On October 5th, 2014, with the first full day on the 6th, I began an indefinite duration Hunger Strike upon the State of Colorado, generally, and the Office of the Governor, specifically.
I’m doing this because I have hard evidence of a pattern of plea coercion and child abuse coverup at Boulder County Mental Health Center, Inc., in the form of a wire recording of one of their employees, Dan Shearer, admitting to doing it to me and defending his actions as business as usual and the practice of his team. The team he implicates was called the FACT Team, an intensive outpatient team that provided mental health services to adolescents, often over their objections, in Boulder County, Colorado.
I have made a seven-point request of the State. I have asked them to find a way to do a reliable, scientific inquiry to determine how often things like this happen and to proactively locate other instances (point #1), to fully investigate Mr. Shearer’s claims that he was acting in accord with his employer’s usual practices, that the whole team was aware of and supported his actions, and that he was working with the knowledge and support of the Department of Social Services (point #2), to find the other kids that Mr. Shearer would have done this to or that Boulder County Mental Health Center would have done this to and provide them a remedy for their cases (point #3), to prosecute Mr. Shearer criminally to the fullest extent of the law, and by every administrative means available (points #4 and 5), and lastly to provide me a remedy for my own case, even if the only way to do so is a pardon from the Governor (point #6) and to formally apologize to me for this having happened under the color of the State’s laws and authority (point #7).
How You can Support Me.
The best way to support me is to email the Governor’s chief of staff, Roxane White, at [email protected] and let her know you support my efforts, both to blow the whistle and to obtain justice for myself and everyone else this has happened to.
You can also follow my progress at my YouTube channel.
Here is why I Am Willing, if Required of Me, to Die on the Governor’s Doorstep.
I’ve lived my life as a civil rights activist, and have recently become a NGO delegate to the United Nations. I have a deep commitment to the principles of nonviolence, at least where a citizen engaging their own government is at issue.
So, I’m going to tell you the story of my shitty childhood.
It made me who I am today.
For the first eight years of my life, things had actually been good. I had the good fortune to have been identified as a prodigy, of sorts. I had the world at my fingertips and possibility opened before me. I was acting, solving algebraic equations in my head, programming computers, learning chemistry, and designing simple electronic circuits, all by the age of seven. I became eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild for principal work at four. It was said of me that I had an intellectual rarity of at least one in one hundred thousand — an IQ of 174, and that fact gave me access to much I would not have otherwise seen or learned. If it had not been for that era, I very much doubt I would have survived the years that followed intact – or however intactly I can honestly claim to have.
Perhaps I should have realized something was wrong. It’s good, though, to have a mother fawning all over one’s self, even making as big a deal as possible out of one’s gifts, even to others. Unfortunately, I would soon realize that the fawning was more important to my mother than whatever it was she happened to be fawning about.
At eight years old, everything would quickly change. I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with a psychotic disorder.
In an instant, my personal identity changed from prodigy to lunatic. My mother went from “Gifted Child Mom” to “Special Needs Child Mom” just as fast. Gone were the tutors and their lasers and robots and labs. Gone were the auditions and shoots. Gone were the adults with whom I’d spend hours discussing science, asking how the universe works. For a time, I wasn’t even allowed to read, as my parents feared that things I read in books would become symptoms, and they sought to limit what my mind had to work with.
In truth, I still don’t have a single, comprehensive theory for what happened. I was diagnosed with many things over the next few years: Psychotic Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder. It could have been any of these. They believed I was out of touch with reality. The most terrible possibility, however, is that it was none of these – that I was not even mentally ill.
What is certain is that I would be put on neuroleptic medication over my vocal objections and remain on that medication for eight years – until I was old enough to inherit control of my own future. It’s difficult to explain just what that means to someone who has not taken such drugs. When one says “medication”, images of Tylenol or insulin come to mind. When one speaks of psychotropic medication, one is inclined to think of SSRIs like Prozac. Harmless, well tolerated, even helpful things.
Neuroleptics are different. They are to the brain as chemotherapy is to the body. Even if they cure or manage the disease for which they are given, the costs are terrible and the suffering great. Worse still, the anguish caused by them is internal. It is an agony of the mind, a writhing of the soul.
Leonid Plyushch, a Soviet dissident and mathematician, described the experience thus: “I noted with horror the daily progression of my degradation. I lost interest in politics, then in scientific problems, finally in my wife and children. My speech became blurred; my memory worsened. In the beginning, I reacted strongly to the sufferings of other patients. Eventually I became indifferent. My only thoughts were of toilets, tobacco and the bribes to the male nurses to let me go to the toilet one more time. Then I began to experience a new thought: ‘I must remember everything I see here, I told myself, so that I can tell about it afterwards.”
Plyushch’s words resonate with me. I still find myself overcome by a feeling of great loss and greater outrage when I try to tell this story. My very mind was entered by others, who disregarded my pleas that they stop, and chemically ravaged. My genius was shackled. Life became colorless and grey. I stopped caring about anything. I lost the ability to experience happiness or joy. All these things were done to a child. For a time, I even lost the desire to have those half-remembered better days back, but some small little bit of me held on.
I was hospitalized on and off during those eight years. Being at home wasn’t much better than the hospital, but the hospital was unequivocally worse. At home, the drugs were no less awful, and I had to deal with my mother. The hospital held terrors of another sort entirely.
I remembered those precious times before I was sedated with these things – these drugs – these major tranquilizers – these neuroleptics. I remembered those early times and I held on, knowing that one day I would be able to stop what was being done to me, even if that day was ten years off, when I reached my eighteenth birthday.
But I grew impatient. Ten years is a long time, and it’s an even longer time when it’s longer than one has yet been alive.
Soon enough, my mother was diagnosed with her own mental illness. That conclusion had been come upon through her experience with my own psychiatrists. Within a year, she would be hospitalized several times in quick secession and have her own doctors. It was then I ventured that perhaps my mother’s reporting of my alleged issues was a result of her own illness – and not factually accurate. My doctors explained to me that it was typical for people with defective brains like mine to believe they were not ill, and used that reasoning to disregard the hypothesis I had proposed. I had “poor insight” so my argument was unworthy of any serious consideration, and certainly did not merit empirical testing.
I wasn’t entirely satisfied with their response. It smacked of an ad hominem fallacy, dismissing a contention because of an unrelated claim about the person who proposed it, but I could not force them to listen. It was beyond my power to demand they respond to my hypothesis on its own merits, and it looked just like something they had been trained to dismiss. People never listen to lunatics; there’s little more to it than that.
Time went on. My mother threw my father out of the house when I was ten years old amidst allegations of abuse and an incredibly nasty divorce ensued. I don’t know if my father ever actually abused my mother. I saw one incident, where he was physically restraining her, and, at the time, that was enough for me. I did not understand what I had seen, and, with my mother, one had to pick sides or face her wrath. I still lived with her, my father gone, so which side I was on wasn’t something that was open to much deliberation. Besides, one’s critical thinking, especially one’s ability to spontaneously see alternate interpretations of the same data, is diminished by neuroleptic drugs. When on them, you listen to what you’re told by people with power. You obey, even if what you are told is wrong. My mother had all the power she needed.
In the moral outrage my mother suggested I should have at my father, I broke off contact. When the custody evaluator, for the divorce, interviewed me, I said everything my mother had about him, often verbatim. Not a single one of my comments was original. My mother denied coaching me, but all my words were hers. Worse, I believed them. My father was the source of all the world’s evil and she was shielding me from him, often at great personal cost. My mother had spent years speaking about my father’s abuses and evils non-stop – emotionally manipulating me so that I would agree with her and take her side in the divorce. This fact was not missed by the custody evaluator. To that evaluator, it had been painfully obvious my mother actively drove a wedge between my father and I, using all she told me to ensure I’d take her side in the custody battle. The term the custody evaluator used was “Parental Alienation Syndrome.” I was used as a tool – a weapon – against my father. The truth meant nothing to my mother, as long as she got what she wanted.
The custody evaluator was unimpressed. She ultimately came to the conclusion my mother had “Munchhausen’s Syndrome by Proxy” – that she was intentionally making myself and other members of my family sick. She had been caught telling lies about symptoms when the stories she told the doctors were cross-checked with what she told the schools with what she told the custody evaluator. She had been suspected of giving improper doses of medications to make other members of my family and me appear more out of it and aloof. I can attest to the fact she did this, though I cannot speak to her reasons.
Usually, she exaggerated actual events so they seemed pathological. Occasionally, she came up with outright fabrications.
Of course, I would not actually read the custody evaluation report until many years later – just a few years ago. When I was a child, my mother only told me of its existence. She described it as a terrible accusation that had been wrongly made against her. She had once again been the victim, but this time the system was abusing her.
The catch was that it made sense. All the hallmarks were there. She had worked in the medical field, as a transcriptionist. She had detailed knowledge of the illnesses for which I was being treated. She knew what to say to simulate an episode, and she had a penchant for exaggeration. She had been caught telling lies. And she seemed to enjoy talking about her mentally ill child, and what a burden it was to care for me. It was what passed for socialization with her.
I had already suggested that was taking place, years earlier, though I did not then know what to call it. I had simply said that I thought her own mental illness explained the things she told the doctors treating me. Of course, no one had listened. They never do.
It made me wonder about all my childhood hospitalizations for croup, and the two or three times I was radiologically scanned for various rare childhood cancers – only to turn up nothing, and other strange tests the purposes of which I don’t even remember. I had never thought about that before. Other members of my family likewise had infant and early childhood hospitalizations for various rare and unusual problems. I will never know if she did something to bring those events about or not. I have only dim memories and doubts, and the later conclusions of forensic investigators. I have resigned myself to the fact I will never have more data – let alone answers – about what happened. I will only have suspicions: well-grounded, but suspicions all the same.
None of that should have mattered, though. My mother had been caught. Her manipulations were laid bare. It should have ended there.
It did not.
Through various machinations including the burning of my mother’s treatment records to prevent their use as evidence against her and dragging the divorce on in the courts for another year, beyond what it had already taken, my mother was able to force my father to settle with her out of court. When I was twelve, it was final and I stayed with my mother. My father ended up financially supporting my mother to a significant degree. I’m told my father didn’t want me, but it’s hardly surprising, since I wasn’t speaking to him at the time.
My mother was devastated at losing custody of her other kids. I thought they had been condemned to live with an evil and abusive man. My mother explained the system did that to people, because no one could stop it. I wondered why no one did. There seemed to me to be very little justice in the universe.
Shortly, I would learn just how little justice there really is in this world.
With my father out of my mother’s life, she was at a loss. She was no longer a victim, but she had grown used to it. I think the only way she knew how to relate to people was to elicit their sympathy about her victimhood. After all, the typical reason for a parent’s actions in a case of Munchhausen’s Syndrome by Proxy is to elicit sympathy for their child’s illness and to elicit approval for how well they’re taking care of that illness. The child’s suffering becomes the parent’s social life, even though that suffering was inflicted by the same. Whether through abuse, illness, or the rule of law, my mother was always a victim of something. She enjoyed making a big deal about being put upon.
Because of that fact, and the sheer number of different people my mother has accused of abusing her, I doubt all of her allegations. I would say I doubt she was ever abused, but it seems to me that, surely, at least once, in the beginning, it had to be real. Else, how did she become who she was? I don’t know if that abuser was her first husband or her parents. She, of course, accused them of abuse, too. Her father was just like my father, she said. I can’t even know for sure it was ever real, but I think believing that who she became by the time she was my mother was a result of something terrible done to her helps me explain her. It helps me view her with some sympathy, despite all the pain and damage she caused. Whether that theory is true, I cannot say.
With the divorce final and my siblings gone, she only had one thing left that served to place her in the victim role: my insanity. The last thing she did in the divorce was have the custody evaluator’s report sealed. The proof of what was happening to me slipped through my fingers, but I remembered her own telling of what that report had said, and I knew right where it was, even though it was out of reach.
It wasn’t long before she had me hospitalized again. She claimed that I threatened her with a knife. No such thing took place, but that didn’t matter. I was a mental patient in need of treatment, and that claim empowered entirely new doctors to ensure I got that treatment whether I wanted it or not.
With my father’s departure, I had inherited his role. It actually surprised me how quickly I went from the one person on her side against my father and the world to everything she had said my father had been. In a critically-brief moment, I had become the new source of all the evil in the world, and all that was wrong in my mother’s life. I was now not only mental patient, but abuser as well. My mother had created a dynamic around her where she could once again bask in the light of victimhood. That it wasn’t true didn’t matter to her or anyone else. I was a lunatic, and people never listen to lunatics. There’s little more to it than that.
Of course, a mental hospital is a very different place when one is fourteen years old. Adolescents, especially well read prodigies, even if that prodigy is diluted and sedated to the point of little more than a memory, understand civics. They understand rights, and law, and due process. A child may accept an undeserved punishment, because there’s little else to do. A teenager will object.
I objected, and in doing so, learned far too much about power.
I was told my mother’s allegations were why I was being held in the hospital by a smug social worker who assured me that, when I was medicated properly, I would thank them for doing so. I asked them for a review of the facts, and told them about my mother’s Munchhausen’s by Proxy, and even that a report existed confirming it. They noted my statements in my chart with these words, “seems paranoid ‘my mother is telling lies about me’”. My own words became diagnostic of psychosis, because they couldn’t be bothered to look into the report I told them about by name and date, while telling them how to get the case number. They didn’t listen, and they had all the power they needed not to. I suspect that’s why they never do.
This phenomena is not unheard of. It even has a name. The Martha Mitchell effect, it’s called, named for the alleged delusions of a woman who claimed illegal activities were taking place in the white house. She sounded crazy, and she might have been, but, then again, she was married to Nixon’s Attorney General.
Martha Mitchell spent several years committed to a mental hospital at her husband’s urging before Woodward and Bernstein’s reporting set her free.
There is a famous paper, entitled “On Being Sane in Insane Places” by D. L. Rosenhan, describing an experiment in which mental health workers and academics faked one symptom of a mental illness – a one-word hallucination, in order to be admitted to a mental hospital. Once admitted, they stopped faking their symptom, and recorded what happened. The question asked was simple. In a mental hospital, can personnel recognize sanity? Most study participants were diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Everything they did was construed in a manner consistent with the illness they were diagnosed with and the theories about it that were popular at the time. Ordinary actions became symptoms of a pathology. All of them were held, some for months; each when ultimately discharged was listed as having been in remission but suffering from a lifelong disease. None were found sane. Confirmation bias has never seen clearer proof, and doctors are not immune. They see what they expect to see, and they always manage to find it.
The paper created quite a controversy. Surely it couldn’t be real. Things like that don’t happen. It was impossible. No one wants to believe things like that are real – and happening right now. I fear it’s happening to some poor kids as you read this, this very day, a generation after me, with no end in sight.
I have to believe it’s real. I lived it. For eight years.
When I told them I wanted meaningful due process, they scoffed at me and told me I was a voluntary patient. My mother had signed me in, and, at my age, that was all that was required. I told them she was lying, but that just made them all the more sure I was paranoid. I demanded to file a writ of habeas corpus, seeking court review of the detention I was protesting, but voluntary patients have no access to the courts.
Recall, this was a false allegation, and documented evidence of the Munchhausen’s Syndrome by Proxy existed. It’s just that that was always somebody else’s problem. My mother even recanted her claim involving the knife, once I was in the door of the hospital, but that didn’t stop them. They were acting for my own good, and the claim my mother made was only required to get the cops to bring me through the door. It wasn’t required to keep me there.
I was held incommunicado, unable to even try to reach someone other than my mother who might be able to help explain what was really going on, or actually reach a courthouse with papers to file. I couldn’t reach out to allies, friends, or even legal counsel. I couldn’t tell anyone what was happening to me who wasn’t institutionally uninterested in hearing it.
So, I decided to demonstrate I was not a voluntary patient. I had complied with their desire to keep me confined behind locked doors up until that point. One day, I refused to go back to the unit. I told them that if they considered me voluntary, they might mistake my cooperation for consent, and I didn’t want that mistake to be possible. I suggested they force me. They obliged.
My chart tells me it took five adults to restrain me. I suppose it could have been five. I recall two of them grabbing me, one under each arm, and taking me inside the next set of onion-layered locking doors. Inside, I put my feet down, so more came to carry my feet. I was taken back onto the acute unit, and slammed face down on a bare mattress in the seclusion room. There, a number of people held me down. They had both arms, both legs, and someone else was on top of me, knee in my back.
I didn’t find the dragging terribly disturbing. I knew that was coming. I had dared them to do it, and people like that rarely miss an opportunity to exercise power. What affected me was when they held me down in the seclusion room. I don’t know what I expected. I suppose I thought they’d just drop me off in seclusion and leave. That’s all that would have been required for them to make their point.
When they held me down, I panicked. I wasn’t ready for that. I squirmed and tried to get away. It didn’t help that I was having difficulty breathing because of the one on my back. I was terrified. They told me that if I stopped resisting, they would let go. I don’t think anyone being held face down by five men could just stop resisting.
They called the psychiatrist over to give the order to sedate me. I knew that was coming, and that it would just be worse when I woke up. Somehow, I managed to turn off my fight and flight instincts. I stopped moving and went limp, just as they instructed when I begged them not to inject me. I don’t know exactly what happened in that moment, but something inside me changed, and not for the better. I had broken.
These are not good places. Any disobedience will result in a takedown like I just described – and a righteous demand for justice is disobedience by their reckoning. You can be restrained and secluded (placed in solitary confinement) for the mere crime of insulting your captors, failing to immediately obey questionable commands, or just because they feel like it. They are accountable to no one.
These places claim to be for “behavior modification,” but their only purpose is the breaking of the human spirit. You are well when they have broken your will. The identification of behavior modification through techniques including the forcible use of restraint, aversive treatment, or sedating medication as torture under international law is currently under review by the United Nations.
Worse things even than I have described happen in these places. One prominent example was at a facility I was also held at briefly, and again happened to a family member of mine. He was forced to shower in human fecal matter because the nurses were too lazy to clean out the shower and didn’t care what was in there. His choice was to comply or be taken down and restrained. He complied.
Thanks to his experiences, and my own experiences at other facilities, I knew to be passively obedient, even submissive, and was allowed to leave that particular hospital quickly. I saw things I should have stood up to, but I saw no hope of effective resistance, so I did not resist. Had I tried, as I did with my earlier “habeas corpus” protest, it is likely they would have been able to hold me indefinitely, without recourse, reprieve, or any hope of review under the law. They had wanted to place me in residential treatment: confinement for perhaps two years, but my submission earned me a reprieve.
This whole time, I was on those drugs that Plyushch described and am reminded of his words: “In the beginning, I reacted strongly to the sufferings of other patients. Eventually I became indifferent. … Then I began to experience a new thought: I must remember everything I see here, I told myself, so that I can tell about it afterwards.”
That particular facility killed two kids in ten years, in restraint situations, just like the one I experienced, and broke another kid’s back. They were caught jumping immediately to restraint for minor infractions, and using it as a discipline technique, just as happened to me and as I saw happen to many others, despite the fact such a thing violates established law and professional ethics.
They used potentially lethal responses at the first sign of disobedience – on children – and sometimes that potential was actualized.
Over that decade, between the murders, children were pulled out by social services, in individual cases, a few at a time, citing safety issues at the facility, but still no one stopped them. It took injuries, countless traumatized children who were quickly taught that might makes right and the only capital that counts in this world is force, and eventually another death to force major changes. Still that facility remains open. Still they confine children. Still I fear for their safety.
That place, while particularly awful, was not remarkable among the hospitals in which I was held growing up. These are places where the treating professionals have absolute power over those they treat. Law is silent. Justice is absent. Abuses run rampant. Force rules all.
When someone speaks up outside the hospital, they are ignored. No one listens to lunatics. There’s little more to it than that.
Eventually, I was allowed to go home, under a new kind of intensive outpatient treatment called the FACT Team. They had wanted to hold me in long-term (read: years) residential treatment, but couldn’t find the money.
The FACT team was only marginally better. They came to my home, and did all they could to bring the hospital with them. Thankfully, that did make it harder to use restraints. Unfortunately, neuroleptics are quite small and portable.
During this time, my mother became more and more violent. As she began to associate me in her mind with her father, her first husband, and my father, she became angrier and angrier.
With them, she had felt powerless, but I was only a child. She could punish me for all she had endured. She became physically abusive and worse.
Still, being abused by my mother was better than being in the Hospital. At least my mother was also nice sometimes. She was a monster, but she wasn’t a monster all the time. At the hospital, the cruelty never stops. There, it is institutional.
The FACT team was aware of the abuse. They even knew about the Munchhausen’s Syndrome by Proxy. I didn’t know that when I was under their care, but I was later able to prove they were not only aware, but even believed me about it. At the time, I thought they believed I was paranoid. I didn’t imagine they were actually ignoring me for their own convenience, and simply using paranoia as an excuse.
Sadly, that did not stop them. Once you are considered insane, nothing can convince them otherwise.
When I was sixteen, the police wanted to arrest my mother. She had made the mistake of abusing me in front of a witness – another member of my family – and she would have gone down for it. Had that happened, it’s possible what happened next would not have taken place.
It’s strange, really, that after everything I’d been through, and everything I’d seen, the worst of it would be so small a thing.
The FACT team intervened and got my mother off the hook. They talked the police out of arresting her. They did so because they wanted to keep the case within the FACT Team, and get it off their plates as quickly as possible even though they were aware of the abuse and doing nothing about it.
The FACT team worked with the State’s social services department. The State wasn’t going to stop it.
After that, it became clear to me that if anyone was going to stop the abuse, it was going to have to be me. I suddenly understood that day, years earlier, I had seen my father restraining my mother. She had been attacking him, and he had used the minimum possible force to stop her. And I had believed him an abuser for it.
In the summer of that year, when I was sixteen years old, after letting my mother back me into a corner, on my bed, in the back of my bedroom, I decided to make my stand. I had already raised my arms in a defensive posture, but she bit me to deprive me of my passive shield. I told her that if she came at me, I would stop her. Three times I warned her. (Well, twice I asked her to back off, then I warned her I was prepared to use force to stop her if she attacked.) I don’t think she believed me. For all her accusations, she had never actually seen me use violence or even defend myself. Especially not from her.
She called my bluff, but in doing so miscalculated. It was no bluff. As her hand moved inbound at me, I knocked it away, then promptly pushed her out of my room, locked the door, and called the police.
Naturally, when the police arrived, I was arrested for battery. I was processed and returned to my mother within about two hours. All the while, I told them I was being abused. The police had even requested a welfare placement, but the Juvenile processing facility just ignored that. The place I was taken says in their printed materials that they do not do welfare placements, and they felt I was not dangerous to my mother and therefore did not need to be held as a dangerous lunatic.
Because I was the one arrested, their procedures were not written to care if she was a danger to me. No one cared, or could seem to find a record of the history of abuse, or the fact my mother had been caught red handed just months before. As the FACT team worker said, “I don’t want to incriminate myself.”
They presented me with an impossible choice – plead no contest, try to mount a defense pro se proving I was an abuse victim who acted so lawfully it was in accordance with police use of force procedures, while still living with my mother, with her signature required on all the paperwork I had to file with the court to try and prove she was abusing me, or get myself put in a hospital, as that’s all social services seemed to know how to do.
Plus, I knew from experience, if I tried to subpoena any records, she’d destroy them sometime between signing the subpoena as my guardian and the time I could file it with the court. She wouldn’t give me a ride, so she’d probably destroy the records while I was walking several miles to the court with the subpoena. (Of course, she’d never sign the subpoena in the first place, and would probably beat me for having the audacity to ask.)
Franz Kafka couldn’t have come up with a more absurd process. I finally had access to due process of law, admittedly as a criminal defendant, except for the part where my guardian got to call the shots on what papers I could file and I wasn’t permitted defense counsel, while that same guardian was the one making the accusation and abusing me.
I was told if I didn’t go along with the plea deal FACT (yes, the mental health team that shielded my mother from arrest) negotiated, in lieu of a lawyer, I would likely end up in a long-term hospital – and that my mother would make something else up and have me placed in a residential therapeutic setting if I did not comply.
FACT wanted a means to keep me in treatment, knowing about the Munchhausen’s, knowing about the abuse, and they described it as wanting to have a metaphorical “two by four” or a “baseball bat” to ensure my compliance. Those words are on tape, recorded ten years later, though the person saying them was not aware I was wearing a wire. They knew I didn’t want to be on the medication, and the best analogy they could come up with for their interest in the matter was hitting a battered child with a stick.
It was explained to me by the FACT Team this was possible because there were special laws for people like me, as a mental patient. It’s just that those special laws required me to plead guilty and did not allow for a defense. Once again, I was without due process of law, but this time, I was asked to participate in a charade of the same.
I was faced with consenting to an improper determination of guilt on the one hand, or the loss of my entire future on the other. I could have become attached to the system when I became 18 – and that could have ended up with me in a guardianship – and I would have spent my entire life without the right to control my own affairs, on sedating medication, and without freedom. The adulthood I had waited ten years for, so I could finally free myself from the system, and discontinue the medication, could have been taken away if I did not enter that plea. This is not because I was guilty, but because I was not in a position to be able to present a defense. I was, once again, overpowered by force. I still lived with my abuser and I had no way out. I was still a minor.
So, after all my struggles, all my fighting, I gave in one last time. This was the worst, though, because they made me say the words. Every time before this, it was enough for them to control my body. This time, they wanted me to accept upon and into myself the whole of their oppression. And they got what they wanted.
One of the only things that kept me intact through my whole ordeal was that I never failed to say “this is wrong.” They mostly disregarded it. I was a lunatic after all. But I had protested, and if I could have nothing else, that was enough. They may have been able to hold me down, suffocatingly, but they couldn’t stop me from telling them it made them bad people.
I wanted so badly, this time, too, to do the noble, stupid thing, and say to that court “I have been instructed to enter a guilty plea, under threat of force, but I do not wish to. I want to present a defense, but I cannot do so living with my mother, because she’ll abuse me for simply trying.” The problem was that I understood what would happen. First, the court would enter a not guilty plea on my behalf. Then, they’d send me home with my mother as they always did. Then, I’d get my ass kicked and they would stand idly by and do nothing. After that, they would put me in a hospital and force medication upon me on the basis of allegations they knew would be false, even though the allegations they would use to do so hadn’t even been made yet. Lastly, I’d show up for my trial, drooling and sedated, and be expected to somehow act as my own defense counsel (at 17 years old) and prove I was the victim of my mother’s abuse, who’d be sitting next to me at the defense table, all without being permitted preparation, discovery, or the subpoena of witnesses.
I needed something more powerful than I to stand in their way, but there was no such thing. No help came from any quarter. I stood utterly alone, and I was overpowered.
So I said the words I still hate myself for. “No Contest.” Though threatened by unlawful and extrajudicial force, I gave the appearance of my consent. I failed to protest. Never before had my breaking been so complete. Never before was I so helpless, so powerless, or so alone as in that moment.
I had been physically forced to comply, long before that time. I spent eight years on terrible, terrible medications against my will. I had watched abuses perpetrated on other kids. A member of my own family had been forced to bathe in feces. This was none of those things. The case resulted in a piece of paper – one that said I accepted guilt for something in which I bore none – but nothing was done to me physically by the system as a result of it. Yet, somehow that moment is the most terrible I have ever lived.
Odd that a piece of paper can be so significant a thing.