Tag Archives: abuse and neglect


Dear broken little boy
We’re sorry you’ve been molested and abused
Your priest said he did nothing wrong
But nobody should ever have to be used

We hope that you don’t mind
That he’s now preaching down the street
All of his acquaintances
Swear he’s really nice to meet.

Dear shaken little girl
We’re sorry someone caused you to go blind
You didn’t see long anyway,
I’m sure that you’ll adjust just fine

Your nanny’s gone to work with other kids,
We Hope you have no problem with it
The very minimum of charges against her have been filed
We prayed for her soul, she didn’t mean to be unkind.

Dear battered woman, dear shattered man
Dear victims of slavery, misogyny,
Those estranged from their homeland
Your government and social worker’s done all they can

We’ve issued an apology
But don’t think sorry
Means we understand.

We’re glad that nothing like this ever happened to us,
We hope that you can cope
And act like nothing is amiss
Whoever did the things they did to you
Might be tried and caught, but probably not.

There are not enough resources,
Or people who care
If while you grew up,
Love was just not there,

We hope it won’t affect
The way you do your job.
You’re an inspiration,

Here’s a get well card
From the corporate mob:
Your reparation,A bundle of roses
But no forget-me-nots.

Dear grieving teenage mom who could not have her child
We hope that this experience turned you off from living wild
And your endless sorrow has convinced you that abortion’s always  wrong
You should have been strong and kept your baby alive.

We’re the ones who warned you with our “educational” signs
Depicting four dismembered infants above the slogan “right to life,”
We’re just looking out for unborn children we don’t want them to die
Just don’t ask us to protect them, that’s all done on your time.

And while we cause a scene and tell you how to live your life,
We cut funds for schools and childcare and we still sleep through the night.
Once the children are born, we’ve won our fight,
Especially when they’re disabled or poor—remember, working is their right.

We’re glad that nothing like this ever happened to us,
We hope that you can cope, come home to the god in whom we trust
Whatever the circumstances
A man just never was at fault, absolutely not.

There are not enough resources
Or people who care.
With nothing growing inside you,
How could love still be there?

We hope it won’t affect the way you feel about God’s Word
You’re an inspiration,
Here’s a get well card from the evangelical herd:
Your reparation, a bundle of roses
But no forget-me-nots.

No forget-me-nots,
Because it’s safer to forget,
But what’s remembered lives,
And I cannot forget you.

No forget-me-nots,
Because then we could not forget
That what’s remembered lives–
And I could not forget you.

Go out and smell the roses but don’t grab fistfuls of thorns
Whatever we ignore leaves its red stains,
Its sharp pains,
Its stark remains upon our hands.

I will take your hand,
Wipe the tears from your eyes,
Forget you not.

Dear child of this universe
A lifetime in every cell,
The world shines with your radiance
Though you’re just here to be yourself.

And all that you’ve been through,
A testament to strength
While you lived or you died fighting,
It never was in vain.

Love is not a thing
That you can win
Or force or gain.

Dear tentative night traveler
Who’s never felt at home,
Hope is not outdated,
Nor is empathy outgrown,

And there will still be wonder
Long after you make your life your own.
You let the feared wolf hunger
And the loving wolf has won.

There’s no need to run for cover,
You’re safe here,
And you are not alone.

We know being human happens to every one of us
Through the pain and darkness, hope shines everywhere we touch.
Whatever your circumstances,
It won’t always be easy, absolutely not.

It’s hard to find the resources but most of us do care,
Dreams will grow inside you and love is always there.
You will find yourself again along a spiral stair,
And realize there’s so much laughter, and joy, and tears to share.

You’re an inspiration just because you dare
To breathe your spirit of life into everything you are,
No matter when or where.

Don’t bother with the reparations:
What could they be for?
When you’re already whole and forgiveness won’t keep score,
Half-baked gestures of apologies just won’t fool you anymore.

Life’s not just a bed of roses–
A door that opens often closes,
But if you find yourself outside,
Don’t just stand there looking in.
What’s remembered lives, I’ll forget you not.


When Silence Speaks: The Institutionalization and Dehumanization of People with Disabilities, Greece, 1989

Ask a child’s silence to speak, and you will hear truths you never wished you’d known. When will it be time to break our silence? When will it be time– boom, boom, boom– black echos in an empty room.

My dissertation on disability and interdependence has taken me to places I wish I’d never heard of, but whose reality must be known, whose horror must be shared. The following is not about a concentration camp, folks, but about a facility on a small island off the coast of Greece in 1989. Most people will not read the book from which the report of this place comes, but lest our attitudes continue and history repeat itself, we all must know what went on behind those walls. This is part of the terrible responsibility that befalls us all, to face and acknowledge what is, but I hope something new and transformative will come of it.

“In the past the most common form of care provision made for disabled people has been institutions. Institutionalisation is an experience of powerlessness which can grossly multiply the effects of our physical limitations. The disability movement throughout the industrialised world has seen the struggle against residential care as one of the most important parts of the fight for human rights. The Union of the Physically Impaired against Segregation, for example, stated that: “The reality of our position as an oppressed group can be seen most clearly in segregated residential institutions, the ultimate human scrap-heaps of this society. Thousands of people are sentenced to these prisons for life–which may these days be a long one. For the vast majority there is still no alternative, no appeal, no remission of sentence for good behaviour, no escape except the escape from life itself.” (UPIAS , 1981, p. 2.)

In their analysis of the literature on all kinds of institutions, Kathleen Jones and A J Fowles concluded that in spite of the disparate approaches of the major writers in this area, there were five findings common to life experienced in a wide range of institutions. They were: loss of liberty; social stigma; loss of autonomy; depersonalisation; and low material standards (K Jones and A J Fowles, 1984, p. 202).

Disabled people argue that these features are as much part of modern day institutions as they were of those in the nineteenth century although the degree to which they are experienced may vary.

I want to look at some of the most devastating emotional and physical abuse which is still to be found in institutions today. Such abuse is an important feature of institutional “care” for disabled people in many different countries.

In 1989 John Merritt described the situation in which hundreds of mentally ill, learning disabled and physically disabled men, women and children are kept on the Greek island of Leros. The smell hits like the reek of an abattoir and the scenes flicker past like some depraved peep show … Everywhere are prison bars. In an upstairs cell, bodies lie on beds, naked or wrapped in grey sacking material. Some are curled together, finding comfort in mutual foetal positions, not people but one being. How old are they? 26? 80? A blanket pulled back shows knotted legs. How long has he been there? ’24 years.” In the bed? “Yes, since four years old.” Others are tied, hand and foot to their beds, Why? “To stop them from falling. (J Merritt, 1989).
In the children’s unit, 85 per cent don’t leave their beds, because of their physical disabilities. “Some are strapped down because “they bite.” One doctor who visited the children’s unit recently said: “Young children with severe handicaps gaze at the ceiling, huddled together, watched by a guard. There is no communication.” A blind baby was picked up for my inspection. He was five years old. He was put back on the bed to lie, motionless, thumb in mouth, a tiny scrap of humanity totally shut out of human contact.”

Earlier in 1989, Dr Frank Peters and
Gerard Vincken, a Dutch psychiatrist and a psychiatric nurse, spent three months on Leros, working with 20 people, beginning to bring them back to life as an example of what could be achieved. They said of the people incarcerated there, “They were dumped in this isolated place to rot. You might just have killed them then. But most awful is the fact that they are simply waiting until death comes. This is the destruction of the spirit, of the man not the body.” Vincken and Peters quoted Primo Levi who wrote of the Nazi concentration camps: “Our language lacks words to express this offence, the demolition of a man ‘ It is not possible to sink lower than this … Nothing belongs to us any more; they have taken away our clothes, our shoes, even our hair; if we speak, they will not listen to us, and if they listen, they will not understand.”
—–Quoted from “Pride Against Prejudice,” by Jenny Morris.