So apparently my family is publicly bragging about our child abuse now?
December 10, 2013 4:31 PM   Subscribe

So I log onto facebook for the first time in weeks today and see my brother has posted this image and my mother has "liked" it. Nothing that was done to us as kids would qualify as spanking (punched in the side of the head very often, welts on skin, bruises, dad threatening my sister with a kitchen knife, holding us off the ground by our necks, locking us in the bathroom and hitting us for half an hour for eating the wrong yoghurt from the fridge, knocked over if we ever spoke back to them etc). My brother was actually very rarely hit and it stopped altogether when mum threatened to divorce dad after he hit my brother badly one time. (No such luck for us girls though). I'm SO ANGRY right now and want to react but don't know how it would improve anything. I feel like I'm being goaded but am trapped in how I handle this, with it being a public forum all my friends can see. Please Mefi help me stay calm and do this right (even if that means doing nothing).

In other news, my brother's wife is 4 months pregnant so guess what's coming to that kid.
posted by everydayanewday to Human Relations (39 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Do nothing and maintain civil relations with your brother so you can possibly be a lifeline for that kid should the need ever arise.

Adjust your Facebook settings to keep their stupid posts off your newsfeed.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:37 PM on December 10, 2013 [75 favorites]

If you respond you have to be prepared that he or others will reposnd to that and then you've got yourself into a word war which will escalate.

I think you can do one of three things..

1) Ignore it
2) Block him or ignore his posts from now on
3) Respond

I love a good passive aggressive post, so I might say - I guess you're the lucky one of the family then, got off pretty easily.

But I am not suggesting that's a good idea. Sometimes it is best to ignore and move on, accept that some people are morons.
posted by Youremyworld at 4:40 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is a very sad story. I'm sorry.

Unfortunately, I think prize bull octorok's advice is very good. Keep calm, and think strategically about how to help out his children should the need arise.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:44 PM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Your question made me think of this comic in which Jeremy is Defeated. I can't imagine any good coming of responding on facebook. Keep calm, and be supportive of his new kiddo.
posted by craven_morhead at 4:45 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As someone who is very happily no longer in contact with my abusive and dysfunctional family (including siblings) I respectfully ask you to rethink your contact with your abusive and dysfunctional family.

At the very least, you should hide/block/delete all of these folks on FB, or just quit FB altogether. Maybe quit and then start a new private account?

For now, rage privately to a sympathetic ear. Tomorrow, call around and find a therapist you can see for a few sessions to help you set up some healthy boundaries.

If I was you, I would distance myself before your brother's child is born. Hope for the best, but stay out of it unless somewhere down the road you learn of abuse and feel the need to call child protective services.


Focus on yourself, you can't help or change these people. I'm sorry.

I heard something the other day that might apply to you: We don't heal from these types of abuse per se, rather, we grow out of and beyond it.

I urge you to remake your Life and leave these folks in the past, even if you maintain cursory contact with them.

What you suffered was absolutely abuse. You're not wrong or crazy. *Hugs*
posted by jbenben at 4:45 PM on December 10, 2013 [54 favorites]

Best answer: I dunno. I sorta agree with the other posters that maybe this is best ignored.

Then again, what's he gonna do - take away your birthday ?

My cousin posted some of the same crap, and I replied that it was bullshit, contrary to my experience as a former child and parent - and anyway, I wouldn't take parenting advice from a facebook GIF image.

I sorta think sometimes that the reason shit like this keeps getting propagated is because right thinking people are more concerned about being polite than fighting the torrent of bullshit.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:51 PM on December 10, 2013 [7 favorites]

Best answer: You are not alone.

My mother -- who, while she fucked up plenty, never intentionally abused me or my siblings -- CONSTANTLY posts shit like this to Facebook. Or other inflammatory things about parenting styles I don't agree with, and in fact which I disagree with in part because I associate them with my parents' horrible approach to child rearing.

Mostly I try to ignore it and be the bigger person. I also to an extent think that people share things like this all the time without really thinking through what it says about them. A lot of people will just sort of blindly cosign that stuff without thinking critically about it at all. I don't think it necessarily implies that your brother has firm intentions of abusing his children.

If it makes you feel better, however, I give you my permission to either make passive aggressive comments about it on facebook, or simply block him.

I like the idea of doing what you have to do to be there for your future niece or nephew. While my parents were not abusive, having family members who openly had different stances was incredibly liberating for me when I was growing up.
posted by Sara C. at 4:53 PM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Your brother and your mother are insensitive assholes. I hope your sisters and you help each other out. I was the only one in my family brutally beaten by our father and my sisters still don't (40+ years later) acknowledge how wrong that was. They were never even mildly spanked as far as they or I can remember.

Ignore the post but make sure you give your brother and sister-in-law books on childrearing, books in which spanking is not viewed as acceptable. And, without directing posts at your mother or brother, post articles on FB about the effects that abuse has on children. Googling "adult survivors of child abuse" will lead you to several organizations and studies.

I hope you have some people you can turn to right now. In the meantime I'm sending a virtual hug your way.
posted by mareli at 4:55 PM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I find that a lot of people who boast about hitting or stringently punishing their child are doing it for a kind of narcissistic ego boost. The more submissive and obedient their child is, the more superior they feel compared to others. It's a way for them to shore up terrible insecurity and feel powerful, competent, in control, important, and generally un-fuckwithable.

I can tell you exactly what will happen if you challenge a narcissist in a public forum - say something that they feel embarrasses them or makes them look bad. The narcissist will do their absolute best to rip you to shreds. They will start spouting out lies like they're giving a fire hose a run for its money. They will revise history like they're working for the Kremlin photo labs. They will say that you're a liar, or you have a wonderful imagination, or you've just always been bitter and hateful, or they're not sure why you would want to hurt them so much but they will pray for you.

So I don't think challenging the people who hurt you as a child, on Facebook where you are pretty much surrounded by their friends and family and people who have a vested interest in saying that nothing bad happened to you as a kid (because how would that reflect on them), will necessarily be the most fruitful option.

But even if your brother is making macho narcissistic posts about hitting kids on FB, he hasn't actually done it yet. So I think you might face much less resistance from him if you had a private, very heartfelt conversation with him.

I think he might be invested in feeling like he went through a lot of hitting as a kid, or an equal amount to you, even if that's nowhere near the truth. So it might be better not to challenge him on that necessarily, but to just simply say, "You had the experience you had and I understand you don't see it as a negative thing. My experience was different, here's how it affected me. Here's how it affected me as a child, here's how it has affected me as an adult. Here is how it has affected my relationships with our family, here's how it's affected my adult relationships. I'm telling you this because I want things to be better for your child than they were for me."
posted by cairdeas at 4:56 PM on December 10, 2013 [61 favorites]

Here's the thing: Your brother had a different experience than you, despite being in the same environment. This is not fair or right, but it is what is.

He sees the world differently from you, which enables him to post what he did. Your experiences are foreign to him and he may not even be aware of them (you don't say either way). As such, you really can't expect him see your parents as you do. So you'll have to sort of ignore him and this and let it go.

None of this means you're wrong or your feelings are invalid. But do realize that there are huge differences in experience and therefore perception with your brother and parents. It might be best to decrease your contact with them, for your own mental health.

Also note that Facebook has a feature which can hide a particular friend's post from appearing in your news feed without unfriending them. This is a better way to interact with people Facebook who make you uncomfortable. You won't get any surprise posts which can piss you off, yet you can, at a moment of your own choosing, take a look at what they've been been up to. Food for thought.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:56 PM on December 10, 2013 [9 favorites]

And for god's sake, RESIST the urge to pre-judge what type of father your brother will be.

Do not stir up drama in that corner. Do not cast yourself in a "hero" role for this child, especially before he or she is even born.

I know it's tempting to enmesh yourself and try to "conquer the past" through this future child - but do not do this!!

My brother has a son. My brother is kinda effed up and he's still in tight with our mentally ill mother.

Fortunately, his wife and in-laws are a HUGE presence in his son's life. Also, abuse that was socially acceptable even 10 years ago is totally frowned upon and actionable today.


There is so much early intervention with schools and pediatrician's today, I have a hard time seeing that this won't be a massive influence on your brother. The social pressure to conform to prevailing parenting models is unf&ckingbelievable. So many eyes are on you as a parent, it's totally invasive - BUT - what happened to me (and you ) would not fly in this day and age.

I know this because my son is 2.5 and in preschool. I'm constantly struck by how different everything is from when I was young.

Not to get off-topic, I just really really want to assure you that you can safely step back from these people for the time being.

Most importantly

Please don't put yourself between your brother, his wife, and their child. That is not a healthy or necessary place for you to be right now.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 5:03 PM on December 10, 2013 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Facebook is not the venue to hash this out, but I think a phone call or two where you discuss YOUR experiences growing up in a household with physical abuse and how it has affected you may be helpful.

You don't have to win or even change his mind a little, but a conversation that starts with....

I saw something on facebook the other day that really reminded me of the environment that I grew up in and I wanted to talk to you a little about it......

If he gets his hackles up or denies it, well, there you go, but a short, private conversation where he doesn't have to defend himself to the world will likely get you a lot further in opening his eyes than a facebook comment.

Good luck.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 5:06 PM on December 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Brandon Blatcher: my brother witnessed 99% of what happened to my sister and me. He is aware of it. My sister self harmed for years and has been on antidepressants for 16 years, since she was 15. He knows. But I totally appreciate your advice, thank you. And thank you to everyone so far who has replied. I'm still trying to contain my reaction and this has been beyond helpful.
posted by everydayanewday at 5:06 PM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: This pro-corporal-punishment shit was the last straw for me on FB--there is no way I can see it, whether in a newsfeed or, as Brandon Blatcher suggests, at a moment of my own choosing looking at the person's posts, without becoming utterly enraged. So I quit. I know that the real crux of your problem is that your brother had a different upbringing from yours and doesn't acknowledge your reality, but only on FB would you have to confront this infuriatingly glib condonation of child abuse and be made to feel that your choice is either to take a public stand and endure the ensuing shitstorm, or feel like you're condoning it yourself by your silence.

I think the real answer here is to get away from the bizarre alternate universe of FB and back to real person-to-person communication where the normal rules of social engagement still apply. But, in the meantime, I give you permission to respond or not respond in whatever way is most comfortable for you. You shouldn't be in this position in the first place and I don't think there's any wrong answer here. Staying silent may be good for the future kids, but speaking up may good for them as well. Do what makes you feel strongest.
posted by HotToddy at 5:15 PM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

my brother witnessed 99% of what happened to my sister and me.

I hear ya, but he was rarely hit, so he didn't experience the situation as you and your sister did. Again, this isn't to say that was fair or that your experiences are invalid or lesser. But his are different, which probably enables him to post what he died. Understanding that his experiences are different may help you to understand where he's coming from, which may lessen your anger and frustration.

Good luck!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:19 PM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Do not address this on Facebook. I would say to just cut your brother and parents out of your life, but your brother's about to become a parent and that complicates things.

I would suggest contacting him privately, reminding him that what happened to you went far beyond spanking and was in fact horrific abuse, and telling him that if he ever thinks it's okay to hit his kid, you won't stand by and watch it happen. You will call child protective services on his ass, as often as need be. If he blows up at you, remind him of the abuse you suffered, and make him aware that him dismissing it as "spanking" is a major red flag for the safety of his unborn child. Unless he WANTS to be a monster who beats his child, he needs to take this shit seriously, now.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:30 PM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I dunno. If he is going to post and defend that shit after what I went through I would leave this comment for everyone to see (rewritten as appropriate if you mother did the abuse too; I couldn't tell from your description whether both your mom and dad did it or your mom was just the silent partner):

Joe (or whatever his name is), it hurts me to see you post this. Dad did a lot more than hit me and {sister's name}, he punched us in the side of the head more times than I can count, left welts and bruises on us, threatened {sister} with a kitchen knife, held us off the ground by our necks, locked us in the bathroom and hit us for half an hour for eating the wrong yogurt from the fridge, knocked us over if we spoke back to him, and on and on. This didn't teach me "respect for others," it taught me to fear and distrust the people I was supposed to love. For some reason Dad rarely hit you so I guess your experience was different, but it hurts to see you and Mom joking about this.

I would post that and assume that he is going to deny things happened and call me a liar and a sick person or whatever, and be prepared for that. But it would be up there for other people to see and judge.

On the other hand, if you don't want other people to know about the abuse that occurred in your family, don't do that.

In any case, I'm sorry your family hurt you like that and I hope you are okay.
posted by onlyconnect at 5:47 PM on December 10, 2013 [16 favorites]

Best answer: I'm so sorry. Your brother should be more sensitive, but he's not. You may want to have a private conversation with him about it so that he realizes the gravity of how terribly you were abused and that encouraging anyone, especially someone who should have protected you, to minimize it is harmful to you. Your mother, on the other hand, is trying to sanitize the abuse and neglect she is directly responsible for. She was not a good mother to you and no amount of liking stupid shit on Facebook will change that. You may want to consider blocking her on FB so you don't see her triggering nonsense. It's fine to cut her and your father off. They earned it.

Keep an eye on that kid. Having an adult who sees bad things happening and has the power to stop it is the best thing a child can have.

You are not overreacting. If you want to respond, do it. They're the ones who continue to act badly, not you. I'm sorry that this has happened. Surviving childhood abuse is hard enough. Having to endure the people who let it all happen pretend it didn't happen is adding insult to profound injury. It's gaslighting and it's not right.
posted by quince at 5:54 PM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

me and {sister's name}

Just an aside but it's probably not a good idea to not post your sister's name and experiences without her permission.

And on that note, have you talked with your sister? Maybe talking things over with her first might help. You could commiserate and vent and maybe also figure out the best way to address it.

Good luck.
posted by Beti at 5:55 PM on December 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

"... and telling him that if he ever thinks it's okay to hit his kid, you won't stand by and watch it happen. You will call child protective services on his ass, as often as need be."

I know this is a satisfying fantasy, but Do Not Do This.

OP, when your very hormonal SIL hears that you are threatening to call Child Protective Services before her precious child is even born your brother and sister-in-law (and her family, and yours) will rightfully block you from all interaction with your niece or nephew and you will never ever be welcome in their lives ever again.

Some other things that are likely:

- You might start a war in your family, with yourself on the minority/losing side, and that's if you have any allies at all.

- If/when you do need to call CPS, your brother and wife can get a lawyer and absent physical evidence, your claims will be dismissed as revenge or vendetta, rather than seriously investigated.


It's cool. It's cool. I understand you're super fucking pissed and concerned. I get it.

Play it low key. Play the long game. Eschew the dramatics, because down that road only lies failure, heartache, and self-destruction.

Therapist so you can get it all out somewhere safe. Stat.
posted by jbenben at 5:58 PM on December 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I don't agree not to say anything. Tell the truth. Call your mom and brother on the bullshit. What is it going to hurt now? Just say something similar to what you have said here, and that you are not going to debate them, but that you also refuse to continue to propagate the myth that what happened to you as a child wasn't abuse, and that you hope no child will suffer what you suffered under the guise of legitimate punishment. Abusers deserve to be called out in a public forum. They may never admit/realize what they've done, but if even one person reads your comment, and thinks a little more and maybe starts to change their mind, it will have done good.

And after that, you don't need to engage in any debate, or engage with them at all. Block them if you need to, distance yourself. But I strongly believe it is always right to speak out against abuse, especially publicly.
posted by catatethebird at 5:59 PM on December 10, 2013 [9 favorites]

Oh my god, this is so inappropriate. I would not hide their posts, but rather I would block them. Don't make a scene about it, just get on with your life.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:06 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Jbenben, I understand not threatening to call CPS before anything has happened. But I think it makes sense to let him know that he needs to be very careful to not perpetuate the cycle of abuse, and to warn him that she won't stay quiet if he does ever hit his kids. Tone matters a lot, here. They come from an abusive family, and if he is already talking about spanking his kids before they are even born, he needs to take a hard look at himself before it's too late for his kids. If she can get through to him NOW, maybe she can prevent future abuse from happening.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:29 PM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I feel like you should do whatever the shit you want, with the knowledge that being gentle and low key might have benefits (and if probably the best solution depending on your desired outcome and desire for self protection) and so can speaking your mind while preparing to completely distance yourself from your family for doing so.

Do whatever you want.

You're a grown up, so what if you tell a child abuse supporter how shitty they are and it pisses them off? I mean, who cares?

If YOU care about the fall back, then it's worth being careful what you say, but what OTHER people think about whether or how you tell your abusive family off, or the concept that telling abusers they are terrible is somehow more dramatic than BEING an abuser/abuse apologist is innately "abuse culture"-- culture that supports abuse over people that speak out.

I think for self preservation sake you would be safer saying nothing, but if you feel like it's worth saying something I say go for it, if possible try to put actual research into what you say and be prepared to not ever speak again and deal with some terrible emails/blackmailing sort of behavior from your family for daring to challenge the abusive family system.

Make sure you're prepared to give yourself a safe space from people like this. You escaped. You are safe now. They never have the right to talk to you like that again, or justify the abuse you endured right in front of you like that. One possible idea: putting some effort into a low key and direct statement like "Here is some research about types of behaviors are abusive. Here is some research on outcomes for children of parents who use violent discipline and verbal abuse in their parenting style"

Let the research talk for you and then DO NOT debate. This is not a debate you know it's abuse and you aren't interested in their feedback, you're just letting them know that you will not be interacting with people who enable and celebrate child abuse. While there is something to be said for acknowledging that it's unlikely to make any dent or could make them more determined to their own ways, imagine if they go through life and no one has the guts to tell them they are celebrating child abuse and it's horrible? It could be worth saying even if it doesn't change anything. And for the sake of others who see you say something....

It would also probably protect your emotional self to just say nothing in THIS particular situation and instead channel your frustration into combating child abuse culture with other people working on methods to address abusive parenting at the community and policy level.
posted by xarnop at 6:37 PM on December 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: One way I approach facebook is as a means to address some of that crap. In some cases, a direct, thoughtful comment can have some influence on other people reading it. Maybe Hitting children teaches through fear. I hope there's a better way. Anger and confrontation don't seem to be very effective. You could talk to your brother, and tell him how affected you still are by the violence you experienced, and tell him that seeing that recommendation brought back painful memories, and that it still influences how you think of your parents. Listen to him - when I've had good dialog with people whose ideas are pretty different than mine, it's because I really listened.

If you don't want to respond, that's okay, too. There are lots of wrongs in the world, you can't fix them all.

I hope you can find some peace; that kind of childhood pain is a hard burden.
posted by theora55 at 6:58 PM on December 10, 2013 [7 favorites]

Best answer: everydayanewday, I am so appreciative of you sharing your experience and I hope that the future finds a good resolution and mindfulness about these topics for you.

It's 100% your decision how you want to respond or not respond to this idiocy and you have every right to do what helps you feel secure and helps you move forward.

I don't have a past like your past but I hope you see that all of us here are allies for ending corporal punishment and child abuse. If this came up on my Facebook newsfeed I would go straight to the evidence that proves that your views are right in every imaginable way. I agree with others that a private conversation about this with your brother might be the best way to go and could be the most likely to lead to a positive discussion.

It is possible, and maybe even likely, that your brother is processing his own experience and witnessing of abuse and trying to make sense of it, especially in light of his own pending fatherhood. Rationalizing it away is a common defense mechanism. Anti-violence professionals often point out that being a witness to abuse, especially in childhood, is its own type of trauma. In fact, children witnessing abuse is legally considered abuse in and of itself.

Here's a cheat sheet if you decide to go the evidence-based route.

Research has shown that corporal punishment leads to very bad outcomes for children. It shows that:
  • Using corporal punishment to create compliance in children does not translate into improved moral reasoning. Children are smart. The child will comply in the moment but will know that it is okay to act out when the parent is not present.
  • Studies have shown that corporal punishment increases aggression due to behavior modeling, especially when the parent is not present.
  • "Parental corporal punishment was associated with all child constructs, including higher levels of immediate compliance and aggression and lower levels of moral internalization and mental health." []
  • "[Study participants] who experienced corporal punishment in adolescence had an increased risk later in life of depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts, alcohol abuse, physical abuse of children, and wife beating." []
  • "The pervasiveness of CP reported in this article, and the harmful side effects of CP shown by recent longitudinal research, indicates a need for psychology and sociology textbooks to reverse the current tendency to almost ignore CP and instead treat it as a major aspect of the socialization experience of American children; and for developmental psychologists to be cognizant of the likelihood that parents are using CP far more often than even advocates of CP recommend, and to inform parents about the risks involved." []
  • Banning corporal punishment has a society-wide positive effect because abusers can no longer push the envelope or rationalize abuse as corporal punishment. "In 1979, Sweden became the first nation to explicitly prohibit all forms of corporal punishment of children by all caretakers […] Public support for corporal punishment has declined, identification of children at risk has increased, child abuse mortality is rare, prosecution rates have remained steady, and social service intervention has become increasingly supportive and preventive. […] The Swedish ban has been highly successful in accomplishing its goals." []

posted by Skwirl at 7:11 PM on December 10, 2013 [27 favorites]

I would "hide" him on Facebook. Then, if I thought he had the ability to absorb information, for the sake of the baby coming, I might speak with him privately the way someone suggested above ("...this is how the hitting affected me..."). I would definitely no way try to start a fight about it on Facebook -- there is no way that you're going to end up feeling better at the end of that fight. And it might be nice to talk to a counselor about all this -- it really is maddening -- and I hope you find some kind of stress release that brings you peace.
posted by feets at 7:21 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It always annoys me when someone does something extremely provocative (making a hilarious FB post minimising violence against children in full knowledge that someone in their immediate family who was abused in this way will see it) (and then another person, who could be said to have aided and abetted that abuse approves of the hilarious post) and people tell the person who is being provoked not to start anything.

This is a topic I am almost irrational about. But I would say something, possibly both in private as well as in public: because what people say in public, that is not contradicted? Is generally then assumed to be true.
posted by Kaleidoscope at 9:57 PM on December 10, 2013 [8 favorites]

Best answer: A friend posted this on FB yesterday. Had it been my own brother – we grew up in a very similar context, spanked and hit for no good reason (I don't remember a single transgression I was hit for, all I remember is being scared to fucking hell) – I would be fucking LIVID as well. As in it would take me an hour or so to calm down, and even then, "calm down" would be verrrrry relative. As in this is one of the specific reasons I am no longer in contact with any of them, in any way, because life sucks when you have to deal with trigger-bombs like this on an unpredictable basis.

As it was, it was "just" a friend who I know is not abusive, is in a context where swat-type spanking is still acceptable (ugh), and who is also familiar with abuse I went through. But to top things off, a different friend commented along the lines of "ha ha no kidding!"

I replied "My parents were racist homophobes and they spanked me. I learned respect from my teachers (who did not spank me)." Thing is, these friends know this: my parents sabotaged a childhood friendship of mine (now repaired, thank goodness) with a girl whose father was black and mother was white, and they condoned the abuse of my gay cousin, as well as throwing a shitfest tantrum that did not end for years when my brothister came out as transgender; he eventually "decided" he isn't, only then did they suddenly "return" to the "sweet accepting parents they had always been" :(

I can tell you how that turned out because it's been more than 24 hours now: not a single other person commented on or liked that post. The two friends involved have "liked" and commented on other things of mine.

It all depends on your family's dynamics. I'm with all of the suggestions here – ignoring may be a good course, responding may be a good thing (it is a public forum, it can indeed be good to call out this shit), blocking may be a good way to go. I would say follow your gut.

Do be aware that, as others have also said, you may not be able to keep an eye on your new niece/nephew. While I hope it doesn't come to that, it's good to keep in mind that you need to keep your own oxygen mask on. If staying in touch with your family for that kid's sake becomes overwhelmingly taxing, it's okay to cut off contact. Things have come a long way indeed; doctors, hospitals, teachers, etc. are all much more aware of abuse and able to handle it, in constructive interventions with parents, support/therapy for abused children, and so forth. You're not the only one who can or will reach out to the little one. And if you do reach the point where cutting off contact is necessary for your well-being, keep in mind it's not the end of your relationship with the kid – they may well grow up in awareness, and end up contacting you of their own accord someday. (I did just that when I left my family, got in touch with relatives who had always been painted as "the crazy ones who won't speak to us." As you've likely guessed, they weren't actually the crazy ones.)
posted by fraula at 10:56 PM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Find something that basically says "as a child I was taught to treat others as I wanted to be treated, and thus learned respect for myself and others.". Or some other variation on the golden rule, with a share if you agree. I am betting they both like it, which will show you how mindlessly they do things. If they disagree, well, you know where they stand and you can hide their posts. But do friend your sister in law so you know what is going on with baby.
posted by 101cats at 11:17 PM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

I ignore 90% of the crap my family posts. Unless there is some active abuse going on, it's just not worth it, for your own mental health, to interact with them about it.
posted by empath at 1:11 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mod note: I'd maybe post something like this, linked to the article:


Time Magazine: Hitting Your Kids Increases Their Risk of Mental Illness

Children who are pushed, grabbed, shoved, slapped or hit are more likely to be diagnosed with mental illness. Just one more reason to embrace alternative forms of discipline

You could just post this on your page, or post it as an reply, but I'd stay away from making any response a personal fight or soulbaring, emotional, autobiographical thing (because if you are going to do that, do it on your own terms, when, where, and how you choose – if you choose; don't be goaded into it by a moronic facebook post).

Just respond with hard-hitting research, articles, studies. Let them rail against that all they want, but they won't be able to tell you that you are making things up or exaggerating, etc.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:28 AM on December 11, 2013 [10 favorites]

Oh, and I'd make these very brief, matter-of-fact things, posted without comment – not a huge pile of links that might make it look like you are feverishly scouring the web and compiling things. Just make it a short, casual post, and keep cool.

If people overreact to something simple and straightforward, well then they look like reactionary nuts. You keep things simple and impersonal.
posted by taz at 2:33 AM on December 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Facebook's best feature is that you can remove it from your life.

Seriously, you will end up the happier for it.
posted by flabdablet at 5:24 AM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Coming into this late, but one reason I keep family members off of my social media is that people love to use it to make passive-aggressive points, which to me this one is a fantastic example. They can always say it isn't about you at all.

My parents were both abusive. My mother acknowledged it and apologized. My father, until the end of his days, denied and-- albeit without the use of social media-- used passive-aggressive tactics to try and make me buy into that denial. He would make these sorts of comments in front of other people and if not confronted about them, appeared to feel vindicated. My blood boiled reading what just happened to you, because it reminded me of that so much. And also, it is SO irritating when a person not directly affected seems to buy into it. I've spent a lot of my life angrier with my mother and sisters for not standing up to our father than I was at my father, whose behavior was so extreme and irrational that it almost seemed like a force of nature. I felt better after I had a couple of very focused discussions with my father in which I told him exactly what I thought of his abuse. The discussions by the way were brought on by comments he made which, when the opportunity was right, I responded to rather then let them go by as he counted on. I sort of lucked into these situations because we were on our own and he gave me an opening. His response was not entirely satisfactory, but entirely unsatisfactory either, and I felt I'd said my piece.

I don't think you should just let this kind of shit go by indefinitely, but I don't think Facebook is the place to deal with it. I think you need to talk to these people directly, either apropos of this exchange or, preferably, when it comes up in an actual conversation. And I think it's good to speak to the abuser, not just the enablers. Forgive me if I missed something about your father's status now. Is he alive?

I'm not completely against the idea of posting anti-corporal punishment materials on Facebook but unfortunately, real abusers are apt to be encouraged by that. They have this fiction in their mind that what they did was just a form of punishment which may be controversial but is still in the realm of normal. "Some people don't approve of spanking but that's just some people." That's really what your brother's post is doing, in a way, and responding on the level of spanking validates it to some extent. I'd avoid going down that road.
posted by BibiRose at 5:52 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ignore, block your family on FB consider not dealing with them at all in the future.

If something like this is triggering you, no good can come from drama on FB.

You may want to talk to your brother and let him know that this upset you.

As for your's okay not to deal with them ever again in life. Honest.

Do work with your emotional reaction to this. Understand that your brother may not have intended to hurt you with it, but that he may be trying to rationalize in his own head, that the people he loved weren't hurting him and his sisters, but were trying to teach you all something.

It's very hard for some people to wrap their heads around the fact that the people who are hitting them, while claiming to love them, may not, in fact be entitled to reciprocal love or respect.

Cut your brother some slack.

Your parents, I don't know how you've left your relationship with them, but they'll never get it, not in a million years, so stop tilting at that windmill.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:25 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I would be tempted to write "what a load of crap", because that's what it is. But i'd also be tempted to cut these people out of my life, because people who hit children aren't the ones who get respect from me.
posted by windykites at 9:35 AM on December 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

I would just block all these people from your feed. Nothing good can come from engaging with them on facebook.

Honestly, I've seen some people attempt to normalize the abuse they suffered as children as just "spanking" or "normal" or some kind of necessary part of growing up.
posted by inertia at 11:04 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't wrestle with pigs. You get dirty, and the pig likes it.

What will addressing this do FOR YOU? Probably cause you stress and pain, and re-injure you in many ways. Spare yourself.
posted by SarahBellum at 8:06 PM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

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