I bullied my sister when I was a child, and it’s something I will always bitterly regret. This is something I’ve been talking to my therapist about recently. I wanted to understand why I was a bully. There’s no excuse for it, and it was definitely wrong, but I wanted to understand why it happened.
I’m pretty damn sure my parents spanking me had a lot to do with it.
This is what spanking does to young children (source, and emphasis is mine).
Spanking may reduce the brain’s grey matter, the connective tissue between brain cells. Grey matter is an integral part of the central nervous system and influences intelligence testing and learning abilities. It includes areas of the brain involved in sensory perception, speech, muscular control, emotions and memory… Medical professionals investigating the long-term effects of spanking have consistently found a link between corporal punishment and increased aggression in children.
People who know me in real life know that I have difficulty handling emotions properly. I have difficulty with muscular control and sensory perception.
And when I was a child, oh boy, did I have major problems with aggression. My parents spanked me in order to teach me to behave properly, but that was rarely the result. Spanking humiliated me, and it infuriated me. I was a little girl with a giant ball of rage inside, and many times, I inflicted my rage on my younger sister.
None of this was my sister’s fault. She was the victim in a cycle of violence, and I didn’t understand my role in the cycle for a very long time. My parents hit me when they were angry or displeased with me, and I hit my sister when I was angry. The violence continued from their generation to mine.
My family’s history of violence ends with me. I choose to love instead of hit. I will not hit my (future) children, even in fun. I will never slap their face, never spank them, never threaten to hit them. I will never say, “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.” I will never say, “If you don’t behave, I’ll take you out to the parking lot and spank you.” I will never say, “Do you need a swat?” I will not break their trust. I will not betray them with violence.
And to my sister, I am so deeply sorry that I hurt you. I will always, always be sorry, and I don’t think I can ever do enough penance for it.