A video of a Texas judge verbally abusing and beating his daughter is being seen all over the world.

This beating of Hillary Adams occurred when she was 16 – seven years ago. She is now 23, and she uploaded the 7:35 video on October 27th. It’s been seen by well over a million viewers and has sparked huge outrage. Adams video came to world attention through Reddit, where her account there and at YouTube was hacked. Reddit members restored the accounts and alerted media to her video.

If you experienced verbal and physical abuse as a child, be aware that viewing the video could trigger you. Triggers include anxiety, anger, flashbacks and depression. This video triggered me, and the way through is by grounding. Grounding involves focusing on the present. Use your senses. Be aware of the chair you are sitting in. Touch it, use your sense of smell, your sight to bring yourself back to the present. Look out the window and focus on the weather Walk around. Feel your feet touch the ground. Breath slowly and consciously. Self talk is valuable. What’s past is past, you did not deserve to be abused, Call a trusted friend and talk out your feelings, to help you stay present.
Remind yourself Adams is okay, and that the steps she’s taken are part of her journey of healing. Practice healthy self care. I’m going to.

A lot has occurred in the past 24 hours.

Judge William Adams was interviewed on his way out of town by a local news reporter after the video went viral. He is not doing himself any favours, blaming his daughter:

I really don’t want to get into this right now because as you can see my life’s been made very difficult over this child.”

Hillary Adams is no longer a child. She is an adult who has taken steps to get her life back. Adams told him she was going to upload the video:

“I told him that I had the video, and he acted like he had nothing to worry about,” she said. “And I said, I can post the video, of you beating me on the internet, and he said, ‘well, you can do that if it makes you feel better.’ So I did.”

The Aransas County Court has beefed up security and a news release has been sent out asking people to please stop calling the sheriff department and court.
The sheriff’s department is investigating.
Children’s Services are doing an investigation (possibly into child custody and abuse cases the judge has heard).
The Texas Judicial Board is deliberating.

Judge William Adams is now on paid leave and understandably fled his home with his girlfriend. It’s doubtful he will be prosecuted for beating his daughter seven years ago. The statute of limitations on child abuse in Texas is five years. He is up for re-election in three years, his professional fate can be decided by voters, if it isn’t adjudicated by his peers before his term is up.

By far the best coverage of this video has been by Corpus Christi station KRIS TV. The station is focusing on the people involved and maintaing humanity in their coverage.
Adams mother left her husband in 2007, and apologized to her daughter long before she was aware of the video. Mother Hallie Adams made an appeal on Facebook when the video went viral:

”I am praying for my daughters and me and my family to heal in all ways from emotional and physical abuse, for the current and continuing abuse of my children and me that has been ongoing to end – starting now – for my daughters to both finally be able to go to counseling both individually and as a family group with their Dad’s approval, encouragement, involvement and support, for him to finally make amends to all of us, talk openly with us, and take the first steps to letting our broken family heal.”

This is an opportunity for people to examine their views on discipline and abuse.
Make no mistake, this is abuse.
I’ve seen a lot of comments about ‘spare the rod and spoil the child.’

As someone who was abused as a child, and who had therapy as an adult, I’m not going to mince words. Judge Adams behavior is not about disciplining. It has to be called what it is. Desensitization makes comparisons, empathy sees the pain of another. Abuse by a parent is never the fault of the child. Ever.

The bible does not say ‘spare the rod and spoil the child.’
Prov 13:24 says: ”He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”

What is the difference between discipline and abuse?

Child abuse consists of anything that endangers or impairs a child’s physical or emotional well being and development. There are four types of abuse: physical, sexual, neglect and emotional.

Discipline is training. Training requires patience in teaching cause and effect. Training does not have room for anger, frustration, demands for submission, or humiliation. The bible warns parents: ‘Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (NIV) or more commonly known: ‘Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up by training and instructing them about the Lord.’ Ephesians 6:4. Discipline nourishes, abuse crushes.

It is naive to think this level of dysfunction occurred in this family only once. It is naive to believe that world wide attention is going to help this family in the short term. What we can hope is what Hillary Adams and her mother hope for; that qualified mental health professionals will step forward and give this family the tools they need to get on with their lives. We don’t know if the father wants help, right now he’s in danger from internet warriors. I get the impression he has not seen this video and has not been confronted with his behavior.
Naming abuse is a step toward freedom. Hillary Adams wants more:

She also told a Texas news outlet that, “we do need to try to move on past the anger and just concentrate on getting counseling and help.”Threats to Judge Adams are mixed in with online rage. Let me be very clear, if you in your disgust or anger express what you’d like to do to him (or to Hillary – for those blaming her for posting), then you have stooped to the level of an abuser. Is that who you are? Associated Press:

“I’m very relieved that these things have been brought to light and not because I want to see my father burn or anything like that. That’s a hideous way of thinking and I don’t want to inflict that upon him,” she said. “I cannot stress enough — I cannot repeat myself enough, that he just needs help.”

One more thing I’m not going to mince words about: Hillary Adams notes on YouTube that she has ataxic cerebral palsy. Ataxic cerebral palsy occurs in between 5 to 10% of CP cases. It is characterized by low muscle tone (hypotonia) and poor coordination of movement. Depth perception and balance are affected, people with ataxic CP appear shaky and unsteady, and often walk with a wide gait. They experience tremors and have difficulty with fine motor skills. Understandably symptoms can be more pronounced when the person is under stress. CP has no cure, treatment focuses on relief of symptoms. Ataxic CP is not progressive, and CP sufferers live an average life span, arthritis occurs at a younger age, along with worsening symptoms. It makes complete sense to me that Hillary Adams was drawn to computers, she found a way to thrive and find her sense of competency.

Two of my family members have CP, and as frustrating as kids can be, I cannot fathom ever raising my hand to either of them, let alone using a belt. I see the shakes, the pain, the struggles to keep up with peers in physical activities. I see the joint and muscle pain and fatigue in our older one, and it breaks my heart that any father could do this to his daughter. The verbal abuse Judge William Adams hurled at his daughter was even worse for me to watch because both our family members are emotionally sensitive, and speaking to them in such a controlling and cruel way would cause damage I don’t even want to think about.

Hillary Adams is a survivor, she did what she had to do to get through her family dysfunction and I hope and pray that every step she continues to take as an adult leads her toward maturity, healthy boundaries, happiness, fulfillment and peace.

Bibby 2000: Child Abuse Statistics and Effects

Hillary Adams is on ABC’s Good Morning America NBC Today in the a.m. Media being what it is, I don’t want to see her inadvertantly become a poster child for abuse, no one could have anticipated the video going viral, and media can devour someone who hasn’t had the luxury of time to heal. Too much attention can backfire, pacing can be difficult for anyone who comes from a dysfunctional background, and again my hope is that qualified trustworthy professionals will step up.

If you need to direct the strong emotions you experience as you watch the video and catch up on the ongoing developments, how about donating to your local transition house?

Update: Judge William Adams released a ”I did nothing wrong, she’s looking for sympathy and it’s her fault” statement through his lawyer. Whatever dysfunction is in this family, the video of William Adams beating his daughter isn’t going away. The custody of the younger daughter is playing out behind the scenes; this message from Adams was sent to his ex-wife today. Let’s hope Hillary Adams is able to gain financial independence from her father sooner than later. Also, Texas police say William Adams won’t be charged.

Update: William Adams has been suspended (with pay, without admission of guilt) and is only allowed supervised visits with his younger daughter. He and his wife have to complete parenting classes, he has to undergo a drug test and is not allowed contact with his ex-wife.