I've been going back and forth, trying to figure out what my first blog post should include. There are a lot of things I'm passionate about, but I've been dancing around, waiting for a sign from the heavens or a fotune cookie. Then I saw this video that's been making the rounds on the news and the lightening bolt struck:
If you haven't watched, I can give you the mini wiki-version. A Judge in Texas took a belt to his 16 year old daughter and it was caught on video. When I first read this rather benign description, I wasn't terribly concerned. I thought it was going to be another case of reasonable corporal punishment being exaggerated. But after getting a fly-on-the-wall view of this family, for a solid seven minutes, I can say with certainty that there is nothing 'reasonable' about this.
I knew within the first thirty seconds what I was about to see, and it had nothing to do with spoilers or clairvoyance. As soon as Judge Dad came into view with that belt, my fight-or-flight adrenaline response started to kick up. I recognized the posture and tone of a man about to release the monkey on his back. His stance, the way his shoulders squared and his jaw set; the guy had more tells than a really bad poker player and anyone that has experience with a 'rage-oholic' can pick up on this stuff. Sadly, I wasn't wrong.
What ensued was an act of brutality inflicted by a grown man against a defenseless girl in his care. Mom helped, even telling her daughter to get on her stomach and take it like a grown woman. Yeah, the underlying message there kind of made me sick. The whole thing made me sick. (Did I mention it was seven minutes?) This wasn't discipline; it was Rage.
Hard to watch? Not as much as I wish it was, to be honest. It was almost like watching a movie, when I already knew the ending. For a split second, I could almost feel the strikes on my own legs and back, and my stomach clenched up in a way that, even though it's been a good while, is still uncomfortably familiar. Daddy issues sometimes die slowly, painfully, and sometimes they resurrect when you least expect. I hate it when that happens. I'm hoping menopause will eventually cure me, so I give my ovaries the necessary pep talk every month:
"You've done well, ladies, now let's retire and hit the beach!" (So far, no answer.)
See, Judge Dad in the video could've been my own father, and I'd bet a lot of others out there know exactly what I mean. For some, it might be a spouse they see in this man. Too many have been forced into a position where they literally had to choke back their own fury to appease that of another, or tolerate degradation and pain because they were simply unable to fight back against a stronger opponent. How many of us have tried to become invisible, have walked as lightly as possible, moved as slowly as possible, because we were afraid that any disruption in the air could ignite The Rage?
But I'm not going to chatter on about cycles of abuse, becasue I simply don't have the head for physchological assessments of dysfunctional families; I'll leave that to Dr.Phil and his ilk. Besides, what impacted me the most wasn't the father, high on his own power and control, or the mom, standing by and supporting her man like some twisted cheerleader. It was the sixteen year old girl who placed a hidden camera in her room that had my full attentrion.
Now, I'm sure there are some conspiracy theorists out there that might say this girl set her parents up, that what we saw on this tape didn't give us the whole story. I can't say for certain that's not true, at least in part. But that doesn't matter to me. Despite the fear you know she posessed, the beatings she'd undoubtedly sufferred in the past, she still wasn't broken. She still retained a spark of personal strength and the knowledge of self-worth required to take a stand.
Would anyone like to take a guess at what would've happened if dad or mom had found the camera? That kind of courage demands respect, in my opinion. And she was only sixteen. I have a sixteen year old daughter, and half the time I can't even get her to leave the house if she's having a bad hair day. I can't imagine putting my hands on her in true violence, nor allowing another to do so. That buck stopped here, long ago.
As repulsed as I am by what I saw, as enraged as I am that long-dormant emotions were stirred up, I'm still feeling a sense of victory right now. That daughter and her father probably have a great deal in common, including overwhelming emotions. He used his to lash out at the weak, she used hers to stand up against the strong, even if only in secret and with the help of a carefully concealed video.
That young woman is now in her early twenties. Her mom has divorced Judge Dad and from the looks of things, they are both in a better place today. But I suspect her Rage is still there, even if it's masked underneath a heavy coating of forgiveness or understanding. I wonder how she will channel it in the future.
For me, I just wrote a book. And my young, female protagonist kicks some ass.