Is It Discipline or Child Abuse?

Is It Discipline or Child Abuse?

Ever since I saw this video yesterday, I have been REALLY angry. Like, pissed-off-I-wanna-beat-him-with-a-belt angry...and I didn't even watch it with the sound on. I feared the "father's" rants would be too triggering, honestly. (And after reading some excerpts of the audio of the video, it sounded a lot like my father's rants so it definitely would have been triggering.) I have no desire to subject myself to more verbal abuse or reminder of verbal abuse. What an asshole sperm-donor of a man. He does not deserve the title of 'father.' "Mom" and "Dad" are titles meant to be earned. They don't get the title automatically just because they happened to have sex during the woman's fertile time of the month.

Last month I spoke about domestic violence and shared some of my stories. On October 27th, Hillary Adams bravely uploaded this video and shared her story. She was on the phone with her "father" and he was verbally abusing her. She told him about the video, and he dared her to post it. She did. The response has been overwhelmingly supportive of Hillary, and condemning of Judge Adams.

Yes. You read that right. Judge Adams. Of Arkansas County of Texas. You know what makes it worse? He is a family law judge, and often has ruled on cases involving child abuse. Here are some distillations of his rulings:

Children should never be believed. This includes a child who everybody describes as bright and honest. If a child says he was abused, he should be ignored. If a parent doesn't ignore the child, the parent should be sanctioned (and her lawyer).

Similarly, if child says he has been abused, the alleged abuser should be asked whether he abused the child. If the alleged abuser denies the abuse, the issue should be dropped.

If there is no videotape of something, it should not be presented in Court. No videotape, then it didn't happen.

In one case, "[t]he mother presented medical records from Texas Mental Health and Retardation Services (MHMR) showing that the child care provider used by the father was homicidal, suicidal, psychotic and heavily drugged among other things. Judge William Adams presiding judge of the Court held that this evidence was 'irrelevant.''"

So it's not surprising that Adams excused his abusive actions.

"In my mind, I haven’t done anything wrong other than discipline my child after she was caught stealing."

Discipline. Nothing in that video looked like "discipline." It is very clearly and unequivocally abuse, and dare I say, torture. Unfortunately, researching into the Texas codes, it seems the statute of limitations has passed for any hope of prosecuting, as it happened 7 years ago, when Hillary was 16. (She's my age, now. We're actually born in the same month.) At the very least, according to the MSNBC article, the judge is not presiding over any cases at the moment (The S.O.B. left the town) and even when he comes back, a different judge will be presiding instead. The police is currently investigating.

My thought is, for all we're trying to do to prevent child abuse, WHY the hell are the laws so lenient? Even when it's abuse, it may not be criminal. Even when it's criminal abuse, it may not be prosecutable. This drives me fricking NUTS, and makes it incredibly hard for people to come forward and bring the abuse to light.

Even if it cannot be prosecuted, it is still abuse. Just like in my own situation. I have a father who is verbally and psychologically abusive, yet that abuse is not prosecutable. It's not even enough for Child Protective Services to mandate that everyone in the family seek counseling. I firmly believe my siblings need to be going to a public or parochial school just to get away from the abuse at least for a little while and to learn that my dad's actions are NOT okay and that not all parents are like that, but CPS can't even do that.

Hillary said so herself. Had she released the video sooner, she had no idea what would happen, what the state would do to the family. It might not even do anything but further enrage the "father."

I also hate the excuses people make for child corporal punishment. "It's the parents' right to discipline their kids how they see fit!" Read: it's their right to abuse the kids without state involvement. Bullshit. It's never the parents' right to ABUSE the kids. Yet so many laws allow for what's ostensibly the "spanking exception," which makes it harder to actually prosecute or take action in cases of physical abuse of children.

I'm not going to get into the "1 gentle swat on the bottom with an open hand" debate. Okay? But things like whipping or hitting with objects or closed fists is definitely abusive. Oh, on that subject, you should totally see about "To Train Up a Child" by the Pearls. The book advocates hitting your children with plumbing lines to thoroughly break their "naturally disobedient" will. The book has led to the deaths of at least three children that I know of, if not more.

I thank my lucky stars my dad never bought into the whole plumbing line business. He spanked, but it was always with an open hand. He spanked extremely hard because it was a way of taking out his anger, his aggression. But he never used objects to hit us, which is, by my mom's standards, abuse. She would tell me, "At least he doesn't hit us," after yet another one of his Mr Hyde moments.

Oh, yes, the mother in the video. The mother divorced the SOB. She stopped abusing her daughters, and she has repeatedly apologized to them, even before the video came out. Yet, she did take the belt and whip her own daughter. I completely see where that reasoning comes from--thanks to brainwashing. She thought that if she took over the whipping, that Adams would be satisfied and leave.

That didn't happen, but I know that reasoning. My mom thought that we should just let my dad rage at us and terrorize us  and let him get it out of his system, because it would hopefully make the abuse last a shorter time. It didn't really happen. She also thought that if she became even more obedient and brainwashed, he would get better. He didn't, but she got so brainwashed she sees nothing wrong with my father's behavior. Even to the point of cutting off contact with her oldest daughter and old old family friends and becoming increasingly isolated.

Yet my family is, and her family did, put on a happy face and pretend everything was hunky dory. The articles I've read said that some people had no idea he was an abuser. They thought the Adams was a good family, until the video was posted. Same with mine. So many people believe my family was the perfect happy homeschooling family. Until my father disowned me. Then the shit all fell out.

I think I'm outraged because it hits too close to home. No pun intended. I hope that Hillary, her sister, and her mother all heal, and that her sperm-donor of a "father" faces justice in some form or fashion.



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  • I live in Oregon. Adams behavior would be considered child abuse here. I find it appalling that it would be tolerated elsewhere.

    Abused often identify with the abuser.

    It is ok to Evolve.

  • In reply to maggie:

    I'm glad to hear that Oregonians consider it to be child abuse, and I agree. I haven't heard too many good stories about the rate of child abuse in Texas, and how child abuse cases are handled--this isn't the first time I've been angered by a story out of Texas.

    Indeed. The abused often identify with the abuser. My brother was more abused than me, but now he identifies so much with our father that he, last I know, acts a lot like him and is now excusing his behavior.

    May all abuse victims heal.

  • You call that a beating??? Thats a love pat here in AL. Why did he stop beating her? He must have a kind heart.

  • In reply to jhkjdsh:

    Ha. +1 for your attempt at trolling. -1 because it's too unbelievable. Nice try.

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    In reply to jhkjdsh:


  • What scares me is the aftermath in the home. It sounds like you know how it goes - can you imagine this man's wrath after you disgrace him? *bristles*

  • It usually involves a lot of denial, brushing it off as an "exaggeration," and then further punishment, whether in the form of the silent treatment, more yelling, more beating as in this asshole's case, or if the abuser is particularly unsteady, an attempt on the victim's life.

    I read somewhere but I can't find it again, but apparently Judge Adams left his home carrying at least one of his rifles (not sure where to). A guy with an anger management problem and a gun? If I were Hillary Adams, I would be in hiding.

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    Letting the mother off the hook by saying she was brainwashed is complete garbage. He is the main culprit but as one of the adults she is complicit.

    I grew up in a house where those kinds of beatings were weekly, my childhood was hell on earth. By standing by and letting it happen, sometimes taking part my mother was entirely complicit. Entirely. We were children and the two adults in the house were there to protect and guide us not beat or stand by and sometimes beat us.

    "I was brainwashed" is an excuse for one's inability to do the right thing; not let your children grow up in hell.

  • In reply to Virgil Kane:

    I agree. I'd been of two minds about her--on one hand, she seems "reformed" from her brainwashed ways. On the other hand, she DID still administer the abuse. It wasn't even just standing by and watching, she DID whip her daughter. She is, as you said, 100% complicit. My own mother never physically hit us, but she did stand by while my dad was Mr Hyde, and many times she's delivered pronouncements from my dad because he was too much a coward to say it to my face. By relaying those messages, my own mom is complicit, and I am still very angry about that.

    When I got home from work yesterday and watched the interview video with the sound on, I found myself incredibly pissed off at the mother. Even though Hillary said her mother couldn't stop apologizing, I hated how the mother said so casually, "Oh, I was brainwashed, definitely," and did not appear contrite at all.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Virgil, and I am very angry at your so-called "parents" for making your life hell on earth. When children are born, the duty is to protect the children more than the relationship. If a partner is abusive, then get the hell out of there with the children! NO excuse is justifiable to stay. Not even religion. I get sick whenever I see books telling people to be "prayerfully submissive" even when the spouse is abusive.

    That should be another blog post.

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    you know what I think will be funny? is when these bible thumpers get to heaven and Jesus says I'm sorry I never knew you, we raised two kids, both went on to collage and are doing great things and I never laid a hand on them, nor did their mother, so sad that parents think the only way to a childs heart is thru their ass, oh yeah, one more thing, I am a devoted CHRISTIAN!!!! and I know what the bible says about the child and the rod, I also think God wants us to use the brain he gave us, the mouth on that guy and his wife made them no better, infact, it made them look worse!!!!!

  • In reply to Mark Crispell:

    I agree--it is extremely pitiful when parents think that the only way to show their authority is by abusing their children, as in the "To Train Up a Child" by the Pearls. I read so much about the patriarchy movement, and it is SCARY how people twist the Bible around to suit their own purposes, including justifying abuse.

    One particularly sick thing I read was the use of flexible rulers on infants to "blanket train" them, which the "19 And Counting" Duggars do. How it works is you place a baby on a blanket, entice them to come off the mat with a toy or food, and if they do, you smack them with a ruler and put them back on the blanket. Over and over again until they don't leave the blanket out of fear.

    Anyway, I agree. The way BOTH parents acted, both Judge Adams and the mother, was despicable.

  • I don't know what sickens me more, the fact that the father was so ruthless and brutal or that the mother lended a helping hand in the beating. He says his daughter stole, but he seemed more pissed over the fact she uses the internet.

    And based upon the video and what I read in this article, he seems like one of those right-wing radical judges. How or why this was put on video is beyond me, but the fact that this is on video disturbs me the most.

    We've all been hit by our parents at one point or another. Hell, even when I was 18, 19 years old my mom would slap me if she thought I was disrespectful. But my mom never savagely beat me like that and she never put it on video tape.

    The fact that this guy can no longer be charged and that he still has his job makes me sick. The profanity he used towards his daughter also pisses me off. I'd like to kick his ass myself personally.

    He should be removed from his position in family court. To this judge I say "MAS PUTO!"

  • In reply to Gabe Salgado:

    As Hillary explained in the interview on the Today show, there was a period of time when she got regular beatings. One day she sensed things were escalating, so she set the camera up on her dresser and covered the red light with a scarf. Half an hour later, the guy came in and beat her. I presume she did that to remind herself that she's not crazy, or perhaps she was afraid people wouldn't believe her. There were times when I wished I had a tape recorder to record my dad's verbal assaults.

    Indeed, while we've been spanked or slapped at some point in our lives, this clearly crosses the line into abuse. And the swearing he used toward her--can I join you in the kicking-his-ass party?

    Let's hope that Judge Adams is removed from his position very soon. Even if he can't be prosecuted, he certainly violated whatever code of ethics or behavior that judges are expected to adhere to.

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    What if this had been a video of William Adams sexually abusing his daughter instead of physically? Would it still have been "too old" to use as evidence that could lead to prosecution? I find this ridiculous and sickening. Texas is too lenient on what it condones as "abuse". Children can't fight for themselves and it makes me angry beyond words to know that Texas won't fight for them either. Complete and utter bullshit.

  • In reply to Shelly Ponder:

    I agree! The statute of limitations for child abuse cases is far, far too short.

  • We often hear from those who fight to uphold this practice for those under the age of 18 (even to the blaming of the social maladies of the day on a supposed "lack" of it), but we rarely, if ever, find advocates for the return of corporal punishment to the general adult community, college campuses, inmate population, or military. Why is that?

    Ask ten unyielding proponents of child/adolescent/teenage-only "spanking" about the "right" way to do it, and what would be abusive, indecent, or obscene, and you will get ten different answers.

    These proponents should consider making their own video-recording of the "right way" to do it.

    Visit Unlimited Justice or Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education to learn more and add your voice.

  • In reply to PDeverit:

    Very good point, one which I hadn't considered. Why aren't people advocating for corporal punishment of prisoners? Because it is cruel and inhumane. So I honestly don't get why people (like the Pearls' To Train Up A Child) advocate child abuse (er, corporal punishment) so much. And per your second post below, I also did not know about how other countries have outlawed child corporal punishment. I am so glad some have.

    And why is the US lagging behind the world on that? It might have something to do with the idea that some parents would panic, "Oh no! The government has no right to interfere with our family's ways!" It's very much a politically charged topic, yet nobody wants to talk about it.

    I was reading somewhere about how spanking an adolescent/teenager is unadvised because not only is it ineffective, the anger often takes on sexual connotations, almost like BDSM. Excepting, of course, the fact that the victim is not consenting.

  • In 31 nations, child corporal punishment is prohibited by law (with more in process). In fact, the US was the only UN member that did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The US also has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

    The US states with the highest crime rates, poorest academic performance, highest obesity rates and health problems, and largest public welfare burdens are also the ones with the highest rates of child corporal punishment.

    Of all the things prison inmates lacked in their upbringing, "spanking" certainly wasn't one of them.

    There is simply no evidence to suggest that child/adolescent/teenage-only "spanking" instills virtue.

  • In reply to PDeverit:

    Oh, by the way, I really would love to dig more into correlation/causation of child abuse and corporal punishment and crime rates/academic problems and so on. If you happen to have the sources or links handy, could you post it on here?

    I remember seeing the numbers on that before, but I can't remember where I saw them. Though, I suppose as a librarian-in-training I really should practice reference librarianship and find those numbers ;)

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