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Drops of Longing: Children’s Responses to Violence and Adversity Allan Wade Lulea, Sweden, January 18th, 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Drops of Longing: Children’s Responses to Violence and Adversity Allan Wade Lulea, Sweden, January 18th, 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Drops of Longing: Children’s Responses to Violence and Adversity Allan Wade Lulea, Sweden, January 18th, 2012

2 The Prevailing Effects-Based Approach Children are seen as: - “exposed to”- “subjected to”- “impacted” - “affected by” - “witness” The “biopsychosocial” model: - biological effects: hormones, epigenetics - psychological effects: emotional, cognitive development - social effects: social-psychological problems (behaviour) The purpose is to understand the harm done to children, to develop treatment and other interventions. “Resilience” and “strengths-based” approaches are a step forward, but...

3 Questions How are children affected by violence/adversity? What are the effects/impacts of violence? What are the clinical sequale of violence? What are the short and long term health outcomes? These effects reside in children’s bodies and brains. How do we treat these effects? These questions: (a) ignore social responses (b) assume that suffering can be represented as an “effect” or “impact” (c) ignore and conceal children’s responses and resistance

4 An Alternative View There is overwhelming evidence that children respond to and resist violence, from minor affronts to dignity, to extreme and long-term violence. Memoirs Interviews with children Fiction Historical texts Children intervene in violence by one parent against another. They do not simply “witness” Psychological and psychiatric models have constructed children as passive recipients of the world, as receptacles that are filled, as clay that is molded, as beings that are conditioned – as affected objects more than responding agents. If it is difficult to realize that adults respond and resist, it has been even more challenging to recognize resistance in children.

5 Other Questions How do children respond to violence/adversity? How do children respond before and during assaults? Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually How do children respond immediately after and long after? How do children respond to their parents’ responses? How do children respond to positive and negative social responses?

6 Topics Talking with Children Hyden and Overlein. Talking with Former Children Examples from therapy, interventions Dissidents’ Memoirs of Childhoods Taras Shevenko George Orwell Malcolm X Rigoberta Menchu Carl Rogers Writing for Children Astrid Lindgren Working for Children in Domestic Violence Cases The Terrible Bind: War and Domestic Violence Supporting the Parent-Child Bond

7 Karin: Carolina: Can I ask in those situations when you were scared and felt like something was wrong, did you feel like you could do something then? Karin: No, that was the thing. I was so little and had so many feelings. Sometimes I could say to daddy, please dad please be quiet, don’t be bothered by what mummy says. I played along with him for a while and played along with him and thought this will help and pretended that mummy was the one who was sick. So I said that if you could only be quiet don’t be bothered by what she is saying you know she is wrong (pause) so be quiet and go outside and be angry. Karin pleaded with her father, protected her mother, played along and pretended to agree with her father to calm him down, and tried to reason with him by appealing to his own logic.

8 Lotta: Margareta: Have things been okay at home? Lotta: Yes, but then yesterday mum and dad started fighting about something, but I just closed my ears. Margareta: What do you do when you close your ears? Do you use something to put in your ears? Lotta: No, I try not to care or try to talk to them about something else. Then I listen to really loud music so they’ll get angry at me instead. Lotta responded by ignoring and distracting herself from the “fighting”, then by changing the topic, and finally by offering herself as the problem.

9 Resistance to Racism in Childhood (Kim, 1991) As a child, I listened to the stories of my mother's childhood. We were drawn together in our common experience of oppression. I learned defiance and determination from my mother, my role model. My mother was a pillar of strength and hope. She had survived genocide and devastation in the Korean war, and I, her daughter, was convinced that I too could overcome all adversity. (p. 205)

10 Kim (cont’d) Silenced by the dominant white culture, silenced by the white people, I was told who I was, what I was, and who I should be. Silenced by my school teachers who taught in a school that was Eurocentric, monolingual and neo-colonial, I learned to live with the silences. I closed my mind to their thinking. I learned to regurgitate the words and their worldview. I learned to be a good student, reciting what my teachers wanted to hear. I chose to ignore white people when I heard condescension in their voices. School became a place where I learned the lessons of survival in a white racist culture. (1991, p. 207)

11 Evelyn I would be crying and pushing his [her father’s] hand away, asking him to stop…it got to the point where I would not go home if the car was not parked outside or play outside until my mom or older sister got home. I remember sleeping with my clothes on, it was my security for awhile for when I was approached. By the time they could get my pants undone and down and undo theirs, I would have my pants up again. I would sleep on my stomach and would lay stiff. If my parents had a drinking party I would lay on the outside of my kid sister’s covers in bed so no one would hurt her. If they had to get their rocks off I would rather it be me instead of her.

12 Everytime they had parties I slept in my clothes and sometimes [I had] a knife in the door frame or under my pillow. When I was 15 I started going to the bar. When men started paying attention to me it felt good but I knew what it was they wanted. I would accept drinks at first, cocktease them and then tell them to get lost. They would call me a fucking cock-teasing bitch. I would reply “Yeah, and a good one”. After seeing my older sister being beaten to a pulp I told myself I would never let a man do that to me, so I told my [first] husband to leave and that was the end of him. Evelyn concluded: I am able to voice my opinion rather than stay quiet. I can tell my husband and others how I feel without feeling guilty. I will always continue to go forward.

13 Taras Schevchenko

14 “I AM THE SON of Gregory [1] Shevchenko, peasant and serf. I was born on March 9, 1814, in Kerelivka, a village in the county of Zvenihorod, province of Kiev, upon the estate of a landowner.” Parents died when he was 8 Taken in by the village “sexton” This began a period of bondage and abuse by several such local despots

15 The master's power over children/orphans has practically no limits. They have to perform all domestic duties and to fulfill every possible whim of the master and members of his household. You can imagine what the sexton in question, a wretched drunkard, could demand of me, and the things I had to do with the self-abasement of a slave. There was nobody in this world who could be expected to trouble themselves about my unhappy lot.

16 My sexton treated all his pupils with extreme harshness, and we all hated him. His unreasonable cruelty made us cunning and revengeful. We used to deceive him, and did all the mischief we could think of. He was the first despot I ever met, and my whole life long he filled me with hatred and contempt for every kind of coercion as practiced by one human being upon another. My childish heart was wounded by such educational methods a thousand times a day, and I concluded - as all defenseless people are bound to conclude when they cannot bear injury any longer - with revenge and flight.

17 One day I came upon my teacher in a state of drunken stupor and, turning upon him his own weapon, the rod, I used it as well as my childish strength permitted. This was my only chance to get even with him for all his brutality. Among his earthly possessions this drunken sexton had a little book with pictures, and although the engravings were of extremely poor workmanship, at that time they appeared to me as the most precious work of art. I could not resist temptation. I took the little picture book and ran away by night to the town of Lysyanka.

18 Shevchenko runs back to his home village hoping to become a shepherd because “a shepherd should have at least enough leisure to peruse his stolen picture book”. But his master forced him to become a “page boy”. He was able to escape the role of “minstrel”, which befell other children, but his master ordered him “to stay silent and motionless until he should order me to hand him his pipe, which stood quite close to him, or to fill a glass with water. Because of my stubborn character, I broke my master's order and sang sad Haidamak songs in a hardly audible voice and secretly copied the pictures of the Suzdal school decorating the rooms of my master. I drew with a pencil which I confess, with no feeling of guilty conscience, I stole from the storekeeper.

19 As I followed my restless master from one house of call to another, I took advantage of every opportunity to pilfer as many woodcuts from the walls as I could. I should add that it was not the collector's craze that made me do this but the irrepressible desire to paint or, rather, to make copies of every drawing I had seen. One day during our stay in Vilna, my master and his wife went to a ball of the local nobility to celebrate the name day of His Majesty Tsar Nikolai Pavlovich. The servants were asleep and the house was wrapped in complete darkness. In my solitary room I lit a candle, uncovered my stolen treasures and having selected from among them the picture "Cossack Platov," I began to copy.

20 In the spring of 1832 I completed my eighteenth year, still a lackey but as such a complete failure and a disappointment to my master. This might have been the reason why he, finally, gave in to my unceasing requests and allowed me to learn how to paint. I was hired out for a period of four years to an ornamental painter and decorator in St. Petersburg, who combined within himself the talents and the habits of both the hard-drinking sexton and the other sacristan, the practitioner of palmistry. Although I did not learn anything in the daytime, I could spend the moonlight Spring nights in the St. Petersburg Summer Garden and make drawings of the statues which embellished that creation of Peter the Great. It was there that I made the acquaintance of the artist lvan Maximovich Soshenko, a fellow countryman who has been like a brother to this day.

21 Upon his advice, I began to try my hand at watercolor studies from nature. During my early and feeble attempts I had a model in toe person of Ivan Nechiporenko, another fellow countryman and friend of mine and also one of my master's servants. One day the master discovered one of my paintings in Nechiporenko's hands, and he liked it so much that he employed me to paint portraits of his mistress. Now and then he even rewarded me with a ruble.

22 As to my literary work, I will say only that it had its beginning on those moonless white nights. For a long time my strict Ukrainian muse, distorted by experiences in school, in the ante-chambers of manors and in various city quarters, kept away from me. However, when the breath of freedom returned to my senses the purity of my childhood passed under the roof of my father's poor home, the blessed Ukrainian muse came and embraced me in a foreign land.

23 I must confess that this short story of my life cost me more than I would have expected. How many years wasted, one after another! And what have I, through all my efforts, redeemed from destiny? I have survived, that is, preserved my bare life and, with that, this dreadful insight into my past. It is dreadful, all the more dreadful for me, as my own brothers and sisters - I was not strong enough to mention this in my story - have remained serfs to the present day. On March 22, 1845, the Council of the Academy of Arts granted Shevchenko the title of an artist.

24 In captivity, alone there is no one With whom to join your heart. Alone, I’m searching for someone To talk to. I’m searching for God, but I find only That God forbid I say it. This is what the years and cruel fate Have done to me; add to this That my precious youth Has passed in clouds, that there isn’t Even a single event That’s worth recalling. But you have to comfort your soul, For it so wants, so pleads at least For a word of peace. You can’t hear, It’s as though the snow in the field is Drifting over a still warm corpse. (1848)

25 Malcolm X “Tell me why I’m wrong.” “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything. ”

26 Malcolm X Malcolm X was one of the top students in his class, and the only black student. One day his teacher, whom he liked, asked him if he had been thinking about a career. Malcolm replied, "Well, yes, sir... I'd like to be a lawyer". “Mr. Ostrowski looked surprised, I remember, and leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head. He kind of half- smiled and said, 'Malcolm, one of life's first needs is for us to be realistic. Don't misunderstand me, now. We all like you, you know that. But you've got to be realistic about being a nigger. A lawyer - that's no realistic goal for a nigger. You need to think about something you can be. You're good with your hands - making things.” (p. 36)

27 Malcolm X cont’d Malcolm immediately recognized his teacher's comments as racist and responded accordingly. “It was then that I began to change—inside. I drew away from white people. I came to class, and I answered when called upon. It became a physical strain simply to sit in Mr. Ostrowski's class.... Where 'nigger' had slipped off my back before, wherever I heard it now, I stopped and looked at whoever said it. And they looked surprised that I did.... In a few more weeks, it was that way, too, at the restaurant where I worked washing dishes, and at the [foster home].” (p. 37)

28 George Orwell A Hanging Shooting an Elephant How the Poor Die Such, Such Were the Joys

29 “Such, Such Were the Joys” How, in a context of violence and constant surveillance, does a child build a barrier between himself and his tormentors, behind which he can create some form of safety, belonging and autonomy?

30 Simon “Summoning the perpetrator... “

31 George Orwell A Hanging Politics and the English Language Shooting an Elephant How the Poor Die 1984 Such, Such Were the Joys

32 Orwell: “Such, Such Were the Joys” How, in a context of violence and constant surveillance, does a child build a barrier between himself and his tormentors, behind which he can create some sense of freedom, some form of safety and social connection?

33 Malcolm X “Tell me why I’m wrong.” “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything. ”

34 Malcolm X Malcolm X was one of the top students in his class, and the only black student. One day his teacher, whom he liked, asked him if he had been thinking about a career. Malcolm replied, "Well, yes, sir... I'd like to be a lawyer". “Mr. Ostrowski looked surprised, I remember, and leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head. He kind of half- smiled and said, 'Malcolm, one of life's first needs is for us to be realistic. Don't misunderstand me, now. We all like you, you know that. But you've got to be realistic about being a nigger. A lawyer - that's no realistic goal for a nigger. You need to think about something you can be. You're good with your hands - making things.” (p. 36)

35 Malcolm X cont’d Malcolm immediately recognized his teacher's comments as racist and responded accordingly. “It was then that I began to change—inside. I drew away from white people. I came to class, and I answered when called upon. It became a physical strain simply to sit in Mr. Ostrowski's class.... Where 'nigger' had slipped off my back before, wherever I heard it now, I stopped and looked at whoever said it. And they looked surprised that I did.... In a few more weeks, it was that way, too, at the restaurant where I worked washing dishes, and at the [foster home].” (p. 37)

36 Vaclav Havel

37 Something of that early self-awareness probably stayed with me: My bourgeois background... awakened (or, more exactly, strengthened) within me something like a social emotion, an antagonism toward undeserved privileges, toward unjust social barriers, toward any kind of so-called higher standing predetermined by birth or by anything else, toward any humiliation of human dignity. (p. 7) I've always understood my mission to be to speak the truth... to warn rather than hand out prescriptions for change (p. 8)... to nourish the plurality of social association from below. (p. 21).

38 Carl Rogers

39 Carl Rogers, the famous counsellor, was once asked if he would like to share his accomplishments with his parents. He replied: “My mother was a person you never told anything to. I would never have thought of telling anything significant to my mother, because I know that she would have a judgment about it and it probably would be negative”. Rogers referred to person-centred counselling - based on non- judgment, unconditional positive regard, and careful listening – as “the reciprocal” of his mother’s approach.

40 Rigoberta Menchu

41 “I was five when she was doing this work and I looked after my little brother. I wasn't earning yet. I used to watch my mother, who often had the food ready at three o'clock in the morning for the workers who started work early, and at eleven she had the food for the midday meal ready. At seven in the evening she had to run around again making food for her group. In between times, she worked picking coffee to supplement what she earned. Watching her made me feel useless and weak because I couldn't do anything to help her except look after my brother. That's when my consciousness was born. It's true. My mother didn't like the idea of me working, of earning my own money, but I did. I wanted to work, more than anything to help her, both economically and physically.” (1984, p. 34)

42 Astrid Lindgren

43 Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraimsdaughter Longstocking Pippilotta Viktualia Rullgardina Krusmynta Efraimsdotter Långstrump

44 Who is Pippi? An orphan. Alone. Does not attend school. Cannot read or do arithmetic. “Guineas and Lockes” Treasure Chest of Gold and Villa Villekula Striking, bold looks A profound sense of justice and fair play Great physical strength Loves animals Immense loyalty and bravery Fun-loving

45 Pippi gives Mr. Blomsterlund a lesson & whistles a tune.

46 Pippi entertains two burglars.

47 Pippi plays tag with the nice policemen.

48 Pippi draws at school... on the floor.

49 Pippi pulls Tommy and Annika to shore.

50

51 Mio, My Son Bosse, 9, is in foster care with foster parents who dislike boys and are psychologically abusive. He creates a “fantasy” world where the King of “Faraway Land” is his natural father, and is renamed “Mio” (my son). The “fantasy” directly counters the specific aspects of the abuse and includes characters who provided positive social responses. Friend, water cart horse, grocery store lady. An evil knight, Kato, is stealing children, so Mio must fight him to protect his father and his people.

52 Mio With the golden apple, sees the bottle of Stockholm Ale, which he opens to discover the genie.

53 Mio and friend in Faraway Land

54 Considerations for Children Who Have Endured Violence Abusive fathers often try to turn children against their mothers It becomes wrong to like, love, listen to, Mom Children fear one or both parents will die Children want to help one or both parents, siblings Aggressive youth, overburdened with responsibility. History of negative or ineffective social responses Stigmatized with other labels, programs Feel they are to blame, bad, disloyal, messed up, helpless May become distressed/act out with closeness

55 Similarities for Children Between Wife-Assault and War Adapted from Fr. Ignacio Martin-Baro, “Toward a Liberation Psychology” The violence is foreseeable, predictable Violence is enabled by complex social systems Authorities, social systems are ineffective and untrustworthy Adults who would protect are violated or violent Personal development in abnormal conditions Forced choice: Implications for identity It is pointless to suggest that the trauma resides in an individual or to focus on individual treatment. Our response must be collective and relational, aimed at restoring relationships in a context of safety and dignity.

56 Renee-Claude Carrier Activist, A.-D. Yukon Women’s Transition House Kayaker, Climber Home Builder Montagnais Nation

57 Supporting the Mother-Child Bond Renee-Claude Carriere “Working with children together with their mothers just naturally seemed like the right thing to do. For a time, there was push to take kids aside, to interview them and to do programming with them apart from their mothers. Working in a transition home, I saw that as not productive. I was not comfortable with that way of working. Many of the women I had worked with had had their children apprehended. For many of our First Nations clients in particular, if I was to take their children aside, I could be seen as a threat.”

58 Renee-Claude Carriere “Where I feel we begin to break the cycle of violence is where we help children see their mother as a good mother, as a mother who protected them. I try to change the messages the children hear. Children hear their mothers get blamed and so they are very confused. The more I could hang out and talk, the more I could point out, “You know, your Mom’s not lazy” and “Look how hard she works”, the better it is for the children. Its often very small and subtle comments. Children see that their mother does work hard, “is not stupid, and does love me.”

59 “In the first 24 hours after children come to Kaushee’s Place, they’re busy being peacemakers. They want no trouble. They want Mom to go home because Dad might be upset. Our job is to make sure they understand “you’re not going home, Dad is going to be okay, everyone is going to be okay - you’re safe.” Their fear is not about being traumatized. It’s about them trying to respond to the violence they think is going to come as a result of coming to the transition house”. Renee-Claude Carriere

60 ... and a response-based shed. Good things Worries Dreams

61 Gloria and Cindy Dennis

62 Thank you so much for your kind attention and commitment to this work. Happy trails!!

63 George Sand


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