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An Abusive Family in the News: A Familiar Cast of Characters

» Mental Health Library » Disorders & Conditions » Child Abuse » Featured Article

By Jill Rosen, MA, MFT

Jill Rosen, MA, MFTA federal judge is secretly taped berating and savagely beating his 16-year-old daughter with a belt while his wife chimes in, aids and abets.  The video was posted six years later by his daughter, capturing the attention of the nation.

The cast of characters is familiar to most abusive families.  The abuser, when confronted, says he "did nothing wrong," justifying his actions as "disciplining his child;" trivializing the beating as a "spanking" that "wasn't as bad as it looked." His wife blames her participation on "brain washing" rather than acknowledging that her wish to stay in her husband's good graces trumped motherly instincts to protect her child.  The victim knew what was happening was wrong, but felt powerless to do anything about it as long as she lived at home.

This video is in the news and there are commentators on the internet.  Those who let their opinions be known fall into two camps: one group vilifies the victim and condones what they see as a parental right; others are horrified by what they see as sadistic and vilify the parents.  The father lashes his daughter seventeen times.  One can imagine his parent taught him how to express anger violently.  The mother is heard shouting to her child to "take it."    One can imagine that she learned to "take it" as a child.  The daughter cries out in pain and begs them to stop. They don't.

Whether emotional, physical or sexual, mild or severe, excessive or neglectful, child abuse, often fueled by alcohol, takes a terrible toll.  Marks are left on innocent psyches.  Those raised in abusive or alcoholic families can experience depression, anxiety, panic attacks and poor self-esteem.  Problems arise in relationships as trust of a loved one becomes an issue.  Many find relationships that replicate what they know, finding an abuser because it feels right to them or finding a submissive mate so they can pass on what was done to them.  The children of abusers also fall into two camps: those who feel the punishment was justified and those who know it was wrong. Group one will pass on the abuse to their children. Group two has a chance of doing it differently.

It must have taken courage for the judge's daughter to post the video of her father beating her.  We can hope that, perhaps, an abuser or two who views the tape will see themselves, become enlightened, and change the way they treat their children.  We can hope that this video will dredge up memories for victims, memories that motivate them to get help for their grief.

About the Author...

Jill Rosen, MFT, is a general practitioner who specializes in treating Adult Children Of Alcoholics and Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. In private practice for over 25 years, she maintains an office in West Los Angeles.

Last Update: 3/23/2012

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