Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Month: July 2010 (page 1 of 7)

I get an inkling of Richard’s own abuse of his children

I am distressed and ashamed that I once looked to Richard as a source of childrearing advice, because he had three and I only had one.  At the time, maybe 2006, I only knew him online and on the phone, and thought he was a godly man–despite his occasional cussing rages against the atheists online.

When I said I was having trouble getting my toddler to stop hitting and such, without resorting to spanking, which I felt was abusive, he wrote that spanking was not child abuse.  He described his own system of three spanks all at once, which his own father did to him.

I listened and followed his advice for a few years after that, but spanking made no change in my son’s behavior.  Taking away privileges and toys was far more effective.

Also, when Richard lived with us, before Tracy moved in, he counseled me to spank harder because my son wasn’t taking it seriously, just laughing at us.  So I tried, but just didn’t have the upper body strength to spank as hard as he said I should.

Here I was, so caught up in this man’s ability to persuade people into anything, that I abandoned my conviction to never spank, convinced my husband to spank as well, and even tried to spank hard enough to hurt, out of the belief that only hurting my child would get him to behave.

It’s horrible to remember this now, to wonder how I was so deluded by someone whose parenting I had never even seen.

The foolishness of it all!  Because of this, my husband and I both did things we now regret, things that never would’ve happened had I not been persuaded by this person I barely knew, to change my mind about spanking.  My husband wouldn’t spank at all for a period of time because of what he found himself doing.

And no matter which of us spanked, it did no good.  As a toddler, my son laughed at it; as he got older, he hated the spankings but still did the naughty behavior.  Because of a recent study that proclaimed no harmful effects from one short, quick spank that barely even causes pain, I don’t condemn that.

But my husband and I have both moved away from spanking, period.  There are far too many studies confirming that spanking is harmful.

All this could have been avoided if I had not been exasperated from trying to figure out how to control a wild toddler without spanking, and if I had not listened to the childrearing advice of a person I had never even met.

Now I know some of what happens in his own house.  Now I know that he’s been convicted (as of 10/3/11) of deliberately choking one of his children.  And I regret and repent of ever listening to his advice on anything.

This is, after all, the same person who told me after Christmas 2008 that he and his wife yelling at each other was somehow “helping” his marriage, that if my husband started yelling I shouldn’t get upset, that men need to “vent.”

The same one who started talking as if angry rages against children or wives was somehow okay, and astonished me, because wasn’t this the same guy reading the works of Orthodox mystics, who wrote about the sins of rage (Philokalia and The Ladder of Divine Ascent)?

Wasn’t this the same guy who told me in 2007 that he was trying to suppress his angry side, not argue back when his wife picked fights, not be that person who beat another kid to a bloody pulp in his teens?

Now he was endorsing angry outbursts?  (My mother told me, “I would suggest not e-mailing your friend, he does not sound like a good person to talk to for advice.”)

I had written to him an e-mail about something that had happened that frightened me.  I will not go into more detail about what happened or who was involved.  But he did not respond, so I called him.  In that phone call, he told me all sorts of things that shocked and disturbed me:

That he didn’t respond because he was holding his tongue–He did not think the person involved did anything wrong, even though it was verbal abuse!  That he and his wife will yell at each other and their marriage is better for it.

That men need to vent and I should allow my husband to scream at me so he doesn’t have a stroke.  (I replied, “But I don’t appreciate being spoken to in that manner.”)

That I should allow him to scream at my child.  That he has friends who were not screamed at, and now they do not respect women; that the ones who were screamed at, respect women.

From the situation I described to him, it was very clear that I referred to SCREAMING, something that frightened me and not just a child, an out-of-control person, NOT firm tones or even yelling.

This conversation–and the way he gets you to believe whatever he says–so disturbed me that I spent the evening searching the Net for what I knew must exist: Orthodox writings countering everything he said, and saying that we must fight the passions (ie, anger).  I wrote to him,

I guess we’re going to have to declare a moratorium on topics such as this one.

It’s really disappointing.  I thought you said you were trying to control this passion, and you know we’re supposed to control it, not give into it, not just for our own salvation but for the well-being of everyone else–and it frightens me that you would think that not only is it okay to yell/scream at a spouse, you think [a certain person] should do MORE of it.

Screaming may be appropriate if your child is about to fall off a roof, out of a window or run into traffic, but not at other times.  There are things which you can just chalk up to differences of opinion, and normally I do that with you, but I just can’t with this one.  It just isn’t right.

BTW, I thought I’d better make clear that I’m not going to pull a Todd on you or anything like that.  I value my friendships, especially since it’s so hard for me to make and keep them.

But I do agree that feelings should be put out on the table (in a healthy, productive way), not kept inside, so I feel you should know where I stand on this issue.

But his reply was strangely dismissive of my concerns, and full of denial of the destructive nature of screaming at anyone (edited below only for certain parts which would reveal who was involved in the above incident).

I thought about summarizing and not posting this e-mail, especially since it makes the section quite long, but figured it was best to let him speak for himself, since I quoted my own e-mails.

Watch gaslighting in action–and an abusive parent justifying what he does.  My comments are in purple brackets:

There is a difference between constructive yelling and destructive yelling. I am controlling my passions for destructive outbursts versus trying to ring in a certain fear my girls need to understand.

The more they pay attention and stop the out of control behavior, the less they get chastised.  [justifying verbal abuse by blaming it on the kids, justifying using fear to control kids]

Why should it frighten you that I believe in discipline, even if it comes with a harsh tone when necessary? [Obviously you didn’t read what I wrote, because “frightening” referred to screaming/yelling at one’s spouse.] 

Its not like I am running around the house at the top of my voice at every second constantly riding their every action.

There is a time and place for when it is called upon for us to raise our tone to put our children into quick action so they can listen, be more attentive and not in control of the situation. We should never have to tell our children twice to do something we ask of them once and sometimes they learn that lesson with a harsh tone.

[Um—no!  This sounds like the destructive “discipline” I’ve found described on extremely conservative religious sites which promote child abuse to control children, which promote instilling fear to get a child to jump to your commands the first time, and teaching “lessons” with a “harsh tone.”  For a critique of such parenting, see here.]

And there was a ton of sarcasm about yelling at a spouse.  [Wait, what?  Where did he find sarcasm?  Does he even know what that word means?] 

In fact I do not remember that was even brought up.  [Um, what?  Gaslighting me again?]  

Tracy does put me into my place sometimes but not in a harsh tone. [Liar!  I’ve WITNESSED her screaming and yelling at you many times!  Here is my account of her rage episode against you.  My husband is a witness of it.  Right after I witnessed her yelling and screaming against you, you said she was being “nice” to you.  And you yourself complained of this many times, including March 2009!  I have it in writing!] 

I also have to call her when she is going too far with her opinions on some issues, asking if she really feels they are right or justified. I think that the little of the conversation which remotely was discussed about that was more playful with my wife commenting on her as a burden on my broken back, but you may not have heard that on your end of the phone. It was more amusing than anything.

[NO!  That is NOT how the conversation went!  You are gaslighting me!  You told me you yell at each other!]

As for suggesting Jeff to yell more, that is not what I said. I suggested letting him be able to loosen up before he explodes. This translates into allowing him to speak his mind more and maybe tighten up his reins on your son when your son needs it, mostly so you do not have to deal with…waiting til the last second of counting with him so he will get up and do what you requested him to do more than once.

[He’s 4 years old and still learning what happens when you get done counting.  Don’t diss the counting method: It works!  You just need to have patience, and don’t use fear to control the child.]

….Jeff seems to get frustrated at times and if he holds it in he is going to explode someday, but these are only my observations. When I have witnessed these similar situations it starts with high blood pressure and eventually turns into a heart attack.

[No, you said I should let him scream at my son, yell at me…. He already would vent his frustrations, and didn’t just “hold it in,” so I don’t know where Richard got that from.  I probably should’ve started recording our conversations so Richard couldn’t do this to me!  My ex Shawn pulled the same crap with me, telling me something then saying he never said it.]

Quelling the passions… Yes I have been quelling my anger issues. I am nowhere near as angry as I have been and I am still undergoing that burden.

Telling my kids to cut it out or they will get in trouble when they are supposed to be cleaning up and not playing is not anger, its making them pay attention to the words I am saying and to adhere to them.

So its said loud. This is not something I need to quell; its called raising my children to respect and obey my wishes. If I never said anything or tried to be calm and peaceful with all three of my girls, two out of my three would be walking all over me daily and I would be living in a worse disaster area than I do already.

[I NEVER objected to a parent using firm tones to get a child to listen.  I objected to SCREAMING at a child.  He said repeatedly that SCREAMING at a child is not only okay but necessary.  A firm tone is proper discipline.  SCREAMING is ABUSE!  He told me over the phone that the situation that frightened me, which was a  screaming fit, was perfectly fine!]

And please take no offense to any of this. It should not disappoint you nor should I be disappointed. We grew up in different houses and we witnessed certain things work and certain things which probably put us in fear on how we see how to raise a child, or three, soon four… pray for me! :O

Also, his claims in this e-mail of temperance need to be taken with a grain of salt because he was later convicted of choking one of his children in September 2010.

People who are in control of themselves, who never abuse, do not suddenly snap one day and choke a 9-year-old child.

I didn’t see it so much, but Jeff witnessed him yelling and screaming at the kids while gaming with him, and Jeff–who also has trouble controlling his temper at times–found it excessive.  Jeff says that yelling like this does not work to get kids to listen to you.

Also, as I describe later, on June 10, 2010, he posted on Facebook for suggestions on how to get the kids to clean without “beating them into bloody submission” which only gets them flinching when he raises a hand and gets them working far less than they already were.

At the time, I thought he was just joking with hyperbole.  Now, I’m not so sure.  Jeff said when I mentioned this post to him, “So: he’s finally learning…?  Yelling at them just makes things worse, and should only be a last resort.”

Also, as I described earlier, Richard had admitted to putting the kids in the closet once (and planning to do it again), and said his dad abused him, he deserved it, and it made him a better person.

To quote my e-mails to my mother, the “male friend” being Richard, and note that by “screaming” I mean screeching and raging, not “raising your voice”:

A male friend of mine says…that men need to vent, that if Jeff doesn’t scream at [my son] on occasion then [my son] will grow up into someone who doesn’t respect his mother and gets put in jail, etc.

But of course, this friend of mine is a guy who’s had a fierce temper of his own, and his wife seems very capable of standing up to anything and has a fierce temper herself, so maybe he doesn’t realize what it’s like for more sensitive females to deal with this.  I don’t think this kind of behavior is right…

I said on the phone today that I seem to have misunderstood what my guy friend told me.  Well, I partially misunderstood.

I could’ve sworn he was telling me that it’s okay for wives and husbands to yell at each other as a means of “getting things out,” that he and his wife do things that way and are much happier for it.

I could’ve sworn he was saying that I should let Jeff yell at me more often to “vent” or he’ll have a stroke.

But he insists that’s not what he said, that he didn’t say Jeff should yell at me more often, that he was just talking about disciplining children.

I’m not sure what to make of this, because what he claims to have said, and what I remember him saying, are entirely different things.

I distinctly remember him saying that he and his wife would yell at each other, that it got things out in the open, and their marriage was better for it.  If that’s not what he said, then why was I so appalled as he said it?

When he said I should let Jeff yell, we were NOT talking about children at the time, but marriage, so that’s why I said, “I don’t appreciate being spoken to in that manner” (i.e., my husband yelling at me).  If we were talking about children, I would not have said that!

He also greatly downplayed what he said about Jeff needing to yell, whoever it was at.

Here is where he and I part ways, however.  He has a very authoritarian view of disciplining children, and seems to think we’re too light on [my son].

I want to minimize the yelling; he thinks we should do more of it.  He’s always telling me things like, “[Your son] rules the roost.”

But no, we’re teaching [our son] that WE rule the roost, not him, and when he disobeys, there are consequences.  When a spank is threatened, he holds his butt because he knows what’s coming.

But I don’t agree with my friend that good discipline means we have to yell all the time and force things.

I agreed with him that screaming may be appropriate if safety is at stake: a child is on a roof, about to fall through a window, running into traffic, reaching for an outlet.

But I don’t agree that it’s right to scream at a child for being disobedient.  I sure don’t remember being screamed at as a child.  Yelled at on occasion, yes, but not screamed at.

Here in this e-mail, you see an example of Richard criticizing us for not being harsh enough with our child.  You see the all-or-nothing attitude, that if you’re not screaming at your kids, then you’re letting them run wild.

There’s a huge middle ground in there, where many parents are able to raise kind, respectful children–without screaming, slapping or even spanking.  Every year, my son’s teachers tell us how well-behaved he is, how nice to the other children, even befriending ones who others push aside.

Also, even as long ago as the 50s, people were moving past the idea that kids should fear you and do things the first time you ask–OR ELSE:

In 2013, I saw an episode of Donna Reed in which the dad told Jeff Stone he should do what he’s told the first time he’s told.  And Jeff said, The kids I know who do that, are afraid of their parents; do you really want that?

In another episode, the dad tells Jeff that when he was a kid, his dad would have taken a razor strap to him; he obviously does not want to raise Jeff that way.

In Dobie Gillis, we soon learn that the dad was raised with more anger and violence, but Dobie’s mother refused to allow Dobie to be raised like that.

So if, as long ago as the 50s, people looked on razor straps, violence and screaming as barbaric, why should we of the 21st century even consider such things “good parenting”?  Especially now that studies show such parenting does more harm than good?

Richard criticized Jeff for not wanting to make our son fear him!  Back in January 2008, he said with concern (as if Jeff were making a terrible mistake–ie, tsk tsk), maybe he was afraid of his dad and didn’t want our son to feel the same.  What, do you really think fear is any way to raise a child?

And despite Richard’s claims that his kids did what he wanted the first time he said so, how can that be when they kept misbehaving and he kept yelling?  If that were true, then after a short time, they should have learned to obey without being screamed at. 

And why did he post on Facebook in 2010 asking for ways to get the kids to clean when asked, if putting fear into children works so well?

Why is it so much easier to get my own son to clean, without making him fear us?  Why do his teachers–year after year after year–tell us how well-behaved and nice he is?

If screaming and putting fear into children is so effective, then why did you choke your daughter for not listening to you, Richard?

Fear is no way to raise a child–unless you don’t mind that your child will not love or respect you, but only fear and hate you.  You want that child to behave because she loves you and wants to please you and do what’s right, not because she fears you, because the moment you’re gone, she’ll do it again.

It’s the same principle for religion: If you want truly righteous believers, they need to obey out of love for God, not because they fear Hell.  As soon as the threat is gone, the “believers,” or children, will rebel.  Just look at all the kids who sneak out of the house to party, or who go off to college and start engaging in all sorts of self-destructive behavior.

My parents weren’t perfect, and did yell, did use a paddle when I was little (because it was the 70s and this was still considered okay).  But they did not scream, did not belittle, did not slap, got furious with my brother for hitting my head one day. 

And I did not rebel as a teenager, not for fear of punishment, but because it was wrong.  The “worst” I did was to carry a Walkman in my backpack, to use when walking to/from school.  (You weren’t supposed to have a Walkman at school.)

In college, the “worst” I did was sexual behavior with a couple of guys I loved–no drinking, no weed, no promiscuity.  Not for fear of punishment, but because I wanted to do the right thing and please God.

An old school friend has borderline personality disorder, but she is not narcissistic, and does not use it as an excuse to bully children.  On the contrary, she is trained in child care, and a fierce advocate against any form of intimidation or abuse of children.  She knows how to get a child to listen to you and obey because the child wants to.  She has already helped raise a few children to adulthood–and from what I hear, they have turned out well.

I remember being a kid: Kids start to tune you out if you lose control and scream at them all the time.  They don’t respect screamers and hitters: They respect people who are firm but stay in control, who show them love rather than violence in discipline, and they want to listen to them.

Richard could really benefit from a few episodes of Supernanny.  Also, here is a much more gracious view of getting kids to obey you the first time.  Another perspective:

Wanting to avoid punishment, we learned to swallow our emotions and just obey, plastering on a smile or at the very least making sure to avoid frowning. But that didn’t mean we didn’t still feel or rage inside.

Even though my parents believed they had broken each of our wills, I think what they had really done is made us so frightened of the consequences of disobeying that we negotiated our circumstances as best we could using what coping mechanisms we had available.

A child raised on the Pearl’s method may be instantly obedient and appear outwardly cheerful, but that tells nothing about what is actually going on inside the child.

…This is actually one thing I’ve seen Christian bloggers who oppose the Pearls’ child training teachings point to as a warning sign. Michael is talking primarily about breaking children and turning them into mindless obedient robots, not about teaching children to love Jesus and love their neighbors. –Libby Anne, Definitional Discussions and Pavlov’s Dog

Here’s a good description of why screaming does not work:

Tone– This is probably one the most important and most overlooked skill. Keeping the right tone with your child is paramount to disciplining successfully. Too light of a tone just tells your kids that you are a pushover. That what you say is not what you mean, or that your authority is weak at best.

Too strong of a tone is either disciplining by fear, which will not work in the long run, or it’s yelling to relieve your own tension, which does not help to scale back the tension. Especially as your children hit the teenage years.

Want a rebellious teenager? Using fear, and only fear, as your primary discipline technique will grant that request very quickly. Yelling in reaction to your own anger or frustration will only result in a daily screaming match.

Your tone should be authoritative. It should tell them that you are the parent, and they will do as you say. It should not be light and airy, or filled with pleas to behave.

Nor should it be screaming. Both of these tones says that you have no control in the situation. A controlled and serious voice resonates with children more than yelling or pleas. –Kerry Chafin, Why Your Discipline May Not be Working

There are several ways we can “make” children behave. One is by using force. Another is by using fear. Still another is by punishment. Unfortunately, these three methods imply that the caregiver is superior and should overpower the child.

Rather than leading to a child with inner control, they make the child angry, resentful, fearful and dependent upon force.

There is another way to discipline children. Though it may not appear to get the immediate results we might like, it is safer, more natural and humanistic.

It is based on the assumption that children are by nature good, fair, and honest and ultimately capable of responding to that which is good, fair and honest within us.

This method is to treat the child with respect. It is treating the child as if he is as important a human being as you are. It is treating him with the same respect with which you wish for him to treat others, you, and himself. –Katharine C. Kersey, How to Discipline Your Child

Fear and discipline only confuse the young child therefore; first look for the real world consequences.  When adults want to teach a child something, explain to them the reasoning in words that they can comprehend.

I have discussed a few ways adults can teach children how to learn and follow rules and do not want ignore the hundreds of other techniques.   However the purpose of this article is to discuss fear and discipline.

Scaring and hitting a child are two different behaviors, but they are both abusive and unnatural.  Remember frightened children will become the frightened adults who have great difficulty trusting others because they are in fear and waiting for the attack.

Do not use fear and discipline as a tool to get them to do what you want them to do because at this point you are being the bully, and severely damaging the ones we love.

This is the relationship between fear and discipline. Children will learn the lessons required to move into adulthood as long as we are there to offer our guidance. –Dr. Cheryl MacDonald, Does health psychology relate to fear and discipline?

Emotional abuse is a form of assault that is deliberate and manipulative and used as a method of control. The abuser uses intimidation, fear, guilt, and/or threats to frighten and belittle the victim.

…Parents or caregivers who emotionally abuse their children also use similar controlling tactics to gain power over the child.

Children who experience emotional abuse may feel that they are responsible for the behavior of their parents and that if only they were more polite, better students, or better children, then their parents would be more loving.

Abuse is often defined as any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear, humiliation, intimidation, guilt, coercion, or manipulation. —Emotional-abuse

The goal of effective discipline is to foster acceptable and appropriate behaviour in the child and to raise emotionally mature adults. A disciplined person is able to postpone pleasure, is considerate of the needs of others, is assertive without being aggressive or hostile, and can tolerate discomfort when necessary.

The foundation of effective discipline is respect. The child should be able to respect the parent’s authority and also the rights of others. Inconsistency in applying discipline will not help a child respect his or her parents.

Harsh discipline such as humiliation (verbal abuse, shouting, name-calling) will also make it hard for the child to respect and trust the parent. –Canadian Pediatric Society, Effective discipline for children

Also see:
Can slapping a toddler in the head be anything but unacceptable!?

Here, smacking on the head is called assault:
Husband slapped my daughter

Well I was there and I saw what you did, 
I saw it with my own two eyes 
So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been 
It’s all been a pack of lies 
–Phil Collins, “In the Air Tonight”

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

Early warning signs of Tracy’s abuse and volatility

Before I even met Tracy in person, I noted her immaturity and volatility on the Forum.  This is why I did not make moves to be friends with her off the Forum, like I did with Richard, exchanging e-mails and chatting with him online:

Several times, she flew into a verbal rage against somebody on the Forum who posted something she didn’t like.  One poster had left for a bit; I didn’t see what drove her away, but Tracy said she needed to “grow up.”

The poster, who was divorced now, came back, and said she was pregnant again (though she did plan to marry the father).  Instead of being kind like we other commenters, Tracy ripped into her for it.  I had nothing against Tracy, but thought that was unfair and uncalled-for.

Later on, I discovered it was even worse: Tracy ripped into this girl for doing the same thing she herself did.

Then there was the time she ranted on the Forum about her ex and called him a “stupid n***er.”

I was shocked that she said that word so freely (along with various other foul words), when my whole life I had been conditioned to believe (as we all have) that word is even worse than the f– word.  I’d grown used to occasional cuss words from Christians who were not Evangelicals, but her use of the n-word was disturbing.

Another time, I posted an article on the Catholic Church which had just come out, an article from the secular press which claimed the Catholic Church does not interpret the Bible strictly literally.

I thought it was great, because I was tired of dealing with literalism in Evangelicalism, how the earth had to be only several thousand years old because Adam and Eve were real people and evolutionary evidence was just wrong, etc.  Here was the biggest and one of the two most ancient churches saying the biblical account is not meant to be literal.

I forget what Richard posted, but Tracy surprised me: She commented vehemently about how terrible the Catholic Church is, how it’s against the truth, and various anti-Catholic things that I thought I left behind in Evangelicalism and Protestant Fundamentalism.  (At the time I had fled to the mainline, the liberal branch of the Presbyterian Church.)

It especially surprised me because Richard previously linked to an Orthodox theologian’s article; it said Orthodoxy does not view the Bible with the strict literalism of the Fundamentalists.

So even online I saw red flags, but chose to ignore them–especially since in those days we lived in different states, and I only interacted with her on the Forum.  Well, except for once: I pinged Richard in a chat program, and it was her, so we had a nice little talk.

After I met her in person, she would complain to Richard about a nurse or teacher or even our priest, saying how stupid or negligent they were.  Or, with the priest, vehemently saying she wasn’t going to listen to some old man and follow what he said.

I don’t like to assume that people are incompetent or malicious; doing your job properly is challenging for anybody.  I figured the nurse had different training/experiences.  I figured the teacher didn’t know there was a problem and wasn’t deliberately negligent.

As for the priest, he was right.  She was shockingly disrespectful in her words and tone.  He was a kind, decent, pleasant man who merely enforced a matter of official church procedure, which their previous priests had somehow neglected.  Even Richard was upset by how she spoke about the priest.

Throughout the time I knew her, it rankled whenever she accused someone of needing to “grow up”: She was much younger than Richard and me, yet I’ve known plenty of people, her age at the time (about 27), who are far more mature and even-tempered.

She reminded me of a girl I once clashed with on another forum, a 16-year-old who acted immature, made fun of people, took the most innocuous things as offensive, ridiculed and bullied and lied about people for imagined offenses, then claimed, “I AM mature!”

So even before things finally came to a head with Tracy, I had plenty of evidence that she was trouble, that she was volatile in general.  Normally, I don’t get close to people who are too volatile on forums.  I wouldn’t have gotten close to her at all, if not for Richard.

The more I saw, the more I felt that she was not at all the kind of woman I’d want for my presvytera.

Also, the more I found out about Richard, the less he seemed like a potential priest.  He was still the one who led me to the truth, but his status as my spiritual guru or mentor was cracking here and there–cracks which didn’t show right away, but eventually would split apart.

Among my concerns if Richard was ordained and she became some parish’s presvytera:

  • What would she do if she had trouble dealing with the parish board?
  • –or when her husband began doing confessions and counseling sessions for beautiful young women alone?
  • Would her vitriol attack the board, would her jealousy flare up?
  • And what kind of marriage counseling would he do if he could barely keep his own destructive passions (anger) in check, if he couldn’t get his own household under control, if he couldn’t deal with problems with friends without losing them one after another?
  • I feared he would give people terrible advice and break up marriages, or tell people child abuse is okay.

I had similar concerns when I heard she wanted to run for city council at some point.  She never did, thankfully.  But I feared she’d get into all sorts of fights and wars with the other council members, which only causes stalemates and nothing being done.

And God help anybody under her if she ever became a manager!  Based on how I’ve seen her behave with me and many others, I believe she would be the worst kind:

  • volatile,
  • cuts you down,
  • treats you like crap if you do something she doesn’t like,
  • takes everything you do as offensive,
  • uses threats to motivate.

Jeff’s boss (2009-2012) was exactly like her, and made Jeff miserable.  In fact, on the day of Tracy’s blowup at me, Jeff explained my plight to a co-worker: “My wife is dealing with the female version of our boss.”  The co-worker’s response: Oh, no.

This boss used threats to motivate, ignored the needs of the workers, and when he got some bug up his butt, he yelled and screamed at you with abusive, foul language: just like Tracy.

Rather than motivate, his “management” style led to mass exodus from the company, and a reputation so bad that unemployed engineers in the Great Recession refused to even interview with the company.

The female version of such a manager is worse, because women use psychological and emotional abuse, which wounds your spirit and is harder to prove.

Richard also talked about becoming a psychologist after he got his degree.  I wouldn’t want to go to a psychologist who just dismisses your concerns, struggles, and ideas of probable causes/sources of the problem, tells you to stop whining/being a victim and to push through it, and then keeps getting on your case for acting just like the learning disorder you suspect.

An effective psychologist or counselor would investigate these things with an open mind, then give you gentle suggestions to help deal with your problems, such as social tips, social scripts (such as what to do at a cocktail party), or how to make up for a lack of social intuition.

He wouldn’t scold you for not knowing these things in the first place, or allow his wife to punish you for not behaving the way she wants.

How on earth was I supposed to want to get close to Tracy with all this crap going on?  How could I be at “fault” for keeping her at a distance instead of doing everything she wanted me to do?

What person with a shred of decency would want to befriend a person they knew was like this, someone who constantly treats you like a naughty child who must be punished, no matter what you do or say?

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

Early 2010: I speak up about Tracy’s child abuse–and ponder reporting her to authorities

Very late December 2009 or very early January 2010 is when I saw Tracy smack the 3-year-old upside the head, which could’ve easily sent her flying into the TV, which was a short distance in front of the child.

Keep in mind this child was very small for her age, and toddlers are already small, their heads not fully formed, their brains still vulnerable. 

Even if the child does not fall on something or get a visible injury, smacking a child like that can give a kind of whiplash to the delicate brain as it whacks against the wall of the skull.

Shaking or hitting a child’s head or face is always dangerous. Young children cannot control the movement of their head as well as adults can.

Shaken baby syndrome (shaken baby–impact syndrome) is brain damage caused when a baby is shaken, slammed, or thrown against an object. –“Physical Abuse: Common Injuries in Children,” HealthLink BC

Help prevent shaken baby syndrome

  • Never shake a baby. Also, do not slap or hit a child of any age on the face or head. A child’s brain is very delicate. Shaking, slapping, or hitting a child can cause serious harm, even though it may not leave any obvious sign of injury. –Healthwise staff, Shaken Baby Syndrome: Home Treatment

But Tracy popped her child in the back of the head right in front of me one evening, so hard that the child’s tongue flew out.

!!!!!!!!!!!!

I sat in shock and disbelief.  I wonder if it showed on my face, if Tracy saw it–and if this is what renewed her campaign against me.

But she only has herself to blame.  Not me, and certainly not that poor child.  Sure the child was being naughty, but abuse is never the answer, never the fault of the child.

I think I wondered if I should call the police.  But when you’re a guest in someone’s home, and that someone already frightens you….

Afterwards, I spoke to Jeff at home about it, and discovered he didn’t see it happen even though he was in the room.  I went through a moral crisis over the next week or two.

I posted about it briefly on an Orthodox forum late on January 6, 2010, hoping somebody would help me with good advice.

Though I soon took it down again (in the wee hours of January 7) after a guy scolded me twice over: first, for “gossiping” if it wasn’t that hard, and second, for not calling the police if it was so hard a slap.

But another poster got upset with that guy, couldn’t believe he wrote what he did, and understood my predicament.  He understood this wasn’t about “gossip” but about badly needing advice about abusive friends.

He urged me to report Tracy to Social Services, even gave me a link to state CPS phone numbers and said I could do it anonymously.

But I hoped that somehow I could convince her this was wrong, without calling the police or CPS.

Those few weeks were so hard that I finally told Jeff the various abuses I had seen and that Richard had told me about, so he’d know where I was coming from.

He already knew some of them, because I told him at other times.  But now I showed him the e-mail and notes from March 22, 2009, the contents of which I never showed him before, keeping Richard’s confidence.  He finally realized just how bad things were in Richard’s house.

I asked Jeff, “How much more of this can I take?”  Because being friends with Tracy, and not calling CPS or the police about what I saw and what I knew, was working like acid on my conscience.

Jeff and I discussed whether we should report her to Social Services, but set it aside for the time.  I forget why; maybe we thought we could still influence them to stop the abuse.

Later in the year, after we ended the friendship, we set it aside again, in fear that Richard would take vengeance like he almost did with the apartment manager, whom he plotted to kill.  (I also didn’t tell Jeff the full details about that plot until July 2010.)

Shortly after the smacking incident, one of their friends, Chris, stopped over for a bit as we played D&D at Richard and Tracy’s house.

His own wife did some of the very same things Tracy did, but he apparently had no clue Tracy did them:

  1. Chris’ wife fought tooth and nail to keep him from seeing Richard, just as Tracy used to fight tooth and nail in early 2008 to keep Richard from coming over for ten minutes just to pick up stuff they left behind at our house.  (So you see it’s not just fearing affairs that gets people to act jealously).
  2. Chris’ wife went into rages and hit him.

Chris complained about latest developments: She left him again.  He saw her smack his son (from a previous marriage) on the back of the head, and he was very upset about that.  Chris said that smacking anywhere but on the butt or hand is abuse.

Tracy said, “Well, I smack [the 3-year-old] on the back of the head all the time!”

He looked startled, and she laughed and said, “I’m just kidding!”

To which my mind screamed, “You are not kidding!  I saw you!”

Then Richard joked about smacking kids on the back of the head, said the way he grew up it was normal.  He talked like they did this all the time and there was nothing wrong with it.

I cried vehemently, “No, no, no, no!”

To hear Richard joke about smacking kids and apparently condone it, disgusted me. 

But at least I finally had the chance to speak up about Tracy’s actions–and without broaching the subject myself.  Not only that, but Chris supported my views.

It was so Providential that I wrote back to the guy on the Orthodox forum.  I said that God seemed to have answered my prayer, and arranged circumstances so I could say something to Richard and Tracy.

We both rejoiced.  I hoped that everything was settled and I would not have to call CPS.

I made my feelings known another time as well: On February 8, 2010, Chris posted on his Facebook wall,

And some say that ‘waterboarding’ isn’t torture!
Daily Mail: U.S. Soldier waterboarded his own daughter, 4, because she couldn’t recite alphabet

I replied at 8:12pm,

Anyone who thinks the US should use torture of any kind, should read “Proved Innocent” (the story of Gerry Conlon). 😛

I wrote at 8:29pm,

And all for not knowing the alphabet. It’s like the parents who made their little girl eat half a bar of Irish Spring and ignored her near-fatal allergic reaction, just for saying a bad word. 😛

Screaming, belittling, hitting anything other than the butt (or maybe a quick hand slap), torture–all are child abuse and inexcusable.  😛

Richard’s reply is no longer available for me to quote exactly because he blocked me months later.  But I recall him writing, “Screaming is abuse?  Seriously?”

I replied the next day at 4:53pm,

There’s a big difference between yelling and screaming. I’m not talking about yelling at a kid who’s about to touch a hot stove or run into a street or who isn’t listening.

I’m talking about screaming, screeching, sounding like a demon….

There was no reply.

Um, screaming is not abuse?  Seriously?

It was absolutely appalling.  I used to think Richard was kind and gentle, with a big heart, like his friends kept saying about him.  But I was beginning to see an entirely different person, the wolf underneath the sheep’s clothing.

This post (and a refusal to get into his extremist politics) is probably why, a very short time afterwards, both Tracy and Richard started bullying me on Facebook and the friendship soon ended.

My mother and father never smacked me anywhere on my head.  When an older brother smacked me one day, my mother became furious with him and said to never do that.

My parents raised me in the days when you could still use a paddle, which I don’t condone nowadays, but I don’t remember them ever doing anything that was abusive, at least according to the standards of the 70s and early 80s.

They didn’t scream, didn’t use a belt, didn’t smack me or slap me on the head.  Of course I did naughty things from time to time, as all children do, and got yelled at, but I turned out fine without being abused by my parents.

If Richard told me the above stories of abuse, and Tracy did the above abuse right in front of me, so brazenly, as if bragging, as if to show no fear that I would report them–what else went on when I wasn’t looking, what was I never told?

What the heck were they thinking?  Why did they think they could do this without me ever reporting them to the authorities?

Why did they repeatedly do these things, yet Richard treated me like I didn’t know what I was talking about when I said this was child abuse and Tracy was abusing Richard?

Why did Richard tell me the things Tracy did, how she’d be mean to him over the phone for example, and why did Tracy demonstrate to me that the stories were true, yet they expected me to befriend Tracy?

Why did they think I’d want anything to do with a child abuser and husband beater?  Why did they think I’d ever want to open up to her?

8 Reasons People Don’t “Get” Emotional Abuse
Unnecessary Force is Emotional Abuse [no longer available on Web]

When I told these things to two friends who were in some way involved in Social Services in my state, both said Tracy and Richard sounded very abusive and I must report them for the sake of the children.  This was in July 2010 and February 2011.  I finally did in March 2011; the story is here.

What did they do when I wasn’t around?  What did Richard not tell me about?  I was to discover the answer in 2011.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

Left Behind: Apollyon Review–Part 5

 

Previous parts

On page 321, Rayford and his new friend “T” are talking about the insects.  Rayford says, “Be glad they’re on our side….[T]hey’re moonlighting for God for a while.”  WHAT?  Demons on God’s side?  Blasphemy!

On page 322, Buck tells a suffering, stung Chaim that he’s in this position because of pride, that that’s the reason why he (a Jew, by the way) rejected the evidence of Jesus being the Messiah.  He says,

[Y]ou have ignored everything Tsion has told you about how to connect with God.  You have counted on your charm, your own value, your being a good person to carry you through.

You get around all the evidence for Jesus being the Messiah by reverting to your educational training, your confidence only in what you can see and hear and feel.  How many times have you heard Tsion quote Titus 3:5 and Ephesians 2:8-9?

But what about all the other reasons a person might disagree, which have nothing to do with pride?  Couldn’t Chaim have honestly disagreed that Jesus is the Messiah, without it having to do with pride?

While I do believe in the truth of the Gospel, I don’t believe that insulting people for disagreeing with us is going to bring most of them into the Church.

And, oh yes, there is also the unfortunate trait I’ve noticed in various forms of Christian media: characters who can quote Bible verses at any moment, to every objection a person makes, as if they’ve memorized the whole thing.

Despite growing up in the Fundamentalist/Evangelical subculture, I have never seen anybody do this in real life.  Most people have to use a concordance or run a Google search to find what they’re looking for.

(For an example, see The Prodigal Planet, 1:05:41.  Here you also find the belief, opposing LaHaye, that if you heard the Gospel and understood it before the Rapture, you cannot be saved afterwards–which makes it hard to figure out which of the characters can still be saved.  You also hear how Scripture can be twisted to fit various Rapture doctrines.)

The real trouble with such passages in these books is that they show God forcing people to choose him, which is not how it works:

Origen, and all rationalists who are like him, was not able to understand that the acceptance or the rejection of God’s grace depends entirely on the rational creatures;

that God, like the sun, never stops shining on good or wicked alike; that rational creatures are, however, entirely free to accept or reject this grace and love;

and that God in His genuine love does not force His creatures to accept Him, but respects absolutely their free decision.

He does not withdraw His grace and love, but the attitude of the logical creatures toward this unceasing grace and love is the difference between paradise and hell.

Those who love God are happy with Him, those who hate Him are extremely miserable by being obliged to live in His presence, and there is no place where one can escape the loving omnipresence of God (part Χ, Kalomiros, River of Fire).

And do the authors really think that people would want God after all this, or that they would not rebel against being tormented for not having said the right prayer or followed the correct religion?

Wouldn’t it be far better to make converts based on God’s love and wanting to be saved from our sins and made into what God always intended for humanity?  You want a convert based on love and a desire for righteousness, not a convert based on fear of punishment:

If the threat of punishment were withdrawn, whether for real or because of a loss of belief in Hell, the convert based on fear would go back to his old ways.  The one who converts for the sake of God and righteousness will continue even in the face of doubt, such as with Mother Theresa.

I’m a bit confused why Chloe, on page 329, “finally couldn’t navigate the stairs” because she was “getting toward the end of her pregnancy.”  After all, when I neared the end of my pregnancy, I still went up and down the stairs.  I had to!

Also on that page, we read, “Stories poured in of obscure tribal groups understanding [the 144,000 Jewish witnesses/missionaries] in their own languages and becoming tribulation saints.”

But–But–Are you saying that the members of these groups were under Wrath and not Raptured, even though they never heard the Gospel before this?  Does this mean LaHaye/Jenkins are of the school of thought that says such people go to Hell, even through no fault of their own?

This is an often-heard question in Christianity, what happens to the souls of people in isolated tribes who never had a chance to hear the Gospel.  I always heard/read in Evangelical churches that they’d be judged with this in mind, not automatically condemned.

The Orthodox view is that unbelievers are judged according to the natural law, the law written on the conscience which every human being has.  We are naturally good; to sin is to act against our nature.

Habitual sins can dull the conscience; the conscience is also the means by which unbelievers can ultimately be saved.  The goal is not man’s praise, but pleasing God.  This is based on Romans 2:14-16 and 29.

Also, those of us who are aware of the Mosaic Law (particularly the moral one, which still stands) are also aware that it is impossible to keep it perfectly; it cannot make us righteous.

We are accountable to both the natural and Mosaic Law.   Those who “become righteous by grace through faith fulfill in Christ both the natural and the Mosaic Law” (pp. 341-343, The Orthodox Study Bible).

Also see:

An Orthodox Christian View of Non-Christian Religions–Rev. Dr. George C. Papademetriou (Greek)

What about other Christians? (OCA)

Will the Heterodox Be Saved?–Archimandrite (Metropolitan) Philaret

On page 346, we read, “[Rayford] was thrilled when [Chloe] and Buck married, despite the ten-year age difference.”

A ten-year age difference is hardly a problem for a married couple, though it would be for a minor teenager dating an older man, and Chloe is a grown woman.  If I were Rayford, I’d be more attentive to how Buck treats Chloe.  As long as he treats her well, the age difference is nothing to be concerned about.  He’s not even old enough to be her father, after all.

As Chloe goes into labor on page 391, Tsion decides to pray, and tells the doctor he has a “waiver” on closing his eyes during the prayer.  Er, thank you so much for permitting the doctor to keep his eyes open during a prayer while Chloe is in labor.

It’s hard to tell if this is meant to be a joke, or if they seriously feel you must close your eyes during a prayer (unless you have a waiver from the pastor), since Tsion goes right into the prayer without even stopping to chuckle.

It’s no wonder these books move so slowly: We read every phone call and prayer, even though most are not important to the plot and can easily be summarized.

It feels like reading a badly-edited self-published novel by someone who apparently has spent little time reading the works of the masters or practicing the craft (which, unfortunately, is so many that self-publishers have a stigma to live down).

And it’s no wonder I read these books so slowly, since I’d much rather spend most of my reading time on books that are a joy to read rather than a chore.  Speaking of which, now it’s time to start reading the next book in the series.

[December 2009-end of January 2010]

 

More details of Tracy’s abuse of her children

I’ve described the squalor they lived in.  This is no way for kids to live.

Shortly before April 15, 2009, she and Richard spent the afternoon in the state capitol, getting the TEA Party started.  Richard didn’t tell me what they were doing right away, just hinted about possibly doing something “illegal” or getting arrested.  But nobody was arrested.

Anyway, they left the kids with me.  When they returned and picked them up, just minutes later, Tracy screamed at her children at the top of her lungs!

I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill yelling, but Exorcist-like screaming! 

It was so loud and hysterical that I heard her from my door as they pulled out of the parking lot!

And this was just minutes after picking up the children!  After an afternoon of being separated from them!  How on earth could anyone get so flustered so fast by even the naughtiest of children?

This was shortly after I received the e-mail in the above section, so I heard for myself what Richard complained about.  I felt bad for the kids, and wondered what the neighbors must think.

Early in 2010, I saw Tracy–right in front of me–pop her tiny three-year-old in the back of the head so hard the girl’s tongue flew out.  I go into more detail about this below.

In June 2010, I sat on the couch watching the two oldest girls dancing in the living room.  They did absolutely nothing wrong, and looked sweet and happy.

But all of a sudden, Tracy went from 0 to 60 in 2 seconds, flew over, and began screaming and whacking fury at them.  

I had no idea what on earth the kids could have done wrong.

They didn’t say a word or fight back, just seemed to go limp.  Even their faces were blank.

Yet Tracy grew madder and madder, screamed louder and louder, yanked their arms around, and whacked spanks every which way! 

Like a human tornado, striking without reason or cause or humane feeling.

It wasn’t even at me, yet it left me nervous and scared of her for the rest of the evening!  I go into more detail about this and Tracy’s various other abuses that evening, in chapter 7.

I felt gaslit because if Richard told me she was abusing the kids or him a certain way, or that she was screaming at them all the time, he’d acknowledge it as abuse.

But if I saw with my own eyes what she was doing to him and the kids, he’d tell me everything was fine and she was being nice to him and slapping your kid on the back of the head is fine and screaming keeps them from being spoiled etc. etc.

Another way I felt gaslit: Tracy did these things right in front of me, as if daring me to call Child Protective Services.  It was truly bizarre.

Since Jeff wasn’t around or wasn’t looking, I began to wonder if it was on purpose, so I wouldn’t have a witness to back me up.

But when we visited, Jeff did hate walking into yelling.  He says our son was afraid of her, and that always ticked him off.

I heard her picking fights, and screaming at Richard (in my house) in louder and louder tones, while not listening to a word he said, while he tried very hard not to argue back.  

I saw her smack him on the arm in fury and give him intimidating looks.  

I heard her pick at her kids for petty things and make them feel like idiots, sometimes screaming at and belittling them for little things.

Several times, I heard her belittling and humiliating the eldest child.  One time I remember was in 2010, when she started ridiculing the poor girl one evening.  I remember feeling indignant, that it was blatant verbal abuse.  She called the girl stupid!

Around that same time, when the third child was 3 or maybe 4, Jeff and I saw her sucking her thumb.  We thought it was cute and smiled; Jeff said, “Did you get that from [our son]?”

Then Tracy started screaming her head off at the poor toddler, saying, “Are you a baby?” and not to do that.  It was so ferocious and belittling that the girl began to cry.  It infuriated me.

When the middle child was 3 and potty training while living in my house, Tracy threatened to spank her if she peed her pants!  I believe the child had only just started potty training in the past couple of months, yet Tracy accused her of doing it on purpose!

It’s only natural for young children to have accidents.  Even my son’s 4K teacher requested every child bring a spare pair of underpants to school, because it is so common.

I recall Tracy chewing out the oldest for sulking for “not getting her way”; are you so sure the sulking wasn’t actually anger over being treated like crap by her mother?

Proper discipline requires the parent to act like an adult and be in control of herself, not act like a child!  If the girl sulks, ignore her!  When the girls are good, praise them!  They do what brings them attention, whether good or bad attention.

Once, in 2010, Tracy started tickling the middle child–not ordinarily an abusive act–but she kept going and going despite the child’s screams to stop.

Everyone kept laughing–except me: I heard fear and pain in the girl’s voice. 

When Tracy stopped, the poor child ran into the bathroom to cry.  

But somehow, I was the only one in the house who saw this as wrong, while everybody else laughed.

This horrified me, so the next morning as I walked my son to school, I reminded him of what happened, and told him to never laugh at someone like that.

How on earth can you like a woman who constantly verbally abuses little children right in front of you?  How on earth can you get beyond simple pleasantries and become besties?

Was I supposed to become a fake, two-faced friend?  Would that please her?

(My college friend Catherine has her own version of a Tracy, whom she tolerates because she’s friends with her “Tracy’s” husband.  But her friend apologizes to Catherine for his wife’s behavior!  Wouldn’t that have been nice from Richard, instead of constantly looking the other way when she pulled crap, and treating me like the problem was all mine!)

She chewed out her husband in front of me time and again for little things–I don’t want to see your domestic disputes!

It was so bad that Richard often joked, “I love her, but wanna kill her!”  I knew he didn’t mean it literally, but it wasn’t funny: It was a symptom of how bad things were.  She also joked that she’d never divorce him: She’d kill him instead (making him not want to drink the coffee she just made for him).

Richard said he needed to be around to protect the children from Tracy’s rages, to keep the abuse under control.  This article echoes him:

Some men stay because they believe they’re protecting their children from abuse or acting as an ‘abuse buffer.’

According to state law, he is obligated to stop the abuse or be subject to prosecution himself, to remove the children from his abusing spouse and notify authorities.

I keep hoping he will do just that, because there’s only so much I myself can do, especially since they didn’t listen to me and I’m no longer around them.  I have no way of finding out what CPS might have done about it[This section was written before July 2011, when I discovered Richard was also dangerous to his children.]

Richard also said that the middle child was very sensitive, and would try to comfort the others.

This article sounds like Tracy, from various sources: what I witnessed, what Richard told me, what others told me.  She did these things with me, with him, with others.

One form of “isolating behavior” listed here is to argue in front of others to make them uncomfortable around the two of you–which she did with Richard right in front of me, many times.

Because I saw Tracy–a large and tall woman–smack a tiny three-year-old girl–small for her age–on the back of her head…because I was shocked and appalled to find people on the Internet say that it’s not abuse to do that…

When researching this behavior, I specifically looked for information on the effects of smacking small children on the back of the head, or anywhere else on the head for that matter, such as the face.

(You have to be careful in research like this because “smack” means “spank” in many countries, and I’m not concerned about light, quick spanks to the well-padded butt.)

I’m less concerned about the effects on older children or teenagers (though I don’t condone that, either) because their heads are more developed and teenagers are practically fully-grown.

But smacking small children is especially risky because of their lack of physical development, small size, and the risk of sending them into a table, TV or other piece of furniture.  Toddlers have been killed this way (I found articles about this, but forgot to link them, and couldn’t find them again).

Here is an article about a toddler whose mother “slapped the child, causing him to fall and hit his head on the coffee table,” which then caused the child to suffer severe head injuries and permanent brain damage.

Here is an article about a man who slapped his toddler against a high chair repeatedly, killing her with traumatic brain injury.  Also see my blog posts on the subject:

Hitting kids upside the head is ABUSE (my 6th most popular post)
Child Abuse
Examples of child abuse
…Because slapping kids on the head is ABUSE!  STOP THE VIOLENCE!
Slapping kids upside the head causes traumatic brain injury (my 2nd most popular post)

Tracy and Richard also thought it wrong to even notice and praise a child for doing a chore, as if it would somehow spoil her (then wondered why they couldn’t get their kids to do chores).

I don’t want to describe what the children did on the Web, but a couple of incidents sounded like classic “acting out” behavior, which abused children often do.

Children act out what they see; their demonstration of violent behavior can be a manifestation of their exposure to domestic violence (The Silent Victims of Domestic Violence). –Jessie Brown, April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Acting-out behavior can also include bullying, drugs, risky sexual behavior, or shoplifting.

When children observe their HAP parent acting in an anti-social and aggressive manner over an extended period of time they often pick up on a number of these behaviours and over time, consider them to be socially acceptable.

Children are a product of their environment and do learn what they live. Children living under the influence of a hostile-aggressive parent may become themselves, selfish, self centred and have growing anger management difficulties as years pass on.

Children who are being physically abused or yelled at constantly by a HAP parent will begin to deal with their own problems in the same manner, often lashing verbally and physically at siblings or schoolmates.

Many of these negative behaviours are often observable at the child’s school. HAP behaviours picked up by a child from the HAP parent will, in many cases, seriously affect a child’s development and interfere with their ability to lead a normal and balanced life.

Some professionals may misdiagnose the child as having a conduct disorder and prescribe medication but, in reality, these professionals fail to realize that the child’s own parent is instilling these types of negative and anti-social behaviours into the child. —Hostile Aggressive Parenting

Tracy thought that if her children were happy, loved her, etc., she wasn’t abusing them.  But this isn’t a proper gauge:

In many cases, it is not unusual for a child to exhibit signs of affection and love towards a HAP parent at some times which can be very confusing to the occasional or untrained observer who may see the child showing affection to the HAP parent at some particular time.

Psychologists have recognized for years that even children living under the care of abusive caregivers, often will have deep seated loyalties to those who may be physically and emotionally abusing them.

Most children often long for the love and approval from their caregivers so it is not uncommon for a child who is being abused by an HAP parent to be seen showing affection at some times to their HAP parents. —Hostile Aggressive Parenting

Richard wasn’t blameless, however.  He had repented of past abuses, but didn’t acknowledge that he still condoned abusive behaviors.

Like for example, he refused to believe that screaming at children all the time was abusive.

He even told me you should let a husband lose his temper once in a while, that he and Tracy had been blurting things out and yelling at each other and it was somehow “good” for their marriage.  (More on this later.)

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

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