Thursday, September 9, 2010

Brutal lessons from the ER.

1) When a woman comes in to the ER at 3AM requesting an STD exam and/or a preganancy test, she may be an idiot, or she may be nerving herself up to tell you she's been raped.

2) When one partner comes in with "slipped in the shower" injuries, and the other partner is hyper-protective and demanding in a "why aren't you making my precious baby all better and fixing all her pain RIGHT NOW" way, this is a very good indicator that they did not slip in the shower. (Even moreso when the injured person herself is all "no, really I'm okay and it doesn't hurt that bad, I'm sorry he's bothering you" about it.)

3) When I know he hit you, and the nurses all know it, and the doctor knows it, and the cops know it, and the janitor knows it... isn't a damn thing we can do to help if you stick to your story about that dang slippery shower. I understand why victims cover for their abusers, the myriad of both psychological and practical reasons. I understand that you may feel that telling this lie is necessary for your survival--and I even understand that you may be right. But it still drives me INSANE.

19 comments:

  1. Several years ago, my wife and I were out jogging, and she slipped and fell, landing on her elbows, knees, and face. She seemed pretty much fine, except for bruises and scrapes, but we went to the emergency room just to be sure she hadn't broken her nose or any facial bones. When we were explaining what had happened, I could tell the triage nurse and then the ER doc were definitely asking themselves whether this could have been domestic violence injuries. The way they were asking questions about the injuries definitely made me uncomfortable for a few moments, but then when it became 100% apparent that the body distribution of the injuries and the scrape axes were only consistent with falling like we said, they suddenly relaxed their demeanors.

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  2. It's a little weird when you get asked, alone, if the person who came in with you is abusing you (I'm pale and I bruise very easily. It was an easy assumption to make.), I'm glad that the ER staff does that. If even one woman is helped because of it, it makes the annoyance well worthwhile.

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  3. PersonalFailure - We ask everyone. Come in for an asthma attack and we'll still take a moment to ask "do you feel safe at home?" It doesn't work very often, but we've gotten a couple surprising answers--and been able to help those people--by asking every time.

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  4. The first time I got asked that question, I was so momentarily confused, like, are they asking about the condition of my house? Lately it seems like the question is, "Everything all right at home?"

    I dealt for many years with a close friend who was being abused and was equally terrified of and crazy in love with her abuser. Frustrated doesn't begin to cover it. She eventually got out.

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  5. As a former domestic violence counselor, I know where you're coming from. And it sucks to not be able to do anything about it, but I got used to it. I loved working with DV victims, whether they were still with their abuser or had left, but I know it's not a job for everyone.

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  6. Question: How can you tell the difference between spousal abuse and a kink session gone wrong that they're just too embarrassed to admit? And if there is a noticeable difference, is it something (whether physical or attitude) that non-kinky people would know about and pay attention to?

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  7. When I was four years old, I rolled out of bed while asleep and tore my scalp on the metal edge of a bedside table; it needed four stitches. One of my earliest memories is getting angry with the ER nurses and doctors who kept asking me leading questions about my supposedly violent father and who didn't want to let me go home. I think that is likely a root of my deep distrust of authority now.

    Putting a lot of kids through that trauma is worth it to save a kid from someone who actually tears their scalp. But I got the impression that the nurses knew, and the doctors knew, and the janitor knew; everybody knew except me and my family, who actually knew.

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  8. Not Me - I can't ever know for sure, but I'd think the marks would be different--perverts generally don't cause facial or defensive wounds, and abusers don't go for the butt or shoulders. Also perverts tend--just on average--to be a certain sort of person that I might twig to and be able to take aside and level with. But much, much more importantly, the whole emotional context is likely to be different. In abuse situations there's often a whole lot of heightened tension and drama. I would think that an injured kinkster would be matter-of-fact.

    Mousie - Wow, that's the weirdest variaton on "but what about the scourge of false accusations?" that I've heard today. Just think, if it was a big scarring trust-destroying trauma to be questioned by people who were looking out for your safety, what do you think it's like for a child to have something REALLY wrong in their life?

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  9. Quoting Holly: "We ask everyone."

    Thank GOD, or whatever you want. The idea of an abuse victim sitting under my nose and unwilling to say anything because of psychological reasons or because Mr. Wrong (It's USUALLY Mr. Wrong, but not always) is sitting right there is vexatious. In fact, the latter makes me want to come into the room with a HUGE security guard and then ask what's up. :P

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  10. Hey, Mousie? Is it true that you only say the stupid, whiny, melodramatic things you do because you want Holly to get all dom-ly and administer harsh discipline?

    For fuck's sake, distrust of authority is healthy.

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  11. Holly, to quote me, Putting a lot of kids through that trauma is worth it to save a kid from someone who actually tears their scalp. I can't see how that could be misinterpreted. I agree with the necessity for investigation. And on second thought, I agree that bringing up the side effects in this context is wrong; I don't want to put guilt on someone for doing what's necessary.

    To anonymous at 11:40,

    "Hey, Mousie? Is it true that you only say the stupid, whiny, melodramatic things you do because you want Holly to get all dom-ly and administer harsh discipline?"

    No. I say whiny, melodramatic things because I'm depressed and insecure. It's certainly something I need to work on.

    Do you ask this question anonymously because you are also insecure?

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  12. Not really. Actually, it is just that I don't have my own blog to speak of and only rarely comment around here.

    Owning your desire to have Holly spank you may be the first step to overcoming your insecurities, buddy.

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  13. /sigh. It's reasonable to be upset when you feel like someone you love and trust is being slandered behind their back. That doesn't change the realities of what questions need to be asked by ER professionals

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  14. Anonymous, you almost found out my secret desire; but really it's you I want. Spank me verbally, Anonymous, all my my desire is for your harsh comment discipline. I burn, I pine, I perish.

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  15. I know some female martial artists who do highly bruising practices, and who maintain photo albums to show if explanations become necessary. Not sure if that would work with the kink, though. You might just get a "the truth is even worse than what I was imagining" reaction.

    I went to work with big obvious handprints on me once (martial arts, not kink--my kinks aren't generally bruising) and no one said a word. Not sure if that's a good thing--they know me--or a bad thing--would they have asked someone who really was being abused?

    The only time I ever resented the ER questioning came about because I'd been hurt quite badly by an ER nurse doing a too-rough vaginal exam. The next time, I was scared and I wanted my husband with me. They tried to separate us and got a somewhat hysterical response. Finally they explained why they wanted to separate us and I said, "Okay, sure, no problem with that--but keep your hands off my body while I don't have an ally present." They got me alone, asked the questions, and then brought him back in with some embarrassment.

    Still worth it if it saves someone else, but I wish I'd filed a complaint against the nurse who hurt me, and not just taken it in silence.

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  16. Holly, you don't seem to have read Mousie's first comment all the way through before responding.

    Mousie, you were too elliptical in the second paragraph of your first comment. You should have said something like, "I know that doctors and nurses need to ask kids questions to find out if they're being abused. But in my case I got the impression that they had their minds made up that I was being abused before they started asking."

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  17. Innocent until proven guilty? Or guilty until proven innocent?

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  18. My boyfriend and I were fucking in his car at night when the cops showed up to ruin our private party. The cops asked me if I was alright and if I needed a ride home. It was awkward to explain to them that I was not being raped, but in fact willingly having sex with my boyfriend. I'm still glad they asked though ... even if my pants were somewhere in the back seat at the time.

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  19. it's usually guilty until proven innocent. The urge to take the putative abuser off for a private chat is overwhelming for me. That's why I had to quit working in that area, before I DID nip out for a private chat with someone. I had a gig re-keying door locks. Ofttimes the abuser would show up demanding a key. One winner even tried to attack me as I was reinstalling the lockset. One should never attack a guy carrying tools.

    The Russian's say 'If the only tool you have is a hammer, treat everything like a nail.'

    I had a screwdriver.

    Next time I'll have vise grips!

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