Child Abuse: An All Too Common Malady
My Dad once doubled up his fist and punched me in the face because I forgot to feed the dog;
He decked me again a couple of years later after a conference (that he initiated) with my 8th grade teacher.
In addition to receiving grades for academic subjects, we were evaluated on behavioral issues, i.e. punctuality, obedience and courtesy. As was typical, my grades in readin’ writin’ and ‘rithmatic were exemplary; I would not become a bad student for another year or two. But in those areas that reflected a student’s behavior and manners, I failed miserably.
Few things in life are as potentially mischievous and obnoxious as a 12-year-old boy, and I’d been crowned the king of obnoxious at St. Michael School that year—Sister Agnes Regina described my behavior to my father in vivid detail.
I was in the field next to our house playing baseball with my little brother and some friends when Dad returned. He went in the house and moments later Mom came out, grabbed my brother by the arm and headed for her car. On the way she turned to me with dread in her eyes; “Your father wants to see you in the house!” I walked through the door and he was there to meet me.
“This is for the way you act!” he said.
For the second time in my life I was knocked to the floor by a fist to the side of my head. He told me to stand up and I obeyed, preparing for the next assault.
“And this if for the way you talk!”
He had a handful of Rinso Blue laundry detergent and told me to open my mouth and eat it. When I tried to spit some of it out he stuffed more in my mouth and commanded, “Eat it!”, and I did.
After a bit he led me to the bathroom and allowed me to rinse out my mouth. When I was finished he told me to go to my bedroom; I could hear him removing his belt as he followed me. I knew what was coming as a few swats to the behind was a not-uncommon form of punishment in our household. I started to take my face-down position on the bed and he stopped me.
“Take off your jeans!”
Well now; that was a new twist on an old standby! But was it child abuse?
My stepmother only hit me once that I can remember.
It wasn’t nearly as hard as my dad’s KO punches but the effect was much more dramatic; her quick backhand gave me a bloody nose at the dinner table. Was that child abuse? I’ll attempt to answer both those questions in the segment titled “A Definition of Child Abuse”.
I was probably 11 or 12 years old when the bloody nose incident took place, But despite her never laying another hand on me she spent the next 35 years taking every opportunity that presented itself to debase, degrade, ignore, criticize or otherwise find fault with me.
No scars, no bruises, no outward signs to indicate the emotional beating I was taking.
I didn’t have a name for her treatment but I’ve learned that what she did to me was perhaps the cruelest and most insidious form of abuse. You’ll learn more about this all-to-common form of mistreatment in the section on “Emotional Child Abuse”.
Abuse comes in many forms. It can be as subtle as simply not acknowledging a job well done or as brutal as beating, rape or sexual molestation. But whatever the form it takes child abuse is a crime committed by emotionally disabled people; the irony is that in at least 1 in 3 cases the victim will be emotionally scarred to the point that they too become abusers. It’s a sad and unsavory topic and frankly, I’m not sure I see a fix right around the corner. But like so many human afflictions awareness provides a first step toward recognition of and subsequent correction of the problem.
I hope that providing this information will offer some solace…
…to the abused among you who read it and I pray that the psychic wound that resulted from your abuse can begin healing. It’s not an easy recovery and it’s often unpleasant. But it can be done and I assure you it’s worth the pain and effort; trust me, I speak from experience.
Let’s Look at a Definition of Child Abuse
Here Are Some Unpleasant Child Abuse Statistics
Go To Emotional Child Abuse
Here Are Some Psychological Effects of Child Abuse
Return To Child Abuse Home