Accidentally Empowering an Abuser

Accidentally Empowering an Abuser

As a teacher and compassionate human being, I was appalled that a school district that has a majority of white wealthy students and exceedingly high test scores would spend money in an effort to get one child to leave the district. The girl’s mom is a nanny, so the two live in the Orinda district Monday through Friday, and stay with the girl’s grandmother on weekends. I first read about the story here.

Later I read about how the local shame campaign pushed the district to reverse the decision and allowed the girl to stay on the condition that her mother’s employer become her legal caregiver. The article shows two adorable pictures of the seven year old, reveals the first names of daughter and mother, as well as the first and last name of the employer, and the fact that the mother has a restraining order against the father of her child. After a quick internet search I found a link to a local property owned by the employer.

Empowering an abuser
This seven year old and her mother are easy targets for stalking and abuse. The little girl’s face has been shared all over the internet and she is one of the few Latinas in her school district. Their schedule of living in Orinda and commuting to Bay Point is now well-known. Unless they move, they can be easily found by the man against whom she has a restraining order.

Today’s stalkers are empowered to discover workplaces, friends and locations visited of people they recently met or knew from years ago. Many are harmless lurkers who are impeding their own social-emotional growth, yet some are violent are savvy. Remember to think before you post. If you know someone, harmless or otherwise, who is spending his or her time tracking their ex-partner online, support them in moving on and stopping this behavior. Most likely their online stalking is contributing to their sadness or anger and preventing them from gaining self-reflection and meeting new people. At worst they could be harming someone else and giving themselves a criminal record.

The political and personal costs of seeking punishment
I shared this article because I think it is important for people to see the horrendous cost of living in a punitive society in which people fixate on punishing those they perceive are receiving undeserved benefits. As a breakup coach I offer guidance to people who initially harbor vengeful thoughts toward ex-partners succeeding after they gave them financial or professional support. I help my clients see how holding onto resentment is punishment to themselves, and learn more useful responses. After living in Thailand last year, I saw how toxic (and optional) it is to prioritize punishing those that have harmed you or that you perceive are benefitting from resources they didn’t earn. In Thailand affordable healthcare is widely available to healthy citizens as well as their many smokers and reckless drivers. Small stores are frequently left alone for hours during the heat of the day. Surely some Thais take advantage of both of these situations, and yet the quality of life for most people in Thailand is rising. I hope that breakup refugees who are punishing themselves by plotting revenge and fixating on the resources they gave their ex-partner question these urges and locate those urges within a cultural framework.

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