By Dr. Drew Pinsky
I was livid and nearly brought to tears when I saw that YouTube video of a Texas judge whipping and verbally abusing his then-16-year-old disabled daughter.
The woman who released the video, Hillary Adams, said she was the victim and her parents were the ones beating her in the tape that apparently was recorded seven years ago. Hillary told one of my producers that the reason she finally decided to release the tape is so that her dad would finally get the help he needs.
Mind you, this Texas judge, William Adams, presides over child abuse cases himself. He even defended himself on local media (KRIS) saying that, in his mind, he hasn’t done anything wrong other than discipline his child ... and went on to say that “it looks worse than it is” ... and that he just lost his temper after Hillary was supposedly caught stealing.
I want everyone reading this to understand something about young people who are physically abused. It shatters the brain's upper limit of its ability to regulate and actually changes the way the brain grows such that, we are talking about damaging an organ – and that's how this should be prosecuted in my opinion. Interconnections amongst the emotional systems don't develop normally. People who have been severely violated by somebody they love, rupture trust.
Furthermore, those who are affected by something like this have a difficult time functioning in relationships and at work, to give just a few examples. Plus, they have higher incidences of addiction and alcoholism. All of my patients with addiction have one thing in common: abuse. That's what triggers their addictive pathology. I know what happens to kids' brains. I have to deal with it later.
People have asked, ‘why is she releasing the tape now’? I think this child has had treatment, she's coming to terms with this disturbing piece of the narrative of her life. She is moving toward forgiveness and understands her father is not well. But she is clearly struggling with forgiveness.
I’ve heard arguments that the statute of limitations may have already run on any possible abuse charges.
Well, I don't care what the law says. We in the medical system have overwhelming evidence of what this does to children. Yes, societies used to do this. We used to do all kinds of horrible things. We used to have torture for God's sake. It's time we put a stop to this! We know the consequences. The law has to say something different because we know now what this does to children. It has to catch up with the medical facts.
It's all so disturbing to me because I see these people as adults. I'm the one that has to put this all back together with my peers. Let me tell you, it's not subtle. It's not a question of whether it harms them or not. It's overwhelmingly obvious and it sickens me.
To reiterate, if somebody has bad enough addiction that they need to see someone like me, I can tell you there is virtually a 100-percent probability of abuse in their childhood – physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect (the most common is physical abuse). And by the way, most of it is not nearly as egregious as what was caught on this tape.
The most powerful thing that shapes behavior is withdrawing a positive, folks. Withdrawing something kids like has a much more powerful effect and sustained effect on behavior than punishment. Now, sometimes they need punishment. I understand that, but it is not and should not be abuse.
The brain is an organ that we are trying to develop in young children to get them to be healthy adults that can regulate their emotions, tolerate relationships, and use their intellect. All of that gets disrupted by abuse. It also disrupts trust and often makes genuine intimacy impossible for the survivors.
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