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Witness Abuse



A few days per week, we play Bingo and sit at the same seats ususally. So we had just finished a game and we were waiting to collect our prizes. The staff was going through the shift change and the talking was loud in the common room next to the nurse's station. But I never mind because the air is coolest in this room and I ususally bring a scarf or wrap for when the air conditioning is too enthusiastic.One of the CNAs said, "I just want to fix her hair!" and she was looking at an Afrian American woman. Her name was made known to me one day in Bingo when everyone was calling her one name but she could say "nuhhuhhhh!" So Igave her pen and paper to see if she could write it. Stroke left her laughing all the time and unable to walk or speak. They said cognitive problems too, But she was able to understand what I said and wrote her name down. I did not see her for quite a while but then I met her husband when Iwent around walking like I do and saying hello on my way. Then there was a day that she came to bingo and a new CNA decided to brush her hair vigorously and viloently are words I use because she held her head and moved as far as she could away and moaned loudly. I sat at my place at a bingo table and I yelled hey stop that to the CNA who told me she knew how to take care of that kind of hair and I needed to mind my own. I spoke to the people at my table saying this is abuse and my friend said well report it and I know by the time bingo breaks up she will have forgotten if she won or if I saw abuse. My African American friend was silent but later said that she should have said something. The other CNAs I called to stop the hairbrushing just went about their business as if I was invisible. And we wonder if never forget is enough to remind us.

Of course I reported it to all the powers that be. But I was told that an adult must report her own abuse even if she cannot talk and that is out of the mouth of the ombudsman who is our protector and voice according to some office that be. Only her husband could report the abuse if he wanted to believe another inmate here that his wife was abused here but I could not be going around accusing staff willy nilly. Well how about a room full of silent witnessness? I do not know much about hair care period but I would know if someone's pet was being tormented. And I know someone would come out and rescue it. Interesting that here in this place the most incapable to speak for themselves and who is here to witness abuse? Will an inservice stop an abuser? Ironically this woman has a husband who is kind and visits weekly and he is as huge as a football player and so are her sons. I wonder how they would react to a video of their mother's new hairdresser. I was a fool to use miy words to call on others silenced. The witness today is the video. But I was already asked not to bring out my phone to take pictures of other residents without their permission. That is funny when previously the activities director asked me to email me the photos of the belly dancer that came for father's day. Residents were in the background of the belly dancer so they are in the pictures. I never emailed any of the pictures. Many of the residents have cell phones. In the future years all residents will have them and then the voiceless will have a chance perhaps.


I know my grandmother would be proud I spoke out just as sure as she would be saddened there is still room for no protection.

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Pam, it probably happens over and over that the voiceless have their rights abused.  I was so glad with Ray that the other in his room told me what was happening with him, reported on any neglect and mistreatment issues so I could go and make inquiries myself. I always felt so helpless when I left him each day as I knew it was my presence that made a difference, made the CNAs wash him and dress him nicely and comb his hair because i could come by any time and make a comment on his appearance and ask "who dressed him today?" Good friends are a protection and yes we shouldn't let bad behavior slip pass unrecognized,  Unfortunately those insiders are without power and there is little else that they can do.

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