CW: Child abuse
This is a true story, but I’ve changed the names.
Once upon a time, there was a boy named Jack. His father, Rick, was a police officer, and his mother, Beth, worked an office job. Jack was 4 years old, full of energy and wanted to play a lot, like a normal healthy kid.
I don’t know why, but Jack’s mother got angry with Jack a lot, and Jack would cry. This, for some reason, made his mother even more angry and she’d yell at him not to cry. Obviously, that would make him more upset, and he’d cry louder, all the while she’d be threatening to hit him if he didn’t stop crying immediately. As if he can just turn off his feelings at will.
These were things I heard through the walls while living next door to this family.
So anyway, as Jack was being beaten, obviously he’d be even more upset, and would cry even louder, and his mother got even angrier, and kept on hitting and yelling even more. This went on for a long time. Eventually, Jack would just be absolutely exhausted and would throw up. That was always the end of it, Jack throws up, literally cannot cry anymore, and his mother is satisfied for now and stops beating him.
Jack’s father beat him too, but not as often, and not for as long as his mother did. Or at least, not that I heard.
I thought about reporting this to some kind of child protection services. But, the father is a police officer. What are they gonna do? Send one of his buddies over, have a nice chat, leave and do nothing? Also, hitting children at home wasn’t even illegal in this country at the time. To add to that, I was also scared they’d figure out it was me who reported them. I was actually quite scared of Rick. He was big and strong and knew how to fight. And he had lots of connections.
Sometimes, I spoke to Jack’s mother. But I knew what kind of shit she got up to when she didn’t think anyone could hear. Being civil with her was really difficult. I hated her. I thought of her as a disgusting, repulsive, awful piece of shit. She, on the other hand, referred to herself as a nice person. I could not understand this. What kind of sadistic lunatic beats a 4 year old until they puke because they’re so overwhelmed and distressed that their body just literally cannot cry any more? Mostly I avoided her as much as possible.
I played with Jack sometimes. He was a nice kid. I didn’t have enough energy to keep up with him, but I tried my best as often as I could. Sometimes, I just really didn’t feel like playing. One of these times, when I said no to playing with Jack, his father laughingly said to Jack “She doesn’t want to play with you because she doesn’t like children”. I was fucking pissed! Jack was upset by this and ran away crying, and I was so shocked I didn’t even know what to say. What a horrible thing to say to a kid.
Just because I don’t want to be pregnant and give birth to children doesn’t fucking mean I don’t like them. I like them more than I like most adults.
One time when I spoke to the father, he mentioned that he himself was a terrible child. Really hyperactive and hard to control. And that his parents “needed” to beat him in order for him to turn out as a good person. A “good person” who beats a 4 year old child, for any reason ever, and who allows his mother to beat him until he throws up and literally cannot even cry anymore. That’s what passes for a good person around here? What the hell?
There is literally nothing that a 4 year old can possibly do to warrant the kind of treatment Jack got. Nothing at all. Even if he did something objectively bad, the abuse he received in return was far, far worse.
At some point I moved away and mostly avoided contact with those people. So I didn’t see Jack much for a while.
10 Years Later
I saw Jack and Rick again when Jack was 14. He was really quiet then. He seemed very daydreamy, and lost in thought a lot. He reminded me a lot of myself. Dissociated. Looks like he managed to find a way to turn the feelings off in order to stop the beatings after all.
It made me think of when Rick said that he himself was terrible as a child, and needed to be beaten a lot in order to make him a better person. Jack is quiet and kind and stands up for kids being bullied. His father seems to be proud of him now. I wonder if Rick attributes this to all the beatings Jack got when he was little, and if (in his mind) it “proves” his theory that kids need to be hit in order to turn out good. The only reason Jack was ever “difficult” in the first place was because he was a normal 4 year old boy with a lot of energy and traumatized parents who didn’t know how to deal with that.
So this is why people share those things on Facebook where they say “I got spanked as a child and I turned out okay!”. No sir, you did not turn out okay, you turned out traumatized, and you just think you’re okay because that makes you feel better about hitting your own children when you get frustrated with them.
But this has somewhat helped me to understand why people believe stuff like this. They abuse a kid, the kid learns to cope with one of the trauma responses, if they’re lucky the kid picks one that makes him seem like “a good kid”, and this makes the parents think that abuse “works” to make kids “good”. They literally have no damn idea what harm they’re actually causing.
I wonder if Jack remembers the beatings, the crying, the puking. I feel really ashamed that I didn’t try to do more for him back then. I can’t go back in time, but I can write it all down to make sure that if he ever wants to know, I can show him this and he will have some evidence of what happened, so he doesn’t ever need to believe that he deserved that, or that it was good for him somehow.