Monday, December 6, 2010

Are YOU a child abuser?

By now, we've all heard of the Cartoon-Facebook-Avatar-changy-thingy.

The message evidently started in Greece, made its way viral, culminating last night when a bunch of people thought it originated with pedophiles. It's all supposed to be over today, with there being two general groups of people...

People who thought it drew attention (buzzword: awareness) to child abuse and those of us who, well, didn't.

I was one of those who didn't. I was also an abused child. My mother would, with very little or no provocation, attack me physically, mentally, emotionally. If not for the good will of dozens of staffers at Freedom Village, I probably would have followed in her foot steps.

That was a good twenty years ago. Child abuse wasn't talked about. A couple of teachers DID approach me throughout the years, to ask if I was abused. Of course I said no.

Had they asked if my mother hit me, if she hated me, if she randomly locked me in the basement for hours on end with no access to food, water, or a toilet while she had "friends" over...if she forced me at the age of fourteen, to pull my pants down and lift my shirt up so she could use a belt on my bare skin...well, the answer wouldn't have been no.

She told me once, when I grew up, I would understand.

I understand, all right. I understand that she was a sick lady.  That's what I understand.

But I digress. A facebook avatar change wouldn't have helped me. And it won't help the children that are actually abused, for a number of reasons.

I saw someone say that it would be helpful, because it tells abusers we don't support what they are doing. Well, that's bullshit. I don't honestly believe that ANYONE thinks they are a child abuser. In fact, some of the people who changed their avatar probably DO abuse their children. They just don't think they do. In fact, they probably think that they are stand-up parents. I know my mom did. She would expound for days on end what a great parent she was. 

I've also seen some people argue some pretty ridiculous things are abuse. Like- not breastfeeding your kids. Um, okay. I guess I see the logic behind this one, but there are a whole host of really good reasons people don't. I'm also pretty sure that the people who think that formula is abuse have or will also make a sometime in their child's lives that isn't the perfect choice.

 Glass houses, you know.

 I've seen people say that spanking is abuse. Spanking is *NOT* abuse, provided it's done properly, doesn't involve props, bare skin, and reenactments of Mommy Dearest.  I can count on one hand the amount of times all three of my children put together have gotten a pat on their bum, and not once was there even crying. But they knew they were at the end of the line at that point. If you choose NOT to spank your kids, that's cool. But don't judge the moment you hear the word.

One of my favorites is forcing your kids to go to church when they don't want to. Seriously? So what, the adult is simply to either shell out forty bucks every week for a babysitter or not celebrate their own religion until the child is of an age to be left at home alone? Again, not abuse. Or a violation of rights of any kind. Sorry. It's also not a requirement for a parent to provide a balance of all things religious in the home. You have an entire adult life to research and find your path. When your parents are paying your bills, you're stuck with them.

I've even seen people say having children you can't afford is abuse. Really? Seriously? Where's that line drawn? Who can really AFFORD kids? Because those little suckers are EXPENSIVE. They want to eat three to forty times a day, they want clean clothes without holes in them, and when December rolls around, they want Christmas presents, dammit.

So, should we restrict child bearing to the upper $250,000 crowd? Really?

What about the parents that are so busy working and providing for their children that they rarely see them? The proverbial poor little rich kid? Is that abuse?

So, my question is to you, are you a child abuser? What do you do that other people would consider abuse?
What are you doing-besides changing your Facebook avatar-to actually stop real abuse?

1 comment:

Carol said...

Well put, Heather. Children in abusive households think the abusive behavior is normal behavior. To tell on the abuser is way to risky; RARELY do abusers change to more positive behavior, they usually get sneakier and threaten the child even more. It is the responsibility of ALL ADULTS to help and protect children, even when the child denies the abuse.