A Hard Name = A Hard Life

Can One Overcome An Abusive Childhood?

Last month, I watched a heart-breaking, raw documentary on TVO. A Hard Name details the life and times of ex-convicts trying to make their way through  our world after serving time in jail for a variety of horrendous and petty crimes – robbery, assault, fraud, etc.

It’s easy to judge criminals – they’re “bad”, they don’t care about society, they’re selfish and careless. This may be true to some extent. However, an inconvenient truth reveals that many “bad” adults have been violated, assaulted, insulted and abused as children.  This lethal treatment has left them numb to the world, incapable of making sense of normal and of legal paths.

One man, an ex-con, featured in A Hard Name recounts how his mother sent him off to live with his biological father in a distant city when he was a small child. The man’s step-mother felt threatened by this little boy – beat and humiliated him and finally convinced his father to send the boy to a psychiatric facility. A few years later, after suffering through his experience at the facility, the boy was told his father had died. He attended the funeral and then went “home” to live with his step-mother. After a short time, his step-mother told the boy they were moving. “Where are we moving to, Mama?” he asked. “You’re not moving, WE are moving,” he was told. The woman then packed up the rest of the family and moved away leaving this boy to fend for himself on the streets.

Can you imagine? Tell me: how can you grow up to love and appreciate yourself and others after suffering through such trauma? Can one ever recover from a harsh and brutal upbringing? What do you think?

6 responses to “A Hard Name = A Hard Life

  1. I think that even attempting to overcome such a brutal childhood would require therapy and other professional help that a person in such circumstances could never afford. It’s absolutely tragic that likely the only shelter and/or assistance available to them is something like prison.

  2. Lisa, this is a good reminder that we don’t know what a person’s been through so we can’t judge them. Good post.

  3. Lisa,
    This is such a tough issue. I honestly believe bad things that happen alter early in childhood affect a person’s brain forever. It is hard to “fix” a broken brain.

    Years ago, I read a book called “Ghosts from the Nursery, Tracing the Roots of Violence” by Robin Karr-Morse. It makes a good case for the idea that once someone has lived through horrible violence, they won’t change without some intensive intervention. Change is possible, but oh so hard.

  4. Pingback: Are You a Brother (or Sister) From Another Mother? | Kids & Mental Health

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