Ok, first off, let me say that I am thankful for my parents and the warm, comfortable home that I was raised in today. It wasn't perfect. There were difficult times, there always are, but it was a safe place. A haven where I knew that I was sheltered and protected and didn't have to be afraid. I had my own space that my parents respected. I knew to the depths of my being that I was loved, everyday, without question. Which makes it all the more heartbreaking to watch a video like the one that has become an internet sensation today.
A young woman in Texas posted a 7 minute video of both of her parents whipping her with a belt, verbally abusing and badly mistreating her. Click here if you want to watch it. For 7 long minutes this video shows a teenage women being demeaned, beaten and abused. It is painful to watch. I cried while listening to her wail as her father berates her with a volley of curse words and threats. I've read several articles about this video. Her father is a judge in Texas. Evidently the video was shot in 2004 when the young woman was 15 or 16. She has Cerebral Palsy. Her mother has since left her father and hopes that she and her two daughters can seek counseling. I don't know why this video resonated so strongly with me, but it did. I watched it and it took me back to working as a social worker in Philadelphia and dealing with parents who had lost their children through family court and were working hard to get them back. Working hard with the ruling from a judge who demanded they change their behavior, take parenting classes and find new ways to deal with their anger and stress. And I think that's what gets to me. This abuser in the video is a judge.
He is a man who rules over other families' lives. He sits in judgement and tells fathers when they have done wrong. He pulls children out of violent homes. He sends people to prison for the things they did while enraged. And he also beats his daughter and screams at her for 7 minutes, watching his rage ebb and flow and never quite dissipating, until his daughter is in a crumpled heap on the floor. The reason I'm writing about this isn't to get on my soap box or rant and rave about this case. Instead it's to say two things: 1. Keep an eye on the children you see everyday: neighbors, friends, family. And don't be afraid to say something or call the authorities if you think something seems wrong. Listen to your gut instincts. Kids need to be protected, they need to feel safe and they desperately need interested, caring people to talk to. So be that person. Be that nosy busy body. 2. The courage that it took for this young woman to post such a painful video is inspiring. Sharing her story and this nasty family secret, while probably incredibly painful and shocking because of the intense, sudden scrutiny, will ultimately help thousands of children who are in similar circumstances. It brings the topic of child abuse to the fore front and that is always positive. So share your story if you have one. Maybe just over coffee with a friend. Maybe on your blog or Facebook. Certainly with your children when they are old enough to understand. Because that feeling of isolation and fear, that feeling that no one would believe what goes on in your house when the doors are closed, that feeling can be punctured like a balloon when you know that other people have dealt with the same. Dealt with and survived the same. So be brave. And share your story too.
Let's end this on an entirely different reason to cry. This fantastic video, please please click here to watch, also left me in tears tonight, but happy tears. That we humans can be both delightful and yet so cruel is infuriating and amazing to me on a daily basis.