Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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helping the little bloke
Thursday July 03, 2008

Dear Dr Miller

I wonder if you can help me? I got this little guy here, only a little boy, and he's been thrashed and thrashed so there are big red welts on his buttocks. Its my job to help him and I'm at a loss both professionally and emotionally. He tells me he can't breathe properly, he's lost his breath with the sceaming. He doesn't relate well to the other little boys and girls and they don't like him much, he says, because they don't get beaten so much and they know he's a bad boy because he always gets the cane at school and his daddy thrashes him with a strap at home; he knows its because he's bad. So what can I tell him? Some days he's so hurt I can't get him to do anything, not even clean his teeth. he just sits around worrying. Sometimes, though, I can get him to stand at the easel and play with oil paint and those days are miracle days, Jackaranda Rainbow days. But its the dark days I find it almost impossible to help him with. He just sobs and can't get his breath. He's so hurt by what's being done to him that only a miracle can avert catastrophic pain.

His confusions are many: girls are not beaten where he goes to school, only boys, because boys are more evil, everybody agrees, and even today many women think of males as evil and deserving of harsh punishment, do they not? It is against the rules to hit girls. It is forbidden by law. So this little bloke can never, he thinks, be fearless and relaxed with females. His mommy thrashes him with a strap sometimes, and she always gets his daddy to thrash him, just like the young lady teachers at his school always send him to the headmaster to be caned. And now so many women are claiming to be nurturers whilst demanding the punishment of men and boys that he is utterly confused. What could I tell him about that, do you think?

And when he goes to other people, men, women teachers, parents, therapists, to try and get some help, some information, something of the truth to help him clear his confusion, the messgae he gets is that its his fault if his beatings upset him, its his fault because of the way he took his beatings, his parents are not to be blamed, its no-ones' fault, it was not wrong of them to beat him because the law allowed it. So he doesn't go to therapists any more. They just abuse him.

He cries a lot and sits around worrying and he feels he is dying, slowly but surely dying. And that is very challenging for me, as a therapist, to help him to find a way to stay alive, to somehow cope with all these confusions and lies, to somehow connect with old Jackaranda Rainbow. He's frightened you might jeer at him, or be strict and angry, but nevertheless, is there anything you can tell me, or offer, which might help him, please?

Many thanks, J. R., Psychotherapist

AM: Why don't you tell him that nobody has the right to hit and mistreat him and that you will talk to his parents and tell them that what they are doing is a crime. It is your duty to protect this boy from the lies he has been taught and to tell him the truth. Otherwise a so-called therapy is a farce.

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