Abuse.

I want to talk about abuse.  It’s an issue I care deeply about, but something that oddly has been seldom discussed on this blog.  Recently I read a post that very eloquently described the social rules that allow rape to continue to happen.  I had to let things ferment for a few days and really ask myself why that post got under my skin so thoroughly.  Then I realized: while the post was talking about women and men, the same social rules cause children to be abused.

It’s horrifying- but let me explain.

Children are taught from birth to respect people in authority.  While to a point this is necessary, it’s often abused.  Some children are taught, for instance, never to question an elder.  Children are taught to wordlessly obey anything that an adult requests of them, “except for strangers.”  Wait- what qualifies a stranger?  Often the dangerous people don’t look like drunken panhandlers, more often the person a child ought to be afraid of is “Uncle” so-and-so from the local church.

This is a very insidious thing.

And it’s not just physical abuse people need to worry about- it’s emotional and intellectual abuse.  I hate it when children are taught not to question.  There are some kids who are from a young age stripped of their inquisitive nature.  They are told it is wrong to correct a teacher, that questioning their parent’s philosophy is evil, that doubts they have about faith or about who they are were put there by the devil.  This sort of brow-beaten indoctrination is just wrong, and too often leads to children who grow into adults who are lost, even if they are where their parents would have wanted them to be.

And I’m not even going to get started on sexual abuse by church elders.  Suffice it to say that I’ve heard stories.

We need to teach our children to have boundaries and to enforce them.  We need to teach them to draw back if they are uncomfortable.  We need to teach them to question if they want to question, to argue if they want to argue, to stand up for themselves even if it’s uncomfortable for us.

We need to teach them strength.

And for the love of God- we need to stand up for ourselves.

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5 thoughts on “Abuse.

  1. Glad you came across that post – I read it yesterday. It’s caused a storm of discussion on many blogs.

    It needs to be read by all women and men alike – about how we are indoctrinating victim behaviour in our girls by insisting that they be feminine even when they are uncomfortable (feminine in the classical sense eg, soft spoken, respectful, agreeable, unconfrontational).

    There was one comment on this thread that really struck a cord with me. The commenter described how they knew a little girl who suddenly decided she didn’t want to kiss her relatives goodbye when they came over – for whatever reason (kids sometimes decide that they just don’t want to do something, everyone’s seen it). The commenter watched as the adults made faces, begged, punished/rewarded the little girl until they got her kisses. I’ve seen this in my life before.

    Yet it never occured to me what this taught the little girl. If she didn’t feel like doing something physical, she was dissapointing everyone – she was being negative, upsetting. Now what effect does that teach? What if her Uncle wants to touch her a lot? How will she know the difference between good touch and bad touch? She might think she’s being a bad girl or that she was upsetting him by not letting him touch her.

    (Sorry to use the Uncle cliche, but it get’s the point across).

    • See, that’s the thing- so many people DON’T treat their kids like they have the right to set boundaries. And if they are never taught that, they never know it, and that is what leads to abuse.

      It’s horrifying, to me. If my kids don’t want to hug and kiss goodbye, they don’t have to. If they don’t want to sit in someone’s lap, they don’t have to. If they don’t want to talk, they don’t have to. Does this sometimes disappoint relatives that they don’t know who wish to be overly familiar with them? Of course it does. But if “Uncle” so and so or “Weird Cousin” whosit wants to take them in the broom closet, they’ll understand that they are allowed to say no.

      Especially my daughter. I’ve BEEN the scared kid who didn’t want to be seen as a bitch because she pushed someone away, which is also why I’m the girl who will have to live forever with having her boundaries violated. I don’t want that for my kids.

      • It’s good that you have this attitude, your daughter is going to be as safe as possible.

        I have one more thing to add; I notice that if little boys refuse to kiss etc, they are sometimes just laughed off as being boisterous or ‘growing up’, or it is considered quite natural that they don’t want ‘lovey dovey’ stuff from everyone – and then they are left alone (the correct coarse of action).

  2. Great post. Interesint comments. *hugs*
    Thanks for linking to the other post. That was great. My mom always made it clear that we never had to hug or kiss any one we didn’t want to. She had a grandfather who took advantage a couple times.
    I always told myself that if I had a girl I woud not raise her as a “nice girl” because “nice girls” get abused. I guess I should revise that to include the boys too.

  3. Faemom- Abuse doesn’t just happen to one type of person, thus it’s not only the “nice girls” or boys who get abused. I have a friend who was taught by her mother to question and set boundaries and had so many of the qualities listed above and yet she was still abused. The thing is a child has less power than an adult in any situation. Am I saying that it serves no good to try and instill the values listed above? Of Course not. It is good to do so but we have to realize that in the case of children especially we have a duty as adults to protect them and sometimes we can’t. And that no matter how we empower our children, in cases especially those amongst non familiars (though they are the rarest), it can still happen to them. Thus there is not just one type of person that gets abused. I would also like to reiterate that it is never the fault of the child or the adult who is abused no matter who they are and how they did or did not grow up. No one deserves abuse no matter if they are a “nice girl” or not. I am sure that you did not imply this with your statement that ‘nice girls get abused’ but I felt it was worth saying.

    Lindsey- Very interesting post, thank you for it.

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