Redemption and Forgiveness for an Abuser

Nanny Bonding

Statistical Information on Nanny Abuse Toward Children

Child abuse often has life-long traumatic consequences which carry on to adulthood. A childhood victim of abuse learns survival skills that, while essential to manipulate a difficult childhood, can have devastating effects as they reach adulthood without the skills to defend themselves and eradicate the docile vulnerability which enabled them to survive horrific caretakers. According to safehorizon.org, over 25% of abused children are under the age of three and 45% of abused children are under the age of five.

The disturbing allegations not addressed in these statistics is that abuse is not only initiated by the parents. The vulnerability of children can incite neglect and abuse by any adult close or not to the family, including nannies and day care workers. There have been quite a few stories in the press about nannies charged with killing the children in their charge. These deaths must be devastating to the parents who entrusted their children to whom they assumed were qualified caretakers. After all, the nannies assumed the role of caretakers willingly and were paid for their efforts. They were not forced into indentured servitude and often were able to avail themselves of employment agencies if any disagreements arose in the home. For such nannies who harm those children, it is difficult, nay impossible, to find a modicum of forgiveness for their actions when they had other options when caretaking became too difficult or when there was no legal rational reason behind their actions. It is understood when forgiveness for such caretakers is hard coming.

Unhappy Child

Caretaker Abuse and Redemption

In modern times, most parents take care to research reputable employment agencies to find the most competent and loving nannies for their children. It is incumbent to find trustworthy individuals as the nannies often live with the family and are expected to bond with and care for the children. In light of caretaker abuse brought to the forefront, organizations such as APNA (The Association of Premier Nanny Agencies, founded 19 years ago) have been created to better screen potential nannies. See: http://theapna.org/membership/members-only/apna-screening-procedures-for-nannies/ Governmental regulations at the state level have also addressed hiring regulations, including criminal background checks, as well as attempting to enforce an equitable payment agreement. Even day care centers are much more highly regulated than they were 30 years ago.

However, it has taken this nation decades to enact regulations and organizations to ensure as best they can, the efficient and loving care of our children. With all these safeguards in place and with all the options a nanny has for employment and decent compensation, at this point, there can and should be no forgiveness or transcendence for the neglect of children under their care.

However, there are situations, rare as they are, that transcendence, understanding and some forgiveness should be granted to the caretaker abuser. Hark back with me, to a much more distant time of 1964, when I was an infant and there were no regulations in place for caretakers, much less disciplinary standards. My mother immigrated to New Orleans from Honduras a few years before I was born and had family in Honduras. She was a very hard worker who barely could handle raising me, caring for a home and a husband who refused to work. She thought it would be a good idea to bring an impoverished 16 year old Honduran teenager, named Santos, to the United States who did not speak English and had no familiarity with our culture. Honduras, back then, was a harsh environment. It is likely that she had two choices: starve or live in a cramped apartment, caring for a mewling infant, cooking and cleaning home. At a time when she should have been in school with the future as her oyster, she was literally a slave to our household without any input from her part.

My parents separated when I was three years old and Santos continued to care for me: most bitterly and resentfully. She continuously mocked a slight speech impediment I had, mocked my lack of knowing Spanish and I do not recall her ever once showing me any affection. She was a cruel nanny. She would shove food into my mouth just so she could see the pleasure of my vomiting. Her daily favorite activity was to have me undress completely and spank me with a belt. As I recall, the spankings were not painful but humiliating due to my not wearing clothes. There may have been other incidents of abuse which I do not recall as I would sleep in the bathtub if my mom came home late at night. I did tell my mother about the spankings but, seeing no bruises on me, she did not change caretakers as Santos worked for free. My mother had no choice. My father was not paying support; she could not afford daycare and there was no family nearby to care for me. Therefore, the day Santos threw me down a flight of stairs in a fit of pique, I kept that to myself, knowing there was nothing to be done but try to be more docile and compliant. All the photos I have of my toddlerhood are those of incredible sadness and I still feel sympathy for myself as a child.

As I mentioned, Santos did not have an easy life being forced to care for a family and household at the tender age of 16 in order to avoid starvation in a cold, harsh country which has no social safety nets such as the U.S. She was literally a slave to our household. There was no escape for her. My mother was a benevolent dictator but Santos had no independence, no friends, not even a modicum of education. As if matters were not bad enough, Santos suffered from a debilitating illness which drastically affected her personality. She suffered from excrutiating migraines because spinal fluid was not reaching her brain. Migraines would be putting her pain too mildly. She would wake up some mornings in such pain that she would continuously bang her head against the wall, screaming at the top of her lungs. My mother had no money for an operation but Charity Hospital in New Orleans agreed to operate on her and it was a success! The change was immediate. No, Santos did not become affectionate and cuddly but the nastiness and the physical abuse ceased. Santos became a much better caretaker until I started school the following year.

Santos overcame her suffering with aplomb. She married a high school math teacher with whom she had a boy who she loved dearly. All the signs of abuse and neglect were gone with the love of a man and her new found health. My mother and I continued to visit her throughout the years. She worked at a local pharmacy during my high school years and I visited her once a week to shoot the breeze, never mentioning the abuse.

This is quite an anecdotal story but it ties in well with the concept of forgiveness. Well meaning people expect those who have been abused to unequivocally forgive the abuser despite the lack of an apology. Oftentimes, the abuser's behavior was caused through his own poor choices whether that be substance abuse, misdirected anger, poor impulse control or plain old psychopathy. Furthermore, these well meaning people expect the abused to continue to accept the mistreatment for the sake of the family unit. I vehemently disagree. If the abuse is caused due to the abuser's poor choices, if an apology is not forthcoming and the abuse continues then forgiveness and reconciliation would be foolish to attempt.

However, there are times when forgiveness is the best moral action toward an abuser when the situation he or she encountered herself in was not a rational one and she was devoid of choices in life and subject to the indentured whims of a family. How can I hold any bitterness toward a 16 year old who was literally forced to be a slave to my family for many years? When I was 16, I was enjoying parties with my friends, planning for college, involved in school activities, etc. I had lots of friends, went to the movies, read books, etc. Santos was a slave and there is no softening that. She never had a chance at an education. She did not know how to read; she had no friends. No one ever bothered to take her to a movie or to a restaurant. She was a child herself and unloved. As an adult, I understand that her mockery and her humiliating spanking techniques was anger at whom she could project to no one but me. At 16 and very ill, she could not analyze her actions or her reasons for her anger.

Such a situation that I endured in the 1960s would not be possible now what with all the immigration and day care laws and this is a good thing. I should not have been raised by a slave who spent her days with a debilitating illness. I do not blame my mother as, she too, was a product of her times. She desperately needed a free caretaker and this was her ill advised solution to it. But, as for Santos, she is an example of an individual who deserves all of my forgiveness and love. It is through my forgiveness and my transcendence that I can give her the redemption she deserves in order to continue to live the good life she so richly deserves without any guilt in her soul.

Forgiveness Or Not

Should an abused person forgive their abuser for the sake of family?

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7 comments

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 24 months ago from South Africa

Lynda, this is a heart-touching hub! Abusing children, hurting them in any way, is totally unforgivable.

I take my hat off for you, for your insight in the lives of your mother and Santos. I bet Santos remember. While she loves her child with the heart of a mother, she remembers you and the way she had treated you, and she hopes with all her heart that you don't remember.

But so, in silence, we understand and forgive and come to terms with our past.

You can be proud of yourself - a little unhappy girl had turned into a beautiful lady, able to understand and forgive.


lyndapringle profile image

lyndapringle 23 months ago from Austin, Texas Author

Thank you for our kind words! I am not always so forgiving of others who have mistreated me in the past but Santos was in a most unusual situation not of her own choice. I am glad that both of our lives ended up well. I do believe in every action having a reaction, karma. Had Santos truly been an evil woman, her life would not have gone well for her. I agree that she does remember what she did to me although we never discussed it and I am sure she was touched when I took the time to visit her weekly during my high school years. This was a most controversial blog. I posted this on Facebook and received a variety of strong responses. Apparently, many have been touched by domestic violence.


stbrians profile image

stbrians 23 months ago from Vihiga County,Western Kenya

A recent case was reported in my country and videos taken by hidden cameras shown on social media where a certain nanny assaulted a child to almost murdering it.It was sad as the maid was jailed for four years. To forgive is good but it is painful to abuse an innocent child


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 23 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I think you did well in the line of forgiveness. I think it probable that each situation has to be judged on the basis of a variety of factors involved. I don't think real forgiveness is easy. It depends somewhat on the individuals involved.


lyndapringle profile image

lyndapringle 23 months ago from Austin, Texas Author

Horrible situation that you described. Thank goodness that these hidden cameras are now available. I wish they had been during the 60s and 70s. I have no doubt that if my mom had seen my nanny force me to undress while she spanked me, she would have found a way to get me out of that situation. One thing is hearing this second hand and another thing is seeing this first hand through a camera . It is too bad that this maid was only jailed for four years. I am not one for forgiveness but I was able to do so because of the youth and illness of my nanny. She was forced to be an inmate in our apartment. Most nannies nowadays have other opportunities in life so there is no reason for them to remain at a job where they are unhappy and neglectful toward a child. I can only imagine the guilt those poor parents felt at leaving their child with that nanny. As a child, I did best by being cared for by family members who loved me.


loveaches profile image

loveaches 23 months ago from Texas, US

You are absolutely right. I also think a lot of people mistaken forgiveness and closure with giving people a second chance to do it again. I think to accept what has happened and have some level of forgiveness by realizing that anyone who would do such harm is a very sick person is healthy and is for the victim's sake (inner peace) is healthy, but those who have been abused have every right to their anger; however, by reaching this sort of forgiveness, this doesn't mean opening the door up for the abuser to do it again.


Wajahat2512 profile image

Wajahat2512 23 months ago from Lahore, Pakistan

The very first sentence of this article"Child abuse often has life-long traumatic consequences which carry on to adulthood." is good enough to understand the inner sense of the article.

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