‘Control’

Control is a story of abuse. There were many parts of Rosa that acted outside of her direct control and she would watch from somewhere above or outside while they got on with it. Most of the time they just responded to whoever was in the room, but occasionally one took the initiative and went out on a limb, so to speak.  It draws on my professional encounters with victims and recent reports of child sexual exploitation where victims were frequently not heard and were sometimes also criminalised and returned to their abusers. Although I have written many factual reports about the … Continue reading ‘Control’

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‘Control’

There were many parts of Rosa that acted outside of her direct control and she would watch from somewhere above or outside while they got on with it. Most of the time they just responded to whoever was in the room, but occasionally one took the initiative and went out on a limb, so to speak. Part of the current Mash Stories competition, Control contains the three necessary key words, ankle, fashion, and criminal, and opens a small window on the world of a woman or girl victim of abuse. The story draws on recent events in Yorkshire, UK where child … Continue reading ‘Control’

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Winterbourne abuse scandal

Writing is writing, right? Someone in ‘Good Will Hunting’ said that, if you can do it, you should, on behalf of all those who can’t. Well this link to my other blog, my other life, is my writerly way of speaking for those who can’t. Others have done the same. Journalists have made erudite comment. The BBC gave us the material. But we all knew it was happening, somewhere in our souls, our collective psyche. We knew that we could not always trust humans to act with humanity, or decency, or even just plain neglectfully. We knew that some would see an opportunity for … Continue reading Winterbourne abuse scandal

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Winterbourne’s Silent Majority

In 1981, I went on placement as a clinical trainee to a large mental handicap hospital in Surrey. I had never encountered people with learning disabilities before, and I was shocked to the core. But I was a qualified general nurse, and I was used to clearing up the messes bodies make when they’re ill or distressed. I was also used to pulling curtains around people on bedpans, to chasing doctors out of the women’s wards while personal care was being delivered, and to helping people to eat when they had forgotten how. I saw how morale was raised by giving patients a wash and set before visiting. … Continue reading Winterbourne’s Silent Majority

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Michael Gilbert, murdered by the people he lived with

This is the man whose name I could not find. It was on a news item that preceded a programme I had recorded and I am relieved that I did not imagine it but horrified that the details were far worse than I had thought. here are some quotes from the newspaper: ‘Michael Gilbert, 26, was used as a ‘dogsbody and slave’, shackled to a bed and attacked by the group’s pet pit bulls.’ ‘Mr Gilbert finally died after a new form of torture was devised, involving members of the family jumping on his stomach.’ ‘They then hacked his corpse … Continue reading Michael Gilbert, murdered by the people he lived with

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Vulnerable Victims: a new page to record our shameful society

People with learning disabilities used to be unseen members of our communities, hidden away in institutions with no voice and little contact with their more advantaged neighbours. The changes in philosophy that came with Wolfensberger’s ‘Normalisation’ thrust in the early 1980s led to closure of institutions and the end of inappropriate incarceration for people whose only ‘fault’ was one of intellectual limitation. I have worked in some of those institutions and I have also worked in services at the leading edge of change. In the 21st century, it is the norm for people to live as independently as possible with … Continue reading Vulnerable Victims: a new page to record our shameful society

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Death of David Askew, a man with learning disabilities

This 64-year-old man did nothing wrong. He had learning (intellectual) disabilities and struggled to cope with the day-to-day demands of an ordinary life. All he wanted was the comforts of his home, his trips to the shops, and his cigarettes. What he needed and maybe didn’t know so much about was the support of his family and neighbours, and this he seems to have had in abundance. He also needed the respect and consideration of the wider community, some of whom hounded and harried him to the point of his death. No one should have to tolerate the abuse and … Continue reading Death of David Askew, a man with learning disabilities

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