I recently searched online for the question of how an adult abuse survivor might go about suing his or her abusive parent. The results I got astounded me, but they shouldn’t have. I know my country wants parents abusing its kids. It makes this clear so many ways. This is just one more.
First, the cultural. Most of the search results lead to other people asking my question. The responses they get range from “You’d be much better off just getting therapy” (yes, because clearly all adult abused kids are well-to-do and can afford the extensive therapy required to get over the abuse) to “now you sit right down, you ungrateful shit, and list all the GOOD things your parent did for you, since obviously, having donated part of your zygote, this person loved you and you are an asshole” to things like this trip to the little shop of horrors, in which someone asks Yahoo: “Can i sue my parents because they hit me?”
Consider first what you did to contribute to the situation.
There is never a reason to strike another person, but, you could have very well pushed them to their limit.
Underlying all of this is the myth that every child who complains of having experienced poor parenting is obviously a spoiled shit who in fact had everything too easy and isn’t grateful for the massive self-sacrifices her zygote donor obviously made. Also underlying it is the assumption that such a suit would be revenge rather than justice. To which the abuse survivors explain that, no, they want to see the parent held accountable in some fashion. Publicly.
Another reason I can think of for suing would be to send a message to other abusive parents: you might get away with this while I’m under your control, but after that? Oh, yes, there could indeed be consequences.
The doublethink required here is extraordinary. I mean, you just know these people answering these question are all the same people who read about horrid abuse cases in the paper and think “hanging’s not good enough for those parents.” But when someone puts a face on it, when someone says “I was abused”, they go into denial. Why? Why do they automatically, unthinkingly assume the parent is the one being wronged?
It’s a bit like assuming every alleged rape is really just a case of some vicious bitch lying. Why not? We’re big on victim blaming.
Then I found some forum posters who claimed that in most states, you have until the age of 20 or 21 to sue an abusive parent. As far as I can tell, that’s generally true in the case of physical, non-sexual abuse, so if you were beaten as a child, you have until you’re a junior in college or your third year working at Burger King to hire that pricey attorney! Otherwise, the US is A-OK with what happened to you. Interestingly, sexual abuse often has a much longer statute – in some states, it’s up to the lifetime of the victim. Apparently emotionally abused kids can just go fuck themselves, since it’s very hard to document emotional abuse the way you can document wounds a doctor has seen. I realize there are other issues, like the problem of evidence, but for the law to blatantly suggest that sexual abuse is somehow worse than physical and emotional abuse is sending a very wrong message: all abuse is equally wrong in a moral sense.
Eventually, I found this forum, in which yet another person was asking the same question, but the respondents appear to be fellow abuse survivors. The questioner is 23 and can’t really function in life – agoraphobic (from the sound of it), unable to hold down a job, etc. All of this could easily be attributed to the abuse the person describes enduring. Here is my favorite response:
I have been doing a lot of research on the same topic for the past few day’s it seems to me that it is quite feasible although I would speculate that a lot of lawyers would not want to dirty their hands with such a case, there are as the other person who commented said; who see the sanctity of family as untouchable. As the threes of us, along with many others know; there is no sanctity in abuse.
Here, in a nutshell, is America’s concept of family values: we need babies, because babies become consumers who buy crap. We mustn’t allow anything to discourage people from making babies. It doesn’t matter if the babies are born addicted to something and grow up in a slum with no education, or they’re born to wealth and made to pay for it with sexual favors from an early age. It’s all good, because as long as they are eating and wearing clothes, businesses can make money off of these kids. That’s what America values.
And heaven forbid anyone check in with the adult children of the people making and supporting these laws.