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Barriere Bits, Issue #003 -- Confrontations: Do they help or hinder?
August 17, 2007
Welcome to Barriere Bits, the child abuse information e-zine that will provide you with current child abuse information and articles.
In this issue:
PLEASE NOTE: Starting in September, Barriere Bits e-zine will be deposited in your inbox on the 3rd Tuesday of the month. Expect your next issue on September 18, 2007.
My husband and I are still at the lake that I talked about last month. Other than the occasional trip home for supplies and to run the countless heaps of laundry through our washer and dryer, we're enjoying the tranquility and the abundant wildlife. Just a note: no wildlife has been harmed in our neck of the woods.
With pitch fork in hand, after I painstakingly pulled up three boards from our more or less ground level deck, I demolished the nest that our resident squirrel toiled so hard to construct. But this furry little critter is destructive and determined as old heck. He's chewed through one of the nylon tethers we use to anchor our awning; he's now working his way through the second. It seems we've encroached on his territory by using one of the five trees he calls his own. Now that we've removed one nest, he's doubled his efforts by constructing his own tree-branch condominium and attempting to re-build the abode I so unceremoniously destroyed. I've resorted to cayenne pepper to discourage the stubborn rascal.
Then there are the red-necked hummingbirds that simply refuse to get along. But those delightful wee sensations have paid the ultimate price for their rivalry; the wasps swarmed the feeder and thereby laid claim to the sugar water that was never intended for them. Twenty-four hours later, the empty feeder was securely tucked away in one of our trailer hatches. Did you know wasps have memory? We put that feeder away over a week ago, yet those stingers on wings continue to come back to the place it was originally hung, looking for food. Of all the nerve!
And last but certainly not least, there are the three white-tailed deer that have completely ignored any and all garden boundaries. Those majestic chestnut-coloured does have chowed down every shoot, geranium and tomato plant in the vicinity, leaving the landscape void of colour and the gardeners frustrated at the lack of a summer crop.
Ah, the joys and wonders of living amongst the critters and creatures of a rural summer home . . . .
The time here at the lake has not left me idle, however. I continue to work on changing the layout of my individual story pages (there are over 150 of them!). I've started writing a child abuse article every other day, which has resulted in the creation of several new Child Abuse Headline pages on my site, and I've posted nearly two dozen more stories from submitters worldwide.
For some reason, I have received a considerable number of bullying story submissions as of late. Bullying is a relationship issue; it is not a child abuse issue. Therefore, I do not post bullying stories unless they have a child abuse element to them.
I also received a request on my Comments form that I've given details about in my feature article below. Read on.
TV producer requests interviews with story submitters
I received a request last month from the producer of a new Chicago –based show scheduled to hit the airwaves in September. It's got nothing to do with Oprah Winfrey. If it did, I might well have reconsidered my answer.
The producer wanted me to ask the story submitters on my site if anyone would like to confront their abuser, since he wants to do a show on that subject. He also put the word out that the host wants to talk to anyone who is still being abused. There was no information with respect to what the confrontation entailed. There were no details at all, other than to say that the host wanted to help.
"Isn't that what Dr. Phil does?" my husband bravely replied after I told him my thoughts on the matter.
"Oh no, no, no mon ami," I countered emphatically with an overwhelming need to sermonize the man.
I have never seen a Dr. Phil show where he pitted a still-being-abused victim with his or her abuser. I simply do not believe he would ever do something that could have such devastating consequences on a young person. I HAVE seen Dr. Phil with family members of the victim in these cases, but never with the victim doing the confronting. Especially not youth. Besides, Dr. Phil is a Psychologist with more than 30 years of experience. But the subject of Dr. Phil is moot since it wasn't the Life Strategist doing the asking.
I am of the opinion that confrontations rarely, if ever help victims. When a person wants to confront their abuser, they generally have a fantasy about how that confrontation will go. Confrontations seldom go down the way the victim imagined it: with the abuser accepting responsibility for their actions and pledging to be accountable by making amends. There may even be expectations of a loving outcome, particularly if that need was never met when that person was a child.
Confrontations with abusers are often rife with outright denials and/or minimizing on the part of the abuser. And it's much worse when other parties believe the abuser, such as could be the case in a television studio. The victim would likely be unprepared for the backlash and could easily walk away feeling victimized yet again, not only by the abuser, but by everyone involved with the show, not to mention the viewing audience. Some victims might never recover from this kind of re-victimization.
Beyond the risk of denials, minimizing and not being believed yet again is the issue of "why". Victims want to know "Why did you abuse me? Why did you single me out?"
There are a host of reasons. But are any of them good enough reasons?
There is no reason that is good enough. Not to the victim.
Just as I won't ever print the last name or e-mail address of a story submitter, I won't ever entertain requests that might result in harmful consequences to the people who have so courageously shared their child abuse stories with the world through my website. Their stories give voice. Their stories validate what these brave survivors endured. Their stories tell the world, "This happened to me and I am still alive to tell it." I would never dishonour such valour.
Check out Shannon's experience on my site for details of the confrontation she had with her abusive parents.
Shannon sent me an e-mail after reading this issue of Barriere Bits. She gave me permission to post it:
I read the email about confronting your abuser and noticed it had my story. Confrontation can be scary. Unfortunately because of my confrontation, my family does not speak to me or my children anymore. Most times, I don't think about it at all. I go on with life like it's nothing. But I have my moments where I just wonder how someone can be so incredibly cruel and naive. It makes me angry all over again. My husband is wonderful and he has supported me so much through this. My in-laws love me like their own daughter, and that helps a lot. I mostly get angry because they cut my children out of their lives too, and that hurts them. They didn't do anything wrong and they didn't deserve it. Life has to go on and it does. I have my own family now and that is what matters most!
August's question: Does confrontation with a person's abuser generally result in disappointment? Poll now closed.
Poll results from July's question: Should Kelsey's Law be a national law, not just a state law?
Thank you to all who registered votes in July's poll.
I have only one story in queue at this time. It will be posted to my Stories page within a day or two:
If your story isn't posted or you don't see it on the above list, it is likely that when I tried to verify your e-mail address, it came back as a "Delivery Failure". Just a reminder: If I cannot verify your e-mail address, I cannot post your story.
From Ashley in Connecticut, USA: I was wondering. The spanking law, why would they let that continue? In my opinion it is abuse and always will be.
My answer to Ashley's question can be found on my site at: What Spanking Really Teaches
Tammy's letter: Speaking Out Against Spanking offers a parent's perspective on this controversial issue.
Ask a question will take you to my form page. I will select one question and answer it in next month’s issue of Barriere Bits.
See article Child Abuse: Dispelling 6 Myths About Self Blame. When you get there, by all means, add your comments.
Subscribe to this e-zine if you haven't already done so.
Darlene Barriere is a child abuse survivor, a violence and abuse prevention educator and author of On My Own Terms, A Memoir.
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