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Definition Of Being Beaten


I’m going to start seeing a therapist soon. I’m pretty confused lately… everyone seems to think I was abused as a kid but I just feel.. .nothing. What is a beating? I mean, people who knew me as a kid said I got beaten, but that seems like such a harsh word. What’s the definition of a beating? What sort of damage needs to be done and how many times do you need to be struck, etc? (i.e.: more than 5 times? 10 times? till you’re bleeding?)

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By and large, when people use the term, “beating” they are usually referring to a substantial physical assault that results in some pain or impairment to the victim. However, as far as I know, there is no standard definition of what it means to have been “beaten”. There are minimal requirements to be sure; you aren’t beaten unless you have been physically assaulted. However, any amount of physical assault (hitting, slapping, poking, pinching, punching, kicking, biting, etc.) could qualify for being a ‘beating’.

A couple thoughts. When a child is beaten by a parent or family member or trusted authority figure, he or she can have conflicting emotions concerning that beating. On the one hand, there is anger about being beaten, especially if the beating was not deserved. On the other hand, the child needs love and protection from the adult and may feel very threatened by having angry feelings towards the adult. “If I am angry at my parent (trusted adult), then he or she may stop loving me. I can’t afford that so I’m not going to be angry”, may be the way that the child’s thoughts go. Only, the anger doesn’t really go away, so the next best thing is to go numb – to not feel much at all. I don’t know if this applies to you, but maybe it is food for thought. You don’t seem to be disputing that some sort of physical assault happened to you, as much as you are trying to gauge what to call that assault (and by extension, what level of blame should be applied to the person who assaulted you).

My advice is – don’t worry so much about whether or not what happened to you deserves the label, “a beating”. You’ll figure that out with time. For now – go see your therapist, and do all you can to make that a productive learning experience for you. Work with the therapist to understand how you feel about what has happened to you, how it has changed your life, and what you can do to make your life better.

By the way. Your letter suggests that this “beating” took place in the past. If I’m mistaken in thinking that – if you are still being physically harmed in some way, please tell someone who can help you to get it to stop (like a police officer). You should not have to deal with that sort of thing.

Good Luck.

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