As I have previously stated, I haven’t been much of a moviegoer in my life, but I have seen a few. Oh, ten or so. That was enough. One movie I saw as a teen was Tommy. This was based on the rock opera, “Tommy.” The music was done brilliantly by a group called The Who. This was one of the popular groups of the day. I was quite a fan of theirs. This rock opera came out around the same time as Jesus Christ Superstar. Both were well known and we kids sang the songs from those works all the time. This was after Woodstock but all the culture of those times was happening all around us.
There were a few scenes in Tommy that caught my eye. One was when Tommy is a young boy. If I recall correctly, Tommy’s mother has an affair and Tommy is witness. Both the mother and her lover are scared that the young boy will talk. I can recall this scene right now. One parent on one side, one parent on the other. Oppression. They towered over the tiny boy, saying, “You didn’t see it. You didn’t hear it,” repeated over and over. Their voices were raised and hysterical.
In the rock opera, Tommy, the boy, suddenly does indeed stop seeing with his eyes and hearing with his ears. He is suddenly deaf and blind. Hear nothing, see nothing. Just as the mother and her lover wanted.
How does this play out in real life? I have known a number of people who were abused as children. Some went through long-term, repeated abuse. Often, a kid who is verbally abused is insulted, ridiculed, or demeaned constantly during his/her life with the abuser. Others were either abused in single incidents or at isolated times, for instance, when a certain family member was drunk or stoned. Or when a certain family member who spends much of their time out of the home comes back from work or from the bar.
What I have seen is that if there’s one horrific incident and the parent is desperate to keep the kid quiet, they see to it that the kid doesn’t talk. They may be extremely concerned that someone at the kid’s school may discover something. I know of parents who bullied their kids over and over, telling them they were “stupid” and that no one would believe them.
That’s just what happens. The kid tries to squeal on the parent, but the parent may act all sweet and kind, faking that everything’s completely fine. The school decides the kid might be psychotic or paranoid. I have seen people end up in the mental health system who did nothing wrong except to try to speak out against their abusive parents.
“It never happened.” “It’s trivial.” “Your rights aren’t important.” “You imagined it.” I believe this is so cruel, to discredit a young person in this manner, that it’s enough to send them over the edge. Telling a person that the abuse is a “perception problem” is also abuse. Then, the person ends up in the mental health system and is told just how sick they are.
The secret is thus safely buried.