Texas Judge - When Does Discipline Become Assault?
Most people are ashamed of family violence. Ashamed that it happens in our communities, ashamed to be victims, ashamed to be perpetrators.
So naturally, with all this shame silencing everyone, it’s hard to know what family violence really is.
Lack of concrete details of the events that occur behind closed doors makes it easy to dismiss a vague charge of abuse as a slap or a spank instead of a vicious, calculated form of control over weaker family members.
Well, thanks to a 23-year-old from Rockport, Texas, over six million people now know exactly what domestic violence looks and sounds like.
When she was 16, Hillary Adams - who has cerebral palsy - was terrified of her abusive father. She thought few authorities would believe her word against his, since he is a white Texas family law judge who defies the stereotypes about domestic violence perpetrators. To get proof she set up a small video recorder in her bedroom where most of the beatings took place.
The resulting 7½ minute YouTube video captured a brutal physical and verbal attack, “justified” because Hillary had used her computer to download music and play video games when she was allowed to use the computer only for schoolwork.
Here’s the sequence of events captured on the video:
William Adams tells wife: “Get the belt, the big one, now.”
Mother calmly gets the belt.
Father threatens to belt his daughter in the face if she doesn’t roll over on her stomach to expose her back, buttocks and legs to the belt.
Father whips his daughter with the belt over 20 times.
Father screams obscenities at his daughter over 20 times.
The whole time, his daughter is sobbing, crying, and begging for him to stop.
During the beating, his obscenities and verbal messages make clear that his ultimate goal is to dominate, frighten and shame his daughter:
“Do you like it? Are you happy now?”
“I’m going to beat you into submission.”
“You used to be such a nice obedient little girl, what happened to you?”
“You don’t deserve to be in this house.”
“If you look at me wrong, I’ll wear your ass out with this belt.”
“This is all your fault.”
It’s an incredibly painful, disturbing documentation of child abuse. I cried and sobbed myself watching it. I had to cover my eyes for much of the video.
In part this is because I have been a victim of abuse myself.
In part it is because as a mom, I cannot bear to see children hurt and betrayed, especially by their parents.
However, I’m sure it’s not the most disturbing case of child abuse on record. What makes this so chilling is that we see it firsthand. There’s no denying the abuse. No minimizing (as William Adams has done in public statements) the event as “just a spanking.” No way to argue that Hillary deserved it or could have stopped it.