When outreach programs don't get it or don't help you

So, when I read abuse prevention and recovery things, something that’s almost always recommended is “call a hotline”.

That’s good advice, as far as it goes. Hotlines help a lot of people, a lot. I don’t want to downplay that.

But I also know this: a year ago, I was afraid that someone in my life would become physically violent towards me, and a trained mental health professional close to the situation told me that I really needed to take that fear seriously. I called a domestic violence hotline looking for help figuring out how to assess risk and make a safety plan. They didn’t help me. The general attitude I got was “well, what do you want us to do about it?”

I had friends in my life who understood the situation. I had a certain amount of mental health support. I had access to validation and perspective and support from other sources. I was ok. But it hurt. And if I had been alone, if I hadn’t had other support, I think it would have been devastating.

I know that many other people don’t have the kind of support I did, particularly if the abuse they’re facing doesn’t fit stereotypical patterns. Some people are isolated and have no one in their life who gets it. And sometimes they call hotlines for help and the hotlines help them. But sometimes the hotlines don’t help either. Sometimes the hotlines are just another person who doesn’t understand. And that’s a horrible thing to go through, particularly if you fought through fear and feeling unworthy to find the courage to make the call.

So, if that’s happened to you, I want to tell you that you’re not alone. Hotlines don’t always understand abuse, they don’t always understand other problems, and they don’t always help. If they didn’t help you, you’re still worthy of help. It’s a reflection on them, not you or the problems you’re facing. If they didn’t understand, it doesn’t mean that you are wrong, and it doesn’t mean that no one will ever understand or help you.

If a hotline didn’t help you, all it means is that they didn’t help you.

What about using violence to protect yourself from violence? Is it ok to hit someone who is trying to restrain you? Or kick someone who is trying to rape you? Or hurt someone who is actively trying to kill you?
realsocialskills said:

There is a time and a place for violence. My post and the link to Stop Hurting Kids were specifically about taking care of children.

There is no place for violence in a child’s care, treatment, or education plan.

If you are violent towards a child in an emergency, it is upon you to figure out a new plan to prevent that from happening again.

Restraint is violent

In what cases is it okay to restrain a kid? Is it okay to pin a kid on the floor if they try to hit you or throw something at you?
realsocialskills said:

I’m guessing that you are not a police officer or emergency responder, and that you’re asking this in the context of either parenting, childcare, or education. 

In those settings, it is never ok. (Edited to add: it’s never ok in the context of mental health treatment either.) Sometimes it’s the least bad response when things go very badly wrong, but it’s never ok, and it can’t be part of someone’s plan.

I asked a friend who has more experience than I do caring for disabled children (I’m assuming the kids in this scenario are disabled because people generally assume as a matter of course that it’s not ok to treat nondisabled children this way), and she said this:
Sometimes mistakes are made and situations escalate to a point where a restraint is the least harmful option. That doesn’t mean it’s not harmful. That doesn’t mean it’s okay. When that happens, it is really important to acknowledge the harm that has transpired and to go back over the incident and events leading up to it and figure out what went wrong and how we can prevent it happening again. (quote ends here)
In the same way that, if a kid pinned another kid to the floor, you’d consider that unacceptable and plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s even more serious when an adult does that.

It is never ok to put restraint into someone’s care plan. It is never ok to see it as a solution. Restraint is a failure, not a solution.

Restraining someone is an act of physical violence. Pinning someone to the floor is a particularly invasive kind of physical violence. It’s a brutal  and physically dangerous act.

Violence against kids counts as violence. Violence against people who can’t talk counts as violence. Violence against people who are physically aggressive counts as violence. 

It is never ok to restrain someone as a punishment. Or a consequence. Or to teach them a lesson. Or to prevent them from getting away with something. Or to send the message that their actions are unacceptable. Or to make them calm down. Or anything remotely like that.

If you’re coming here looking for absolution, I’m not giving it to you. If you’ve pinned someone to the floor and you’re wondering if it was ok, no, it wasn’t, and you need to figure out a way to solve the problem so that you don’t do that again. It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person or incapable of supporting the children in your care, but it does mean there’s a problem and you need to find a better solution.

If you’re a teenager or a kid, and an adult responsible for taking care of you pinned you to the floor and you’re trying to figure out if it was ok, no, it wasn’t. I’m sorry that happened to you. It shouldn’t have. No one should do that to you. No matter what you did, that wasn’t ok. If you’re violent and you hurt other kids or adults, that’s a problem you need to work on solving, but it doesn’t mean it’s ok for adults to pin you to the floor. They should be finding better ways to help you.

For more information, check out Stop Hurting Kids: Join the campaign to end restraint and seclusion abuse in schools. In particular, this fact sheet about restraint and seclusion is a good place to start.

Don't tell me my pain is beautiful

I’ve seen this happen a lot:

  • Something awful happens to someone
  • Or they see something awful happen to someone else
  • Or they notice a thing that’s awful in the world
  • And then they write something about it
  • And they put a lot of effort into writing it, so it is really polished

And then a lot of people comment along these lines:

  • What a beautiful piece
  • That was so eloquent and moving
  • You’re such a good writer
  • I wish I could write like that

And often, those are the only or the primary comments a post like that gets, especially if it is written in highly personal terms.

I think there is something really wrong with that. Because when someone wrote something like that, the point was to communicate something important. And often, people completely ignore the content and focus on some sort of beauty unrelated to what the writer was actually saying.

When someone’s trying to tell you about violence, the right response isn’t “you’re so awesome at describing this violence in an asthetically pleasing manner!”; it’s “That shouldn’t happen,” or “What can I do to stop this?” or even “I think you’re wrong,” because sometimes you will disagree and sometimes you will be right. In any case, it’s important to take the content seriously.

An anonymous comment about mobility equipment

Also! Your posts about mobility aids…one thing to add to that! Never ever ever ever take a blind person’s cane away from them…ever.

This is *ESPECIALLY* important in unfamiliar places. When a blind person’s cane is taken away, their movement is restricted in unfamiliar places.

It is *NEVER* ok to make someone so vulnerable…ever.

One other thing. Never move a blind person’s stuff without telling them. It can be a complete pain to have to run around looking for it.