“Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much the way smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness and addictions.”
I am not a fan of physical abuse of children. In fact, I despise it and it makes me get a lump in my throat and get sick every time I even think about it.
You see the photos above. That is of a 4 year old in Minnesota that was killed from child abuse. After 15 reports were made. Nothing was done.
How do you think that boy’s life was? He was abused by his mother. Then he was moved to his father’s home where he was abused. None of the other children were beaten. He was. Repeatedly. Why does this kid deserve this while the kid down the street, same age, has a wonderful life? Why is it that one boy deserves that while the other doesn’t?
We will hear people say, “I never said that.” Well, then why do we allow it to continue throughout their lives? Why do we lock the survivors of abuse up in jails and asylums and have the people from the other side of the street treating them and judging their behavior?
This is what I am always saying. We all are co-responsible. I am not going to defend the act of child abuse ever. What I am going to do is tell you the way we are going about the problem is all wrong. We can take all the kids out of homes we want, it will not solve this problem.
The issue is the millions that do not die. They grow up, and are separated as the “lower class.” So you are born, you are beaten. You have no self-esteem or no skills except survival skills that no kid should have to learn. Then you may rob or steal to eat. You likely become a drug addict, you may be called “mentally ill.” Then you are locked up further and forced on medications that may likely not work. Just slow you down. Then we have staff at jails and mentally ill hospitals and group homes that were the kids down the street.
They do not understand how you can possibly just not “figure it out.” Why are you behaving like this? I hear staff call these patients that survive this stuff, “babies, manipulators, or control freaks.”
So why is it that these lives have to be this way? We keep it up, we like having this separation. We have to have a “lower class” in order for there to be an “upper class.” We then get people from the other side of the street and send them to a college where they do not learn to be free thinkers, in fact they learn how to repeat what other robots tell them to think.
I see it every single day. I read an article about this and I cry and I cry and I almost throw up. I get so angry I cannot take it.
That doesn’t help, attacking the abuser will do nothing. I work sometimes with patients who were abusers. It is a cycle. It is a cycle that much like poverty, we have the power to stop, but we are too busy, or too comfortable, or we just don’t care.
We must protect “our own.” When will we realize that “our own” is everyone. We all are connected. We cannot sit by and we have to change the cycle. The generational pain and the community lies have to stop. When this happens, there should be outrage. There is a little, but then it gains attention when a celebrity does it. So we have to use this as an opportunity and stop attacking and yelling and blaming. I would love to do that. It just will do no good. So I will not do that.
Now Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice because they are celebrities have brought it to light. We can hate all we want, but that will never solve the problem, only perpetuate the very thing it is against.
So what do we do?
This is about how we can stop this cycle of this Frankenstein Society.
I can tell you right now that in 20 years of working in the mental health and addiction field, I believe I have read about 100,000 patients charts. I took about 2 days to estimate that number. It is a pretty accurate number.
Not one time has there ever been a chart that I have read that did not include some sort of childhood neglect, abuse, or trauma. NOT ONCE. In over 100 thousand charts.
The key to mental health and addiction treatment being better in the future is something called “trauma informed care.” In 100 years they will be talking about how this changed the mental health and addiction treatment much like diabetes with insulin.
It is treating every patient that walks through the door as if they have been through a trauma. You treat the patient different if you consider the fact they have been through a trauma than if you treat them based on the behavior they are displaying.
The statistics say about 70 to 80 percent have been through a trauma, I believe that is not correct. I am sure it is 100 percent. The thing is when you go through a trauma at an early age the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory, shuts down.
The amygdale which is in control of the startle response and hyper vigilance is increased. So your brain does not remember the trauma, however, the body and stress response remembers the trauma, it is to keep you alert to danger, and your brain does not even remember the event.
So I am certain it is 100 percent of those with mental health /addition issues have been in a trauma and all of them should be treated this way. 100,000 charts, now some only briefly mentioned it, but after talking to the patients, it is 100% of those charts.
That’s not some study that is a real life number.
Now I want to tell a story of 2 lives and how this happens, then get to the solution. This is a true story.
1st is a young lady about 20 years old. She has a low IQ and is considered Developmentally Delayed at birth. She is born to a mother that has substance abuse issues and this may have contributed to her being born with this disability. Her name is Marley.
Then we have Mr. Olson, he is born about 30 years before Marley. Mr. Olson is raised in an environment with parents who have drinking issues, but they consider it normal to not talk about feelings. You are to “suck it up.”
If you have emotions in this family you are told to shut up, be quiet and you are hit and scolded and put in a room for the night. This Mr. Olson, when he was a child, he was very emotional, he was one who was a truth seeker. He speaks up, he yells, he takes his whooping’s and eventually he decides that his parents are right, something is wrong with him. HE starts hiding his true self and being the tough guy rebel as his false self. The false self is usually direct opposite of who you really are. He is sensitive, so he becomes the bad guy punisher bully.
Then back to the young Marley. Her mom cannot take her behaviors or the fact that she has a disability, she does not understand this. When Marley has behaviors that are not like the normal kids, she is hit and beaten seriously. All this time, she does not understand, she is a young lady who is lower functioning than others and is now being hit and beaten and she has no idea what is going on. She shuts down, she is lower functioning so she is more impulsive and aggressive now and reacts strongly to thing. She reacts because her brain and body has been hyper activated by the abuse.
Because she is now silent, she is a prime target for abuse. Her biological dad sexually abuses her and rapes her almost every night.
She is now silent about this, she is developmentally delayed and silent because she is afraid. So she does not know any better, she believes this is normal. So the physical and sexual abuse goes on until she is 12. Her brain is hyper activated and her startle response is high. Her impulsivity is high.
Mr. Olson is growing up, around ages 8, 9, and 10 he reacts, he starts to act out in school, and is always getting in fights. Then he gets acceptance. His world has given him the mask he is to wear if he wants love. He is acting out his shame and fear, He comes home and is beaten more. He acts up by beating kids at school and finding kids to pick on and he seeks them out and goes after them. That is what you see the kid’s and even adults doing, the body acts out what the brain cannot comprehend or make sense of. So in both these cases the acting out behaviors are what is judged, not the underlying issue. We decide to just judge the behavior.
In both cases, it would take 1 teacher, 1 social worker, of 1 stranger to notice this and speak up, but no one does. So the story continues for both.
When Mr. Olson was a child and bullying these kids, it is the only time he has control and so he hurts people. This is his world. His true self is shut down, He turns 18 and goes into the military He has no choice, everyone has told him he is a dummy his whole life and he will never amount to anything anyways. He believes this smokes, drinks, bullies. He has become his parents.
However Mr. Olson is a smart, caring man on the inside. That is now blocked but what was created by his parents and society. He is a sort of Frankenstein. He has become what is acceptable to his world.
He goes to the military, mouths off, and is kicked out after a while. He goes to rehab and treatment multiple times as he was forced for being this aggressive kid. His family laughs at him tells him he is just a wus. He believes it does what he has to get through it.
Young Marley is taken from her parents finally at age 12 or 13. She is in foster care and group home ages 13-18. She now has been taken away from her mother. The only home she has ever known. This is confusing and more trauma for her. She hurts herself, cuts herself, and explodes on people. She hits staff and foster parents. She acts up impulsively. Everyone that approaches her feels like she is just a “bad kid,” an asshole that needs to grow up. “She knows better.” Is what I have heard people say about her.
Really? She knows better? Has anyone ever looked beyond the behaviors and talked to her? Has anyone every showed her the correct way to act? SO we see the behaviors, judge her by them without looking beyond. We expect that somewhere along the line she is supposed to just figure it out? When is she supposed to just figure out how she is to behave? Her or him? We created them both. Then we all are up in arms when they go too far or do not figure it out.
Everyone is afraid of her and no one wants to get to know her. So she gets hurt, then acts up which creates more distance between her and the world, and creates more depression. She gets attention when she acts up, but not when she is good. So if she acts up, it gets her some attention. She still is lonely and afraid and scared so she yells and acts up a lot and is pushed form home to home. This is a kid with an IQ below 80 and extensive trauma. We are adding more trauma with every move and expecting her to just figure out how to behave.
She is labeled as trouble, explosive, violent and impulsive, which can be true. She is also a kind loving and caring young lady. People get reports on her coming to their facility, they read this. They are missing the important acts that create the behavior. It causes staff to act as if she is this bad human. This is what trauma informed care changes, it requires you look beyond this behavior. Or beyond the mask.
Mr. Olson, after the troubles, he finally gets married and gets a job. It is a type of security job at a prison, someone who monitors people and writes down how they are doing. He likes it and he gets acceptance for being a big bully and strong. He can keep things in order. He is actually very smart and sensitive. When no one is watching he is kind to the patients and they love him.
His reputation is that of a bully tough guy who prevents the patients from acting up. That is who he lets people see. When people are watching he is the tough guy. Who he truly is, is not acceptable to people in his mind. He has been told this his whole life and he has gained acceptance being the tough guy and the bully.
Now young Marley at age 23 destroys property and assaults staff that did not like her behavior and now she is in a jail. Mr. Olson happens to be working at the same jail, now 53 years old and a veteran staff member.
They form some kind of bond, they goof of and like each other very much. They are laughing and teasing a lot of the time, Sometimes Marley doesn’t understand but she likes him for the most part.
However tat times when she acts up he bullies her and she does not understand. SO in response she yells more and more. They both will yell at each other. However it is not their true selves mad at each other. Their souls get along, they each have this Frankenstein personality created by us, yes every single one of us. Their false selves do not like each other.
One day, she is told bad news, and she does not understand it so she acts up, yelling and screaming at everyone. People are trying to talk her down so she does not start hitting people or throwing coffee on people like she does.
In comes Mr. Olson, he sees all the people that are trying to calm her down and she won’t, he wants to be the hero and accepted. There is a big audience.
He has his audience, he has his history, who he is supposed to be. He screams and yells at her, she yells back.
Everyone clears out she leaves the room. He takes her by the leg and throws her on the ground hard and hurts her bad. It is caught on camera. What we all see on camera is this man, taking this 23 year old girl, and physically assaulting her. This is what we see.
Now we have MR Olson has abused a Developmentally Delayed 23 year old girl. She had bruises and she does not understand. She is scared. Who she is always gets beat.
Mr. Olson is seen on camera, he lost his job. The staff blame her and the people that fired Mr. Olson. Mr. Olson was actually very good at his job and loved by staff. He is now gone, he has no job, and his family has lost his financial support.
He learned this is how you treat people and this has been reinforced and swept under the rug his whole life. No one ever took time to educate or talk to him about this when he did this before it was ignored. It is accepted by many. So this is more than his fault. He has done this before and every single time it was swept under the rug, that person that did nothing was contributing to pain. People were afraid to talk to him about it, so they contributed to this. Everyone who saw his behaviors and allowed it, looked away, it is all on them that he now has been labeled as an abuser.
This is a typical abuse situation.
We like to get on one of their sides and attack the other one. You will hear the attacks on him and some people with attacks on her. The people attacking are judging a situation that they know nothing about. They are continuing the cycle. How does attacking either one of these people help change the situation?
Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, any one of these situations. I can tell you they grew up like this. This has been acceptable and swept under the rug their whole lives. They are paid to be violent and taken out of the bad neighborhoods and told to bang into each other and be violent. Then they are good so their behavior off the field is swept under the rug, and ignored. Until we have video. Now they are attacked for something that has always been allowed and no one has ever educated them about. Now the people who are responsible for creating the monster Frankenstein, they all run away or they want Frankenstein to be killed. They are usually so adamantly against it because they are trying to cover up their guilt. Any person who is adamantly against something is usually covering something up. Like the senator against child abuse that was found to be a child abuser. Or the Idaho congressman who was adamantly against being gay who was found in an airport soliciting gay sex. The anger against something like this is covering up some sort of guilt.
When you attack one side, either Mr. Olson or Marley, you are no better and you are not helping the situation. How does that help? Even if you are telling the truth, it is your truth. It is not going to get anyone to change. So what is your intention? Is it to create change? Because violence in acting or in verbal aggression is not going to change anyone’s behavior.
The answer is to stop yelling and fighting and blaming and start educating.
If Mr. Peterson is attacked and yelled at that is fine, but is taking his money, locking him up, keeping him from his child going to help? How? If he is a perpetual abuser then ok. However to join in the witch hunt is not helping the situation. What we have here is generational pain and dysfunction. It takes 5 generations to break the cycle. Here we have an opportunity to help a family that has generations of abuse and dysfunction, and instead of that, we are attacking. This will create more isolation, isolation creates secrecy, and secrecy creates shame and more dysfunction.
The other option would be to look behind this issue, educate both sides, and have Mr. Peterson start a charity for abused kids. We can use this horrible moment to flip the script and end the cycle of dysfunction.
His child would benefit from his father learning how to discipline him, not by punishing him.
If this education happens to a person and they continue to abuse, then we have a different story.
Mr. Olson was violent with patients before and no one said anything.
In the case with Mr. Olson and Marley case. You see, it is not so black and white.
We are all co responsible for this. The taking sides and attacking only creates more pain.
That is why I say every action matters. If you see something, speak up, and do it in a way that people will listen, if you yell and scream, then your message is lost.
You could have the cure to world hunger but if you present it the wrong way it is lost.
We must stop the hate. Start to educate with love, that’s the only way.
Yelling and attacking does not create change. You know what helps, allowing people to be their true selves and encouraging that and encouraging love every single chance you get.
I do have to say, things are changing, there are great providers out there. If there wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here, We need to bring more out, and have them lead the profession, not leave it.
If your intention is love, you can speak from the truth. Then you can create change.
As Martin Luther King Jr said,
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
Begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
But you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
But you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
Adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
Only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Video Below from Brian Francis.
We have added a YouTube channel. Cortland Pfeffer (takingthemaskoff) and a Facebook page. Taking the MASK OFF.
I have also added another contributing editor, Brian Francis. He is in the field and has been a patient as well. He has come up with much of the titles, and has talents that I do not have. He will write part 2 of this series.
I think we will be looking for more partners soon. Everyone has different talents and can contribute to this fight.
We may be adding more partners soon. I appreciate all the comments and love I have received here. It not only has helped my recovery, but my interactions with patients. You have all been a gift. That is why I want to make this better.