urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
I became aware of a situation late last night on Twitter, but didn't have enough Sanity Watchers Points left to try to write about it then.

The post referred to: Anna Raccoon's The Orwellian Present – Never Mind the Future.

I have found the Mental Health Act (England and Wales) disturbing enough, with no real requirement that people be dangers to themselves or others to be locked up. Those requirements are easily enough manipulated where they do apply. Based on personal experience elsewhere, I know how easy it can be if you are perceived in certain ways for it to be considered (under draft provisions) "necessary for the health or safety of the patient or the protection of other persons that medical treatment be provided to him". (From the previously linked grounds for compulsion page.) I am not sure what has become of drafts since then, and it's not really important here: let it suffice to say that all the draft provisions I've seen (along with the 1983 version they're meant to supplant) make it appallingly easy to twist criteria to lock up pretty much anybody, with very little accountability. And nobody's going to make a fuss if the way the person's behavior is presented and interpreted comes across as weird enough.

That's appalling enough. Being able to do a total end-run around what few protections apply to people who fall under the Mental Health Act, while claiming you're not really holding them involuntarily--as apparently happened here? I don't have the words.

I can't find much more information about Stephen Neary's situation and would like to, but--again, based on my own experience and things I have witnessed--I find what is described hideously plausible. Reading about it left me shivering and having flashbacks (which I am well aware would make me far less plausible to a lot of people, to the point that I hesitated to mention it).

More on Deprivation of Liberty "safeguards" referred to in Anna Raccoon's post. Again, I have very little trouble believing that this could be twisted to create "arbitrary decisions that deprive vulnerable people of their liberty", For Their Own Good. That's a nasty mix of disablism and institutionalized arsiness for you. (See also the Stanford Prison Experiment.)

My own reaction was rather different from what near-inevitably came up in one discussion I did find (from someone who was at least trying to maintain an open mind):
There is a massive campaign with this petition on facebook and elsewhere on the net and I have not joined any bandwagons I've seen about it because as you say this is one emotive side to a story. I too thought it highly unlikely a 'tap' on the shoulder would instigate any incident reports, and them being unable to name a Vicar was more to do with confidentiality and safety rather than being unable to recall a name or that he didn't exist.

I had no trouble believing that once certain types of stigma kicked in, everything the (not very small-looking and "low-functioning") man did was viewed through a certain suspicious lens, and the Zakhqurey Price-style punitive "you are defying me, you inferior disordered so-and-so" factor kicked in as well--a tap on the shoulder would have been very likely to get written up as assault. And very few other staff members or people higher up in the system would object, since he is autistic/mentally ill/what have you after all, and it's probably for his own good.

Insisting that this kind of thing couldn't possibly happen absolutely reeks of privilege. I have seen people written up for less in institutional settings. The same goes for predictable agitated behavior in someone who is being held against their will in unfamiliar settings--autism is not required, but it sure does help! To me, it's just a bit surprising that they didn't have Mr. Neary arrested, as per the zero tolerance BS pointed out near the end of a previous post. (I am skipping quoting that, for length.)

Actually, what I have read about Mr. Neary's case (and I bet he doesn't get called that a lot!) strikes me as an excellent example of how differently criteria can be applied depending on how a person is seen in the first place. Sometimes that means that a tap on the shoulder (or making faces at someone) is assault, sometimes it means that trying to tackle someone down or otherwise restrain them isn't. Sometimes it means that the police get called just because someone is suspiciously sitting in front of a library or beaten and Tasered by them for sitting on a curb.

And, given the amount of abuse and disregard for basic human rights that people with certain disabilities run into every single day, insisting that the only sane and sensible thing to do is to wait for information that's less "one-sided" reeks even more of privilege. Very few people want to hear about the shit that does go on, and it's rarely considered "one-sided" when the people and institutions mistreating them are the only ones allowed to speak.

So, yeah, I would like to know more about Stephen Neary's situation, but I have very little trouble believing that something like Anna Raccoon describes could happen. And I went ahead and signed a petition, as little good as I suspect it will do--because there's really not much else I can do about it. I hope that some of you reading this will do the same, and possibly come up with some better ideas.
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
Not to inflate the last post too much, here's Amnesty's report: Stolen Sisters: Discrimination and violence against Indigenous women in Canada, which I unaccountably forgot to link.

And, yeah, similar factors are pointed out:
According to a Canadian government statistic, young Indigenous women are five times more likely than other women of the same age to die as the result of violence.

Indigenous women have long struggled to draw attention to violence within their own families and communities. Canadian police and public officials have also long been aware of a pattern of racist violence against Indigenous women in Canadian cities – but have done little to prevent it.

The pattern looks like this:

* Racist and sexist stereotypes deny the dignity and worth of Indigenous women, encouraging some men to feel they can get away with acts of hatred against them.

* Decades of government policy have impoverished and broken apart Indigenous families and communities, leaving many Indigenous women and girls extremely vulnerable to exploitation and attack.

* Many police forces have failed to institute necessary measures – such as training, protocols and accountability mechanisms – to ensure that officers understand and respect the Indigenous communities they serve. Without such measures, police too often fail to do all they can to ensure the safety of Indigenous women and girls whose lives are in danger.

Deep rooted patterns of racism and discrimination in Canadian society have contributed to this violence in a number of ways. These include pushing Indigenous women into situations of increased vulnerability to violence, denying many Indigenous women adequate protection of police and the justice system, and sending a message to Indigenous and non-Indigenous men alike that they can likely get away with acts of violence against Indigenous women...

It is also clear from these stories that all Indigenous women – whether or not they have ever had involvement with what police and politicians sometimes label “high risk lifestyles” – may be targeted for violence or denied protection from violence simply because they are Indigenous women. The 1991 Manitoba Justice Inquiry concluded that racism and sexism intersect in dangerous stereotypes of Indigenous women as sexually “available” to men.

I cannot readily find stats on how many of these crimes are committed by non-Indigenous men, unlike the 86% figure for the US.

But, in the previous post, we're talking about more than 500 missing and murdered women, "half of them since the year 2000...the equivalent of 18,000 missing and murdered non-aboriginal women". And this is still getting treated as a few isolated cases.

ETA: See also Jessica Yee's Making the connections: Sexual Violence in Native Communities, now that I've located the link. She goes into how little attention this usually gets, and asks some excellent questions:
HOW is it that you don’t know?...WHY don’t the women in our Native communities measure up in priority?...WHAT are YOU going to do with this information now that you know about it?
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
I got a pretty bad PTSD attack, finally replying to a comment on the epilepsy post, and thought I would write a little about it.

I've talked about the medical PTSD before, but this might help illustrate how that kind of thing can happen. A few days ago, rather coincidentally when I was thinking about needing to see the GP to try to get my blood sugar managed better and try to get a neurologist referral, I ran across the NAS Patients with autism spectrum disorders: information for health professionals sheet, which I hadn't seen before. I really, really wished that (a) it had been around when I was little, and (b) somebody had known it applied to me.

It also struck me pretty hard again that I've tended to keep feeling embarrassed and not wanting to discuss this kind of thing, but there is no good reason that someone should be ashamed of having run into problems from un/misdiagnosed autism.

May be triggering, with medical settings and some violence )

Yeah, that was a rather extreme example, but in the back of my mind, I am still half-expecting to get treated that way.

Reading the NAS info sheet, I couldn't help but get a little more hopeful, though. At least now I do know why I behaved so "inexplicably" in overloading settings in the past, and that I did not somehow deserve shitty treatment because I'm autistic. At least with most of my mind, I'm no longer ashamed and as likely to let other people run right over me. I no longer feel crazy for getting overloaded, now that I know what's happening. And I am less inclined to let other people treat me like they think crazy people should be treated.

And I have someone who is willing to back me up--and whom I trust to do so, without deciding they know what is really good for me. Now I have a better idea of what kind of help I need from someone who goes with me to the doctor's, and can discuss what might work to keep me from getting so overloaded that I shut down and can't half remember why I'm there, much less communicate properly, in the first place. (This has been a persistent problem in past.) And I trust him not to take over with his own agenda if that should happen, and act like I have no right to complain. Hopefully, with backup, I'll be less likely to get talked down to and dismissed--or assumed to be batshit crazy--because I am not communicating the way they expect. Much less worrying about getting sectioned if I do end up having some kind of meltdown. (Also, I have Asperger's and not bipolar with psychotic features in my file now; shame this probably does make a practical difference.)

Hopefully, having backup will make the expected (if not exactly appropriate) browbeating over not having been to see the GP in years now easier to deal with. It doesn't exactly help one feel secure and comfortable talking to the doctor, getting treated like some kind of naughty child. And in past I haven't been able to say anything much, never mind object to getting talked to that way for any reason, much less because of disabilities.

Very importantly, I know that I do have the right to leave at any point, whether or not I'm able to explain myself verbally at the time. And, having actually discussed it with Ingvar, he's prepared to call the cops if anybody lays their hands on me to try to stop me. Funny how the NHS zero tolerance BS is actually described as "Policy on violent or abusive patients":
We operate the NHS Zero Tolerance Policy to safeguard staff and patient welfare. Our Team shall always show due respect and courtesy when dealing with Patients. In turn, we would request Patients to reciprocate the same. No form of aggression, verbal or physical in nature would be tolerated and may result in Patient removal and being reported to the Police.

I guess they'll call the cops if they assault you. I have already been impressed by what kind of respect and courtesy some of their staff have considered "due". Maybe you just get arrested if you reciprocate? *snort*

ETA: I do know of a couple of cases, involving people I knew back in Virginia, where similar policies were actually used against them. Including one middle-aged man who got an assault and battery conviction because he kicked a staff member who was manhandling him around and trying to strap him down in restraints because he was "argumentative". (As would most people not diagnosed with a mental illness, I imagine--turn argumentative, too, under the circumstances!) And it apparently did not make any difference to his legal culpability that he was on a 72-hour hold (in the same state hospital I was afraid of winding up in), because of a manic episode, at the time. Nor that Virginia's whole state hospital system was at that time under federal investigation for abusive and punitive use of restraints that killed people. (Including one woman who died "after lying in restraints for 300 hours, including two stretches of nearly 110 hours straight, as punishment for outbursts against staff", after they had been warned that she had health problems that might kill her if restrained.)

So I am not just being sarky here; it's a very real problem. /ETA

But, just knowing these things makes me feel less helpless and like I do have some control over what happens. As anyone should have. Maybe that will be enough to get me to the GP's for more diabetes medication.

September 2011

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