The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Last minute "compromise" on s59?

Just picked up this Newstalk ZB story via Scoopit:

...Prime Minister Helen Clark and National leader John Key are about to
make an announcement over an amendment that their parties have agreed to.

It is understood the amendment will prevent police from prosecuting
parents for a smack to a child which is deemed trivial or trifling...
I have a bad feeling about this. I'd feel less foreboding if the article mentioned the involvement of Sue Bradford, the actual author of the original Bill.


Idiot/Savant said...

I had a bad feeling to, and made rather more of a dick of myself over it (oh, but it felt so good to vent). But its actually a good clause, and the bill is now goign to pass with an enormous majority.

Take that, Pope Tamaki!

Span said...

Yay!!!! Thanks so much for putting my mind at rest, I have no radio or anything and I have too much work to do today to spend much time on the net.

Hewligan said...

[url=]Well, Sue Bradford seems happy enough with it, even if she considered it unnecessary[/url].

Which it probably was. Still, as compromises go, it doesn't seem too bad.

Simon said...

It will not prevent the police from prosecuting as you said in your post.

The ammendment will allow the police to use their discretion when considering weather or not to prosecute a parent or caregiver for a smack to a child which is deemed trivial or trifling.

The police can and will prosecute parents of caregivers for hitting a child.

Unfortunately this will still not stop bad parents from being bad parents.

Paul said...

The amendment is meaningless. Police always have discretion on whether to prosecute. In any case, it is Crown Prosecutors who really make the decisions.

In any case, this is good news.

Section 59 Survivor said...

This very recent announcement of the added amendment has to be a step in the right direction.

I wish to add my "two cents worth" by publishing my own true story about my childhood. This is an overview that highlights the damage, smacking has had on my life.

I hope the new law will prevent such consequences happening to our future generation.

I have seen a lot of self-injury behaviour during my journey to recovery. I have also researched 'kink' behaviour and BDSM and this behaviour reflects my own childhood roots.

I hope stories like mine will raise public awareness concerning such phenomenon.


May 2007
A true-life story

Pain was a major participant in my childhood – both psychological and physical. I experienced terror in my childhood. I was forced to witness pain and humiliation being inflicted on my peers as well as on myself at school - in the name of “discipline”. “Smackings” from my parents all contributed to my fear and isolation. This childhood treatment resulted in “pain play” that served as an escape from the psychological pain and isolation caused by corporal punishment.

As an adult, I came to realise that this behaviour has its roots set deep in childhood. The causes are very complex. Drawing from my own experiences, it is the result of psychological humiliation, caused by the common use of corporal punishment. The fear and anxiety generated by such treatment induced isolation that cannot be expressed in childhood. The outcome is the expression of pain and solace in childhood dysfunctional play. My story explains some of this phenomenon.

The psychological shame and fear surrounding such behaviour has been very devastating. For a very long time I never spoke about it. The associated isolation has also been unbearable. This caused me to become suicidal. Later in life, this led to two suicide attempts – the second attempt being almost a success. Throughout my childhood and into adulthood my self-injury was a closely guarded secret. It was many years before I found the courage to speak to another human being about my pain play behaviour.

When I was around five or six years old, I would go into gorse bushes. I would use the prickles to jab myself. This produced a sexual arousal, which interacted with the pain – similar to the pain inflicted by corporal punishment. Inflicting pain on a child can cause damaging sexual arousal that can be devastating later in life. (This apparantly happens with some children and I happen fall into that group, which I discovered years later when receiving professional help to understand what happened to me as a child). It is from here that the pain play behaviour developed. I began to use this to create secret self-induced “fun” and “comfort”. This became my way of dealing with the isolation I experienced as a child.

I used several methods to “create” pain in my childhood and teenage years. One was by dripping hot wax on to my arms or legs with a candle. I invented this in my early teens, or perhaps even earlier than that. Later, the behaviour began to take on a new turn when I began self-mutilation by cutting and burning myself. But sewing needles and pins were my most favoured options in my childhood for “playing”.

The description “pain play” may not be exactly accurate either. Because it is rather, the repression of pain that is a major component of the play. I now understand that this behaviour is very addictive. I also understand (from psychotherapy treatment with specialised psychologists) that the addiction comes from the endorphin release in the body while pain is being induced under controlled conditions. The higher the “endorphin rush” the higher is the pain threshold. Under “normal” conditions, I have a very low pain threshold. During “pain play” I choose sites to pierce or cut that would usually be very painful indeed. Pushing needles through at normally painful sites induces a high excitement at levels that I could never experience at any other time. This certainly puts me out of touch with reality. No wonder it served such an important role in my childhood. In BME and BDSM circles this phenomenon is described as “subspace”.

In my late teens and into my twenties, this pain play and self-injury behaviour remained a closely guarded secret. This secrecy was enforced by the fear and shame surrounding the behaviour. I was certain in my own mind that I was the “only one in the world” who did such things to myself. I have since discovered that this behaviour is common within our society.

A life-long struggle with my shame has finally ended. Instead, the shame is now appropriately placed at the feet of those who caused distress and pain in my childhood. Those who advocate hitting children in under the guise of “discipline” like my parents and school teachers, now appropriately carry the burden of that shame. I take a pragmatic approach that I should have been able to do years before. My confidence has been a long time coming. This writing serves to completely remove my shame, secrecy and psychological pain. I now claim my dignity that was taken from me as a child. Today, I bear physical scars from my many years of self-injury and ‘pain play’.

I need to be able to safely and appropriately speak about my behaviour. So every time some ignorant fool condones child “smacking” to cause pain I provide my true story with purpose.

Section 59 Survivor
Palmerston North
New Zealand

Anonymous said...

Hey there, Survivor. Thank you for speaking up. I've read your story and others like it in different places throughout the discussion around s.59, and am grateful to those of you who have bravely shared your experiences.

Span, with reference to an earlier post of yours about Key, I'm disturbed by this. He's looking statesman-like, all magnanimous, gracious and problem-solvy. Middle NZ's gonna start swooning for him.

If we have to have another mind-wobbling coalition, but purportedly right of centre this next time, lets hope National has to work hard with the Greens and Maori, eh? Which is only about as ridiculous as the Labour/NZ First/freaking United Future crapshoot.

Section 59 Survivor said...


Many thanks for that. My story has been delivered around parliament to several opposition MP's desks over recent weeks, so I hope that, in its own small way - has made a difference and contributed to the result, announced today.

I intend to personally write to John Key to congratulate him.

S59 Survivor
New Zealand.

zANavAShi said...

As another Section 59 survivor I want to thank you SO MUCH for your courage to speak out and share your story.

I blogged about this recently myself and I feel like I've been in a kind of vacuum since because there has been so few other voices out in their in the blogosphere sharing similar experiences.

I am sure there are many more of us here who have such stories to tell, but either don't or can't because of the shame or confusion that we still feel as adults about what happened to us.

So thank you for this! Thank you, thank you, you thank you!

section 59 survivor said...

Hi zANavAShi,

Many thanks for your encouragement.

I just looked at the "Watermellon" blog site and saw the reference to the Stockholm Syndrome. I have never thought of that before. I would suspect that there is more than a grain of truth in this in relation to those who claim that childhood corporal punishment "did me no harm".

Some out there hate my testimony. That really does speak volumes. I now believe that this indicates that these people see more than a grain of themselves in my story. I am also aware that if I revealed my true identity, my personal safety may be in danger - such is the hostility within those who condone such childhood treatment and their own denial of childhood pain.

Stories like mine NEED to be told to raise awareness and change attitudes. Parliament has received my story. I hope that has helped with the present outcome.

Believe me, you are not in a vacuum. Speak your truth! It is really worth the effort. Maybe other S59 survivors may come on board - now that positive steps have been taken by our politicians.

Span said...

Thanks s59 survivor and Zana for sharing your stories, I think one of the reasons you are lonely voices in the political blogosphere is simply that many of us come from comfortable backgrounds where smacking was the exception rather than the norm. Well that's the case for me anyway. For others it will be simply too hard to share, so good on you for overcoming that. Which is not to put down those who haven't shared at all, urgh I need food and can't put this right, but I hope you know what I mean.

Anon at 6pm Wed, yeah I think Key is coming off very PM in waiting at the moment. Good spin-off for him and his cohorts, not so great for those of us who want to keep National out!

zANavAShi said...

Span, the thing is that I did come from a very comfortable middle-class background and I don't think that I was smacked any more frequently or severely than many other people of my generation, because that was so much the socially accepted norm in those days. The significant thing is that it broke my spirit and I was forced to internalise my humiliation, fear and disempowerment such that it only became apparent as I grew older through symptoms such as being an easy target for school bullies, progressively more destructive relationships, various manifestations of self-harm such as drug and alcohol abuse and a few others that I am not ready to speak of publically at this time.

It wasn't till I finally ended up in rehab and got clean/sober ten years ago then started therapy that I was able to unravel corporal punishment as being the point where my life began to descend into the self-destructive cycle that it did. In the course of my recovery I can't ever remember meeting a fellow recoverer who didn't have some story of physical punishment in childhood, so I have many very legitmate questions about the correlation between substance abuse being a means to bury and forget these kinds of early experiences. There is an urgent need for more research into these connections and the possible (probable?) connections between corporal punishment and all kinds of other manifestations of human dysfunction in society. I truly believe that results will reveal it to be a most significant factor.

Section 59 survivor, thank you again for your validation. The Stockholm Syndrome connection just came out of the blue to me one day and that also is a connection I would like to see explored further, but unfortunately the study of psychological trauma in scientific fields from a family violence perspective is still very much in it's infancy (there's barely a handful of recognised experts worldwide) and the tendency in society is to beat upon the victims who speak out - the code of silence around that still holds an enormous power over us when it comes to critiscising the sacred institutions of parenting and the religious hierarchy - so it is very wise of you to keep your identity anonymous in this matter. Good on you for keeping yourself safe in that way - it's a huge measure of how far we survivors have come in our recovery journey.

I have a close friend who has struggled with self-harm for most of his life and one of the affinities we share is that we have very similar mothers and had spent much of our lives feeling isolated because nobody wants to hear of the possibility that some mothers are not those wonderful fountains of compassion and lovingness that they are portrayed to be on mothers day cards (how many times have I had someone respond to me saying that my mother was not like that with some kind of "awwwww, I am sure she loves you and was just doing her best"). Well, I directed him to this post of yours this evening and he said that "he saw himself reflected in your words". So there is one more person who is feeling less isolated from your sharing today. Thank you again :)

Section 59 survivor said...

Hi Zana,

There are a lot of cowards out there who cannot handle stories like ours.

A typical example of this was when I posted my story on the Lindsay Mitchell (From Lower Hutt) blog recently.

A said James had made disparaging remarks about my story in an earlier posting.

I post a comment to him as a result thus.

Section 59 survivor said:
I think I remember you James. Were you the pig-ignorant person who hated my self-injury story??

and his response....

James said:
Refresh my memory.....if it was a whiny boo hoo poor me blub then yes it probably was..

My story was consequently removed by the blog administrator. I think that happened because she could see the confrontation that was about to occur - so she probably did the right thing here.

James is a typical example of the gutless types we have within our society.

I really do believe that isolation ends when we speak out.

I had therapy over many years too. I did lots of psychodrama. It has been a very hard road indeed. I know that applies to all of us survivors.

Zana, I really do admire your courage. I am also very pleased that these postings are now beginning to help others. That is the one single reason why I have published my story.

I do wonder if your Watermelon blog could be used as a support network for other S59 survivors. This is something that could be considered. A safe place would have to be created (such as a confidential chat room) where people could share their recovery. (Just a thought)

zANavAShi said...

S59 survivor, that's a great idea. The Watermelon is only about a week old, but the good thing about the way I designed it is that it's modular so we can add new sections and discussion areas as required by members in just a few moments - and any of them can be designated private access to members only.

There are certain areas of the site that are already private to members only (including a private members discussion forum) but you need to be logged in to view them. I'm trying to get together a really big documents archive which registered members can download and I would really appreciate any resources you have to contribute to it which promote awareness of child violence.

My co-admin and I have tried to be very thorough with our site rules, moderation policies and privacy policy so that members can feel safe to share without fear of being dumped on by trolls, and the only topics which are off limits are those which promote sexism, racism, violence, injustice, right-wing spin, or unbridled capitalism.

Here's our forum guidelines if you would like to go check them out, and please do let me know if you think there's anything we may have failed to cover adequately:

So thanks for the idea. We are quite happy for The Watermelon to evolve in any way that members wish to take it - as long as it's within the realms of our core principles (see Am I A Watermelon? for them)

If you want to discuss this any further with me I think we should respect that this is Span's blog space and take it over to The Watermelon. Just register there and start a new discussion topic in either the public lounge or private members forum.


Span said...

Sorry to come back to this a bit late, been a bit busy and not likely to be able to say more until later, but I just wanted to say I didn't mean to say that comfortable (middle class) background = no abuse of children.

I just meant that the perception I have of many nz pol bloggers is that we have come from quite liberal households where smacking wasn't the norm - not to imply that all (or even most) middle class households wouldn't have used physical discpline etc. I knew I had worded it badly at the time but I couldn't think of another way to put it right then.

No problem about having the discussion about Watermelon here either :-)

Ok, back later.

Section 59 Survivor said...

Hi Span,

Zana and I are discussing how we can encourage other S59 survivors join Watermelon. Any Ideas?

We are looking at creating a private blog, that will only be available to genuine survivors, who may be needing support. It will not be available for public access. Those wanting to remain anonymous (at least to their families) can discuss their real truth without fear of exclusion.