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The Cycle of Nightmare Parenting

LawrenceIt happened over two years ago in Waukegan, Illinois. A woman named Nicholette Lawrence beat her 11-year-old daughter, Raashanai. to death. In her court proceedings, Judge James Booras called the 35-year-old child-beater a “monster mom” before he sentenced her to 43 years behind bars. She pleaded guilty so she only got 43 years in jail. Otherwise she would have been sentenced to be jailed for life.

Raashanai Coley, her 11-year-old daughter, managed to live for two days after the last beating of her life which occurred on September 5, 201 Two days after Lawrence punched the 67-pound girl in the belly she was dead. Neither her mother or stepfather bothered to take her for medical help when she was dying. Later medical examiners reported that the punch in the belly caused a stomach infection. The girl died of the infection. An autopsy revealed the girl had suffered a lot of physical abuse before that stomach punch. It showed that her body had scars upon scars which examiners said were due to repeated beatings, repeated healings and then more repeated beatings. There were also signs of numerous injuries.

When, at the end of the court proceedings, Judge Booras read the sentence, Lawrence just gazed blankly at him. When he added that Lawrence would not be eligible for early release, and would therefore remain in jail at least until she was 76, Lawrence still showed no emotion on her face or in her body language.

The evidence that was presented, as well as Lawrence’s own confession, convinced the judge that the girl’s death was planned. It also indicated that other people took part in the beatings. Apparently Lawrence often abused the child in front of the girl’s stepfather, who never did anything to stop her. And for some reason, this stepfather was never under investigation. There was also a video of Lawrence screaming at Raashanai before giving her a violent beating. Whoever was holding the camera was snickering as the beating took place.

After the sentencing Lawrence suddenly appeared to have some guilt about what she had done, and she read a prepared statement. “I just want to say to you and everyone that I am truly sorry for what has happened. There is not a second of the day I am not tormented by pictures in my mind. I rarely sleep. But it’s not about me. I hope someday to help others so they don’t have to be filled with the sadness and grief of causing something so horrible to their own child.”

Some of the information about what happened behind that closed family door came from Raashanai’s half-brother, who was a 6-year-old when she was murdered. He revealed to investigators that his parents told him that “your sister is bad.” He added that she lived in a small, locked closet in his parent’s bedroom which contained only a sink. It had a window, but the window was covered up outside so nobody could see in and the girl could not see out. Most of her existence was in the dark of the closet.

The boy also reported to investigators that Raashanai rarely got anything to eat and was never allowed to dine with the rest of her family. He said that his mother beat her with her hands or a belt and that relatives would sometimes participate in the beatings, using a stick to help the mother “discipline” her supposed bad seed.

Before sentencing her, Judge Booras questioned how anyone could treat their child the way Lawrence did. “Who would lock a child up in a closet furnished only with a sink and feed the child only a bowl of cereal a day?” he asked, as he looked at the silent courtroom. “It’s why I refer to her as a ‘monster mom,’ I saw photos of the autopsy. The state made reference she came from a prison camp. No. It looked like she came out of concentration prison camp. How can humans do this? Animals don’t do this to their own.”

“The defendant and others … treated this child as an animal,” Booras continued. “We saw the video of this child being beaten by her mother with a belt, and to someone’s amusement. Someone was videotaping it. People are strange.”

It is impossible to say how many times such abominations occur in families, not only in the United States but across the world. A mother such as this can be an undiagnosed schizophrenic or a schizophrenic with antisocial features. Defense attorney Keith Grant, noted that Lawrence had been abused in her own early childhood, having been sexually and physically abused by drug-addicted parents. Sometimes schizophrenics can captivate an entire family and convince them that their perspective is true. No matter how bizarre their behavior is, they can use terror to hypnotize their family into viewing it as justified. Look what happened in Nazi Germany when a paranoid schizophrenic named Hitler convinced almost an entire nation that Jews were “bad” and had to be punished for their “crimes” against Germany.

Raashanai was not different than many children growing up in America. Most of such cases never get reported. From the time she was born her mother took out all her anger on her. We don’t know where that anger came from, but we know it left her twisted. Such mothers—or fathers when fathers hold the dominant position in the household, are severely disturbed The defense attorney in Lawrence’s case stated that the defendant was sexually and physically abused by drug-addicted parents. A cycle of abuse can go back generations, each producing another abusive parent. They target a child—boy or girl—because he or she becomes a transference figure to them of a favored, resented sister in their family of origin. For Raashanai, life from the time she was born as a nightmare that can only be imagined by a writer like Dickens or by those of us who deal with the survivors of such abuse.

If those who want who want to have children or have children by accident were required to go through a licensing exam and parent training, we could week out such parents. But as it stands, an outrage of this variety crops up almost every other week and al we can do is hang our heads in sorrow.

The Cycle of Nightmare Parenting

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. is a licensed psychoanalyst in New York and has been practicing for over 37 years. He works with adults, couples, families, adolescents, and children. He has graduated from three psychotherapy institutes and received a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Washington Square Institute in 1981. He has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of psychology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College since 2002 and has authored thirteen books on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as four novels and a book of poems and drawings. More recently he wrote 20 screenplays (winning four first-place awards at festivals) and produced and directed two feature films.

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APA Reference
Schoenewolf, G. (2017). The Cycle of Nightmare Parenting. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/psychoanalysis-now/2017/01/the-cycle-of-nightmare-parenting/


Last updated: 20 Jan 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Jan 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.