Somewhere right now as you read this, a teenage daughter may have said something to her father that offended him so much that he gave her a good slap on the jaw, a push from behind knocking her into something, or a slam to the floor, while her mother stands by watching. She too is fed up with her sassy mouth teen and maybe this punishment will straighten her up! It does for a season while resentment, bitterness, and rage take root in their daughter's spirit. She contemplates in the late night hours, while her father and mother lay side-by-side, to hurt them one day. Luckily for them, before she makes good on her promise, she leaves the family home. She is now an adult in her twenties.
One day she meets a man who reminds her of her father. He looks like him, has similar traits, and seems to be responsible just like dear old dad. The gentleman pursues a sexual relationship with her quickly. She finds the man nice, playful, even sweet, but she isn't interested in anything serious, at least not yet. In time, he wins her heart with roses, dinners, movies, surprise gifts, and planned vacations. She doesn't think from the looks of things that anything is wrong with her wonderful partner until she discovers that she isn't the only woman he has been sleeping with and she becomes furious! She confronts him, yelling, crying, cursing, and throwing things. In fact, at one point she even stands in his face, spouting droplets of saliva, before she even thinks about punching him or hitting him in his face, she is picking herself up off the floor. He may apologize for his actions, then again he may not. Now she is faced with a choice: stay or go.
Most of us, would say, "I would leave him!" But not this woman for he reminds her of her dad. Although the reason she stays isn't obvious to her, she is a daddy's girl without really being a daddy's girl. She secretly wishes for a relationship with her dad that she never had and this man fulfills that void. She reasons to herself that what she did to her partner wasn't right and she finds herself apologizing for standing in his face, putting him on guard to protect himself, while offering him kisses, hugs, and "I'm sorry." They continue as if nothing has happened until the next disagreement.
This time she reacts in a way that he doesn't like, eye rolls, head swinging, and fingers snapping. This time he hits her so hard she hears ringing in her ears. She gets up from the floor and charges him like a raging bull! There is scratching, biting, punching, and grabbing! He proceeds to choke her while threatening to kill her. Neighbors overhear her screams and thumps on the walls and floor, the police are called. The opportunity to press charges is given to her, the police plead with her to show up for the court hearing. They tell her that she could be helping others while teaching her abuser a lesson, she listens never agreeing to do anything. When the court date arrives, she is nowhere to be found. The cycle of abuse repeats itself with other women, and keeps repeating itself, until someone is hurt severely or worse dies.
Could it be that somewhere in her twisted mentality of what love is supposed to look like, the victim thinks of her first relationship with the first man in her life -- her father? You see, she often said something that dad didn't like years ago and he punished her for it, not by sending her to her room, but beating her. In certain communities they don't spank, the parents whip, beat, or knock their children down, and it's never called abuse. She learned to reason, at a very young age, that if she hadn't said anything, dad wouldn't have beaten her. If she wouldn't have rolled her eyes or stomped her feet, dad wouldn't have pushed her down. So the memories of childhood come back to haunt her and now she is thinking the same way in her intimate relationships. "I am at fault! I deserve to be hit!" Meanwhile, family and friends ask her, "What did you do?" After hearing her stories of abuse, they comment, "Well I would have hit you too!"
This is another face of dating and domestic violence that isn't often pieced together in this way -- the connection of a childhood father and daughter relationship later affecting a woman and her partner's relationship. Victims of abuse do look back on childhood memories and reason "that what happens to me today is justified, because well my dad did it to me." We can find all the excuses in the world to justify why someone deserves to be beaten, but the bottom line is an abuser violently resolved an issue thinking that the problem would just go away, but as we have seen in the media, problems just don't go away! They fester and they grow. What father did years ago comes out in the light sooner or later. It shows up on another daughter's face, on stripper poles, in music videos, music lyrics, and prison. As much as parents don't want to accept the blame for anything and will go so far as to cover up or lie about the truth, the fact still remains that what is done in darkness will come to light!
Single men, men in relationships, and fathers, please educate your selves on what real love looks like! Chances are you may not have been treated very well as a child yourself, so how can you show the mother of your children, or future partner and offspring love if you don't bother to learn about it? How can you attempt to show love outside of being a good provider, when you can't think of any way to show love outside of giving someone something materially (and some men can't even do that right either without complaining?)
Learn about other tactics of discipline besides beatings. These excuses of "well my dad didn't hug me. I got beat and I turned out alright. I don't know what to say to my daughter, the only way I can get her to do anything is to beat her." There are far too many books on parenting to hide behind these excuses! If a father can open up a newspaper, channel surf, or search the Internet looking for information on his favorite sports team, a mate to date, or an electronic gadget, he can find information on how to effectively parent his daughter.
According to the New Horizon Crisis Center's website, child abuse is defined in four ways: physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect.
"Physical abuse: Purposely injuring a child by hitting, biting, shaking, kicking, burning, or throwing objects.
Emotional abuse: Crushing a child's spirit with verbal attacks, threats, or humiliation. Words that hurt will harm a child's self esteem.
Sexual Abuse: Sexual contact with a child (i.e. incest, inappropriate touching, etc...) Using a child for sexual films, pictures, or prostitution; obscene language; or exposure not involving contact.
Neglect: Willfully failing to provide for a child's emotional (love and attention) or physical (food, clothing, and shelter) needs; failing to offer guidance, supervision or a safe home environment."
Too many parents are so worried about making money and obtaining material wealth that they don't bother to think about how damning violent parenting can be on children. Maybe you turned out alright, but you have a sibling, some other relative, friend or co-worker that never recovered. While you may be talking with family members about the "misunderstood" in the family, could their childhood issues be taking their toll in their intimate relationships? I'm sure if they are honest with themselves and not still fearful of their parents, they will admit that they still think of those beatings and wonder if they could have been just as good, if not, better without many of them.
I'm not saying spare the rod, for those who believe in Biblical principles, but what I am saying is understand how to use the rod. I don't believe that God intended for any of us parents to slap a child simply because he or she is annoying us, not moving fast enough, or we had a hard day at work. Organizations that support victims of abuse are always educating the public on thinking before reacting, knowing what abusive signs within yourself and those around you look like, and providing us with resources to help ourselves and others.
Know why you do what you do and find a better way to solve your issues with your children. Unfortunately, some parents of teens may be so hurt that it will take years to undo all of the mistakes, that's okay take each day as it comes and work to make a difference in your daughter's life, so that she will not one day associate abuse with being loved by you.
By Nicholl McGuire