covert violence

Manipulative fake apologies

Some apologies amount to someone asking for permission to keep doing something bad.

  • These apologies generally shouldn’t be accepted.
  • (But it can be really hard not to, because who want permission to do bad things tend to lash out when they don’t get it.)
  • (If you have to accept a bad apology to protect yourself, it’s not your fault.)

Eg:

  • Moe: “I’m sorry, I know this is my privileged male opinion talking but…”
  • Or, Moe: “I’m sorry, I know I’m kind of a creeper…” or “I’m sorry, I know I’m standing too close but…”
  • At this point, Sarah may feel pressured to say “It’s ok.”
  • If Sarah says, “Actually, it’s not ok. Please back off” or “Yes, you’re mansplaining, please knock it off”, Moe is likely to get angry.
  • The thing is, it’s not ok, and Moe has no intention of stopping. 
  • Moe is just apologizing in order to feel ok about doing something he knows is wrong.

Another example:

  • Sam is a wheelchair user. He’s trying to get through a door.
  • Mary sees him and decides that he needs help.
  • Mary rushes to open the door. As she does so, she says “Oh, sorry, I know I’m supposed to ask first”, with an expectant pause. 
  • At this point, Sam may feel pressured to say “It’s ok”, even if the ‘help’ is unwanted and unhelpful. 
  • If Sam says, “Yes, you should have asked first. You’re in my way. Please move”, Mary is likely to get angry and say “I was just trying to help!”.
  • In this situation, Mary wasn’t really apologizing. She was asking Sam to give her permission to do something she knows is wrong.

More generally:

  • Fake Apologizer: *does something they know the other person will object to*.
  • Fake Apologizer: “Oh, I’m sorry. I know I’m doing The Bad Thing…” or “I guess you’re going to be mad if I…”
  • Fake Apologizer: *expectant pause*
  • The Target is then supposed to feel pressured to say something like “That’s ok”, or “I know you mean well”, or “You’re a good person, so it’s ok for you to do The Bad Thing.”

If the Target doesn’t respond by giving the Fake Apologizer permission/validation, the Fake Apologizer will often lash out. This sometimes escalates in stages, along the lines of:

  • Fake Apologizer: I *said* I was sorry!
  • Fake Apologizer: *expectant pause*
  • The Target is then supposed to feel pressure to be grateful to the Fake Apologizer for apologizing, and then as a reward, give them permission to do The Bad Thing. (Or apologize for not letting them do The Bad Thing.)
  • If the Target doesn’t respond in the way the Fake Apologizer wants, they will often escalate to intense personal insults, or even overt threats, eg:
  • Fake Apologizer: I guess you’re just too bitter and broken inside to accept my good intentions. I hope you get the help you need. And/or:
  • Fake Apologizer: Ok, fine. I’ll never try to do anything for you ever again. And/or
  • Fake Apologizer: *storms off, and slams the door in a way that causes the person who refused their intrusive help to fall over*.

Tl;dr Sometimes what looks like an apology is really a manipulative demand for validation and permission to do something bad.

Image description: Text "Manipulative fake apologies" next to a picture of a man with flowers an an affected apology facial expression.

“I hope that I will live one heartbeat longer than she does”

Content warning: This post is about sentiments leading to murder of people with disabilities. Proceed with caution.

At an autism conference recently, I heard the father of a 20 year old autistic man say in his speech to the whole conference, “I hope to live one heartbeat longer than he does. I’m sure many of you feel the same way about your children.”

That sentiment gets people killed. If you are the parent of a disabled child and you say things like this, it is a matter of life-and-death importance that you stop talking this way. The father who said this is probably entirely correct that many of the other parents in the audience felt the same way. I have heard this sentiment expressed by many other parents of children with disabilities (not just autism.)

Parents who hope to outlive their autistic children are talking about people who, barring tragedy, will almost certainly outlive their parents. Autism does not limit lifespan; most autistic people should live to be old. If you hope to outlive your autistic child, it means that you are hoping that their life will be tragically cut short. It means you think they’re better off dead than they would be living without you. That’s dangerous.

It’s not true. Nobody is better off dead. It is not a blessing to die young. Expressing a desire for someone to die young is not love. (People who say this may well love their children in other ways, but this sentiment is not love.)

Please stop implying that your child will be unable to live and be happy after you die. People just like your child live on in adulthood after their parents die, and your child can too. And they will have a much easier time of it if you accept that they will outlive you, and help them to prepare for their life without you.

The only way it’s likely to live a heartbeat longer than your autistic child is if you kill them and then yourself. Many parents who feel this way do exactly that. And, even if you would never kill your child, people who are considering committing murder can hear what you say. If you say that you hope to live a heartbeat longer than your child, it makes the murder that is the only way this can plausibly happen seem like a much more legitimate choice. Don’t give potential murders that kind of encouragement.

In the disability community, we observe a day of mourning and read a list of people with disabilities murdered by caregivers.

The list is long. And it’s only a list of the names we know. There are many others who died without making the news. 

I hope and pray that your child never ends up on this list. I hope and pray that they outlive you and have a happy and meaningful adulthood. I hope and pray that this list never gets any longer. 

One murder is too many. Not ever again.

Under the cut is the (as of this post) current list of the names we know. In loving memory; may these murders be the last:

  • Tracy Latimer, 12 years old, gassed by her father in 1993
  • Charles-Antoine Blais,  6 years old, drowned by his mother in November 1996
  • Casey Albury, 17 years old, strangled by her mother in 1997
  • Pierre Pasquiou, 10 years old, pushed into the sea by his mother in 1998
  • Jim Helm, 27 years old, killed by his mother in a murder-suicide in November 1998
  • Daniel Leubner, 13 years old, burned alive by his mother in September 1999
  • James Joseph Cummings Jr, 46 years old, stabbed to death by his father in the institution where he lived in November 1999
  • Justin Malphus, 5 years old, beaten and drowned by his mother in April 2000
  • Gabriel Britt,  6 years old, suffocated by his father in March 2001
  • Johnny Churchi, 13 years old, strangled by his mother in 2001
  • Mark Owen Young, 11 years old, poisoned and then pushed off a bridge by his mother in a murder-suicide, September 2001
  • Brahim Dukes, 18 years old, starved by his stepmother in December 2001
  • Lilian Leilani Gill, 4 years old, strangled by her adoptive mother in March 2002
  •  Mitchell Dickson, 10 years old, slashed to death by his mother in June 2002
  • Dale Bartolome, 27 years old, killed by his father in a murder-suicide in July 2002
  • Jason Dawes, 10 years old, suffocated by his mother in August 2003
  • Maggie Caraballo, 38 years old, beaten to death by her sister in August 2003
  • Angelica Auriemma, 20 years old, drowned by her mother who first tried to electrocute her to death in 2003
  • Scott Olsen, 29 years old, starved to death by his sister in December 2003
  • Eric Bland, 38 years old, starved to death by his sister in March 2004
  • Scarlett Chen, 4 years old, drowned by her mother in July 2004
  • Patrick Markcrow, 36 years old, drugged and suffocated by his mother in March 2005
  • Tiffany Pinckney, 23 years old, locked in a basement and starved to death by her sister and brother-in-law in April 2005
  • Sarah Naylor, 27 years old, shot by her mother in a murder-suicide in September 2005
  • Ryan Davies, 12 years old, drowned after his mother caused him to fall off of a bridge in a murder-suicide
  • Christopher DeGroot, 19 years old, died of severe burns after he was locked in his parents’ apartment alone during a fire in May 2006
  • Katie McCarron, 3 years old, suffocated by her mother in May 2006
  • William Lash III, 12 years old, shot by his father in a murder-suicide in July 2006
  • Lakesha Victor, 10 years old, starved by her mother in August 2006
  • Marcus Fiesel, 4 years old, wrapped in heavy blankets by his foster parents and left in a closet to suffocate while they went out of town in August 2006
  • Ulysses Stable, 12 years old, throat slit by his father in November 2006
  • Brandon Williams, 5 years old, poisoned and beaten to death by his mother in March 2007
  • Criste Reimer, 47 years old, thrown from a balcony by her husband in 2007
  • Jared Greenwood, 26 years old, died of infected bed sores after being left in place and neglected by his mother in 2007
  • Francecca Hardwick, 18 years old, locked in a burning car with her mother in a murder-suicide in October 2007
  • Naomi Hill, 4 years old, drowned by her mother in November 2007
  • Shellay Ward, 7 years old, starved and neglected by her parents in November 2007
  • Maxwell Eyer, 2 years old, beaten to death by his father in December 2007
  • Xiao Fei, 20 years old, poisoned and suffocated by her mother in 2008
  • Calista Springer, 16 years old, chained to a bed and abandoned in a fire by her entire family in 2008
  • Courtney Wise, 17 years old, starved to death by her mother in February 2008
  • Ethan Scott Kirby, 3 years old, beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend in August 2008
  • Jacob Grabe, 13 years old, shot by his father in 2008
  • Tom Inglis, 22 years old, died after his mother administered an overdose of heroin to him in November 2008
  • Christian Clay Jenkins, 14 years old, given an overdose of oxycodone by his father in 2008
  • Kyle Dutter, 12 years old, shot by his father in a murder-suicide in 2008
  • Lexie Agyepong-Glover, 13 years old, left in a frigid creek by her mother and died of drowning and exposure in 2009
  • Terrell Stepney, 19 years old, poisoned by his grandmother in a murder-suicide in 2009
  • Jeremy Fraser, 9 years old, died of recurrent leukemia after his mother withheld the medication that would have saved his life in March 2009
  • Shylea Myza Thomas, 9 years old, starved to death by her aunt, who then hid her body in order to continue to collect money she received for Shylea’s care in April 2009
  • Pamela Camille Hall, 59 years old, stabbed by her son-in-law in April 2009
  • Lloyd Yarbrough, 62 years old, fed an overdose of prescription medication through his feeding tube by his wife in May 2009
  • Jeremy Bostick, 11 years old, gassed by his father in 2009
  • Peter Eitzen, 16, stabbed by his mother in July 2009
  • Tony Khor, 15 years old, strangled by his mother in October 2009
  • Betty Anne Gagnon, 48 years old, tortured to death by her sister and brother-in-law in November 2009
  • Walter Knox Hildebrand Jr, 20 years old, died of a seizure induced by his brother’s physical abuse in November 2009
  • Laura Cummings, 23 years old, raped and tortured to death by her mother and brother in January 2010
  • Jude Mirra, 8 years old, forced by his mother to overdose on prescription medications in February 2010
  • Ajit Singh, 12 years old, forced by his mother to drink bleach in February 2010
  • Gerren Isgrigg, 6 years old, died of exposure after his grandmother abandoned him in a remote area in April 2010
  • Leosha Barnett, 17 years old, starved to death by her mother and sister in May 2010
  • Glen Freaney, 11 years old, strangled by his mother in May 2010
  • Payton Ettinger, 4 years old, starved by his mother in May 2010
  • Christopher Melton, 18, gassed by his mother in a murder-suicide in June 2010
  • Rylan Rochester, 6 months old, suffocated by his mother in June 2010 because she believed him to be autistic
  • Kenneth Holmes, 12 years old, shot by his mother in a murder-suicide in July 2010
  • Zain Akhter, 5 years old, and Faryaal Akhter, 2 years old, strangled by their mother after she first tried to get them to drink bathroom cleaner in July 2010
  • Emily Belle Molin, 85 years old, hit and run over with a car by her son in August 2010
  • Rohit Singh, 7 years old, beaten to death by his father in September 2010
  • Zahra Baker, 10 years old, murdered and dismembered by her stepmother and perhaps her father in October 2010
  • Chase Ogden, 13 years old, shot by his mother in a murder-suicide in October 2010
  • Karandeep Arora, 18 years old, suffocated by his parents in October 2010
  • Donald Parojinog, 83 years old, starved by his daughter in January 2011
  • Chad Jackson, 25 years old, starved and neglected by his mother in July 2011
  • Julie Cirella, 8 years old, poisoned by her mother in July 2011
  • Joseph Conant, 11 years old, and Nacuma Conant, 33 years old, shot by their father/brother in July 2011
  • Noe Medina Jr, 7 months old, thrown 4 stories by his mother in August 2011
  • Benjamin Barnhard, 13 year old, shot by his mother in a murder-suicide in August 2011
  • Jori Lirette, 7 years old, decapitated by his father in August 2011
  • George Hodgins, 22 years old, shot by his mother in a murder-suicide in March 2012
  • Daniel Corby, 4 years old, drowned by his mother in March 2012
  • Malea Blakely-Berry, 16 years old, starved by her mother in June 2012
  • Matthew Graville, 27 years old, tortured and beaten to death by his half-brother in July 2012
  • Melissa Stoddard, 11 years old, suffocated in restraints that her father and step-mother routinely used in December 2012
  • Robert Gensiak, 32 years old, starved by his mother and sisters in March 2013
  • Alex Spourdalakis, 14 years old, poisoned and stabbed by his mother and godmother in June 2013
  • Matthew Hafer, 28 years old, poisoned by his mother in July 2013
  • Marian Roberts, 57 years old, shot by her father in a murder-suicide in August 2013
  • Jaelen Edge, 13 years old, poisoned by his mother along with his sister Faith in September 2013
  • Tamiyah Audain, 12 years old, starved, abused and neglected by her cousin in September 2013
  • Dameian “Luke” Gulley, 14 years old, strangled by his stepfather in November 2013
  • Randle Barrow, 8 years old, drowned by his mother in a murder-suicide in December 2013
  • Mickey Liposchok, 52 years old, shot by his father in a murder-suicide in December 2013
  • Damien Veraghen, 9 years old, poisoned and suffocated by his mother in a murder-suicide in January 2014
  • Vincent Phan, 24 years old, shot by his mother in a murder-suicide in January 2014

Clarification regarding praise as a red flag

Obviously people don’t badmouth their organization to outsiders their organization is trying to recruit; doing so is unprofessional.

I’m talking about a different thing.

The thing where staff spend an extraordinary amount of time praising the organization and press people it serves to do so as well.

And in which it’s really hard to find any criticism *anywhere*, and where people are really forcefully saying how great it is, in a way that goes way beyond professionalism and recruitment spin.

Does anyone know a better way to describe the thing I’m talking about?

Don’t touch wheelchairs without permission

Touching someone’s wheelchair, or other mobility equipment, is a really big deal. You shouldn’t ever do this without permission.

Part of the reason this is a big deal is that most mobility equipment users experience their mobility device as part of their body. It’s invasive and bad to touch people without their permission.

But it’s actually even more wrong to touch mobility equipment without permission than it is to touch someone without permission generally. 

Messing up someone’s mobility equipment means they can’t get around. It can also sometimes cause immediate injury. It can also lead to injury by making the equipment less safe to use (for instance, if you screw up someone’s cushion and they can’t afford to get it fixed right away, that could cause a pressure sore.)

Touching mobility equipment without permission is a threat to use dangerous force and hurt someone or leave them stranded. Even if you don’t mean to be threatening. Even if you think you’re helping the person. Even if you think you’d never hurt anyone. It’s never ok to make another person that vulnerable without their permission (unless someone else is physically attacking you and you are in danger to the point that violent self-defense is justified.).

It’s sort of like… you don’t touch people without their permission. And you *especially* don’t grab someone without permission. And you *especially espeically* don’t put your hand on someone’s throat without permission. 

Moving someone’s mobility equipment without permission is like attacking someone with handcuffs. (Or worse).

Don’t do it.

The darker side of a happy affect

The darker side of a happy affect

Some people seem to be happy all the time.

Some people never seem upset, and never seem to mind anything that happens to them.

This is often praised, especially when it’s the affect of people with severe disabilities (intellectual or otherwise).

But, it really isn’t a good thing

Stuff bothers people sometimes. Stuff *should* bother people sometimes. 

And if someone seems to be be happy all the time, it means that they’ve been taught that they’re not allowed to be upset, and they’re not allowed to object to anything or mind anything that’s done to them, ever. 
It means that, not only are they not allowed to say no, they’re not allowed to even want to say no, or give any indication that they’re not ok with something. 


If you spend a lot of time interacting with someone, and nothing seems to bother them, and they never say no to anything, then you should assume that something is wrong and start actively looking for ways to make it possible for them to say no to you and express preferences to you.