Pamela MacDonald and Liz, Argyll and Bute Women’s Aid, July 2012 – February 2013
Please bear in mind that ABWA admitted culpability to the Care Inspectorate for this debacle (but not to me, never to me). I am not making this up. This shit actually happened.
So, as the events outlined in the rest of this blog had happened in the preceding 12 months, the very last thing I needed in my life was a duplicitous, bungling support worker. I could not, for the life of me, fathom what had happened when Liz suddenly decided to bail out on me and, when people asked me what had happened, I simply couldn’t tell them.
I was just absolutely devastated that a support relationship I thought was going fine had suddenly been taken away from me, my poor, late Mum was really upset and my partner actually cried when I told her, because she knew what was going to happen to me as a result of what was, in essence, a massive betrayal of my trust and far too similar to the majority of my initial abuse which basically revolved around me never being able to do anything right and continual shifting of goalposts.
The one thing that even polite people said when I told them what Liz did was “That’s so unprofessional”. I can think of a few slightly stronger words than that. If I had needed support before Liz, I needed it even more afterwards. Unfortunately what she and her boss did was so damaging to me that I never have and never again will engage in any support, care or even healthcare relationship if I can help it.
I prefer to go it alone rather than risk inviting another Liz into my life. Instead of Liz accepting she was in any way at fault, she decided to blame me and, if we thought she had gone a bit bonkers, her boss was about to do a passable impression of someone with a serious case of Korsakoff Syndrome and I am being perfectly serious. Unfortunately, the next few months are a horrible messy blur for me. I was in an absolutely terrible state, I was crying all the time, depressed, bewildered, angry, powerless, helpless and my drinking and self harm got much, much worse. My Mum died not long after this and my Aunt got cancer and died not long after her.
These were terrible months. I don’t even know when it started to get better. What these people did to me is still affecting me to this day. It isn’t killing me any more but it still bothers me on an almost daily basis. I had many, many days and nights of crying and feeling betrayed. I was angry at myself for trusting this woman and for believing her. I felt like a fool because I couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. I was far from the point at which I realised that it was entirely her and her inept management at fault. I texted and phoned ABWA trying to find out what had happened and I got told that poor Liz was receiving support (‘scuse me while I take some deep breaths here…) and she was fine, bless her and working as normal. Yes, everything was absolutely fine and normal with them….How was I? Not great? Oh dear, never mind. If you want another support worker, you can have one, you know where we are…Bye. ( At no time did they give, offer or plan to give me another support worker. And when I asked for one they refused. And, again, if I was the villain here, why would they simply offer me another worker?)
Enter Pamela MacDonald to the fray. In keeping with my general perception, formed over 6 years and shared with my refuge mates, that some ABWA staff don’t have enough work to keep them usefully occupied, she would phone me from time to time and add to my general misery by giving me a telling off. In a really patronising tone she would say “Will you stop texting Liz. Liz is not your support worker anymore. You know that, so stop texting her.” (Liz turned out to be what we call in Scotland, a clipe. It seems she showed text messages I sent her during and after the support relationship to all and sundry). She also never blocked my number – so she happily accepted the texts and then dobbed me in to her boss for sending them. Pamela MacDonald would tell me to stop contacting them and end the call by saying “you know where we are if you need support”. Every time I called them to ask what had happened I either got told to bugger off or they were banging on about poor Liz, the fragile little flower. (Sorry, I actually just laughed out loud there…) Never at any time was any support forthcoming. I was slowly being driven mad by the lack of an explanation from Liz (she could have died and it would have been easier to deal with) and by the messing about her boss was engaged in. I badly needed an explanation as to why the support relationship ended. This is why support relationships have to have planned endings!
Instead of having the intelligence and insight to see that ABWA had messed up and doing the right thing and trying to assist me, they were toying with me. I say ‘they’ because MacDonald was not doing this out of a clear blue sky and for no reason whatsoever. She was being fed misinformation by Liz. This leads nicely on to the worst incident of all when Pamela MacDonald, Women’s Aid Manager and abuse victim advocate excelled herself, went into overdrive (she clearly felt she hadn’t abused me enough) and almost pushed me right over the edge. Pamela MacDonald, who pompously boasted “I’ve worked in the field of abuse for over 40 years and I know the definition of abuse and if you feel abused then you have been abused!” What she did would have been utterly appalling behaviour from anyone, but from a Women’s Aid Worker or Manager it goes beyond the pale and I literally cannot currently find the words to adequately describe it. Pamela MacDonald, if she worked in any normal organisation and wasn’t being carried and covered up for by her staff, would probably have lost her job for this. At the very least I hope she is being kept well away from service users. And Liz, the back-stabbing coward, who was supposedly so concerned about someone she “liked and respected” popping themselves off, sat in the office with the vicious bully and let her do it.