FFrom birth, my life has been inextricably linked with human rights issues/abuses. But what I have come to realise is What use are rights if you cannot exercise them?
I come from a background of abuse, torture, and despair. I was born after a sham marriage of convenience, abandoned by my mother to be brought up my ageing grandparents. I experienced sexual abuse from being five years old right through to my teens. I didn’t go to school, I was kept away from other children and subject to racist abuse, psychological torture and neglect. I put on weight to stop the abuse from happening to make me less of a target. I didn’t wash. I had never played as a child and had no social skills. I was unable to interact. I was an empty shell of a human being. A non-person. Yet it didn’t stop. Eventually I was taken into care under a Care Order where I experienced further sexual abuse by a member of staff physical and mental torture. The home I was placed in was an assessment centre with barbed wire and floodlights. I was given a number instead of my name and had it sewn on my clothes.
I reported these incidents at the time but was beaten with a slipper by the home and made to wash walls and floors constantly. I also reported them to the police, but the police didn’t want to know. The social services even sympathised with the perpetrator of the abuse offering them sexual counselling. Where was the counselling for me? Human rights had failed me. I was just a child at the mercy of adults. The police told me that I needed to speak out to protect the abusers’ own children but that `protection didn’t include me. After all I was just a care home kid.
I was chewed up and spat out of the care system and discharged to the street just short of my 18th birthday straight after the death of my grandparents. I went into a series of very frightening homeless hostels and pavement before being offered very insecure and unsafe accommodation in hard to let council accommodation. I experienced break in after break in and was terrorised by gangs for being a woman living alone with her cat and having a mental health problem. I went to solicitors who wrote to the police and housing department to complain about the lack of action but was told that because I had a mental problem, `I was not a reliable witness anyway and probably making it up’. On the last break-in, I caught a man with a swag bag standing outside my window dressed in stereotypical burglar garb. Frightened for my life, I called police and it turned out this was a high-profile burglar and I was asked to give evidence. Afterwards I was terrorised out of my home, lighted paper was put through the letter box and someone broke in whilst I slept. I had to flee my home but was tracked down by police who threatened me with contempt of court if I did not testify. Where was my human rights then?
I moved to my current area. After a serious sexual assault ona train and a very traumatic life event I became very unwell. I was working but was hounded out of my job and medically retired for having mental health issues. I tried to go to an Employment Tribunal but fell apart on the day when my employer had a QC and I had no representation. My physical health deteriorated my hair fell out. I became suicidal. I had no support, no family or friends. It became too much, and I couldn’t cope with daily living. I became a hermit. I had been referred to my local Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) on the Care Programme Approach and assigned a Care Coordinator. However, I wasn’t given any help to get back on my feet. In fact, I received no appointments at all. I had no Care Plan either. When I raised the issue of having no appointments or care plan I got no response and applied for access to my files. I was shocked to find they had written I was a `Danger to Children’, `Drug Abuser’ and `living in a hostel’. They had also mixed up my files with another service user. I complained as this was all untrue and was told that it was `an administrative error.’ Several more incidents happened because of making that initial complaint. Too much to be included in this blog. However, these included the same member of staff:
- Saying I had been violent to her at a meeting.
- Obtaining all my medical records under false presences by posing as my CPN and passing them round without consent.
- Ringing my house and making abusive remarks about me and other service users `accidentally pressing redial button on mobile phone after calling me and leaving me to overhear conversation.
- Putting a `warning flag’ safeguarding alert on my record that I was a `Danger to Staff’ and should only be seen in pairs.
- Banning me from local adult education centre, wellbeing and other services with any connection to the council or mental health trust.
- Giving this information out to third parties if I tried to get someone to ring on my behalf
- A complaint investigator putting in writing that I was a `Vexatious Invalid.’
- A complaints investigator contracted to investigate my complaint diagnosing me with several `Personality Disorders’ without ever meeting or speaking to me.
- Trying to charge me £166.40 pw for Self-Directed Support out of only benefit income.
- Referring to the child sexual abuse I had experienced as `alleged’ despite their being a criminal conviction in 2012 and the perpetrator jailed for abusing me.
- Telling the compensation authorities, I had `probably made it up’ That they had `no knowledge of any abuse’ yet simultaneously telling the Ombudsman I had received extensive therapy for childhood sexual abuse.
- Writing in care assessments that I choose to have no contact with family and friends when I was brought up in care and experienced abuse.
- A psychiatrist who discharged me without telling me after asking me If you’re suicidal then why are you not dead yet?
- My GP sending out all referrals to hospital for my physical health stamped with Personality Disorders leading to never ending cycle of discrimination and hostility from everyone from reception staff to clinicians who read this invalid diagnosis.
- Discharging me from the CPA but failing to tell me and lying to the Ombudsman that I was still on it. They finally admitted last year that discharged me in 2012 but had forgotten to me.
- Producing a care plan, I had never seen before with my forged signature.
- Writing that I have diabetes through my own fault for being fat, with no mention of weight gaining medication.
I became excluded from society. I became a non-person, thrown in the rubbish bin. There was no one to help me and Human Rights meant diddly squat to me. If you cannot access those rights; if no one will listen, then what use are they?
The complaint process rumbled along for 11 years. Delays, denial and blaming the service user. It has taken me eleven years until this point to finally admit what they the mental health trust and council have done i.e. the member of staff who made the false allegations made it all up. Yet no action was taken whatsoever, and nothing was one to rectify the situation. Just a mealy mouthed one-line apology.
Due to member of staff and her colleague (who backed her up) making the allegation I had several labels of Personality Disorder placed on me by the Independent Investigator of my complaint. He refused to see or speak to me as part of the complaint process, just members of staff. Nobody discussed these `diagnoses’ with me or informed me they had made them. I found put a year later after consulting a solicitor. The trust was refusing to offer me any services or further assessments for psychological therapies not just now but at any time in the future. The solicitors told me that was a breach of my human rights and disability discrimination. However, when the council wrote to them to say I had been `violent to a member of staff’ they dropped my case. Now I have it in writing `the incident never occurred’ yet I have been denied access to care.
I have now been diagnosed with Autism and now the mental health trust says they will not offer me services as I have Autism. Again this is a human rights issue but I have no one to defend me or advocate for me. When I contacted my MP office to tell them this they told me `we don’t do mental health we have no idea’. `But which one is it do you have Autism or mental illness’. Mind the local advocacy service will not advocate for me as I am not under CPA so not entitled to an advocate.
I keep telling and retelling my story over and over making myself ill, but no one will listen or help. There is no legal funding available whatsoever and all I get from every solicitor I approach, or disability organisation is signposting `try Citizens Advice, try your GP; sorry we cannot help’
In their latest act of victimisation; the Mental Health Trust realised all my medical records to a benefits tribunal without my consent for the purposes of denying me benefit. I really feel the NHS is trying to kill me. I contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office about this breach, but they will not take on my case as an individual and say because the trust has not responded to my complaint there is nothing they can do. So, although Human rights are important I feel they haven’t helped me at all. The people who have done this to me have professional privilege and are automatically believed. Every organisation such as Ombudsman, Healthwatch, Care Quality, Commission etc is set up to protect the interests of the NHS and maintain the status quo. Human Rights only apply to certain people. For the rest it’s a snow job.