Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Napac
Sunday December 02, 2007

Hi Alice,
Just an e-mail to say that there is an organisation called NAPAC (The National Association for People Abused in Childhood) which offers support via a helpline and is situated in London. You may already know of it. It's a great organisation which people ring for differing reasons, but sometimes because they are awaiting counselling and are at the end of their tether - not knowing where to put their emotions, how to begin to deal with what's happened to them, being isolated etc.
I'm not really sure why I'm writing, except maybe also to say thank you for your books. I was reading them at the beginning of the nineties, when my own childhood really started to 'kick' in. With Carl Rogers, you were my support and today I have two children who are just beautiful! I took my first daughter, whose name is Alice, out of education as a) she begged me to and b) despite our attempts to find some common ground with the schooling system, we had to admit defeat and admit that the environment was abusive and my daughter was suffering. This was not an easy decision. I worried that she would not have the experiences she needed to be able to socialize etc and I have to say I met no one who encouraged me. the professionals all told me the same thing - she needs to be around children, she needs the socialisation. But I am stubborn, especially in the face of 'poisonous pedagogy'; I had experienced something similar when Alice was a baby - it was quite staggering the amount of people who came forward to hint or even tell me directly that I shouldn't breast feed as she'd become so clingy and to tell me that I was creating a nightmare for myself if I didn't discipline her.
I knew that 'unconditional love' was the key and that socialisation was a red herring really - I knew I wanted my daughter to grow up to be confident, emotionally stable and to be able to recognise abusive people and at all costs not be dependent on them. It was a scary time for me, because it was all new - I'd never experienced this before. It was also very sad - I had only known abuse. I didn't know how to survive and act and more importantly feel confident in my own new behaviour/way of being - and not be affected by others. It took time.
My advantage was I had already rejected my parents before I became a mother myself. It was still difficult and I found myself isolated and had to deal with other things which cropped up from my childhood - like the full force of my mother's wrath etc ... the fight in some ways had only just begun - to not become my mother or my father. I spent a whole weekend in tears, with rage bubbling under the surface, thinking I could beat my daughter at any moment. It was a defining period of time, because I lasted the weekend and knew I wasn't about to lose control and smack or beat my daughter, that in fact I had control of my own behaviour. I finally realised something - that my mother and father could have controlled themselves - rage isn't 'this out of control/didn't know what I was doing' state of being. You just have to want to not abuse you children more that you want to abuse them - tip the scales/tip the balance. The fight against the effects of my childhood has been hellish, but the rewards of freedom of mind, of spirit, of behaviour are just wonderful. I'm younger now than at four years old, after my father first raped me. My daughters are just fantastic and I think that one of the worst crimes against women is now to make women go to work and not be with their children.. I understand all the arguments about choice, that women should have the choice to work, but really there is no choice - it's an illusion. Women are running away from their children because of their childhood experiences.
Anyway I've run out of things to say at the moment! However, just for your
information, I was raped by my father, beaten to within an inch of my life by my mother. I would be sent to houses by my father, to be raped. He was in the British army, where - in the late 60's/early 70's at least - there were paedophile parties, satanic rituals etc. I was institutionalised by an army psychiatrist when I spoke to a teacher, who saved my life - the enlightened witness and I thank her where ever she may be. You were my enlightened witness when I began to re-expereince my childhood and therefore I thank you.
In peace, L. T.

AM: Thank you so much for your letter. Everything makes sense in it. And it shows how much we can change even in the most tragic situations if only one person (your teacher?) is clearly, without any buts and pedagogy, on the side of the mistreated child. Unfortunately, this attitude is so rare. None of all our presidents, religious leaders, Popes, and other people in power, even none of the philosophers, well known authors, film-makers, actors seem to SEE that children all around are being mistreated, tortured, daily, every minute, and that this fact needs our ACTIVITY to save their lives as did your teacher, and also to save our future from criminals and mad dictators.

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