Story #1: Born to a teenage mother who landed in jail shortly after, this little boy was given up to be raised by his devoutly religious aunt and her emotionally abusive husband, who made him attend his first day of school wearing girls clothing, in an attempt to teach him to "be more of a man." After several years of abuse with his aunt and uncle, his mother came back to claim him but would constantly abandon or leave him with strangers. Her drinking and drug habits led her to want nothing to do with him and she eventually "sold him" for a pitcher of beer. With nobody to care for him, he ended up in reform school, where he experienced sadistic abuse from peers and guards alike.
Story #2: This little boy was described to have been a happy baby, even though he was born to parents whose marriage was tumultuous. At the age of six, he underwent an intensive and traumatic surgery, which he was fearful of and left in the dark about. Post surgery, his upbeat and positive demeanor had drastically changed into near total isolation and seclusion, which he never came out of. The psychological stresses of the surgery and his ferociously fighting parents led him to believe that his home environment was not a safe place. And at school, he was also an outcast.
Story #3: Immediately abandoned at birth, this boy was given to his maternal grandfather, who pretended to be his adoptive father. He was told that his real mother was his father's sister, even though she was the daughter of the man who was raising him. Many years later, he eventually discovered their lie and it has been said that he was perpetually angry about their deceiving him and never really got over it. The grandfather who raised him was well known to be a violent and racist man, abusing the family dog, torturing neighborhood pets and abusing his wife and children. In his teenage and young adult years, he admitted that he was unable to relate to interpersonal relationships and had no friends because he didn't know how to make them.
Story #4: Born into a violent marriage, her mother abandoned her and her siblings before she was the age of four. Her grandparents raised the children as their own, who didn't reveal that they were not their real parents. At the age of 12, she found out on her own and reacted violently. Her grandfather was physically and sexually to her and her siblings and her grandmother was an alcoholic. At 14, she became pregnant with her grandfather's child and was sent away to a home of unwanted mothers. The child was immediately given up for adoption and she returned home shortly before her grandmother had died. Her and her siblings were then made wards of the state.
You have just read the childhood summaries of Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy and Aileen Wuornos, respectively. Not all children who come from abusive homes grow up to be violent people, but all violent individuals experience some version of neglect and abuse early on in life. Every one of them has emotional problems stemming back from childhood that have been left untreated or worsened by their parents' futile attempts to resolve the problem. This creates a strong psychological disconnect and extreme rage for not being understood and accepted.
While we may be able to remove weapons out of more households, we still won’t be addressing a deeper issue: Showing parents how to relate to their children in a loving, positive, accepting, attentive way. While P.E.T. is in no way a panacea, I wonder what the world would be like if our children could grow up in a Gordon Model home……
by: Selena C. George, P.E.T. Program Manager