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Rape and Sexual Assault

Today’s Male Terrorism: The Death of Rebecca Riley

rebecca150px-lb-020707-03.jpg

I’ve been following the unfolding of events around the death of 4-year-old Rebecca Riley, above, at the hands of her parents, Michael and Carolyn Riley, who were indicted this morning for first degree murder. The parents are accused of intentionally overdosing Rebecca with medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. Included in the list of medications which Rebecca was given daily was clonidine, prescribed when Rebecca was — unbelievably — diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at 28 months of age. That is not a typo. She was 2 years old when she was diagnosed. The diagnosis was based on her mother’s reports to the psychiatrist about the child’s behavior and on the psychiatrist having observed the child “briefly”, on one occasion. The same psychiatrist, Kayoko Kifuji, also prescribed the antipsychotic drug Seroquel and an anti-seizure medication, Depakote, for Rebecca. Rebecca’s 6-year-old sister and 11-year-old brother had been similarly diagnosed and were being treated with the same medications. Rebecca’s mom, Carolyn Riley, was taking prescription medications to treat depression and anxiety. Rebecca’s father, Michael Riley, said he suffered from bipolar disorder and a “rage disorder,” but he was not taking medications.

Michael Riley was a violent and abusive man. His first run-in with the law occurred in 1998 when he was found guilty of assault and battery. Several years later, in 2005, he was charged with rape, indecent assault and battery, and with giving pornography to a minor. His victim? Caroline’s — his wife’s, Rebecca’s mom’s — 13-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, whom she had given up for adoption in an open adoption process when the girl was two years old. In 2006, Michael Riley had slammed Rebecca’s older brother’s head into the back of a truck. At that point, Caroline took out a restraining order against her husband, but a few weeks later, she allowed it to lapse. After the rape charge, Michael was not supposed to be living with Caroline and the children, but he was there frequently, and two weeks prior to Rebecca’s death, he had moved back in.

By every account I read, Michael Riley is an abuser, a man who terrorized his wife and his children, demanding that the children be medicated whenever they “acted up.” One investigator who questioned Riley after Rebecca’s death described the older two children quietly playing a game of buying and selling toys with play money, and Michael repeatedly screaming at them, becoming agitated and demanding that they be medicated. Another investigator noted that Michael Riley began hitting the wall at one point during questioning and had to be asked to stop.

At the time of Rebecca’s death, the family was living on welfare and Social Security disability payments to which the children were entitled because their psychiatric diagnoses constituted “disabilities.” The family shared a home with the wife’s brother and his girlfriend, who, based on what they are quoted as having said, knew the children were in trouble, and occasionally comforted and cared for them, but never sought outside help. A couple of days before Rebecca died, when the wife’s brother could see how sick Rebecca was, he picked a fight with Rebecca’s dad in an attempt to force him to get help for her, but that’s as far as his intervention went.

Rebecca Riley died a slow and painful death. According to an affidavit filed in the case against her parents, the drug overdoses meant her heart and major organs would slowly shut down, her lungs would fill with fluid, and she would suffocate. Before she died, teachers and staff at her preschool were concerned because she seemed weak, tired, lethargic, appeared to be “out of it.” When they called her parents, her mother said she was ill or had just had trouble sleeping. The wife’s brother and girlfriend said the children slept most of the time when they were home, waking to eat, and then going back to sleep. When they “acted up,” the father demanded that they be drugged.

The day before Rebecca died, her dad insisted she accompany him to the Social Security office for an appointment. She was coughing and having trouble breathing. At the Social Security office, she vomited, then vomited again on the way home in the car, and her father raged at her and her mother over how embarrassing and messy her vomiting was. The night before she died, Rebecca was desperately ill. At one point, she went to her mother’s bedroom door, softly saying, “Mommy.” But “Daddy” responded, cursed at her, and told her to go back to bed.

In the wee hours of the morning, Rebecca’s uncle heard her vomiting. He brought her to her mom, who took her into bed with her at last, but Rebecca continued to cough. Caroline Riley then laid her on a blanket on the floor. Rebecca quieted down then. In the morning she was dead.

The prosecution’s theory of the case is that the parents intentionally killed Rebecca via a drug overdose because for some reason, she was not entitled to disability payments as her older siblings were. The defense and the grandmothers and family members say this is absurd, that the Rileys loved their children. But the grandmothers do not seem very credible; both also describe Michael Riley as a good father. Both also say the rape charges against him are “untrue” and Caroline Riley’s mother was glad when he moved back into the home because she thought the kids needed him.

The psychiatrist who prescribed the medications is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, but her peers have vouched for her and have defended the prescribing of these medications as meeting the standard of care, saying that although it is rare, occasionally toddlers are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But another therapist who worked with Rebecca, and who reported the family to social services, was concerned because in her mind, Rebecca did not display any evidence of bipolar disorder or ADHD.

Following are my hunches about what actually happened to Rebecca, based on what I’ve read and my experience with battered women, poor women, struggling mothers.

Some of the articles I read about this case have attempted to depict Caroline Riley as neglectful. Over and over, Rebecca is described as wearing “only” a diaper and stud earrings when she died. This doesn’t seem neglectful to me; the stories also say she had been feverish and hot off and on in the hours and days before her death. If she was vomiting, she was probably dehydrated, and hence her temperature rose. When a child is feverish, you remove her clothes and attempt to make her comfortable. A social worker who had investigated the family at one point reported seeing a puddle of urine on the floor which Rebecca’s mother attributed to Rebecca having fallen asleep on the floor and having urinated in her sleep. Some writers make a big deal about this and about the fact that the mother just asked the social worker to watch out for the puddle, but this doesn’t seem neglectful or even significant to me. Little girls fall asleep on the floor, and at 4, or older, they sometimes urinate while they’re asleep. School teachers and staff say Rebecca went to school inappropriately dressed sometimes, wearing shoes that were too big and clothes that weren’t warm enough, and that sometimes she didn’t bring a snack along. I don’t think that means Rebecca was necessarily neglected; I think that means she was poor. Lots of poor kids dress inappropriately and wear shoes that are too big, because that’s all they have, that’s all their parents can afford. Poor kids don’t always have “snacks” to bring along, either.

I see that Rebecca’s mom got her to a special preschool every day. I see that she sought the care of psychologists for what she believed were her children’s “behavior problems”. Over and over the articles I read describe Rebecca’s mom going to Walmart for cold and flu medication, for special children’s fluids which contain electrolytes and which are given to children with fevers, buying Rebecca a Christmas dress, making sure her prescriptions were filled, providing exacting instructions to the grandmothers for how to give the medications when they had Rebecca. I see that her daughter was wearing earrings with “colorful stones” in them, of the type a little girl would like.

I think that Caroline Riley, like so many women, was victimized by the men in her life, first the man who fathered her first daughter, who, as it turns out, was a sexual offender and is in prison, then Michael Riley, a violent abuser who is said to have raped Riley’s daughter and will stand trial for it in May. I’ve wondered what the story was there. According to the articles I’ve read, Caroline Riley became pregnant by a man she lived with fresh out of high school, but split with him, and Michael Riley moved in with her shortly after the split. The child’s paternal grandmother then sought custody, and Caroline Riley, in response, gave the child up for adoption. I wonder whether she was pressured by Michael Riley to give the child up.

I know how battered women think. I believe that once Michael was back in the house, things went from bad to worse. Caroline gave the kids more and more medication to keep them quiet, to placate Michael, to keep him from going off, keep him from, for example, slamming his son’s head into things, choking his son, as he had also been said to do, to keep him from grabbing his kids, cuffing them around, as others said he did. Rebecca had bruises on her legs when she died, and fingerprint bruises on her arms. I’m betting Caroline told herself if she could just keep the kids quiet, everything would be okay. I think when Rebecca coughed and became ill, her mother did believe she had a cold and attempted to treat the cold. I’m betting she feared going to a shelter because she knew Michael wasn’t supposed to be back in the house in the first place and she feared she’d lose her kids. She had a high school education, was unemployed, and had three children to care for whom she believed to be disabled. I think she was in that horrible place battered women know so well, in which they feel completely trapped, completely alone, and in which they believe they cannot survive without their abuser, usually because that’s what he has said to them again and again, often because when they’ve tried to survive without their abusers, their abusers have made their lives a living hell. Battered women and their children learn to make their peace with their situations, however horrible, believing the evil they know is better than the one they don’t. They avoid confrontations and conflicts because their abusers are dangerous and confrontation is too risky. They survive, moment to moment. They try not to make him mad. And often, as with Caroline Riley, they make horrible, horrible decisions which result in harm or death to their children or to themselves. I don’t think Rebecca’s mother knew she was being given too much medicine. She was depressed and anxious; neighbors say she spent a lot of time in bed with migraine headaches.

It will be easy for the public to find Caroline Riley guilty for the death of her daughter. She will be blamed for marrying a violent man, for having kids with him, for having once taken up with someone who turned out to be a sex offender, for having a child with that guy, for not leaving Michael Riley, for letting Riley move back in, for forgiving him one too many times. People figure if anybody should know what’s what, Caroline’s mother should, when in fact, as battered women will and do, Caroline obviously protected her husband (and herself and her kids) and didn’t tell the truth about him, even to her mom. People will read the facts as I’ve outlined them and will conclude differently than I have, will see the oversize shoes and “inappropriate” clothes as part and parcel of the abuse which caused Rebecca’s death. It will be easier for people to blame Caroline for marrying Michael than it will be to blame Michael for his violence and battering. It will be easier to agree with the grandmothers that the rape charges “weren’t true,” than to believe that they were.

I think there are others who should be held accountable for Rebecca Riley’s death, as well, though: the doctor who prescribed these many dangerous drugs and the doctor’s colleagues, who have defended her and who say she did nothing wrong. A “health care” system and welfare system which in recent years has stopped paying for mental health evaluations or non-pharmacologic treatments for disturbed children, so that now parents too often opt for the pharmacologic “quick fix” that doctors are willing to supply. I blame patriarchal medicine and pharmacology for their willingness to diagnose toddlers, for god’s sake, with “ADHD” and “bipolar disorder” in the first place, in but the rarest of occasions, then to pronounce toddlers “disabled” on that basis! It seems clear to me that this psychiatrist, together with her profession and with its blessing, and with the blessing of the government, as well, participated in and enabled what amounts to a violent batterer drugging his kids to keep them out of his hair. It is telling to me that out of all five family members, this man — with his record of violence, assault, charges of rape and pedophilia — is the only person who wasn’t drugged.

Link, link, link, link, link to Affidavit

Heart

Discussion

101 thoughts on “Today’s Male Terrorism: The Death of Rebecca Riley

  1. There’s plenty of blame to go around here, and the vast majority of it goes to the father with a secondary hit to the pediatrician, who diagnosed based on interviews and a short evaluation.

    But every adult that was in that situation is accountable to an extent because no one protected that child.

    Posted by Miranda | March 27, 2007, 1:11 am
  2. And an extra shout-out of blame to the social workers who after someone got up the nerve to call them, took WEEKS to follow up on the initial visit where Carolyn Riley put them off. Sure, the foster system isn’t great, but in care, maybe Rebecca wouldn’t have died from poison.

    Posted by Miranda | March 27, 2007, 1:24 am
  3. The drugging of this child was unconscionable.

    If the doctor involved wasn’t so quick to hand out medications and instead paid attention to the dynamics of the situation, Rebecca would be alive today–and out of that house. The child had bruises on her inner thighs for God’s sake. That didn’t set off alarms?

    I heard another psychiatrist on NPR defending the decision to medicate, as you wrote Heart, as meeting the “standard of care.” I wanted to punch my radio.

    Posted by Gayle | March 27, 2007, 2:26 am
  4. Oh the tragedy. To our great shame, and I do not blame my sister and brother in law because I suppose I might have done it too, my nephew was drugged on something for ADHD when he was just seven! The private school and the doctors recommended it, and we went along with it trusting the experts. Now ten years later, we have these horrible family videos no one wants to watch where our bright, active boy acts lethargic and almost drunk. He’s ok now, but what scars remain?

    On the abuse situation, the voice of women like you, Heart (and me) who understand abusive situations is SO important! The Stockholm Syndrome and other kinds of mind control are recognized as powerful in men, but discounted in women’s romantic relationships. Is it because it’s too close to what is considered the normal, even the ideal, control by fear of “what he might think/do”?

    This is so, so sad. My own mother listened to her son being beaten, and only managed to get us all out after careful planning. About Rebecca’s mother, she would say, “There, but for the grace of god, go I.” I don’t like the god part, but the sentiment is, that could have been me. As well it could have been, many of us.

    Posted by roamaround | March 27, 2007, 3:33 am
  5. Why the hell didn’t someone in that house call 911?

    I have to go cry now.

    Posted by Beansa | March 27, 2007, 4:06 am
  6. Miranda and Beansa, you are indirectly putting some of the accountability onto the mother. I agree with Heart, that the mother did the best she could in an horrendous situation.

    The mother was also on medication, coping as she could, and protecting the children as best as she could. It is highly likely that she was in the midst of a breakdown, and functioning on ‘autopilot’ to get through each day, each minute. You cannot hold someone accountable when they are barely functioning in that way. (OK, the uncle could have called 911, which may have been Beansa’s point?)

    She probably didn’t even invite the abuser to move back in, he would have manipulated the situation against her wishes somehow. Unless one has lived with an abuser, tried to live through the warzone that is domestic violence, one cannot understand. It is either walking on eggshells 24-7, or a rollercoaster ride of not knowing what comes next.

    As Heart says, everyone in that house except the abuser was on medication. In all likelihood, the only person that should have been highly sedated in that household was HIM. Preferably not even be in that household. And he’s a child-rapist as well.

    Posted by stormy | March 27, 2007, 11:06 am
  7. My heart hurts.
    This is too much.

    Posted by Kim | March 27, 2007, 1:26 pm
  8. Re women’s responsibility, it seems simple and obvious to outsiders; she should have ___________. It’s not so simple or obvious at all from the battered woman’s perspective. One significant factor in this situation is, this guy didn’t work, meaning he was there at the house, around all the time, a really dangerous, dangerous situation for his wife and kids.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 27, 2007, 2:47 pm
  9. An unemployed abuser?
    THAT is no peace or safety for the woman and children at any time of the day or night.

    The ‘normal’ rules for behaviour/responsibility do not and cannot apply to a person, a woman, under THAT MUCH stress. I really hope she does not get convicted. She needs mental health care at this point. He, on the other hand, chuck him in the slammer and NEVER let him out.

    Posted by stormy | March 27, 2007, 3:03 pm
  10. I was refering more to the uncle and the uncle’s girlfriend.

    I can understand, with my head, what Heart is saying about the mother’s situation, but I won’t lie and say that I don’t have some internal resistance to absolving her from any responsibility. I also own the fact that those feelings have to do with me and it’s my responsibility to get over them and try to really understand what it probably was like for the mother, living in that situation. So I am grateful to women like Heart, who give another perspective and an opportunity to learn.

    I think part of the reason why it’s so hard to accept, is that I think: That could be me. I have a small dependent child, and a mental illness, and I am largely financially dependent on my partner. A slight change in my circumstances and…who knows? It’s a very scary thing to confront.

    Posted by beansa | March 27, 2007, 5:02 pm
  11. Stormy: It is either walking on eggshells 24-7, or a rollercoaster ride of not knowing what comes next.

    Hah. Far too often, it’s both.

    Posted by Amy's Brain Today | March 27, 2007, 5:12 pm
  12. This was a horrible tragedy…I have been thinking about this poor little girl for a long time since I have read the story.

    It is true that the abused often don’t realize that they will, in fact, be better off on their own…that their abusers mentally cripple the abused until they can no longer think rationally.

    I have to blame the system. From what I heard there were numerous reports to the child welfare office and no one tried very hard to do much of anything…

    I am hoping this little girl’s death will not be in vain and maybe raise awareness of SOMETHING…to maybe save another child in a similar situation.

    Posted by vantui | March 27, 2007, 5:44 pm
  13. There’s just too much we don’t know. We can surmise and project all we like. But having been there, I can say I think we have a pretty good idea of what she was up against. She was medicated too, remember? You are not only sedated by those drugs, you cannot think or dream or plan or act. The responsbilility lies with those who cry ‘standard of care’ when they are nothing but dopers, not healers.

    He would have terrorized her to the point of complete submission, and what he didn’t do the doctors did for him with stun drugs. She was no more able to act than her children were. It never happens overnight either, but is aided by people around who say, try to understand your husband. He’s out of work/ill/feeling castrated/it’s your role to support him/don’t break up the family/do anything do anything do anything…

    Posted by Pony | March 27, 2007, 5:45 pm
  14. Amy’s Brain; “Hah. Far too often, it’s both.”
    Yep, can agree with that too.

    Posted by stormy | March 27, 2007, 9:07 pm
  15. Beansa: “I was refering more to the uncle and the uncle’s girlfriend.”
    I was hoping so.

    All too often peeps blame the mother for not protecting the children. This is yet another case of the abuser’s invisibility, because ALL the blame rests with him. Sadly, all too often, women end up in prison in these situations, and in the UK, even when the abuser kills the child and the woman wasn’t even present (this has happened TWICE already in the UK).

    Pony in fine form I see🙂

    Posted by stormy | March 27, 2007, 9:14 pm
  16. Pony said:
    ***The responsbilility lies with those who cry ’standard of care’ when they are nothing but dopers, not healers.***

    Yes. I call them glorified drug pushers. Psychiatry defends its drugs, excessive drugging and the medical model of all “problems” in order to promote its status as a legitimate medical profession.

    Posted by Branjor | March 27, 2007, 9:42 pm
  17. They have a lot to answer for, for what they do to women who are their primary ‘patients’ but also their role in medicalizing gender, and signing the papers for mutilations.

    Posted by Pony | March 27, 2007, 9:57 pm
  18. you are indirectly putting some of the accountability onto the mother

    There’s nothing indirect about it. By all accounts, the father was the driving force, and should be given the strongest charges, but I’ll stand by my statement that every single adult involved in that situation, from everyone in the home, to the social workers for not getting her out of there, bears some responsibility for Rebecca’s death.

    http://www.wral.com/news/national_world/national/story/1249583/

    No one, either here or in the news media, knows Carolyn Riley’s state of mind, but apparently she was cognizant enough to deal with the doctor (unless she’s lying herself, since she should be disbarred and charged with gross negligence if there’s a way to make that stick).

    “Rebecca’s older siblings, now ages 11 and 6, already had gone to the psychiatrist, Dr. Kayoko Kifuji, and were diagnosed with the same disorders and were receiving Supplemental Security Income, the program administered by the Social Security Administration for disabled children.

    Middleton said Carolyn Riley told Kifuji that Rebecca had “mood swings” and was “driving me crazy.” Kifuji diagnosed her with bipolar disorder at age 3.”

    The family had already been turned down twice from getting benefits.

    Posted by Miranda | March 27, 2007, 10:17 pm
  19. I think that the legal system will hold everyone responsible, including Caroline Riley, especially Caroline Riley. I think she is very easy to blame for everything and the public will be more than happy to blame her, despite her the fact that she is married to an abuser/rapist/batterer.

    I’m not going to try her here or attempt to “hold her accountable” here. Patriarchy will do that well. Hell, liberals, progressives and even feminists will probably do that well! Here, I’d like to talk more about how it is that a woman like Caroline Riley ends up in the situation she is in, and how it is that children die in that situation. Nothing we say here is going to change one thing about how Caroline Riley is treated by the judicial system, but what we talk about here CAN raise awareness as to what happens to women, mothers, who are being abused.

    The fact that the family sought disability care doesn’t tell me anything. It was the father who made and kept the last appointment with the Social Security office, who forced a very sick Rebeccca Riley to accompany him, and who raged at her and at her mom because Rebecca vomited at the office and in “his car.”

    Battered women *do what their husbands tell them to do.* They *believe what their husbands tell them to believe*. To do otherwise is dangerous.

    I don’t know a mother on earth who has not at some time said her 2-year old was driving her crazy. “Mood swings” sounds like someone familiar with shrink-speak, but there are other ways to talk about the way a child is unpredictable that mean the same thing.

    This was a drugged mother trying to function in an abusive marriage to an abusive asshole with three kids, no job and no money. Of *course* her kids were driving her crazy.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 27, 2007, 10:58 pm
  20. SUNDAY, DEC. 11

    Morning

    Rebecca woke up with a slight temperature and her mother gave her three children’s Tylenol.

    Despite Rebecca’s illness, her father insisted taking her to an appointment at the Social Security office in Weymouth.

    She vomited at the office. Her mother rescheduled the appointment and the family went to Wal-Mart. Rebecca waited in the car with her father while her mother went in to buy Rebecca a Christmas outfit, some Pedialyte and a plastic bowl for her to vomit into.

    Rebecca threw up water, phlegm speckled with Depakote, another psychiatric drug, all over the car.

    Michael Riley stormed into the house when they returned home, screaming and swearing. He turned his anger towards Carolyn screaming, “Your daughter (expletive) threw up in my car!”

    He berated the little girl for embarrassing the family at the appointment.

    By now Rebecca was wearing the new outfit from Wal-Mart, a deep green velvet dress with a wide white collar. She posed with her mother for a snapshot.

    http://www.southofboston.net/specialreports/rebecca/pages/020607.asp

    I don’t for one moment believe either of these parents deliberately killed Rebecca because they couldn’t get Social Security Disability payments for her. I don’t think Caroline cared about it at all. I think Michael wanted the payments and would have kept trying until he got them.

    To my mind, the prosecution’s theory is preposterous.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 27, 2007, 11:05 pm
  21. I have got a major problem with a ‘bipolar’ two-year-old, and I think that somebody needs to investigate the psychiatrist. I am wondering if there might be a preponderance of medicated toddlers in this person’s patient records. To start unraveling a part of this tangle to get at the unpalatable truths that fueled this murder, one must keep asking the question, ‘Who benefits by what is being done?’ The trend to push back the onset age of psych disorders benefits Big Pharma (as well as I-see-you-for-ten-minutes-and-then-I-write-the-prescription shrinks) big time.

    Heart brings up the crux of the matter when she points out that an entire household of (probably normal if left to their own devices) women and children were routinely ‘issued drugs’ so that they could cope with living in the same domicile as an unchecked rapist/batterer, i.e., the ‘normals’ are drugged into compliance with unchecked perversion. Again, Big Pharma and pill-pushing medicos benefit, because ‘normal’ people are easier to drug– they buy and take their prescribed meds regularly. In contrast, the whack-jobs who really could use some pharmacological intervention are flakes who usually won’t take their meds (or can’t afford to buy them in the first place) and are thus not a reliable, steady source of income for drug maufacturers.

    The Depakote that Rebecca vomited is a heavy-duty anticonvulsant med. That is its primary usage. It is most usually given to people with epilepsy to control seizures, and it is sometimes also given to people after brain surgery for the same reason– in recovering from the trauma of the surgery, these patients may sometimes also suffer seizures. My mother, who suffered a brain aneurysm in 1992, took Depakote for a year while she was recovering from her surgery. It’s use for bipolar disorder is a secondary, ‘off-label’ use of the drug. Additionally, it doesn’t always work for bipolar folks, and medical science still does not understand why it will work for one bipolar person and not for another. It also has a bunch of rather heavy-duty side-effects, which are sometimes too much to deal with, even for adults who might really need the med. A lot of trial-and-error prescribing sometimes goes on with respect to finding the right ‘med fit’ for any given patient, and this certainly was the case with my mother, who was on two other anti-seizure meds before finding that Depakote worked for her.

    What I am getting at here is that Depakote is a med that requires patient monitoring and routine follow-up visits to the doctor. I can’t see giving it to a toddler who isn’t suffering grand mal seizures, and I *really* can’t see a doctor prescribing it without insisting that there be a lot of monitoring to assess side-effects.

    The shrink sounds like a Big Pharma shill– while some psychiatrists eagerly push pills on young children, there are many others who hold the view that toddlers aren’t brain-developed enough to manifest bipolar symptoms, so it’s by no means a slam-dunk that Rebecca was in fact bipolar, much less that she required drugging with Depakote.

    Posted by akkarri | March 29, 2007, 9:20 pm
  22. Absolutely heartbreaking. And it happened just an hour or so away from the town where I grew up…

    Heart, this post of yours brought me to tears, and I absolutely agree with your assessment of the situation, having read all of the links you provided as well. I would bet the contents of my bank account that it happened in a way very similiar to what you described, and it pisses me off that this vile man killed Rebecca. I blame him. And partially the psychiatrist (great write-up on that topic, akkarri), but the social services system…of course I wish DSS had been more responsive, but having worked on the outskirts of the system myself and heard/read about it from so many people on the inside, I understand that the need for DSS services is overwhelmingly great, and that social services agencies have neither adequate money or staff to handle it all in a timely fashion. And that sucks. And of course, I blame patriarchy itself for that, for the plethora of situations in which there are children abused and neglected. Patriarchy is responsible for men who abuse and neglect children, and terrorize women into contributing, or use women as scapegoats.

    When I lived an hour away from where Rebecca Riley did, I served on the Grand Jury for a summer, and was stunned and appalled not only by the amount of violent, misogynist crimes men committed (e.g. a man who raped and impregnated his 15-yr-old stepdaughter and then claimed she “took advantage of him” when he was drunk!), but by how blind some of my fellow Grand Jurors were to the misogyny. One case we debated how to indict, was an enraged man who threatened his wife by aiming a loaded gun at her face. Amazingly, he wasn’t indicted for ‘assault with a dangerous weapon with the intent to murder’, because the majority of my fellow grand jurors thought that was “too strong” of an indictment, when it sounded like an argument that “just got out of hand.” An “argument” that the man and woman both played a part in, and as for the .44 Magnum he aimed at her face after ripping the phone from the wall so she couldn’t call for help, he “didn’t really mean it.” It was appalling. I tried to argue in the woman’s defense, but I was just out of college, shy, the youngest in the room by at least a decade, etc., and it was this loud, middle-aged white man that kept insisting calling it “attempted murder” was an overreaction, and all he got indicted for was “assault and battery.”
    Likewise, there’s a blindness to the way Michael Riley terrorized and controlled his wife and children, and Caroline’s getting undeserved blame.

    Posted by britta | March 30, 2007, 2:49 am
  23. Britta, your ‘Grand Jury Summer’ sounds like it was from hell! And of course the one arguing that assault with intent was too harsh would be a lard-bucket, loudmouthed white guy…

    I also agree wholeheartedly with your point about blindness towards/tolerance of male violence that seems to couple with a scapegoating of the woman involved in the situation. There was a really disgusting case out my way awhile back where an extremely violent rapist/butcher was not only let out of prison early, he was also allowed to resettle back in the same neighborhood where his old victim lived. Of course, the first thing he did was to start harrassing the young woman again, which violated his parole, so back into the slammer he went for a larger chunk of time to be served in full.

    (Note: the next paragraph describes the violence– it’s succinct, but also very gross, so skip it if you need to)

    Given the brutality of what he did to the woman the first time around (after repeatedly raping her, he cut off both of her hands and left her to die), the mind boggles at letting him out because of ‘good behavior in prison’ and on top of that allowing him to go right back to the locale where the woman he brutalized lived. People who lived in the neighborhood were upset, but that still didn’t cut it– the same old crapola rationalization about ‘having paid his debt to society’ was rolled out, and there he was, right back where he started. It all went to pieces in a hurry because he began harrassing the woman by telephone within the first week that he was back. It was an utter no-brainer that he was completely psychotic, and only ‘played nice-nice’ behind bars so that he could get out and ‘finish what he started’ (his exact words to her over the telephone).

    My feeling was (and still is) why would the ‘rights’ of a violent male sex-offender take precedence over the immeasureably greater right of his mutilated female victim to live the rest of her life in peace??? Isn’t sexual battery and the loss of both her hands to a sadist suffering enough??? Why does she have to endure even one phone call from him EVER AGAIN??!!?? The kind of violence he perpetrated can never be excused, and the propensity to do this kind of thing will always be a part of his make-up, so why let him out in the first place? And I am forced to come to the conclusion that the unspoken value-system says that a violent man has more rights, even if stark raving mad and butchering a person a day, than your average woman or child, just minding their own business and hurting no one.

    Fortunately, the guy is old now and in poor health, and he’s back in prison for 25 w/o parole, so hopefully, he will suffer and rot and finally die there, miserable piece of shit that he is.

    Posted by akkarri | March 30, 2007, 10:30 am
  24. Akkari said:
    ***And of course the one arguing that assault with intent was too harsh would be a lard-bucket, loudmouthed white guy…***

    What do you want to bet that if it was *her* who had aimed a loaded gun at *his* face, the loudmouthed white guy would have been all for the attempted murder charge?

    Posted by Branjor | March 30, 2007, 2:31 pm
  25. Oh, I totally agree, Branjor! Massa can beat the slaves, but the slaves must never, ever defend themselves or– horrors!– seek permanent freedom from their oppressor. Also, people need to get over thinking of the ‘double standard’ as simply a ‘male/female’ thing, because it isn’t. What it is actually is the ‘Slavery Double Standard’, and it works the same whether men apply it to Women, Native Americans, Jews, Africans, Italians, Japanese, domesticated animals etc., etc. It is predicated on the assumption that the ‘dominator group’ is the only ‘fully human’ group– everyone else is sub-human and therefore exists solely for the pleasure/use of the ‘true humans’ calling the shots. It is, in fact, a form of genuine psychiatric delusion, and I am of the opinion that those who relate to others in this way are seriously mentally ill and require treatment, big-time.

    This is why I think it is so important for people who really want to challenge the current ‘Assault-and-Battery-is-Normal’ paradigm to keep firmly in mind that what we are attempting to change is institutionalized insanity. Violent, slave-victimizing paranoids are stupid, delusional and dangerous, but they can be stopped. Part of stopping them is to manifest a healthy, life-affirming attitude– It shows those trying to break free that there are definite, workable alternatives to the hell they’ve been living in, and that their oppressors do not have all the answers.

    Posted by akkarri | March 31, 2007, 12:05 am
  26. I haven’t read all the comments.

    I Think if the psychiatrist met the standard of care, then the standard of care is an ass, and we should all be very scared of psychiatrists.

    I also saw this as a DV-caused situation, the root was Mr. Riley’s behavior. And I don’t believe he wasn’t on drugs, creeps as selfish as he is are usually smoking crack or shooting up. His crime was putting himself first. So was hers. Not putting herself first, putting him first.

    Someone has to watch out for the children, and maybe it’s not the most feminist thing to say, but I think it has to be women, because if not us, who?

    Ms. Riley’s actions are chilling. I’m sorry, but she put her husband first and her children second. I know very well the spell that DV puts you in, but once I saw it hurting my daughter I bailed never looking back.

    You know what’s harmful is these books on how to “baby-proof your marriage” and other advice putting the husband first.

    Children come first, because they may be able to overcome the bullcrap that we adults are too old to see.

    Posted by saltyC | March 31, 2007, 12:53 am
  27. OK now i read the comments, and I must say i am impressed by akkarri’s take on double-standards.

    Posted by saltyC | March 31, 2007, 12:59 am
  28. A total *head nodding* with Akkarri’s:

    Heart brings up the crux of the matter when she points out that an entire household of (probably normal if left to their own devices) women and children were routinely ‘issued drugs’ so that they could cope with living in the same domicile as an unchecked rapist/batterer, i.e., the ‘normals’ are drugged into compliance with unchecked perversion. Again, Big Pharma and pill-pushing medicos benefit, because ‘normal’ people are easier to drug– they buy and take their prescribed meds regularly. In contrast, the whack-jobs who really could use some pharmacological intervention are flakes who usually won’t take their meds (or can’t afford to buy them in the first place) and are thus not a reliable, steady source of income for drug maufacturers.

    I would add that the whackjob in this story was the one who pushed to get his kids all ‘diagnosed’ with all these disorders as I’m guessing that the social security benefits would pay more for this situation.

    We might also ask why BigPharma is not throwing their billions into meds for treating whackjobs (the most common expression of the condition being male violence against primarily women and children). But no. BigPharma loves to dope up the laydees instead. It’s piss-easy to dope up the whackjobs who won’t take their meds, under-the-skin implants. We might want to also embed them with sat-nav chips as well, to keep tabs on them. Or the ‘one-way trip’ to the vet, and save all this bother.

    And again with the *head nods* to Akkarri’s:

    What it is actually is the ‘Slavery Double Standard’, and it works the same whether men apply it to Women, Native Americans, Jews, Africans, Italians, Japanese, domesticated animals etc., etc. It is predicated on the assumption that the ‘dominator group’ is the only ‘fully human’ group– everyone else is sub-human and therefore exists solely for the pleasure/use of the ‘true humans’ calling the shots. It is, in fact, a form of genuine psychiatric delusion, and I am of the opinion that those who relate to others in this way are seriously mentally ill and require treatment, big-time.

    (sorry for such big C&P slabs, but so very impressed)

    SaltyC, whilst I can see your point, and sadly it is a fact that the primary motivator for women fleeing DV situations is the harm that is being done (or will be done) to the kids, women are indoctrinated FROM BIRTH to put everyone else, and their needs, before their own. Even taking the stance that ‘to protect the kids’ should have prompted her into action is still by default, putting others’ needs above the woman’s. It is also indirect woman blaming. Don’t forget the societal blinkering for women to accept male violence as ‘something they can’t help’. So it’s a lose-lose situation all round for the woman/mother.

    Posted by stormy | March 31, 2007, 3:53 pm
  29. The other thing is, or one other thing, women are constantly beaten about the head and neck by the entire surrounding culture as to how bad divorce is for kids (and then the culture makes sure divorce IS bad for kids!) and also as to how horrible it is for kids to be raised by that dreaded entity, the “single mother.” So women in battering/abusive relationships run this internal gauntlet constantly, feeling (and being told) that to get out for their own sake is to endanger their kids by making them “children of divorce” or of “single mothers.” They don’t really know how bad these latter things are; it’s again that the evil they know seems preferable to the evil they don’t know. Not to mention how really difficult it is to ditch these guys, even if you attempt to leave them. They still hang around, wreaking havoc, even when you try to divorce their asses.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 31, 2007, 4:07 pm
  30. Absolutely Heart. Absolutely.

    That is why blame, indirectly or even minutely, towards women in these situations is such a no-go area. Which ever way you cut it, it is lose-lose.

    Posted by stormy | March 31, 2007, 5:30 pm
  31. Yeah, I agree that the poisonous fiction that single mothers are to blame for society’s ills , and that children need two parents is the reason many women choose to stay.

    I keep hearing this notion that marriage is a solution to crime, because it “tames” criminal males. I still hear from my ex’s friends how much better he was when we were together, how much he needs me, etc.

    The truth is, if not for my daughter, I might still be with him. But she had some things going for her:
    I never believed the marriage-solves-crime-and-poverty bull,
    and
    I knew that I was responsible for her life. I was NOT responsible for his happiness or anything. It was my choice that brought her into the world, and her happiness was totally in my hands.

    If women will accept putting their children first before putting themselves first, then I want to push the children over the abusive fathers and stepfathers. I want to do something to send the message: whatever it takes, whatever risk, by every means necessary, get them out of there.

    Yes I’m holding Ms Riley accountable, if she had a little more sense her children could have had a chance.

    Posted by saltyC | March 31, 2007, 5:50 pm
  32. And I’m not blaming her indirectly, I’m blaming her. I don’t buy into the battered women’s syndrome. She believed falsehoods, yes, but if you go that route then no one is to blame for anything.

    Imagine you’re a child in a home where your father abuses you and your mother defends and enables him. If she decided to leave, how would you feel? What if she decided to stay, would you forgive her and consider all the social pressures? She may not have a lot of power and say-so, but she has more than you do and she is your ONLY HOPE.

    Ms Riley was her children’s only hope, and she failed them.

    Posted by saltyC | March 31, 2007, 5:57 pm
  33. saltyC, I think if we “go the route” of battered women’s syndrome, someone certainly IS to blame: the batterer. If a woman believes falsehoods, the teller of the falsehoods — the liar — is to be blamed, not the woman, who dared to love and to trust him.

    If you are in a home where your father abuses you, you normally still love your father. You don’t recognize that you are being abused, usually, except in the most egregious cases, because abusive men aren’t abusive 24/7. Sometimes they are “only” abusive, say, 12/3, or even 2/1. It’s even worse where your father abuses “only” your mother, but not you, or where your father abuses “only” one of your siblings, but favors you (a very common scenario). You are torn in two. You love your father because he is your father and is sometimes apparently good to you, your mother, your siblings. You keep thinking he is telling the truth when he cries, says he is sorry, and will never abuse you or your mother or siblings again. You think there’s been a real change and that he means it this time.

    If your mother decides to leave your father who abuses “only” her, or “only” your sibling, you are, again, torn. You miss your father because he is your father and he was kind to you, if only sometimes. If your mother leaves your father because he abused “only” you, but not her or the others, you feel it is “your fault” that your parents divorced. If your mother leaves your father because he abused “only” her, but not you or your siblings, you might blame your mother, agreeing with her abuser (your father) that the abuse was her fault and if she’d been a better wife or mother, he would never have had to abuse her.

    I think it’s completely and totally wrong, saltyC, to blame Ms Riley for the actions of an abusive husband, an abusive father, an abusive system, an abusive psychiatrist, abusive medicine, an abusive legal system. You are free to blame her if you like– but not here.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 31, 2007, 6:35 pm
  34. One day SaltyC your child may blame you because he/she doesn’t have her/his father. It’s known to happen. About 100 per cent of time.

    Posted by Pony | March 31, 2007, 7:51 pm
  35. I’m blaming him for his actions, and I’m limiting the blame for her where she had agency, and I don’t believe she had no agency. Her children had no agency.

    Posted by saltyC | March 31, 2007, 7:56 pm
  36. I’d really like to know what women can do. I don’t know ONE woman who hasn’t had this happen, whether on not the situation was as tragic as this. Whether the father was a part of the household or not, every ‘whether’ I can think of… it was her fault. And I can get just as frustrated as the next and be sure that would not happen to me. I just don’t know one woman who when something happened, when everything wasn’t just perfect, it wasn’t deemed to be her fault. By her family, her culture, the people around her, and her children.

    And her children.

    Posted by Pony | March 31, 2007, 8:00 pm
  37. Yeah– it’s always a lot, lot easier to blame women for what they did wrong in raising their children than to blame men, or a society whose institutions are created by men, run by men, and cater to men. No matter what a woman does she can be wrong– if she leaves, or if she stays.

    The other thing is, this woman was not her children’s only hope. The uncle and his girlfriend who lived with the family should have been the children’s hope. The psychiatrist the family went to should have been the children’s hope, and the parents’ hope. The criminal justice system should have been the children’s hope, by locking up the sucker who raped Ms. Riley’s oldest daughter, the children’s dad, and not letting him out to see the light of day. The school officials should have been Rebecca’s hope, and the case workers/social workers should have been her hope, and child protective services, which investigated the family, should have been her hope. Anybody who saw the children bruised, dazed, out of it were their hope. In the end, though, Rebecca died. Blaming her mother is way too easy.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 31, 2007, 8:19 pm
  38. And you know I’m not exonerating her. I’ve said that about three times now. But she was drugged. Like a cocaine mother, or a heroin mother. She was drugged.

    I just don’t take well to a young mother who has really no experience yet of motherhood calling out one who failed. She failed. No doubt. But why is what resonates with we who have had some experience

    Posted by Pony | March 31, 2007, 8:38 pm
  39. I blame someone for not taking the children out of the home. I know social services is not good. But I think physically, those children should have been taken out of the home. At lot of the reason they aren’t in times when they aren’t, is I think classism, and racism. That’s they way “those people” live. I’ve heard it a thousand times. I’ll bet it was classism that turned away here. That’s they way “those” people live.

    Posted by Pony | March 31, 2007, 8:44 pm
  40. saltyC, in all the time I’ve been a regular here, I think I’ve pretty much agreed with most of your comments. But this time — NO WAY.

    As Heart said, so many MORE adults in the equation, that could have, should have, intervened. None of them did. They certainly deserve some of the blame. A woman, medicated to COPE with her (shitty) situation, should NOT. It is, as Heart says, way too easy to blame the mother.

    The uncle (or his girlfriend), the medicos, school officials (these latter two categories are actually more trained to recognise these things), all far too much to blame before finger-pointing goes in her direction. But the main culprit is of course, the whackjob, the abuser in this picture.

    NO NO NO. I cannot, will not, put even one ounce of blame in her direction. She was drugged to the hilt, abused to the hilt. This is the same line of thinking of “the short skirt caused her rape”. Nope.

    This is also the same line of thinking that can blame the mother when the abuser kills the child even when the mother is not present.
    http://stormcloud.wordpress.com/2006/12/10/section-5-of-the-dv-cv-act-anti-woman/
    Don’t feel smug in the States, it could easily happen your way. Not everything that crosses the pond happens in one direction only.

    Posted by stormy | March 31, 2007, 9:15 pm
  41. Who cares if my daughter will blame me for leaving her dad? I don’t.

    How much is enough experience with motherhood? I gave up up my job, my apartment and risked getting beaten to sneak my dog and cats and 6-month-old out out and drove for three days to make up with my estranged mom because my baby’s dad tried to take her away when he was drunk. I don’t know how much experience is enough to know it’s wrong to lie to everybody so your child can stay drugged. It doesn’t take a high school diploma to know that.

    Lying to protect a man who hurts you is one thing: it’s because you think so little of yourself that your hurt doesn’t matter.

    But lying to protect someone who’s hurting your CHILDREN??? That means you think too little of THEM, and there’s no excuse for that.

    Posted by saltyC | March 31, 2007, 9:48 pm
  42. I don’t think this woman lied to protect someone who was hurting her children, and I don’t think she lied so her child could stay drugged. I think she was in that twilight world of abuse and control where she really believed there was something wrong with her daughter, just like there had been “something wrong” with her older two kids, and where she feared her husband and what he would do, to her and the kids, if she defied him.

    What you say, saltyC, would only hold for someone not being battered, not drugged, who had resources and who was not focused first and foremost on survival, someone thinking clearly who realized what was happening and knew she and her children could survive and would be better off if they left. I don’t think this can be assumed about this woman.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 31, 2007, 11:03 pm
  43. If it were just a matter of women up and leaving abusive men, there would never have been a need for the domestic violence movement, domestic violence shelters, domestic violence laws, or studies around domestic violence and its affect on families. When a man was abusive, women would just have left. By and large because of feminism, the general public became aware that it wasn’t that simple and that it never has been.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 31, 2007, 11:06 pm
  44. Imagine you’re a child in a home where your father abuses you and your mother defends and enables him. If she decided to leave, how would you feel? What if she decided to stay, would you forgive her and consider all the social pressures? She may not have a lot of power and say-so, but she has more than you do and she is your ONLY HOPE.

    As a child who grew up in an abusive home, this resonates with me. From as early as I can remember, I begged my mother to leave my father and take us with her. She always said it wasn’t possible, for various reasons, and those reasons were all valid – my father isolated us from anyone who would’ve helped us, he had a stranglehold on our finances, he was devious, manipulative, and psychotic, and always managed to find us when we went away. He was a pathological liar who was incredibly adept at getting people to believe him and the stories he made up to hide his abuse. Most of all, we knew that when he acted as though he would kill us for leaving, he really would kill us. In fact, the time we were finally able to extricate ourselves from his grasp was when he did finally try to kill my mother.

    I’m saying this because I did experience what it was that SaltyC was describing. For a long time, I never blamed my mother for any of it. I tried to be understanding with her when she dropped the charges filed against him when he tried to kill her. I didn’t blame her when she didn’t call the police after he broke the restraining order and showed up at the house, trying to batter the front door down to get in. I didn’t blame her for all the years we spent living with him, wondering every day if we would come home and our mother would be dead, because I understood how the world around us made it as difficult as possible to leave.

    Eventually I got to a place where I was able to acknowledge that I was angry at my mother for not leaving, and that feeling that way was not a betrayal of my mother. Obviously I can’t go through the various instances, conversations, and incidents that supported this, but it was true. One of the reasons my mother gave for why she did eventually leave was because she was afraid that I was going to kill my father. I was so desperate and I hated him so much that I thought about it frequently because I felt like I had no other way out, wishing there was some way I could get rid of him because my mother wasn’t strong enough to leave. This made me sick because I never wanted to kill anyone.

    I blame my father wholly for his abuse, 100%. My mother never “made” him do it. Neither did his children. Nothing made him do it other than his own psychotic behavior. I do, however, wish my mother had been able to leave – not only because of all of the things he did to make sure we couldn’t, but also because she didn’t feel strong enough to leave. Years of being physically and verbally abused, imprisoned, violated, doesn’t leave you with very much self-esteem, and no matter how much you don’t want to internalize the things that person says about you, some of it ends up poisoning you.

    I’d like to elaborate on this later, but I can’t right now.

    Posted by gingermiss | April 1, 2007, 12:12 am
  45. SaltyC, you are still making the woman responsible for others before herself (ie her children). Whilst there is responsibility to one’s children, there is also caring for one’s self too. This buys into the “mother must sacrifice all” myth. Do fathers have this same myth? Fuck no.

    Akkarri was correct in pointing out that EVERYONE in that house was drugged up (in the script sense) except the DIRTBAG ABUSER. You are absolving him by even partially blaming her.

    I was going to say more, but it’s late, and I forgot my other point(s).

    Heart, “twilight zone”, good description, esp with the meds to cope in the picture.

    Posted by stormy | April 1, 2007, 12:30 am
  46. What I’m saying is like short skirt caused her rape?
    that’s the stupidest thing I ever read.

    Hello? She gave her baby pills, she told the psychiatrist lies so that she could get more pills. She gave the girl drugs which were obviously making her sick. That is chilling.

    Let’s be clear: I’m blaming the psychiatrist, I’m blaming the sick father, I’m blaming the relatives. I just don’t buy that the buck passes over her and she’s a braindead zombie with zero resposibility because she was drugged and beaten. Sorry, been there, didn’t do that.

    No dice.

    Posted by saltyC | April 1, 2007, 1:36 am
  47. “When a man was abusive, women would just have left.”

    This is so insulting, Heart, it bypasses everything I’ve ever said. You aren’t paying attention or you’re mad at me or something, it makes no sense.

    Posted by saltyC | April 1, 2007, 1:40 am
  48. Obviously you haven’t seen the rushes on the episode of Law and Order you think you’re starring in. You’re overacting. What an ego tripper you are SaltyC.

    Posted by Pony | April 1, 2007, 1:48 am
  49. saltyC– I’m not mad at you? Are you mad at me? For some reason, we are missing one another, looks like.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 1, 2007, 3:10 am
  50. Hi everybody,

    What an emotional and gut wrenching account of devastating abuse and terrorizing of women. I don’t really disagree with anyone in this thread. But as an unsolicited voice of support for salty c: I want to say that I know what it feels like to read an account of what could have been and feel immensely proud that you went in another direction. I sympathize for this mother, obviously abused and held hostage. But I realize the difficulty in balancing those feelings when you have found another way out.

    Again, to clarify: I don’t really disagree with anyone. I just hear salty c’s voice loud and clear and applaud her greatly and know that it must be hard to look at what could have been (a horribly more devastating path.)

    Also, gingermiss: thanks for sharing your story.

    Peace,
    HC

    Posted by HC | April 1, 2007, 4:41 am
  51. I keep coming back to the drugs. They skew people’s brain-function and perception of reality, and I think that compromised judgemental ability played a part in this nastiness. However, what I *really* want to know is why the female/juvenile contingent of the household was on what appears to be a smorgasbord of meds, seemingly without adequate oversight.

    I have a SERIOUS problem with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder in a TWO-YEAR-OLD. If it were up to me to investigate things, I would *absolutely* be putting the shrink who prescribed Rebecca’s med(s?) under the proverbial microscope. I noticed in the original article that the doctor was on ‘administrative leave’ pending further investigation, but we all know what ‘administrative leave’ is a euphemism for– it’s ‘cover-our-bureaucratic-butts’ Damage-Control Time…

    I hope to heck that someone has subpoena’ed the doctor’s patient records as of yesterday, to determine if there was a pattern of prescription without proper assessment. Even if a mom wants her kid medicated for whatever reason, an *ethical* doctor won’t prescribe a med unless actual illness is present.

    Depakote is not Tums or Advil– a doctor has to *write a prescription* for it in order for someone to take it, and it is *the doctor’s responsibility* to determine if any med s/he prescribes is actually necessary. Additionally, laws are a bit stricter for psychiatrists than they are for other medical doctors: psychiatrists are required *by law* to fully inform the patient (or legal guardian of the patient) of ALL REPORTED ADVERSE SIDE EFFECTS of the medication they are recommending, prior to prescribing it. Most psychiatrists also want to see a patient going onto a new med at least weekly over the ‘adjustment period’, which for most psych meds is 4 to 6 weeks. They usually don’t ‘just write a scrip’ and then that’s it.

    So I personally am zeroing in on the doctor, who presumably WASN’T on drugs, and therefore knew what s/he was doing (although a finding of Bipolar Disorder in a two-year-old doesn’t inspire any confidence in said doctor’s diagnostic skills on my part.)

    Posted by akkarri | April 1, 2007, 5:11 am
  52. akkarri said:

    In contrast, the whack-jobs who really could use some pharmacological intervention are flakes who usually won’t take their meds (or can’t afford to buy them in the first place) and are thus not a reliable, steady source of income for drug maufacturers.

    and Stormy said:

    We might also ask why BigPharma is not throwing their billions into meds for treating whackjobs (the most common expression of the condition being male violence against primarily women and children).

    Please bear with me, because I’m having a hard time articulating what’s troubling me. I think by whack-job you mean “out of control violent abuser” but it’s coming across as “crazy person who won’t take his meds.”

    I feel uncomfortable using a term like whack-job to describe violent, abusive men. On one hand, it seems like we’re saying he’s crazy, which absolves him of responsibility for his actions. On the other hand, it equates despicable behavior with mental illness, which is insulting to people who struggle with mental illness.

    If Michael Riley is in fact a person with an untreated mental illness, then does he truly have control over his behavior? Is he more culpable because he knew he was bipolar but wasn’t taking medication? Or is refusal to take medication an indicator of the severity of his illness?

    If he is not mentally ill, then let’s just call him out for what he is, and not allow any excuse for it.

    Posted by Beansa | April 1, 2007, 6:15 am
  53. One day SaltyC your child may blame you because he/she doesn’t have her/his father. It’s known to happen. About 100 per cent of time.

    I have to say I’m overwhelmingly confused by this. Are you saying an abusive mother shouldn’t take her children out of this environment because they’ll be ‘losing’ their father, and may eventually blame her for this?

    And, regardless if that’s what you’re stating or not, it’s not known to happen “100%” of the time. Not everyone is angry about losing their abusive father. I know I sure as hell wasn’t.

    Posted by gingermiss | April 1, 2007, 6:16 am
  54. SaltyC, put it in context:
    “the same line of thinking… ”

    It pisses me off when peeps do that (de-contextualise).

    Posted by stormy | April 1, 2007, 8:17 am
  55. Gingermiss, how horrible! I am so sorry for all you went through at the hands of your father, dear god. 😦

    I think all Pony was saying was, no matter what mothers do, kids can be depended upon to think their mothers were wrong. I think that’s what the “100 percent” comment was about. Even if, as mothers, we do the only thing it was possible for us to do, even if we do things that really were the only right thing to do, kids can and do see it differently, because they weren’t us, didn’t walk in our shoes, and they will often take the position that we were wrong. You don’t see this in all of its discouraging and glaring clarity until you’ve raised your kids. The thing is, too, kids change their mind about things over the years! So when they are younger, according to them, everything you did in a given situation might have been wrong, but then the years pass and they change their minds and decide you were right.

    When mothers are harshly judged, this is what some of us think about, this and the fact that mothers are judged by everybody, all the time, because it’s easy to find fault with your mom, less easy, or maybe less appealing, to find fault with your dad.

    beansa, yeah, I hear what you’re saying. I don’t know if the father in this case was bipolar– who knows? The psychiatrist in this case diagnosed Rebecca Riley on the basis of what her mother said and seeing her on one brief visit at the age of 2! I have no faith in any diagnosis she (the psychiatrist) might have made. I don’t know if any of these family members were mentally ill or should have been medicated. Further, I don’t believe what the father said about anything including his own condition which included something like “intermittent rage disorder.” Articles describe him acting out including in the presence of cops and when they’d tell him to stop he’d say he had “intermittent rage disorder.”

    So, who knows what his condition was or whether medication would have addressed it. I just think it’s ironic and horrible that the whole family seems to have been overmedicated whereas he terrorized everybody via his rage, his abuse, the rape of his stepdaughter (according to her account) and was not medicated.

    I think calling him a whackjob doesn’t do the subject justice; he was an abusive husband and an abusive father. The whole situation is so disturbing, the urge to call the guy names is understandable but less than helpful so your point is well taken.

    salty, this is what you said in your initial comments:

    Someone has to watch out for the children, and maybe it’s not the most feminist thing to say, but I think it has to be women, because if not us, who?

    Ms. Riley’s actions are chilling. I’m sorry, but she put her husband first and her children second. I know very well the spell that DV puts you in, but once I saw it hurting my daughter I bailed never looking back.

    and

    And I’m not blaming her indirectly, I’m blaming her. I don’t buy into the battered women’s syndrome. She believed falsehoods, yes, but if you go that route then no one is to blame for anything.

    Imagine you’re a child in a home where your father abuses you and your mother defends and enables him. If she decided to leave, how would you feel? What if she decided to stay, would you forgive her and consider all the social pressures? She may not have a lot of power and say-so, but she has more than you do and she is your ONLY HOPE.

    Ms Riley was her children’s only hope, and she failed them.

    This is what gave rise to my responses, that you don’t believe in battered women’s syndrome, she failed her kids, you are blaming her, she put her husband first, and so on.

    This is what I was responding to. If there is no battered women’s syndrome and women like this woman was wholly to blame, then what was the domestic violence movement in feminism about?

    You did clarify in later comments so maybe these first comments were just incomplete, but they were what gave rise to the responses.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 1, 2007, 12:23 pm
  56. I never said this woman was wholly to blame, and I don’t believe the whole domestic violence movement is predicated on battered women’s syndrome.

    Posted by saltyC | April 1, 2007, 2:19 pm
  57. I am one of the 100% of children who, at one point, blamed my mother. In my case, it was for leaving my abusive father. I was the youngest and the one he was nicest to, and I was only six when my mother, my sister and I drove off in the middle of the night.

    He died of the effects of alcohol abuse six years later. I never saw him again, and for a brief period in my teens I resented my mother for denying me a father. It wasn’t really until I had adult relationships with men myself that I understood her right to get out. I admire her guts and courage now, but it took maturity for me to allow my mother a right to self-determination.

    I do get what saltyC is saying about not mythologizing the mother. Women can be flawed, wrong and even vicious. It seems to me this woman should be given the benefit of the doubt, however, given the abuse she was subjected to.

    Can we talk about the economics of why women can’t just leave? Our system is based on women’s free and underpaid labor. Fear of violent retribution is only part of the system of control that keeps us in line. Just imagine if women didn’t have to fear destitution!! How free we could be!

    Posted by roamaround | April 1, 2007, 2:34 pm
  58. gingermiss, thank you for describing your story. I’m so sorry about what you went through. It sounded like my father’s abuse (though worse), but I was too young to understand it at the time. I’m at a loss for words to express how much your post meant to me, but I’m so glad to have this space where we can discuss our experiences and sort them through.

    One thing that made it possible for my mom to leave was the year, 1968. Even a few years before that, it would have been so much harder in terms of social stigma, legal protection, and ability to survive economically. My mom was also white, educated, middle class, and trained in a viable profession (nursing); all of which gave her more options than many women would have had.

    Posted by roamaround | April 1, 2007, 2:54 pm
  59. My previous post about my family’s abuse story is hung up in moderation (what did I say ;)? So my comments above may seem out of context.

    Posted by roamaround | April 1, 2007, 3:04 pm
  60. Pony said : One day SaltyC your child may blame you because he/she doesn’t have her/his father. It’s known to happen. About 100 per cent of time.

    Gingermiss said : have to say I’m overwhelmingly confused by this. Are you saying an abusive mother shouldn’t take her children out of this environment because they’ll be ‘losing’ their father, and may eventually blame her for this?

    And, regardless if that’s what you’re stating or not, it’s not known to happen “100%” of the time. Not everyone is angry about losing their abusive father. I know I sure as hell wasn’t.

    ~~~~~~~~

    You did not blame your mother ever? I believe I read the spector of that in your post above. You are still blaming your mother.

    What I see is a lot of judging & blaming, black and white thinking coming from one who has very little experience.. It’s always so easy when they’re babies and toddlers.

    I see SaltyC mother blaming on other boards, and being congratulated for it by others like her, who also haven’t a clue what it means to be a mother.

    I’m saying patriarchal society will always blame mothers. SaltyC does, and her child will learn that woman/mother blaming from her, and society.

    The point is, mothers are never right, so remember that, because YOU too can make mistakes even when YOU think you are doing the right thing, someone is going to say NO YOU ARNE’T. Just like SaltyC is doing to this mother, who may have thought she was doing the right thing, in her addled drugged mind.

    The point is don’t judge another mother from your position of several months motherhoos.

    Posted by Pony | April 1, 2007, 4:08 pm
  61. Roamaround the mother SaltyC is mythologizing is herself.

    Posted by Pony | April 1, 2007, 4:12 pm
  62. Well, here is my experience.

    I left my first horrifically abusive husband and he tried to kill me and went to prison for trying to kill me. I left my second abusive husband, was excommunicated, lost my business, and just about everything I had when the Religious Right closed me down.

    I *did* manage to leave *both* my abusers, and I did it not only for myself, but for my children. I did it by sheer force and strength of will. I did it at great risk to myself and to my kids. My first ex broke into my apartment, seized our two toddlers, and split with them to a far off state where he was gone with them for MONTHS. This was before “Amber alerts” and before custodial interference laws and the police didn’t even look for my kids. I did what I did totally alone, without support.

    All of my children believe I was right to leave their dads.

    But having lived what I’ve lived, gone through what I’ve gone through, at no time would I judge any woman for what she does at any given point, or doesn’t do, in the context of abuse and poverty and in Ms. Riley’s case, mental illness and being drugged. I managed to get out, in the first instance after four years, in the second instance after 19 years. In both instances, in different ways, the experience nearly killed me. I had two toddlers when I got out the first time, ages 3 and 1, and nine kids when I got out the second time, ages 3-22. I’m glad I managed to get out but in no way would I say to or of any woman, “I got out, what’s your problem?” Or, “I got out, if you don’t, I’m blaming you for what happened to your kids.” What I say is, “I got out and almost lost my life. I want you to get out, too, to save your own and your childrens’ lives. What can I do? How can I help?” And if I’m not in a position to help, then neither am I in a position to judge.

    I mean, what earthly good does it do to say, “I hold her accountable. She is to blame. I don’t believe in battered women’s syndrome.”

    This… what? Encourages other women? Helps them to get out of abusive situations? Inspires and motivates them to take care of their kids? What?

    Piling on helps no one. This woman is *already charged* with first degree murder for the love of all that is holy. How is it helpful for feminist mothers to contribute to this extreme level of mother blaming?

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 1, 2007, 4:28 pm
  63. And this is what I’m talking about when I talk about giving women the benefit of the doubt. Who knows but that given a month, six months, a year, this woman MIGHT have gotten free, gotten out of this situation. And then what, I guess we’d applaud her. Whereas six months earlier we’d be condemning her and saying, “You’re to blame!”

    I want a feminism in which mothers feel confident that when they tell me what they are going through, I will NOT judge them, I will NOT blame them, I will try to HELP. If they read me blaming mothers, then I am no more their friend than any of the other gazillion mother-blamers out there.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t think mothers are never to blame, or are right, or whatever. That means I am looking at what *helps*. Blaming and accusing might make me feel righteous, might mean all sorts of people, including anti-feminists and misogynists, will say, “Damn right! She’s to blame! You might be a feminist but at least you do the right thing by blaming mothers who need to be blamed!” But how does it help women? How does it help any struggling mother? Or any struggling child? All it does is make it less likely that abused mothers will go to feminists for help.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 1, 2007, 4:37 pm
  64. I was going to say, and what kind of physician gives out drugs to someone coming in asking for them? Are these drugs not given for illnesses and supposedly curative reasons? The people monitored and conselled?

    I was going to say that, then I realized the same profession handing out mind numbing paralyzing thought and body immobilizing drugs to someone without medical reason is the same profession that counsels people to have mutilating surgeries to better play at whatever gender is in season this pharmaceutical quarter.

    Posted by Pony | April 1, 2007, 4:47 pm
  65. I never would say

    “I got out, what’s your problem?” Or, “I got out, if you don’t, I’m blaming you for what happened to your kids.”

    Bullshit.

    I only brought up my experience because Pony accused me of being a young, inexperienced mother.

    I have a problem with Ms Riley seaking out medical professionals, lying to them, lying to pharmacies to get more in order to drug her kids to please her husband. I never blamed her for “not getting out”.

    Y’all are being way too knee-jerk.

    Posted by saltyC | April 1, 2007, 4:59 pm
  66. This is (one of the things) you’ve said:

    Let’s be clear: I’m blaming the psychiatrist, I’m blaming the sick father, I’m blaming the relatives. I just don’t buy that the buck passes over her and she’s a braindead zombie with zero resposibility because she was drugged and beaten. Sorry, been there, didn’t do that.

    No dice.

    I think if she can’t get out, then she has to “please her husband” or get her ass kicked, or her kids are going to get their asses kicked and you are going to be right there blaming her for that, saltyC.

    I think there is one person being knee jerk here and that is you. I also think that while I (and others) have responded very carefully, you are not responding with similar care. You’re just coming back in saying the rough equivalent of a kneejerk “She’s wrong, she shouldn’t have done it, she’s to blame.”

    Okay, you’ve been heard. And it’s enough. I don’t want that here. It isn’t pro-woman, it isn’t pro-child. It is anti-woman, anti-mother, and anti-child. If you comment in ways which offer some explanation for what amounts to imo an anti-woman perspective, then that will be good. I’m not going to keep approving comments which continue to bash this mother or any mother though and which don’t do anything BUT that. You’ve had your say.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 1, 2007, 5:17 pm
  67. You know, I wouldn’t have approved your comments at all had they come from other than someone I knew to be a feminist, saltyC. As I said way up thread, and should have held to it, you’re free to blame Ms. Riley. But not here.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 1, 2007, 5:19 pm
  68. My saying you are a young, inexperienced mother is not an accusation SaltyC. It’s a fact.

    You did good by your child. And every time you make a decision you will do good, as good as you CAN.

    Posted by Pony | April 1, 2007, 5:44 pm
  69. I want to defend myself from Pony’s accusing me of bashing mothers on other boards.

    Posted by saltyC | April 1, 2007, 6:18 pm
  70. Pony:

    “I see SaltyC mother blaming on other boards, and being congratulated for it by others like her, who also haven’t a clue what it means to be a mother.”

    Heart, you’re just gonna let her say this without letting me point out that it’s a total lie?

    Posted by saltyC | April 1, 2007, 6:33 pm
  71. There seems to be a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” argument being used, an argument right-wingers like to use because it negates the impact of social conditions (i.e. battered wife syndrome, motherhood as martyr oppression, sexism, etc). Or perhaps “The One” trope. Meaning “the one” who survived, got out, against all odds.

    I have been told by two therapists who have treated me with situational depression (when my father died) and post partum depression that with my background most people would be dead, had committed suicide, been on the streets, hooked on drugs, or an alcoholic. None in which I am or have been. I am in fact one of the ones. However, I have learned to take care long ago using it as a point because I have five brothers and a sister who do in fact fall in one of the above categories.

    “The One” has done something commendable. This we know. The trouble is when that one is used as a model for what the masses who are not the one should be doing, or should have done. It creates a blaming atmosphere, which in turn becomes a poisoned atmosphere.

    “See Oprah did it, so why are you whiny brats still whining about being held back.”

    We need a language that can mix the two, without creating an either/or, or giving one more weight than the other: “Yes there are conditions that hold people in situations, but those conditions are not impossible conditions, however, saying it is not impossible, does not imply that it is easy, or even manageable, but for the sake of recognizing the ones who have managed, we do need to say it is possible, but impossible also, for some, for many, for not the one, but not for so many that change cannot take place.”

    Tricky business.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | April 1, 2007, 8:43 pm
  72. I have a problem with Ms Riley seaking out medical professionals, lying to them, lying to pharmacies to get more in order to drug her kids to please her husband.

    It could just have easily have been the husband forcing her to take the child to the doctor, either because the husband wanted more disability benefits coming into the household, or to quieten a two year old (“the terrible twos”).

    The phrase “to please her husband” is most offensive. She may not have had any choice, domestic abusers are NOT reasonable people.

    Posted by stormy | April 1, 2007, 9:06 pm
  73. You did not blame your mother ever? I believe I read the spector of that in your post above. You are still blaming your mother.

    I’m not even sure if you read what I wrote. I didn’t blame my mother while we were in the situation. After several years of reflection, I was able to get to a point where I realized it was acceptable for me to be angry at my mother for the specific mistakes that she made while we were stuck in that situation.

    I also find your dismissal of what I said hurtful. My perspective is that of the child who had no other option than to grow up in that environment, not the mother. You minimized what I was saying to fit your own assessment of the situation, which I think is unfair.

    My mother leaving that environment was virtually impossible if she wanted to be able to keep her children and herself safe when they left. Like I said before: “my father isolated us from anyone who would’ve helped us, he had a stranglehold on our finances, he was devious, manipulative, and psychotic, and always managed to find us when we went away. He was a pathological liar who was incredibly adept at getting people to believe him and the stories he made up to hide his abuse. Most of all, we knew that when he acted as though he would kill us for leaving, he really would kill us. In fact, the time we were finally able to extricate ourselves from his grasp was when he did finally try to kill my mother.”

    It wasn’t my mother’s fault that we were there. My father was a manipulative psychopath who tricked her into marrying him, not fully revealing the true person he was until she was already trapped in a marriage with him. He searched her out specifically because she was a naive, forgiving woman who already had low self-esteem before he was even able to kill the rest of it. I forgive my mother for her mistakes, but my assertion is that it’s ok for me to acknowledge that she made some mistakes.

    My father knew that he could capitalize on that sympathy, that honesty, that faith in humanity that makes my mother such a wonderful person. Unfortunately she had to learn the hard way that some people have no concern for anyone other than themselves and are unable, and unwilling, to change.

    Thank you for your comments, heart. It’s difficult for me to articulate the fact that I agree with everything that you’re saying – I wholly believe in battered women’s syndrome, I know how these situations work, I know how many times I’ve heard people who don’t know a fucking thing about living under the thumb of an abusive man blame my mother for not leaving. Not my father for being a fucking psychopath who felt like he could behave however he wanted, hurt any woman he wanted, as if he owned everyone in his house. They blamed my mother, which is beyond stupid and myopic.

    My mother made mistakes, but I forgive her for them. It was difficult for me to understand them while they were happening. I was horrified when I found out that my mother reunited with my father and the rest of my family concealed it from me because they knew that I would protest it. Part of the reason I was horrified was because I knew exactly why it was happening: my father still had all the control, even after we were physically out of his presence. He followed us when we moved. He still had every cent of our money. He still imposed himself on us, walked into our apartment as though he owned it, drank and abused my sisters and my mother whenever they were nice enough to go and visit him at the hotel he was living at.

    I despise the people who place the blame on the abused and battered woman for ‘not leaving’ an abusive home. My response was specifically to say that, as a child, I experienced the feelings that SaltyC described.

    Posted by gingermiss | April 1, 2007, 10:28 pm
  74. gingermiss, thank you for describing your story. I’m so sorry about what you went through. It sounded like my father’s abuse (though worse), but I was too young to understand it at the time. I’m at a loss for words to express how much your post meant to me, but I’m so glad to have this space where we can discuss our experiences and sort them through.

    One thing that made it possible for my mom to leave was the year, 1968. Even a few years before that, it would have been so much harder in terms of social stigma, legal protection, and ability to survive economically. My mom was also white, educated, middle class, and trained in a viable profession (nursing); all of which gave her more options than many women would have had.

    roamaround, I am equally glad that I am now in a place where I can hear your story, and share my story, without fearing retribution or punishment for it. For years I was never able to talk about it with anyone outside of my family because I feared it would get back to my father. Now that I can talk about it, I do, because it’s important for people who have been in that situation to know that there were other people who experienced it – and for people who haven’t been in that situation to learn something about it.

    Posted by gingermiss | April 1, 2007, 10:37 pm
  75. You are quite justified in your anger toward your mother. I understand that to include blame, maybe not at the end of the anger but at the beginning.

    My perspective throughout this exchange has been one of an abused child. I stopped blaming her around about the time I became a feminist, which was before I bore her grandchildren.

    Posted by Pony | April 1, 2007, 11:28 pm
  76. You have talked about the ways you are raising your daughter (?) on ohter boards, in such a manner than the comments you made implicitlly set you above other mothers. That was the context. The last, on IBTP. You’ve done it numerous times. The context is always the same. You’re so much smarter and better.

    Posted by Pony | April 1, 2007, 11:43 pm
  77. I was agreeing with two other poster’s low opinion of the nuclear family, and I was saying how wonderful it is to be single.

    Hey somebody has to point out the advantages of being a single mom, when so much air is devoted to saying how children need two fathers.

    that was my context, meaning, implication, totality. I did not mean to brag, just promoting single motherhood.

    THIS is mother-bashing to you?

    I have to wonder how far you’ll go to twist my meaning.

    My “mother-bashing” comment:

    Silence and RadFemHed,

    I agree with both of you,

    I am a single mom and every day I count my greatest blessing as being able to be single. I can raise my baby the way I see fit: no scolding, no bribery, no harsh language. No violent shows, no manipulation, no arguing. She’ll learn that outside of the home, inside right now is a sanctuary. And it’s not like she’s spoiled either, she shares and cares for others. She happens to be doing very well, and I think it’s because she lives in a peaceful and predictable environment.

    Plus I don’t have to eat a dick sandwich a couple times a week, and my privates are private. I love love love being single.

    Posted by saltyC | April 2, 2007, 1:30 am
  78. I meant so much air is devoted to saying how children need fathers, or two parents. Not two fathers.

    Posted by saltyC | April 2, 2007, 1:38 am
  79. Gingermiss:

    It wasn’t my mother’s fault that we were there. My father was a manipulative psychopath who tricked her into marrying him, not fully revealing the true person he was until she was already trapped in a marriage with him.

    Abuser-101. They never reveal their true selves until they have trapped the woman in the relationship.
    Conversation that will never happen:
    “Hi, I’m a psychopathic pathological liar, violently unpredictable; wanna be my girlfriend?”

    Posted by stormy | April 2, 2007, 10:51 am
  80. I suppose in some universe it’s not bashing me to say I don’t have a clue what it’s like to be a mother. Pony’s right, I only had a child for two years, everyone knows the first two years are the easiest, least intense time for a mother, especially when she loses her house and job due to Katrina and the father is a crackhead and she spends two weeks in a campground with a three-month-old and the crackhed’s family. Yeah who am I to know anything about motherhood when I’ve had it so easy.

    Posted by saltyC | April 2, 2007, 11:03 am
  81. Abuser-101. They never reveal their true selves until they have trapped the woman in the relationship.
    Conversation that will never happen:
    “Hi, I’m a psychopathic pathological liar, violently unpredictable; wanna be my girlfriend?”

    Obviously. I was really just trying to illustrate that I didn’t think my mother intentionally married a psychopath, as some people (no one here, clearly) seem to think. A lot of people don’t believe the whole scenario. They don’t believe that someone could be so devious or so talented at obscuring their actual personality. Until they know someone like that.

    Posted by gingermiss | April 2, 2007, 11:47 am
  82. From the original post:I know how battered women think. I believe that once Michael was back in the house, things went from bad to worse. Caroline gave the kids more and more medication to keep them quiet, to placate Michael, to keep him from going off, keep him from, for example, slamming his son’s head into things, choking his son, as he had also been said to do, to keep him from grabbing his kids, cuffing them around, as others said he did.

    This is an extremely viable explanation for everyone who is criticizing the mother for the overmedication. Whether or not she knew otherwise, she probably believed that the amount of medication she was giving the kids was acceptable, and that the medicated state they were then in was much better than one of them getting beaten by their father for coughing.

    I’m not trying to derail the discussion of the original incident, but reading about this girl and her family makes me think of so many things that my family and I experienced while I was growing up. I remember we were travelling in the car once with our second dog. (My father made my family get this dog after our first dog, who he abused continuously, died.) While we were driving, the dog peed all over my sister’s head. We were all so terrified of my father, whose anger was completely irrational and unpredictable, that my sister didn’t mention it for hours until we stopped and she was able to quietly pull my mother aside. Everyone did everything they could to make him comfortable, because you never knew what was going to set him off. He was completely unpredictable. You lived your entire life quietly, silently trying to tip toe around, desperately trying to keep the environment as stable as you could. But it didn’t stop.

    Posted by gingermiss | April 2, 2007, 12:12 pm
  83. You haven’t had it easy SaltyC.

    You’re an inexperienced mother, one who talks around like every other mother is too dumb to have done what you’re doing/know what you know.

    Two different things.

    Posted by Pony | April 2, 2007, 2:35 pm
  84. He may also have threatened to kill one or all of the kids if she didn’t do X. I once watched my mother being beaten to broken bones and blood all over, because he said: it’s her or you–meaning a five year old me or my mother. I’m one of the kids who remembers WHY she turned into an abuser after he died. Later many years later, doing some genealogy, I found out almost all the male ancestors died drunk, in jail, in shootings. And very young. At 45, my dead was about the longest-lived of his male line.

    I’m not going to go into all the things I recall Gingermiss and Roamaround. But I am really sorry to hear you’ve been there, too.

    Posted by Pony | April 2, 2007, 2:42 pm
  85. Have a look at this article about seroquel, and other drugs in its class, and other psychiatric drugs not licensed for use in children but prescribed for them. Toward the middle or so, Vera (reporter) talks about side effects which include inability to think, being in a fog, confusion etc.

    To get this article and more, I did a search on Seroquel, one of the drugs prescribed to members of this family.

    http://www.ahrp.org/ahrpspeaks/OvermedUSkids0605.php

    Posted by Pony | April 2, 2007, 3:23 pm
  86. Pony,

    quit slandering me.
    I do not “talk like every other mother is dumb”.
    I am not an “ego tripper”

    That is a hideous thing to say about me without any basis.

    If your slanders against me are welcome here, I most obviously am not.

    Bye.

    Posted by saltyC | April 2, 2007, 4:39 pm
  87. Salty, from time to time women get aggravated with each other and say things that are harsh. I think that’s part of the deal, and I don’t always spam this kind of comment (although sometimes I do, and if it’s an anti-feminist, I always do). Lots of people have been harsh towards me on this blog and I’ve approved their comments anyway, which is just to say you are welcome here, and getting into it with pony or anybody else doesn’t change that, anymore than my approving harsh comments in my own direction means I’m not welcome here.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 2, 2007, 4:53 pm
  88. I suppose in some universe it’s not bashing me to say I don’t have a clue what it’s like to be a mother. Pony’s right, I only had a child for two years, everyone knows the first two years are the easiest, least intense time for a mother, especially when she loses her house and job due to Katrina and the father is a crackhead and she spends two weeks in a campground with a three-month-old and the crackhed’s family. Yeah who am I to know anything about motherhood when I’ve had it so easy.

    Saltyc, Pony may be abrasive however she has a point. In your opinion you may not be “ego-tripping.” I don’t doubt that. Yet you are arguing as if you are boosting your ego. I don’t necessarily see it that way, actually I see it that you are in need of some affirmation.

    But if you step back and look at the bigger picture, look at your above quote, remove yourself away from being the author, it does have a preachy tone. It almost implies, and one could infer, that if the author is saying if one person can survive such circumstances then everyone who had similar circumstances should also survive (and thrive). Such a sentiment borders too closely on “forget social conditioning and pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

    Posted by chasingmoksha | April 2, 2007, 4:53 pm
  89. You maligne mothers, you’ve done it right here. We don’t need to look at the many posts you’ve made putting yourself out as the righteous one anywhere else.

    But different here, is that you get no congrats for your women/mother hating.

    Posted by Pony | April 2, 2007, 4:54 pm
  90. In another vein and nothing to do with Salty or Pony accept to originate this thought, to me how women are expected to “pull themselves up by bootstraps” and ignore social conditioning demonstrates how permeated misogyny is in our culture. Liberal and open-minded people can easily understand how the combination of personal responsibility and social conditioning works hand in hand in order to direct one to successes or failure when that one is anyone other than a female. When it is a female, suddenly societal compassion is thrown out the window. I am seeing it with criticism with Hillary Clinton. Yes, I think it is despicable she voted for the war. It was horrible. And I have to bite my tongue from screaming, “I told you so, I told you so.” From the giddy up, I thought it was wrong to go to war with Iraq and said so. I think I got a few death threats for stating my opinion back in 03. Yet Hilary’s wrong vote to go to war seems to carry a more weight against her than all the others (men) who voted for the war. “Oh he just made a mistake, but Hilary Clinton the female, should have known better.” Misogyny, misogyny, misogyny. And some of that misogyny is coming from females. Another example of how permeated misogyny is in our culture.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | April 2, 2007, 5:03 pm
  91. I posted the article about Seroquel so we can see what the drugs the mother and children were on DO. If she had been a young woman, with a good career, a car, and health, without other children, and not beaten down, I might be harder on her. As it stands, she was drugged. The people who were supposed to HELP her beat on her too, by adding to the prison she was in with chemical straightjackets. It is from that state that she made her decisions.

    Posted by Pony | April 2, 2007, 5:18 pm
  92. Heart, this is total mischaracterization of me my opinions and I’m outta here for good.

    Posted by saltyC | April 2, 2007, 5:29 pm
  93. saltyC, for what it’s worth, again, my opinions have been completely mischaracterized here, as well, I’ve believed, by commenters, who then frequently have gone to their own or others’ blogs and continued to engage in mischaracterizing my opinions — or straight up making stuff up about them — with abandon. I’m saying that only to say this kind of stuff happens, we all feel this way at times, and yes, it’s frustrating, at the same time, it happens to all of us, including me, and this is my blog. Just sayin.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 2, 2007, 5:35 pm
  94. i don’t follow US politcs very closely. But we had something here similar in misogyny, if not a woman edging toward running the country. Belinda Stronach (whose politcs I generally don’t agree with WHEN I get to hear about them) is considered by many to someday be a possible for woman prime minsiter. She’s been called a dog by her former lover also a member of parliament, depicted as a ho because she likes sex, a home wrecker because she dated a man separated from his wife, and all the press about her has been pure pornified. She’s inherited the management of a multi million dollar company from her father some years ago, and has improved it and built on it. So she must have something going for her other than her tits, but that’s all we hear about.

    Posted by Pony | April 2, 2007, 5:36 pm
  95. I’m not speaking for Heart. My opinion of your statements is mine. Not changing that until I see something different from you.

    Posted by Pony | April 2, 2007, 5:38 pm
  96. Gingermiss said:
    They don’t believe that someone could be so devious or so talented at obscuring their actual personality. Until they know someone like that.

    Absolutely. And that is also why “pillars of the community” get away with being abusers, because most are very good at hiding their (supposedly uncontrollable) behaviour from the outside world. Seeing one in action, close up and personal — mindblowing how they can turn it on/off at the flick of a switch. Yes, you have to see it to believe it.

    Your suggestion of the mother’s dosaging of the children is also another quite likely scenario.

    Chasingmoksha said:
    It almost implies, and one could infer, that if the author is saying if one person can survive such circumstances then everyone who had similar circumstances should also survive (and thrive).

    That was also my impression of how SaltyC came across.

    I also see that Carolyn Riley was also in the midst of detangling out of the situation (even if it didn’t ‘take’, sometimes many attempts are needed). These abusers are frequently hard to shake, and many times worse post-separation (in the UK a woman is twice as likely to be killed by the partner when trying to leave or has left, than when she was with him).

    Posted by stormy | April 2, 2007, 6:58 pm
  97. Edited at saltyC’s request.

    I was trapped.

    One person accuses me of not having experience of what it’s like, so I state my experience, then the rest of you pounce on me saying: See! You’re saying you’re better than others who were in your situation, something I never said or believed. I have contacted others who were burned here to let them see what was done to me and warned newbies…. It’s NOT SAFE HERE.

    Posted by saltyC | April 2, 2007, 7:55 pm
  98. saltyC– You came here with strong, repeated, and harsh words of condemnation for this mother who is married to an abuser and accused child rapist, and who is now in prison, charged with first degree murder. Some have argued with you, but others have offered you their support or said they hear you and understand: HC, Gingermiss, roamaround, and others. Miranda also seems to agree at least somewhat with your position.

    If women are told it is not safe here and they check it out for themselves, what they will see is that it is not safe to come here with harsh judgments of the actions of mothers who are married to abusers and child rapists. More is expected here because this is a woman-centered, feminist blog. As I said twice here, you are free to judge Ms. Riley harshly– but not here.

    Everybody in the whole wide world is willing to pronounce harsh and condemning judgments of mothers; we don’t have to worry that that is going to be well covered by the entire anti-feminist, anti-woman, anti-mother world. As feminists, it makes sense for us to wonder at how easy it is to judge mothers, and to refuse to make that kind of easy, simplistic judgment ourselves or to allow that kind of judgment to go unrebutted and unchallenged.

    What it seems like to me is, you came here to make a fight, and you made one, you were successful. Now you have what it seems like you were after– something you think you can use to smear women who comment here. That is your right. But I don’t think anyone who comes here in good faith is going to see that it is “not safe” here.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 2, 2007, 8:40 pm
  99. This is what you have said here, saltyC, in the space of less than two days.

    ***

    His crime was putting himself first. So was hers. Not putting herself first, putting him first.

    Someone has to watch out for the children, and maybe it’s not the most feminist thing to say, but I think it has to be women, because if not us, who?

    Ms. Riley’s actions are chilling. I’m sorry, but she put her husband first and her children second. I know very well the spell that DV puts you in, but once I saw it hurting my daughter I bailed never looking back.

    Yes I’m holding Ms Riley accountable, if she had a little more sense her children could have had a chance.

    And I’m not blaming her indirectly, I’m blaming her. I don’t buy into the battered women’s syndrome. She believed falsehoods, yes, but if you go that route then no one is to blame for anything.

    Ms Riley was her children’s only hope, and she failed them.

    I don’t know how much experience is enough to know it’s wrong to lie to everybody so your child can stay drugged. It doesn’t take a high school diploma to know that.

    Lying to protect a man who hurts you is one thing: it’s because you think so little of yourself that your hurt doesn’t matter.

    But lying to protect someone who’s hurting your CHILDREN??? That means you think too little of THEM, and there’s no excuse for that.

    Hello? She gave her baby pills, she told the psychiatrist lies so that she could get more pills. She gave the girl drugs which were obviously making her sick. That is chilling.

    I just don’t buy that the buck passes over her and she’s a braindead zombie with zero resposibility because she was drugged and beaten. Sorry, been there, didn’t do that.

    I have a problem with Ms Riley seaking out medical professionals, lying to them, lying to pharmacies to get more in order to drug her kids to please her husband.

    If I didn’t know it was you, saltyC — and maybe it isn’t! This is the internet and maybe this is an imposter — but I think it is you, but if I didn’t know it was you, looking at what you’ve posted there, I’d think these were the words of an anti-feminist person, possibly an MRA or someone trolling to make trouble here. I approved all the comments because I believed and still believe that you are a feminist, but a feminist who is willing to harshly judge mothers, even when they are married to abusive, battering accused child rapists. There is value in approving your comments, first because I know you *are* a feminist and yet you hold these views, and second because it’s important for feminists as a group to discuss the views you’ve put out there.

    But honestly–looking at what you’ve posted there? There is nothing feminist in it, in my opinion, and again, if I hadn’t known you for some time, I would likely have discarded your comments as someone attempting to troll.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | April 2, 2007, 8:53 pm
  100. If I had any doubts about the fear and powerlessness an abused woman feels, and the lengths she might go to to try to preserve her life and the life of her children, they were completely eradicated by the murder-suicide that was committed at the University of Washington on Monday.

    Rebecca Griego left her abuser. She feared for her safety, she got a restraining order, she notified the campus police, she posted pictures of her abuser in her office and he walked in Monday morning and shot her and then shot himself. The comments from the police in the news reports are chilling. They bascially said there is nothing that can be done to protect a woman in this situation. That a determined man with access to a weapon is unstoppable.

    http://www.kirotv.com/news/11509938/detail.html

    http://www.kirotv.com/download/2007/0402/11497150.pdf

    Posted by beasna | April 4, 2007, 4:22 pm

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