Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tough Stuff

It looks like the last time I updated this blog was last week Wednesday, which is almost a week ago. Since then, I sat in on two of the caseworkers’ meetings with clients, some old and some new. One of them, a new referral, was quite emotional and I left the hour and a half meeting feeling physically and emotionally drained. I couldn’t believe that another human being could treat someone they claimed to love so callously. The poor woman totally believed the man she was with when he said he would find her if she tried to run away. Although the WORTH project did not push anyone to choose one mode of action over the other, whenever the woman mentioned that she wanted to leave and we told her we would support whatever decision she made, she always backed out, saying that maybe she should just go back, keep quiet, and take whatever the man was doling out, because she didn’t want to cause trouble. What? What what what?

In situations like these where the woman believes it would be easier to just go back and accept the abuse so as not to cause trouble and involve the police, the case workers had to be blunt, letting the women know that if they stayed, there might be even more trouble if their partners ended up killing them. That thought sends shivers down my spine….

Even more chilling was the case of this old woman whose son was abusing her. I was told that in one instance, the son beat his mother up, threw her around and pushed her onto the floor (this woman was about 74 years old), took a knife and brought it close to her eyes, telling her that he could kill whenever he wanted. When the woman reported the case, she said she didn’t want to press charges because she didn’t want to cause trouble for her son but wanted to help her. One of the caseworkers told her bluntly that the next time it could be murder her son would be up for, and that convinced her. She pressed charges and her son was put in jail for eighteen months. He was however let out after nine months on good behavior. I wonder how this old lady is doing now, whether she is afraid her son will come back to find her and kill her.

And that’s the thing with domestic violence, I’ve realized. Because it’s got more to do with power than anything else, I’m sure most of the women are afraid that if they leave, their abuser would chase them down and find them, in order to exert control over them and not lose their control. As much as I would like to say that this does not happen, that when the women leave the perpetrator doesn’t track them down, there have been incidents where the women have been found by their abusers, and have been forced to live a nomadic life, moving frequently to cause the perp to lose the trail. Once again, I think, “What? What what what?,” and “Why why why?”

In response to your question, Henry, about how the case workers deal with such disturbing issues on a daily basis, I was told that most of them went to see their own counselors often to relieve the stress. Also, they had a scheduling grid where anyone who was on the schedule as the Blue person would not see any clients for two days even though they were present at the office, taking that time to de-stress and touch base with the coordinator. That person also usually got two days off, so that they could work the weekend shift. I hope that answers your question a bit.

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