Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Conflicting values
Sunday October 26, 2008

Dear Ms. Miller, I'm a college student who too has suffered spankings and hits as a kid both at home and school. Even as a child, I knew it felt so wrong, but I was filled with such fear to say it aloud. After reading anti-spanking articles like yours and from other authors, I was reassured that this horrible practice of "discipline" is barbaric. I was fortunately able to understand and transcend from this pain, and not take it out on others or myself. But I have a question regarding my views and my family's. My mom still believes in spanking as "discipline" and so does my older brother, and he uses this on his kids. I tried to convince my mother that this was abuse by articles I found on the Internet. She disregarded it as nonsense and didn't even read them thoroughly. I never told my brother this because I didn't want to be accused of telling him how to raise his kids since I'm not a parent myself and I feel that I'm still too young to be one. I have to admit that while I don't hate my family since hating is "poisonous" to me, I feel ambivalence towards them. It's kind of odd to be obligated to love someone who hits and yells at you sometimes. My mom doesn't do this all the time, but every now and then she does and even uses threats of spankings when my nephews visit during the summer. Even now, I feel that she tries to control me. For example, when I visit on breaks, I'm expected to go to church even though I'm an atheist and she knows this. I never even told anyone yet that I'm actually planning to drop out of college because I'm not motivated and would rather join a career program instead while supporting myself. Everyone in my family expects me to finish college, but I feel that I'm doing this to please them instead of myself. I fear a little that they would resent me if I told them my secret, but I'm sure that this is the right choice because it's my life, not theirs. Sorry if I sound a little long-winded, but I have a lot of confusion to release. What advice can you give to me regarding my issues? Again, thank you for writing such eye-opening articles. If only the U.S. and other countries can get the idea that spanking solves nothing and only creates more pain. SR

AM: Maybe my book "The Body Never Lies", Norton, NY 2004 can help you to better understand.

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