Hidden Abuse Take Two (Trigger Warning)

Abuse is something that is running rampant in our society. I think the “right” to abuse is not just reinforced in some religions, but it is reinforced in other ways. The media often shows women getting hit as punishment, or if male and females are both under assault, the woman gets hurt worse, and it is the man’s duty to avenge her. There are very few deviations from this formula. I am writing a deviation, at least I hope so, for my own novel. I realized that I am exploring what it is to be a survivor in my writing.

I am not going to give the plot away by much, but, there is an exploration of rape, incest, and the confrontation of an abuser in my story. That is a big portion of it’s core. This is a core part of what has made me who I am. I have confronted every abuser in my life, and although it is extremely painful and has ended badly in most circumstance, I was able to show them that I know what they are.

Through this exploration of what abuse is, and my constant thoughts and warnings I have come to see that the media lies. Abuse isn’t just when you are beaten bloody. That is the most obvious abuse. That is the abuse that comes in at the end of a very long escalation. Abuse starts small.

My first abusive boyfriend actually helped me find my name. At times I feel weird answering to Kat, because he was the first to call me that. The spelling and intention is different yet the association sometimes pops up. The abuse with him was the smallest. It started over food. I have huge food issues, and have had for most of my life. He would start out with our food order. I would order something meaty and he’d look at me and say, “That will make your cholesterol high. Don’t you want a salad?” If I refused to order the salad, at first he would just shrug, but then the comments started to escalate, “Well, if you want to be a fat pig for the rest of your life fine…”

I nearly died when I started to give in. I didn’t see this as abuse. It was not as bad as what I had dealt with before, so how could it be abuse? I didn’t understand. He then began to accuse me of things, little things that made no sense to me. “You are one of the Illuminati, You are the destroyer of worlds.” I thought he’d been reading way too many comic books. He hated them but read them to try and make me feel better about him, in some ways that worked at first.

This was one of my longest relationships, I was hiding my relationship from my family per his order. After all they would surely judge me for dating a person of a different ethnicity. Before you ask, no he was not black. I have been blessed to know only gentle men of color. No single ethnic group holds the buy out on violence. Most of my abusers are men of my own color, white.

I began to miss out on time with my friends. He then started pressuring me for sex. I had decided a long time ago I want to have sex with the man I marry. For some reason this was not the same in my mind with women, I could explore them but men were too dangerous and in my mind hated pleasure with promiscuous women. I was warned that if I did not have sex with him, the world would end.

The night we broke up he hit me. I do not remember much, I had a flash back to one of the worst beatings of my life. I also reacted, I don’t remember it but when I came back to reality I had been hitting him with a frying pan. My face hurt, and he snarled at me, “I am going to rape you, kill you, and then I will have your soul forever.” Those words haunt me. He meant them. He wanted to steal my soul, because in his eyes I had too much personal power.

I called 911, he was arrested, and some of the things I found out about him were frightening. He had lied about his name, he had lied about a lot of things. He was a known serial rapist, and had killed more than one person. He went to jail, and although he is out now my fear of him is very small. I doubt he will try to find me. If he does, I know how to protect myself, and I will call the police.

Looking back, I see many warning signs of abuse. I thought these were normal for social interactions however. Any time you are not allowed to share a relationship, it is a warning sign of abuse. If you are not able to meet their friends or family, that is another sign of abuse. It is a bit harder to feel that these are significant with internet dating, but they are in the majority of cases. If you must stop seeing your friends, it is a warning sign of abuse. If you say no, and he takes that as yes? Get out of there.

There are more signs to abuse, but my brain is trying to flash back now, so I need to stop writing this piece. Abuse is not as hidden as it thinks it is. As a survivor of abuse I have dealt with varying layers, finding each time my brain accepts it as normal, until I finally found my way out of the cycle of abuse. It takes years, it takes practice. If anything hurts you, even if it might not feel wrong it is abuse.

Calling all Politicians

Sometimes you have to pick up the phone and call people. I personally hate telephones. I barely can hear the people on the other end, there is this whine, and not being able to see their faces makes me nervous. What if I cannot hear them? I hate the constant what what whating. It makes me feel inept.

My Person found me a speaker phone, as our cheap little workable phone doesn’t have one, and I was not answer any calls. I just shut down the communications line and went lalalala when the phone rang. I would of course call back if someone left a voice mail, eventually. Some people are important enough to endure the evil phone for. Myself included.

This morning I decided to call my Senators and Congressman to find out what their opinions on Non dog Service animals are. I also shared my need for my cat. This is in response to Obama giving more time before the vote being cast on the DOJ’s pending ADA regulations that would ban the use of any species other than dogs as service animals. The exact regulation in question is “Title III Regulation 28 CFR Part 36: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities.

This is the very regulation that lead to a comments threat and began my Blogging. The first call was the hardest. I dialed the long distance number to Washington, waited for the phone to ring. Instead of a ring a voice came out, “Martin Heinreich’s office.” I froze, then Toastmaster’s instinct took over. After explaining my call I was given a number that would get me faster results. Calling that, I had a conversation with a young man, who is likely older than I am, and educated him on why this law is discriminatory. He became excited, and impassioned. He told me he will fight for me and others with nondog service animals. I found this video at anotherĀ  blog. The big event showing her stupidity is at 8:40. At that point you are likely to lose any respect you had for this woman.

I do admit some regulation needs to be made with in the service animal laws to protect service animal users from the Fakers such as Rosie O’Donnell destroying the little respect we service animal users get. I am lucky that most people when protesting my use of a service animal hesitate on the grounds of never seeing a cat who is well trained or can handle the duties and tasks given, but, mine is almost always on her best behavior.

All service animals have bad days. Usually Sprite gets one day off a week. Her first day out after her month of serious illness was a hard day, but, she behaved admirably. Indeed, when I started my phone calls both she and Mr.Shakespurr came and listened. Sprite, upon hearing one of the aides to the second senator protest her existence tried to hang up the phone. I barely caught her paw. I explained her, in terms they could understand. “I can’t bend or walk. I use a wheelchair. She can be an extra long arm for me, or if I drop something, I do not have to wait for someone else to get it. She returned my life and independence to me.” I think the last sentence had the biggest impact.

Six phone calls for three politicians later and I feel good. I am going to help them understand that not all dogs make good service animals and some people need alternatives. I used the phrases, “It is discrimination to vote for this bill, what about those of us with serious allergies to dogs? Should we be further handicapped by this?” Most of the workers held passion. They reflected my own zeal and none of them treated me as if I was not important.

I also called the Mayor’s office and for once found someone who was intelligent and understanding about my call. He made a promise last year to train the local police on how to handle an ADA disturbance. I am often reported to the police as if my rights are a crime, and am tired of their enforcing the negative behavior. I am no criminal, I just want to buy groceries and live a normal life. I am now waiting on the return call, there is an assigned person, responsible for this. This is progress.

The added joy, a rarity with any form of politics and telephones, either alone or together, is the joy of telling someone. “Hang on, I am talking with my Senator.” It isn’t getting to say that which causes the joy, it is the discussion that follows after the call about why I am calling a politician. Why is it important to advocate for my rights? To make my voice heard? Because, if I do not speak up, no one else will speak for me.

The Doom Ship

Not everyone gets to ride the Doomship. I ride, others ride, and yet I often take it for granted. What is the Doomship you ask? The Doomship is the Ship of Life, riding towards the birthday of Death. It sounds horribly dramatic and is.

Children born with serious illness are often told, “You won’t live to be 21,” Or something similar. I have a list of birthdays that have passed, my next is another Doom Birthday. When I broke my back, and it was first diagnosed I had a series of doctors tell me that my organs would fail by 25. My birthday isn’t for a few months, I was reading blogs off of the Disabled Blog Carnival and started reading Temporarily Disabled. Not only is this a great read, though with each post I tend to cry just a little for the child who was aching and the pain she has been through. She turned 26 and posted about the Doomship, sailing past into the great unknown.

With Doomship Birthdays past, it is like looking at a precipice of great unknown. I know I am going to live past 25. I am confident only due to surviving so long. These waters are familiar. I am pensive too, due to my Annual Cancer Scare. I get one a year. This time it is my reproductive system. I had my annual blood work done and my white count is high. My pap came back with abnormal cells. We’re redoing them both to verify before any panicking is done.

I waited three years before getting a pap, because no doctor would accommodate my need to not be in their perfect position, or to even help me balance on the table. I can’t do it myself. I need someone else to help heft my carcass around. I know if I do have cancer I won’t die. I will just get over it. My doctor is more worried than I am.

Right now I am surrounded by everything I have ever wanted. Not the things like the toys I never had, but the love I most desired. On my right I have Sprite, the service cat, curled up and purring against my back. She is helping me to not spasm so I can type the words out. My body is rebelling. I have on my left William drooling into my shirt, and every so often poking the keyboard with a paw to see what is so fascinating. He sleeps, then paws then sleeps a bit more.

In the other room my Person is puttering around, doing the dishes after making a meal of my choice. I had spaghetti with sausage meatballs. I haven’t had meatballs in a long time, but he made them for me, tolerating my lewd jokes. My home is clean, my bed is comfortable. My friends and family are far enough away and close enough at the same time. I even have high speed internet to keep me amused on those days when movement is unacceptable.

The Doomship sails on, the waves splash, the thunder crashes, and my life flashes before my eyes, but, it is the life I am living that I am proud of. Not the memories, not the past. It is my future that holds me in it’s sway. I reach for it, sitting in the prow, praying to my gods, listening to the world, and taking part in changing it.

I write something every day, and each time it is self discovery. I discovered I can write non fiction. I never knew I could. I know the mechanics of writing are sound, as I sell fiction periodically, and write it almost daily. It is merely the fear of my life that has held me back. I feared upsetting those with the power over my life and death. I am now the Captain of my Doomship. I mutinied.

So, as I rest, my ship swaying, I look out and see that everyone else is in a Doomship too, they just do not know it. They do not prepare, they do not adapt. They aren’t aware that they have to. Red sky in morning sailor take warning, the storm is coming and the night is humming… wait not for the red sky at night, for on the Doomship there is no Sailor’s Delight.

Pancakes in my Shirt

I walked out of the apartment into the rain and the car, despite being two feet from the front door seemed miles away. I burst into tears. My pain was worse than it had been in weeks. The sun was hiding and I did not want to function. After my shower earlier I realized since water makes me sick my pain might be a reaction to the chemicals in the shower. This is no comfort,but as I took another shaky step, my Person grasping me under my arms and half lifting me as I started to fall I wanted to run inside and hide in bed.

I had fought for this appointment tooth and nail, as had my doctor. I made myself move forward, clinging to the big strong arms that wrapped around me. It is cold enough that it will snow later, the sun napping as it finally acts like Winter. I curl up in the van and try to make myself eat something so that my pain pill will stay down. Two bites and I want to just die. I take the pill, I feel it slowly moving down my throat, Everything is slow today. Like molasses. I know it will be an hour before I feel any better, if the medication will work. It rarely does now.

Arriving at the hospital for my testing we find that the rain has brought out all the placard users. This hospital is very accessible, and yet we had to park in the boonies. I watch in the mirror, as I always do, for on coming traffic so that I can protect my Person. He is almost out of the van when from my blind spot, which is as big as the van anyway, a blue car speeds up nearly running him over. They would’ve hit me if I had been getting out. Pain that the rain saved me. I climb out and drag myself down the side of the van, the car blocked us in so that Person could not come to me, as was the plan. I barely fit between the cars. No apology from the rude driver, just a rude snear.

More tears. The van is six miles long, it has to be. Each tired step my legs want to give way. Why don’t they? I don’t know. I just will them to work. One more step. One more. Pull on, go forth. I barely make it to the chair, my legs giving out as I sink into the seat. Rain is pouring down, it burns like the shower. Chemicals might not be the why of the pain. It is cold, and my shelter is not up. I put the key in, nothing happens. Instead of bellowing like a Bean Sidh I take a breath, I whisper a prayer. I ask for help. We get the chair to run, it putters slowly, slowly enough that Person does not have to run. It stalls out in the door way. We aren’t there yet but the chair fails me. I sob a bit more, feeling guilt over my tears but unable to stop them.

Person hefts the chair up, five hundred pounds. Person is amazing. The chair makes it over the doorjam. A low door jam. I realize I had been being the Wicked Witch, glowering out at the world, I start humming. Dun dan duh dah dah dun dun dah dun dah dan duh… Person catches on and I let out a cackle. My pain is horrible but my mind is clearing. I must be prepared to fight. Sign in, sit down, and wait.

Waiting takes an hour, then, I have the ultrasound. Insurance won’t cover a Mammo without it. No mammogram is in the cards, says the tech. She discovers my breasts are too thick to get a clear picture. Frustration is apparent but she tries. I react to the gel. Not badly but it burns. Everything burns. Life burns today. The air burns in my chest, pain making it worse. I clean myself up and wait. No sign of anything, too much tissue. I get the mammogram.

They ask if I can stand, I try and fall. I am in my chair for the mammogram, pinched and squeezed. Denial, in my head my breasts are slightly above average. I overflow the plate. My breasts are bigger than the machine allows. It takes three to hold them in proper place to position the machine. So many pictures. An abscess bursts, have to retake a picture and clean up again. Everyone is nice, my pain receeds slowly, as the storm passes overhead. My results are given right away, after more waiting.

No sign of cancer, just scars. So many scars. My scars are clear as day, little spots and suns, but they can tell they are scars. They can match them to the flesh, and they do not look the same. I trust them. I am free of worry for at least a year. Self advocated, self preserved. Heading out again, the wicked witch is gone, but I remain. I still burn. The pain is strong, it burns my soul. I burn until the hate comes, then, I hit a bump. More tears. I smile, remembering why I am here. I won. They helped me to get what was needed.

Health is good. Still, I have pancakes in my shirt.

When Advocacy is like an Onion

Advocacy is like an onion. It has many layers, and each layer is not quite the same as the outside layer. Starting from the inside you have a core of people, the advocates for each organization that are well known on a National and International level. Each layer is a ring of less active people, less aware people.

Each layer going out has less moisture and vitality. When you cook an onion you usually peel off a few layers and discard them. This is where Advocacy is not like an onion. You cannot discard the outer layer. The outer layer consists of the people who have no information access. They are the people who advocates need to help the most. They are the most likely to be abused, they are the most likely to suffer, and they are the most likely to desire death out of neglect.

I have been in many layers of our Advocacy onion, and I know those layers very well. I work each day to try and help every layer I can access, and this includes looking for people in need. This sounds paranoid to some when I explain it to them but it is an essential part of advocacy. One example comes from a blog called Chewing the fat. You can read the entire story there, but the author was first abused by a stranger, and then took note that the stranger was a care giver. They then made a choice and reached out. The second part of that story is linked here, I won’t spoil the ending for you, you can read it on their site but know as you do, the victim in the story was the outermost layer of the onion. Now she has found herself on a new level.

The other way that advocacy is like an onion is it can make you cry. I myself am challenged with showing my emotions, even alone crying is a struggle. I have never cried so much in my life as when fighting for the rights of myself and others. Cutting into an onion triggers a chemical reaction, just as at times the tears are triggered by of all things endorphins. Sometimes I cry when advocacy goes so well that the joy in my heart overflows. It can be boundless. Other times my frustration and anger bring me to tears. Any emotion that can be felt can be magnified by the act of Advocacy.

Another way that advocacy is like an Onion is simply this. I hate onions. I really hate having to constantly advocate. I do not just dislike it, I hate the pain. Advocating hurts me, it burns up my stomach at times, it leaves me exposed to the sun, it cuts my soul open and lets even strangers poke at it with their sharp sticks of injustice. I am allergic to onions, they burn my flesh when I touch them, they split my skin, and my eyes like to swell shut after, blinding me.Sometimes people who ignore the truth, wasting my energy and causing pain blind me to the happy moments I can have.

The last way that I will share, but far from the last way that sets out truth, is this. Onions and advocacy can add spice. Isn’t variety the spice of life? My advocacy takes me on a strange and varied journey. I never know what each moment will bring, there is no predictability. This causes me to thrive. Onions add flavour to flavourless dishes, they change things, and they can make a good meal better, barring allergies.

For every layer of the world’s largest onion, there are more analogies. You likely have thought of some of your own while reading this.I cannot ever give up advocacy, for myself mostly, but for every single person that I have helped.

Do you like onions?

Firing your Doctor

I followed a link in a blog and it lead me to Alas, a Blog. I found there a well written essay on undiagnosed chronic pain. The focus is on women and is intersectional because it deals with discrimination and medicine. As any disabled person knows, doctors do not always listen. It is easier to get a diagnosis when they are fresh out of Med School, but that diagnosis can be wrong via wrote of inexperience. I have written two other How To posts, and this is the third. How do you fire a doctor?

Step 1. Determine why you do not feel you are recieving adequate care. At times this comes from a doctor being frustrated that you are not magically cured of your congenital issues, and then losing their effectiveness. Other times this comes from sitting in the ER for three days wishing you could just get some help, being told “No drinking or eating, the doctor might need to operate” and being told that they can see nothing wrong with you, without tests.

Lets start with the latter first.

Step 2. Become the Bad Patient, Angry Cripple, or Annoying but Empowered Patient who knows their body better than their doctor. Most people when seeking medical treatment have a vague idea of what is going on already. They know where it hurts, and yet it is not really their job to know why before they get to the doctor. Most people in the Emergency Room are often disoriented, queasy, and focused on a fast cure. That is the tenet of the ER. When you do not get your care you must ask, as calmly and politely as you can, “I want a second opinion, can I please see another doctor?”

Expect anger. No professional wants to be second guessed. None of them like it, but some will gladly send you to see someone else.

Step 3. When they decide to ignore it and try and send you home, you might need to call an advocate. If you are disabled it is easier to find advocates, but if you are able find someone who is coherent to help push for your needs. This step is best done before you are in the ER, but, sometimes you can find a patient who knows how to handle it and is willing to help you. This advocate will help you repeat your request for a second opinion over and over until you finally see another doctor.

Step 4. If you can, remember to breathe between each step, each sentence, to try and retain a claear head. It is horribly annoying but remember losing your temper will make it worse for you, and no one else.

Step 5. IF you are in an Emergency situation and are at risk of death, DO NOT GO HOME. You need to stay there, even if they want to send you home. You might need to sign in right off, after leaving. If you are uninsured this can raise your bills. This is horrible, but, if you are in danger of death money is not an object.

Returning to our first scenario, firing your Primary Care Physician:

Step 2. Write a letter to your doctor, you are not sending this letter but you are detailing out why you do not want them to see you any longer. If you are insured you might need to write a letter to your insurance explaining these very things. You will have to explain to your new doctor why you left your previous PCP (Primary Care Physician) or Specialist if they are in the same health care system. In many cities one stands above the rest for their level of care, my personal choice is to stay with in the system I know and trust may differ from yours.

Step 3. Try and find a list of approved doctors with in your insurance, if you have insurance. If not, then, this step still applies. Find a list of doctors. Depending on how you work you might want to contact your local medical review board for a list of physicians with complaints against them. In America this is legal, if you are not in the US, you can still find this information. Some of it is available on the internet. If you still trust your previous doctor, try asking for a recommendation.

Step 4. Write a list of your known medical complaints, when and where you were diagnosed, if you have any preexisting conditions, and write a list of expectations for your doctor. Remember to stay reasonable, you cannot expect your doctor to do anything that goes against their personal morals or professional morals.

Step 5. Make the appointment. If you do not feel safe, do not stay in the appointment. You have freedom, you can leave at anytime. IF this is the case, start at step three.

There are other times you might need to fire a doctor. Very rarely have I said to a doctor, “You are fired.” I have however, said it most in the ER. Remember, firing a doctor does not black list you from treatment. It does not preclude you from proper care, and it does sometimes make a difference.

Your pain is not in your head. You can find an answer, do not give up. Remember, there is no such thing as Hypochondria. You have the right to proper medical care. If you are uninsured most hospitals have payment programs, or will even waive the cost if you are unemployed or low income. No money is not an excuse for a lack of care. In the US (sorry I just do not know the other countries laws well enough) you are guaranteed medical care in an emergency, and can often obtain it outside of one.

Friendship

In the last few days I have been assessing my friendships. I do this periodically and for the first time in years I have not felt the need to discard a relationship. This sounds cold, I discard people who I no longer desire in my life. It might be an action that hurts feelings yet, that is usually the impetus for cutting someone out. What makes me assess my relationships? Need. I have needs that if my friends cannot meet causes issues.

I see myself as passionate, some will always find me abrasive. I am capable of great anger, but few people even acknowledge this. I am supposed to be quiet, docile. I fail at this. Docility is death in my world. My world is not often the world others can percieve either. If someone expects comfort from me, they may not always get it.

Assessment comes from altercation. This is human nature. My dearest of friends are years long relationships that I foster and tend. Some of my friends barely qualify by the standards of most. I do not see them for years, or only in the text of the internet. This does not mean that they are not friends. To me friendship means communion, sharing ideas, and often healthy debates.

Last night I cussed at someone for the first time, he and I disagreed. He desired comfort. He needed it. He also should know by now (and admits this) that I am not a nurtering type in the traditional way. I do offer comfort, but my comfort isn’t being held to my bosom. It is instead at times a reprimand, other times a reminder, or information that they need to comprehend a deed. My friend has made some wonderful changes in his life based on these comforts.

This conversation lead to the topic of Motherhood. The most underpaid, under appreciated and undervalued position in the world. My views on that are changing. I did not value motherhood at all when I woke. I did not see the truth about it, which I do now. Mothers are not always those who give birth. They are those who teach you, who shape you, and who truly nurture you.

I should have been aware of this before, noting that my own biological mother gets a two word title, to remind others that she is not a mother in my own eyes. She is unaware of this. I am afraid to tell her, because she will likely hurt herself. I have mothered her too often for me to comprehend the value of true motherhood. I am working on it now, struggling to appreciate the true mothers.

I had a teacher in school who went over the line of Teacher into Mother. When I ditched school, I went to her house, ate her food and played with her cats. I had her permission to do this. She saw a need, in a child who was so bored in class that she rarely paid attention, often beat on the other students or worked to hurt their feelings. She helped me grow past my torment so that I could help others. She is not why I tried my own hand at teaching. She is why I survived middle school. My teacher was also disabled. She told the story at the beginning of every year and if any transfer students came in.

She had not taken the medication a doctor told her she needed. She had strep throat and ignored it, and as a result the infection damaged her kidneys. She had a transplant and the side effects of the medications left her weak. She often used a wheelchair because her aging body was just not good enough. She also was known as a cruel teacher, harsh and strict.

She is not the only teacher I had who was known as either the crazy cat lady, a cruel person, or as the meanest teacher alive. Three spring to mind, all of them women. They had standards. That was it. Their classes are those I recall in first Elementary School, then Middle School, and finally High School, where I cared what I did. They are the classes where I actually did the work.

They also shaped my expectations of friendship. None of them told me I was bad for not being able to connect with people my own age. I can do that now, but, when I was young my brain was trapped between too many medications meant to control me, survivng other abuses, and dealing with a body that failed me. I also had to deal with being told nothing was wrong with me, except of course being crazy. No one wants to be friends with the crazy kid, the fat kid, the girl who doesn’t run because it dislocates her hips. No one wants to be friends with someone who is different.

I am still different. I cannot be normal. Normal is a misnomer for boring. None of my friends are normal. They are all shapes and sizes, and all are the most beautiful people I know. If I consider you my friend, it is a rare title. This does not mean I will not associate with people who are not friends, but it does not mean I actually respect those people.

I spent years mastering control of my emotions, hiding who I am. Now, I am mastering being myself. If you cannot handle the truth of my soul, you cannot be my friend. I am a treasure.I am not a burden. Are you my friend? I hope so. None of the friends I have right now have ever failed to measure up to my expectations. It is not always true that people with high standards are lonely. I am fulfilled, happy, and I truly appreciate my friendships.

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