I want to begin this blog with a short video. Before you watch it though, please be warned, it’s pretty disturbing. It’s a video that has been on the news recently of a Texas family court judge spanking his 16 year old daughter who has cerebral palsy. If you elect not to watch it, pay attention to your body and your thought processes. Notice what feelings come up. Do the same if you elect to watch it. Anyway, here’s the video: Hillary Adams.
Brain Damaged and Don’t Know It
As a brain educator (as well as a human being with a heart) there are a number of things that are very disturbing to me about this video that few people are talking about. The first is the damage done to Hillary’s brain. But not only by the beating. The damage is also done by the stress neurotoxins that began flooding Hilary’s brain and body well in advance of the beating, well in advance of each and every beating. She knew the violence was coming. Her brain recognized the pattern and set up her phone videocam in advance to record her father turning the sacred profane.
And then, there’s also the damage done afterwards. She’s held on to that video for seven years. I don’t know how many times she’s watched it. But I bet her body does. Why? Because the body keeps the score. Inhibitor neurons in the brain work to keep the memory of the abuse that Hillary has suffered under wraps, in order to allow her to try to live a normal life. But I can assure you, Hillary has not been living a normal life. I really doubt she understands the full amount and degree of damage that has been done to her. I’d be willing to bet that Hillary currently has a difficult time both managing everyday normal stressors along with great difficulty in her relationships with men. And women.
A Mother’s Place
Hillary’s mother’s role in this video is equally disturbing to me. It’s clear from watching this video who’s got the problem here. As any elementary school teacher can tell you, it’s the parents, in this case violently displacing their own pain and suffering. In joining with the abuse, Hillary’s mother has left her with nowhere to turn. When there’s nowhere to turn the brain has no option but to slide into the slough of despond and generate PTSD along the way. Which clearly Hillary has when she indicates she “watches the video from a third point of view,” and “doesn’t have any words for it.” That’s her brain dissociating. Thankfully, Hallie Adams, the mother, has divorced her judge husband and has begun to repair both the damage done to her, as well as that done to her daughter.
Justice Blind and Ignorant
There’s another part of the video that’s also very disturbing to me. This is a family court judge who thinks what he’s doing is perfectly acceptable. Not only is his ignorance damaging the members of his own family, but I have little doubt he’s permitted and perpetrated that damage in any number of families who’ve shown up in his courtroom. Brains can transmit acceptance wirelessly.
None of us escapes childhood unscathed. We might not have been beaten the way Hillary was, but we all KNOW what that violence feels like. We’ve incorporated it through osmosis by simply living in 21st century America. Through the endless wars we’ve waged, the video games and sporting events we watch, the “news” we are continually bombarded with, through the dogs and horses we aggressively train, through the language we use.
So that’s what we’re all trying to heal from: the ways the deliberate and unconscious violence and abuse in the world have worked to close us down, disorganize our brains, distort thinking and feeling, and cut us off from the seeds of joy and freedom that still live scattered somewhere inside each of us. If we attend closely, we will notice them trying to use the compassionate heart to find the light of day, like dandelions and crab grass struggling up through an urban sidewalk in search of transcendant restoration.
Consider trying to honor Hillary by watching her video if you can.