Exercises in Futility from the Land of Anger and Frustration
Bear with me: here comes another stream of consciousness post. It will likely be punctuated with profanity and copious levels of irritation.
I suppose I should congratulate myself on passing out of the “numb” phase and moving full speed ahead into “anger”. It means I’m somewhere new on the so-called “Victim to Survivor” continuum. According to the handout I got at my first (and so far only counseling) session on Wednesday, this means I have moved out of the “acute stage” and into the “outward adjustment stage”. I think for the most part that theory itself is psychobabble bullshit, but realistically I think the majority of my anger stems directly from getting bitch slapped left and right by reality, narrow minded bureaucracy, and people who don’t want to put forth the least amount of effort to do “right”. Sorry if that sounds unnecessarily harsh and anti-feminist in expression, but like I said, I’m fucking pissed off these days.
So far it has gone like this: someone says something unrealistically positive and I feel good for a few days. Then, the next person in the process dashes that hope and I get depressed. Just like waves on the ocean, it is…and I’m getting bloody seasick.
The first wave was the bartender I originally spoke to at the bar where I was drugged. He said they would pull the surveillance footage from that night and the owner would give me a call back. After repeated phone calls, the bar manager, but not the business owner, called me back and said that they would not allow me or anyone else to view the surveillance footage unless they had a badge or a subpoena. She claimed that she would watch the footage, but she was just blowing me off. Good to know that business cares so much about their patrons.
Then I made my in-person report at a precinct in San Francisco. The officer who took my report and did my interview was extremely supportive and positive. She rolled her eyes when she got to the part in my handwritten narrative that said the bar wouldn’t allow the footage to be viewed without a subpoena. I told her that the bar manager didn’t think I had been drugged at all since I wasn’t “falling down all over the place.” Her eyes narrowed and sarcastically she quipped, “What? Is she a doctor?” She said she’d been doing this job for twenty years and my symptoms sounded like a carbon copy of everyone else she had ever spoken to who got roofied. She said that the sexual assault unit of the SFPD would view the surveillance footage from the bar to see if they could see anyone spiking my drink. I asked, “Even though I didn’t get any DNA or a positive drug screen?” She said, yes, it’s their job.
Then, the following week, the sexual assault unit told me that without DNA or a positive drug screen they wouldn’t be pursuing my case because the DA only wants prosecutable cases. They claimed because I didn’t go to the one hospital in San Francisco that does rape exams up to five days after assault (he said even though I showered that they would have still examined me for DNA) and tests for rape drugs (free of charge, no less…gee, isn’t that special?), that their hands were tied. (Yeah, because it’s my fucking fault I called my insurance company first and was told by the advice nurse to go directly to the Kaiser E.R. It’s also my fault that no one told me until two hours into my four hour E.R. visit that Kaiser doesn’t test for “rape drugs” despite being told otherwise on the phone- and that was only after they took my urine and had the results from my “basic” drug screen.) I asked, “Well, what about the surveillance footage?” I included all details about the surveillance at the bar/restaurant in my report- it’s digital, it’s kept on a hard drive for a very long time, plus the names and numbers of the people at that business who would be responsible for it. The inspector blew me off and said, “I’m sure they’ve recorded over it by now.” He hadn’t read my report very carefully. I reminded him that hard drives can save a lot of material for a very long time, and the bar manager said it still exists. I said, “There’s someone running around San Francisco spiking women’s drinks. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to view the footage to see if there is evidence of someone putting something in my drink in case it strengthens another case you’re working on?” He made some comment about, “Well, if they even allow us to see the footage…” and said someone would call me back, but he too was just blowing me off. Glad the SFPD cares so much about catching the perpetrators of heinous crime in their city. I’m not sure if this is the biggest insult of all yet or if it was…
…my experience this week at the local rape crisis center. I had such a good initial experience when I went in for the triage counseling assessment. The triage counselor was superb and I trusted the organization immediately. They didn’t call back with an opening for the free counseling I was promised until nearly six weeks to the day after that triage session. They finally called on Tuesday. (I was waiting until Wednesday when it would be exactly six weeks to the day that I last went in before I was going to call them back and ask what the hell was going on.) They apologized profusely and explained that they had no available openings until this week. I can understand that, they’re a nonprofit with limited resources. No big deal. Plus, until about a week and a half ago I’d been maintaining. It wasn’t until after I talked to the lackadaisical, limp-conscienced inspector who halfheartedly reviewed my case and said they wouldn’t be doing a damn thing about it that my anger was finally unleashed in a great, barely-containable torrent. I thought it was a good thing that I would finally be seeing a counselor.
Then I had my session. It started off well enough, but I found that absolutely every time I spoke, the counselor would interrupt and start speaking over the top of me. She would ask a question, I would go to answer, and instead of letting me finish answering her question, she would run her mouth right over the top of what I was trying to say. It wasn’t that she interrupted once or twice- the entire session went like that. I got extremely frustrated. It was clear that she wasn’t listening to me because in addition to her constant interruptions she would ask a question that I already addressed or act like she made a revelation that I already stated clearly. After enduring this for 45 minutes, I basically broke down and told her, “You keep asking me questions. Every time I go to answer them, you talk right over the top of me. Either you can talk, or I can answer your questions, but we can’t do both at the same time. What would be helpful is if after you ask a question, you remain quiet for a second or two and allow me to answer.” Maybe that was rude, but my irritation had reached a fever pitch. Besides, she was the one who misconstrued her role as counselor from being “a person who helps largely by listening” to “a person who likes the sound of her own voice.” I’ve had enough counseling in my life with different practitioners to recognize that this is not how it is supposed to go. As soon as I left the session, I asked if I could be assigned a different counselor because frankly this was not going to work. They assured me that, yes, of course, sorry it didn’t work out, someone will call you in the next day or two…
The whole session wasn’t a complete waste though, because after I pointed out her prattling counterproductive manner, I think she wanted to prove that she could still provide a useful service. She encouraged me to contact the Victims’ Assistance Program to help with possibly placing a claim with the State of California’s Victims’ Compensation Fund to recoup my E.R. costs, any lost wages, and cover “real” long term counseling. The SFPD had given me their local number to call for Victims’ Assistance, but they had not provided me with any information about the Victims’ Compensation Fund or what they covered, so this was new information to me.
“Chatty Cathy” also asked if I had spoken to a lawyer, as if I could afford one. When I said that was rather cost-prohibitive, she said, “Oh, we have a free legal services advice clinic. It just started up again after not having the program for a few years.” She gave me the clinic’s handout on it. It was inconveniently open only on Thursday mornings. I quickly noted that neither on the short list of services they provide, nor on the longer list of services that they do not provide, was there anything listed that would apply to my situation by any stretch of definition. She waved it off, “Oh, that doesn’t matter. You’re just going in for a consult.”
So, I took off from work for an hour and a half on Thursday morning to go talk to the legal services clinic. As soon as I was seen, they informed me that they were very sorry, but they only do Family Law. They were very nice about it though, so I harbor no resentment against them. I expressed my acute dissatisfaction with the counselor who had referred me there. Not only was my hour long therapy decidedly anti-therapeutic and unhelpful, she had now wasted an hour and a half of my time and made me leave work for a fool’s errand. They gave me her supervisor’s phone number and I left a complaint because that woman seriously needs additional training. They also suggested that I contact CALCASA for help regarding the Great SFPD/Surveillance Roadblock of 2012. This goose chase is getting wilder.
CALCASA gives support to rape crisis centers and community support organizations. They’re not exactly hands-on for the individual. However, my oldest friend in the world just so happens to be on their Board of Directors. I texted her to ask her Bay Area colleagues if they recommend anything. She said she would let me know.
I haven’t heard anything yet.
Nor has the rape crisis center called me back within the “day or two” that they promised to let me know that I’ve been reassigned a new counselor.
Hurry up and wait. I’m sure glad I’m not holding my breath. I’d be dead by now.
I guess the next obvious course of action is to contact Victims’ Assistance to get help with Victims’ Compensation. I might as well try to recoup my costs so far. Besides, there’s nothing else I can do right now except want to kick things and be pissed off. At least calling Victims’ Assistance is something constructive. I just hope it won’t prove to be yet another positive sounding step that turns out to be an empty farce.