Friday, June 22, 2018

Are you from a bad or a good family?

Isn’t the concept of good and bad families just the most ridiculous thing you have ever heard of?

When some people talk of ‘good’ families, they’re not referring to members of that family treating each other, and others, with kindness and empathy. They’re referring to living in the ‘right’ neighbourhood, being white, having money, having a formal education; though if you have enough money, they might make allowances for you about the education part.

Being from a ‘bad’ family means living in a financially poor area in the ‘wrong’ neighbourhood, where most people who aren’t white live, and there is usually addiction, violence and abuse in the home. Rather than these things being seen as signs of unresolved trauma, they are viewed as badness, laziness, good for nothingness and maybe most of all, a sense of they being inferior to 'good' families.

How many times have you heard someone, usually a man having committed a sexual crime, getting off scot free for being from a ‘good family’ and being a so-called upstanding member of society? Are we joking? Why on earth is that taken into account in a court of law? He has committed a crime and as the saying goes, he must do the time. Actions have consequences, it isn’t about punishing someone, because as we know, that doesn’t work. No one can be rehabilitated if they or we don’t hold them accountable for their actions.

If you’re sexually abused by your father and your mother is complicit in that abuse and therefore it continues, you are utterly and totally betrayed. Your childhood is gone. To add insult to injury, much of society judges you for having a father and mother who not only didn’t love you, but abused you. But your parents’ actions and behaviour say absolutely nothing about the person you are. Talk about isolation. When you grow up, maybe you have to make the choice to cut contact with your parents for your own sanity and maybe even not see your extended family because there is collusion and secrecy. A double whammy if ever there was one. We, as a society can do so much better by people who have been hurt so terribly.

As Oprah said recently when she reported on the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, we should be asking “What happened to you?”, not, “What’s wrong with you?”. The awful thing is, most people don’t even have the courage to ask “What’s wrong with you?” straight to your face, they’ll act it out in the most unkind ways instead.

The truth is, people who have been traumatised at the hands of their caregivers are often shamed for the very abuse they have had to suffer. They already feel bad because a child will never ever blame their parent because they need them to survive. Children already feel at fault and responsible for the abuse, and society, instead of showing compassion and understanding, heaps more shame upon them by saying that they came from a ‘bad’ family, not a traumatised family.

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