Marty Deeks is a complicated man of contradictions and extremes. We don’t know a lot about his early life, but what we do know is far from a fairytale. He had an incredibly difficult childhood filled with trauma. How did Marty Brandel’s childhood influence the man he grew to become? This question has always intrigued me, so I set out to answer it by learning about childhood trauma and its effects on adult survivors. Warning: A lot of science, and even more speculation, ahead.
One drink away from disaster When I was 11 years old, my dad was one drink away from killing my mom and me… Marty Deeks in “Plan B” We don’t know a lot of details about little Marty’s childhood, but we do have a basic outline of events. We know his dad was an abusive alcoholic. I’m assuming that Gordon Brandel was regularly physically abusive to both of Marty and his mother Roberta. We know that when Marty was 11, he shot his dad in self defense when Gordon pointed a shotgun at him and his mom. His friend Ray Martindale had given him the gun to use for just this purpose. Marty may have been arrested at the time, given that he had records “sealed in a juvie court,” but we really don’t know.
He did get into at least some trouble as a juvenile, stealing a car with Ray. Gordon was sent to prison, and in the end his relationship with his mother, and their life together, was much improved by his dad’s absence. Growing up Brandel No child should ever be forced to shoot his own father. – Roberta Deeks to her son in “Internal Affairs” Let’s try to put this kind of a childhood into some context. First of all, unfortunately many children are abused. Between 3. 3 million and 25 million children experience domestic violence in their home each year.
That estimate is so wide because so many cases are never reported; even so, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds. Little Marty was luckier than some: an estimated four American children die every day due to abuse and neglect. As for Roberta, she’s sadly not alone either: one in three women will be the victim of intimate partner violence at some point in her life. (http://www. ncadv. org/learn/statistics) Young Marty may not have been the only child to suffer from abuse, but his level of trauma was worse than most.
One way we can assess the degree of horribleness is through the lens of a landmark scientific study most people refer to as the ACE Study. ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. In the 1990’s the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente (a U. S. health plan) collected data from 17,000 health plan members in Southern California (Deeks could have even been a participant) about their childhood experiences and current health status and behaviors. They continue to follow the study participants to this day to learn from their experiences.
Study participants were scored on how many different types of adverse experiences they experienced as children. Here’s a simplified version of the survey (http://www. acestudy. org/the-ace-score. html). How would you score Marty Brandel? My score for him is in blue. While you were growing up, during your first 18 years of life: 1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt? [My score = YES) . Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured? [Another YES] 3. Did an adult person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you? [Not that we know of] 4. Did you often or very often feel that… No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? r Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other? [Possibly before he shot his dad, but we don’t know for sure]
5. Did you often or very often feel that… You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it? [Hmmm. His dad was likely too drunk but I assume his mom was sober, so I give this a NO. But we really don’t know for sure. ] 6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced? l assume that’s a YES] 7. Was your mother or stepmother: Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? Or Ever repeatedly hit at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife? [YES] 8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs? [YES] 9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide? [Possible, but not that we know of] 10.
Did a household member go to prison? [YES] Now add up your “Yes” answers: 6. This is your ACE Score. Based on my best guesses, I give Marty a score of 6 out of 10. Is that unusual? Let’s look at the ACE results. (http:// citeseerx. ist. psu. edu/viewdoc/download? doi=10. 1. 1. 463. 6475&rep=rep1&type=pdf) It’s pretty common to experience an adverse childhood experience. Two-thirds (67%) of participants experienced at least one, and more than one in four (27%) experienced at least three. Many of these dysfunctional situations are actually linked.
For example, a husband who abuses his wife is statistically more likely to also abuse his child than a non-abusive spouse. The presence of substance abuse is also linked to abusive situations. Suffering from one problem unfortunately just makes it more likely for other problems to occur. Having said this, only 6% experienced six or more. In other words, Marty Brandel’s childhood was (thankfully) quite unusual. From Brandel to Deeks Okay, you really want to do this? Have the Crappy Childhood contest with me? -Deeks to Kensi in “Resurrection” OK, so Marty might have been underselling it when he said he had a “crappy childhood. But how does a childhood filled with trauma affect the child experiencing it, and how does that in turn impact the adult they grow up to be? The list of potential effects is seemingly endless, and includes a greater risk for substance abuse, unintended pregnancies, mental illness, problems in school and work, becoming a criminal, and many other health problems. There are many factors that determine how impacted any particular child might be. One is the number of adverse experiences they’ve suffered. The higher the ACE score, the greater the intensity of the impacts on health and well-being.
Marty scored a 6 out of 10, but it’s actually possible that he might have a truly terrifying score of 8 of 10. When it comes to child abuse specifically, the younger the child, the more severe the abuse, the longer lasting the abuse, and whether the victim experiences feelings of self-blame or shame, the more likely they are to experience problems later in life. At this point, you might be thinking that Marty Brandel seemed destined for a life of crime, depression, and ill health, but lots of positive factors can intervene to help children avoid suffering these effects.
Among other positive influences, if the abuse was detected and action was taken to assure the child’s safety, or if the child received other family support or therapeutic services, they are less likely to experience later problems. It’s really important to note that children’s experiences of domestic violence are widely varied and unique. Some children do well and may not need additional supports as they grow into adulthood. Many if not most victims of childhood abuse and trauma grow up to become happy and well-adjusted adults.
A child abuse survivor may be at greater risk of a health problem than someone who never suffered such trauma. But that is different than saying they are more likely than not to experience that problem. In other words, their chances may rise from 5% for someone who wasn’t abused, to 10%, meaning they actually have a 90% chance of not experiencing the problem. And even though we’ll be talking at length about all the ways Deeks may have been impacted by his childhood, we should also keep in mind that the things we speculate about may in fact be merely coincidental, and not caused by his childhood trauma.
Or – even more likely – they may simply be totally random choices by the writers, without any thought to his childhood experiences. Coming Up Ray Turner: What in the world is wrong with you? Deeks: Well that is the eternal question, isn’t it? – Deeks and SEAL hunter Ray Turner in “SEAL Hunter” Over the course of this series, which will run about once a month, we’re going to take a closer look at all of the impacts of childhood trauma, breaking them out into five separate discussions: • Playing a Role. Child in dysfunctional families often assume distinct roles, which in turn shape them as adults.
Was Marty Brandel the Hero, the Caretaker, or the Clown? (Hint: children often assume more than one role. ) • Following the Rules. Dysfunctional families often impose distinct rules on their members as a way hold things together. How was adult Deeks’ ability to express his emotions and to trust others impacted by these rules? · Shame and Blame. Children who experience child abuse or witness domestic abuse often experience feelings of shame, blame and low self esteem. How do we see these feelings in the Marty Deeks we see now? • A Little Delicate.
Growing up in a household like Deeks’ can affect survivors’ health in a huge variety of ways. What does his “delicate” nature have to do with having a father like Gordon Brandel? And might his PTSD have been more directly related to his traumatic childhood than we knew? · Always Shoot First. Deeks has such a highly developed dark side that he’s referred to as an “alter ego”. How did Deeks’ propensity to use violence to protect others grow from what he experienced as a child, and from what he was forced to do when he was 11 years old?
We’ll also explore the factors that might have helped Deeks to overcome such terrible childhood experiences, and enabled him to be successful in his work and more importantly, to sustain a strong and happy relationship with the woman he loves. In the meantime, how did you score little Marty? Share your thoughts in the Comments below. Want to read more? • If you’d like to know how to help those who need it, check out The Pixel Project’s “16 Ways to Stop Domestic Violence in Your Community:”(http://16days. thepixelproject. et/16-ways-to-stopdomestic violence-in-your-community/) · The HelpGuide has a great overview (8) • Childhelp has some great infographics on child abuse and neglect. (http://www. cdc. gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/ index. html) • Visit the CDC’s website for more on the ACE Study. (http://www. helpguide. org/articles/abuse/child-abuse-andneglect. htm) A big Thank You to my fellow wikiDeeks collaborator Brenda for her assistance with research. Brenda is [insert qualifications here] and I’m very grateful for her input and review of this series.