This post is from Gloria Froese. It's a little long, but every one of her words is worth reading. Thank you Gloria!
I horrify people when they find out when my last spanking was- I was 18. I was furious- when I was close to my 18th birthday, I decided that I wasn't going to get any spankings- I was going to behave perfectly and obey everything-I would be the best, most sin-free person that ever existed- anything to avoid the lash on my body. It was a matter of pride for me- I wanted spankings to be over with at 17.
I’m not sure what happened- I don't even think it was something I did wrong-I think my dad wrongly accused me of something, and took my denial as lying, and I got spanked. The humiliation, rage and violation that I felt still is a vivid memory. I vaguely remember having a very strong discussion with my parents after that, informing them that there were to be no more spankings after that one- I was now an adult, and they would have to come up with a different method of punishment.
Spanking into the adult years is extremely common in these religious circles. Children belong to their parents until they get married, and personal space or dignity is non-existent.
I personally don't think spanking is effective at all. Yes, it gets the result that the parent is looking for- the child is terrified of the pain, and will do anything to avoid having the parent catch them at that again. It's not really a discipline that teaches anything of real value, though. It so easily devolves into an outlet for a parent's frustration- they may claim to only do it once they’ve “cooled down”, but a child knows when it’s being done in rage and frustration.
And really, all that I remember of being spanked is feeling rage, resentment and fear. I'm a methodically honest person and hate lying, but I certainly became good at it- I learned that it was the only way to save my skin. (heh - pun intended!) I learned to suppress my honesty, and would tell my parents what they wanted to hear. (although it usually took several rounds- I was also a very strong, independent child, and was enraged at the injustice of being spanked. I soon learned that sticking up for myself was futile.) I lost count of the times that I hyperventilated from the pain, begging and pleading my parents to please stop-I couldn’t bear it any longer! They laughed and kept on going. If I squirmed, the belt merely traveled up my back...down my legs...wherever it hit.
So, what I learned was that if I didn't do things exactly the way my parents wanted, my backside would suffer. (and by that, I mean any territory from my upper back to knees) I didn't ever actually learn to do something out of free will- it was all terror.
When I look back at those years, it’s not even the physical pain that so much stands out to me. Yes, it was horrible and nearly unbearable, and I sometimes wonder if there wasn’t permanent physical damage done just from the actual blows.
What was the most traumatic was the emotional effect. The terror of knowing that even the slightest transgression- real or imagined- would result in a spanking left me constantly on guard- there was never any time that I could truly be at ease. If I dared to act up or speak out of place while around others, a death glare from one of my parents would let me know what was to come when we got home. The anticipation was nerve wracking and awful- there were many times that I begged them to please just do it and get it over- I couldn’t stand the wait. (they never did- I always had to wait until later.) I didn’t even need to know that what I was doing was bad- if my parents deemed it to be bad, I was punished, in spite of my complete innocence.
The worst, though, was knowing that I would never be believed- ever. My parents believed that I was inherently evil, and always had malicious intent. People in the church loved complaining to my parents about me, but my side was never listened to- I was punished according to what those evil busybodies had said. When I tried to tell my side of the story, I was told that I was lying, and they knew my true intentions. (this has taken me years to get over- I have accepted people’s “truths” about me well into adulthood- if someone else says it, they obviously know better than me, and are right.)
One story that stands out in humiliating experiences is the one trip my family took with the cult leader of the new church we had joined. It was a brutally hot summer day in Arizona, and we stopped at a gas station. I saw a bubblegum machine, and really wanted one- they were only 25 cents! I asked my dad, and he said no. I reasoned with him, and came to the understanding that he had relented, and that I was allowed to go get one. I happily was chewing on my gum when dad came back to the van, and all hell broke loose- I had deliberately disobeyed- how dare I? I was devastated- I was sure he had agreed that I could get one, after all, and I tearfully pleaded my case. No- there was no budging- I had been evil and disobedient, and would get a spanking when we arrived at our destination- the home of another family in the church. Those hours of anticipation were some of the worst of my life- not only had I been humiliated in front of the church leader, but I would also be humiliated by getting a spanking in a stranger’s home. I begged to get the spanking now- in the van- I didn’t care anymore- I just wanted it over. Nope. It was going to wait.
I still remember walking into the house, and seeing a bunch of young men sleeping on the floor in the living room. I was 10, and was already acutely aware of boys, so knowing that I would be whipped within their hearing distance was unbearably humiliating. My stomach hurt- I felt sick as I followed my dad into another room. The belt was pulled out, and the lashes fell. I tried so hard to be brave and bite back any sound, but a few cries escaped. To say that I was humiliated beyond belief doesn’t even begin to touch it. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye the next day- I was so embarrassed that they had heard me get whipped.
The long-reaching effects of this type of childhood were devastating for me. I developed chronic anxiety and stress. From the age of 10 until a year or two ago, I had non-stop back pain. My muscles were like iron knots- nothing could release them. I'd pretty much say that I was wound as tight as I could go. It was only during and after therapy that the unbearable tightness and pain began to release.
Knowing what I do about PCOS and Hypothyroidism and hormones now, I very strongly suspect that my condition was triggered and worsened by the chronic stress and anxiety. It’s taken years of gentle therapy, a loving husband and friends, an excellent therapist and being surrounded by wonderful people to finally bring me to a point where I am not in excruciating physical pain every day.
I was a very sensitive child- there was nothing I wanted more than to please everyone and make everyone happy. When I got spanked, I got stubborn and rebellious- it was a matter of principle- I was being treated unfairly, and I needed to stand up for justice. I know that I eventually presented as a very willful, defiant child, but all that was was my way of protesting the unfairness. Inside, I bled every time, and felt unbearable guilt and remorse for what I had done- I just couldn't admit to it when I was being violently forced to repent. I may not have had much respect, privacy, etc., but I did have my pride.
I stayed with my grandparents for a month when I was 2, going on 3. My grandma has reminded me of the fun we had, and how well we got along. I was an extremely bright, precocious child, and I loved to talk! She realized that if she wanted something with me, she needed to discuss and explain it- I responded very well to the common sense approach. She has reminded me of how I was crying one night because I missed my mom, who was in Germany. She came alongside me, and asked if she should also cry with me, because her mom was also in Germany- her mom and my mom were together. So, after that, whenever I missed my mommy, I would go to Grandma and suggest that we both cry about missing our mommies. :) Who said that 2 year olds aren't incredibly perceptive and smart? :)
I didn't need spankings. I needed an adult to sit down with me, reason with me, and explain what needed to be done, or discuss what I had done wrong. I didn't need violence- the spankings destroyed me. It's devastating to look back and think how different things could have been if my parents had taken a non-physical approach to discipline. If my parents had taken time to listen to me, to hear my viewpoint, to actually *care* about my feelings, things would have been so different.
I think that's largely why I'm against physical punishment- it doesn't accomplish much besides pain and fear. I honestly don't think that most children mean to be evil- some are more defiant and bratty than others, but I think deep down, most really want to please. It's a lot more work to actually find their "language" and discipline accordingly, but there are ways to do so more empathetically and lovingly. I never want my children to fear me because of physical pain.
And in case anyone is wondering, my parents and I now have a great relationship. We’ve talked and worked through the past, and they feel horrific shame and regret for what they did to us. They would give anything to go back and re-do the past, and raise us more humanely and lovingly. It’s very difficult and painful for them to remember what they did to us- I don’t write this to bash them- I’m telling my story in the hope that even one child can be spared the pain, humiliation and subsequent years of illness that I have had to live through.
And seriously, people wonder why children get violent and stab or shoot their parents. It's long built up rage and resentment, and retaliation against the violence... It’s the age old principle of sowing and reaping.
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