Benefits Attorneys are Professional Gaslighters. Language Itself is Gaslighting. Discuss. Or Don’t, It Really Probably Doesn’t Even Matter.

I spent my entire brief career as an attorney trying to get income- and disability-based benefits for vulnerable people.  It was a grueling and traumatizing career track that I realize now (and kind of realized at the time at different times) was based not in actually helping people by understanding their circumstances and getting people what they desperately needed, but in cruelly gaslighting them and wasting their time and energy doing “intakes” and whatnot when they could least afford the expense.  I have written here before about one potential client that was referred to me by a medical provider because he said people were threatening and following him.  Turns out, this man was quite mentally ill and was having delusions and it was left not up to his doctors (who palmed him off on me) but to me, a young attorney, to put the pieces together for him and to figure out what was really going on, but not before wasting a significant amount of his time.

Of course, even if there were people following and threatening him there is little to nothing a lawyer could’ve done about it.  I told the man to call the police if he felt threatened, and as was the policy of the nonprofit I was working for at the time, got the man’s consent to speak with the referring medical providers about his “case” when what I really wanted to do was punch the lot of them in the mouth for failing their own patient so egregiously and palming him off on me like he was garbage and I was a can.  Don’t even get me started on how much I hated that job.  I wasn’t well liked either and after 10 months was invited to leave.  To be fair, if I hadn’t needed the money myself, having just quit a perfectly good job at a for-profit law firm (which I also hated) in order to take that one, I would’ve quit my dream job at this nonprofit after a couple of weeks once I realized what really went on there, and that “case” with the elderly Spanish-speaking mentally ill man is a decent example of what a day at the office looked like there.  Here’s another:

Continue reading “Benefits Attorneys are Professional Gaslighters. Language Itself is Gaslighting. Discuss. Or Don’t, It Really Probably Doesn’t Even Matter.”

Advertisements

PSA: How To Report A Threat Of Violence to Increase Chances Of Arrest, Hold & Criminal Charges (Or, The One That Maybe Didn’t Get Away).

It really bothers me that I’m sitting on all this legal knowledge, experience and skill and there’s nothing I can do with or about it.  Because of the pain and symptoms of my disease I am definitely not physically or mentally able to practice law full time anymore, but as I learned early on, to my crushing dismay, there is really no such thing as a part-time attorney.  This profession is still a bros club which means that it requires long hours and plenty of so-called face time, exactly as much as you would expect in order to squeeze most women out of most of the best positions while simultaneously providing cover, excuse and alibi under which powerful men commit adultery, avoid emasculating and squikky domestic chores, and otherwise abuse their power at women’s and everyone’s expense.  Seriously, don’t let the relatively high rate of female law graduates fool you into thinking the law is a reliably safe, lucrative or accessible field for women because it’s definitely not.  Fuck me did I learn that one the hard way.

But you know what?  I’m not dead yet and I’m still breathing and conscious and pissed off enough to write this post so I’m going to write it.  Today, my upstairs neighbor had what was apparently a psychotic break and started throwing bottles of piss and garbage into my yard and threatened my life.  I called the cops and made a report.  He was arrested and removed based on my statement and that of other witnesses (crime victims are technically just witnesses ourselves) and my property manager cleaned and disinfected my yard at my request.  The cops, firemen, first responders and the whole damn town apparently turned up to watch the show.  What they didn’t get to see was the man who threatened and assaulted me get off with a warning or with no consequences at all.  Who knows what the second act will be but the first act saw my assaulter arrested and taken to the hospital first, then presumably to jail.

I am writing this post to give a practical, technical example of proper reporting behavior/content to victims who report threatening or violent behavior, which reporting will leave the cops with little choice but to arrest, hold and charge the perpetrator with a crime.  Little choice is not no choice of course and they could still let him out/off at any time.  That’s probably exactly what will happen in the end, but I gave them as little choice as possible and increased the chances of an arrest, hold and charge the best I could.  Here’s what I did.  The short answer is, you have to answer YES to both of the following questions if you want the incident to be taken as seriously as possible at the reporting stage, hopefully ensuring that your attacker is arrested and taken to jail, that he is held there, and that he is properly charged with a crime.

Continue reading “PSA: How To Report A Threat Of Violence to Increase Chances Of Arrest, Hold & Criminal Charges (Or, The One That Maybe Didn’t Get Away).”

Cannabis Refugee, Esq. One Year Later. (Meta Discussion)

As my readers may’ve seen or sensed from the recent comments and content on this blog, I have become disillusioned with the CRE writing project and may decide not to continue writing about my experience as a Crohn’s patient trying to survive outside the Western medical system that was not helping me and was only making me worse.  As far as I can tell, this project has not inspired any additional writing or critical thinking on this subject, my posts have not been widely shared or inspired much interesting feedback, and this work has not opened up any additional opportunities for me in the way of writing or activism.  Of course, those were not the reasons I started this blog in the first place but they are to be considered when looking into the future of this project and whether it is in my or anyone’s best interest that it continue.

My original intent in starting this project nearly one year ago was to document my experiences as a seriously ill woman for whom conventional medical treatments were not working including the social, financial and health-related fallout of this system that seems designed to control and punish sick people while we carry the blame and shame for Western medicine’s failures and even its lies.  At times my health and financial situation have been so precarious that I actually believed (and still do believe) that I am going to die here, alone and in the middle nowhere, and I wanted the truth about what happened to me to be known or at least knowable by those who would wonder what the hell could’ve possibly happened that led to that sad and lonely end.

Continue reading “Cannabis Refugee, Esq. One Year Later. (Meta Discussion)”

Helping a Friend’s Mom Recover Her Speech After a Stroke. Moron Medical Incompetence.

Recently I was offered a part-time job helping a friend’s mother regain her speech following a stroke.  I really, really like this woman and her mother and I am actually looking forward to helping them both get through this.  Yesterday I tagged along to a hospital appointment with the speech therapist and I was struck by my friend’s energy and good humor as she guided her mother through her exercises.  She has been taking her mother to appointments in the evenings and doing this alone for months after working long and physically and mentally exhausting days and seeing her teaching her elderly mother how to speak again nearly broke my heart.

My friend’s mother was a teacher in her previous life and apparently they used to play word-association games in the car during road trips, the kind of “games” that seem to be the playground of the generationally literate, the kind of wordplay I was never able to do or even care about to save my own life.  I can tell that her mother is still very much “there” and that she just has trouble grasping and uttering the correct words (she asked me how to spell my name and after that she did not forget or stumble with it again).  Apparently, the mother was initially extremely frustrated at her speech limitations and fought against the stress and exertion (and compounding failures) of her speech exercises but has since calmed down a bit; she does her homework and participates in her exercises without much complaint.  My friend told me they try to have fun with it and they end up laughing a lot.  I’m glad she told me that explicitly — that they were deliberately trying to make it fun — because that is not a tack I would’ve known to take as I find the whole thing very unsettling in the vein of Dworkin and her comments on female old age and how that plays out under late stage capitalism and patriarchy.  I’m glad they had me go once as an observer to see how it’s all supposed to work.  Of course, after observing for a bit I had a question.

In my isolated, sick and medicated state, while I can still write and watch videos (and read in moderation) I actually think my own speech and memory skills have begun to fail.  My friend and the speech therapist were running my friend’s mother through word association and “priming” exercises which went something like this: “Watermelon, fire truck, camping, blood, starfish.  Which of these things are red?”  I should mention that she also lost a lot of her eyesight in the stroke so she can’t look at the list, or refer back to it, she just has to remember the list as it’s being read aloud and then only afterwards is given the “category” she is supposed to be sorting them into (e.g. things that are red).  Considering her circumstances she does remarkably well at remembering the list when I myself was having a difficult time remembering the items and then sorting them after the fact.

The way it played out in practice made it completely clear to me that if she can’t remember the list, they are going to think her troubled response is a speech-related problem and not a memory-related one.  And although I had a feeling this outcome was unintentional, I didn’t know for sure or whether it mattered because the policy/intent behind speech therapy in her case had not been explained to me.  For an elderly woman who has just had a stroke, this seemed needlessly cumbersome, not to mention cruel and unfair, assuming the exercises were not intended to include the obvious memory challenge that was baked-into doing it that way.

Continue reading “Helping a Friend’s Mom Recover Her Speech After a Stroke. Moron Medical Incompetence.”

Storytime. That Time I Was Attacked by a Serial Predator (and The DA Called Me About it 20 Years Later).

Today I received a telephone call from an investigator with a California District Attorney’s office (I won’t say which one).  His message said that “no one is in trouble” and he just wants to speak with me about an old case.  When I Googled, I found the man’s name and number on a telephone list for the Sex Crimes investigation unit.  He was indeed an investigator with the DA and I figured I knew what he was on about — I was sexually assaulted in college by a serial offender and I deduced that my attacker had been arrested again.  It’s the only “old case” I could think of and certainly the only sex crime in which I was ever involved.  Of course, as an attorney, I kind of think investigators are shit/pure evil (of the little dick/huge ego persuasion) and I also know they lie.  So I didn’t care to take or return a cold call from one.

Instead of calling him back I called his supervisors and left voicemails introducing myself as an attorney and asking what the call was about.  Later, the investigator called me back and left a more detailed message, this time including my attacker’s name.  Obviously I recognized the name; what an unpleasant, unexpected and unwanted blast from the past that was (is there any other kind?).  The guy they were calling about had been a stranger to me — so much for the “strange men are totally safe because the men you know are worse” liberal feminist trope — and he had digitally penetrated me in a public place.  A Halloween party.  The police report and subsequent deposition for the case were a riot.  The Guy With the Knife In His Head did this.  Ace Ventura did that.  It was surreal, darkly funny and traumatic.

As I recall, by the time I was called in to do the deposition on my assault my attacker had been arrested again, this time for the rape and attempted murder of his common law wife.  They told me he was definitely going to jail on charges related to that and they planned to drop the charges related to my assault as part of a plea deal.  They asked me how I felt about that, explaining that if I wanted the prosecutor to pursue my case, as a victim, they would consider my wishes.  Since he was going to jail anyway I said that was fine with me.  I was busy trying to survive college and work, my attacker’s lawyer was a dick and had harassed me during the depo and I really didn’t care to have anything more to do with it.  I bowed out and as far as I know that’s exactly what happened: my case went away and my attacker went to jail.  The woman he had raped and tried to kill declined to cooperate at all, saying she would not “help white America put another black man in prison.”

Now, 20 years later I get a call from Little Dick/Big Ego who promised I wasn’t in trouble and said he just wanted to talk.  Is that any way to start a fucking conversation?  Jesus.  It was almost as if he didn’t want me to call him back at all.  Unsurprisingly, the guy who attacked me 20 years ago has been arrested again, this time for rape and sodomy.  I Googled his name and read the details of his latest violent femicidal crime.  Apparently, in California, the prosecutor can bring in victims from prior similar cases to show that the accused is a lifelong asshole (essentially) and the prosecutor is hoping, this time, “to put him away for life.”  My attacker had already been a lifelong asshole when he was arrested for what he did to me and the cops all knew him — long before that, they had given him a nickname that started with The.  You know, like The Hulk, The Terminator, The Situation, etc.  I won’t say what the nickname was but it was a shortened version of his last name and he had a history of prior offenses “as long as my arm” as the cops and prosecutors all told me at the time.  So now, 20 years and a hundred lifetimes later, I have yet another prosecutor wanting my perspective on “Mr. The” because apparently, trying to keep a serial woman abuser in prison is like trying to nail Jello to a wall.

Continue reading “Storytime. That Time I Was Attacked by a Serial Predator (and The DA Called Me About it 20 Years Later).”

Storytime + Open Thread. Why I Stopped Wearing a Suit to Practice Law.

I have been feeling quite uninspired to write on the topic of Crohn’s and chronic illness lately, but this has happened before and seems to come and go.  What is there really to talk about without being redundant when it’s all kind of been said before?  If anyone has any original, interesting and/or nagging thoughts on this or any topic I hope they will feel free to comment below.  It may or may not inspire me to write more.  In the meantime, my thoughts are again with the residents of the Big Island of Hawaii many of whom were already displaced by the ongoing 3-months long lava eruption there and who now find themselves staring down the barrel of a hurricane.  Of course, many of these evacuees and displaced residents are chronically ill on top of everything else.  I hate to think of the effects of torrential rains, high winds and widespread coastal flooding on an active lava flow.  Godzilla vs. Mothra comes to mind.

And many of the existing lava evacuees, including chronically and terminally ill evacuees, are still living in tents, in cars, or sleeping on the ground.  A lot of them have reportedly had it with existing in shelters and because of that will not be returning to one anytime soon, even if they do reopen them for the hurricane (most of the shelters that were opened for lava evacuees have closed by now even though thousands of people reportedly remain displaced and even though the lava is still actively taking homes).  I’ve heard that there have been evacuee suicides and I don’t doubt those reports.  The seriously chronically ill live increasingly diminished and unimaginably stressful lives on their best days and natural disasters make everything worse for them and everyone.  I know how they feel, having been left homeless and ill myself following Hurricane Sandy.  The physical, emotional, mental and financial strain of being displaced and ill at the same time is truly not to be believed.

Continue reading “Storytime + Open Thread. Why I Stopped Wearing a Suit to Practice Law.”