I think I may have already mentioned this but it is overtaking my brain today, this week…
I have been gently warned by my lawyers that I may be, or perhaps have always been, under some sort of surveillance by the insurance company or representatives of my former employer. I may be channeling Matt Damon.
It was one sentence at the bottom of what I assumed to be standard letter to ‘injured workers’. They gently stated it when we last met to draft my affadavit to apply for Serious Injury status, thus allowing me the right to sue for damages.
This issue of Whole Person Impairment Assessment is a whole other post but, with a file inches thick and psychiatric assessments coming out of my ears, I was recently assessed as permanently impaired by what happened to me when I was at work, but not impaired enough to be compensated or have the right to claim negligence or recoup any lost wages and all the rest. The categories that let me down in the rapid twenty minute assessment by another stranger? I “could still drive” my car and the ‘assessment’ of my intelligence had not lowered. Do a quick search for a definition of intelligence and you will see that scholars have struggled to define the term for eons. I can summarise my thoughts on it here, though.
I have worked very hard all my life in academia. Learning is what I do. It is what I love, what used to inspire and drive me, personally and professionally. I put myself through university twice. I was born curious and determined. I think, I consider, I hypothesise. It is what made me good at my job. It is what has saved my sanity (joke!) as I navigated my way through the criminal justice system as a victim of crime, and how I manage the seemingly endless fight against a workplace beset by flaws and intentional cover-ups. No workplace should allow a sexual predator in its midst, but it would be of particular concern to people if they knew the attitudes and accepted behaviours in this sector. We trust these people with a great role in society and I was proud to be a member of the club. Not for long. I digress. What I mean to say is that I found the reference to my intelligence, used by them as proof I have not been injured enough, to be insulting. Is there a direct correlation between sexual assault and loss of intelligence? Was I less molested because I can articulate my feelings about it for you? I despair over this.
So, after ‘failing’ the test which would afford me the right to claim damages, I completed the necessary paperwork to apply for a Judge to grant me Serious Injury status instead. This is apparently the most common route in these cases but that gave me little comfort. I think it would not be too much of a stretch to suggest that cases of, in this case, workplace rape, (let alone with stalking and bullying over many months), a fairly serious psychological injury will probably occur. The susequent five years of seclusion, depression and overwhelming anxiety which have impaired my quality of life, let there be no doubt, are more than enough proof. I’m tired. Let’s be sensible. It was, and is, SERIOUS.
As I left the barrister’s office, I put my head down and felt that familiar feeling of being exposed. How could someone around me not know? Not see that I’d just spoken of such things? That it was still for the most part secretive, or my name would be on this blog? Did I not bear a scarlet letter, letting everybody know that I was this person? I’d let this happen to me? Was there not an obvious marker, to seperate me from the normal people who dont have to do this shit?
Now logically I can talk myself out of this state to some degree. ‘No, self, these strangers in the city do NOT know anything about you and probably couldn’t care less. They are just doing their thing. Thinking about their own shit. No one can ‘sense’ your heightened vulnerability and skittishness. No one is looking at you!’
What if I have been monitored? Recorded? In a very real sense, followed? I removed all trace of my real self from the Internet. You’ll only ‘catch me out’ at a professional’s waiting room – I really do live the life I have described over and again. I didn’t pay it much mind when the lawyers warned me because it seemed, well, a bit ridiculous. Someone watching me. Who did I think I was? Erin Brokovich? Real life is not a John Grisham novel. Nothing like it. Is it?
I believed these thoughts to be almost self indulgent. Like, how important did I think I was in the world? I worked to train my mind to let these thoughts go. Was this thinking a sign of psychological disturbance rather than based in fact? Let’s say it together – paranoia. Surely!
But gently they warned me. And suddenly, very loudly, I am hearing the warning now.
I understand the concept of investigation as it applies to falsely claiming a physical workplace injury, though that seems like a movie script also. To notice the same car at the end of your street. A camera. Eyes watching, waiting for you to pick up a bag of cement or renovate your house when you claim to have hurt your back at work. But this is different, people.
What are you looking for? What would ‘prove’ I was making false claims? Where are you? WHO are you? Have you been there all along..?
Will pictures surface in Court of me laughing, proof I’m not devestated? Out with my child, proof I can sometimes, (with Valium), go out in public like a normal Mum should? Should I not make an effort to dress well, do my hair (most days)? Even now, would this be used against me? What about this blog? Stringing sentences together and being proud of it. Wanting to talk. Is this proof I am not as damaged as I have had to describe so intimately, to my shame and continued embarrassment?
Is it fair or even reasonable that I should face the prospect of being ‘monitored’ or watched, after having my boss try to rape me (I repeat: in the known presence of another employee who ignored me fighting him off and in fact made jokes about it), after having HIM follow me, hack into my computer files, change passwords, email me, call me, text me, demand that I ‘smile for him’ or ‘beg like I should’ in order to be granted a day off or another professional due. After he made unwanted visits to my house, groped me, tried to kiss me, mocked and shamed me amongst staff. And after I was told I would be ‘marked’ if I took official steps to stop him, that I would ruin my own career.
After all of that (and I just cannot be bothered to really itemise the experience), I would be watched? Someone looking for something to use as evidence I do not deserve protection, as various laws and protocols (let alone moral understandings) would suggest?
If you do exist, Monitor, and you have taken on the task at any stage to look for me to trip up – I could save you so much time. I HAVE ALWAYS TOLD THE TRUTH. I WILL ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH. THAT IS THE PAINFUL PART, YOU IDIOTS.
Here’s the thing, when you’re telling the truth. The whole, pitiful, frustrating truth about something shitty…You can’t really fuck it up. It just IS. You can’t catch me in a lie. I don’t have one. You won’t see me being the person you tried to ruin and shut up. SHE’S GONE NOW.
The smile has morphed more into a frown on the hardest days but my outside is pretty much the same as before. Though I’d like to be in disguise at times. I look the same and I will keep putting one foot in front of the other. I will even continue to *gasp* DRIVE my car, and more often than you’d like, I will in fact USE MY INTELLIGENCE. To help myself. And others told to shut up. The audacity of me!
It’s not what you will see me doing that you should worry about, faceless Monitor. It’s the fact that you will always see me. Despite the inner urge to hide, and the real struggle to fight exposure, on the other hand I’m only going to become more obvious and candid. As this goes on, I will keep talking. I will write and I will jump through all of the stupid legal hoops that a certain Liberal government deemed appropriate some years ago. I think it no mistake that the same leader became the ‘face’ of depression awareness down the line. Oh, the bittersweet irony…or sheer ignorance. It doesn’t matter.
Keep watching, monitoring me, if it is your will. It’s creepy. Humiliating. Degrading. But ultimately a waste of your time.
See you at the finish line, assholes.
Photo credit here