The Panel

Not long ago I was asked (sent) by Workcover (Worksafe, whatever) to front a medical panel in a sideways step of my claim to be recognized for having a Serious Injury from sexual assaults, stalking and investigations and cover ups in the course of my work.

Every once and a while there is a media grab about allegedly spurious claims Workcover have paid out. Not only are these offensive and deliberately sensationalist – they’re just bloody impossible in my experience. The suggestion that individuals would subject themselves to the intrusive, soul crushing experience of constant surveillance, psychiatric assessment and reporting is utterly ridiculous. There are percentages of every societal group which will always attempt to play the system. Always. Are the the ones emerging ‘victorious’ with six figure payouts?

I had the main perpetrator plea bargain out of jail time for his crimes. Sexual crimes.

I had detailed Police paperwork and findings.

I had emails, records, reports and diaries.

I had counselling, psychiatrists, psychologists, Victims of Crime involvement.

I was on medication.

I attended tri monthly psychiatric assessments and attended all appointments, tests and completed every form.

I told every truth (possibly my only mistake) when asked about my life and experiences.

I answered offensive questions about my parents, my childhood, my siblings, my personal and sexual history, my struggle to regain psychological health after these years of enforced difficulty.

I cried. I pleaded. I broke.

And now, almost six years to the day since this nightmare began, I have had a small ‘win’.

The Workcover laws were changed by a certain unscrupulous Premier when he was in State Government some time ago, making the threshold for access to compensation and any legal recourse almost unattainable. Physical injuries are measured from 1-100% and attributed a monetary value on a sliding scale. Psychological injuries are measured using a bit of a ‘secret formula’ according to and including your ability to shower daily and how often you’ve wished yourself dead. To ‘achieve’ a sufficient percentage, which the doctors must decide is permanent and unlikely to improve at all, you must ‘score’ 30% Permanent Whole Person Impairment. Once, the threshold was 15%. And reviews and investigations have seen repeated recommendations for the threshold to be once again at 15%. From the psychiatrists at the coal face, working with injured workers every day and witnessing the emotional and mental damage that can be inflicted on hard working professionals (all levels of skill and education) who just wanted to do their job. Who would know better than this what seems a valid measure of compensatable injury? These psychiatrists get paid either way. They have no vested interest in the outcome – other than what their training and ethics may compel of them – and that is to be able to work with patients to heal as best they can.

I’m a realist. The threshold won’t be revised now. But whenever a story comes up, a ‘scandal’, a ‘ridiculous’ claim paid out in a six figure sum from ‘tax payer dollars’, please consider that there is SO much more to the story than they would have you believe.

In my case, Workcover sent me to be assessed my a Medical Panel of Independent Assessors because I disputed their finding that I was not bearing the scars of a Serious Injury. I am seeking the right to be compensated for some of the things I have lost. I have done everything that has been asked of me, often at the expense of my young child in many ways, and tried repeatedly to go back to work. And been cut off at the pass every time. Often directly by the people who I have raised complaints about. In a sector working with young children. This has all happened in front of young children that have been entrusted to people from their parents. I still struggle to accept that the sexual offender, the other participant, the denier and the liars are all (still) working with young kids every day. And that they never felt obliged to help or protect me, even it of fear of being caught out. They didn’t have that fear. They still don’t. And I find this facet alone chilling.

The Medical Panel appointment was presumably to reinforce my ‘not injured enough’ status and therefore make it much more difficult (and add another year or so to the timeline) to have any hurt/loss recognised at all.

Amazingly, it seems to have backfired.

The appointment itself had become blurry. I had to get two people to take me into the city to attend. The weeks before we’re difficult and the anxiety crept in. Mindfulness techniques and meditation are not always enough to calm the rising swell. I loathe that feeling of knowing you’re about to lose it – be unravelled emotionally and psychologically in front of several strangers about something so painful – for the purpose of probably-skewed assessment. Ugh. It makes you feel like an utter loser. Pathetic. Not nice. I’ve got my pride ūüôā

I made it to the appointment (quite early) and through the 90 minutes of questions and counter-questions. Not unlike the cross examination in the County Court. How did it go? What were they thinking? Who knows! Just confusion.

And then you wait for a letter.

Experiencing the Turtle Effect. Where you want to pull your head and limbs inside a protective shell and disappear from anyone’s view. Ssshhh. Too exposed. Too vulnerable.

I knew it was The Letter, a thick envelope protruding from the letter box last week. It held The Answer. Would I feel let down? Failing to be ‘enough of a mess’ again?

I skimmed the words of the report, feeling a This Was A Moment To Remember but scared to know.

Without doubt. Emphatic. Related solely to the assaults and abuse from this one course of events at her workplace.

30%

The magic number. The one that allows me the privilege (and it’s been a six year road, don’t mistake it for anything less) of a Seriously Injured Person. I’m hurt. They hurt me. I have kept trying to work and they have kept stopping me. I deserve legal recourse and IT’S OFFICIAL.

It’s not something you frame but it’s pretty close now. It is a form of validation that I have been unable to get any other way.

They hurt and abused me. My voice was silenced. And I have paid a price that has had a permanent affect on my psyche. THIS is what the report says to me. In the context of what has happened thus far, this is a win. And one which should/could/might grease the wheels for a complete resolution to the legal process with a few less blows to the body for me.

According to my lawyer, this is a rare occurrence. They sounded emotional when explaining the outcome to me. But remaining quite cautious, as the ‘others’ are legally entitled to dispute everything and always get four times the length of time my side gets to do so.

The thing I am honestly most pleased about is that when the next injured person walks into the Union or legal office, they will hear that against the (obscene) odds you face as an injured person, it IS possible to get recognition for this. It is possible that you’ll feel some sense of validation. Because it just happened, in April 2013.

*I’ll add links later to this post about the terms, process and legal options later today. Now I’m just going to breathe.

What Say You, WorkSafe?

This won’t be a long one but (insert scream here)…

Image credit here

Firstly, WorkSafe sent a letter asking if they could use me in their research coming up.  Not me in particular, just any workers.  But do I have anything to say which could help others?  Why, yes I do, sir.  Please contact me.  Or, employ me to design and conduct the research project Рas I am also qualified to do so.  But now I just blog instead.

Photo credit here

If I get the chance, I will explain to the good researcher that there is a problem with insurance companies.¬† Professionalism.¬† Duty of care. The critical role they should play in getting people back to work.¬† I find mine lacking in this area.¬† This makes ‘recovery’ more difficult when it needn’t be.

Also, could we possibly have a bit of recognition for psychological injury?¬† Not to suggest that a physical injury does not harm and affect the inside, too, but WorkSafe, you are involved with me because I was sexually assaulted¬†(etcetera) by my boss, and then heavily influenced to keep it quiet by others in charge.¬† This is not a simple injury.¬† It did not actually ‘happen on a Wednesday’.¬† I cannot go back to a school on ‘modified duties’.¬† At the heart of the issue, when you have me¬†assessed¬†every 90 days, you are essentially undressing me and requiring me to talk about my own body.¬† Not in the mechanical sense.¬† It can move.¬† In the violated sense.¬† The deeply personal sense.¬† The embarrassing sense.¬† The retraumatising sense.¬† Am I painting a picture for you here?

Therefore, when somebody makes a mistake or an admin person calls to question me; it’s not as clean cut¬†as you might like.¬† I am a compliant person.¬† I do whatever is asked of me in this process and apologise the whole time for bothering you all.¬† I’m also trying to get better when I have a psychological injury.¬† So please don’t fuck with me.

Photo credit here

I would also like to comment on the process of exiting the ‘system’ roundabout.¬† I had thought recently that I would like to make some plans for the future.¬† I know that I will need to continue counselling and medication but I would like to think¬†I might have¬†the chance¬†to rebuild my professional self and earn my own wage, not through blood money.¬† Now, you suggest I cannot do that in a school environment.¬† This is probably true, though I will never be happy to concede this.¬† I would also like to note here that should appropriate action¬†have been taken¬†AT ANY STAGE of this awful experience, I would not have had to forfeit my career, and you could have quite easily handballed me back into a teaching job which I loved.¬† But even as I type, I have never been approached or addressed with regards to my welfare, safety, wishes…nothing.¬† The schools, the Institute (especially, I might add), the Department and all parties involved (however tenuously) in my alleged repatriation.¬† I have initiated everything, every step of the way.¬† I have followed through despite what everyone around me did to make it harder for me.¬† And now when I think of my future, you give me this…

I was forced¬†from a professional position which I earned after postgraduate university study.¬† I wanted it.¬† I sacrificed for it.¬† I thought my dream had come true.¬† When I had to be assessed for future employability options, I was told that I would not be put into a random position.¬† It would be somewhat commensurate to my position when I left.¬† I recently made enquiries about retraining¬†options.¬† To get better, I need something to imagine.¬† Something to work towards.¬† I was told that I cannot be retrained until I have been declared Fit To Work.¬† Here’s the conundrum.¬† I won’t get better (from a psychological injury) without retraining.¬† Catch-22, yes?

Photo credit here

So what retraining is open to me when I perform a mental miracle (presumably after a Department-funded partial-lobotomy to remove the memories and flashbacks..)?¬† Oh, you only fund short courses?¬† In what?¬† What if I’d never worked in another role?¬† I was only a teacher?¬† How would you fix me then?

I offered to finance my own retraining and seek to complete my Masters in Social Work.¬† I could study things that matter to me.¬† Work towards helping others.¬† Make a difference.¬† It’s what I wanted to do at the start, but, funny girl that I am – I thought I could work in schools and be a positive adult for children before there was a need for social intervention.¬† Quaint, aren’t I?¬† A tragic idealist.

But I can’t do that either, can I?¬† Because there is a component of Field Placement.¬† An ‘internship’ providing essential practical experience.¬† And the chance to get my pride back.¬†¬†But I can’t be in any¬†workplace.¬† Even in that capacity.¬† Because I am certified unfit by my GP with regards to work before.¬† But I can’t legally make a positive change and become a distant memory for you all when I regain my independence.

Photo credit here

Small balloon of hope: deflated.¬† Back to the drawing board.¬† As usual, I’ll do it all myself.

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‚Äôt 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‚Äôs 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, ‚ÄúLook, get a job.¬† Clean your act up.¬† No one can take you seriously when you‚Äôre not helping yourself‚ÄĚ.¬† 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‚Ķanything and everything).¬† This notebook was mine to help me get through the experience of¬†testifying.¬† In it she wrote on a random page ‚ÄėEvery Dog Has Their Day‚Äô.¬† 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‚Äôt read this blog but my mother does, I‚Äôd say.¬† She knows who I‚Äôm 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, ‚ÄėYou know what you did!‚Äô¬† 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 ‚Äėhere I am, in case you wanna run‚Äô, 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôt 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 ‚ÄėObjection!‚Äô and save my skin when the questioning got out of control.¬† I remember the female Magistrate‚Äôs face ‚Äď a floating head on her own television screen ‚Äď 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‚Äôt 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‚Äôd passed done, I‚Äôd 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‚Äôd 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‚Äôd ‚Äėbetter watch what I said next‚Äô.¬† In the end I had to go beyond the workplace ‚Äď which also failed.¬† But that‚Äôs 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‚Äôd 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, ‚ÄúWell, I really want to avoid that actually because oh my god I‚Äôve already done it before and I ‚Ķ‚Ä̬† That lawyer didn‚Äôt 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 Рagain.  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.

How Long Is A Ball Of String?

It’s been over a year since the relevant professional institute made contact with me to say they intended to investigate whether or not there needed to be a hearing to determine the offender’s fitness to teach.¬† You follow that?¬† They don’t know whether they need to look at his fitness to teach.¬† Seriously?¬† This is from their website:

How long will the investigation take?

The investigation should be completed within six to eight weeks. The time frame for the

investigation may be extended in certain circumstances, such as if the investigation is complex

or it is difficult to obtain the evidence. If the investigation cannot be completed within six to

eight weeks, the Institute will notify you that the investigation has been delayed and of the

revised date of completion for the investigation.

 

I have Police files, miles of paperwork and medical professionals assessments that would reach across Australia if laid end to end.¬† And HE PLED GUILTY (though to lesser charges).¬† Just pointing out that there are 52 weeks in a year, that’s all.¬† I’ve never been informed of any ‘delay’.¬† I guess that makes this the longest eight weeks of my life…

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.

The Wonky Wheel of Life (SYL W4)

This post has taken some time due to technical difficulties…with my brain. ¬†I realised the main thing is the thought behind the post, not the presentation of the diagram (seriously, why can’t I paste it in here??) so here are the results:

The scores are out of 5, 5 being the highest.

Photo credit here

Home: 4/5¬†¬†I am very happy with my home, the environment I have created here with the Little Dude. ¬†We have moved three times in his two years so it’s about bloody time! ¬†This house feels safer and closer to the people that¬†matter. ¬†We have plenty of room, the creature comforts which make summer and winter less scary. ¬†We have happy times here. ¬†We snuggle in the mornings and we are close to all of the fun things we would ever want to do. ¬†It’s more rent than I would wish but that’s the price of living closer to my family. ¬†We tried further out and cheaper. ¬†It’s lonely. ¬†I would like to stay here for at least another year to let the dust settle a bit. ¬†Please.

 

Photo credit here

Body: 2/5¬†¬†Physically, I am pretty unhealthy. ¬†I am lazy. ¬†There’s no two ways about it. ¬†I don’t like to sweat. ¬†I stress-eat. ¬†I comfort-eat. I eat to stay awake. ¬†I inhale chocolate. ¬†My inactivity is frightening since being unable to work. ¬†I had a busy job where I was involved in physical activity throughout the day and rarely sat down to eat. ¬†Now, I am home all of the time. ¬†Due to the ‘what happened to me at work’ drama and resulting PTSD I feel more tired than I should. ¬†With so much counselling and assessment by the insurance company, etc, I am often mentally worn out. ¬†Quality of food and health suffers first.

I don’t engage in any classes or activities because I am still unable to get myself to feel brave enough to meet new people and BE SEEN. ¬†It makes me feel ashamed. ¬†How hard is it to GO OUTSIDE? ¬†But the workplace and connected community is close by and I pretty much live in fear of being ‘recognised’ or gossiped about. ¬†A lot of the time, I really can’t handle the idea of being looked at at¬†all. ¬†I just DON’T WANT TO BE NOTICED. ¬†I signed us up for swimming lessons to start tomorrow and I bet you I chicken out ūüė¶ ¬†I need to look after myself. For Little Dude and myself. ¬†But I’m not. ¬†And I’m not yet convinced I will try too hard. ¬†This needs a LOT of attention. ¬†The 2 I did score was because I’m not, by nature, a body-hater. ¬†I call fat ‘curves’, I like having them and I consider myself some kind of superhero for being able to carry and nourish another human being! ¬†I mean, seriously… So that 2 is for the basics, function and general form. ¬†But inside, the poor thing is tired and sluggish.

Spirit: 3/5¬†¬†This part of me has received a lot of attention through PTSD, counselling and mindfulness. ¬†I have HAD to concentrate on my spirit to keep myself strong (strong-ish? ¬†strong-er?). ¬†I am thankful for that. ¬†Hey, I’m only human, so it is always going to be a work in progress, isn’t it?

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Family: 4/5¬†¬†This is probably too generous and my family is all sorts of wrong in many ways. ¬†But in the last year the most important bunch of us have banded together in a way that I didn’t think possible. ¬†My Mum and I are closer and have grown to become more alike – meet in the middle, if you like. ¬†For the last 31 years I have thought we were from different planets and we have been ‘estranged’ before. ¬†I think I have referred to this in another post; the women in my family have proven to be¬†stronger, more resilient and a source of real pride for me of late. ¬†The gentlemen – well – they are not playing active roles any longer. ¬†If they did before. ¬†The difference is that my expectation of them has changed. ¬†I came to a place where I decided that I needed/deserved/sought a basic level of respect, interaction and reciprocity. ¬†They could choose to meet me there or I’d let go of the wanting…which was so painful and an eternal disappointment. ¬†I’m sad that my father behaves as though I don’t exist any more but I don’t feel the aching any more, the loss, the gap. ¬†It’s easier than the roller coaster ride with my fingers crossed. ¬†Regarding my brother…I am safer mentally and physically away from him. ¬†More self preservation than a loss.

As for making my own family, as I’ve also said before, I would of course have preferred that Little Dude’s Dad and I were in love and we could be in the same house. ¬†But he was kinda a mixture of my father and brother now that I look at it. ¬†Sooooo, self preservation, yeah. Had to let that ship sail. ¬†Okay, push it away from the dock. ¬†He can still be who he should be for the Little Dude.

I couldn’t be happier with my Little Man and I. ¬†If it goes that one day, someone is special enough to be¬†a part of that, so be it. ¬†But if Mr Little is to be the only man in my life – I’ll die a contented lady.

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Friends: 2/5 ¬†This is a tragic area, much like my physical health ūüė¶ When things get really hard I have tended to distance myself from friends (“Save yourselves! ¬†Don’t hang around for this garbage!”) ¬†and with what happened at work a few years ago I not so much backed away as was catapulted into a dark corner. ¬†Singled out. ¬†As the Police got involved, I held on to a couple of friends for dear life. ¬†But falling into the kind of pit sexual violence tips you into makes it hard to keep close relationships. ¬†I figured I was an embarrassment, ‘too much work’, a bit of a downer, ‘obsessed’ with my ‘situation’…the list goes on. ¬†A few months ago I actually wrote ‘goodbye’ letters to the last couple who were left. ¬†‘Dear Madam, You are better off without me. ¬†I am a drag. ¬†Best wishes’. ¬†It felt HIDEOUS but sort of a relief. ¬†I had saved them the trouble. ¬†Released them.

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That acted as a catalyst for them to make contact and for me to say ‘er, I need you around’. ¬†They said I wasn’t a disaster friend and I chose to believe that. ¬†I have sought out an old friend on purpose even though I wanted to hide from her. ¬†I have always seen her as an example of a strong, successful woman and when we’re together we are A-MAH-ZING. ¬†She would have been a wonderful life saver during the worst of THE TROUBLES but I would never have dreamt of involving her. ¬†Welcome to my nightmare. ¬†Missed me? ¬†She’s one of those golden ones, the friend that you can miss for years but when you are in the same room, it’s all the way it used to be. ¬†I am very grateful for her renewed presence in my life. ¬†I just have to keep on it this time. ¬†Not send her away. ¬†She can save herself if she needs to..!

Career: 0/5 ¬†Not surprisingly, this is the ICU¬†of my life. ¬†The empty saloon with a tumbleweed rolling past. ¬†It’s a cemetery. ¬†And this is a HUGE problem for me. ¬†I have been at school for EVER. ¬†I love to learn, study and build on my skills. ¬†I have drawn a lot of strength and pride from my employment experiences in the past. ¬†It was 99% of my identity. ¬†I had BIG PLANS. ¬†I was excited¬†and inspired. ¬†I wanted to be¬†in leadership roles, inspire and support. ¬†At this moment, I have a five year¬†blank in my CV (I lowered myself to ask those feckers¬†for a reference and they LAUGHED). ¬†More than that, I have lost all confidence in myself and my worth as an employee. ¬†Who’s going to take me one? ¬†A ‘dobber’? ¬†A whistle-blower? ¬†A troublemaker? ¬†All that I worked for and all that I was is ashes. ¬†Who am I from now on? I. ¬†See. ¬†No. ¬†Light. ¬†Here. ¬†I haven’t given up. ¬†I just don’t have the strength to tackle this yet.

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Looks to me upon quick reflection that I need to work on looking after and valuing THE SELF (physical/career/purpose). ¬†Eeek. ¬†That sounds HARD. ¬†But I don’t like to fail and I refuse to give up so 2012 will no doubt see me delve into my bag of tricks for some new ideas here. ¬†I hope that the saga ends legally and I can become inspired about my abilities again.