The short version is because I know what it is to need help. The long version:
I’ve been living here for over three years now. A week before I moved in, I was attacked in the hospital when I went in for a routine surgery. I was threatened with death if I went to the police, so I was too scared to report it. After that, I was really sick. At first, I didn’t really notice how bad it was, because a friend was helping me with errands and housework. But after a few things happened, I began to be scared he was involved in the attack somehow. I would have strange feelings of euphoria after eating food he’d given me, then the next day sudden suicidal feelings which lasted a few days.
Huge red flag! It was really out of the ordinary for me to feel any of that. My emotions, which are usually in a specific range of volatility, were going up and down like a yoyo outside of that range, and even meditation didn’t do anything. I wasn’t in control of myself and there was nothing out of the ordinary in what I was doing that would cause something like this. I stopped eating the food he gave me and especially the food he cooked for me, and started feeling more stable emotionally, even though I wasn’t eating as much food because I couldn’t afford to eat 3 meals a day.
I couldn’t afford that because I couldn’t go to the food bank.
When I went to the food bank a month or so after moving in, there was a guy volunteering there who I’d met at a party. He said he wanted to talk to me about something, so I got his number and called up. He said he had a job offer.
By the staff that worked in the food bank I was given a 2L of milk (due that day), despite explaining that I can’t eat milk, only cultured milk, lactose-free milk or cheeses. I was given cans that were dented and past due. I was also given an item that my abusive ex-fiance had placed into the donation box over three years prior and half the town away. So I never went back to the food bank, because I knew the person running it was connected to my ex somehow. But I did go to the meeting to discuss this job offer. I was willing to work and willing to listen.
We met for coffee to discuss this job offer. Turns out, he wanted to help me become a Dominatrix. For $200 an hour. He would be happy to be my first client, and would connect me with the owner of a dungeon or two I could work out of.
I thought “Hey, tie guys up and whip them while making cash? Sure, sign me up!” – But then he explained that I would have to have sex with the clients. He explained that they say they don’t have sex with clients in order to get around the laws around prostitution, but that they ALL do it, even the ones that turn their noses up at “prostidommes” who they say are destroying the industry by giving men the expectation of sex along with their leather and latex. I turned down the “generous” offer.
One, I’m not sure I’m 100% clean after being raped years back and the Doctor refused to give me the printout of my results and told me to stop eating yogurt because “it causes thick smelly discharge” – a quick internet search shows the opposite. Two, I’m asexual and I believe that here in Canada only people who really want to become prostitutes should do it. (I have met some people who say that’s their dream career. I can’t understand that. Not for me!) Three, I was a singing teacher before and I know I have the potential to make a decent living with my talent as long as I’m well enough to work even part-time, so why would I want to do something that I’m totally not interested in instead of something I love and am good at?
However, in order to be well enough to work part-time, I need to eat properly (about $400 a month not $100) and I need medical attention for why I’m even more tired after the rape than I was before the rape, and why I’m even more tired after the attack three years ago.
He introduced me to a woman at the coffeeshop, but I didn’t talk with her at all because I’d already turned down the job. I don’t remember her name, but I do remember what she looks like. He just said she was someone he wanted me to meet. Didn’t say anything about why, or what she did. I thought she was probably one of those dungeon owners he was talking about.
After that, when I got up and left, I noticed that the conversation may have been recorded by one of the people who had attacked me in the hospital, as one of them was having a webcam conversation with the other one, sitting right near our table.
About a year after that, after repeated efforts to convince my caseworker that I needed the extra $100 a month from transportation allowance to be able to even FIND a doctor to begin to get all the paperwork signed for special diet, and an application for disability, were fruitless. I noticed the woman from that coffeeshop appointment going into the welfare building as I left. She was in a crowd of other caseworkers I’d seen working there.
That’s right. She was a social worker in her day job, and works in the very office that’s refusing me services I’m legally entitled to receive as a Canadian Citizen. My own caseworker refuses to allow me to meet her supervisor, but when I described what the woman looked like, my caseworker said yes, that’s what her supervisor looks like.
These people attacked me, then offered me a job as a prostitute, then purposely starved me and denied me access to medical care when I turned down the job!
I’m sure this sounds crazy. It sounds crazy as I’m typing it. I lived it and still think it sounds crazy. But think – if you were a dungeon owner running a prostitution ring, what better position to find desperate young and beautiful women to work there, than a caseworker SUPERVISOR? Access to multiple people’s private information, photo ID, info on whether they have family members to help them be more resilient… every bit of info you’d need to select a target is in those files. And every bit of power you’d need to turn the screw to make them even MORE desperate!
This, after living either homeless or at-risk for seven years after my first boyfriend broke up with me and went around asking everyone if they though I was using him for money? He didn’t go around asking them if they thought I really loved him and wanted to marry him, no, he used that exact phrasing so they’d get the idea in their heads! So that when he tossed me out like garbage nobody would help me, not even the Church where I’d gotten him gigs. He was the one who offered to give me money, and almost forced me to take it. I only asked him for ONE THING the entire time we were together… and that was to have a microphone he wasn’t using anymore so I could record something to sell. I was already too tired then for regular work and was determined to sell my music online. That’s right, when I asked him for help to make a music album, all I wanted was a microphone, not a ton of money when he had several just lying around!
Think of the infrastructure needed to victimize someone like this, and it becomes startlingly similar to the infrastructure you’d need to HELP someone: shelter staff sort people into streams, passing on a client’s info to a housing worker, who then finds a vacant subsidized place under the jurisdiction of a caseworker supervisor with a food bank nearby the target will eventually have to go to because the government doesn’t give people enough money for food… all you have to do is place key people into key areas such as the ONE legal aid office they’re entitled to go to… the TWO nearby medical offices that have lost me off their waiting lists twice… one caseworker supervisor to make sure the target is truly starving and truly desperate for money…
And now I’m facing eviction over a paperwork error. A PAPERWORK ERROR.
Why? Because I refused to become a prostitute? Because I was only supposed to be here a couple of years and make enough money to move out by now? Because they have another woman (or beautiful young man) waiting to move in who might actually say yes to the offer?
I don’t know. But I do know, even without the weirdness of the attacks and prostitution offers, this is wrong. This is no way to treat someone who wants to work and just needs good food and medical care to either make that happen via self-employment or go on disability finally after over 15 years of being too chronically tired for a regular job.
During the time I spent in the shelters, I never met someone who didn’t WANT to work, didn’t WANT to make something better of themselves than this. I only met people, human beings, who wanted to do whatever they could to make their lives better.
We all deserve support to make that happen. This is CANADA. Let’s work together to make it happen, in my life and in the lives of anyone else I can touch.