Archive for the ‘abuse’ Category

Beyond Class

November 4, 2010

It is said that child abuse occurs mainly among the lower socioeconomic groups in society. This makes me think of Sue B. a 23 year old university student. She was charismatic and admired by everyone. She sparkled. She was an outstanding conversationalist. I think of her soft pink features and blond hair. She resembled a porcelain doll. We were both on the same ward and we were both bulimic. We bonded over a binge. She confided in one of the groups that she had been sexually abused by her grandfather. She came from a well-to-do family of academics. She had been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder but, as far as I am aware, her abuse was never addressed.

After six months in hospital I returned home for the rest of the academic year. Sue B. and I exchanged addressed (this was the mid ‘90s when people wrote these paper things called ’letters.’ but we never wrote to one another and I never saw her again. I found out after I had graduated that she had hanged herself in the bathroom of the local psychiatric hospital (my alma mater too) when she was supposed to be on ‘five minute obs’ . So I know that abuse can occur in middle class families. And that when they confide in the authorities they may be the people who are least likely to be believed.

Having said that there are those who cast their net too wide and increase the definition of the word ‘abuse’ to such an extent that it becomes invalid. It is possible to ‘over identify’ abuse. But I shall deal with that on another occasion.

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‘I could burn you and there would be nothing you could do about it’

June 18, 2010

‘I could burn you and there would be nothing you could do about it’ Winston Smith described an ‘incident’ in which one of his clients (residents, service users, whatever) tried to *burn him to death* and he faced no consequence? Even if his managers care nothing about care workers then surely they should care about the other residents.

I get the impression that care workers are not treated with the respect they deserve in most sectors. They are the ones who spend the most time with ‘service users’ and yet when they voice their concerns to their ‘superiors’ they are dismissed. I noticed that when I was a patient in psych hospital. I spoke up when I saw a kind, compassionate nursing assistant who didn’t suffer fools gladly being given a dressing down by some G grade nurse who’d only been there for five minutes.

I’m wondering if their lack of concern for W.S. was due to the fact that he didn’t have a DipSW.

There Really Is Nothing New Under the Sun

October 15, 2009

‘Young mother down at Smithfield
5 am, looking for food for her kids
In her arms she holds three cold babies
And the first word that they learned was “please”

These are dangerous days
To say what you feel is to dig your own grave
“Remember what I told you
If you were of the world they would love you”‘

Black Boys On Mopeds, Sinead O’Connor

In the early nineties I was taking my A Levels and living with my parents in a 1930s semi detached pebble dashed house in the suburbs of Birmingham.  I also had some pretty severe psychiatric problems (an eating disorder, depression etcetera).  The house in which we lived was one of those ex-council houses that so many people enjoy sneering at, forgetting that their inhabitants are only there because they were desperate to be a part of Maggie Thatcher’s ‘Home Owning Democracy’.

Most of the neighbours were ‘decent’, reasonable, hard-working people but there was a large family whose children pretty much terrorized the entire street.  They would smash the wind screens of cars, verbally intimidate people as they walked past, attack the vulnerable.  I was sexually assaulted by one of them.  They targeted our next door neighbour.  He was a retired, elderly gentleman living in the upstairs flat of the house next door.  His garden was at the front of the house.  He worked hard on it, planting flowers and vegetables.  Eventually he gave up because these kids would trespass on his land and simply wreck it.  My father tried to intervene on several occasions but eventually he gave up too.  The reason?  On the final occasion the eldest ‘child’, a boy who was taller than he was, shoved my father.  My father, reacting instinctively, shoved him back. The police were called and my father was told that if he did anything like that again then he would be the one who would be prosecuted.

WTF are people getting out of pretending that this is anything new?

It Will Only Destroy You if You Let It

October 13, 2009

Photo 254

From the age of five to nine I lived on a council estate. These were the late seventies/early eighties. I will not allow the incident I am about to describe desecrate my memories of that place because for the most part it was pure paradise. The close in which I lived was nothing short of idyllic. I do not remember any of the adults who lived there being out of work. My own father was a factory worker and my mother was a nurse. Then a family moved into the end of the street. The mother became known throughout the neighbourhood as ‘that strange woman with the seven flea-ridden cats and her two strange, scruffily dressed children’.

I didn’t know it then but that family was going to have a profound effect on the rest of my life. The mother of the clan was, unlike the rest of the street, unemployable. The neighbours ensured her many cats, multiplying by the day, were fed. Their concern did not extend to her children who although they weren’t emaciated, were not the bonniest of creatures. More than mere neglect was happening in that house and I wish I had the wisdom to heed the warnings given by those much older and much more experienced than me never to venture across the threshold. There was no shortage of these warnings.

I chose to obey my own instincts instead. One of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. I had been told never to listen to gossip. The nuns at my Catholic primary school told me never to ‘Give a dog a bad name and hang it.’ That was an expression they used rather frequently.

So I did it. I crossed the threshold. I remember being overwhelmed by the stench of the cat faeces that were scattered across the floor. And then there were the ‘children’: Calvin and Marie. There was another boy who hovered in the background but he barely seemed to register. Calvin was not exactly a child. He was in his late teens – sixteen or seventeen I think. He invited me into his malodorous bedroom. He said that he would make sure I had a ‘good time’. Suffice to say that a ‘good time’ would be the last words I would use to describe my experiences in that room.

I can’t understand why I returned. Maybe it was the threat that if I didn’t my parents wouldn’t love me anymore or that I would be taken into care. That was what he told me and at the age of seven I believed him. My memories of this period of my life are fragmented. I can’t even remember how long it lasted. Could it have been a month? The entire summer? One memory remains intact in my head. Calvin had found a rickety old bridge. Marie and her adult boyfriend stood on one side familiarizing themselves with one another while on the other side Calvin did things to me that he should have been doing with a young woman of his own age..

Every now and then I hear his voice. But I can never see his face. It was the stench than emanated from him that remained with me – a sickly sweet scent. Overpowering. Later I was told that this was probably cannabis.

Sometimes my memories of that time will enter my head uninvited. I focus upon seeing the events of my childhood through a prism of sunlight. I cannot remember how it ended. I told no one. Except my mother. She admitted that the signs were there but she never made the connection. My parents tried their hardest. I know that now. I’m not so angry anymore. It hasn’t destroyed my life because I won’t let it.

Soon after they had moved in Calvin, his siblings and his mother were evicted from their little house at the end of the road. I hope they found every one of those cats loving homes.

‘Welfarism’

December 6, 2008

In response to this although it probably won’t be printed:

Most of the people I know on ‘welfare’ have very serious mental health problems. In the past such people would have been inhabiting long-stay mental health wards in traditional psychiatric hospitals. They do not exist anymore because they were closed down and the land on which they were built was sold off at rock-bottom prices to private industry. Who was responsible for this? The last Tory government. You say you have been a doctor for twenty years. Did you approve of this and, if not, did you protest? Just curious.

I am also curious about what the good doctor thinks of middle class people who abuse their children.  When I was on an eating disorders unit I heard some pretty nasty stories* of  middle class parents maltreating their children.  What causes this?  These people most certainly were not on welfare.  And, if the actions of Karen Matthews reflect the morality and ‘values’ (or lack thereof) of an entire class then is the same true of their social superiors who subject their own children to abuse? And, if not, then why not?

*And I am prepared to admit that my fellow patients’ stories may have been exaggerations or even outright fabrications.  But these people are middle class.  They wouldn’t do a thing like that, would they? They are, after all, innately superior.  But in the unlikely event that my fellow patients were lying, whining attention seekers then that must mean that all middle class brats are lying, whining attention seekers because for the concept of collective guilt to have any validity then it must be applicable to all groups of people, right?

Addendum: You may be aware that more and more working class girls are now suffering from eating disorders. Anorexia, in particular, used to be an illness confined almost exclusively to the middle classes. Still, the lower classes have always been urged to emulate their ‘betters’ and I guess that is exactly what they are doing. Good on ’em, huh?

Beyond Comprehension

November 17, 2008

When I was eighteen I worked as a nanny. My charge was a beautiful little girl aged two and a half. I loved that job. Every day was unique. Every day was a new adventure. She was a bright, vivacious little girl and her joie de vivre was infectious. We would spend the days playing, making up games and stories, painting, baking, walking in the park. It was the happiest time of my life. There is nothing purer than a baby, nothing more delightful than a toddler. You are pulled into their world. You share every new and wonderful and exciting experience and sometimes you have to share their pain. You are rejuvenated by them. So how then could anyone do something like this?

I cannot have children and, given my various issues, maybe that’s a good thing. And I know that is no one’s fault but my own. Starving yourself doesn’t do much for your reproductive capacity and I think you have to have this thing called ‘sex’ and that scares me so I’m not asking for sympathy, just stating a fact. It still breaks my heart though. I think I would have made the decision not to have children anyway even though it is something I have always yearned for. And I can’t help thinking that maybe more people should make that decision. Having children is not a right, it is a privilege.

As I read about this case just for an instant I found myself hoping that the three people responsible for this baby’s death have a really, really bad time in prison. I don’t like feeling like this and I am wondering if that makes me as bad as them. My mother said, ‘no, it makes you human.’ The identities of the three perpetrators have been revealed and all over the ‘blogosphere’ people are speculating about their fate. The mainstream media have accused these bloggers of ‘encouraging vigilantism’ but their revulsion is natural and perfectly human. They are supposed to feel like this. They are shocked because it is shocking. They are horrified because it is horrific and no amount of supercilious sneering will change that. I am not saying that wishing this trio of killers dead is right, I am saying it is understandable.

Nobby once told me that when the second world war was over, he was in charge of a group of German P.O.Ws who, because they were former SS officers, were kept here until 1949 while they underwent a process of denazification (yes, they actually called it that). He described how one particularly fanatical prisoner deliberately provoked the guards by singing Nazi songs and verbally abusing them. It wasn’t long before one of them snapped. He pulled him off the chair on which he was standing and punched him in the face. He was accused of brutality and put on a charge. Nobby, who was his sergeant, spoke up in his defence saying ‘but they’d do the same to us if they could.’ His commanding officer replied, ‘Well, we are not them.’

Do not permit the incoherence of the moral universe of others to corrupt your own.

Because you are not them.  Remember that.

Auguries of Innocence
William Blake

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.

A dove-house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell thro’ all its regions.
A dog starv’d at his master’s gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.

A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.

A skylark wounded in the wing,
A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipt and arm’d for fight
Does the rising sun affright.

Every wolf’s and lion’s howl
Raises from hell a human soul.

The wild deer, wand’ring here and there,
Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misus’d breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher’s knife.

The bat that flits at close of eve
Has left the brain that won’t believe.
The owl that calls upon the night
Speaks the unbeliever’s fright.

He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be belov’d by men.
He who the ox to wrath has mov’d
Shall never be by woman lov’d.

The wanton boy that kills the fly
Shall feel the spider’s enmity.
He who torments the chafer’s sprite
Weaves a bower in endless night.

The caterpillar on the leaf
Repeats to thee thy mother’s grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
For the last judgement draweth nigh.

He who shall train the horse to war
Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar’s dog and widow’s cat,
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.

The gnat that sings his summer’s song
Poison gets from slander’s tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt
Is the sweat of envy’s foot.

The poison of the honey bee
Is the artist’s jealousy.

The prince’s robes and beggar’s rags
Are toadstools on the miser’s bags.
A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.

It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro’ the world we safely go.

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

The babe is more than swaddling bands;
Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;

This is caught by females bright,
And return’d to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar,
Are waves that beat on heaven’s shore.

The babe that weeps the rod beneath
Writes revenge in realms of death.
The beggar’s rags, fluttering in air,
Does to rags the heavens tear.

The soldier, arm’d with sword and gun,
Palsied strikes the summer’s sun.
The poor man’s farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric’s shore.

One mite wrung from the lab’rer’s hands
Shall buy and sell the miser’s lands;
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole nation sell and buy.

He who mocks the infant’s faith
Shall be mock’d in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne’er get out.

He who respects the infant’s faith
Triumphs over hell and death.
The child’s toys and the old man’s reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.

The questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt
Doth put the light of knowledge out.

The strongest poison ever known
Came from Caesar’s laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race
Like to the armour’s iron brace.

When gold and gems adorn the plow,
To peaceful arts shall envy bow.
A riddle, or the cricket’s cry,
Is to doubt a fit reply.

The emmet’s inch and eagle’s mile
Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees
Will ne’er believe, do what you please.

If the sun and moon should doubt,
They’d immediately go out.
To be in a passion you good may do,
But no good if a passion is in you.

The whore and gambler, by the state
Licensed, build that nation’s fate.
The harlot’s cry from street to street
Shall weave old England’s winding-sheet.

The winner’s shout, the loser’s curse,
Dance before dead England’s hearse.

Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.

Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.

We are led to believe a lie
When we see not thro’ the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.

God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.

Fragmenting

July 2, 2008

My mother telephoned to say my aunt has cancer.  Something happened.  A few years ago.  A sorry, sordid little tale.  But she doesn’t deserve that.  No one does.  Everything is fragmenting around me.  Even Nobby is fading away.  Enjoy what you can while you can.  Apologies for the incoherence.

I gave this poem to Nobby just after our beautiful neighbour Jo died:
And death shall have no dominion

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

The Chattering Classes Go On…Well, Chattering

November 15, 2007

Another gem from the hideously parochial ‘British Blogosphere’:

The actor put in jail for downloading pornography has had his sentence cut and will be out later today. As Rachel has said just being in possession of things doesn’t necessarily mean that you are wicked and vile and I would agree with her here.

http://henrynorthlondon.blogspot.com/2007/11/langham-freed.html

Mr. Langham’s release will create an extra place in our prison system for that most dreaded of criminals: the Cyberstalker. Are these people for real? It works like this: without the demand there is less incentive to supply. It’s not exactly rocket science and it certainly shouldn’t be beyond the intellectual grasp of a former doctor.

The Abuse of the Word ‘Abuse’

November 14, 2007

I was sorting through old usenet posts and I came across some very wise words from an old friend:

And I will say, about this monotonous repetition of the word ABUSE where it doesn’t really apply:

— If I feel I have been abused, it *may* indicate the other party acted abusively; or, it *may* be that I am so identified with my victimhood that I re-cast all problems I have in the present as reenactments of the abuse Iexperienced in the past.

— Such wolf-crying of abuse is an insult to one’s own experiences of abuse earlier in life, and to others’ experiences of true abuse as well. It cheapens the truth and allows one to avoid the opportunity to grow out of victimhood here and now.

— If I subjectively experienced a situation as abusive (eg, ase-d), and I voluntarily came back to it, who is the abuser now? And what evidence does this give of my miraculous recovery? The recovering people I know act very differently.

Oh, and I think I offended someone’s patron saint. Oops.

Stepfather

October 1, 2007

I am merely an object moving through space
Out of place and lacking in grace and you begin
With a disclaimer. You tell me I am essential
But incomplete. You desecrate my disordered dreams
‘Your mother is gone. She died in the night’
No one cried and then the great divide arrived
You only die once, after all. You move in on me
You disagree with my methodology. You disapprove
Of my every move. My words are unheard and undeterred
You detach me from all context and you begin,
Slowly and deliberately, to deconstruct me.


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