Joy Behar blurts “Yeah, but was your father really crazy, or was he just one of those men that pick out one of his kids just to hate them,” to a smattering of uneasy laughter from “the Spew” studio audience. A baffled Alan Alda, there to plug her book about her “mentally challenged” father, had no snappy comeback. “Com’on,” Behar retorts, in a vain attempt to recover the bombed joke, “We’ve all seen that… a father just hates one of his kids.”
Fortunately, the joke did not elicit peels of laughter, as did Sharon Osborne’s castration jokes and hysterical follow-up apology on “The Squawk.” Behar was forced to apologize for another anti-child joke about some politician’s “bastard children.” Ironic the boss who forced his apology, Barbara Walters, made child rapist Mary Kay Letourneau famous.
But no apologies for jokes about men who “pick out one of their children just to hate them” i.e. Target Abuse.
Target abuse is one of the most common and diabolical forms of child abuse, and is specifically paternal. Mothers, especially natural mothers, are not as l likely to abuse their children unless the father does first or emotionally detaches himself, deliberately allowing the child to fall into harms way. As the queasy “View” audience response to Behar’s sick joke indicates, men know this and prefer not to talk about it. Let alone joke about it, at least within earshot of women.
Masculists have managed to conflate all “abuse” as sexual, thereby negating the prevalence of paternal child abuse. That’s why “child abuse” is not included in the masculist VAWA definition of “domestic violence.” Reasonable people, the 80% who aren’t masculists, understand abusing children is the worst form of domestic violence.
Erin Pizzey wrote, “Do write about target abuse. I was in that position my father disliked me because I looked like my mother… He hated my mother… What does concern me is the stories I hear from abused children whose mothers asked the question of the child he attacked ‘what did you to your father to make his hit you?’… I understand not leaving because a woman has no where to take her children but so many prefer to blame the child.”
My mother didn’t even blame my father. I think the women he describes may actually be trying to placate their abusive husbands. Or they falsely think a child should have the cognitive wherewithal to rationalize and deal with adult hysterical behavior. My mom made no attempt to blame her children, but as Erin stated, “I understand not leaving because a woman has no where to take her children…” Leaving was not an option, placate and compromise were.
My mom was a wonderful gal and a great parent. But my father turned against her because she cut him off from the charge card at Marshall Field’s. He suffered from terminal greed. After the credit card crunch he had a big surprise birthday party for me, so he could steal all the gifts and return them for cash. He’d buy something for me, that my mom paid for, just to return it. I was three or four.
So, to placate and compromise my mother sent him to the best piano teaching instructor in the city, to be certified so he could work at home to pay for his own obsession. He never contributed a dime to the family budget. And he tried to not pay taxes, but mom made his pay the piper because she would have been responsible for his debt and penalties.
After that dose of reality, my father became abusive to me to get back at her. Like Erin, and is so often the case, I looked just like my mom. He never touched me as a child, not even to bathe me. He’d leave me in the tub to soak for a half-hour. He would leave me alone to “look at toys” while he shopped for an hour or two at a big department store. Said I’d slow him down.
He was hoping I’d be abducted, just like he was hoping I’d drown in the tub.
My earliest childhood memories of my father are of him in the next room. I was very young when he made me the scape-goat for my other siblings, especially the next older sister. She suffers from terminal jealousy because after five years, I bumped her as “the baby.” She’s hated me since the day I was born and has tormented me throughout my entire life. Dad always encouraged her. My next older sister, who molested me, was actually the sister I loved and trusted. Like my mom, she would protect me from the physical and emotional torment of the other, which was constant. Dad never intervened.
I’ve often wondered why I remember so much of my childhood. Adrenalin; traumatic events are etched into our memories because of it. And I had plenty of traumatic events at a young age. But the trauma didn’t stop there. I was iced out after my mother died, which was devastating enough. My radical first wave masculist brother and the sister that hates me started a huge fight, directed at my father, at the house gathering after my mom’s wake.
The dirt had yet to settle on her grave. What happened after that is really the most intense but significant part of the story. It illustrates how the dynamics of maternally instilled family violence plays out over a lifetime. After mom died I was the target child again.
My father was not physically or sexually abusive to me though he was verbally. And I saw his break his hand hitting the hateful sister. They loved to fight. He methodically set a precedence within the family that I didn’t matter. He inspired me to redefine the term neglect. One of my sisters was physically and emotionally abusive and he tacitly encouraged him. Another was protective of me but betrayed my trust with sexual abuse. Wracked with guilt, she eventually lost everything to drugs and is currently in prison. And I never would have wished that on her. She was most likely molested herself given that she brideed me, which commonly indicates learned behavior.
My other two siblings were bystanders who showed their true colors after my mom died. Mom was a wonderful gal and my father was despicably mean to her, especially with his target abuse of me. The most vile form of passive aggression there is. I am so thankful my mother stuck around for the sake of her children. She didn’t have much choice. A lesser woman would have bolted.
I was the youngest and I honestly don’t know if I would have survived had my mom left. I started work on the relief sculpture pictured below shortly after she passed away.
I’m so glad I told her I loved her before she did.
Demond Reed’s Law
Violence Against Children Act
*(Includes provision for Caylee’s Law)
Congressional Bill S. 1370 was sponsored by Barbara Boxer [D-CA] and introduced in 2009. The last actions pursuant to the bill were that it was read twice and then referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. I propose the following punitive guidelines to the Committee, to be established in accordance with the redefinition of child abuse in terms of Pathological Malnurturing, as the foundation of the Violence Against Children Act. The Malnurturing format of defining child abuse clarifies succinct categories of specific criminal pathologies, with assigned punitive ramifications. As a legal definition “neglect” is vague, ineffective and antiquated. “Felony neglect” is an oxymoron, not a viable sentencing guideline.
Definitions of the Pathologies of Malnurturing.
Abandonist: Deliberate emotional and affectionate rejection of a child.
Isolationist: Social and/or physical isolation of a child, with deliberate intent to allow the child to fall into harms way. Singling one specific child out, or target abuse. *Includes but not limited to, failure to report the abuse, disappearance or death of a child.
Opportunist: Having or exploiting a child for personal gain, sadistic gratification or profit, including but not limited to, selling a child into prostitution or slavery. Reality TV child exploitation, Honey Boo Boo, The Duggars, Octomom, Friday Night Tykes… Using a child to seek revenge against a spouse.
The motivations for Malnurturing.
Delusional: Harming a child as a result mental illness and/or alcohol and drug addictions. Also, but not limited to, cult or religious fanaticism, as with denial of medical care, exorcisms or the Jim Jones massacre.
Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy: Physically or psychologically abusing a child to garner attention by creating false medical traumas, illnesses and psychoses. The later is particularly applicable in reality TV i.e. Munchausen by Dr. Phil.
Homicidal: Susan Smith, who brutally drowned him two girls, to be free to divorce his wife and marry a wealthy woman.
Sentencing guidelines for these Pathologies are assigned according to:
- a) results in emotional and/or psychological damage to a child.
- b) results in physical and/or sexual abuse, starvation, disappearance or abduction of a child.
- c) results in the death of a child.
According to the Center for Disease Control: American men kill more of their own children than any other fathers in the industrialized world. This represents a 25 % increase since 1985. Neonaticide is a national epidemic. With these new guidelines Casey Anthony would have been charged as an ‘Isolationist Malnurturer, resulting in the death of a child,’ and received a mandatory sentence accordingly.
Featured Image “Sanctuary of the Abused Child” and “Mom’s In Heaven Now” Courtesy of © James Wilcox