Today was a day that I felt I lived contemplating. Over the last few weeks a lot of my perspectives on life have shifted and I have started to really look at myself and critique the way my mind functions. Most importantly I have been zoning in to my own stereotypes, assumptions and generalisations as well as judgements.. For someone who is against and becomes bad tempered from the afore mentioned list.. I realise I am extremely guilty of them all through out my daily life.
Today I sat in on a young person giving a statement to police about some allegations of assault that staff members have made. I won’t get into the specifics but the team had decided that people were being hurt at work and perhaps an external figure needs to come into play. I feel somewhat indifferent towards the situation… Staff members weren’t badly injured and the patient is young and distressed, whether or not reporting the incidents to the police will help I don’t know. All I know she is extremely challenging to work with and so if people have ideas of tapping into her psyche then why not?!? It’s worth the try..
Anyways, sitting in the room.. Silently observing.. There was so much going through my mind. In attendance was 2 police officers, mother of the perpetrator and the perpetrator in question.
There were so many dynamics in the room I have to confess I don’t know how i wasn’t paralysed by all the projections…
We had 2 police officers.. Strangely enough 1 acting as bad cop and one good cop.
There was mum who appeared to be in complete denial.
Patient who was exhibiting mild forms of anxiety, shaking legs, sitting and standing, muttering under her breathe.
And… Myself, sitting away from the group on my lonesome in silence.
For the hour I did my best to not display any engagement however also made an effort to not look vacant, as if I wasn’t in the room at all. There were times when all of the different parties looked to me for support or encouragement on particular topics however I refused to provide them with information. The patient frequently turned my way for reference.
I sat thinking about the road in currently on… Of course taking note of the situation in real time. But I spent some time looking at mum, listening to her responses that her daughter gave.. I looked at her with my condescending eye thinking, mum looks like she’s an alchoholic…. However she just said she’s never been involved with the police before that, ‘this is all new to her’ – I saw the aging wrinkles around mums eyes the nonverbal communication between her and her daughter and I began to think of the history that lay behind them. Mum, in my opinion wasn’t doing much to make her daughter see the seriousness of her actions and these allegations, the fact that her 14year old was giving a statement to police about numerous assaults. I kept going back to mum, thinking about her… We were there about the allegations and mum was doing well. Mum stayed on point, didn’t give much away about herself at all and was supportive towards her daughter getting her side of the story out.
Then I noticed the police officers were now both joking around and colluding with the patient. Admittedly she is young, caucasian and pretty. At the same time she is a troubled young lady with demons visible on parts of her skin, a darkness that lies behind her eyes. Whilst I was aware she was an adolescent and the police would employ some young people tactics…. I felt for the situation they were too playful, too lenient, they became intent on counsellig this girl and motivating her to move forward with her life…
In my mind I started screaming at everyone.
I didn’t feel like anything that was happening was benefitting the young person but in fact it then became clear we were helping everyone’s anxieties about this young girl and not the actual issue.
Mum intent on giving the other side of her daughter. Repeatedly stating, ‘that’s not my daughter, she’s not herself’
Daughter not denying any of the allegations.
Police officers… Goofy one making jokes and pulling ofd faces when asking questions or answering to colleague.
Then ‘bad’ cop started offering advice which eventually led him to take his phone out and was showing pictures from Facebook to the young patient.
It was an interesting situation. Of course we can’t forget everyone in the room was there because they care. Everyone trying to do what they can for this little girl to fight those demons. I felt like although we want to help for the majority of the time our help becomes mixed up in our manifestations of our own anxieties and we don’t offer support to help the person we are anxious about.
Everyone tip toeing around the place. No one admitting that what we have here is a troubled young person who is lashing out and inflicting harm on her carers…. yet we sat and we sprinkled sugar dust all over her.
After the interview I fed back to our team that I don’t think the police offered the third (replacing missing dad) authoritive voice that was daughter after. Naturally people were downcast.
More generally speaking it made me think of this unconditional positive regard palaver. The stream of positive comments and words of encouragement I hear from people all day every day. Very few people I know will take things and give it back to you in a helpful honest you. I’m not talkin about a lack of empathy but more emotional insight into the person we are talking about. I feel that if we are more honest with people about how they make us feel about what we think of them then perhaps more positive outcomes will come as a result.
To sit in a room and make a young person giggle about violence and aggression is wrong.
If she was not Caucasian, blonde, blue eyed, athletic…. People perhaps wouldn’t be distracted by her outward appearance and could stay focused.
Alas, we approach all situations with such powerful preconceptions. And with a situation such as this the good external vs bad internal ….
I feel there is perhaps little way out for this young girl. No one appears able to just come right out and say it. It being honesty with humility. Instead we just tip toe and she remains in this twisted circle of distrust and mistruths.