In the 1970’s the rule was what happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors. Many people heard shouting or saw things but believed it wasn’t their business. It wasn’t their place to intercede. Spanking a kid with a belt was very common and believed to be acceptable even if they got a little carried away. The thinking was we had our butts beaten as children and survived so therefore it’s okay to do. It will teach them structure, discipline and respect. Child abuse was rarely reported. This did not mean it was not abuse. This does not mean it didn’t mess up kids lives. This does not mean it did not mess up their thinking process. This means in some ways we have become a little advanced in our thinking that its not okay. Those kids who were beaten grew up with the belief it was normal or typical behavior that was earned by making a mistake. Really, what that message says to a child is if someone makes a mistake you hit them.
Those kids grew up hitting their kids and keeping this cycle going. Those kids were taught we keep pain inside and it’s technically a secret because we deserve it. This is not to say that a smack on the hand, mouth or butt was abuse. This gave the green light for those who took a spanking over board and proceeded to beat their children with belt buckles, whips, bats and other various weapons. To break belts, and plastic bats on kids is not punishment that’s abuse.
In the 1980’s all states had mandated reporting laws. This changed everything. The outburst of reports suddenly became looked at as untrue because they just appeared to happen all of a sudden. There was a hard time believing a “good person” could do these things. An abuser doesn’t look like a pariah. He/She looks like everyone else. There wont be a devil marking on the forehead. The abuser will be charming at times, appear sweet, and smart. When all these reports came in it was hard to believe “your neighbor”could this. There was doubt cast. There were more divorces because we stopped that old theory what happens behind closed doors stays there so as people shared and resources became available it was everywhere. The divorce cases where abuse was shared it was assumed to be guilty in early 80’s but the later it became the assumption that moms brainwashed the kids. It was compared to POW camps and the mom just allegedly wanted to use kids as weapon.The damage done when a child tells and they are accused of lying is nearly as devastating as the abuse itself. There were so many boys who were still kept from sharing because it wasn’t very “manly” to tell. They were left to suffer in silence. There were so many grave errors such as telling parents child reported them for abuse but leaving kids there afterwards for days or weeks to be threatened or coerced into dropping it.
In the 1990’s PAS became a big accusation made to clear the parent of abuse. The parent or the mom as it was usually the mom accused of brainwashing was threatened with PAS. PAS stands for parental alienation syndrome. I am not saying some parents do not brainwash the child or use a situation to twist facts in a child’s head. I am saying a child will not claim sexual abuse and go into detail on it unless something happened because it is uncomfortable to discuss. A child doesn’t pretend to wet the bed just to get back at a parent. An abused child shows many symptoms if you are watching. There is rarely evidence and those children who brought up child abuse were given to other parent simply because they had bad timing of filing for divorce due to abuse without daring to document and stay awhile. It was assumed child was lying. Many states did not have laws in place for domestic violence in divorces. Wisconsin for example thought domestic violence was not abuse towards children. It was thought that domestic violence had nothing to do with being good parent. Wrong! Watching domestic violence taught kids to either accept the abuse or to become abusive and hit when mad. Behaviors learned as children become part of your personality and contribute to behavior as an adult. This creates a cycle of violence that continues for generations.
In the 2000’s the abuse stories became very public but laws are so vague and PAS became such a popular theory by fathers that it was assumed without evidence that the child was lying. Some kids needs to be hit with a blunt instrument with photos of it being done to be able to get help. Abusers found more excuse strategies through the PAS excuse. Sexual abuse there is rarely evidence so that makes t hard to prove. It is a fact children do not lie to get people into trouble. They will lie to get themselves out of it on occasion.
There are more laws to protect but with all our fears of violating someones rights or offending someone we don’t follow them. We instead revictimize the victim by sending them back to abuse. We revictimize by calling them liars. We revictimize by allowing perpetrators to continue the abuse sending the message that they are untouchable.
This actually helps the abuser by reiterating these things and many more they tell the child:
- They won’t help
- They don’t care
- They don’t believe you
- No one can stop me
- You will only hurt (said person)
- You are bad that is why I do this
- You made me mad and that is why I do these things
- No one but me cares about you
- No one can be trusted
- I am the only one who has your best interest in mind
In all these years rights for everyone but children has been taken into consideration. They are silenced by revictimization. It is time someone is held accountable to force these changes, Remember together we can and will move mountains one pebble at a time. For more information see: www.voices-amplified.org