>This post was written by Kaliya Franklin and originally appeared at Benefit Scrounging Scum. It’s reposted here with permission
Imagine you’re four. You love your parents, your friends, the way the light comes through your curtains early in the morning, twinkling on the walls while you wait in your princess room patiently for mummy and daddy’s wake up time. Your favourite things are pink ballons and fairies, when it’s all a bit confusing around you you know you’re safe as long as you can catch sight of those pink flashes and know mum and dad are close. You love to give cuddles, hugs so tight there’s no room to wiggle and when you get excited you rock back and forth from foot to foot, arms spiralling joyfully.
One day a new clipboard lady comes to see your mum and dad. You see them cry and decide you don’t like this clipboard lady, you wonder where the clipboard lady you remember has gone. Mummy and Daddy are sad so you hug them then fling yourself to the floor and scream so the clipboard lady will go away. It works so next time you decide to scream louder and kick your feet harder to be sure she’ll go before your mum and dad cry.
Next time the clipboard lady comes with lots of other people to take you away. Lots of big words you don’t understand like ‘aggressive’ ‘confrontational’ and ‘care order’ float around the room and you can’t see your pink balloons so scream and scream. Mummy and Daddy cry and tell you to be a good girl, that you’ll love your new home, it’ll be full of your favourite things to do, they’ll come to see you soon.
When you get there it’s all scary and wrong. It smells funny and the light doesn’t wake you up in the mornings anymore. No-one knows you like to be woken up by the light and they wouldn’t care if they did. The days are long, no painting or ponies like you’re used to to fill the time and no-one comes to give you cuddles when you’re sad. You cry alot and have tantrums. You’re used to pink balloons and fairies when you have a tantrum, but without being able to see that you just kick more wildly, especially when the carers come to sit on you and hit you.
You might be only four but you can remember the important things Mummy and Daddy spent 18 years teaching you. You know how to hold out your hand and say ‘NO!’ in a loud voice if someone tries to touch you, to say the police will come to look after you, to call out for your Mummy so she knows to come to you. Mummy and Daddy were so proud of you for being their big girl and learning these skills, you try to remember that as you lie on the floor of your shower, surrounded by grown ups shouting at you, throwing cold water all over you, sitting on you and choking you. You cry and cry for your Mum but it just makes the carers hit you more. Sometimes the nurses come along and you look at them while you’re on the floor, pinned beneath a chair, but then someone puts a blanket over your head so you can’t look at them anymore. The blanket’s brown and scratchy and you cry for your pink balloons while they hit you some more.
You don’t get days out anymore. There used to be a car and Mummy and Daddy took you places with swings and slides. Swings, slides, light through the leaves and being happy slip further and further away until you’re not sure there was ever a world beyond beige walls with no pink to hide in to bear the slaps, pinches and pushdowns that are your new routine. You’re sure you remember your parents though and cry for them every day. You don’t know the reason they can’t come to visit is that now you’re a hospital resident 80 miles away from home and the car had to go because you’re no longer entitled to the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance and the Motability scheme. Mummy and Daddy are getting older and they had to care for you instead of going out to work. You don’t know they’re going cold and hungry now they’re unemployed not carers, you only know that no-one comes to see you except the people who hurt you.
You don’t know someone in the hospital did care. That they reported the abuse you are experiencing repeatedly. To their manager, to their manager’s manager, to the Care Quality Commission. You don’t know because no-one did anything, nothing ever changes now, the torture is your daily routine. You don’t know the word for torture, but you could give a better account of what it means than a prisoner in Guantanamo.
You don’t know that in the world outside your torture chamber that people talk alot about double funding, scroungers and fraud. Of something called a deficit, the need to cut costs and protect the vulnerable. You don’t know that because all the talk is of stamping out fraud and you’re so vulnerable no-one knows you exist.