Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Warning: Rant


For two weeks I've been working on a training booklet on the subject of abuse. Physical, sexual, emotional, financial, spiritual, abuse along with neglect and exploitation. I've defined the terms. Given examples - examples that haven't been hard to come up with. I've been writing to an outline set by others - an outline that asked my to explain why people with disabilities are more vulnerable, easier to hurt. I've tried to write this clearly and plainly, I've tried to embue my words with information but also outrage. It hasn't been easy.

I remember too many faces. Of the guy, straight as an arrow, who I worked with. Thought he was the greatest. Thought he was one of the ones with pure heart and right intent. Then of the face of the guy who reported being sexually abused by this friend, the staff. I had liked him. Had lunch with him. Didn't know. I feel fraudulent writing this booklet.

I remember faces. The cool staff, hippy-haired big faced woman. The kind that you looked up to in high school for her wild ideals and her slightly outsider status. I liked having tea with her after the consultation. She spoke so well about her reasons for being there. She didn't tell me that she was dipping into her client's finances. No, that didn't come up over tea. But I remember her face. And his, they guy defrauded who didn't understand about lost money but was hurt by the loss of her. I didn't know. I feel fraudulent even writing this post.

I remember faces. The big guy, big like me. Losing it a punching a woman right in the face. I wasn't in that day. Came in to find him gone. She was fearful for weeks he'd come back. I'd gone for beer with him. He never told me he was at the edge. He never asked for help to step back. He just bought a round and we laughed. I didn't know. I feel fraudulent.

I remember being asked to measure a bruise and draw it's dimentions to ensure the report was accurate. And I type word after word into a booklet that seems somehow to drag me down.

I want to paint abusers all orange. So that we can see them. So that they are noticable. I don't want to just write a booklet, I want science to discover the gene that causes people to hurt other people ... I want them weeded out. Give me Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Williams ... any day. We could use a little less greed and a little more decency. How about it gene hunters - how about looking for the cold hearted bastard gene - that's the one you need to go for - leave the disabled alone go for the traits that truly bring misery.

I'm ranting.

I know.

I shouldn't use the blog this way. To just yell.

But I've worked on that book all evening.

Making sure the comma fits between words that shouldn't be put together in the first place, like abuse and trust.

My mind tells my heart that the book will make a difference and people will be safer.

I've called it, Home Safe.

Do you think that's ever gonna be possible?


kimberley said...

Dave! I hope one day it is possible but....
We can only do what we have been doing, teaching!! People to be aware and observant!! Even though we like them, party with them, befriend them. Is it enough???

I still have hope that it is!!!!

JulieP said...

There are widely varying degrees of evil in this world, all of it sinister and much of it cloaked in a veil of goodness. Even the most observant, vigilant and caring among us often have a hard time discerning it. The fact that you did not see the lurking evil in the people you describe only serves to show your belief in the innate goodness of people - you should not feel as if you've failed. This is when my faith truly comes in handy - someone with much more power and might than we humans will deal with those who exploit and abuse the powerless.

Frances said...

Dear Dave- Because of your courage, knowledge,sensitivity(also, arrogance, sarcasm, wit, intelligence, etc.), because of who you are you chose to advocate for others who needed an advocate. You brought everything you had to the cause, Dave. In the beginning, when you were a kid with high ideals and passion, you came. You cared. And then you cared more. And because you care, what happens to them , happens to you. But remember, Dave, if the paint is to fly, we will ALL have some orange on us,somewhere. Remember who the real enemy is Dave. Those abusers were victims once. I'm sure you know that. But if we think about it, it really isn't us and them or us and Them or Us and them. The evil that was in them was bigger than them and bigger than you, Dave. That's why you didn't see it. You're not a fraud. Or stupid. Or blind. The Enemy doesn't want us to see and discern him easily. Satan (and evil is from the pit of hell) wouldn't be much of an enemy if he wasn't good at what he does.But if that evil is bigger than you then it is also bigger than the ones in it's clutches. The abusers. Are also victims.When I think of what's to be done I realize how much I need Someone stronger than myself and stronger than the enemy to do it. My prayer today, Dave, is that you will be strengthened for the fight you so courageously wage, by the strongest One of all.Frances

Natalia said...

unfortunately the 'cold hearted bastard gene' is the same one that makes us humans. there are maybe tendencies to more or less, but anyone could be horrible.

"there but for the grace of God", as they say... i always understood that phrase to mean, not "we're better than [whoever]", but maybe something like, "we could easily be just as bad as [whoever], if given enough power and left to our own devices."

Natalia said...

yeah and don't feel bad that you couldn't tell who was doing something evil... that's why ppl get away with stuff all the time, cos ppl can't tell. it's not possible to read everyone's mind or to always have a right intuition.

helen said...

Maybe with a coma..."Home, Safe."
(I can't see why you 'shouldn't' have a rant in your own blog chuck. We still read, take notice, share, learn...surely that's what it's all about?)

Anonymous said...

In a role that has by it's own vitrute can have so much power if one chooses to use it - it breaks my heart and baffles me why when it come to stopping such awful things from happening, changing things from bad to good (or even to just safe) that we can still feel so utterly powerless. When I can work out the sense in it - I will let you know. I am sure there must be an answer to how the same power can mean that really bad things can happen to people - but doesn't seem as strong when it comes to stopping those bad things.

As a professional it is the only time I wish I had power, the power to get shot of all those entrusted with supporting people but who seem to do nothing but cause untold damage that some people don't even know is happening to them. Rant Rant Rant.

Let's have hope and faith... and strength, otherwise it feels like we will be broken and give up. The worst thing that could happen!

Anonymous said...

It HAS to be possible !!

Moggy said...

I think it's good to rant sometimes in one's blog... When my previous blogs started getting many visitors, I dropped personal things that I feared would make me sound weak or ignorant, and clung only to writing that was 'safe' enough to make me sound firm, enlightened, like someone people would believe.

I only recently realized that what I was really doing was removing my humanity, and that it degraded the quality of everything I wrote. So, I say, ranting is a GOOD thing. It lets people respect you and gain more trust because you sound human. That kind of "flaw" is a benefit. :-)

I don't think it's your fault at all that you couldn't recognize the abusers -- because *anyone* can be one, as demonstrated in the old Stanford Prison experiment. It's not that some people are just evil by nature; it's a complex power problem, created by all the problems you write about.

I think it's dangerous to not recognize that anyone can become abusive. Trust is good, but being too trusting both encourages abuse (abusers seem to notice it), and can cause the victim to subconsciously dismiss abuse as okay so they don't report it.

I do believe it is possible to have everyone safe, but it would take serious changes in society's attitudes at the least...and preferably laws to severely punish (jail time, etc.) people in staff-like positions for causing harm. For now, it helps if I resist the urge to see people as one big collective ("disabled people being abused") and instead focus on the individuals ("X and Y aren't being abused, though Z is"), which lets me see the good as well.

Anonymous said...

If only it was time to buy the orange paint! I know that can't happen, for all the right reasons, but maybe the thought is enough to keep going for now.