Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stupid responses to abuse

As the news and Web chatter about the child-abuse case at Penn State grows and mutates, people all over the Web are understandably talking about it. This is a good thing: the more attention we bring to child abuse, the better. It is something we should stop.

Unfortunately, of course, some of the comments are offensively stupid. I've seen a few and had friends point me to others. Here are a few of the worst.

What did the child do to encourage the abuse?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nothing a child can do, no matter how outrageous the behavior, is reason enough for abuse.

In the main case here, we're talking an eleven-year-old boy being raped repeatedly by a grown man. Get this straight:

It is not the boy's fault. Rape is never the victim's fault.

It is the man's fault.

Come on, he was 11. That's hardly a child.

I'm so glad I only read this comment and didn't have someone say it to my face. I really don't want to get in more fights. I don't want to punch out a stranger.

This comment, though, deserves it. Yes, 11 is still a child. In case you haven't noticed, we have laws that specify when adulthood occurs, and 11 is years before that age. More to the point, though, just go see a few eleven-year-olds, or remember what you were like then. They are children. Period.

Why didn't the boy tell anybody?

Odds are, he tried. If he didn't, it was probably because the abuser told him not to, and because he was terrified. We're talking a child being raped by an adult in a position of trust. This child had no clue what to do, was terrified, violated, and in mental and physical anguish.

Why didn't the boy stop it?

First, see the punching comment above. Exactly how should the boy have stopped the abuse? Fought off the man? Over-powered him? Run away from home--a path as likely as any, by the way, to lead to more abuse? At age 11?

The boy was powerless.

I could go on, but you get the idea: When anyone tries to make this the victim's fault, that person is wrong. Period.

If you are an abuse victim yourself, and I am, you have heard all of these before. You have tried to tell people, and they have told you that what happened to you was your fault, or it was disgusting, or you should just get over it. You have learned to hide the abuse because surely, surely there was something you did to deserve it, something wrong with you that made this horrible thing happen to you, and you should have found a way to stop it.

No. No. No.

That is all bullshit. It is the set of lies others tell themselves to rationalize their acceptance of fundamentally unacceptable behavior or to avoid the ugly reality--an avoidance that encourages the continuation of these horrors.

Here is the simple, single most important truth:

It is not your fault.
You did nothing to deserve it.

You could not have stopped it.

It is not your fault.

In the Penn State case, it is not the fault of any of the boys. Saying otherwise is not only stupid but damaging, because each time someone says it, they condone abuse, and they are wrong.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Someone actually suggested 11 isn't a child? Was it an 8 year old?
I was seriously wondering if going on a date with a 23 year old sailor wasn't a bit iffy 'cause I'm not strictly certain boys aren't pretty much larval 'til at least 25...

Oh, & hey, totally with you: making excuses is inexcusable (and hey, if they can make an excuse for child abuse, surely they can excuse you punching them too)!


Anonymous said...

PART I: I can attest that sometimes abused children grow up to break the cycle of abuse. Kicked out of a warm bed by a stepmother; left to support myself at the tender age of 15 without funds, food, or a place to land; I managed to move forward, raise a family w/out abusing anyone, and gain an ED.d, while doing so. Luckily, I had been blessed with a real-mother who was gentle & loving; someone who instilled pride, empathy, and intelligence into my soul from a young age. (Her only downfall was in marrying a hardened man who cheated.) In all reality, I have been a very lucky woman in spite of the emotionally damaging actions & verbal abuses endured by the step-mother. Still others, are so caught up in their trauma that they spend their lives weaving lies and being manipulative to the point that even their own biological children do not know who they are or the truth about their deeds.
I knew a woman who claimed abuse as a child and then went on to bury 3 husbands prematurely...(alcoholism, suicide, and a heart attack); no autopsies were performed. This attractive woman had become so good at her manipulations in her sociopathetic state that she managed to destroy 3 families. Her children (Although I am sure at gut knew about her illness), & strangers, all believed her to be a bible-toting lady who wore dresses to church and who would not say "Shit" if she had a mouth full of it. However, in truth, she swore like a salior home on leave and would ruin reputations to remove them from her world if she felt they would not also lie for her fantasy. Her last husband, who had a ton of friends, had kept them in secret for fear of his wife's temper. He knew how sick she was, how deadly she could be, so he would sneak to see his own children & did so until he was immobilized by his untimely death. The wife was shocked that so many people showed up to his funeral because although he had been too tired from his illness and intellectually burnt from PTSD, to leave her, he never stopped caring for his family and friends. He would lie straight out to this woman to protect his friends and family from anymore of her injurious lies to their reputation. One by one, they dropped out of her "Fantasy life." He even met his brother secretly & often for breakfast at a restaurant so that the wife would not harm him again (She had once with her insane jealousies gotten this man (the brother), locked up in a nut-house when he had an allergic reaction to his medicine; but the man was let out within days because he was not insane but truly allergic!). Abuse sometimes creates such damage that it changes a child's brain so much they grow up to become an even worse version of their abusive parent.


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