Blowing the Whistle on Callous Indifference


Last night’s dinner was popcorn.  This is the photo of this morning’s breakfast.  Those of you who know me well will wonder what’s the big deal.  I frequently skip breakfast.  Please note the empty coffee cup.  Yes, I skip breakfast, but I always, always have several cups of coffee.  I live in the Seattle area.  Coffee is like a religion.

This was today’s lunch.

And, this is tonight’s dinner.  The upside of all these empty plates, glasses, and cups is that I won’t have to worry about fasting before tomorrow morning’s blood work.  And, I don’t have any dirty dishes to wash.

I’m writing this post and blowing the whistle because I’m done begging the system for help.  There is absolutely NO excuse for me to have nothing to eat today.  I have four case managers assigned to keep shit like this from happening.  For one of them, I have to prepare a detailed budget each month.  They knew weeks ago that I was going to run out of money long before I ran out of month.

They also knew or should have known that almost every damned expense in my budget is what the government calls “medically necessary.”

In plain English, this means I need to spend that money to keep my health from sliding further down the rabbit hole.

DSHS knows that my depression is caused by malnutrition.  My family knows my depression is caused by malnutrition.  All of my four case workers know that my depression is caused by malnutrition.

I’m fairly certain that all these people had nice dinners tonight ~ lunches this afternoon ~ breakfast this morning.  I’m also guessing that many of them spent more for their morning latte than I have to feed myself for a day ~ $4.

Today my crackerjack HMO* finally referred me to a therapist ~ after FIVE months of begging for the name of someone competent.  And, a case worker from DSHS had the audacity this afternoon to suggest my expectations are too high.  Excuse me?  I should have had the name of a competent therapist within five minutes of requesting one.

When I spoke to the new therapist this afternoon, her solution for dealing with the asshole narcissists all of us “get” to encounter in today’s narcissistic world is to avoid them.  Right.  Sorry.  I live in the real world which most of you know is polluted with self-absorbed, emotionally abusive narcissists.  There’s no avoiding them.  They’re everywhere.

I certainly hope she’s in better form when I have my first therapy appointment next week.  And, I hope she’s more clear on the difference in treatment protocols between PTSD and Complex-PTSD than she was when we scheduled our first appointment.

And, I wish to hell I hadn’t answered the phone this afternoon when the case manager from DSHS called.  I burst into tears of relief when she said her name.  She’s helped two people I know intimately be the best they can be.  I thought it was my lucky day.  By the time I realized she was blowing me off, I missed the deadline for getting in line at the local food pantry.  I’m not sure this was much of a loss because most of what they dispense is unhealthy carbohydrates, canned goods years passed the pull date, rotten produce, and fat-laden breakfast sausage.  They allow local grocery stores to take a tax write off for donating garbage.

There are those in positions of power in the county where I live who believe Volunteers of America is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Well, sliced bread ~ white bread with absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever ~ is about all they dispense.  Yet, they get the lion’s share of government funding to keep disabled people from falling through the cracks into homelessness.

I have begged for help from my alma mater.  I was promised a prompt response seven months ago.

I have begged for help all the way to the top of DSHS.  So far, I’ve gotten a lot of blah-blah-blah, but I haven’t received any meaningful help.

I have made public comments three times before my local county council.  Two of the guys ~ including the one who allegedly represents me ~ wouldn’t be on the county council but for my vigilant efforts to keep a poop factory off my favorite beach.

I have written letters, I have made phone calls, I have talked to investigative reporters, I have sent e-mail messages, and I have engaged in sit-ins.  I have gone to numerous agencies ~ including hundreds of domestic violence agencies ~ funded by various government agencies and gotten creamed royally.

Tonight I decided it was time to blow a warning whistle.  I know for damned sure that I’m not the only domestic violence survivor walking in these shoes.  I’m suggesting we file class action lawsuits in every state where we live.

In Washington State, the callous indifference I have experienced is criminal.  Seriously.  Class A felony under RCW 9A.32.055 ~ the most serious level of crime.  My mother could go to prison if I die from the pre-cancerous ulcer festering in my esophogas or from suicide.  She doesn’t look good in prison orange.  Further, she and my HMO and Volunteers of America are all guilty of abandonment under RCW 74.34.020:

(1) “Abandonment” means action or inaction by a person or entity with a duty of care for a vulnerable adult that leaves the vulnerable person without the means or ability to obtain necessary food, clothing, shelter, or health care.

The person who was trying valiantly to help me has been placed on administrative leave for reasons that don’t pass my smell test.

I’m not naming names in this post, but I am sending links to the people who I believe should be helping me try to achieve my goal of financial self-sufficiency instead of helping my mother throw me under the bus.  Seven months is more than sufficient time to craft and implement a viable treatment plan.

Yesterday I learned that I have exactly five months from today to achieve my objective of financial self-sufficiency, or I will be compelled to try to figure out how to subsist on $126/month after my 62nd birthday.  I was on the threshold of financial self-sufficiency when my mother shot me off the rails last September.  She got a lot of help sabotaging my dreams from a myriad of agencies being paid big money to help me rebound and recover.

Most of the members of my family claim to be devout Christians.  But, every damned one of them has turned their backs on me.  It isn’t anything new.  They didn’t protect me when I was a kid from my parents’ abuse and neglect.  They didn’t protect me from my uncle’s sexual molestation either.

I hope y’all had a nice dinner tonight.

For those of you walking in my shoes tonight, I want you to know that you aren’t alone.  And, none of us should have to endure this callous indifference.

Why am I so pissed off?  I’ve been told that my book proposal is brilliant.  Yes, it needs some work.  I have been busting my ass for years trying to achieve financial self-sufficiency, and I’m damned tired of my efforts getting sabotaged by family members and paid professionals who should be supporting my dreams.

* July 2nd Update:  My crackerjack HMO today denied payment of the claim from my case manager who has been most diligent.  Why?  Because we didn’t get prior authorization from the HMO case manager who has steadfastly refused to return my phone calls.  Yesterday, I was told that I will not be allowed to speak to anyone but the guy who won’t call back!  So, I’m going on record that my crackerjack HMO is Molina Healthcare of Washington.  Buyer beware!

Thank you to the folks who have sent e-mail messages or called since I published this post to schedule appointments and/or respond to my concerns and frustrations.  I hope y’all have a Happy 4th of July.

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19 responses to “Blowing the Whistle on Callous Indifference

  1. It appears that you do not have any family, you have friends. If your family did not help you out, when you were down-and-out, then, you do not have any family. St. Vincent de Paul helped a friend of mine when his pension cheque did not cover the basic needs. You, being a lawyer, my suggestion on the best way to “blow the whistle” would be in court, with media reporters in attendance. Why don’t charge the four case workers, the director of DSHS, the paid professions and the HMO with negligence and failing to provide the basic necessities of life?

  2. Earl, you are such a sweetheart. I was just reviewing WA laws. DSHS has gotten themselves exempted from criminal and civil liability for being callously indifferent lazy asses. The law says they can intervene, but there isn’t any penalty for their failutre/refusal to do so.

    Sadly, the criminal penalties don’t kick in regarding my mother until I’m dead. Doesn’t do me much good then, eh?

    I hear you. I have tons of relatives, but I don’t have real family. Ironically, I went to DePaul University. . .three degrees from the place. . .you’d think they’d be embarrassed that one of a few triple degree holders (with lots of honors) is in such dire straits. I suspect the head of alumni relations is using my story to raise funds for DePaul ~ I heard her do this when she was in Seattle and foolishly assumed she gave a damn.

    She said the right things seven months ago, but she hasn’t followed-up with any action.

    I have a meeting with one of my case workers this afternoon. I think she’s going to be shocked by what I have to say. They all talk a lot about treatment plans, but my experience is that they are just pieces of paper. Nobody follows-up to see if they actually did what they promised. And, when I point out that they didn’t ~ nothing happens ~ they get paid.

    What flips my cork is that the two people who actually did try to intervene in a meaningful way both got fired from their jobs. We live in a very sick society when people who get the job done find themselves on the unemployment line.

    Earl, thanks always for being such a compassionate, caring person.

    Sending hugs,
    Anne Caroline

  3. With respect to all of those laws that do not work, you should use your legal expertise to get them changed, not only for yourself, but for others who may be shafted like you. Washington seems to be just as corrupt as Oregon.

  4. oh anne. i’m physically disgusted by the abuse you continue to suffer from. i don’t pray but, consider my thoughts and energy heading toward you from far away, as very sincere concern and care.

    i don’t know what else to say, i’m just shocked that this is the best that can be done for you. it’s utterly terrifying.

  5. Your positive vibes must be VERY powerful. Twelve minutes after you posted this lovely comment I received an e-mail message that I have been waiting for for 2 months! Wa-Hoo!

    I was so frustrated last night I didn’t know what to do. Finally, I decided that I’ve been nice long enough ~ it hasn’t worked. So, I decided to go for the “hail, Mary!” play of exposing their callous indifference. That’s the beauty of the Internet ~ we don’t have to wait for some reporter to blow the whistle. We can blow our own damned whistles.

    Next week I’m going to start reworking my site using the new tools WordPress has made available to us. I’m quite excited about what they’ll allow me to do, and I’m hoping it will make the available information more user-friendly.

    Wishing you a wonderful 4th of July weekend! Thank you SO much for your support.

    Sending hugs,
    Anne Caroline

  6. Pingback: Mental Disorders 101·

  7. Thank you. I think I’ve gotten the “powers that be” off the dime. At least I hope I have.

    I’m hoping that one of these days that folks will figure out that our brains are part of our physical bodies. . .they need as much respect and quality treatment of any other body part.

  8. Earl,

    Washington is a FAR better state for people who have experienced domestic violence than Oregon. Washington, for example, was the first state with an Address Confidentiality Program which is excellent.

    I have testified several times regarding domestic violence issues, and the legislators took my comments quite seriously. IMHO, our legislature is pretty good. My own personal representatives are pretty deaf, but there are leaders in the legislature who are concerned about domestic violence and don’t care that I’m not one of their constituents. So, I just do an end-around.

    It’s in the implementation where things bog down. I don’t know how you legislate callous indifference out of government employees. We have some folks who work for the State and local governments who are absolutely amazing, but they (and people like me) “get” to work with their colleagues who don’t give a rip and try to do everything they can to make life difficult for people in desperate need of services.

    What boggles my mind about my circumstances is that WA State needs to downsize. You’d think that the folks who are giving me such a hard time would figure out that with my human resources credentials that my feedback regarding performance and ability to deliver services is taken quite seriously by agency executives ~ the ones who will be deciding who stays and who goes.

    There are people who have helped me for whom I have and will continue to put my life on the line to protect their jobs. And, I think we’re all hoping that agency executives will be smart about their job cuts. Sometimes leaner government ~ with a solid bench of committed employees ~ is better government.

    Actually, Earl, you’ve given me an idea for a post. Thank you. I think we tend to assume that when things don’t work that we need a new law. Often, the laws are on the books ~ they just don’t get enforced and implemented the way the legislature intended.

    As you know, a corrupt or lazy judge can absolutely destroy a person’s life. I think people are starting to realize we need to pay more attention to who dons those judicial robes. And, I think we all need to remember that everybody has a boss. A visitor to this site taught me that ~ sometimes the boss isn’t obvious ~ but EVERYBODY is accountable to somebody.

    LOL ~ actually ~ that’s two posts ~ I think I also need to write about feeling like we’re expendable pawns.

    Sending hugs and thanks for your support,
    Anne Caroline

  9. I agree with you that DV services are better in WA than OR. Any type of jurisdiction would have better DV services than OR. However, my comments are about social services,i.e., DSHS, paid professions and HMO. DV does not belong in the social services. DV is a crime and belongs in the Public Safety Dept. My corruption statement would apply to social services in WA and in OR. My corruption statement would apply to DV services in OR, but not to DV services in WA. You don’t legislate “callous indifference” out of employees, you charge them with a lack of “due diligence.”

  10. Good point, Earl. The “due diligence” loophole DSHS has carved out for itself is something that I discovered yesterday. I don’t have the kind of clout to close that loophole, but I have discovered the power of the press in exposing it.

    The two agencies that I most needed to get off the dime have contacted me. So, I hope we’ll be making progress from now on out. It could very well be that I’ve been placed in the position I’m in because it is inordinately difficult for most executives to figure out how to achieve organizational effectiveness ~ it is especially difficult for elected officials in dealing with bureaucracies.

    You are an excellent sounding board for me, Earl. I just completed a post that you inspired. I hope you like it, and I will be interested in your feedback. The world would be a far better place if more men like you were kings.

    Given your perspective, would you be willing and interested in writing a guest column about how someone who has experienced domestic violence might effectively charge a government agency with “due diligence?” I know I certainly would welcome some tips.

    I’ve heard from a lot of people, “hire an attorney.” Well, I am an attorney, and I’m frustrated in trying to figure out how to timely achieve this. Lawsuits take too long ~ give governments incentive to circle the wagons thereby making it even more difficult to get what we need when we need it.

    Yet, I know instinctively and intuitively that “due diligence” is exactly right. Thank you for this brilliant feedback.

  11. With respect to writing a column, I would not be interested because I have no experience in charging government agencies. I contacted a lawyer about charging the CAS, and he stated the the case is not worth pursuing, because it happened so long ago – statute of limitations. If Washington state has a Bureau of Audits, they could investigate the social services, make sure that the social services people, do not destroy or misplace their records. The Bureau of State Audits in CA, is investigating the family courts. I can send you some information in that investigation and you can draw your own conclusions from this investigation and apply that information to an investigation into social services. The public’s elected repesentatives should know what to do, or a state ombudsman, if there is one.

  12. Thanks, Earl. They’ve been audited and flunked royally. However, you are helping me recall all the various mechanisms that are available ~ things lay people have no clue are part of the system.

    I need to reflect on what I’ve learned over the past few months and write a post about this. I knew about audits but forgot about them because they’d been done, and things still didn’t change. You’ve reminded me that there are multiple audits that can be made of agencies. . .every government body that funds a grant has the power to audit the agency. Since most agencies get funding from multiple sources, that’s a lot of audits.

    And, I know one of the most powerful ways to get these agencies off the dime is to put them at risk of losing their funding ~ someone at the Office of Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice taught me that a long time ago.

    Sadly, attorneys and prosecutors don’t get excited about cases like this until there’s a dead body.

    In the end, I think the power of the press is a person’s best bet. I’m shocked how many people have read this post. And, I’m stunned that it has gotten some people off the dime. There are a few still in the remedial group, but I found an RCW this morning that covers my situation. I just need to figure out who enforces it.

  13. Local food pantries; boy that brings back memories from the time just before we got away from our abuser. We lived in WA state; cowlitz county. I have 3 little ones; I was out of work and my husband, well, you can bet HE ate, and ate, and ate. He was an uncontrolled diabetic who refused to take medicine. He had credit cards, lots of them. But he would not buy us groceries. And he would not give me his social security number so I could sign up for food stamps. So we went to St. Vincent’s, and a couple local churches for food for about two months.

  14. Callous Indifference; wow, that really says it all. In dealing with all the problems my abuser brings, I have tried to go to the top of every ladder, to find out who’s boss. I have sent out over 1000 e-mails regarding the lack of quality assurance most agencies seem to thrive on. I have to do something; so if they are indifferent, then I am going to stir the pot. Family? I have one grown daughter who helped me get out of the abuse and move away; but she can’t really help me with my needs in the system to protect my children. It takes a good lawyer as you well know, and there aren’t any here. Legal AID lost my case when he contested the restraining order. And speaking of higher ups, my cousin is the former mayor of oregon city. My uncle was the Republican Delegate for Geo. Bush Sr. They have power in their monies and associations, but they do not help. The
    University of Oregon Law School conducted a training here last year; it was held at the courthouse and was entitled, “Domestic Violence, What You Don’t Know Can Hurt.” It was coordinated by Merle Weiner at UofO for Attys. to educate them about domestic abuse in this area; but they still don’t get it. Guess there’s still a problem, Huh?
    Once the agencies get their grant monies, they’re good to go, and don’t give a damn about what really happens to us.

  15. AND ONE MORE THING

    I used to be enthusiastic, my motto was “make it happen,” but now I fear it’s become “let it happen,” because I do not know what to do to protect my children anymore. Today I went to the crisis center for advice. I originally filed a parenting plan which requested supervision during visits, and limited exposure to certain individuals whom I knew had a history of criminal behavior, mostly his brothers and sisters. The judge threw out the plan and gave him every other weekend. I was concerned when my son came home telling me that they almost got in an accident because he was talking on a cell phone and had to slam on the brakes. Next, he came for visitation with one of his sisters whom I knew had allegations in her own home of failure to protect a child from sexual abuse; but I wasn’t sure the exact nature as I had always stayed away from her, and the kids don’t really know her. I let them go, with fear in my heart. She stayed the weekend with them and was involved in their care and supervision. She encouraged them to stay up for 24hrs. and gave each one a dollar to do it. How weird. The next visit he brought his brother, whom I knew had definately been in and out of jail. I refused to let them go, and he began shouting profanities at me in front of the kids. My youngest started crying and the other two were really scared. I went home, got on the net, and downloaded both the sister and brother’s criminal rap sheets from WSP. The next morning I reported the incident to the D.H.S. hotline, concerned that this was child endangerment by allowing them to be cared for by people convicted of domestic abuse, assault 4, etc. The brother has been arrested 6 times, including DUII. The DHS worker asked where the kids were, and I told her I didn’t let them go with them. Today, I went to the crisis center because I received notification in the mail that my husband is asking for a motion to show just cause regarding a new parenting plan, and included that I didn’t let them visit on July 2. The crisis center told me a)to keep a record of visitations, because he is only coming for them once a month, not every two weeks, and b) contact the court advisor to maybe ask that the trial for custody be changed to a date earlier than the one set. Boy, what crappy advice that seemed to be. So I went to the local DHS office to inquire about the report I gave on Sat. and she said a) we ran the names you gave us and nothing came up (go figure, this is Oregon, not WA), and unless the kids were present at the time these people were charged, there was nothing they could do about it. I just want to protect the kids; I am so tired and don’t know what else to do.

  16. You’ve just about nailed it, Jobby. If you read my posts closely and study the photos, you will quickly realize I’m not a fan of the court system in OR. A huge part of the problem is that there isn’t any investigative journalism in OR. The harsh reality is that folks aren’t going to get much justice when the cops, prosecutors, and judges are beating the crap out of people behind their own closed doors.

    An on-line journalist tries to blow the whistle, but you’ve got to be an amazing ferret to find his stuff.

  17. I hear your frustration, Jobby. I just visited your blog and think you are a VERY smart person. I’m adding you to my blog roll.

    Actually, the person at the crisis center gave you good advice. It is exceedingly important to document everything that happens while it is fresh in your mind. You’d be surprised how much you won’t be able to recall if/when you ever have a hearing. If you have notes, they will refresh your memory and give you a much stronger case.

    Although WA State isn’t perfect, it is a far better place to be if you have experienced domestic violence than OR.

    If you can get your hands on a copy, I highly recommend Julia Cameron’s ARTIST’S WAY. I’ve written a book review on it. The one thing I know for sure is that when we are dealing with the shizza in the system that we need to take especially good care of ourselves. I function much better when I remember to go on an artist’s date each week, eat healthy foods, and get exercise.

    Yes, I know. This is really hard to do when the shizza is overwhelming. Yet, I think you are doing the right things and are headed in the right direction. The healing journey is way longer than I think most people think. Be patient with yourself and love yourself. And, celebrate each and every victory. We need to remind ourselves of the things that go right, or we will most definitely loose our minds. Laughter helps as well.

    Sending hugs,
    Anne Caroline

  18. Oh those Christians! I attempted to establish myself and the kids in a home church; everyone was friendly there and it was a small church. I felt comfortable until christmas came around; it’s the year we had no presents under the tree for the kids, because I had no money. But of course on the day after christmas my husband went out and bought with his credit cards a brand new xbox, saying it was for them. He bought adult games, which he kept locked up in the safe. He had been teasing the kids about getting a lump of coal for christmas. The children and I went to church christmas morning; we didn’t know the people at church very well yet, and one of the elders came up to my son and said,
    “I bet you got a lot of good stuff for christmas, didn’t you?” and he couldn’t answer him. Go figure, I was the one standing there with a 2ct. diamond ring on my hand, but nothing under the tree for the kids. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a jewelry person, and I did not want that ring in the first place when he purchased it, along with several other pieces of jewelry he kept in the safe. I was in such denial to the abuse that I couldn’t think straight. The church at that time was teaching on how wives should be submissive to their husbands, and that is all I heard. I didn’t hear the rest of it about how husbands should love their wives as themselves. That very same church I recently found out was in the news in April because their youth pastor has admitted to having sexual relations with a minor from the church. Cowlitz county I am told has the highest rate of sexual offenders in WA state, they come from different counties to live there. You know, I worked as a professional when I lived there, but I changed jobs a lot when I couldn’t control what was going on at home and the stress at work, too. I was worried about my kids all the time. Go figure, this man always had money around Jan./Feb. when Tyee renewals came from UW to purchase Husky tickets. I thought you had to be an alumni to belong to Tyee to get season tickets, and he’s not. He was renewing from his father who went there. I can’t remember the exact amt. but I think it was close to $1500. Then several months later, you get an option to buy the tickets. I’ll tell you, there was so much that happened, and I keep remembering more and more. He saw me coming, and took me for granted. I tried to reach out for help in my own way, I talked with a colleague at work about the sexual abuse; she was a mandatory reporter, but did nothing. When Legal Aid tried to ask her for phone testimony, she said she couldn’t remember. I didn’t think of myself as one of “those” people who needed to get help from the crisis center there; I have always been self-reliant, a fixer.

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