China: Are the abused becoming abusers?

By Ruoyu Ni

Shaw brought a knife with her when she entered the head mistress’s office.

The small utility knife was hidden in her baggy school uniform, and its owner has already decided to stab the middle-aged woman in the chest.

The office was almost empty then, and no one would have heard a cry for help.

The teacher, who had abused Shaw for more than two years, said nothing but encouraged her to go on studying. The teacher was lucky enough to escape from death.

Shaw, which is not her real name, controlled herself. Nevertheless, it was not that kind of power she had always been longing for.

“I want to have full control over everything,” Shaw said, “just like my father.”

Born in a traditional Chinese family in Shanxi Province, Shaw was taught to be obedient to elders. Her father, a local police officer, was strict with her in every aspect. Violence was like simple meals, and people around her all thought it reasonable to beat their naughty and rebellious children to “lead them to a right way.

“He is strong, and he can catch criminals with his bare fist,” Shaw recalled. “I am defenseless.”

Violence not only brings about obedience but also creates hatred. One day, Shaw locked her 8-year-old cousin up in her room and slapped her in the face again and again. The little girl was freaked out. Being afraid of Shaw’s threat, she did not tell her parents about the abuse.

“She is naughty, and I am an obedient, smart girl,” Shaw said with a smile.
No one could help the little girl.

Some studies argue that domestic violence can be hereditary, and the victims of domestic abuse will probably continue to beat their children in the future. It is hard to say if Shaw would be so cruel to her kids, but she has already gained satisfaction in violence.

Recent statistics show that nearly 40 percent of Chinese parents have beaten their children, and only 5 percent of victims will go to the police for help.

Although the Chinese government has established the Anti-Domestic Violence Law in 2016, only a small number of people chose to protect themselves under the law or to run for cover. According to the officials of Guangzhou Anti-Domestic Violence shelter, less than 10 people have visited them since 2010.

It seems that people prefer confiding their fears to strangers online.  The ADV Group is an online voluntary group based on social media to provide free consulting services for people suffering from domestic abuse.

Nan Wang, a junior college student in Nankai University, is one of the sponsors of ADV, and she has helped many desperate teenagers.

“Some children came to me for advice on getting rid of their irritable parents,” she said, “and most of them have lived under fear and nervousness for a very long time.”

Normally, police officers will not help victims of domestic violence because it is regarded as a “family affair,” so people have to tolerate the curse and abuse from their loved ones.

Tolerance, however, does not bring happiness.

Yushi hates coriander, and the Cantonese girl often spends a lot of time picking it out. Besides, she is also reluctant to eat garlic and celery. When asked about her attitude toward these foods, she said, “My mother’s cooking skills are awful; it’s a nightmare.” Her negative impression about these foods makes her stay away from them.

Palatable food is only a condiment, while the endless scolding and beating are the main course. The punishment for little kids being fastidious about food, in most Chinese families, is always simple and crude.

“I am jealous,” Yushi said with tears, “when I see other kids getting along so well with their parents. I know they love me, but I just want them to be kinder.”

Yushi hates babies, and whenever she hears them cry, the only idea in her brain is to shut them up.

Philip is Yushi’ s best friend, and their friendship begins with a family-themed conversation. According to Yushi, Philip used to fight with his father when he was just a high school student. In Philip’ s eyes, traditional family values are trash.

“What is the meaning of following the rules established by people who died thousands of years ago?” Philip argued, “and why must women stay at home all day long, waiting for the sympathy and charity of their ruthless husbands? Is it necessary for everyone to get married and have babies? Do others have the right to interfere my life?”

Philip is the first person in his family who dared to revolt his father’s authority.

Both Yushi and Philip said they do not intend to get married.
While they have no idea whether they will beat their children in the future or not, Yao, a girl comes from Hunan Province, is quite sure that she will stick to the old path.

She said, “I’m not joking, and I enjoy beating my boyfriend brutally.”

Her parents always beat her even when she was five years old, but Yao thinks it reasonable for them to be strict with a naughty girl.

Yao can still remember the time when one of her neighbors, a 7-year-old girl ran into her courtyard, crying for help. The little girl’s name and appearance faded, but her fear toward her father has been engraved in Yao’s mind.

Yushi went back home for the Dragon Boast Festival in May, but after a fierce argument with her parents, she burst into tears and stormed out of the room. It took her 30 minutes to get to school, and when she arrived at her empty dormitory, tears were still misting in her eyes.
“The nightmare will never end,” she said.

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