Trigger warning/content warning: corporal punishment, abuse
God wanted me to have butt whuppings. That is what they told me. They — the children’s pastors, the senior pastors, adults in the church, adults in my family. “Spare the rod. Spoil the child.” Well, good news: I was not spoiled. Nope.
Ready for the bad news? I was sabotaged. Black girl magic sabotaged. Mentally and emotionally sabotaged.
Not only was my relationship with God based on not having sex, it was based on being whupped. Spanked so I would be a good, respectful human who was at least not sexually promiscuous. However, research has shown that repeated whuppings, threatenings, and yelling at black girls can cause those girls to become more sexually involved. Straight up sabotage.
Sabotage, trauma, salvation
Now, to be clear, in no way was I purposefully sabotaged. My parents whupped me, because they were whupped. We, as black Americans, whup because we were whupped by the ship crew, auctioneers, slave masters, and overseers. This sabotage is not only personal; it is generational trauma. And by the way, it stops with me.
Back to God, I feared God alright. Not the reverential, awesome wonder kind of fear. No, I literally was afraid of God. At age 11, I answered an altar call for salvation to get my fire insurance. My preteen prayers consistently had ramblings for forgiveness so I would not end up in hell for my mistakes and wrong choices. No conversations, no sharing, no listening, no understanding. Just do not punish me or send me to hell. I kept my emotional distance from God. Any God who tells adults to whup kids, I did not want to be that close to. My 11th year around the sun was the last time I was whupped. Thinking back I remember I had gone “numb” to it. Becoming numb or desensitized by corporal punishments leads to dangerous mindsets and actions for black girls.
“Children who are being whupped don’t have the option to fight or flee. They must submit to the experience without grabbing, blocking, or defending their bodies. This triggers the release of cortisol, which allows children to manage the immediate pain and stress. Having elevated levels of cortisol for a short period of time is not harmful, but if this fear response is experienced repeatedly, it can damage a young brain. Researchers also say that repeated elevations of cortisol can result in children becoming desensitized to fear, making it easier for them to experience danger and pain and normalize abnormal behavior.” From Dr. Stacey Patton, author of Spare the Kids: Why Whupping Children Won’t Save Black America.
No parts of that sound like the hopeful and good expectations that the Most High God has for their children. By high school, I suffered through terrible anxiety and panic attacks. Additionally, I made risky, harmful sexual choices. Even I could not deliberate why I had made such decisions. What the hell is wrong with me, I often thought.