Neglected Children on the Playground

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish Journal The boys, about 7 years of age, were racing up the slide and skateboarding down. The lone girl enthusiastically ran up and down with the rest of them. My grandson, whose hand I held tightly, was fascinated by the commotion, fascinated by what it could mean to be “big.” He pulled on my arm and I let him lead. I’m not the overprotective type. I encouraged him to climb the ladder at the other side of the play structure, and he approached the slide. His thumb was in his mouth, a sure sign of intense concentration combined with feelings of insecurity.   He longed to go down the slide, I could see, but, of course, being not even three years old, he planted his little feet a few paces away from the wild kids. “C’mon,” I coaxed him, “you can take a turn.” I patted the slide. All to no avail. My soft words neither moved him closer nor moved the little rowdies away.   Suddenly, a flip-flop whizzed past us and a frightened—and barefoot—child lunged for it. The other children laughed as the flip-flop went the other way. My eye scanned the circumference of the playground. There were absolutely no adults anywhere. This was too much for me. Rowdiness, I can tolerate; they are children after all, and without supervision to boot. But no shoes? The grandmother in me took a back seat and the mother in me stepped forth. “Where are your shoes?” I demanded of the little rowdy.   Looking into my eyes, he replied, pointing to a...

How To Recognize Manipulation

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish News There’s little worse than thinking someone is a manipulator who isn’t, except failing to realize you are being manipulated when you are.   We should think well of our fellow and give people the benefit of the doubt. It would be nice if we didn’t even have a doubt to begin with. Judging others favorably means thinking positively about others no matter if we think we have “evidence” to the contrary.   Given this dictum, to assume someone is a manipulator is particularly bad. But, one could argue, what if all the evidence lines up in such a way that you can find no other explanation for the behavior but manipulation? If that’s what you really think, here’s my diagnosis: I hope the person in question is not your spouse, parent, or child because, whoever it is, there has been a terrible breakdown in your relationship with this person. For the individual to need to manipulate is a sign of a relationship that has practically failed; it is also a sign of a person who doesn’t have a clue how to put it back together.   The reason for this conclusion is simple: Manipulation is deception. It’s painting half the picture or fabricating the other half in order to gain some end that would not be gained in a normal, straightforward manner. It may or may not involve lying, but it twists the truth. Why would someone feel the need to resort to that? The answer is clear. Only where the lines of communication between that person and you have degenerated...

Controlling People Don’t Know How To Control

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish News, January 27, 2006, pp. 16, 22. Abusers are complete wusses. I’m serious. I’ve never met an abuser who knows how to be assertive. Abusers abuse because they have no skills at getting—the nice way—what they want and need in life. All this stuff that abusers are “controlling” is utter nonsense. Let me ask you something. Why do your kids want the Nike sneakers? You know, the ones that they can roll down the street on? The answer is because those darn commercials worked. The commercials got those kids under their control, didn’t they? Isn’t that the same reason you want the Gucci bag? Don’t deny it. You want it because everyone “knows” it’s good. Marketing worked. That, my friends, is control. That is real control. Control happens when someone gets you to do what they want—and you’re thrilled to do it. You want to do it. That’s control. Anything else isn’t. The abusers, on the other hand, don’t have that skill. They wouldn’t know where to begin. The best control is one that you don’t even know is happening. As another example, think of your most cherished beliefs. How did you get them? The answer is that somehow, in a loving and important way, the message of what those beliefs stand for got transmitted to you—and you accepted them. You would die for them. Now, that’s real control. Only it doesn’t feel like it. Real control is pleasant and painless for both parties. Take another example. Take a child who is highly self-disciplined and a hard-working student. How did she or...

Warning Signs Of Child Sex Abuse — And What To Do About It

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION  from the Florida Jewish News, pp. 22, 24 [edited] The Florida Jewish News of Jul 22-Aug 4, 2005 published a lengthy article describing a case of child sexual abuse allegations. Although the accused family was cleared by three governmental bodies, there are still bad feelings and fear in the community. The accused family has sued the accusers and been shunned in the community. How are we, the readers—who are members of our own communities—to use this information? How can we enable it to help us rather than be a source of divisiveness? I offer five points for consideration: Sexual Abuse Exists In Every Community. It is absolutely necessary for the average reader to know, without a doubt, that sexual abuse does exist in every community. From Brooklyn to Florida, from London to Israel, sexual abuse is a problem that has lain hidden under the fear of exposing something ugly and dirty. Unfortunately, this permits perpetrators to continue abusing. Known Sexual Abuse Should Be Reported. The worst fear in reporting sexual abuse is of involving the world in our lives. That fear is understandable, especially in light of the degree to which governmental agencies have so frequently bungled their investigations in past years. Nevertheless, the damage done to victims—which could be a large number of victims from any one individual perpetrator—means the right thing to do is to report known abuse. Damage is an individual matter, but even one inappropriate sexual contact can ruin a life. Don’t ever assume “she” (or he) “will get over it.” They won’t. It is best to report the abuse and see...

Physical Abuse: Screening and Treatment

REPRINTED BY PERMISSION from The Annals of The American Psychotherapy Association, 2001, vol. 4, No. 5, pp.15-17. Do not be fooled into thinking the percent of battering victims (about 16%) in this country is small. Stripped of the obfuscation of statistics, that comes to between two and four million (Medical Education Group Learning Systems, 1997) and 8.7 million women a year (Feld & Straus, 1990) resulting in “more injuries to women victims than accidents, muggings, and cancer deaths combined” (Valentine, Roberts, & Burgess, 1998, p. 29). Twenty-five percent of abused women try to commit suicide Twenty-five percent of abused women try to commit suicide (MEGLS). Eighty percent of male batterers aggress against parents, children, pets, and outsiders. Arrests and convictions for other violent behavior of these men is significantly higher than for the general population (Walker, 1984). Domestic violence kills police too, at the rate of 25% of all slain on duty (Guerney, Waldo, & Firestone, 1987). Violence also has a medical cost: over 50 million dollars (Hart, 1993). The costs in people hurt or killed and dollars spent are actually not the worst aspect of violence. In the long run, its most pernicious element is that it takes place within families–the precise location where people expect a safe harbor from harm, and, even worse, it is intergenerationally transmitted (Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 1980). Conservative estimates of the number of children whose parents assault them while beating each other ranges between 1.4 and 1.7 million (Hotaling, Straus, & Lincoln, 1990). Unfortunately for child victims, not only are they the likely recipients of their father’s anger at their mother, but...

8 More Ways To Heal From Abuse

Many people don’t even realize that they were (or are being) abused. But the assumption that the pain will go away is not correct. What is needed is to take active steps towards recovery. This includes a bunch of wonderful tools. 1. The First Tool Is To Discover Yourself The worst part about verbal abuse is that over time, the victim loses track of who he or she is. That sounds weird, doesn’t it? But it is true. Imagine a small child sitting in a high chair being fed. Mom wants that child to eat. Eating is obviously important, so mom says, “Oh, this is delicious, soooo good.” The little child tastes it. Now, one of two things can happen. Either the child decides it is good, eats it, and grins, or the child hates it. The child may spit for the fun of it, so spitting is not an indication of whether the child likes it or doesn’t. (Spitting is actually a develpmental exercise of the tongue and throat and is, to the baby, a brilliant discovery of what great talents he or she has. Although it is annoying to the adult, it seems to be a standard developmental process that you just have to get through.) Suppose the child spits it out and grins. What should the mom do? Mom should put that food aside, end the meal, and let the child go play. Why? Because if the child were really hungry, he or she would have eaten it. The grin indicates a game. But suppose mom is worried the child hasn’t eaten well. Suppose the mom...

6 Ways To Understand Abusers & 10 Ways to Reconciliate

Consider these important elements in working out your relationship problems: 1. Every abuser has been a victim Research proves again and again that people who were victimized as children are likely to grow up to be either abusers or drawn towards abusive relationships because that is what is familiar to them. Many abuse victims manage to escape these ills and lead satisfying lives. But if you look at someone who is verbally abusive, there is no doubt that he or she was originally abused. 2. Being abused is traumatic Being told again and again “you’re stupid” by someone who is supposed to love you is no less traumatic than having been in downtown New York City on September 11, 2001. Trauma does not have to happen all at once. In fact, the most difficult trauma to shake is the kind that lasts and lasts. It is so familiar it seems as though it’s normal. When an abuse victim is so used to it that it feels normal, that is an indication of trauma. 3. The vast, overwhelming majority of abusers are not mean, nasty, hateful people. Yes, there definitely are some bad apples but most abusers do not mean to be mean. They don’t know how to handle their hurt and anger and have either watched their parent verbally or physically battering the other parent or they have been victims themselves. Why does this matter? Because it means they can change. They can learn to be good. They can learn kindness and compassion. For some relationships, it’s too late; too much damage was done. For others, it’s not. 4....

7 Things You Can Do To Heal From Abuse

1. Accept The Fact That Everything You Did Made Sense I was once speaking to a brilliant and accomplished woman who had recovered from alcohol abuse. She had been severely emotionally and verbally abused most of her life. Abuse hurts. Sometimes there is only one way to deal with the pain: cover it up in a brain-fog. This woman made a wise statement to me. She said, “Thank God for every drink I ever took or I wouldn’t be here today.” Now, I know that I am talking heresy from the perspective of the recovery program. How could drinking make sense? they would ask. DrDeb, you’re crazy. Everyone knows drinking destroys brain cells. Everyone knows drinking destroys the liver. Everyone knows that hard drugs are even worse. There is nothing good about drinking, they would say. Of course they’re right. There is nothing at all good about drinking. Except if it saves you from dying. It is, indeed, better than being dead. And if, as a ten year old or 14 year old or whatever age you started using substances to avoid the pain going on around you, you didn’t know any better, then it was a blessing. The key words in the above sentence are “to avoid the pain going on around you.” Here is a list, a short list, of the kinds of things that are so painful as to induce a young person to booze it up so they no longer know what is going on: being verbally abused being sexually molested watching a sibling being sexually abused knowing a sibling is being sexually molested being...

4 Steps to Stop Being a Perpetrator

Perpetrators don’t always want to be. I cannot begin to tell you how many parents, for example, say, “I would never want to hurt my child.” Then they do it anyway. It takes FOUR steps to recover from being a perpetrator: Part I: Admitting you have done wrong Part II: Hating what you’ve done Part III: Resolving never to do it again, no matter what Part IV: Recovering from your own abuse Part I: Admitting You Have Done Wrong The first, I think, is the hardest, especially for victims of abuse. The victim is always used to being, well, the victim. It is shocking, disconcerting, and disturbing to learn that you have been hurting someone you love when all that time you thought you were the one that was hurt. Doesn’t matter. If you hurt someone, you’ve got to own up to it. Not only is this hard because it changes your perception of yourself to a perpetrator–ugh–but also because you may be dishing it out in an entirely different way than you got dished out to. Let’s take an example. Suppose your mom beat you, neglected you, didn’t even make your lunches. You came to school raggedy with unbrushed hair. In those days they didn’t call the Department of Children and Families and it just went on and on. You were, indeed, a victim. You got married, had a kid and resolved never to do that. So you stuck to your resolutions and you got up to give your child breakfast, brushed her hair, and never laid a hand on her. But you did it with a frown,...
Show Buttons
Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkdin
Hide Buttons