In these enlightened times we deliberately choose to use language to more accurately describe the types of attitudes we think are morally important for society as a whole. For this reason we refer to people who have experienced sexual abuse as survivors, and try to avoid calling Maori cannibals.
This is the essence of “Politically correct” (a term I hate) namely respect expressed through language. It is of course very possible to also convey respect through behaviour.
We have higher expectations of Minister’s and others in the public eye because we understand that they lead, through the media exposure they naturally receive, and the respect and admiration they don’t always deserve.
Survivors in my experience don’t expect special treatment, mostly because most survivors don’t have any need or desire to “go public” with their story. Louise Nicholas did, because her story needed to be told, and the ensuing debate about power, rape, abuse and our cultural attitudes around sex and sexuality was one we needed to have as a country.
So we would hope even though Nick Smith seems oblivious to the impact of the actions of ACC, he might have some idea about how to respond in a respectful manner to a public survivor of sexual assault, especially when she is just engaged in doing her job as an advocate, and endeavouring to present her concerns to the Minister for ACC. See TVNZ’s report here.
The scary thing is that at the risk of being generous to the Minster I don’t believe he is lying, I think he genuinely believes he did nothing wrong in terms of both saying no, and in the manner with which he did it. I hope I’m wrong because in a way that is even more scary than him lying.
Which brings us to today’s story in the Sunday Star Times, about a very courageous young woman who has also chosen to tell her story publically in the hope of exposing ACC’s treatment of her to public scrutiny.
The essence of this story is very simple, she was getting better, all her clinicians agreed she was getting better and treatment was effective, ACC stoped treatment, and she got worse again. I don’t think anyone can claim her symptoms aren’t a result of trauma:
“Getting raped every single night when I go to sleep. I can only sleep for 45 minutes before I wake up screaming,”
And yet the only justification ACC can give is that their so called clinical experts decreed:
“the long-term counselling has created a dependency that has been counter-productive”.
Counter-productive to what exactly?
Lastly I would like to invite you to all visit this site, and get behind the Inaugural Survivors of Sexual Abuse Summit.
Feel free to register, get involved, or simply donate time, services or money. Survivors have had a pretty rough year, and this is something small we can all do to further show our support.