Phase V, ACT VI: Child Protective Services, The child catchers

Featured

The story went like this… Neighbors saw two toddlers out in the middle of the street without the supervision of their mother. A call was placed to Child Protective Services who promptly removed the children.

I began seeing the mother through a county program that provided mental health services for people who did not have medical insurance. In order to continue servicing her needs, my work was to be transitioned to the child welfare department as an independent contractor. I immediately found myself having difficulty understanding her rambling, disjointed thoughts and sheer anger with the department. I asked her about the work that she had been doing with another therapist and she was unable to clearly articulate any information that she had been able to retain. I knew that that she was suffering from a learning disability that would significantly interfere with her ability to process any information delivered in a linguistic format.

Through my own digging I was able to find out was that this young mother had gone to a local physician up river after feeling depressed. He had seen her over time for a multitude of issues and prescribed her more than 5 different medications. Because of her depressed state and strange speaking pattern, he diagnosed her with Bipolar Disorder and prescribed her another medication. It was then she began to act erratically. That led to the incident where the neighbors saw her two children out in the street and called CPS. I suggested that she see another physician who changed her medications and her behavior stabilized.

I was able to have her seen and evaluated by a clinical psychologist who formally dismissed the Bipolar Disorder and concurred with my diagnosis of a learning disorder. He suggested that she continue counseling with me and that there was no reason she would not be able to effectively parent.

CPS was convinced by an assessment conducted with the mother that she needed Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. I was able to convince the department that the woman was in need of some accommodation due to a learning disorder. I decided to take the most emotionally salient issue, her CPS involvement, and use it as a teaching tool instilling the best of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy tenets. The approach was tailor made for this woman and enabled her to learn skills that would make her more successful in her interactions with CPS case workers.

Using this adapted modality, this young woman felt more in control of the often contradictory and demeaning treatment that she received by the department. My notes reflected her ability to master awareness in her CPS interactions through noting differences in the people that she was forced to deal with and alternating her approaches to each person, using their responses as a way to gage whether she was being effective. She slowly mastered the skills through witnessing her own ability to meet the incessant demands placed on her.

Despite my positive feedback to the department, it was clear that they wanted her to lose her parental rights. Because I supported my client, I began to be harassed and told that she had NOT done the training because I did not use a book. Since I was not going to continue to work with her, as they saw fit, they were proceeding with termination of her parental rights.

During this mounting pressure, a hearing was held “to transfer the children to a family member” so that she “will be more likely reunited with her own children.”

She turned to me frantically, “I know what they are up to… They want to move the children further away, out of state, so that I cannot visit the kids. Then they can make the argument that enough time has gone by and I haven’t been able to visit…They don’t want me raising my kids. It doesn’t matter what I do.”

Her public defender told her not to worry and so did I. She was complying with the court expectations. You know something? She was right.

At the termination hearing, which I was not allowed to attend, the mother of these two young children was asked specific questions about Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Of course, she was incapable of responding. Her parental rights were terminated.

button_false-allegations-radar-w220

 

 

Phase V, ACT III: The Warehousing of the Elderly

ACT III: The Warehousing of the Elderly

The screams coming from the room were deafening. As I walked down the hallway toward the sound, I could feel my pulse quicken, my breath coming in short gasps, my palms sweating.

The male nurse must have seen the panicked expression on my face as he tried to catch up… “What’s the matter,” he asked me as if oblivious to the screeches and moans coming from down the hallway.

“What is going on in there?” I asked him.

“Oh, that is just Helen,” he said rather flatly, “She is old and believes that everyone is hurting her.” He turned abruptly on his heels and scampered away as if to nullify my concerns.

I couldn’t believe the callousness in his voice. Regardless of his lack of regard, and dismissing attitude, I rounded the open door and entered the room.

There she was…. slightly propped up on on her right side supported from behind by a long pillow, facing away from the door. She had a bony, tiny frame whose thin, frail skin bore red abrasions over her exposed protruding left scapula that had escaped the confines of the hospital gown carelessly thrown over her. She startled at the sound of my entrance and retracted, her already curled up appendages seemed to pull up closer, as she let out a horrifying scream..

“Mrs. Medlar,” I said to her as soothingly as I could, “My name is Nanaymie and I am the new charge nurse here on the 3rd floor”.

Her neck, as frozen as her bent appendages, strained to move and her eyes looked up at me in terror.

“Honey, I don’t want to hurt you.” I touched her lightly and felt her flinch. I removed the gown to expose the large bed sore over the end of her spine.

The nurse manager entered the room, “Just do the dressing change,” she told me loudly above the wails coming from the frail and writhing frame lying in front of us, “you can’t get involved with her issues. You just don’t have the time.”

“What happened to her?” I asked imploringly, in a vain effort to understand the foundation of the fear being evidenced.

“Helen was the wife of a man who spent most of his time beating her. Now that she is old, she can’t understand the physical pain that she is in and everything we do to help is torture”.

While that might have explained the mental status, it did not even begin to illuminate how this woman’s physical needs had been severely neglected as evidenced by immobile, bent limbs and bed sores that eviscerated healthy skin and tissue to reach the bony prominences over which they lay. Mrs. Medlar was in a perpetual fetal position, a metaphor for her imprisonment in a body that had been ignored, a mind haunted by a lifetime of trauma, warehoused in a nursing home where her caregivers “frankly don’t give a damn”.

7 NandaPicture-342

Phase V, Act II: Nursing Training at the Expense of Those who cannot Object

ACT II: Nursing Training at the Expense of Those who cannot Object

I had reentered the Nursing program at Rutgers University after a 7 year hiatus, being traumatized by being placed in a position to protect the life of a young mother in my Maternity rotation. Since that time, I had moved to Vermont , owned a restaurant and had my first of three children that I chose to birth at home. Abandoned by the father of my child, I returned to South Jersey to finish my training….

“I want you all to come into this room here,” the instructor called to the nursing students from the door of a room down the hall where an elderly man lay whose breathing was raspy and audible from the location of the central desk.

All 8 of us filed in the brightly lit room to find an old man propped up on pillows to facilitate his visibly difficult breathing…

“We are going to sink a nasogastric tube. We have been given the go ahead to do so,” she triumphantly blurted out.

The old man barely moved, seemed in and out of consciousness, and completely unaware of what was going to happen.

“Who wants to try?” the instructor asked us.

I was barely aware of the student who volunteered and proceeded to wash up and don her gloves. The instructor’s voice faded as I focused in on the raspy breathing body lying in front of us. He was a portly man sitting at a 45 degree angle just barely aware of his surroundings, though he seemed mildly distressed at the accumulation of bodies standing around his bed. His eyes opened and flickered briefly and then closed again.

“This is Mr. Salinas,” Dr. Romeo told us, and without a moment hesitation cranking the bed to almost a full seated position,” Mr Salinas, we are going to be inserting a nasogastric tube so that you get some nutrients that you need.”

She turned and addressed the nursing student by her side, “Now lubricate the tip of the tubing and insert it into his nose.”

Everyone leaned forward to get a better view as the man seemed to jump at the sensation of the foreign object entering his left nostril. As soon as the tube past into his throat, the gagging began. His face quickly turned red with the added strain to breathe.

“Swallow” the instructor yelled to the gagging, frightened, semi-conscious man in front of her, “swallow!”

I could feel the fear well up in me as I watched the scene in horror. Everyone else around me seemed oblivious to the sheer terror being felt by the struggling form in front of them. It felt like an eternity…

“Well done,” the instructor said to the student as she beamed with pride at the successful placement of the nasogastric tube.

At what cost, I wondered to myself as I followed the entourage as they left the room. I looked back to see the color return to the man’s face and wondered how many more procedures he would be forced to endure “for his own good.”

Phase V: The Professional Nature of victimizing others

In effort to avoid the traumas that we have faced within our own lives, we turn off to the suffering of those in our care. We are taught that “turning off” ensures us that we “don’t burn-out”.  The fact of the matter is that the loss of our ability to empathize removes a critical safeguard in the treatment of human beings. We, the people of the world, actively choose  to emphasize the differences between us, intensifying the dissociation that allows crimes against humanity to take place. It is time to expose the cost of human neglect and ignorance in the care and treatment of our brethren.

Image

ACT I: Western Childbirth: the Butchering of Women

I was in the midst of my first Nursing rotation. The topic of our placement was: The Care of Healthy Clients. I was placed on the Maternity Unit of a local hospital where I was told to follow a woman who had begun labor some time earlier. The only way that I knew that she was having contractions was by watching the fetal monitor. She showed no connection with the experience that had taken hold of her body. Numbed from the epidural, the contractions took place without her participation or knowledge.

As she shifted her body, the fetal monitor lost the fetal heart beat… A nearby nurse sprang into action. After a quick call to the FEMALE obstetrician, they decided to rush the mother to the operating room for a caesarian section.

I accompanied her to the operating room where they pulled out the perfectly healthy baby boy who exhibited NO SIGN of FETAL DISTRESS!!!

I followed her to the recovery room and began monitoring her vital signs every 15 minutes. She shifted uncomfortably.

“My shoulder hurts,” she told me.

I took another couple of blood pressures and watched as her b/p began to drop. At the same time, her pulse was becoming faint and thready. I decided to go get some help…

“Can someone come in the recovery room? I think we have a problem!”

It took 3 attempts to get anyone to take me seriously. By that time she was unconscious. I continued what I had done when she was losing consciousness, stroking her hair and talking to her soothingly. When they finally determined that there was something wrong, several brusque men pushed me aside and transferred her to a gurney to go back to the operating room.

I gowned up and entered the operating room just in time to watch the obstetrician pull out an 8 inch hematoma from below her uterus. In the haste to perform an UNNECESSARY caesarian section, the obstetrician had nicked the artery under the broad ligament. If the hematoma had burst, she would have died.

A week later I went back to see her.

“You know,” she said looking at me with emotional and grateful eyes, “I didn’t know if the baby was there or my husband. All I knew was that you were there.”

MY RESPONSE: I had seen enough… Armed with the knowledge of what constitutes bad practice, I left to find myself in Vermont. I read as much as I could about being self-sufficient; spent time making my own bread, tofu, past and bought books on root cellaring and building earth homes. I saw myself living more simply, closer and in harmony with the earth and myself. After becoming pregnant I began researching natural childbirth by following the work of Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives. I gave birth to my son Tristan Joshua at home January 5, 1991. I had begun to take back my life!

A Letter to my adoptive mother

Dear Mom,

You called me the other day and left a message that your friend had died. I am not sure what you wanted from me. YOUR friend was NOT my friend. I did not respect him because he did not respect me. In fact Mom, your friend, George Beele was disgusting. He spent an inordinate amount of time consumed by his desire of young women’s breasts and would talk incessantly about the size of the racks that he had seen and was fascinated by men around him who procured women with large tits and small waists. He horded pornography and left it lying around where Reese and I could find it. He tried to watch me shower and dress. Reese and I were subject to his filth at the tender ages of 12 and 10. What he did is called “covert sexual abuse”. He trained Dad to do the same to me.

After spending much time with the Beeles, Dad would make comments about my body and appearance. He would walk in on me while I was dressing and make sure that I would walk in on him when he was completely naked. It got so bad I started having nightmares about it.

I can’t talk to you about these things because your eyes go blank and you change the subject. I never understood what you were doing until I became a psychotherapist and saw it in traumatized clients that I worked with. You dissociate Mom. The context of conversations that we have causes your head to go blank and you lose your train of thought. It is a trauma response.

Dr. Serra was a psychologist who worked with me at Rutgers when I was finishing my Nursing degree. She is convinced that you were a victim of incest. Now, through finally understanding the reaction I see in your expression, I can appreciate that as well.

My question is this Mom, when do I get a chance to be free of this nightmare? You and Dad defined me as defective almost from the beginning: when I didn’t tell time as fast as Reese, when I had trouble with Math and was being beaten up at school. I wasn’t defective Mom, I was adopted. My genes were and are different, and so were my needs. Did you know that there is evidence that our bodies hold familial memories within the DNA itself? Think of it Mom! That means that I couldn’t “just get over” myself. It was hard wired so in judging me defective, you not only erroneously judged me, you also created a lifetime breaking free of that designation.

That perspective enabled you and Dad to do all kinds of unspeakable things to me. Dad could pardon the covert incestuous way that he treated me and you would forever compete with me for Dad’s attention as if I was a sexual rival. What you didn’t understand was that the more that you treated me as something other than your daughter, the more right you gave Dad to engage in covert sexual activities with me, because you intensified the lack of fatherly concern that he had for me. You and Dad were able to bond through my physical and sexual subjugation while faulting me for the confusion and anger that resulted.

 

I don’t know how to go on from here Mom…. how can I continue a relationship with you when you have never been interested in me and who I am? When you have sacrificed me over and over to hold on to the delusional way that you continue to live your life? When your biological daughter, Reese, has chosen to follow in your footsteps and is herself becoming quite mentally ill choosing to avoid the truths of her own existence?

I was the family scapegoat and for that I have to thank you. I was NEVER given the chance to avoid taboo issues but instead was made responsible for others misbehavior and mistreatment of me. I am free of those burdens because I am now able to disentangle myself from the mind fuck that constituted my development. Because I figured it out essentially by myself, I am stronger than most people and am brilliant in my line of work. I now do not have to face the emotional hardships you and Reese choose to endure. I am money poor, but find my life enriched with people who deserve me as much as I deserve them. We live as we choose and have disentangled ourselves from the poisons that “loved ones” have spewed in our direction. I hold far less fear than you do and will never be immobilized by fear again.  As a result of accepting myself,  I am NOW ready to part with ALL the things that do not serve me. Goodbye Mom!

 

 

Phase IV: When the Nightmare refuses to end

I was fresh out of the hospital. My insides were raw from where they scraped the life out of my womb. Eric was home after attending the YMCA Nationals in Ft. Lauderdale. I went to see him when he got home. I was dying inside, looking for reassurance after my ordeal but was sworn to secrecy.

“We will be pressing statutory rape charges,” my father told me, “I don’t want him becoming all the wiser.” It was an idle threat. My parents were not interested in justice for me. They were more interested in keeping the image of the well to do family. They were willing to sacrifice me to do so…

The first thing Eric did was splay me out and plunge inside me. The pain was excruciating. Then, he promptly broke up with me.

Image

 

The Jersey Shore

It was the summer after my nightmare and all of a sudden I was commanding a lot of attention down on the beach. From what I heard, I was considered “the piece on the beach” or was so dubbed by the head lifeguard, JR.

ACT I : The “friend” who demanded more…

Two boys who I would later identify as Fredrick and his brother Andrew were walking by one evening as my best friend and I sat on the front porch talking.

“Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you have ever seen,” he asked his brother pointing at me.

As always, I was left speechless. I had spent my formative years hearing how fat I was, how unwanted I was, how stupid I was. I was left unprepared for compliments, especially those of a manipulative quality. He spent that night smooth talking and ingratiating himself.  Unbeknownst to me the contract that I was entering with him would extract more from me than I had left to give.

Fredrick would grope me on the beach, would pull my bikini top off as I entered the shower. His kisses, much like Eric were all teeth. I was always bruised.

The upstairs tenant of our beach home would watch from her window… “You know,” she told me, “only a tramp gets herself in situations like that.”

“Do you like me,” I would ask Fredrick.

“Yes,” he replied matter-of-factly, “you are a friend.”

“Friends don’t do to each other what you are doing to me,” I told him.

“Oh yes they do,” he told me, “when they are special friends.”

“You and Monica are friends,” I told him. (Monica was an overweight relative of Jerry and the boys that made up the Rufenach family).

“She is NOT that kind of friend.”

I felt so confused.

ACT II: The invitation

Jerry told me that he wanted to spend time with me. He entered a home across the street from his family home.

“Come in,” he said, “I am waiting for you.”

I stood outside with the other young people who often congregated in front of their home feeling out of place.

As I entered the front door to the dark home, I heard him call to me, “I am back here.”

I wandered through the darkness to a dimly lit room where I found him lying under the sheets of a sofa bed. “If I told you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me,” he taunted me.

I started to shiver. I don’t remember what happened after that….

ACT III: Nowhere to hide and seek refuge

One night I wanted to take a walk on the beach. On my way back up the dunes to head home I was met by three of the local boys. “Take off your clothes,” they told me.

“I just want to go home,” I told them.

“You don’t get to go home until you strip for us,” the biggest of them told me.

The light from the street illuminated them from behind. I tried to make out their faces but was having difficulty processing information clearly. Suddenly I noticed that I was shivering uncontrollably.  I don’t remember how I got home.

ACT IV:  A date on the dunes

“Come take a walk with me,” Jerry said to me.

I hesitated.

“Come on,” he said as he held out his hand.

We walked together down the dune, past the place where I had lost my virginity to Eric the September before. I shuddered at the memory of him on top of me as I implored him to stop.

I came to as Jerry pulled me toward a quiet place in between the dunes and forced me down on the sand….

Not again….

ACT V:  Hand off to the brothers and cousins

I walked briskly by the Rufenach home on my way to the beach…  The normal assembly of boys and girls were mulling about…

“My cousin Steve would like to go up on the dunes with you, “Jerry called out at me.

I tried to ignore him…

“He really has it bad for you… “Jerry yelled as I continued to pick up my pace past them. Steve leered at me as if to accentuate the point.

It wasn’t long after that night that JB, the youngest of the Rufenach crew approached me. He was only 7 at the time.

It had been a glorious day and I had spent a good deal of it in the water bodysurfing. I was sitting watching the sky turn its evening hue.

JB walked up to me as if he was on a mission. “Can I ask you something?” he asked me.

“Sure,” I replied.

“Would you let me feel you up?”

I know that my expression had to show my shock and disdain for this request.  “JB, I am so much older than you. Don’t you have interest in girls your own age?”

“But big cows give milk,” he told me straight faced, “little ones don’t!”

VI: Set up for….

I was visiting the Rufenachs watching television with Monica and some of the boys. We were drinking something. I don’t remember anything else…

I came to as I was walking toward the upstairs door to the beach. I have NO idea what happened to me.

As a result: I stopped going to Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Now I avoid the east coast altogether.

 

 

 

Phase IV con’t: The Result of Submission to Abuse; A cultural prerequisite for Inclusion

The problem with abuse is that when it has consumed your experience, you cannot identify it. There is nothing to compare it to. As a girl becomes a woman, society censors the honest discussions she needs to properly prepare herself for the inevitably imposed sexualization of her physical development of secondary sex characteristics. As a result, she is often left with little guidance. Her foundational socialization practices remain her only defense.

In most of the world cultures those formative years are set in black and white thinking, virtuousness that can only be achieved through chastity, or, promiscuity in the whore who wants sex all the time. There is no understanding of the sexual nature most women have, because we are all viewed and judged from a lens out of touch with the feminine experience.  Women who have accepted the imposed roles of chastity or promiscuity can be found fighting for the right to choose one of the two polar extremes as if they embody choice!

As long as we try to define our experience from within an imposed male structure, we will continue to ostracize some, if not most, of our sisters. The polar perspective that has been imposed on female sexuality will continue to limit the discussion and options offered for girls coming of age because those of us who have suffered continue to remain silent.

Image

ACT I: Making a name for oneself through victimizing girls coming of age

I attended an overcrowded high school where all the corridors teemed with more bodies than they could accommodate. Students were slammed into each other amid the blur of body parts… but inevitably they would find me.

“I hear that you get real juicy” one upperclassman breathed in my face as he slammed me into the wall and groped my chest, “will you sit on my face?”

Two guys joined him as I looked down at the floor. My stomach lurched forward as if I was going to throw up. My heart pounded as the two encouraged the first to continue his assault.

ACT II: Alienation of Female Victims through judgmental female peers

At swim team practice the girls would talk in corners of the dressing room, looking my way and laughing.

I dressed alone.

ACT III: Parental Neglect

Eric would come over and rape me in one room while my parents sat in the next.

At his home, his mother would come by the room as Eric was taking off my clothes, “Don’t take advantage.” One time. There was no other intervention.

ACT IV: Fear of pregnancy

ALONE in terror.

ACT V: The Inevitable

It had been almost 3 months since I had last bled. I was taken to the University of Pennsylvania to see why I had stopped bleeding. I prayed for some terrible life threatening disease.

My adoptive mother decided to call the family doctor, Dr. Feld. He called the house and I was put on the phone with him. “Did you have sex with this boy,” he asked me.

I was horrified.

“Did he put his fingers inside you? Did he cum?”

I was so ashamed. I got off the phone traumatized.

The word came the day of cheerleader try-outs. I was picked up by my adoptive mother…

“See you later Amy” the other girls called to me.

“They seem to like you, “my mother said to me in almost disbelief.

When we got home, my adoptive mother and father brought me upstairs, “You are pregnant,” my adoptive mother told me in disgust.

“YOU SLUT,” my adoptive father yelled at me as he paced the hall.

“Kneel and pray for forgiveness,” my adoptive mother told me.

I was told that I was to have an abortion. No discussion on the topic despite the fact that I distinctly remember having a conversation with my adoptive mother arguing my preference for an anti-abortion stance. This abortion was about her and keeping this revelation was to be the family secret.

“You should be grateful that Dr. Percell is going to do this,” she told me, “this is the kind of procedure that could make him lose his license.”

We drove to the hospital in silence. I was admitted and examined by an overly eager intern. “She doesn’t look much like 14,” he said to my adoptive mother who said nothing.

That afternoon I was discharged to see Dr. Letterman, a psychiatrist. I was entering psychoanalytic treatment that would last 6 years, for 5 days a week. During that time, she never asked me if I was raped, or discussed what would constitute sexual abuse, instead, she would tell me that I did not have the intelligence to become a physician, and that I was a slut.

After the abortion, Dr. Percell and my parents decided that I should be on the pill. There was NO discussion about the complications of hormonal treatment, the lack of medical history that we had of my biological family.  Stopping my fertility was just as forced as my sexual experience with Eric had been. Again, I complied.

Now it would be open season on my body. Anyone could do whatever they wanted without consequences.

After returning home I found out that the family friend who had spent time trying to watch me shower knew about the abortion.

PULL YOURSELF UP BY YOUR BOOTSTRAPS? I would have to spend the next 20 years unlearning the poison that was force fed me during the first 20.