Thursday, 27 May 2010

Damaged soul

We all have a few grievances about the way our parents brought us up. But a 32 year old County Durham man* has a grievance so strong he's suing his mother - for not protecting him from his father's beatings.

He claims that between the ages of five and nineteen his father hit him several times a day with various implements or tried to throttle him.

He says his mother had a duty as a parent to take reasonable steps to protect her children from the violence, but instead she aided and abetted his father.

She should have got an injunction against him or divorced him. She shouldn't have let him remain in the house.

The son is seeking over £50,000 damages for pain and suffering, the cost of therapy, and his subsequent inability to complete his education, form relationships or hold down a job.

His mother denies liability for the assaults and says her son is exaggerating what happened to him.

It's shocking he feels so traumatised that he has to seek closure by resorting to the high drama of a court case, with all the emotion and stress and hostility that can involve.

Most of us, even if we had endured severe brutality or neglect from our parents, would try to resolve it in a less spectacular way, confining ourself to therapy or some other method of putting it behind us and getting on with our lives.

The law can be a very blunt and heavy-handed way of dealing with a problem, often making it worse or leaving a sense of injustice still festering.

I can't see how a financial settlement, however large, can be any substitute for the emotional catharsis that is surely what he really needs.

The courts can do a lot of things, but fixing damaged souls isn't one of them.

* He can't be identified for legal reasons


  1. Nick - I am with you on this one. Money is no substitute, either given or taken in place of care and affection. We cannot undo the past, only learn from it and strive to do better in the future.

  2. I can never see financial compensation fixing anything, Nick, even the abuses of the RC. Paying for therapy, yes, but solving a lifetime of emotional trauma? No.
    I feel totally sad for this man. As GM says we have to move ahead and heal from within.
    Finger pointing has never solved one single thing.

  3. Grannymar - Any amount of money certainly can't undo the past, but plenty of care and affection might do.

    www - If he gets enough money to pay for as much therapy as he needs, that will help at any rate. As you say, finger pointing generally solves nothing.

  4. Ah, well, I can see both sides of this. Yes, therapy has its place (and as a therapist, I've seen many similar cases). And I'm disinclined to use lawsuits myself because it offends my Quakerly sensibilities. And, yet.. when are people going to be held accountable for abusing their children? It's all well and good to say people have to move on, but sometimes they emerge from their childhoods so badly damaged they cannot move on. Maybe a few lawsuits would make parents reconsider their tendency to abuse or stand by and allow abuse to happen. If his parents really did as he claims they did, I'd love to see them have to pay.

  5. I don't think he wants anything but the money.

  6. That sounds horrible.

    But I stand by it.

    Am I horrible?

  7. hmmm and what I wonder, is the real reason for going this far?

    There just has to be something else going on for him to take it to court.

    Sorry, I'm just a suspicious type!!

  8. Secret Agent - Good point about holding parents responsible for their damaged children, and taking them to court being one way of doing that. I'm inclined to agree with you. And you're right about the damage sometimes being irreparable.

    Megan - Of course you're not horrible, you're just speaking your mind! It's hard to say exactly what his motives are, as all we know is that he's suing. Perhaps we'll find out a bit more in the next few days.

    Kate - I'm sure there's more to the case than meets the eye, there invariably is. But I haven't seen any updates since the original story. I wonder why?

  9. It would be very interesting to be in the court and observe these proceedings. I think the man has a point- parents are jointly responsible for what happens to their children. Testing a case in court is a very good way of highlighting what is deemed acceptable and what is not.

    Thanks for the cyber-kiss BTW!

  10. Cinnamon - As SAW said, going to court may be a bit of a blunt instrument but it's one way of holding parents to account. Especially when so many children end up damaged in one way or another.

  11. I agree with Megan.
    If he wins he should be compensated with therapy and not money.

  12. Scarlet - Therapy as compensation is an excellent idea. As long as the amount agreed covers therapy for as long as it's needed.

  13. I bet that there is more than meets the eye here. There is a lot of money involved and perhaps, the mother is not letting the purse strings loose! It will be worth digging more into the total background.

  14. Ramana - That's possible, that she refuses to give him any financial help so he's suing for it. There's certainly a lot that hasn't been revealed about the background.

  15. It's really sad and painful that his childhood was so horrible. His mother was probably herself traumatized and unable to adequately protect him, but it's still dreadful that he had to endure such abuse.

    I think that if he loses in court, it will compound the pain he already feels and could even make him suicidal. It's such a bad situation altogether, and there probably is no real cure.

  16. Heart - True, his mother might well have been too damaged herself to protect him properly. And yes, losing the case could be yet another emotional blow. What a lottery it is, whether children get decent parents or not.

  17. Hmm, tough question. Am with Secret Agent Woman I think - it's easy to move on from childhood traumas when they stop at not buying a bike or sibling favouritism but life experiences like this change your personality completely. Would feel very sorry for the woman also as she was probably being abused - not sure if getting money from her would help but probably the recognition of winning the case is what this man needs

  18. Niamh - Yes, quite possibly his mother was being abused as well, which would mean one victim suing another. What a tangled situation. I'm sure winning the case would give him a boost, though it certainly wouldn't solve his disturbed psyche.

  19. Perhaps it's not about financial compensation but the only way he can have his case heard and his mother accept some responsibility. 50,000 isn't a lot of money for pain and suffering cases. I think she should be brought to account. Too many people stand by and say nothing. For example, here we have mandatory reporting of suspected abuse by teachers, a failure to report a suspected case is indeed prosecutable by law. Why shouldn't parents have the same responsibility.

  20. Baino - You mean the other parent should be obliged to report any violence being done to the child? Sounds like a good idea. As you say, she should be brought to account for her complicity.

  21. However, he is right? She should have stopped it. Too many mothers have turned a blind eye...

  22. Suburbia - Indeed, too many mothers turn a blind eye and pretend nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Or are just too afraid to challenge their husband.