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Judge Adams, Part 1: “Fathers, do not . . .”

Dec 30, 2011 — Categories: ,

I was traveling and speaking at a conference in November when the story broke about Judge Adams beating his teenage daughter, Hilary, on tape.

I was traveling and speaking at a conference in November when the story broke about Judge Adams beating his teenage daughter, Hilary, on tape.

Although I had not seen the tape at that point, it came up in conversation with some of the folks who had organized the conference. I noticed tears coming into the eyes of one of the men, and then he spoke, “That’s what happened to me.”

I traveled on to visit my family on the east coast and had a chance to have dinner with two cousins whom I don’t get to see very often. We had a lovely dinner, catching up on family news.  Somehow the Judge Adams video story came up. They looked at me across the table: “That’s what happened to us.” The whole story came out of the abuse they experienced at the hand of their father. We grew up together; I had no idea.

Then I realized that this conversation was probably taking place in many places over many dinners. Adult survivors of physical child abuse, like Hilary Adams, finally having a chance to say, “That’s what happened to me.”

On the video, Hilary’s father explains to Hilary that he is beating her because she was disobedient, “I will beat you into submission.”

The writer of Ephesians 6, in Christian scripture, lifts up the issue of children and parents and expands on the commandment to honor father and mother: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Clearly the author realized there was a need for a corrective for fathers (or mothers) who misused their position of authority, who demanded obedience for its own sake, who were raising their children with no understanding of Gospel values. Nothing provokes a person to anger like being abused.  Just ask any adult survivor.

Hilary’s father defends himself now: “I was disciplining my child...She wasn’t hurt...I lost my temper...I didn’t do anything wrong.” No regret, no repentance here.

Hilary found her voice and in sharing this excruciating experience hopefully has given voice to other adult survivors.

There may be some interesting, and hopefully healing, conversations in the new year over the dinner table.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute

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The job of education

Posted by Ruth at Jan 17, 2012 03:41 PM
Thank you for telling this story. It is amazing how secretive we still are about "family secrets". I know of a brother and sister who were in their 50's before they disclosed abuse by their father to each other. Each of them thinking that they were the only one. Opening up the dialog is a great step toward making changes.