For over three years I've been working on approaches to stop the abuse of people with disabilities within service systems. Being in care should not mean being in danger. Where do we start with abuse reduction? Well, simply said. We begin at home. Not home, the house, but home, the soul.
I've been pretty public about having had a few very down days. I am ultimately responsible for what happens during the down times - not for the down times themselves mind, those come and go as part of the ebb and flow of simply living. But during down times I become a harsh taskmaster, a brutal critic, an abusive overseer. I hurt myself, purposely. I say mean things, with intent. I ridicule past accomplishments. Words that I once ducked when hurled by others, I now aim solidly at myself.
Abuse is not ok.
Nothing justifies abuse.
Even when the abuser and the victim live within the same skin.
I sometimes terrify myself with my lack of control over my ability to be cruel, my eagerness to draw blood. I constantly worry that that capacity for hatred and meanness will spill out of me and into the world. I fear the fact that I am often surrounded by those who have suffered brutality and who look to see if it's in me. I am regularly in contact with those who expect the worst of me even as I struggle to deliver the best.
And I worry, if that mean s'umbitch will unleash himself on those who's goodwill I value.
How do I protect them?
By learning to protect me.
How do I ensure their safety?
By learning to confront me.
I need to value myself as much as I value others. I need to despise the abuse of self by self as much as I despise the abuse of others by others. I need to see that kindness toward self is simply practice for kindness towards others.