The Slut and The Crazy Bitch

I testified in court.  If you are able to do so, I urge you to.  I can’t speak for anyone else’s experience or what is best for them.  All I can say is that although it was the worst day of my life (or so it seemed) it was also infinitely empowering.  I didn’t know how things would turn out but as I got to spell out what he’d done to me and look into the judge’s eyes…I felt real power.  The defence smashed it pretty quickly with vulgar and caustic rebuttals but I just repeated the truth – over and over – and he realised that I was in fact a very good witness.  It got easier as the day went on.  And the result was that the accused asked to plead guilty if the DPP would remove the threat of twelve months jail.  Now testifying was fucked up.  No way around that.  I would have possibly agreed to anything at the end of that day.  But I’m pretty proud of myself that before any other evidence was submitted – and his slew of lying accomplices had the chance to try to slam my character in court – he caved.  You bet that feels good.

Given that experience, I almost spontaneously combust when I read other examples of victim blaming tactics used to deny claims of sexual harassment, assault and rape. I understand the adversarial legal system on an intellectual level but it can fuck right off in this area (and family violence, child abuse…).

Outside Court

Ms Robinson 

Earlier this year the media reported on a pending sexual harassment case.  According to the International Business Times, “Philip Goodman, chairman and sole director of Rivers Australia, is again on the hot seat after a former employee has lodged a sexual harassment claim, his second in a span of two years.”

You can read more of her allegations here and evidence that the complainant was far from the first woman to be assaulted and bullied by this man is here.

Today’s brief article addressed the defence barristers claims.  Or as the sub heading said, “boss’s ‘counter claims'”.  A counter-claim would be if she also molested him.  Gross misuse of the term here, editor! After you testify, the defendant and his legal team come at you (in this case, Sallyanne Robinson, a Brit in Australia on a work visa at the time) with anything they can.  All of the claims generally centre around mental health and promiscuity.  They can’t come out and call you a slut anymore but they paint the picture in other ways pretty bluntly.

As if that would actually BE a defence for unlawful assault.

Here are some excerpts:

Herman Borenstein, SC, for millionaire Rivers Clothing boss suggested to Ms Robinson “that she lacked a sense of humour about the CEO calling her Madame Lash in front of co workers.  He asked if she was hypersensitive and over reacted”

Yes, because sexual harassment is just Regular Guy Banter.  He was Having Fun.  Mucking Around.  Geez, lighten up.  You’re probably an uptight feminist lesbian.

Ms Robinson complained to her supervisor and Goodman ignored her for a while then approached her, “Do you still think I’m trying to get into your knickers?”

It was flirting and you are an uptight bitch.  You think so highly of yourself that you think everyone wants you.

Borenstein said that ex colleagues had a list of “humiliating allegations” he wished to put to Ms Robinson; she “abused alcohol and would get ‘so wasted’ she had to be carried home”

This is to insinuate that the victim was out of control, had personal issues and could do anything if she could get that drunk.  Because alcohol always equals women who never say NO.  Obviously.

Colleagues allegedly reported that Ms Robinson “was obsessed with her own breasts”

What.  The.  Fuck.  I can’t believe he read that out with a straight face but it was deliberately used to insinuate that the victim was overtly sexual.  Breasts!  She liked them!  Breasts!  *old man drool* Ugh.

Berenstein accused Ms Robinson of “urinating on her partner every morning in the shower”.

Well, bugger me.  I thought the breasts thing was stupid.  Bizarre. Used to insinuate the victim is kinky?  Dirty?  She urinates???  I can’t believe that a judge would let that through the gate.

Next, he said that Ms Robinson had previously “been a burlesque dancer”.

Slut.  Slutty slut slut.  They can’t ask if she’s ‘easy’ so they draw tenuous links from gross innuendo allegedly given to the legal team by employees.  (Obviously not the employees who have backed up claims of a harassment culture inherent in the company for a decade, as stated in one of the above articles).

Ms Robinson told the court that colleagues had seen her upset after Goodman had made her model underwear for him, alone, with only a towel to change behind.

At first glance, one may ask, How did he make her do that?  It’s pretty weird…  I didn’t model underwear for the shithead I took to court – I was a school teacher – but you can bet your ass that manipulative men in powerful positions can have you in situations that you just can’t believe are happening…your mind goes in slow motion because who would actually do that?  And you need your job.  It’s how you are staying in the country.  And please, ladies, don’t talk back, make a fuss, say no or rock the boat.  Appease.

Who do you think you’re talking to?  I own this company.

The links above also detail various accounts of Indecent and Sexual Assault where Ms Robinson was groped and poked like a piece of meat.  He grabbed a breast and told her they were ‘good natural ones’.

The next textbook question is ‘if this is true, why didn’t you tell someone straight away?  Why wouldn’t you tell your boyfriend?’ because unless you screamed it out in a staff meeting or called the police on day one, it couldn’t have happened, right?  Ms Robinson said that she didn’t tell her partner for a long time as he wouldn’t have wanted her to go back to work and she was also concerned about her visa status.  I believe her 100%  I didn’t tell my boyfriend until I gave a statement to police.  Eight months after it started.  He saw me upset, was at my house when I got late night phone calls from my boss over and over, saw the creepy text messages.  But I lied.  I said it was manageable.  The guy was just a pest.  I lied because I preferred to be in denial.  And my boyfriend would have been at the school the next day to bash this guy’s head in (I’ve had days where I regretted avoiding that).  It was my first professional teaching role.  I loved my job.  This was a career at stake.  I was on a six month contract.  Very dicey ground.  The boss makes it clear, as all abusers do, that no one would believe you.  Some, like mine, take proactive steps to set up their defence as they go.  I worked up the courage to seek help the first time and I was met with derision and rejection. ‘Actually, he’s already approached me about that.  He said you’d say that’.  Gobsmacked.

In one of the articles about this Rivers case, Goodman (just seen the ugly irony in his name there) claims that Ms Robinson had mental health issues and exhibited problems during the entire course of her employment.

The Other Ultimate Dismissal.  If you’re not The Slut you are The Crazy Bitch.  Probably both!  Classic strategies.  Up yours, Freud.  Hysteria.  Hysterical.  You can’t trust females. Hormones.  Probably a ‘bunny boiler’ and all that.

Suddenly the victim crying on the stand medicated for her PTSD might be a horny, vindictive woman with loose morals and a permanent hangover.  Same thing.  All the effing time.

The upside?  They all use the same bullshit.  It’s standard.  They don’t care.  Just got to ‘muddy the waters’.  Cast aspersions.  But don’t worry too much.  Those bastards use the same defence tactics and prosecutors and support people know this.  They can help you prepare.  There is some small comfort in the sameness of their approach.

We know that sexual confidence or emotions have sweet eff all to do with whether someone is a sexual predator or a criminal.  But how often do we hear that a child ‘led a man on’ to contribute to her own vulgar rape, or the way we treat rape and murder of sex workers with minimal outrage and barely an inch of media column.  Because sexual.  Women.  Sluts.  Made him do it.

We need to smash this shit into a thousand pieces.  And that means talking about it in all its gory detail.  It takes women like Sallyanne Robinson, Kate Shea and hey, even anonymous me, to make some noise when the worst happens. To hang in there through the shitstorm that follows.  Be The Slut and The Crazy Bitch in some people’s eyes.  Vocally support others when their turn inevitably comes around.   Sometimes people are really ignorant and it takes what happened to Jill Meagher to rattle their cages.

We may never reach a freedom and safety utopia but my fervent hope is that we make our voices heard until our last breath.  And encourage all others to do the same.

Which reminds me…

Walk through the city of Melbourne tomorrow, everybody, shouting loud and proud for SlutWalk 2013.  Some may not like the name, nobody likes the word but fighting is fighting and I can tell you from last years experience, it feels really bloody good to yell your heart out and demand respectful attention with some of the best women in the country by your side!

Do it.  Do it for Sallyanne Robinson, Kate Shea, Jane Doe from Steubenville, Jill Meagher, Jazzy O and everybody in between.  Do it for your mum, sister, the daughter or niece you love.  Do it because it’s the right fucking thing to do.

Speaking out and being heard helps every single woman feel stronger, more supported and less alone.  When they need it the most.

If you don’t walk tomorrow, there are so many other ways to help. Just talk to those close to you.  Talk to strangers on the Internet.

Know that if you are the one needing to tell, there is someone out there who wants to hear you.

Speaking Up: The Awesome of Eden Riley

Speak up, make your voice heard

Speak up, make your voice heard (Photo credit: HowardLake)

The other day I was thinking about writing on a blog like this.  It is a unique form of communicating about vital, deeply personal topics which can struggle to find a genuine forum amongst the general public.  Recent comments from others on here and twitter have reminded me of the power of exposing a bit of your own struggle.  You take a little risk but when you connect with someone it is extremely satisfying.  For me posting on the blog is like silently screaming from deep inside. Any relevance my words may have for another person can feel like a salve for the hurt.  Soothes the screaming beast.  *better than drugs*

I wish I wrote about another topic, mind you, and that I could connect with others on a serious but slightly less difficult note.  But…here we are and thank the stars for that!  I often recall the first night I typed through snot and tears to compose what became my first post on here.  I was too chicken to just share it so I sent it to @edenland in an email first.  (She had no idea who I was or wtf I was forcing confessional prose on her)  I think people like Eden Riley might get random communication like that a bit, in retrospect.  If you have not seen her writing please just go now.  What are you waiting for?  Seriously.  Go there.

What was it about Eden that I felt an affinity with?  What excites me about 2012 Australia’s Best Blogger?  To be honest, more than I can share here…but that woman is a pocket rocket of raw, gutsy truth.  It’s really wonderful for a human being to share and learn and speak her truth.  We really are surrounded by bullshit and spin everywhere we look.

I probably sound star struck.  I don’t care.  I think it is wonderfully life-affirming to come across people who remind you about what matters and that you should own your truth and do whatever the hell you want with it.  I want to live a life with as much honesty and integrity as people like Eden.

When she replied to my random email with encouragement I was in bed.  I looked at the phone and my eyes popped out!  Then I shed a few Happy Tears, clicked on *publish* and that is when I truly began to tackle PTSD and start healing (instead of just managing), from this place right here.  That’s an *amazing* impact to have on someone.

I’m forever grateful to Eden for being herself xxx

Total Recall

**The contents of this post, like all of them, may contain descriptions and scenarios which may be triggering to sexual assault/rape victims**

There are some things you hope you can avoid in life. Meeting an Anaconda.  Contracting Bird flu.  Surviving a helicopter crash.  You know, because they sound like bad experiences, right?  Traumatic.  Dangerous.  Scary.  Certainly unforgettable.  What if you had to face them TWICE?

I am going to add to that Things You’d Like To Avoid List being cross-examined in Court.  Hands up if you have been in the witness box..?  I don’t know about your experience but I can tell you about mine.  And how close I came to having to do it again the other day.  Which was TERRIFYING.

When the man who sexually assaulted me, ok, raped me, was charged, the case was heard in the County Court in the city.  I had to testify.  And I had to be cross-examined by the defence.  I can remember such acute details of that day.  In other ways it feels like a hazy bad dream.  I was very anxious about testifying.  In one way I knew that it was my one chance at being heard.  Yes, the chance to roar.  But what a way to go about it!  The police officer who was with me from taking my initial statement to that day in court (she was amazing) helped as much as she could.  But there really is no preparation for being a witness in your own rape case.

The night before Court I had one of my younger sisters stay the night at my house.  She talked to me, held me and let me cry.  That’s something no little sister should ever have to do.  But I needed her and she was there for me in the perfect way.  She can summarise people so succinctly that you would think she was twenty years older.  Wiser.  From a young age, my sister could see right through anyone and tell you what you needed to do.  Her six-year-old self told another sibling one day, “Look, get a job.  Clean your act up.  No one can take you seriously when you’re not helping yourself”.  I like to think we have that in common.  So she was the right companion for a really shitty time.  I had a notebook at the
time (many, really.  First, I was a teacher and they are mostly stationary freaks.  Secondly, I had Court notes, inspirational quotes, counselling notes…anything and everything).  This notebook was mine to help me get through the experience of testifying.  In it she wrote on a random page ‘Every Dog Has Their Day’.  She was referring to HIM being a dog in the derogatory sense and that his day was coming, and I was the one who held the power.  Pretty smart, no?  My siblings don’t read this blog but my mother does, I’d say.  She knows who I’m talking about.  Bravo, again, mother.  Job well done there, too.  That girl is a winner and most of the time, wise beyond her years.  I still have that piece of paper.

The policewoman took great care to keep me out of sight in the Court foyer but the OTHERS, my colleagues who KNEW what I had gone through and how I had come to EACH OF THEM over time ASKING FOR THEIR HELP, walked past me in a pathetic group.  They had to ready to be called to testify and it seemed to me that they clung to each other like the yellow-bellied cowards they are.  Our eyes met once and I like to think that my glare was like lasers, cutting them down.  It was probably more like a sad little puppy at the pound, watching their family leave them, abandoned and facing death.  I tried for daggers, though.  I really did.

I consider myself very lucky that I was able to testify via video link (or however they do it) from another room in the Court.  I think I would have fainted at the very least if I had been able to see his eyes.  I imagined leaping out of the stand and throttling him.  Spitting in his face.  Screaming, ‘You know what you did!’  But I really just would have vomited, I think.

It was bad enough knowing he could see me.  Someone told me that his wife was sitting next to him in Court.  That made me feel all sorts of things.  Was she there because she believed it all to be a lie?  What would it be like for her to see me describe what her husband did to me?  Would she hear something I said and in an instant, know I was telling the truth?  Know that he would say that?  Do that?  Would he watch the screen and see my face?  Or hang his head?

I hugged my sister as tight as I could and was led into a small room far away from the Court room they were in.  There was a lady who was in the room with me, a minder of sorts.  She explained the screens in front of me and what would happen when Court was in session.  It seemed to me to look like the control room at a tv station.  There was a monitor on which I could see the Magistrate and another where the lawyers would be visible as they questioned me.  I sat at a small table and the minder was to my right.  The door out, the one that called to me ‘here I am, in case you wanna run’, was to my left.  I remember I wore a blue shirt that day, buttoned up all the way.  I held a small teddy in my hands, hidden from anyone’s view under the table.  My very little brother had given me that teddy and I squeezed the hell out of it, held it tight.  Of course, I still have that teddy.

I don’t remember the prosecutor questioning me, to be honest.  I will never forget the defence.  He was a round-ish man with grey hair.  Pompous looking.  An air of arrogance and contempt for me.  The inference in his very manner was that I had caused a lot of trouble and he thought my words a joke.  I had wondered if Court would be like it is in the movies.  It was.  Except nobody leapt to yell ‘Objection!’ and save my skin when the questioning got out of control.  I remember the female Magistrate’s face – a floating head on her own television screen – peering at me with her brow furrowed.  I noticed when the Defence became cruel, she moved forward, trying to read me.  Was I handling this?  Did she need to stop him?  I remember thinking she was quite compassionate and her face showed a human interest.  Unlike the Defence barrister.  That pig of a man.  He was rude, vile.  He pushed me.  Mocked me.  Accused me of lying.  He described my body parts.  He described my genitals to the Courtroom.  Yep, my vagina.  How I had described my genitals in my statement.  WHAT HE DID THEN.  It was revolting.  They let me take breaks.  Maybe I looked too upset.  I sipped some water and howled.  My sister told me later that hearing my guttural moans through the wall but not being able to get to me was torture.  I can’t imagine.  The minder was very nice considering she was not there for me, just to ensure I was safe from myself and the technical side of things was working.  I had my head between my knees and she lay a gentle hand on my shoulder, just for a second.  It was a comfort that she felt my pain.  What a job to do!

I was questioned for most of the day.  When I was done (well after I’d passed done, I’d say!) the Prosecutor and policewoman came in to see me.  They explained that HE wanted to change his plea to guilty if they would remove the Rape and Stalking charges, leaving two counts of Indecent Assault and thereby suspending a probable jail term.  They said that this was a good outcome given the difficulties in getting a successful conviction in a rape case.  I knew the statistics well.  I also knew I just wanted to get the fuck out of there.  I knew that the other people from work, including the woman who’d been a party to it all and gave new meaning to the term slut shaming, would lie on the stand to protect their negligence.  I went to my boss about HIM, then eventually about HER as she bullied and degraded me.  He warned me they were friends and I’d ‘better watch what I said next’.  In the end I had to go beyond the workplace – which also failed.  But that’s another topic.  The legal system, however, did NOT fail me.

Though this experience undoubtedly sounds shitty, and it was, I want you to know that I do not regret testifying one bit.  I would encourage and support any other person in a similar situation (for which I am sorry) to be heard if they can.  You don’t feel brave or strong at the time.  You indeed put yourself at the mercy of another abusive person in the defence for a time.  But what you MIGHT do is slap that bastard in the face with the TRUTH so hard that he changes his plea.  In the midst of the tears and exhaustion, there was a part of me that knew I’d had a victory.

I wrote a Victim Impact Statement for sentencing which took place the next day.  I asked the Police if I could be there but they said no.  I wanted to read it out myself.  The policewoman did, however, call me to describe what had happened.  She told me that the Magistrate had read out my statement to the Court.  What I wrote was pretty raw.  It is also an empowering thing to do if you are ever faced with the same situation.  Another chance to be heard.  It’s never enough but you have to take what you can get.  Apparently the Magistrate said in her sentencing that she wished that the Plea Bargain had not been struck because she felt HE deserved jail.  I can’t tell you how much that matters to me.  So HE got a suspended jail term of 12 months and a fine (I scoff at the fine…I mean, seriously?)

It is possible I will have to testify/explain myself about this issue at least once more before this is done.  This I have reconciled myself with.  Er, in a fashion.  As much as one can.

What I was not at all prepared for was facing the witness box again for something else.  Recently I found myself facing the possibility of this helicopter crash in Family Court.  The similarities between the two experiences are actually disturbing.  I didn’t realise as it was happening (eternally optimistic or deliberately in denial?) but when faced with being cross-examined the other day it hit me like a familiar Mack truck.  And I fell apart.

Knowing you are telling the truth can take you pretty far in life.  Helps you ‘fight the good fight’, though you’d rather be out playing somewhere.  I told the truth then, and I was telling the truth in this other personal battle.  I was feeling pretty strong and (unfortunately) had a routine of sorts to get my mind ready for Court because of what happened to me before.  But there was a second in time when the lawyer was talking to me the other day and she mentioned taking the stand and I said, “Well, I really want to avoid that actually because oh my god I’ve already done it before and I …”  That lawyer didn’t know what I was talking about.  Oh, the feelings inside me.  I firmly believe in cellular memory.  Your body remembers experiences, even ones the mind works had to forget.  Well, my body remembered my first cross examination.  And it FREAKED OUT.

It passed, though.  I survived.  Court is done for now.  A deal was struck – again.  But I am left with a couple of thoughts.

My own ability to move on is more impressive than I thought.  It feels like I’m stuck in this trauma many days but really I am only troubled by SOME (read: more than enough) things which affect my day to day experience.  I don’t think about the legal process all the time.  I couldn’t.  I’d be hiding under my bed.  (If you are/ have been that person, I’m not mocking it.  I understand why you could feel that way).

At the same time I am so fucking angry that I was rendered unable to be a witness in Court FOR THE SAFETY OF MY OWN CHILD due to what these people had done to me in the first place.  I was shaking, crying, ashamed, having flashbacks.  Shit!  In lots of ways, I try to forge a new path and keep on trying.  Life my life and be happy.  Some days I run, some days I drag my ass and wish I had a teddy bear to hold.  The other day in Family Court was a stark reminder that while these experiences can make you stronger, some parts can really just kick your ass.  Damn it.

PS  Really, if you can do it, standing up in Court IS WORTH IT.  You can do so much more than you think you can (and so much more than you should have to!)  Take a swing at the bastards if you can.

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Image

I’ll tell you something.  This blog started like a message in a bottle – I released it not knowing where it would end up.  It felt exciting.  Maybe it would never be seen by the eyes of another.  Maybe it would.  That idea was kind of scary.  How would it feel to know that somebody read these raw thoughts about something we are made to feel so secretive and shameful about?  I was doing it to feel better.

I read other people’s blogs.  I don’t really think about people reading my words.  Not like that.  So it is a lovely surprise to see that someone has read something I’ve shared and even nicer that they’ve taken the time to name me personally 🙂  So thank you, bnewvision, for the honour.  What drew me to Denise’s blog was her clear stance on breaking the silence, standing in her truth and moving forward.  I find that inspiring and encouraging.

There are some rules that with the award, so here goes…

Acknowledge the person who has nominated you and post their link to your page … check

Post the Award on your page … check

Share seven things about yourself … It’s coming…

Nominate some bloggers that you find inspiring and pass on the love…

7 Things You May Not Know About Me

1.  I was a teacher.  I say was because I am not proud of that title anymore.  I studied hard to be the best educator and role model I could be.  As a student teacher I made it onto the Dean’s List; the top 10% of my peers.  That part wasn’t that hard, really, becuase I am a very happy student.  I am excited and inspired by learning, sharing and questioning.  I wanted to be a teacher because I am excited by social and emotional growth and exploration.  Supporting young individuals to forge their own path and feel the pride that comes with trying your best.  Being there to catch them when they stumble and remind them that they are unique, stand alone wonders – just as they are. But I can’t teach anymore.  I am at home every school day with PTSD because my experience as a teacher became what you read here on this blog.

2.  That they have taken away my ability to be the teacher I dreamt of being hurts me more than the sexual assaults, the lies and covering up.  I wanted to do good things.  Be a positive influence.  Make a difference.  I did it for a very brief moment.  I have the letters from students and their parents.  Reviews from my superiors that anyone would be proud of.  Life skills, international education experience and passion to burn.  But I read the letters now and cry.  That woman they are writing to died on the inside and reading about what I could have been doing makes me sad.  And sometimes angry.

3.  I am ashamed that I struggle to deal with what has been done to me.  I am not ashamed of telling the truth about it.  It is often all I have.  I think of the kids sometimes (ok, a lot) and think, ‘You’d be telling them that they can do this…etc’ but I so often succumb to the fear and hide away.  I stop trying.  I have given up.  I can’t be a teacher anymore.  Can I?  Nope.  It’s just too terrifying to really think about.  I wouldn’t want a student to think about themselves with such finality and resignation.  But here I am.  I pray when I do leave the house that not a single student ever sees me like this.

4.  I’m scared of schools.  And do you realise how many schools there are in your average street?  Honestly, you see a school yard, I see a graveyard.  Literally, in my head, that is what I see.  I would be more comfortable in an actual graveyard.  I wonder if that sounds sad or crazy…?

5.  I have been told to quit.  Let it go.  Move on.  By other teachers, senior management, and at one stage the Union reps.  I can’t teach but I can sure as hell stand up for myself.  They did it, they lied about it, they blamed me.  When the perpetrator admits guilt in Court, how can the others who became involved still call me a liar?  Still stand by their actions?  They should not be able to do so.  If nothing else, I can keep going until they are forced to hear that I am still using my voice.  You can ruin my dreams for myself but you can’t shut me up.  Got it?

6.  They’ll never know it but I am also going to continue to speak for the kids who actually noticed that I was being treated badly at school and told their parents that they were worried about me.  For the parents that believed enough in their children to tell me that, and give me discreet words of encouragement.  When I just want to do something stupid I stop and think, How would I want the kids to see me on this – flailing or fighting?  No question: fighting.  Practicing what I used to preach.  Being true, being real.  Being honest.  For one of the kids in particular, who asked one day, “When are you going to stand up for yourself?” (you think it’s shitty that the behaviour was so blatant?  You bet.  Humiliating, unprofessional and at times, clearly illegal).  In my head I sometimes say to this kid, who won’t be so little anymore, ‘I’m doing it, man.  Slowly but I’ll keep going.  I’m true to my word’.  I want that kid to know that adults don’t tell you to do one thing and do another themselves.  I want him to know that I did stand up for myself.  I am standing up for myself.  So I tell him.  In my imagination.

7.  I have heroes.  They’re human and flawed and that’s what makes them special.  They could just be but they want more.  They try harder.  They feel.  They give.  They reflect.  And try harder the next day.  They give me strength and courage when I don’t feel it myself.  I am very grateful.

Phew.  That was a bit heavier than I intended.  I morphed these answers with a bit of a purge…guess you know what’s on my mind right now…

This is the best part for me because by sharing blogs that we find inspiring, more of us find each other and add to the collection…there must be millions of blogs but things like these awards put the spotlight on some special ones like a short cut on the treasure map.

http://rescuinglittlel.wordpress.com

http://www.mariska.com/blog/ (it’s a bit out-of-the-box, but hey…look at The Joyful Heart Foundation she started)

http://understandingptsd.blogspot.com.au/

http://survjustice.blogspot.com.au/

http://femaleptsd.wordpress.com/

http://eversj.blogspot.com.au/

http://sarahmonahan.com/blog

Thank you to the bloggers listed above for your words, which have had an impact upon me.  I admire your courage, honesty and the fact that you are living out loud.  Take this Award if you want to and pass on the admiration 🙂

Coming Out … Sort Of

When You Hear Another Speaking Your Language

This Letter To The Editor recently caught my attention. It also thrilled me, though it does not celebrate or congratulate anyone. Just a few poignant words about the shameful state of an industry we entrust with such a responsible job in the community. It was once MY job. Very briefly. For the reasons referred to in this letter, and an extreme case of closing ranks and protecting mates, I sit locked in my house while THEY continue to teach. And for that I still grieve.

Silly Me

 

Well, well.  What a fool am I.

Once a brilliant multi-tasker (if I do say so myself), able to deconstruct complex ideas and research jargon, I am now unable to follow a simple flowchart explaining this process of obtaining a Serious Injury Certificate regarding a workplace injury.

How many assessments have I had?  If I could be bothered, I would look back at these posts to see when I was last assessed by the female psychiatrist, not two weeks after being assessed by the last male psychiatrist.  I’m sure I had the letter stating that I had the assessment (which I attended today) prior to the female psychiatrist interviewing me (is this making sense??).  My understanding was that SHE assessed whether my claim was valid and today HE would assess my ‘level of impairment’.  This is relevant to any further Court proceedings against my former employer.

I was dreading today and had worked myself up into quite a state of anxiety.  I had to get my sister to take me into the city because I couldn’t face the exposure.  Needed a hand to hold mine.

I went through the assessment/interview/session with (another) stranger.  Talked about the most private of my thoughts.  My lowest lows.  Who I was BEFORE and how I saw my future.  I answered questions about my body parts and my personality.  My family.  I started off in sunglasses (Big Daddy movie; you can’t see me if they’re on..?) and did the rest with my hands over my eyes.  And this on the ‘anniversary’ of the assaults.  He raised his eyebrows at that.  I mean, read the papers, Mr Insurance Man.

He said at the end, “Hopefully you won’t have to go through this again”.

That was kind.  I thought, am I nearly there?  Have you heard it enough times?  You got the part where HE pled guilty 4 years ago, right?  What’s to decide?  It happened.  It was a nightmare.  Why do I have to sit in the middle of the nightmare while another stranger argues if I am affected enough to have my damage recognised?

On the way home I sat next to my sister and then I panicked.  Did I get it wrong again?  This was just another generic assessment, wasn’t it?  It wasn’t the BIG one, was it?

This is the second time I have worked myself up for a huge assessment of my ‘damage level’…and realised after handing a strange Doctor my guts on the desk that it wasn’t worth that much.  I could have repeated my symptoms in bullet points with less…pain.  Less pressure.  Less trust in them.  Less explicitly.

I’d like to be wrong but I guess tomorrow I will make a phone call and confirm that today’s exploitation was just to confirm my psychological injury.  Which was confirmed twice, independently, last month.  And has been confirmed repeatedly over the last five years.

It’s a process that brings out the most toxic of your secrets.  They bubble up to the surface.  Seep out of your pores.  Sit around your being like a noxious gas, tainting you.  I have a headache.  I feel sick.  I’m pretty sure if you could see me now I’d have squiggly lines emanating from me like a cartoon character that stinks.  Rotten eggs.  I’m not saying I’m rotten.  But this is a rotten, heavy, toxic thing I carry. And days like today; to appease the faceless men who play me like a puppet on a string (mirroring the manipulation by my boss and senior colleagues in the first place) to dance for my supper; I push the dirty secrets out and hang my head, hoping nobody is looking my way today.

Information from the legal team states that I “may be filmed” by the assessors (the OTHER SIDE) while they make me dance to prove my pain.  Like a cheap current affairs segment with grainy footage of someone claiming to have hurt their back caught lifting a bag of cement.

How humiliating.  Are you going to watch me to see if I smile?  Feel joy?  Does that mean I wasn’t raped?  That it doesn’t claw at me?  Would you like to watch through my window as I cry at night?  When I do my food shopping at a petrol station in the hope that less people see me?  Turn away from my child so he can’t see as I take the pills each morning that stop me from lying down in the hope I never get up?  How very just.  That seems reasonable.  Not humiliating, violating.  Because I wasn’t feeling paranoid enough after being stalked for months.  The possibility of a private investigator following a rape victim for footage makes my stomach turn.  The possibility that someone might do it to me…

None of the bad feelings and thoughts (of hurting THEM, not me today) go away.  But the sheer brutality of this process; the shredding, the exposure, the scare-mongering…makes me want to keep going even more.  So I can shout about it at the end.  What a pack of bastards.