Thursday, November 3, 2011

Judge Beats Disabled Daughter With a Belt

This post comes with a huge trigger warning for violence against a child.

Every time I write a post of this nature, someone come along to defend violence against children.  I will not tolerate it.  This space needs to be as safe as possible for survivors.

Judge William Adams decided to beat his daughter with a belt, for the crime of downloading video games on her computer.  The video was taken in 2004 when she was 16 years old.  She recently released the video online saying that her father needs help.  Apparently, she set up or camera on the her computer to record because 'It had happened before, and had been escalating. I set up a camera, and I caught it.'

 Again this video comes with a trigger warning as Williams whips is daughter 20 times

The girls mother not only watched her daughter being beaten, but took the belt away so that she could strike the child once as hard as she could.  She is equally as guilty of abuse, not only because she participated, but because she stood by and let it happen in the first place.  For her part, Mrs Adams apologized for participating, and for not stopping the abuse, but what does that apology mean when you have broken the sacred trust between parent and child?
A judge who was filmed whipping his disabled daughter with a belt today remained unrepentant claiming his life had been made difficult after the violent footage emerged.

In extraordinary remarks to reporters, family law Judge William Adams denied he had done anything wrong after the YouTube video, filmed secretly in 2004 by his daughter [name redacted], swept the internet. 

The Court-at-Law Judge, from Aransas County, Texas, added: 'It was a long time ago... I really don't want to get into this right now because as you can see my life's been made very difficult over this child.'
'In my mind I have not done anything wrong other than discipline my child when she was caught stealing. I did lose my temper, I've apologized.. it looks worse than it is.'(source)
How could it look worse than it is?  You'll note that though his daughter was the victim of violence at his hand, his response was all about his pain and his difficulty.

Throughout the video, he repeatedly used the word spanking to refer to what he was doing.  Now I know that there are going to be those that argue that this is not a spanking and is abuse, but I am here to tell you that this is the definition of spanking to many, including that of my own parents.  When people argue for the right for parents to be able to spank children, this is what they are enabling.  He believes that he didn't do anything wrong for the simple fact that socially, we constantly explain away violence that children live with.

The moment you raise your hand to a child, there is potential for the violence to escalate to this.  Your body fills with endorphins and adrenaline, because there is actual pleasure being experienced, even though the person doing the hitting may be angry. It is an emotional release and though the person on the receiving end is defenseless, the act is then mentally justified for a perceived wrong.

Children by the nature of being children, are going to be disrespectful, and they are going to push up against your authority as a parent.  As they age, they believe that they know more than you do and that you are preventing them from doing something that they want to do. As parents and the adults in the situation, the proper response is not to command respect through violence or the threat of violence. When you escalate to this level, what you create is fear, anger and in some cases hatred, not the respect that you want.

There is no excuse to hit a child.  Let me say that again for emphasis, there is no excuse to ever hit a child.  If an adult were to raise their hand to another adult, the criminal charge would be assault and just because someone is a minor legally, does mean that the act itself is not assault.  Children deserve to live lives free of violence and fear.  Their homes should be safe spaces for them, not a place where they have to worry that they will be abused.

Spanking, no matter what the reason is wrong. I don't care that you were spanked and turned out okay.  If you turned out okay, it was in spite of the spanking and not because of it. Violence is never a positive experience and many children who were spanked end up with PTSD and other sever emotional disorders. I hope that this judge faces criminal prosecution for what he did, because socially we need to send the message that children's bodies are inviolable.

I also think it is worth noting that the girl has cerebral palsy.  Disabled children are subject to extremely high levels of abuse.  What happens to them is normally ignored specifically because of ableism.  People become frustrated because they don't always follow through on instructions, have high stress points or an inability to understand.  It would have been bad enough had he done this to an able bodied child, but he took it step further and beat a disabled child.  I know that we live with the myth that we are kind to disabled people, but this video stands of yet more evidence of the ways in which our bodies are considered disposable.

If you currently smack your child, please stop, calm down and reconsider your behaviour.  It is a short trip from a simple smack to a real beating.  Try for a moment to imagine how you would feel, if someone did this to you.  Put yourself in the place of the defenseless and I am certain that you will see that any violence no matter what the reason is quite simply unacceptable.