I had a few decent therapists. One was a short-term one whom I had right after I was raped in 2008. I liked her because the therapy was practical, informative, short-term, useful, validating, supportive, confidential, and had a beginning and end.
Not once did S doubt my word nor did she say “The patient claims she was raped.” No, our relationship was based on trust.
She didn’t rely on the opinion of other practitioners. Instead, she listened to my account, and relied on that and formed her own opinion, which she shared openly with me.
She shared information with me, for instance, what to expect next. She asked me questions about, for instance, nightmares. When I told her I felt unusual fears I had never felt before, such as fears while in enclosed spaces, she told me that feeling that way was quite common among rape survivors. I shared with her that I had gone out on a wild spree and purchased extremely bulky shirts, and was afraid to wear anything that touched my breasts. I was also afraid to wear anything that could be pulled down. She told me that this didn’t surprise her. I told her I wasn’t having panic attacks, only that I was avoiding things I didn’t previously avoid.
I still lived in the same building he lived in. This was problematic. I kept running into him. He assaulted me again, but this wasn’t rape. It was scary enough as he was forceful with me. My therapist urged me to stay away from him. She realized just how difficult this was for me. She suggested that I move. Sure enough, I had to move anyway due to construction. I relocated to a different building. End of story. Therapy ended with this therapist and I found someone else.
S did me a favor. My previous therapist, G, had completely ignored that I was raped. And my psychiatrist likewise. It all flew over their heads. Had it not been for S, I probably would have suffered far more trauma than in fact I did.
Rape has been around forever, and most likely, it isn’t going to be eliminated entirely. I wish, though, that there were “hospital abuse” therapists you could go to. There are all sorts of trauma centers, but not one that I’ve found recognizes medical abuse, or its subset, psych abuse as legitimate sources of trauma.
I don’t think abuse in medical facilities and nursing homes can be entirely eliminated. I’ll tell you why. There’s a hierarchy in such places where workers are caught in the middle. They are under stress, working long hours and also, nights and weekends. They work with dangerous equipment and drugs and sometimes, items of high value. All these are high risk factors for abuse and workplace bullying. The patient is on the bottom and has very little legal protection.
I think should abuse occur, the abuse should never be denied. The abused patient should never be told it didn’t happen. The patient’s trauma should never be trivialized. If possible and practical, the law should become involved. A trained person might be able to assess whether legal matters should be pursued and where to go to find legal help. A trained person would help the victim escape further abuse. A trained person might get the victim in touch with the media so the victim can share his or her story and be safe from retaliation. A trained person would know medical people who do not abuse.
I believe I now suffer from trauma because I didn’t have that. I was told it never happened. I was told I deserved what I got. I was told the unit didn’t exist. I was told human rights were trivial. I was told they were only doing their job. I was told their reputation was more important than my life. I was told I “needed” the abuse. I was told I was making a mountain out of a molehill. I was told I had a “perception problem” I was told I was “oversensitive.” I was told I was “ungrateful.” I was told something was “terribly wrong with me.” I was told, “You are just complaining because you didn’t like it.”
Okay, what if you went to a therapist after being raped and the therapist said the following:
“You are complaining that you didn’t like being raped.”
“He couldn’t help it. He was doing his job being a man.”
“You asked for it, didn’t you?”
“You’re making a big deal over sexual assault.”
“You’re just oversensitive about sex.”
“You deserved it because you are a woman. What did you expect?”
“He gave you good sex and you are ungrateful.”
“So you slept with him and then you twisted the story around.”
“You’re a mental patient and something is wrong with you, so anything you say won’t be taken seriously.”
So for me, the abuse was denied. I was told it never happened, and no way could I possibly be suffering from trauma. Sorry to say, I still suffer today.
I do this dumb thing now and then. I read the newsletters of my former church. I used to love receiving those because it symbolized that I belonged somewhere. Now, when I read them I often feel rather emotional. It’s funny how, once removed from that situation, I can look back and see quite clearly the two-faced nature of most religious institutions, including the “liberal” one I was involved in.
I recall my first time attending a worship service there. My expectations were perhaps unrealistic. I had spoken to hospital chaplains and one suggested that having community in my life would probably open many doors for me. She was right, but I wasn’t going to find that at First Parish Watertown.
At first, of course, everything seemed terrific. I’d go to church, feel like I belonged somewhere, then I’d go home to complete isolation, loneliness, and despair, and also, over the course of the next week, abuse by my therapist. One day, at a church gathering I mentioned that not only was church the high point of my week but during that week when we weren’t together, I was truly struggling. I don’t recall my exact wording. Afterward, one person came up to me and told me that he/she felt the same way, that life was hell and no one even knew or cared. I wanted to connect with this person but he/she was always busy with some other concern and I didn’t want to interrupt or interfere. We never became friends and that saddens me.
After a while, I wasn’t a newcomer anymore. I tried at that point to get involved. That’s when I first noticed elitism and favoritism in the church. I knew that all organizations do this, but I also noticed silencing of “the rest of us” which wasn’t improving, in fact, it was getting worse. I spoke out about this numerous times. When I made my opinions public I was often approached rather quietly with a “me too,” from someone. I never was able to establish relationships with these quiet supporters. They stayed away and I didn’t see them much. Some people stopped attending and I sensed this was a result of silencing or even scandal.
The newsletters are no longer sent to me. I have to hunt them down. I write to church members occasionally and rarely have I received a response.
Funny, the very first day I attended First Parish, I did what many do. I filled out an information card that newcomers were encouraged to fill out. This was the standard sort of thing that many churches do. They wanted to know what information you’d like on the church and its activities. There was also a check box at “Do you want the minister to visit?” I checked yes.
I waited until it was quite clear that the minister didn’t really do home visits. Not only that no one in church actually wanted to come near my home in public housing. No one wanted to know how bad it was there. Or they knew but didn’t want to face the truth. Many of the members stayed away from such unpleasantries as poor people. Poor folk are diseased, after all. Best way to handle them is to send services and funding their way and not speak to them, touch them, nor truly be friends. I am extremely grateful for the one person who did show up a few times. I am also grateful she didn’t act like she was walking into a war zone named Woodland Towers.
Things went on. The situation eroded and got worse. I noticed that just about every sermon included yet one more plea for money. I was getting more and more disgusted. Some people had none to give. I felt embarrassed that the meager one dollar I left in the collection basket was often scraped from my penny jar. I leave apologies to those who had to count the pennies.
I wanted to give in other ways. I wanted to write. I was repeatedly told that they had no use for me. There is one chance for parishioners to speak out and that was called Joys and Sorrows. If you have ever been to a UU church you have witnessed this.
I rarely participated in that. I will tell you why. I felt I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say. I felt that whatever I said would be immediately knocked down no matter what it was. The one time I dared to participate in that, I did, in fact, get approached by someone and I was told, “You shouldn’t have said that.” She proceeded to berate and insult me. I never really knew if her attitude was at all reflective of the general tone of censorship in the church. That person was Rachel. After that happened and I got another berating insult from her, I avoided her to protect myself.
I didn’t know what to do anymore. I wrote to the minister and told him I wasn’t pleased about censorship in the form of tightening up Joys and Sorrows and making more rules and policies about it when this was the only chance people had, the only time there wasn’t a pastoral monopoly in the service. They had already made it clear that they didn’t want me doing the Chalice lighting. They’d advertise that they needed more volunteers for this but I knew they didn’t want the likes of me doing it. In that, I got the very clear message that I could come to church only if I completely shed my identity as writer.
There was too much silencing, too many backhand insulting remarks directed at those with known diagnoses. It all became clear to me precisely what was going on. I chose not to remain silent, to speak out and try to do something.
I was even more shocked that when my kidneys failed in mid-August and I nearly died, I received not one call nor visit from anyone in church. Oh yeah, the administrator dropped off some stuff for me. Of course, she didn’t even stay to talk. But to her, and many others, I wasn’t even worthy of a visit. The minister knew what had happened and also didn’t call. He finally showed up. I knew it was tokenism. I was embarrassed. After I got out, I figured someone would at least tell me they cared or would ask if I needed anything. What happened then was even more shocking. I was avoided on the street and people were deliberately not speaking to me nor answering my calls.
It got worse. I used to visit the minister in his office. I stopped abruptly and never told anyone why. I was embarrassed to mention it to anyone. But this is what happened:
I had just been through kidney failure, so I was still physically ill. I was suffering from trauma from the abuse as well. That means I didn’t look nor feel so great. All I wanted was compassion from this religious leader. What I got was rudeness and dismissal. It was like even more of my soul was sucked out.
Yes, I know people are human. I know people make remarks they later regret. The day was September 6th, 2013. I asked the administrator if Mark was in and she said I could go ahead into his office.
He didn’t look himself. I can tell you something was amiss. I never found out what it was. His hair was disheveled and his expression showed hostility. Almost like I had caught him in a moment that was not intended for the public. I will never know what was going on at that moment. I saw in him, for the first time, deceit.
I suppose all clergy have their nasty side. I never realized that this was one of those inevitable truths. Now, of course, I know. I walked in there and he said “Hello” to me, but with a guilty look on his face. Like a kid who had just been caught stealing or cheating on a test. He asked me how things were going. I said, “Okay,” but nothing was at all okay of course.
He said to me, “You were here yesterday. I already talked to you.” I didn’t know what to say to that. It was like he was accusing me of….of what? Is being so sick you nearly die a petty concern? Then he said, “Were you out walking?” I told him that this was the case. He said, “Then I am going to ask you to keep on walking.”
I walked out of there and promised myself I would never return. I realized then that it was so obvious that he didn’t even like most of the non-elite parishioners. He tolerated us. In fact, he made those statements loud and clear if anyone was really listening. I’d known it all along, but it’s hard to admit that someone you consider intrinsically good or at least decent would act like that. So you try to pretend that this isn’t happening until it becomes unavoidable.
After that, and even now, I hear the words, “Keep walking.” The sound of those words causes me to relive the experiences I had of loathing in that church toward anyone with a psych label. We were called “dangerous.” A danger to what?
The fall was tough. I was completely isolated and lonely. I cried every day and wondered how the heck it had gotten so shitty.
I had an offer to move to the Seattle area. It was December 2013. The offer never panned out, but around Christmastime I decided to show up at church. I figured I was moving, so I might as well say goodbye and in secret, “Nyah nyah, I never appreciated your rotten attitude.” No, I didn’t say that. I felt it, but kept it to myself.
It was December 29, a Sunday I was not at church at all, that someone had what they called an “outburst.” When I heard, I told myself that someone must have been silenced like I was, and was expressing just how pissed off he/she was. However, I never learned who this person was. I’m sure he/she was silenced and banished much in the same manner they did to me, ultimately.
The next newsletter, that came out of First Parish, was so shockingly discriminatory that I decided at that moment to write to the person in Boston and tell her what was happening. I have sent this newsletter to a few people since, and they all confirmed that what was written reflected deep prejudice toward people like me.
I wrote a private email to a higherup in Boston, regarding my concerns. I had been through shocking nonsupport from the church. I wrote the email fast and it wasn’t the most carefully written letter I have ever written. I mentioned acts or words of discrimination against Rachel, myself, and a few other people. I quoted what I had heard, stated publicly or whispered with the assumption that no one would overhear.
I received a timely response stating that they take these things seriously, but according to UU policy, these needed to be resolved internally, church by church. I wrote back one or two sentences that stated that I was fine with her response but that I was not going to let this one go. Of course, that meant more writing, as I am now doing, for the benefit of my readers.
Those two church higherups, Chuck Dickenson, and Judy Kamm barged into my building on January 10th, accusing me of PLANNING MURDER, and bringing the social worker cop, Melissa, with them. What they did was an outrage and should never have happened. They came and accused me based on speculation with no evidence, no data, nor any written warrant. Why? They couldn’t legally do it. There was no crime, nor any crime planned, and I doubt they could have even illegally arrested me simply because they felt threatened by my pen. They had absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing. They tried to convince me that I am undeserving of Freedom of Speech. What they were saying was that I was a person of very low worth, less than human. I stood there, still freezing and dehydrated from the protest in Boston for Justina Pelletier I had just attended. I was shocked.
Not only that, they told me that this “visit” was going to be kept secret from the general church population. Of course! What they did was an outrage and no way would most people in church have supported what they did had it been known.
Clearly, this was an act done to threaten me and scare me into silence. As readers know, I am in a safe place now, free of such hate crimes, and other acts of retaliation.
It was clear what was behind this. I learned shortly after that my letter had had a lot of impact. This was challenging to Mark and his authority was questioned. His job may have been on the line. They didn’t want my letter nor anything I knew to leak out. I guess Mark and his cronies were desperate.
I didn’t know what to do. I tried telling people on Facebook what had happened, and I was again condemned. I thought these people were my friends. I was told that what happened was my own paranoid imagination. I ditched those friends and told myself I needed new ones that actually believed what i was saying.
I still struggle with credibility. It’s a constant battle. This is common to so many people who were victims of medical wrongdoing. It’s not even that known, now we disappear. Some die. Rachel died ten days after I left the USA. Without community support, we fade away. Some relocate because of the scare tactics used against us.
I would be terrified if I still lived in Boston right now. So many are. I know I was not the only one. I see now that the church has finally instigated “home visits.” As expected, these aren’t goodwill how-are-you visits. No, this is to collect money from parishioners, to use guilt and pressure to get more money from them. I am again shocked. Personally, if I still lived in Watertown, by all means, I would not allow these people to come in. The only time anyone in church ever contacted me was to get money from me. I was so shocked at that. I wouldn’t have minded it they had acted like friends all along.
I don’t know how I am going to get over this trauma. I keep telling myself it’ll just fade. It doesn’t, even though I am far away. I keep thinking I am finally okay again, but it keeps coming back. I went through medical abuse that I continue to relive. I call what happened in church form of spiritual abuse. I find myself asking over and over why these things had been deliberately done to me. Sometimes, I want to cry but now, I can’t. I want to come face to face with that God that allowed this to happen. I want to tell this God just what I think, saying,
And then, of course, I’d keep walking.
They gave me Mellaril in the hospital in 1983. I got tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) from it. I was told this was not an allergy but an “unpleasant reaction.” I was told to not take it again if offered, though.
I was given Zyprexa (Olanzapine) in 1997. It made me sleep 16 hours a day, and the other 8, I was a zombie. It also caused binge eating. I’ve since learned that I’m not the only one who has had this reaction. After a few days, my shrink said, “I am taking you off of this right away. You should never take Zyprexa again. Don’t worry, I will never put you back on it,” I was underweight at the time, and even though I needed to eat, I didn’t need destructive eating.
In my hospital records at Mount Auburn from 2013, they wrote that I was delusional because I said I had no medication allergies. Their records stated that since I said this, I was a “poor historian” since apparently I had “forgotten” that Mellaril gave me “palpitations.” Palpitations means your heart beats harder, isn’t the same as tachycardia, and also isn’t an allergy per se. I knew that an allergic reaction had something to do with histamine, such as a swollen tongue, rash, or respiratory problems. I was absolutely right on. So I ask, who was the “poor historian”?
They also seemed to think that just because I had once taken Imipramine, then of course, two years later, I must certainly still be on it. Apparently they were at such a loss as to what my “meds” were, though I had carefully written for them the names and doses, that they resorted to calling CVS. I suppose my last shrink didn’t remember? Did she not have records? Who is the irresponsible one?
The correct spelling of my name, my birth date and address were never verified so they gave me Julia’s drugs, not mine. They continued to call me a “liar.” Who was the stupid one here?
I got yelled at and called liar, and other names, over and over. They assumed I was an idiot since I didn’t seem to recognize this other person’s drugs, I said again and again that these weren’t mine.’t mine. I finally asked, “Did you verify the address?” They hadn’t, and didn’t apologize. Who was the one who “lacked insight”? They began to abuse worse.
Next thing you knew, they told me they wouldn’t let me out unless I took Zyprexa. I told them I had had a bad reaction in the past. I’m sure by then they were discrediting everything I said. They also tried to give me Abilify, which only two months previously had given me insomnia and mania after three days.
However, my prior shrink had told them I hadn’t seen her for “months.” This wasn’t true. I saw her every month until July 10, a month prior to admission at Mount Auburn, when I had fired her, telling her that I had already scheduled with new providers and told her who my PCP was. I saw her write this down. Who was the “poor historian”?
Oh, so I was supposed to forgive? Next thing you know, completely unbeknownst to me, they had someone (the police most likely) do an illegal search of my apartment. I never found out till I got home and found the place torn apart. On one of my tables were two bottles, which they assumed were the correct pills. One bottle was two years old, the other, three years old, and both were empty, and in a remote drawer with my art supplies.
One was 600 mgs of Lamictal. I was given the entire 600 all at once. I almost took it, trusting them entirely, since they had just roused me, but I spat it out, saying, “I don’t take this.” Again, called a “poor historian.” No, I spat out those pills to save my life. Then, they claimed I was “suicidal.” Who was the one who lacked common sense? I asked myself over and over how they were getting away with this.
Is anyone going to call me “stupid” for not taking the labels off those bottles at home? My ex-friend did. One would assume these bottles would be safe way back in that drawer. Should I expect an illegal search on a regular basis? Had I tossed the bottles in the trash bin, for sure I would have removed the labels, since I’ve heard that adventurous teens can go get refills somehow. Believe me, they tore apart everything and left the place a mess. The same “friend” told me, “No one cares about patient rights. Why don’t you drop the subject.”
I’ve since found out otherwise. Thousands are joining the Movement, more and more each day.
Meanwhile, back at the hospital, I was assumed to be delusional since I spoke of “rights.” Apparently I had none. Because I wasn’t seen as human any longer. I cannot count how many nurses rolled their eyes at me after that, and how many times the “sitters” also abused me.
This, folks was “treatment.” I got out. I was condemned in my community for not being “grateful,” because I reporting Mount Auburn for abuse. Who are the bigoted ones?
I’d rather die than go back to Mount Auburn Hospital. I now live far, far away. Because what they did to me nearly destroyed me.
Here’s the link:
I have seen other descriptions as well. This one seems to-the-point and concise. It’s a form of interpersonal abuse, meaning it isn’t necessarily limited to spousal abuse. Often in the Movement we speak of the gaslighting that shrinks do to patients. When you read the article I pointed out, do you see similarities in your own mental “health” experience?
Have you ever gone to a dentist to get a tooth worked on, and for whatever reason something hurt. Let’s say the dentist is rather sparing with the topical anesthetic. You tell him you can feel what he is doing, and suggest you might need more anesthetic (they used to use Novocaine). The dentist says, “That doesn’t hurt.” Since when can he feel what you feel? He is saying, “I know more about your body than you do. I am the expert. You are incompetent. I couldn’t possibly be at fault.” This is illogical since the dentist doesn’t feel what you feel.
Or perhaps, “I see you are oversensitive.” Ever get that line? So the dentist is physically harming you, but saying that you have a bogus mental disorder, thereby excusing his carelessness.
Or, “You are the only patient who has ever complained.” This means he regularly does these unnecessarily painful procedures. He is implying that since inflicting pain is the norm, then what he does is okay. He’s calling you a whiner, but in reality, you are the first brave one to say, “This isn’t right.”
What happens in a shrink’s office, or between patient and “staff”? Yes, gaslighting happens regularly to mental patients. Note that the article states that this begins in a manner that’s almost imperceptible, then increases over a long time. Often, the same thing happens to patients. A shrink isn’t likely to gaslight during the first appointments, otherwise he won’t have too many customers. After all, he wants to make that “meet and greet” session as satisfying as possible. After that, he can do whatever the hell he wants.
Here are ways that shrinks gaslight.
You are in a hospital. The shrink comes to see you, or perhaps he has an office on the ward. Within ten seconds, before you have barely opened your mouth, the shrink says, “You have a serious problem with anger.”
If you an observer of human nature, you know as well as I do that all humans are a bit uncomfortable with anger. So you might counteract with, “Yes, doctor, many people do. I don’t see my anger issues as anything to be concerned about right now.”
But the shrink starts saying stuff deliberately, taking jabs at you. Finally, you can’t take it anymore. He asks, “Are you angry?”
By now, you realize the guy’s a jerk but there’s nothing you can do. You say, “Yes.”
Then, maybe you wish you had thought up some wisecrack instead of telling the truth. He literally points his finger at you, saying, “See? See? You are an angry person.” What can you say to that? Most people, if they are in a subservient position, such as “patient,” are often in the same boat. You just don’t know what to say. You don’t yet recognize that this is abuse, and it’s wrong. You leave feeling horrible, but you don’t know why. Later, you might find yourself depressed, or resorting to whatever nasty behavior you originally sought help for.
I’ll bet any reader reading this who has seen a shrink has had this happen to them. Once, I confronted a shrink on this, since I had indeed seen him do this to many other patients, and he told me the following: “Yes, I always do that, because everyone has anger issues.” This was after I’d been seeing him for a while.
So he needles patients deliberately and then tells them they have a “disorder.” I wish that I’d informed him, “Do you realize that what you are doing is abuse?” But I was a compliant mental patient and said nothing. Actually, he was one of the better ones!
But you may ask, “Why not leave this shrink?” Many patients insurance coverage that limits them to only one shink. Or they are put on lengthy waiting lists to get so-called “care.” When they finally get one, they know that if they stop seeing this person, they will be put on yet another lengthy waiting list. I’ve heard of people waiting a full year, or more. This is good news for the shrink. He can always remind the patient of this, so he can keep on milking her insurance.
We can see how patients are trapped in these abusive doctor-patient relationships. Perhaps you have heard the following on psych units:
“Other units do this, too.” This is also illogical. The staff knows what they do isn’t legal, and is saying the laws aren’t enforceable so they will continue to abuse for their own convenience. The staff is telling you that you are the sick complainer. The truth is that you are the brave one who points out the truth, while others have sat back and done nothing.
Or, say you complain about a policy or unnecessarily restrictive rule. The staff in eating disorders “care” might say, “That’s Ed talking.” Ed is the acronym for Eating Disorder, invented by therapists as a marketable gimmick. It works well to silence a patient, causing her to doubt herself instead of doubting the almighty staff.
It’s so easy to abuse patients with this line: “You aren’t cognizant of your disorder.” Or, worded otherwise, “You lack insight.” This is the best way to silence a patient. It’s works, and it’s handy and convenient to completely disarm and de-voice just about anyone under their “care.”
What I dislike about the article you find in the link above is what’s below the description of gaslighting. That a person who has been through this needs to change. Wait! So nothing is done to change the abuser, he gets away scott free, and now, the abused person is the one who requires ‘treatment”? Where does this abused spouse end up? In a mental ward or shrink’s office, to be abused for the next ten years, then end up with a permanent “diagnosis” on their record.
* * *
Ii was on the phone last night. I usually have pleasant conversations with people these days, but after I got off the phone with this particular person, I felt rotten inside. I asked myself why this happens whenever I speak with this person. I don’t talk to him often because the same thing happens again and again. I have known this person a long time and have had to limit contact only to protect myself. But I could never put a finger on it. Just now, I realize that I am being gaslighted.
The conversation went as follows. We got onto the topic of cyberbullying. He repeated this back to me slowly, “Cyberbullying.” Then told me, “You mean this exists?”
I told him that yes, cyberbullying is a serious problem these days. I pointed out that this is a hot issue in the news. Maybe we read different news. I hear about it all the time.
He said, “That’s not possible. It only happens to kids.”
I pointed out to him that bullying happens to adults as well as kids. Again, I imagine he isn’t very aware of these things. I pointed out, “Have you never heard of workplace bullying”” I got no reply to that.
He said, “It’s not illegal.” I told him that I had gone to various government sites and read the laws myself. I told him that if he doubts my word maybe he should read them, too. I had to repeat this several times since he didn’t believe me. In other words, he was telling me, “You aren’t clever enough to find a government website and read summaries of laws. You are stupid and incompetent.”
Finally, he admitted he had not even looked at his computer while we were speaking, so he backed down, realizing that maybe I was right. So then guess what he said, “The laws won’t be enforced.” He repeated this again and again.
Do you see what’s happening here? He admitted he’d never heard of cyberbullying, and he admits he’s not even aware of these laws. But he turned the tables on me, playing “expert” on these laws he had never known about, regarding a crime he had never heard of.
I certainly should have gotten off the phone. Maybe thanked him profusely for his wonderful advice. Pumped up his ego since that’s what he seems to need. Instead, I jabbed at him, saying, “So many laws aren’t enforced. I am aware of this. Patient rights laws, where they exist, are disregarded.” He said nothing to that. Of course he didn’t! He spent over a year telling me I wasn’t abused.
At one point, I said to him, “Clearly, you haven’t been subject to bullying, so maybe you don’t understand how it affects a person.”
I wonder about that. Most women I know have been sexually harassed in their workplaces, yet men seem unaware that this exists. Maybe he was never bullied. Or maybe he was too busy bullying other people, or gaslighting everyone around him.
We changed the subject after a while. I felt worn out. I certainly didn’t want to go on with this conversation, and I was glad when we got off.
After that, I felt awful. I told myself I should go to bed, as it was late, and then decide what to do. What would you do? I guess it’s a common question. Do we try to mend the situation, or walk away?
Today is my dad’s birthday. I wish he never died. In fact, I want him back. I know had my dad been alive, none of the shitty stuff that happened to me would ever have occurred.
My dad stood up for me. I took it for granted that someone would always be there who would stand up for me during times when my own word was brushed aside by others. When my dad was alive, I was accustomed to not being heard and not having a say in what happens. If anything went seriously wrong, I usually defended myself and got myself out of the rotten situation. Some rotten situations, though, you can’t get out of without some outside person rooting for you. After my dad died, I still had Joe. Then he died, too. It wasn’t long after that, after I had no “family” to speak of, that the abusers realized they could dispose of me or do anything they damn pleased because no “caring family” would hold them accountable.
No longer did my doctors have to answer to my dad. I remember I complained to my dad about something that Dr. Merrifield said to me that was disrespectful. Looking back, this was a trivial complaint compared to all that happened to me after my dad’s death. This was back in the day of the cassette tape answering machine. I played the message Dr. Merrifield had left to my dad. He said, “Save that message.” He told the doctor that leaving a message like the one he left was disrespectful to me.
I remember the message well. This must have been 1989 or so. I remember the end of the message verbatim. He told me not to waste his time with a report of “more of the same.” Then he said, “But if you have anything new, some new problem to report, call me up.”
While it’s true, Dr. Merrifield was disrespectful, it seems minor today in 2015. Back then, psychiatrists were supposed to be compassionate people. Over the years, I’ve come to expect less and less understanding and listening. I’ve grown to fear each visit.
While Dr. Merrifield was not at all effective as a shrink and certainly didn’t know what the hell he was doing with the drugs (he had me on both Clozaril and Tegretol simultaneously, for instance), I’ll give him credit for apologizing. I’ve since learned that apologies are rare in the medical field. My parents were hoping I would switch to someone more competent. Are any of them truly competent? I got the sense the entire time I was seeing Merrifield that all he was doing was grasping at straws. He had no clue how to make me well. He did whatever the nurses decided was best.
My mom gave Merrifield credit for “consulting” other doctors, while my previous shrinks had refused to do this. They had urged past shrinks to knock heads together with other doctors. My parents even suggested a few. Finally, they started taking me to other doctors themselves. They wanted a second opinion.
Once, I got chewed out by a therapist for seeing another doctor instead of my regular one. I was so furious. I wasn’t married to the guy. I have no clue how that got back to her. This is what I mean by not having a voice if you are labeled “mental patient.”
As my dad got sicker, I only wanted him to get the rest he needed and I didn’t bother him with any of my petty complaints anymore. Problem was, the abuse got noticeably worse. My dad didn’t have his power anymore to get me out of pickles. I felt more and more on my own.
It was good and bad. I always wanted my parents to bug off. Now, I had my way. But looking back, I know I now had no one to fall back on. The shrinks began to threaten me. They said I belonged in the state hospital. I heard it like it was their damn mantra. My dad died in April 1997 and the shrinks threatened worse after that.
I made it out of McLean and onto a better life. I can’t say it was easy. I went through so many incompetent shrinks.
For instance, I had Dr. Elsa Ronningstam at McLean. i think the only reason why I ended up with her was because she was one of the few that had openings. Of course she had openings! She was irresponsible, completely incompetent to treat me, and uncaring. Had my dad not been sick, i could have told him that Ronningstam slept through our sessions, had no clue what she was doing, and for sure, was not a good match for me. He would have seen to it that I didn’t have to endure more sessions with her.
I had another therapist who slept during sessions. This was Goldie Eder, back in 2007 to 2008. I can’t believe I stayed with her as long as I did. Our first session was decent but after that, she fell asleep during every session. Her head would actually bob up and down while she slept. She’d jerk awake, apologize, and I’d suggest more coffee. My dad would have called her and told her off. Instead, I had to listen to my psychiatrist telling me I was delusional that Goldie slept during sessions. I was so glad to get rid of her!
I was raped by my neighbor in 2008. Even if my dad had been alive, I bet I wouldn’t have told him. However, in 2012, I bravely went to the Watertown cops in their fancy new station (hmm, lotsa budget for that, eh?) and reported the rape. My dad would have given the Watertown cops a piece of his mind upon finding out they claimed my story was “fabricated” and didn’t even investigate. There was no evidence that my story was fabricated. I believe I was profiled as a mental patient. I am a person who was assaulted, and the fact that the police force ignored my pleas is flat out criminal on their part.
If my dad found out how abusive Maria Mellano was, he would have told her to quit the threats, lies, accusations, and power plays. If he found out I had to resort to seeing David Alpert as a therapist, who did little else but call me “honey” and repeatedly make verbal passes at me, he would have helped me lodge a complaint.
I left MGH in 2011 with not one person believing my story about what happened. Maria Mellano told me the unit I had been housed on didn’t exist. Actually, I was told that by a number of people. Some were misinformed but many assumed I was totally delusional without really looking into what I was saying. Or they just didn’t care. I was terrified when I left MGH. I felt like I was gonna die of thirst in there. I felt like a dirty animal, which was pretty much how they treated me. I was in so much shock over it all.
Yes, MGH does indeed have an inner unit where they house the hard cases. Many stay for over a month there, behind locked swinging doors and certainly not easily seen from the outer part of the unit. In fact, most patients in the outer section assume that the inner section is “staff only.” However, that’s not true. There are real, living human beings caged in there. I was one. They kept most of the “eating disorders” patients inside that inner part. They don’t advertise it and if you ask, they aren’t likely to admit that inner unit exists. Because I KNOW they have a lot to be ashamed of.
My dad would have helped me sue the hospital, or at least get a lawyer to help me out of that terrible situation I was in. Maria threatened to put me in the state hospital almost every single outpatient appointment after MGH. My dad wouldn’t have been fooled by her sweet looks, or seductive voice and mannerisms. I’ll bet he would have told her off and told her to stay away from his daughter.
If my dad had been alive, none of Mount Auburn would have happened. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have starved myself like that, knowing my dad cared about me. I wouldn’t have been so terrified to seek medical care. Whatever happened, he’d stick up for me. Why? Because he trusted me and loved me and knew I wasn’t one to make up “abuse” stories just for attention.
I didn’t have anyone to stick up for me, no one to stand by my side. No one spoke up to the doctors. In fact, many were very busy telling me that it was impossible for the hospital to have done anything wrong!
My dad was NEVER sue-happy. I don’t think he ever sued anyone in his life. Did he ever need a lawyer? Probably they used one for buying the house or dealing with the station wagon they bought that one or two mechanics stated was a lemon. He was never angry nor did he ever lash out at anyone. He was a good person to have on my side. During the rare times that he was truly pissed off, he certainly got the word out.
My dad would have been shocked to see what the USA is like today, and the sorry state of MH “care.” You take Peer Support, for instance. These folks get paid by the state to be “trained fellow inmates” who are supposed to befriend inmates. Getting a nice paycheck from the state is a great way to keep employees silent, compliant, and “satisfied.” You keep them satisfied they won’t speak out. If they’re uppity, threaten to fire. That way, the state has these people wrapped around their fingers. If my dad saw this, he’d know what was going on.
I guess it’s all in presentation, eh? If you look together, I suppose without any other info, folks will certainly assume you’re together. If you tell people, “I’m a mental patient,” they will judge you likewise and only see limitations. That’s up for debate, though, isn’t it?
My dad used patience and perseverance rather than making a splash of himself. All I could do was stand in awe of him. He was a quiet man who demanded respect and got it. He set a great example for us kids.
Happy birthday, Dad.
Yesterday was half crappy and half rather decent. I was in a bad space when I woke up. I guess just tired of insults, bullying, and other insulting crap from people in USA. I was discouraged and exhausted. Also I was replaying the events of August 2013 in my mind. Sometimes, their faces, their voices, their actions are crystal clear to me as if these horrors are still ongoing.
But they are not. I am safe from this abuse now. I must remind myself of this. It’s only a memory now. Even a horrific memory cannot harm me, no matter how terrifying.
Still, I found myself asking, “Why did they do this?” Over and over. There are no answers to this. They saw me as SUBHUMAN. I won’t ever know why, though I often speculate.
Yeah, I was terribly thin. It was still me, inside that body that wasn’t much more than bones. Something inside was still thriving, a heart still beating. But they only saw a half-person. A worthless piece of shit they could kick around.
I’m awfully lucky to be alive.
Last night, I met up with my friend, my new friend here. I am immensely happy. How long has it been since I actually saw someone and spent time with them this way? It was so rare back in the USA. I recall anytime I saw anyone I would thank that person profusely. Afterward, I felt sad, figuring it would be another month at least before I’d be lucky enough to have meaningful human contact.
Most had no clue. They had spouses to go home to, roommates, kids, family, or employment. Or enough appointments with people that got paid to talk to them. They cherished their alone time. I cherish it, too. Privacy is essential to me. But no one had any conception of what I went through. I’m not shy or agoraphobic. I never understood why folks ran away from me as if I were a leper. I told myself if one more person turned their back or said “no” I’d go nuts. Then, one more person would do just that. I am lucky I am alive today.
Just seeing those turned backs…again and again…It was too much to bear. Even now, seeing this so clearly in my mind, I can feel inside me just how it felt then.
I am so happy I have a friend to hang out with. We are both very happy about it and are planning another get-together soon. Imagine that. Other folks take companionship for granted, but I sure don’t.
As I have previously stated, I haven’t been much of a moviegoer in my life, but I have seen a few. Oh, ten or so. That was enough. One movie I saw as a teen was Tommy. This was based on the rock opera, “Tommy.” The music was done brilliantly by a group called The Who. This was one of the popular groups of the day. I was quite a fan of theirs. This rock opera came out around the same time as Jesus Christ Superstar. Both were well known and we kids sang the songs from those works all the time. This was after Woodstock but all the culture of those times was happening all around us.
There were a few scenes in Tommy that caught my eye. One was when Tommy is a young boy. If I recall correctly, Tommy’s mother has an affair and Tommy is witness. Both the mother and her lover are scared that the young boy will talk. I can recall this scene right now. One parent on one side, one parent on the other. Oppression. They towered over the tiny boy, saying, “You didn’t see it. You didn’t hear it,” repeated over and over. Their voices were raised and hysterical.
In the rock opera, Tommy, the boy, suddenly does indeed stop seeing with his eyes and hearing with his ears. He is suddenly deaf and blind. Hear nothing, see nothing. Just as the mother and her lover wanted.
How does this play out in real life? I have known a number of people who were abused as children. Some went through long-term, repeated abuse. Often, a kid who is verbally abused is insulted, ridiculed, or demeaned constantly during his/her life with the abuser. Others were either abused in single incidents or at isolated times, for instance, when a certain family member was drunk or stoned. Or when a certain family member who spends much of their time out of the home comes back from work or from the bar.
What I have seen is that if there’s one horrific incident and the parent is desperate to keep the kid quiet, they see to it that the kid doesn’t talk. They may be extremely concerned that someone at the kid’s school may discover something. I know of parents who bullied their kids over and over, telling them they were “stupid” and that no one would believe them.
That’s just what happens. The kid tries to squeal on the parent, but the parent may act all sweet and kind, faking that everything’s completely fine. The school decides the kid might be psychotic or paranoid. I have seen people end up in the mental health system who did nothing wrong except to try to speak out against their abusive parents.
“It never happened.” “It’s trivial.” “Your rights aren’t important.” “You imagined it.” I believe this is so cruel, to discredit a young person in this manner, that it’s enough to send them over the edge. Telling a person that the abuse is a “perception problem” is also abuse. Then, the person ends up in the mental health system and is told just how sick they are.
The secret is thus safely buried.
Dear rapists and abusers,
So you are in the business of ruining people’s lives? Take some tips from me. I have been raped, so I know a few tips, known only to “insiders.” Really, I should be charging people some fee to access this valuable information.
So, rapists and abusers, if you really have the need to dominate, you need to pick your victim wisely.
Do not rape the president. Do not rape the pope. Do not rape someone who has lots of money cuz if you get nailed, the person can afford to hire the ritziest lawyer in town who has an “in” with the local judge.
A better victim would be females, but a male will do in a pinch. See to it that you are with this person alone. If you find her in a bar, get her to a place where you are alone with her.
Don’t rape a cop. Stay away from the martial arts instructor. If your victim has a gun on her, she might use it on you. You don’t want to be shot, do you? Let’s keep this as cozy and uncomplicated as possible.
If witnesses suddenly appear, it’s just a date, right? Act all nice and gentleman-like till they are outa sight. Then, you can get on with the business.
Find a bar that’s overheated. She might have taken off a few layers, trying to cool off. So what’s she got underneath? Pick a woman who is dressed provocatively, or in some manner that shows what’s underneath. That way, if she nails you afterward, she’ll be the one blamed, and you will go free.
Find someone weaker than you. Females, children, handicapped, elderly. If she’s already on drugs of any kind, this will be used against her in court.
People known to be mental patients are great targets. Who will believe a mental patient? The cops won’t even investigate. You will be free to rape again.
If a person known to be a mental patient shows up at an ER saying she’s been raped, chances are she’ll get thrown into a psych ward, and they’ll call her delusional. You won’t even hear from a cop or a judge.
Don’t even worry about damages, such as trauma. Now, the psychiatric people have pills for PTSD, as they call it. Pills for nightmares, pills for hyper-vigilance and pills for flashbacks. So your victim will be fine. You won’t have to worry about what you did. It’s curable! What miraculous pharmaceuticals!
If you rape a known mental patient using a date rape pill, leave her unconscious and don’t worry. When she’s picked up, she’ll be accused of a suicide attempt. She’ll deny it, but since so many suicide attempt survivors get the label “lacks insight into condition,” no one will take her seriously.
For the rest of her life.
Yep, that’s what you did. She’s labeled and blacklisted. Even her family hates her now because after all, the doctor said she’s crazy. If you are lucky, the victim will get locked into a state institution. Don’t worry, what you did will be forgotten or ignored, or she’ll be told “it’s trivial” and to shut up.
She’ll be told to focus on “treatment” and not the trauma. She’ll be told to speak of what REALLY happened will upset other patients. That’s called “triggering.” It’s psychobabble, but most victims fall for it and go silent and compliant. She’ll be told all about “mindfulness,” or staying in the present only. This is to your advantage because she will start mentally slapping herself every time she thinks of the trauma, or relives it.
If you are a person of prestige, and she isn’t, of course it’s to your advantage. So if you are a doctor or therapist, you can say the abuse was “part of the treatment.” Since psych diagnoses can be given without any proof, you can lie and say she was your patient who was highly psychotic.
She might wish she could nail you for what you did, but as soon as she mentions it to anyone they will tell her she’s got “anger issues.” That’s an psychiatric illness, by the way. For that, more pills, more therapy, whatever’s trendy. The more doped up they make her, the better for you, rapist.
I wouldn’t suggest killing your victim. I know, this will ensure she won’t talk. But killing is messy and you are bound to get caught. Keep her alive instead and continue to torture her to keep her silent. No one likes a dead body. After all, a body is evidence.
Please pay me for this advice on your way out. Your 50 minutes are up.
Hmm…maybe I should have said, “Don’t rape,” eh? Oh well. He’s left now, out there getting his rocks off.
What’s abuse? It’s assertion of power. That’s what any kind of abuse is. Power.
Rape is power. Verbal assault is power. Dominance is power.
The tendency is for the more powerful people to abuse the weaker, smaller, more vulnerable ones. The sadists in our society are insidious. Actually, you can see this happen in miniature right in my memoir, This Hunger Is Secret. When I was in high school I was dominated over by another teen girl. She was known to be manipulative and bossy. Actually, her manipulation was so powerful and trust me, she was thorough. She made sure I could do nothing, that I was rendered powerless. She even took measures to see to it that I couldn’t speak out, by not allowing me to have other close friendships. If she found out I was close to another person, she’d find any way she could to stop this relationship. She did give me permission to have a boyfriend during that time, though, but this relationship had to meet her prior approval.
Anyway, I survived it all. Walked out. I HAD to. I had no other choice. What I did, to suddenly take off the way I did, I knew would baffle folks, but it was entirely necessary, and no one knew how bad it had gotten.
An abuser WILL see to it that you, the victim is squelched. Silenced. These abusers are scared if you are a squealer. They WILL retaliate if you speak up. This is seen often in our society. Victims so often get locked up and otherwise persecuted or pursued in some way.
If you were to apply this to my current situation, I guess it all explains why I am so paralyzed, that is, stuck in my situation. Why my medical care is nonexistent, that is, on paper only. Why I am squelched here in my community. People don’t like squealers.
Well, tough. I am a writer. I don’t intend to stop writing anytime soon. If you speak out about abuse, bravo! Just know that the perps are gonna give you a darned hard time about it. Abuse is power. Remember that.
Have you ever reported abuse? What excuse were YOU given for having to undergo such trauma, and for NOTHING to be done about what happened?
1) Your story isn’t credible. You don’t have enough cold hard evidence. Therefore, it’s not possible that it even happened, and we are going to assume that you are inventing the whole thing. We see no reason to pursue.
2) It was done for your own good, and the abuser was “just doing his job” to protect you and give you “care.”
3) You were misbehaving or acting out of line. Therefore, anything inhumane done to you is entirely justified within the Institution.
4) There were no witnesses. Therefore, it couldn’t possibly have happened.
5) When you reported the abuse, you approached the wrong person, and now, the statute of limitations is up. Therefore, the abuse never happened, and your trauma is nonexistent.
6) You are too poor to get a lawyer, therefore, we won’t pursue if you try to report the abuse. What’s the point?
7) You are a sick person with mental issues, therefore, nothing you say is credible. You don’t stand a chance, and the Institution and its personnel can do anything they damn please.
8) You were drugged, therefore, your perceptions may have been off. Probably, you imagined it.
9) You are a child and deserved what happened. Children don’t have rights. They deserve punishment, after all.
10) You are elderly, probably senile. Nothing you say can possibly be true. After all, you are a batty old lady full of silly notions. Go back to your teddy bear.
11) You are physically handicapped, blind, or you have had a stroke, or you are developmentally disabled. Who can blame someone for taking advantage of you? We assumed you simply wouldn’t notice that you were assaulted.
12) The perp wasn’t well educated. Try to see things from the perp’s point of view. I mean, consider the suicide rate among perps. We should have National Perp Day. A charity for perps. Have you loved your perp today? Please, have pity on these folks.
13) You have serious anger problems and that’s why you are complaining. Go to anger management. You are so sick and you need antidepressants.
14) Pray and forgive. And give money to our church. This is “help.” You’ll probably be abused more, but pray harder and forgive the church over and over, too.
15) Go to a hospital or mental health care if you have been abused. The hospital will see to it that you are made “happy” so you’ll never, ever speak of the abuse again. However, if their tactics don’t work, expect Medical Abuse or Psychiatric Abuse, in the form of forced drugging, further imprisonment, and the like.
16) Above all, do not form a support group or website about abuse. Never blog about it. This is a threat and this will make you a liability case. You will be blacklisted at medical institutions and denied even the most basic care.
17) Are you still speaking out? We can ignore you, but should you be found dead by the side of the road someday, surely it was only a random killing, right?