How can any child make sense of it? How can any child make sense of it?
A letter from Annamaria Arlotta
November 5, 2004

Dear Mister Riak,

Learning about all the good work you are doing has given me great consolation. My father physically abused me as a child, often with a belt. Thanks to the articles and the letters on your site I have discovered something I had long suspected: spanking represents a form of sexual pleasure for many parents. My husband, a psychologist, has always been convinced that I was sexually abused. Well, now that I see the connection between the physical abuse and sexuality, I can say I was myself.

At the time I found your site, I also discovered a website called "spankwithlove", whose true name should be "Spank with sexual pleasure". I am writing to you to ask your group to do something to stop those vicious people. Their cover is that they are an innocent group created to advise parents about spanking. This hides their dangerous, pathological goal. But as their true message is " We will teach you how the gain the maximum enjoyment from spanking your children - read the details " their true purpose comes out. One can see it from their disgusting logo, their illustrations, their list of implements, their lingering over positions and techniques, and from the comments of the readers. Many of the comments to the site are written with such obvious enjoyment that they belong in a pornographic site dedicated to sadomasochism.

Once in a while the site publishes comments by healthy people, who write things like "you are a temple of perversion" or "spank with love is like saying rape gently", but I suppose they do it to show how open they are to all opinions. The fact remains that 1) parents are encouraged to spank 2) some children wrote to them saying that since their mum saw the site, they get spanked 3) teenagers, already caught in the sexual spiral, confirm in their letters how positive the experience is for them, and go on with great and unnecessary details about techniques and rituals 4) the site can be used by masochists for sexual arousement .

Indeed, this is what happened to me at first. It elicited the worst drives in a mix of sexual excitement followed by confused feelings, unfulfilled desire to grasp what the experience was really like when I was a child, dissociation, and above all shame and sense of being trapped in a distorted view of sexuality for the rest of my life. Reading the material abruptly lifted the lid of my "can of worms". Luckily I had dealt with these issues in the past (My daughter is 11 years old; my husband and I never have hit her and never will. There is hope after all…) This array of feelings has now turned into just one: anger. This anger is at that site for what it was trying to do to me and to the rest of us for whom it's too late. Rage because of what they are doing to children.

Please Mr.. Riak, please do something to stop them. Let me tell you about an advice they give to parents: that while they are spanking their children, they should tell them how GOOD they really are, and that they are spanked only for their bad action. What kind of message is that? How can a child make any sense of it? "They say that I am good, but I get hit, it hurts, and they seem to enjoy it. They probably want me to enjoy it. I am good; therefore they praise me with something enjoyable. No, wait…they seem angry…they call it punishment, not praise…"

With the help of a psychologist I discovered that there is a pattern which parents and children who are spanked follow. When the child feels that the time is approaching, he will act in a way that contributes to lead to the "storm", by pushing those buttons that he knows will lead his parents to beat him. I would like to know from other readers if they also remember such patterns. The way I explain this mechanism is: as children's love for their parents is essential for their survival, they do anything to please them. At a deep level they interpret spanking as a need by their parents, and they sacrifice themselves by going along with it.

My memories of being beaten are: a) trespassing into a private territory, my body b) fear of a big adult who could have killed me if he had wanted to c) not understanding why my mother did not defend me d) emotional confusion about my father's role: loving person or despising me? e) the decision of hitting me was arbitrary, in that it followed my father's mood more than my transgressions f) feeling of worthlessness - no one heard my reasons g) feeling of being refused

Besides distorting my sexuality, the long lasting effects of being physically abused have been: 1) to turn me into a heavy smoker, like my father was. Smoking "rewards" me when I inhale the substance my body craves; of course it also "punishes" me, by putting my health at risk. 2) Sense of hopelessness. It did not matter what my reasons were: my father's strong desire to hit me was what mattered. So even now that I am a mature woman I tend to believe that my point of view will not be respected. Lack of confidence, and the sense of being unresolved follow, although twenty years of a happy marriage have helped considerably.

I hope you will consider publishing this letter, which has been painful for me to write. I hope that either you or some anti child abuse organization will act to ban the site "spankwithlove" from the WEB. If sexual pleasure with children is called paedophilia, perhaps they should be understood to be recommending an incestuous paedophilia.

Thank you for being the good father many of us did not have. I will now cry a little, and then go on with life.

Best regards

Annamaria Arlotta

If some readers would like to write to me, I'd be very happy to correspond:

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