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Barriere Bits, Issue #001 -- Grandparents vs parental rights
June 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:
My name is Darlene Barriere. I became a violence and abuse prevention educator because I am a survivor of physical and emotional child abuse, as well as child neglect. You see, I grew up during a time when, except for the most severe cases, child abuse was considered no one’s business. People knew what was going on in our home, including members of my own family, but no one told. No one reported the violence they saw, never mind the violence they suspected.
As an adult, I spoke with many of my family members and asked the question, why didn’t you tell? I didn’t ask in a way that was accusatory, but most replied in a tone that begged forgiveness:
“I didn’t want to interfere.”
But one answer from an aunt on my mother’s side of the family had no remorse attached to it:
“Your mother didn’t do anything to you guys that I didn’t do to my own kids.”
My aunt’s reply was disturbing, especially when you consider that as kids, my brothers and sisters and I were bruised, battered and berated just about every day of our lives. My aunt’s statement made me realize just how entrenched child abuse is; it made me want to do something about it for future generations.
I felt compelled to teach people what child abuse is, the effects on the victims, and what to look for. I’m doing that through my child-abuse-effects.com website. The site provides a great deal of information, but it has something else that is special.
I’m proud to say that in the two years since I created the site, I have received and posted over 140 child abuse stories from survivors around the world. I post these stories in order to give survivors a voice, a voice that they’ve never had because no one told, or if someone did tell, they weren’t believed. I post these stories because they are a validation of what that person suffered. They tell the world, “This happened to me and I am still here.”
This e-zine is an extension of the work I am doing through my website.
Should grandparent rights supersede parental rights?
A grandparents’ support group in Scotland claims that not allowing grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren is preventing them from detecting abuse of their grandchildren. The group wants the whole of the United Kingdom to recognize “The Charter for Grandchildren”, a document that if adopted, would grant grandparents the legal right of contact with their grandchildren. The group is gaining support within Scotland.
In order to gain even greater support, the group have zeroed in on the most recent newspaper articles about social workers’ inability to cope with the increase in cases of child abuse. Their claim is that social workers can only intervene after the abuse takes place, while grandparents can help prevent or stop abuse earlier, but only if they are actively involved with their grandchildren.
There is no doubt that grandparents can have a significantly positive influence in the lives of their grandchildren. But the group’s claims about child abuse prevention is a back-door approach to gaining access to their grandchildren, when there may well be a very good reason they shouldn’t have access.
I must ask the fundamental question. Why is access being denied in the first place?
Statistics show that child abuse is inter-generational. That is to say, if a child comes from abuse, they stand a much greater chance of abusing their own children than someone who does not come from abuse. What if the grandparents were abusive as parents? What if the parents of those grandchildren are denying access as a preventive measure? Are they not acting in the best interest of the child?
To grant legal access to grandparents is to take away a parent’s right to choose what is in the best interest of the child.
If a grandparent, indeed if anyone, has knowledge of or suspects child abuse, they have an obligation to report it to the authorities, regardless of whether or not they are a part of a child’s life. For this Grandparents Apart Self Help Group to use the child abuse angle is purely self-serving.
June's question: Should grandparent rights supersede parental rights? Poll now closed. Final results have been posted in July's issue of Barriere Bits.
Ask Darlene is now closed for the July issue of Barriere Bits.
From JWC in British Columbia, Canada: I come from abuse and I can’t stand the thought of letting my father back into my life. Is forgiveness of your abuser necessary for healing?
Before I can answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it’s important to understand what forgiveness is and what forgiveness is not.
Most people think of forgiveness as a loving, open-your-arms, invite-the-person-into-your-life kind of act. That is not what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is not something you do for your abuser; it is something you do for yourself. Forgiveness is taking back the power you gave to the person who abused you.
Yes, I know . . . that’s a tough pill to swallow. After all, you didn’t ask to be abused. But you did give your abuser power. How? By allowing—yes, allowing-- him to control how you think, feel or act now. Today. At this moment.
As children we are powerless to control what our parents, and possibly other adults, do to us. But as adults, we have the power to take control again. The trouble is, survivors of child abuse are often stuck in a time warp of sorts, stuck back when they were children being abused.
If you are haunted by memories of abuse, if you act out in a dysfunctional way that is intended to protect you emotionally (coping skills adopted when you were a child), if you are in any way emotionally affected by what happened to you in your past, then you are still being controlled by the person or people who abused you.
So yes, forgiveness is necessary in order for the healing and recovery process of child abuse to start and continue successfully.
Does this mean that you must or should confront your abuser?
No. Confrontations seldom result in the answers the survivor of abuse was hoping for. Often times, they lead to accusations, which are often followed by denial or the minimalizing of what occurred. Not to mention that sometimes confronting your abuser is not safe.
Does this mean you must tell your abuser(s) you forgive them?
No. You can forgive without saying a word to the person who abused you. The words “I forgive you” are for you, said to you. The words--this act of forgiving--is the release of your hostility, fear, guilt, frustration, all of the pent up emotions you are feeling.
Does this mean that you must let your abuser into your life? Absolutely not. You can if you want, but it certainly isn’t necessary.
My page exchange with an abuser deals with the subject of forgiveness in much greater detail.
This month’s tip is a relaxation technique I use at the end of every day. For the mantra portion of the exercise, I’ve related to the question JWC asked about forgiveness.
Find a comfortable, quiet place you can be alone, a place where you won’t be interrupted for several minutes. It doesn’t have to be a room in your house. Perhaps it’s in your car. Use earplugs if you can’t block out the noise.
Sit or lay down with your hands and arms relaxed beside you.
I end my day, every day, with a mantra of gratitude. I go through the events of my day and thank the Universe for all the good things the day brought me. If anything negative happened to me, or if I responded to an event in a way that was negative, I re-write the event in my mind by visualizing it happening in a positive way. A way that releases all negativity from my feelings. This I do for me because I’m worth it. I hope you will do it for yourself, because you are worth it.
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