Instrument of Torture

I grew up way back in the 1950s and 1960s before the days of “Time Outs.”  I think I would have loved time out.  My parents had five wild kids.  They were partial to the time-   honored switch and belt system.  If Mother wasn’t too serious about the point she was making, she was fairly likely to pull the plastic fly swat off the nail by the stove and give us a couple of swats with it.  I always felt ridiculous getting swatted by Mother, anyway.  She is a tiny woman with a squeaky little voice.  If she got mad enough to holler or swat, she looked and sounded a lot like Minnie Mouse.  It was kind of embarrassing, but didn’t hurt.  She kept a switch on top of the refrigerator for true emergencies, but more often than not, it disappeared.  More than once she tried to use it and found it broken into dozens of connected sections, like a segmented worm.  She did have one annoying habit though.  She kept a switch on the dashboard on the car with which she threatened to lash backseat brawlers.  I think she tried to swing it at us once and almost ran off the road.  I never felt Mother was unjust.

Now Daddy’s method was a different matter entirely.  It was swift, terrible, and unpredictable.  I can still remember the seven pops his belt made as it came flying out of his seven belt loops.  Sometimes he allowed us the honor of choosing our sown switch.  If your choice didn’t meet his expectations and he had to fetch one, you could count on something terrible.  One of Daddy’s favorite tactics was to promise a whipping, then hardly speak to me for several days before delivering.  I could always tell D-day, because he’d always come in from work in an upbeat mood.  First, I’d get about a twenty minute lecture(no exaggeration) telling me how badly I’d disappointed him and now I had to be punished.  He promised me a whipping.  He had to follow through on a whipping, just as much as if he’d promised me something good.  Long before we got to the whipping, I’d be bawling in anticipation.  Finally, he’d pull off his belt or send me for a switch and the fun began in earnest.  He hold my arm and whip me a dozen times or so, leaving long stripes that took days to fade.   I felt so much shame and humiliation at being the type of kid “who had to be beaten.”  It felt invasive and soul-destroying.  I know there was nothing of justice, discipline,  or concern in those beatings.  It was just anger.

31 thoughts on “Instrument of Torture

  1. lorieb says:

    my dad used to “lifter” us when we were in trouble. Like you, he threatened to do it, but waited a while, lectured a while, then did the liftering with his hand. Fortunately for me, he had me in tears with the threat and lecture, so never got to the actual liftering. My brothers were not so fortunate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We were never spanked, there was no “wait till your father gets home”. But the verbal abuse..always from mom, and always as a reaction to her own life frustrations…those were the scars that didn’t heal in a few days/weeks/months.


  3. Oh that was pretty hard to read. We used to get the odd clout here and there as children by my Mum (which also didn’t hurt) but the beating you got off your Dad sounds pretty horrific.
    I cannot understand why you needed to be belted so many times either and worse than that, a few days after the event so you have got to stew on that as well.How awful for you all.


  4. backtowhatever says:

    I never got punished physically but a friend of mine told me about the belt when I was little. I developed such a fear of belts that I started running whenever my father would look at his belt by accident haha it took them a while to understand what was wrong with me 😀


  5. mandy smith says:

    Makes me so sad reading that. I came from the same decade, and my dad had the belt routine, too. He mostly liked to take it off, fold it in half and snap it so it cracked like a whip. I’d usually be sweating and bawling like a baby–when I hadn’t even been hit. That was too much for him. He’d double over in laughter, holding his gut in pain from the joy it brought him. Hated him. Fair and square. Thank you for sharing your story. It may not seem like it from much of what I write, but, like you, I love humor, too and thrive on laughter. Thanks for making me laugh–especially about your mom.


  6. I hate hearing stories like this but thank you for sharing. Glad you and your siblings ended the cycle. My dad used to literally lecture me for hours, often veering off on tangents and i remember being around 10 and dreaming he would just hit me so it would end sooner. The grass is always greener?


  7. I am so sorry you had to go through that. No child ever deserves to be physically or emotionally hurt by the person they rely on and are supposed to trust most in the world. I have a story myself but, I have never physically or emotionally abused either of my children…another victory. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Not sure what to say….accept I’m so very, very sorry. Physical punishment (of any kind) is a very shame-based form of “deterent”. I realize that parents sometimes “do” what was “done” to them, but I sincerely hope they realize(d) the errors of their ways as time went by….


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