Who do you think you are?

It’s a benign question for some. Not for me. Not for a woman who’s probably in her late 20s now. What is your experience with that question? Who asked it, or yelled it, and in what context? Despite the broadcast genealogy series which inspires more positive contemplation and responses, the question for me produces negative feelings.

On an otherwise sunny morning in Casselberry, Florida, I witnessed a scene years ago that has replayed in my consciousness. The vulgar volume of an adult male forced me to turn around as I headed to my car. He was pulling the arm of a young girl about age 8, while screaming at her – “Who do you think you are!!?

Who do you think you are!!?

Who do you think you are!!?”

My immediate assessment was a father-daughter scene. What could she possibly have done that angered him and embarrassed him so much?  Then I observed the third person: a younger boy trailing along closely. He was playing with a small toy and was visibly unperturbed by the scene in front of him. Oh no! He’s seen this abuse all his life!

I was frozen as I watched this irregular group struggle toward their car. I don’t recall when I dove into my own car, hoping to draw the curtain on that drama. Nor am I sure which internal force was stronger – shock or my ignorance of what to do. If a similar public scene were in front of me today, I know more about what to say or do, such as not showing shock or panic.

“She has beautiful eyes,” to get the parent in a more positive mood. “Looks like you’re having a rough day. Is there anything I can do to help?”

Beginnings – what’s more auspicious than that?

Harbor House –
Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence –
Florida Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-500-1119 (English, Spanish and Creole – 24/7)


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