This might prove to be a difficult article for me to write... It has been on my (extremely long) to-write list for a while now, and I think I should just get it out and see where it goes.
When I was about twelve, my father punched me a black eye. I have forgotten (repressed) the event, but have vague recollection of it and I distinctly know that my mom kept me from school. There must have been other episodes like this. Enough for my chiropractor to notice (I was receiving treatment for what we assumed to be growth pains, but later turned out early signs of my Bechterew), and contact my mother about the bruises I kept showing up with. Of course I wasn't there when they talked to my mom, but I bet she said there was no problem or it was only a one time thing or... Anyway, nothing came of it.
At school, nobody noticed, since my mom kept me off school, until one day I wrote the first chapters of a book and had a teacher - who I liked and trusted - proofread. The story talked about a girl whose father was on the road as a sales manager and she got beaten... My teacher asked me if there was any autobiography in this story and of course I said it wasn't so. Nothing came of it.
One day, after a long conversation with a friend - I must have been 13 at the time - I gathered all my courage and went to the police. I told them I wanted to report child abuse. They told me the person responsible of that department wasn't there. I never had the courage to go back. Nothing came of it.
Much later - I think I was almost 16 by then - I slept over at a friends house and her parents touched my arm when I came in. I cringed and squeeked and they found my arm covered in bruises (I had placed a tin of sardines on the table instead of getting them out on a plate - this I do remember). Again, they contacted my mother and I don't know what was said. Nothing came off it.
Our family doctor(s) all knew I grinded my teeth, I bit my nails until they bled, had severe stomach problems, migraines, depressive episodes. They sent me to do tests and then some. They prescribed antidepressants. They ended up deeming everything psychosomatic. Nothing came of it. Strangely, all these symptoms dissapeared once I went to university and after a while even the depressive episodes vanished.
A lot of the time during my teens, I wondered if I made it all up (I didn't, don't worry). Maybe I did 'bring it on myself' as my mom used to say. Maybe I should 'be smarter' as she says. Maybe it wasn't that bad, really, was it?
But of course I was abused. No child 'deserves' to be treated this way. No parent should behave this way towards their children. Period.
|Image: Quinn Anya on Flickr|
What I wanted to say in this article is that confronting parents when you suspect child abuse is generally not the way to go. When a child is physically abused, most often both parents know and will cover for each other (we'll leave the reasons for this behavior in the middle). Even confronting the child proves difficult, because that child will probably feel shame, and guilt and will not want to talk about this, might want to protect the perpetrator and the family. The child might not see any decent outcome ('till this day I do not see how it could have been changed - or how it could still change).
One could argue that reporting child abuse would put an unnecessary strain on parents who are wrongfully accused, but what if it saves some?