hurt.

Also, I made the mistake recently of watching the video of the Chinese toddler being run over, and over, and over, and that may be the single most upsetting thing I've ever seen in my entire life, and I'm sorry that it's something I can't unsee. I've become more leery of watching videos that display the worst of human nature.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:11 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I said it in my rambly brain-dump post over there, but I want to say it here too: zarq, thank you so so so very much for posting that ACOA list. That's something I needed to see. I think it'll help.

You're totally my favorite spouse.
posted by cmyk at 9:01 AM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't have the vocabulary to explain what that thread did for me today, so I'll just offer thanks and hugs.
posted by vanar sena at 9:22 AM on November 3, 2011


Forktine: "I think the spoon thing was super common."

I had no idea.

My friends in elementary school all thought it was weird that I had never had one broken on me, and that my parents never used a belt. It was just sort of normal, in a way. Some of their parents probably even thought that they were doing the right thing by not using the yet more brutal punishments of a generation before.

Regarding belts: My dad (and my grandfather, his dad) used to do that snapping thing with his belt. My kids were sitting on our bed last year while my wife and I were getting dressed and I don't really know what the hell I was thinking at the time, but I thought I'd snap mine and see how they would react to a loud, startling sound.

The belt went snap, the kids jumped. My son looked at me and grinned. My daughter frowned at me and said, 'You scare me' and went back to watching Elmo. But the sound... that goddamned sound just sank into my brain and brought up memories I must have buried. I won't be doing that, ever again.

One of the wonderful things about having kids is you can get certain things right. Pater Alethias' comment in the other thread was so wonderful. His daughter doesn't know what a spanking is. How wonderful and amazing is that? My kids don't have a negative mental association with the sound of a belt snap. To them, it was just a loud noise, and daddy being silly. We're going to keep it that way. And the only thing they'll ever see a wooden spoon used for is stirring something on the stovetop.
posted by zarq at 9:39 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


KevinSkomsvold - Thanks to that thread (thanks for not deleting that one by the way, mods) and the video, I came face to face with some feelings I had stuffed away. Seeing that video just brought back a flood of things that I hadn't talked about in awhile. Sure, it's just typing on the internet but after I hit post, I hugged and kissed my wife and read to my daughter with an unusual vigor. Piece by piece, day by day, year by year, I guess it does get better.

I went to bed last night thinking I needed to post something in that thread again, and this sums it up pretty well. It was my first night going solo with our 3.5 year old and 9 week old as the wife had a late meeting, and I was very nervous, but there were thoughts in my head that I wasn't used too last night - "You can do this, You can change it all right now, You can do it right, Take a deep breath."

Thank you to everyone who shared. But thanks most of all to Hillary for having the courage to post that video.
posted by Big_B at 9:39 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cmyk--- you know, that's the sweetest thing ever.

Who put all these allergens in the air?
posted by xarnop at 9:40 AM on November 3, 2011


This line from Sonascopes' comment really resonated with me:

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.

It all does seem like a story now. I'm processing this as "that was my life then and this is my life now." It seems like it was someone else back then; someone I am not now. It still amazes me how we have come so far in our lives and moved on (hopefully) yet a video has such a visceral effect on our memories no matter how long ago it happened. As many times as I've heard "Never forget," this really brought it home. Of course I can never forget. My DNA won't let me!

But oh my, your stories and accounts of what happened to YOU are having a real healing effect. On me for sure. I woke up today, not with a skip in my step but a sense of serenity and peace with the past. I hope those of you that shared in that thread and read the stories felt that too. Just when MeftFilter was making me go "meh" it made me go "Woah!...."
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:57 AM on November 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


cmyk: "I said it in my rambly brain-dump post over there, but I want to say it here too: zarq, thank you so so so very much for posting that ACOA list. That's something I needed to see. I think it'll help.

*hugs* You're very, very welcome. It blew my mind the first time I read it.

You're totally my favorite spouse."

Awww! Woo! Thanks. :)
posted by zarq at 9:58 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


You guys wouldn't anthologize anything without the writer's permission, right? No, of course not. You understand that above all else people who've endured trauma need to control where and when and how they tell their stories. Right? I'm sorry for even asking.
posted by gingerest


Yes, of course. How else would one approach this?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:11 AM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hmmm . . . I would like to tell my story someday, but I think I'd have to know it first. I don't remember much of my childhood right now.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 12:29 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


My dad (and my grandfather, his dad) used to do that snapping thing with his belt.

I flinched just reading this. I had no idea that there were so many of us. Thank you all. We are not powerless anymore.
posted by kamikazegopher at 12:29 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


orange swan: "What really took me aback was how many people on here with whom I've interacted for years and consider to be calm, empathetic, rational, rounded people (i.e., Mathowie for starters) were abused as children, some horribly. Just blows my mind how people can be so resilient and grow right past that kind of crap."

It is the very best kind of revenge.
posted by QIbHom at 12:34 PM on November 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


I couldn't really read the thread, because it made me too emotional about my own crappy and abusive childhood. And other relatives don't get it when I say that I really don't miss my deceased mother, as she was the main abuser.

Maybe I'll feel up to reading it later, or maybe not. But thank you all for sharing your stories.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:58 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


A very moving & eye-opening thread. When you grow up without any of these kinds of things, you tend to forget that not everybody had it the same as you. I'm floored by how many familiar names here had so many awful memories. Hugs to all, and thanks for sharing - I hope it will help heal the wounds. off to give lil ubu another hug now.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:05 PM on November 3, 2011


The Trauma Writing idea would be about coming together as MeFites and as survivors and sharing our stories, helping one another to recall and reconstruct and shape our narratives. It would only work as a cooperative effort, and in a format where folks can feel comfortable that they won't be judged or taken advantage of in any way.

Having said that, I've received a few MeFiMails today from folks expressing interest, and I think both thehmsbeagle and I would be happy to do the groundwork on the organizational front. If you see this comment and would like to participate in such a project, would you be kind enough to send a MeFiMail to one of us so we can gauge the interest level?

Thanks!
posted by brina at 1:06 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the things that's really hard for me, on a meta level is knowing how much it's okay to talk about these things in polite conversation. Because, if you grow up in an abusive household that answer is "never" but if you become an adult who has learned to sort of balance and compartmentalize, the answer may be "sometimes" but it's really hard to judge when it's okay, for me this is often until I've accidentally gone too far. I've definitely been with my sister when she's started telling stories about my mom where I was like "Um, that's TMI for people we don't know well..." but then I wonder if I'm just sort of continuing the shameful "you never talk about this" stupidness that my parents taught me. It's the family's secret shame and no one else's. And of course there's the guilt about other people having it worse [my folks were mostly the verbally abusive types, I got smacked a few times and was so shriekingly inconsolable that they mostly stopped, but lived in constant fear that my father would one day kill me, kill all of us] and the frustration of having to deal with people who don't quite get it (don't get addiction, don't get the shame, don't get the defensiveness, the stoicism, the lack of ease around alcohol or holidays or angry people or whatever) not because they don't understand, but because they sometimes tell me there's something I don't [or didn't] understand. It's comforting to have an explanation for things, it's really hard when there's just a certain level of random in your life and when that random is violence or aggression or other forms of abuse.

I feel like I clawed myself tooth and nail to a basically competent adulthood, but it feels tenuous and sometimes dealing with other people's raw pain kicks me over a ledge back into being a frightened kid. It's powerful stuff.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:37 PM on November 3, 2011 [41 favorites]


It all does seem like a story now. I'm processing this as "that was my life then and this is my life now." It seems like it was someone else back then; someone I am not now.

I feel exactly that way--most of the time. Occasionally something will spark a vivid memory and feel exactly what it was like to be young and helpless, living with a constant danger. But most of the time, on average days, it feels more like a movie I've watched over and over. I know the story line, and I can quote the dialogue, but that was another person, another life, and adult me is a new person who carries memories from someone who came before.

I think I felt like that as a kid, though, too. I remember being very sure that it was my job to survive and not let the abuse shape who I was becoming, and someday I would go off to college and transform into my new life. It was really almost that dramatic, too. One day I'm living with my parents under constant threat of yet another bad incident, and the next I get in my pick-up truck and drive four hours away to the safety of a dorm. The nightmare ends, I wake up and face the day.

Over the years I realized more and more ways that I had been impacted by my upbringing--the bad dreams, the insomnia, the crippling shyness, the anxiety around authority figures, but those were things I could deal with and overcome, or at least mitigate. There's really nothing like just finally getting the hell away, finally, and taking that first, deep breath of freedom.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:40 PM on November 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Didn't make it through much of the video but reading the thread made me proud of Metafilter.
posted by Ms. Next at 1:40 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was completely floored by all the stories of childhood abuse from members here (on preview I see Ubu used the same phrase, I think it is spot on). It's unfathomable to me, like an alien world. I had no idea that this could possibly be so common.

I have been hanging out here for a few years now. I know there are topics that never go well, there are flameouts, there are public grudgefests, we're not perfect. But that thread pinpoints why I love Metafilter; there's a deep level of honesty, and an awareness of our imperfections doesn't mean we don't try to be better. The general trend is: this is the stuff that happened to me, and that is stuff that I will never do.

There also seems to be a massive lack of trolling, I hope it's that, though I suppose it could be extra vigilant mods.

Anyway, next time my phone rings and I see that it's my mother calling, I'm not going to sigh and roll my eyes as if I'm being put upon. My dad only phones when his computer isn't working, so I will still sigh, roll my eyes, and feel put upon, even though I shouldn't. I suppose next time I'll try to be better.
posted by Elmore at 1:54 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


i will say that thread ruined any possible enjoyment from jimmy kimmel's "lie to kids and make them cry" stunt. i'm apparently feeling pretty raw and exposed right now.
posted by nadawi at 2:01 PM on November 3, 2011


An apparently common thing that is kinda blowing me away is how many people responding in these threads were essentially gaslighted by their abusive parents in adulthood. I guess that's a hallmark of an abuser, though.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:11 PM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


The parents who deny it ever happened remind me of Primo Levi's account of how Germans who participated in or knew of the persecution and genocide in Germany wrote to him, denying knowledge or personal responsibility, with every sign of sincere belief in their reconstructed memory. I think some of the denial is a deliberately abusive, some of it is mental defense to prevent overwhelming shame.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:22 PM on November 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


It doesn't take physical violence - Imagine how I felt when my mother told me when I was 16 that "if abortion had been legal in 1962, you would never have been born." Just kind of matter-of-factly, as some sort of an aside, as we were talking in the kitchen. It wasn't even shouted - it was just utterly thoughtlessly cruel.

Are you my older brother? My mom told me the same thing, word for word, substituting 1965 for 1962. For a long time I thought I had imagined it because what kind of mom would say a thing like that? But then at Thanksgiving the year I was pregnant with my second child, she told me again, along with her whole little routine about what a bad idea second children are, and how disappointing, because what you want is another wonderful little boy like the one you already have, and what you get is...well, me. It was, weirdly, very reassuring to hear it all again because then I knew I wasn't just making everything up.

My mom has this way of saying terrible things in a very pleasant, matter-of-fact voice, as if she has no idea how terrible they are. And maybe she doesn't.

My parents fall into the weird category of people who did way better than their own parents did, and yet still fell so far short, that it's hard to know how to feel about them.
posted by not that girl at 2:23 PM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


With me, and this is something that I do not have a problem talking about in public, is that when I talk about this with my mom (something I do less and less lately, but it used to be a big thing with me when I was coming to grips with this, and realizing that my childhood wasn't normal), she'd just flatly deny it. And then we'd just stare at each other. Because to me, if I'm saying "Gee these really painful and scary things happened to me consistently during my upbringing, and you either participated in it or did not protect me from it." and someone says "That didn't happen." then to me that's not only them not remembering something, that's them calling me a liar and the sort of liar who would make up crazy abusive scenarios in order to ... in order to what? I really can't get my head around it. So like not only didn't it happen, to her mind, but I'm actively doing something to her by accusing her of being abusive.

I can get "I don't remember that" and I can get "That sounds different from what I do remember" and I can even get "That was a long time ago and I don't want to talk about it" but "I heard what you said and that didn't happen" is so chillingly crazy to me.

This is all nearer to the surface with me with the death of one of my parents and holidaytime coming up. I recently had to have a conversation with some friends of my mom's talking about how "All she wants in the world is to have Thanksgiving with her two daughters." (and the foster kid who lives with her, the convicted rapist, who is freshly out of prison and who I'd prefer not to spend time with and my mom thinks I am being a prima dona about this) when I said politely that I was doing something else. And I had to talk about, without really talking about it, why I don't feel a familial obligation towards her and why her plaintive moping about this sort of thing is actually a symptom of her crazy and not indicative of the sort of person I am, why it's not actually real. And I felt I wasn't getting my point across, and people were being judgemental of me as being a bad kid. And I had to be okay with that, I've been learning to be better about that.

My mom has this way of saying terrible things in a very pleasant, matter-of-fact voice, as if she has no idea how terrible they are.

Mine too. Ask MetaFilter has helped me so much over the years realize that this sort of behavior is absolutely typical of a certain sort of person and not a natural result of anything I could do or not do. I'm so lucky I've had that and also a sibling who has been like "Nope, those things really happened. I'm so sorry that our parents were crazy." It's amazinghow helpful both of those things are.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:37 PM on November 3, 2011 [25 favorites]


And I had to talk about, without really talking about it, why I don't feel a familial obligation towards her and why her plaintive moping about this sort of thing is actually a symptom of her crazy and not indicative of the sort of person I am, why it's not actually real.

While not a result of physical abuse, I've had to do this as an adult with my biological father and it's so hard. It's like I'm speaking English and he's hearing... I don't even know what. But there's nothing I've found that can bridge the gap from "No, you don't get to say that you're my 'only' father because you left for six years of my childhood and then came back and have spent the subsequent twenty four years alternately dropping the ball and fucking with my head." to "But why don't you ever calllllll meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee."

I just had to accept that he thinks I'm doing this to hurt him and that just can't matter to me if I'm going to mitigate the insanity.
posted by sonika at 2:46 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


(It's seriously my biggest goal as a parent to have my son [and any future children] look back on his childhood and not think "Man, that was fucked up.")
posted by sonika at 2:47 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


jessamyn: " I can get "I don't remember that" and I can get "That sounds different from what I do remember" and I can even get "That was a long time ago and I don't want to talk about it" but "I heard what you said and that didn't happen" is so chillingly crazy to me."

My mother does this. I think it's because she can't defend the indefensible. She'd rather totally deny reality and history than have that discussion with me.

I know it's unhealthy to try and have a relationship with someone who denies the pain they've caused you, but I keep trying. I don't really know why.
posted by zarq at 4:27 PM on November 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


I can get "I don't remember that" and I can get "That sounds different from what I do remember" and I can even get "That was a long time ago and I don't want to talk about it" but "I heard what you said and that didn't happen" is so chillingly crazy to me.

I wasn't abused at all, but there are imperfect moments from my childhood that my parents totally deny happening. I think that forgetting things like that is psychologically protective, but it is so strange being at the receiving end of someone else's forgetting, where your actual reality is being denied. My sense is that the threshold for doing this kind of total memory overwrite is pretty mild, far short of serious abuse, so I'm not at all surprised that someone who was abusive for many years could simply erase that entire pattern of events from their mind.
posted by Forktine at 4:46 PM on November 3, 2011


Read this and the original post entirely.
Have much to say... too much maybe, so I just can't make it into a comment.

So I'll just post what I've just seen:
"You hit your favorite limit for the day."


Love each other.
posted by egor83 at 5:05 PM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think, well, no belts, it can't have been that bad.

I had the belt and the brush over the head, and some of the words were worse, thanks.

zarq, that ACOA list was amazing. My ex-husband is the adult child of an (unacknowledged at the time) alcoholic and that list fit him to a T. Every time I see something like that and consider his issues and mine, I feel like less of failure for having given up on that marriage. (I'm not going there with my mother until after the holidays-- I have to do family stuff and I have my limits.)
posted by immlass at 5:16 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


That thread made me feel like I'd walked through a hidden door in the universe and ended up in Evil World.

...which I'm enormously grateful for, because goddamn I've been naive.

So, um, gosh. You're all remarkable.
posted by aramaic at 5:44 PM on November 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


That thread and this one is heartbreaking. I am so proud of all of you who have made yourselves a different life without that kind of violence. Thank you for shining a light on this issue.

I feel like I have to call and tell my parents how grateful I am for the loving childhood they provided me with, but how do you explain that? "I'm calling from across the ocean for no reason other than to tell you I love you, because my heart aches so much for these near-strangers who bravely shared their stories online, and I can barely fathom how they survived." They will think I'm being extra weird, but that will have to do.
posted by gemmy at 6:22 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm very glad MeFi was here today. Thank you everyone.
posted by txmon at 6:34 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


there are imperfect moments from my childhood that my parents totally deny happening.… My sense is that the threshold for doing this kind of total memory overwrite is pretty mild, far short of serious abuse

My experience is consistent with this. I remember one conversation with my mother during which she uttered the phrase "You had a perfectly happy childhood!"

I blinked at her. "Uh, Mom, I was there for more of it than you were. No. I didn't." And the stuff she was blanking out was unbelievably mild, stuff that even back then I'd have filed under "imperfect humans doing their best and making errors of omission despite having good intentions."
posted by Lexica at 6:51 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Much care to everyone. I tried to talk to my dad about the abuse and he said, "but we had some good times!"

I guess I can't be too angry at him because he caught the brunt of the abuse as well, but hurts that he can't even acknowledge it. And yes, the words can be worse.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 7:16 PM on November 3, 2011


There is a lovely video of Hillary learning to play the piano through the years that I am glad I watched.

I want to thank this community for the courage and supportiveness with which you have treated this subject.

I also want to commend the site managers for using backgrounds and typefaces that make it possible to read a long, intense but utterly important thread like that one far into the night, meeting the Aussies as the sun comes up. Such topics have deprived me of sleep before but this post felt like a positive happening.

I salute you all and I salute the internet for making it possible for a 16 year old girl to show the world what can hide in the shadows of power.
posted by Anitanola at 7:16 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


zarq, that ACOA list was amazing

If I can just say from personal experience: if you are 21, starting to figure stuff out but still very messed up, DONT date the first girl who is nice to you you meet in ACOA.
posted by shothotbot at 8:01 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Zarq, is there is a check-list of alternatives that one can use when they are in one of the 28 states of fucked-upidness? So many of those points feel just like normal life. I think that if I had a check-list of alternative thoughts/behaviours that said something like, 'when you feel like X, consider Y. Does such a thing exist?
posted by the fish at 8:13 PM on November 3, 2011


Zarq, is there is a check-list of alternatives that one can use when they are in one of the 28 states of fucked-upidness?

I'm not zarq, but what you're describing is a whole lot of what Al-anon does. They have a lot of little mnemonics and brain-hacks to help deprogram the no-longer useful programing that went in there when we were little.

I do think that most of those states were useful when we were little, but as adults they're crippling.

Some of the "Do's" they read at one of my meetings:

Forgive
Be honest with yourself
Be Humble
Take it Easy – Tension is Harmful
Play – Find recreation and hobbies
Keep on Trying whenever you fail

posted by small_ruminant at 10:27 PM on November 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


zarq- I somehow managed to miss seeing that list when you first posted it, but looking at it now, I am currently 23 out of 28. There are a lot of things that need to move from my internal list of Things I Do Because I Have Certain Character Flaws to Things I Do Because I Was Beaten Repeatedly For 12 Years. On one hand it's shocking and frustrating to think about who I might have become with different parents, but on the other hand, it's hopeful to realize that adaptive responses can be changed. I think I'm going to stop just reading about counseling or asking occasional questions of friends who are therapists and go get some real therapy myself. To me, the list you posted is a list of "Things That Bother Me About Myself That I Hadn't Realized Could Be Changed." But it's not my genes, it's my experiences. I would say I'm an idiot for not having realized that before, but that kind of negative self-talk is one of the things I am changing now.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:23 AM on November 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


I have reservations about writing or even talking with friends about the details of the abuse my parents inflicted on me. I am also grateful to those who have shared so eloquently in these two threads.

I participated in a workshop about ten years ago for people who, like me at the time, worked with traumatized, abused, or otherwise fucked up kids. One of the things I took away from that workshop was the idea that compelling victims of abuse to revisit the details through sharing may not be productive and may make things worse.

If anyone tells you they were abused don't press them for details and don't feel compelled to share the details of abuse you've suffered. Yes, some people need the catharsis, but some people just need to be reminded simply that they're not alone, that they're accepted with all their scars.
posted by mareli at 6:50 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


the fish: "Zarq, is there is a check-list of alternatives that one can use when they are in one of the 28 states of fucked-upidness? So many of those points feel just like normal life. I think that if I had a check-list of alternative thoughts/behaviours that said something like, 'when you feel like X, consider Y. Does such a thing exist?"

It is possible. But not that I'm aware of online. I haven't really explored the ACOA websites that are out there in any depth, and the AA and related sites that I've seen have been more oriented towards helping oneself if you're an alcoholic, or supporting someone who is. There's an ACOA workbook, but I haven't read it.

Quality of ACOA books varies widely, but I own a few that I've found helpful. Since their content may not be appropriate to you specifically, if you can, I'd suggest taking them out of the library at first rather than buying them outright.

In no particular order:

* Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome: A Step By Step Guide To Discovery And Recovery

* Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics

* Adult Children of Alcoholics

* Adult Children Secrets of Dysfunctional Families: The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families. The book focuses on alcoholic families to a large extent, but many of the lessons can be extrapolated.

Related:

* Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life. The author, Susan Forward has written similar self-help books on various relationship topics, including Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them.

* The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense. Susan Elgin has been around a long time. She's a professor of linguistics whose books on verbal self-defense are bestsellers. I cannot recommend her books enough.
posted by zarq at 7:51 AM on November 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


I wrote this up and then realized it wasn't really an answer to your question, the_fish. But still, perhaps it's worth sharing?

In general, I like Anne LaMott's concept of K-Fucked radio, which is a good way to be aware of and manage cyclical, negative, destructive thoughts and feelings. LaMott wrote a book called Bird by Bird, a self-help book for writers. She talks about self doubt and the effect it can have on a writer's ability to create. KFUCKED is a mental radio station that constantly plays in our heads. From the right speaker plays an endless stream of self-aggrandizement. From the left, an unending playlist of corrosive self-loathing and doubt. The combination are paralyzing. They distract us from getting work done, and worse: they convince us that we're not capable.

So, the first step in knowing that you're doing something self-destructive is to become aware of it. K-Fucked is a metaphor for anyone who talks themselves out of success. Or who procrastinate because they are afraid they'll screw up or be inadequate. Who are mentally down on themselves and their abilities.

The first step is to become aware of the little messages you tell yourself every day. And then the second step is to try and change the channel.

...

So my next instinct was to say reassuringly that I suck at changing the channel. I literally just wrote, "I SUCK AT THIS" and then erased it. This is a decent example of what we're talking about. I spent the first 30 years of my life surrounded by people who played K-Fucked for me externally. They crushed my sense of self-worth and self-confidence. I in turn took what they told me and internalized it.

So now I tell it to myself. And look, I tell it to others about myself, too.

Trying to counter this is an ongoing process. It's hard to fight instinctive, ingrained behavior. So acknowledging the simple fact that changing the channel takes work is really important. Recognizing the pattern and breaking the cycle.

This is how it works. You pay attention to what you tell yourself and others, even subconsciously, then alter the message to be more realistic and accurate.
posted by zarq at 7:56 AM on November 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


KFUCKED 101: WE SUCK LESS
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:03 AM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Suzette Haden Elgin (the author of the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense book linked above) keeps a very interesting livejournal. It hadn't been updated for a number of months, but she'd announced she was working on a new book, so I assumed that was why.

A comment on her LJ now says that she is 'ailing and will be unable to continue blogging.' Publisher's Weekly: A Brilliant Writer Goes Silent.

She spent her life devoted to the intricacies of language and communication, and helping other people to stand up for themselves against verbal abuse in their personal lives and in the workplace. For her to be afflicted with Alzheimers is awful and heartbreaking. :(
posted by zarq at 8:21 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks to zarq for posting that list. I wanted to participate in the linked thread more than I did; contemplation of such things tends to take me someplace that I don't choose to go to if I can avoid it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:54 AM on November 4, 2011


NP. I'm just glad that so many people seem to be getting something out of it.
posted by zarq at 9:10 AM on November 4, 2011


I want to thank this community for the courage and supportiveness with which you have treated this subject.

If it were possible to have a rational discussion of this issue on MetaFilter, these two threads might not be such an echo chamber. So you can be thankful that it's not, I guess.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:36 AM on November 4, 2011


I'm not sure what's supposed to happen, someone comes out in favor of child abuse?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:38 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's within your power to make known whatever perspective you feel is lacking.
posted by Errant at 9:40 AM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Crabby Appleton: " If it were possible to have a rational discussion of this issue on MetaFilter

What is irrational about the discussion we're having?

...these two threads might not be such an echo chamber. So you can be thankful that it's not, I guess."

I don't see it. Could you explain with examples of perspectives you think are valuable that have been shouted down?

As far as I'm seeing, a number of people have spoken quite eloquently in the other thread about discipline, the value and appropriateness of corporal punishment, the distinctions between giving your kid a potch on the tush, a spanking or literally beating them with a belt, wooden spoon or other implement. Of behaviour that arises from lack of discipline, etc.
posted by zarq at 9:50 AM on November 4, 2011


'Potch' meaning yiddish for 'slap or smack.' (In case it means something else in English that I'm not aware of.)
posted by zarq at 9:52 AM on November 4, 2011


echo chamber

I don't understand what you mean. Could you explain? Is there a viewpoint that should be debated or discussed or presented in either of these threads that you feel isn't?
posted by rtha at 9:56 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what's supposed to happen, someone comes out in favor of child abuse?

See what I mean?

What is irrational about the discussion we're having?

You're kidding, right?

Anyway, thanks for your kind invitations to a pile-on (with me at the bottom), but I must regretfully decline. Besides, defending this particular guy (who seems like ignorant white trash to me, I mean, what's with all the cursing and yelling?) is not the "hill I want to die on". And no matter how carefully I qualified my remarks, that is what I would be accused of doing. So, no.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:19 AM on November 4, 2011


The why the hell did you bring it up in the first place? Disingenuousness is a really terrible color on you; so is coy. Stop wearing them.

I genuinely don't understand what you thought specifically was missing. Yes, of course, I'm aware of your reputation - it's not as if we haven't tangled here before. But in fact, I do not see your username at the bottom of a comment and immediately dismiss everything you say: I try to take you (and everyone else here) at your word. So I asked you. Not so I could play "gotcha!", but because I don't understand your point.
posted by rtha at 10:24 AM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


jessamyn: "I'm not sure what's supposed to happen, someone comes out in favor of child abuse?"

Perhaps not. A handful of people did say that it could have been far worse, I believe. Pater Alethias' had a thoughtful comment in the main thread which stands out in my mind.
posted by zarq at 10:25 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crabby Appleton: " You're kidding, right?"

I'm absolutely not kidding. If you prefer a different word, like say, unreasonable or one-sided or even outraged, then that's fine with me. Let's frame what you mean in a different way and discuss it. But I sincerely do believe that long thread and this meta are rational discussions, and am not seeing what you are.
posted by zarq at 10:30 AM on November 4, 2011


There's nothing disingenuous about anything I've said so far in this thread. And it's obvious why I posted my first comment. If someone perceives a certain uniformity of viewpoint in these threads it might interesting for them to know that it's not because everyone on MetaFilter is in agreement.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:42 AM on November 4, 2011


And it's obvious why I posted my first comment.

What is obvious to you is not obvious to many others.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:43 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Besides, defending this particular guy (who seems like ignorant white trash to me, I mean, what's with all the cursing and yelling?) is not the "hill I want to die on". And no matter how carefully I qualified my remarks, that is what I would be accused of doing. So, no.

This guy's behavior is pretty indefensible. He administered a beating, not punishment.

But that being said, he's pretty far out on the continuum. I think it is possible to do corporal punishment in a non-traumatizing way. I think it's possible that for some children and situations it will never be necessary.

I was beaten by my parents. My mother was particularly vicious - my dad was by far more measured. The lesson I took from it was to be more certain that the punishment is teaching the correct lesson. Other people have come to entirely different, but equally reasonable conclusions.

I'm happy to discuss how I came to my understandings, and how you came to yours. Like all things in parenting, there are no "right" answers for all situations and all people. I think discussions of when and how and how much corporal punishment are a benefit or a detriment will make new parents better parents. It made me a better parent.

I will say, however, the one thing that really surprised me was how many mothers were the perpetrators as compared to fathers. I thought my experience was anomalous in that regard, and it seems to be far more common than I had thought.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:47 AM on November 4, 2011


It's disingenuous to say that the discussion is irrational but you're not going to explain what you mean by irrational because everyone will be mean to you.

A not-disingenuous statement would look more like "I think this discussion is problematic for the following reasons" where you use words to express what you mean when people ask for clarification.
posted by rtha at 10:48 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If someone perceives a certain uniformity of viewpoint in these threads it might interesting for them to know that it's not because everyone on MetaFilter is in agreement.

If that's what you actually want to accomplish, it'd be a lot more useful to actually substantiate your position explicitly a bit than to just preemptively condemn everyone's imagined response to what you didn't bother to say. If you feel that having that conversation isn't something you're personally up to, fine, don't have it, but dropping a driveby prophecy of doom in the thread like this is unfair to basically everybody.

There's been discussion over in the blue specifically about where the bounds on this stuff is, what different people's feelings are, what people's lived experiences as children and parents have been, and so on. It's not an easy topic but people have, in addition to being open about their own bad childhood experiences, been doing a good job of exploring that territory in a non-crappy way. There's totally room for varied views on it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:51 AM on November 4, 2011


I too would like the share my gratitude with those that shared their stories. Y'all are progress incarnate, and it's beautiful.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 10:52 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought there was some thoughtful stuff about if spanking was ever appropriate and the boundaries between amuse and discipline. Maybe not as much as one might want to see, but a lot more than I expected.

This is a pretty emotional topic. Damaging someone emotionally tends to lead to discussion about emotions. I'm not sure how this could have been different.

I'd hate to miss an opposing viewpoint or two because someone didn't feel comfortable.
posted by QIbHom at 11:01 AM on November 4, 2011


Crabby Appleton: "There's nothing disingenuous about anything I've said so far in this thread."

You're made a contextless statement and now are choosing not to support it. Which is your right, of course. I mean, having been there, I truly understand the urge not to want to be at the bottom of a pile-on. I wouldn't characterize it as disingenuous. But if you're going to say that you disagree with what you see as the one-sidedness of the discussion on what is for many people a sensitive subject, and then refuse to discuss it further, isn't that kind of stunty?

And it's obvious why I posted my first comment.

Perhaps I'm obtuse. I'm not seeing it. Which is why I asked.

If someone perceives a certain uniformity of viewpoint in these threads it might interesting for them to know that it's not because everyone on MetaFilter is in agreement.

Um, okay. But they'll also see that you made a vague and possibly cryptic comment and are not supporting your argument.

I've read both threads more than once. I'm seeing a wide range of views expressed. In addition to the comment by Pater Aletheias I linked above, this one by ZachLipton was also very good. I just don't see what you're getting at.
posted by zarq at 11:09 AM on November 4, 2011


If someone perceives a certain uniformity of viewpoint in these threads it might interesting for them to know that it's not because everyone on MetaFilter is in agreement.

I only perceive what I read in the threads. I don't think every single person in MeFi is in the threads. If you have a differing opinion share it?
posted by sweetkid at 11:11 AM on November 4, 2011


All of us here who've survived abuse, we're the lucky ones. We are alive. Whether they were beaten to death or they beat themselves to death later on with drugs/alcohol/crazy-risk-taking, many others did not survive.

We are here bearing witness to the possibility of surviving, not just letting others know it can be done, but letting them know they are not alone. And perhaps our outpourings here will help a (future) parent to refrain from inflicting physical or emotional pain on a (perhaps as yet unborn) child.
posted by mareli at 11:19 AM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know, I just found myself composing responses to various of these comments in my head, working hard to figure out how to explain what should be obvious (Oh, Crabby, I don't know what irrational means, please explain it to me!), feeling my outrage growing, and you know what? Fuck it. I've been around this block before and I know how it goes. So has rtha (who's accusing me of disingenuousness). I'm not going around it again. Not at this time, anyway.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:27 AM on November 4, 2011


Jesus christ, dude.

I know what "irrational" means. I don't understand the way in which you're using it in reference to this or the other thread.

For joint understanding, here is the dictionary definition of irrational:

: not rational: as a (1) : not endowed with reason or understanding (2) : lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence b : not governed by or according to reason [irrational fears] c Greek & Latin prosody (1) of a syllable : having a quantity other than that required by the meter (2) of a foot : containing such a syllable d (1) : being an irrational number [an irrational root of an equation] (2) : having a numerical value that is an irrational number [a length that is irrational]

What I don't understand about your confusing use of "irrational" to describe the discussion is in what ways, specifically, you see it lacking in:

- reason or understanding
- mental clarity or coherence
- (I assume you don't mean the mathematical kind of irrationality)

So. You've just said that people in the thread who were talking about the way they grew up did so in ways that lacked reason, understanding, mental clarity, or coherence. And I don't see how you're seeing that. I mean, is there a way to talk about being beaten as a kid that matches whatever definition of rationality that you're working from (and whatever that is, it would be great if you shared it)? A number of people talked about being spanked, or spanking, and whether or not that counts as abusive. People talked about different ways to discipline kids. What, exactly, was missing from that conversation for you?
posted by rtha at 11:37 AM on November 4, 2011


Crabby, I would have loved to have had a rational childhood. Unfortunately, people live in the grey spaces.
posted by QIbHom at 11:38 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Crabby Appleton: "(Oh, Crabby, I don't know what irrational means, please explain it to me!),"

I asked you what was irrational about the conversation we are having. That is not the same as asking for a definition of "irrational."
posted by zarq at 12:19 PM on November 4, 2011


Were I in the position of disagreeing with a lot of people about something, but couldn't be arsed to explain my disagreement, or even to express it in simple direct language, I'd probably just not say anything at all. The only reason I can imagine for doing otherwise is: having a huge ego and being unable to believe that people can get by without my input on each an every subject that comes up here.
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:32 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look at me! Look at me! I'm a contrarian, but I'm not gonna tell you how/why.

Geesh. Such adolescent behavior!
posted by ericb at 1:18 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


not that girl and the other possible abortee, don't take your mothers' musing about if abortion had been legal whenever... I don't think your mothers are dissing you; she wouldn't have known it was you she was preventing. Her reasons at the time might even have been fear of being a good parent as so many of you have expressed in these discussions. Please try not to add a hurt feeling over those remarks, especially if they were expressed off-handedly rather than in anger, to your very real past troubles.
posted by maggieb at 1:21 PM on November 4, 2011


I'm a contrarian, but I'm not gonna tell you how/why.

Why bother? It's not like we could understand the deeeeeeeep thoughts of someone who disagrees with the notion that, I don't know, child abuse happens? And is pretty terrible? Better just to disappear in a puff of persecution complex.
posted by Zozo at 1:30 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I probably shouldn't give in to the passive aggressive baiting that Crabby is doing here, but I'm going to go ahead and imagine what someone in the most pro-Judge Adams positions that someone could reasonably hold might say:

1) We have no idea how she had been baiting him prior to the video. She turned it on and off when she wanted it, and showed us only what we wanted us to see.

2) Even though Metafilter in general is pretty in favor of "download it however you want to," what she was doing is illegal, and her Dad was well within his rights to forbid it in his house.

3) If he had been doing this for a while, and spanking with a belt was his standard punishment, there's really no reason not to do what he says and bend over the bed, unless she wanted to further press his buttons and put him in a position of either not spanking her (which she knew he wouldn't do) or getting in whatever kind of awkward and painful blows he could as she was. Why not let mom spank her once or twice and get it over with unless she was intentionally escalating things?

4) For all the she screams and wails, we don't see any welts, she dries her tears pretty quick, and she can stand up and walk away right afterward. She didn't bother to use the camera at any time to give us a close up of her legs or other areas that she could have filmed without embarrassment. Is there a chance she is playing all this up for the camera? Clearly, she has an incentive to do so.

Again, this isn't me, this is hypothetical reasonable person on the other side of the continuum. That's about as much mitigation as I can imagine before the whole exercise gets really ridiculous.

Crabby, can you at least nod your head if that's something close to what you were thinking? Or are you really determined to keep it a mystery?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:41 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, guys?

Crabby Appleton is acting like a troll. Please don't feed him. Please just ignore him, and let's move on with the very productive discussion we were having.

Thanks.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:27 PM on November 4, 2011


Please try not to add a hurt feeling over those remarks, especially if they were expressed off-handedly rather than in anger, to your very real past troubles.

It wasn't said in a complete vacuum. This was just one in a long string of complaints that cropped up about my existence - like them reminding me every month or so for 4 or 5 years that "rent was due on my 18th birthday."
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:41 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering if perhaps Crabby is expecting someone to say that their parents used corporal punishment and they turned out fine? I suppose that could happen, but with the extent of, well, violence shown in the video I would absolutely find that to be a fringe case among fringe cases. Just trying to wrap my head around the nature of the thread as an "echo chamber."
posted by sonika at 5:16 PM on November 4, 2011


Oh Crabby Appleton...

...not to derail this fascinating Socratic dialogue we have here, but I just want to say that I'm always completely unable to be mad at Crabby Appleton because of his username. Whenever he makes a trademark drive-by "this place sucks" comment, I always see his username and am immediately put in mind of a matronly matron* who, being in the presence of an especially sulky child, pinches said child's cheeks and goes: "Who's a little Crabby Appleton?! Whoooo's a little Crabby Appleton?! Whooooooooooooooo's a little Crabby Appleton?!"

Every single time.

Anyway, anyone else have a similar reaction to a username on this site?


* With some extra matronnaise on the side.

posted by Kattullus at 6:31 PM on November 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


No, Katullus, but that made laugh.
posted by sweetkid at 6:38 PM on November 4, 2011


I picture all of his comments coming out of the mouth of a very grouchy apple wearing a fedora. So cute!

Kattullus, you are yourself some kind of little brown fox wearing a jaunty shirt. I don't mean either of those to be mean or disrespectful. I think I like the fact that I can assign everyone little animated icons in my head and no one can disrupt my image with their own personally-selected one.
posted by winna at 6:57 PM on November 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Okay, I'm never gonna be able to unsee that. :D

Kattullus: " Anyway, anyone else have a similar reaction to a username on this site?"

In my head, there is a Justice League of Metafilter Heroes, made up of ThePinkSuperheo, Asparagirl, FAMOUS MONSTER, GMan, Prince Valium, The Whelk, VikingSword and a few other people.

They comment. And fight crime.

Each of them also has arch-nemeses.

Also, there are a lot of people who have band names, like "Marisa Stole the Precious Thing" and "Funky Helix"
posted by zarq at 7:01 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I see zarq and think, hey, that guy is awesome. But dunno what it means.
posted by sweetkid at 7:22 PM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Um, Jessamyn, I have twice favorited comments of yours in this thread that aren't really so much about their being my favorites as about their mandating that someone give you a real, sincere hug. I would do so except I really am way awkward about the hug with people I don't know well, because, um, ACOA. Also because me. And Australia. But still. Please, I validate your feelings to whatever extent that means anything, with my "favorite".
posted by gingerest at 2:58 AM on November 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


That thread has made me realise that not only is my reaction to my childhood not as buried, healed or scarred over as I had assumed, but it probably plays a pretty big part in the relationship I have with my inlaws. Even mroeso than with my own family - my family I block out, but his family is full of age mate cousins and every gathering rehashes stuff I thought I'd dealt with years ago.

So thanks for that.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:16 AM on November 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tend to think the "turned out fine" thing is a red herring that just doesn't justify the actions in the first place. People do have an amazing ability to "turn out fine," relatively, but usually through a lot of hard, self-directed and painful work to address what happened to them and re-learn ways to live that they were never properly taught in the first place: how to feel emotion, express it, trust people, maintain calm, feel safe, not lash out, avoid using substances to cover things up, etc. It's not some blithe thing where you grow up and out of it and all's well in the end. The fact that some people, by dint of their own hard work, are able to turn themselves out fine is by no means to be presented as a rationale that abuse isn't that bad of a thing or that the human spirit is always triumphant or anything like that. It often is one step shy of dismissing and shrugging off the terrible, cruel actions of abuse - 'since it obviously didn't really do any permanent harm, no biggie! We get over things! See, now-happy person, you're evidence that what happened to you is nothing to get all upset about!'

This is just pernicious, because even though many people do learn to live well despite the abuse in their histories, many do not. And when you scratch the surface of many substance problems, violence problems, and criminal behavior patterns, you find trauma from abuse as a foundational issue. And finally, when you think of the energy and personal effort it takes an individual to learn to deal with their history - a process which may include reading, therapy, a lot of difficulty with reactionary behaviors, deep often unhappy thought, long painful conversations, and a cautious and highly managed approach to certain relationships throughout the rest of life, you can only imagine the things that person might have done with all that powerful energy if they didn't have to deal with the load of crap an adult dumped on them when they were far too young to understand it for what it was.

So, yes, I really do admire resilience and humans have a lot of it. But it should never be a way to minimize the effects of abuse and should never lead us to assume that all people can overcome anything.
posted by Miko at 5:43 AM on November 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


Just FYI, Crabby Appleton was a late-'60s band that recorded for Elektra. Thank you everyone for the thread -- my almost-6-year-old daughter has been getting extra hugs all week, and my mom was surprised to get a phone call in which I told her that despite the issues we had, she did a pretty good job and that I love her...
posted by AJaffe at 6:29 AM on November 5, 2011


sweetkid: "But dunno what it means."

Thanks. :)

It's a silly thing.

Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series has a very minor character named The Great Prophet Zarquon, (he shows up briefly in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe,) whose name is used throughout the books by many other characters as an epithet, usually in place of "god" or "fuck." As in, "You zarqing (or 'zarking') idiot."

Have been using this same handle since I got on usenet and various listservs back in the very early 90's.
posted by zarq at 8:58 AM on November 6, 2011


And there are at least five you zarqonauts. See also mrzarquon, pzarquon, singingfish, and Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:15 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


cortex: "And there are at least five you zarqonauts. See also mrzarquon, pzarquon, singingfish, and Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish."

I'm not unique?! This is an outrage!
posted by zarq at 9:32 AM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm wondering if perhaps Crabby is expecting someone to say that their parents used corporal punishment and they turned out fine? I suppose that could happen, but with the extent of, well, violence shown in the video I would absolutely find that to be a fringe case among fringe cases.
posted by sonika at 8:16 PM on November 4


I tend to think the "turned out fine" thing is a red herring that just doesn't justify the actions in the first place. People do have an amazing ability to "turn out fine," relatively, but usually through a lot of hard, self-directed and painful work to address what happened to them and re-learn ways to live that they were never properly taught in the first place...It's not some blithe thing where you grow up and out of it and all's well in the end.
posted by Miko at 8:43 AM on November 5


Actually, Eyebrows McGee made a couple of very informative posts late in the thread about the "turned out fine" crowd. And I made my own post as to why I turned out fine, too, and it didn't require any psychological heavy lifting on my part.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:40 AM on November 6, 2011


*It doesn't have a psychological effect on kids when it is considered normal in that community/cultural group

I don't really buy it. At least, I'm highly skeptical. We do normalize a lot of what happens to us. I understand it might feel "okay" to some people in the same way it might have felt "okay" to my parents as kids, but they don't feel it was okay as adults in retrospect. The fact that it was normalized simply doesn't make it okay. I can verify that the guy in the video's behavior is fairly normalized in certain communities, too. His own, quite likely, though I haven't gone looking for the newspaper website comments that can probably be found in support of him.

And it almost seems it would be easier to learn other methods of discipline than it would be to police yourself for the conditions of this checklist. What would casue a person to hit, but not in anger? Is that really a better demonstration of how to use violence - in cold blood? Calculatedly? Because there can be no other ways imagined to get a child's attention or form a memory?

Finally, not only what is acceptable in individual cultures, but in the dominant culture, is another thing that needs to be taken into account in parental decisions. If children are expected to mix with kids of varying backgrounds, and to succeed in social settings and workplaces where this is not an accepted practice, they need to understand something about the relativism of this practice. And that is difficult to learn as a child and can cause bumps in the road as an adult (especially if employment is going to involve working with children, and/or when parenting brings people into contact with different cultural groups as peers).

In any case, even if all the above is true, the second question after "does it cause psychological harm" is "is it an effective teaching tool?" Given what I know of children, I'm not so sure it teaches what the parent's goal is to teach.

Without a citation, though, it's just about impossible to critique this study.
posted by Miko at 1:18 PM on November 6, 2011


The fact that it was normalized simply doesn't make it okay.

I wonder to what extent the lack of shame and secrecy around the regular-kind-of-spanking that many of us got as kids helps maintain a kind of psychological equilibrium. In my experience, none of us ever felt the need to hide the fact that we occasionally got spanked; it wasn't something that cast you as other among your friends; no one backed away in horror or disbelief, or reacted in anger (at your parents) if they found out.
posted by rtha at 1:42 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sure that's part of it, rtha. In one sense, the discussion is complicated by the heaping of shame on parents who choose this strategy. My honest belief is that there for lots of people in lots of places, there are simply few other strategies known or practiced, usually.

But even as that equilibrium is established- "This is normal, it's happening to everybody I know, so it can't possibly be a big deal" - and maybe that cuts down on the shame and sense that something is wrong - it becomes problematic because it still helps obscure the ends of this continuum. In a place where it seems like "everyone" gets spanked when they get into trouble, and "everyone" talks about it calmly in a regular way and maybe even jokes or boasts about how bad it was this time or how much you don't give a shit, is it possibly more difficult for people to become aware of the fact that there is a range of harm that can be contained in something termed a 'spanking?'

In other words, if "everyone's" getting spanked, how can you - as a kid or as an adult - tell the difference between what happens in A's house, where once when she's eight she throws something sharp at her baby sister in anger and gets a pop on the bottom for it, and what happens in B's house, where a couple times a month when she doesn't want to finish her dinner she's pushed to the floor out of her chair and her face is slapped and she gets yelled at and called ungrateful and told she shouldn't ever have been born to burden her family? To some extent, I think, the fact that in places where "everyone" spanks, the very commonality and un-remarkability of it helps to provide cover for families in which abuse is more seriously pathological.

I checked some news sites after all. Being from Texas myself and familiar with the milieu that produced this individual judge, I had a feeling I'd find plenty of intracultural approval for this judge, and really, you don't have to look hard. Comments from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
I don't see the problem here. If I caught my kid STEALING I'd beat the crap out of him!

He quite obviously should've disciplined her more often. She is a thief, a liar and a blackmailer. And a sixteen year old is not a little child.

She was lucky her father disciplined her himself, instead of turning her over to criminal jurisdiction. As a 16 year old, she could have been tried as an adult and sent to adult prison for theft.

We need to get back to handling things privately rather than running to the government. The government is not your friend and parenting is not your business unless it's your kid.

Anyone who has raise children know that AT TIMES, they can make you mad enough to take a belt to them. It may not be right but it happens with the best of kids and adults

Seems like the bible states clearly that if a parent wishes to spoil a child, he/she should "spare the rod". The Book of Proverbs continually states that a loving parent will discipline his/her child when that child does wrong, and if the parent does NOT discipline the child, he/she hates the kid.
From the Corpus Christi Caller:
.this is not abuse this was discipline for something she was TOLD not to do. She was stealing...if you look at the video closely the belt hit the bed more than her legs. She was told to get on her stomach, well she disobeyed again...the only thing was that he sould have not used foul language....I was spanked growing up and I am glad I was and turned out find alaw abiding, responsible person and if more parents spanked there would not be little thugs at the mall that disrespect everybody on their way..

Continuing wussification of America. She was punished for being a thief and now is playing it up because she doesn't want to give up her free ride income and mercedes and has to get a real job to support herself. Awwwwww poor baby.This country started going straight to He-ll the minute women and those who do not pay taxes got a say in how it is run.

For Hillary Adams to record her punishment, she was caculating, cunning, and manipulative in her actions. In addition, she provoked her father further by rebelling in front of the camera, In other words, she set her father up. She purposely provoked the incident to black mail her dad.

I viewed the video. I admit it was disturbing and out of control. But really what parent has never lost control of disciplining their kids. I’m not saying Judge Adams is right for hitting her they way he did but Hillary was wrong for not following and obeying the rules.

But kids do need to get spanked when they have been told numerous of times. Remember Hillary had a video tape hidden in her room. She knew exact consequence from disobeying. That’s why in the video she put on a struggle. As her parents leave she is not even crying… I know when I got spanked as a child for disobeying I cried. All I can say I give Hillary an award for great drama.
posted by Miko at 2:01 PM on November 6, 2011


it becomes problematic because it still helps obscure the ends of this continuum

Oh, absolutely; I was thinking more in terms of the psychological/emotional effects on a given individual kid - I have no cites but I suspect that any child who feels they have to hide what's happening at home grows up with more problems than a child who doesn't.

But, despite the lack of any overt signs that being (regular kind) spanked might have fucked a kid up, normalizing violence as a way to handle problems is pretty appalling, if you stop to think about it for five seconds.

The comments are horrifying.
posted by rtha at 2:11 PM on November 6, 2011


I viewed the video. I admit it was disturbing and out of control. But really what parent has never lost control of disciplining their kids. I’m not saying Judge Adams is right for hitting her they way he did but Hillary was wrong for not following and obeying the rules.

Holy failure of logical thinking, Batman.
posted by odinsdream at 2:16 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I definitely don't think that everyone who has resorted to spanking is awful and evil, in case that isn't clear. It isn't always the result of being as fucked up as the judge clearly is. I just don't think any actual, beneficial good can be found in it even in the best of cases.
posted by Miko at 2:17 PM on November 6, 2011


Hah, the more this thread comes up in recent activity, the more I realize I was kinda raised by wolves.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:15 AM on November 8, 2011


Jessamyn, I know exactly what you mean. I have so much difficulty talking about what happened to me. It seems no one wants to hear about it. Except when it's a viral video on the internet.

I really don't understand why people won't hear a cry for help from someone they know -- it's TMI -- but will forward a video that may have a more complicated backstory and make a sensation out of it. I don't get it at all. Maybe it's part of having been abused that I really don't understand why this is okay.
posted by 3491again at 3:09 PM on November 9, 2011


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