I write best when I’m hurting…

TW: this post discusses social care, “reablement” services, mental illness including self-harm and suicidal ideation and institutional neglect and abuse of disabled people, particularly of me. Stay safe and don’t force yourself to read it if it could harm you.

I sometimes feel I write best when I’m writing about what hurts me. This blog is full of post about my experiences of living with chronic disabling illness and of living in a world that reminds me over and over again that people like me – whether that’s disabled people, trans people, Jews, LGB people or unemployed people – are not wanted or welcome. I write about what hurts me.

I’m hurting right now and haven’t posted in almost a month. What’s happened?

I am being harmed. I am being abused. I am being… “re-abled” by social services. And they’ve decided i don’t qualify for on-going care. That means my care hours, as of tonight, will be cut to ZERO and any care I need I will have to organize and pay for myself – if I survive long enough to sort something out. (My friends and partners are not going to let me die so don’t worry too hard but I basically cannot be safely left alone for more than three DAYS without completely giving up on caring for and feeding myself. An otherwise identical person with no local friends would be dead or hospitalised within a month with malnutrition. I really wish I were exaggerating here).

For the majority of people who’ve never heard of it or had to go through it, “reablement” is an up-to-six-week long assessment period in which care is provided to a person and (in theory) they are given the equipment and support they need to look after themself. On paper, it looks like sort-of a good idea BUT in reality, huge funding cuts mean people aren’t being given as much equipment as they need, are fighting hard and waiting weeks to see that equipment and are being assessed as needing (as I do) about 5 to 6 hours of care a week THAT THE COUNCIL THEN REFUSES TO PROVIDE OR PAY FOR. And even if all the equipment I could benefit from were provided to me, even if I were given my five hours a week ongoing care to keep me alive… the process of reablement is still neglectful and abusive BY DESIGN.

The people sent to support me were deliberately and secretly instructed NOT to help me and to push me to do things by myself. My every morning wash and evening meal was secretly turned into a battle of wills between me, an exhausted mentally ill person in a lot of pain and a carer / support worker who was often meeting me for the first or second time. They pushed me further than I should safely be pushed and they pushed me every day. And I capitulated and forced my pain-filled exhausted limbs past my limits daily *because when I am scared or upset, my PTSD makes me extremely compliant*. I repeatedly tried to explain to both carers and my assessor that I am exhausted and in pain and vulnerable and that whilst I often physically *can* make myself a meal, I usually really, really *ought not to do*. I tried. My concerns were frequently ignored and now I have no care, not all of the equipment I was promised and a fight on my hands to stay in an abusive system in the hopes of getting less than a MP’s meal allowance a day spent on keeping me alive and healthy enough to do anything at all beyond surviving.

My depression and PTSD have been getting very bad lately and is it any wonder? I’ve been seen by carers and by my assessor in tears and self-harming. I’ve had to get friends to help me in the last few weeks because several times a day I think in all seriousness “I want to die just so all this stress and abuse will end”. Things are literally that bad but for the sake of a few quid the council would apparently prefer to let me try to look after myself alone.

And it all links back to the questions on the PIP and ESA forms that apeear in my letter box at irregular intervals and the number of different GPs who’ve happily signed my sick notes yet the DWP still want to get Atos or Capita to assess me in case all 6 GPs were wrong and the comments of the likes of Lord Freud who thinks people like me shouldn’t be paid minimum wage but also shouldn’t be able to live off benefits… it all comes down to having to fight and plead and abase myself daily to show that I deserve to live. It all comes down to narrating over and over and over again how my illnesses and disabilities affect me and how many doctors I’ve seen and getting professionals to write down exactly what I just said on pieces of paper that other professionals may or may not take into account… Will I be deemed worthy, fit for life, this time? And if so, for how long?

What does “depressed” look like?

People often say things to me that imply that they can’t quite manage to believe that I have depression. Sometimes they outright say that I don’t have depression or say “But how can you have depression?”. Sometimes people react with shock or suspicion or by immediately assuming that I have very mild depression. More recently, I’ve noticed that when I talk about my depression, people reply as if I’m talking about something that happened in the past. They ask “What was it like?” “How did you cope?” and even “How did you get over it?” instead of “What IS it like?” and “How DO you cope?” and “Do you think you’ll one day get over it?”
I talked to some other people with chronic mental health problems and this weird tense-slip thing turned out to be a common experience.

I have had depression for over a decade. It’s been a major part of my life since childhood and if you think on that a minute you’ll have to realise that almost everyone who knows me in real life has only known me with depression. I’ve been depressed longer than some of my siblings have been alive. And I’m still depressed now. People often find this information hard to process because, well, they’ve got this image of depression in their heads and most of the time I don’t look like that. Depressed people are supposed to, say, cry a lot. Or repeatedly say “Oh I’m so depressed”. Or have visible physical scars or a very public crisis in which either a kind stranger, a good friend or men in white coats have to step in to rescue them from their own self-hatred. I don’t look like that. I look, well, normal.

Sometimes depression looks like me.

Sometimes depression isn’t so much crying and crisis and self-hatred as it is a near-insurmountable inability to motivate myself to do or enjoy anything. Without significant support from other people, I don’t eat or wash or get dressed or go out. I’m not sure exactly what it is I actually do but getting out of bed, going to bed and everything in between are really, really difficult for me to do – not in and of themselves but because I have very little motivation. I literally bribe myself, coax myself and if need be force myself to do these normal every day tasks that are required for Staying Alive.

Sometimes depression involves having difficulty concentrating on things and paying attention. So I find myself really, really wanting to understand what I’m reading, watching or hearing and just.. not doing. Repeatedly.

Sometimes depression isn’t so much not liking myself as it is thinking that I am an amazing, wonderful person… but it ultimately doesn’t matter because I’m never going to achieve much if I can’t even keep myself fed and dressed. I know I’m awesome but I feel unable to do anything much to show it. I feel like I don’t contribute enough to my friendships and relationships. I feel like I neglect my activism and my writing. I wonder why anyone likes me when I could do so, so much more to deserve it.

Sometimes depression looks like avoidance.  I stopped seeing many of my friends a few years ago. I still love them dearly but am terrified of trying to reconnect in case they resent the distance I allowed to grow between us. I love my younger siblings but am scared of being a disappointment as a big brother because I disappear when things get bad and only reappear when I’m fairly sure I won’t somehow mess things up. My inaction causes the very thing I’m frightened of to happen and I sort of understand it but I still can’t find my way past the fear and hurt to reach out to those I love.

Other times, it can look like recklessness. I impulse buy things – usually small cheap items of food or jewellery to make myself feel better. I can afford to right now but I still find myself doing it when I really shouldn’t. They make me feel better for a while but are usually followed by guilt. I feel bad for daring to want to feel good.

Sometimes my depression even looks like success. When I was at my worst with my depression, I rarely cried in public but I did write two novels and hundreds of poems, pass nine GCSEs and four A Levels and share a rich and deep friendship and imaginary world with some wonderful people.

My depression waxes and wanes but it’s never really gone (for a few glorious months once I thought it had and then I had a sudden and unexpected breakdown). It mostly manifests as I’ve written before as unwanted thoughts and even dialogue inside my head telling me that I’m bad and worthless and exhausting me so I can’t always remember that i disagree.

I think I’m actually pretty amazing. My friends and partners and family think so too. I’m struggling right now but I tend not to look like I’m struggling; because most of it goes on inside my head, because I have adequate support to keep me fed and clean and dressed, because I push on and do difficult things like talking to people and leaving the house because I want to be a good friend, a good partner, a good brother.

This is what depression can look like. It can look like a charming, smiling, sociable, intelligent young man with lots of friends and people who love him. It can look exactly like someone “twitter famous”, a well-known and well-liked blogger. It can look exactly like a clean, well-dressed, knowledgeable acquaintance at a party.
Depression can look exactly like someone like me.

Which is to say, depression can look like anyone. It’s not something you can see.

“does being trans ruin ur life” – An Open Letter

Hello,

I don’t know you but I’ve been thinking about you a lot these past few days. Last week, for whatever reason, you searched google for “does being trans ruin ur life” and you ended up on my blog. I hope you found something here that was more helpful or at least more hopeful than something noted transphobe Julie Bindel wrote in 2009 or the well-meaning but ignorant comments of people on ask.com telling people to just choose not to be trans. I hope you read my post about choices and my reblog of the beautiful and necessary Trans 101 for Trans People. If not, please do go read them now, this post will still be here when you get back.

I want to be as honest as I can with you. There’s no point in sugar-coating or scare-mongering here. The answer to “does being trans ruin ur life?” isn’t “yes”. But it isn’t “no” either. And that’s something that can make being trans feel really, really hard indeed because there is no one-size-fits-all guaranteed-to-work-fine-or-your-old-life-back answer to finding the way you think of yourself to be very much at odds with how society thinks of people with bodies roughly like yours. Whatever path you decide to take, whether out of or deeper into a gender closet comes with risks that are big and scary. That sound potentially life-ruining.

I’m not going to tell you that coming out definitely wouldn’t ruin your life, because I don’t want to lie to you. And since I won’t lie to you, I’ve got to say that staying in the closet can have life-ruining consequences too. BUT, and this is very, very important, neither staying in or coming out will definitely have life-ruining consequences. Both can be healthy well-considered choices to the fucked-up situation that modern trans people find ourselves in.

We are living in a world that isn’t prepared for us and largely acts like it doesn’t want to be. That’s not our fault. It’s not your fault or my fault but it’s the world we find ourselves in. It is changing and moving towards actively accepting trans people for who and what we are instead of treating us like broken or misguided cis people who need fixing. It’s easier for everyone to pretend that the problem is trans people existing rather than, y’know, centuries-old false ideas about sex and gender and stuff like that. Things are getting better but I know that’s not much help to you, right now.

What you probably want is for someone to tell you that it’s all going to be okay, that whether you come out or not your friends and family will love you and support you, that discrimination is unlikely to affect you, that nothing will go wrong and no one will harm you. Someone will likely tell you all that and maybe they’ll be right. But I promised you honesty and honestly? There are no guarantees.
So what can I give you since I refuse to tell you what to do and won’t predict either good fortune or disaster for you?
I can give you hope.

I came out as trans in 2008. I was 19 and I had never even heard of trans people before. As soon as I heard that trans men existed, I was pretty sure that I was one and that I wanted nothing more than to start living my life as a man. Within weeks, I’d changed my name, my pronoun, my clothing, my hair cut, started binding my chest and come out to friends, family and my Uni as a trans man. I did this without really thinking about the possible consequences. I naively expected to be immediately accepted and understood by everyone.
I was, broadly speaking, accepted. But I did lose friends who couldn’t accept me for who I was. Relationships with my family became strained and upsetting as they struggled to understand what I was going through. I was bullied, harassed, stalked, attacked, fetishised, sexually assaulted, misgendered and publicly outed without my consent all within the first year. Most or all of those things wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t come out. Yet if I had my time over again? I’d still come out as trans as soon as I possibly could.
Why?
Because nothing beats the joy of living and loving with integrity. Because hiding myself away like an awful terrible secret hurt me deeply. Because the idea living a whole life pretending to be someone I’m not sickened and terrified me and I knew I couldn’t keep doing it for long. The closet was suffocating and stunting me and I needed to get out – whatever the cost.
The life I’ve had since coming out has contained things I would’ve expected to ruin my life. They didn’t. Because I am still alive and here and loved and known for who and what I am. I get to live my life instead of someone else’s. I can’t describe how wonderful that feels. It’s like a storm finally lifting and a rainbow appearing in the sky with the eternal promise “It will never be as bad as that again”.

Coming out and transitioning in whatever way seems most sensible to you is kind of like taking a leap of faith out of a frying pan. I’m mixing my metaphors quite deliberately here. It’s the decision to leave a situation that is uncomfortable (or worse) for an unknown. It’s scary and you’re right to ask could this ruin my life?
And my answer is still “Maybe or maybe not”. Yet the things I thought would ruin my life – hate crimes, sexual assaults, losing people, upsetting my family, becoming infertile, discrimination, street harassment – very much haven’t. Those things might or might not happen to any given trans person, but so many trans people I know love their lives despite the awful things other people have done to them because society is transphobic. It’s not our fault. I wish I could tell you nothing bad will happen to you, but I can’t.

There are so, so many people in the world who can and will love you for who you are – not in spite of you being trans, not because they don’t know you’re trans, not because you’re trans – just because you are you. Whether you come out or not, find them. Find trans people and their friends and allies and surround yourself with as many people who “get it” as you can. They will be on your side whatever happens.

If you want to contact me to talk about coming out or not doing, please do. I want you to be okay and to do whatever you need to do for that to happen – including staying closeted for now or for always if that’s what you need.

I also hope people will say nice things in the comments and link to coming out resources that I don’t know about.

A poem about depression

Trigger warning: depression, mental illness, suicidal ideation

I’ve been living with depression for at least 11 or 12 years now. That’s almost half of my life. And it’s a very long time to have been ill.
Here is a poem I wrote about the two different “phases” of my depression: one in which I actively want to die, the other in which I feel that life is terrible but want to stay alive.

Depressions

Wanting to die was easier
A want can be answered with deliberate denial
No matter whether bravery or masochism,
It was a choice I made
I kept myself alive.

I no longer want to die
But living is harder
Changed from active choice
To something thrust upon me
By outside forces.

Wanting death and pushing it away
Took strength
This feels like weakness
Taking what I have been given
Want it or not.

How I’ve Been – What Applying For Benefits Is Like

TW: Frank discussion of worsening mental illness, ATOS

Hello readers,

It’s been a little quiet around here for a while and if you follow me on twitter (I’m @autistliam) you might have an idea why. I’ve spent the last few months trying to find out what is happening with a claim for disability benefits I made over 6 months ago, whilst at the same time trying to fill in the forms and provide evidence for two more benefits I’m eligible for *and* manage my social care *and* get to all the doctor and hospital appointments I have to go to *and*… well, and have a life. I have friends and family and lovers to spend time with, books to read, films to see…

And because of the horrific bureaucracy I’ve found myself having to grapple with, I’ve had to do all that whilst living on less than £25 a week, perpetually wondering whether this is the week I’ll hear good news or whether I’ll have to ask my Uni for yet another crisis loan just to keep myself fed. It turned out that this week was finally the week that I have been awarded PIP – Enhanced Rate Care, back dated to cover most of the time I’ve spent living on as little as possible. It’s a relief to finally have it (even though I need to appeal the decision NOT to award me any Mobility payments) but it doesn’t really make up for what I’ve been put through.

It’s been a whole year since I started filling out a DLA form that took me five months to complete, working around my postgraduate degree and around treatment for my yet-to-be-diagnosed chronic illness. I sent that form just ahead of the deadline for the PIP change over but the DWP decided that I would be assessed for PIP anyway – for their convenience, not mine. They sent me a new form and just four weeks to fill it in. Overtaken by stress and despair, I considered killing myself and started self-harming after not doing so for months, saw my GP and was put onto antidepressants and considered quitting my degree but thankfully opted instead to take a year out. That was in May, I’ve been signed off as too ill to work since then but as I never had a job in the first place my sicknotes don’t get me any money. I managed, somehow, to fill in and return the PIP form – complete with over 12000 words of additional information and several sheets of evidence, within the four weeks they asked for. They never acknowledged receiving the form. I next heard something in July, when I was asked to attend an assessment with ATOS on the fifth of August. I arranged for my partner to be available to take me to the assessment and stay with me. I survived the misleading questions and attempts to catch me out in an over two hour long assessment – during which I had a small meltdown, was asked simple arithmetic questions, had my sight in both eyes tested after explaining that I can only use one at once and was asked to explain what triggers my PTSD and why and how often I harm myself and how often I consider killing myself.
After that, I heard nothing for a month. I had no money coming in and had to ask my Uni to loan me a month’s rent in order to have anywhere to live. My advisor phoned the DWP. ATOS had not sent them a report about my assessment yet. Try again next week.
That was early September. Since then, I’ve been trying again next week *every week*. The Uni has given me two more loans to keep me housed and fed. ATOS took seven weeks to get my assessment report to the DWP. They didn’t tell me they’d received it. It took almost another month before they looked at it and made a decision. They didn’t tell me about that either. I found out today by having my advisor phone them to ask them whether the £1600 that had appeared in my account was actually for me. Apparently it is.

The last year hasn’t quite been Hell (I’ve seen Hell and it’s much worse) but the precarity of always being told that things will be okay soon with no clear idea of when “soon” will be is certainly torture. My mental health has been affected and I have needed to start antidepressants, needed to ask friends to help keep me alive by making sure I eat or by sitting with me when I’m struggling to keep myself safe. I suddenly have some money and an income and can afford to eat better and to buy things but so long on less than £25 a week has made me forget what I even wanted.
I suspect it was to replace the clothes that I have worn through. Perhaps it was to eat in my campus bar every now and then or maybe to buy more than one drink at the pub. I need to replace my passport and haven’t been able to afford to.

Before all this, I was doing an MA and considering volunteering or part time work. Right now, I am doing neither as all my energy goes towards trying to sort out my benefits, social care and health. Being too ill to work is a full time job in itself.

This ordeal has changed me. It’s not been as hard as it would have been if I were not a student, I’m very grateful for help received from University Welfare Services, friends and partners and hundreds of supportive people on twitter. I hope to get my life back on track soon, I’m going back to Uni properly in May and I hope to have my PIP, ESA and Housing Benefit sorted by then. If things are sorted soon, I’ll look into volunteering.

In the meantime, I’ll try to write. I have been so scared to write this, so worried that somehow it would affect the result if I wrote this blog post before getting my first payment.

EDITED TO ADD:
As this blog post is going much further than I ever expected it to, I’d like to clarify some things that I didn’t make wholly clear.
Firstly, PIP is a benefit you can get whether you work or not. The out-of-work benefit for UK disabled people is ESA and I’m currently filling in the form for that and will have to have *another* ATOS assessment in the next three months for that.
Secondly, the people who told us repeatedly to “try again next week” were *DWP and ATOS staff*. They told my advisor every week that I’d get a decision the next week – for over two months.
Thirdly, without my advisor at the Uni phoning them for me I would *never have heard anything* from the DWP between August and now. And I would have no money to afford to phone or write to them either.
Finally, I just want to repeat that I have had fantastic support from my Uni, my friends, my partners and my doctors. Other people *will* be facing this alone and we need to find ways to find them and help them.

Emergency Information to prevent more Issy Stapletons

Trigger warnings for murder, child abuse, violence, hate crime and suicide. None described graphically but all mentioned repeatedly.

***IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS IN IMMEDIATE DANGER CALL 999 FOR THE POLICE AND/OR AMBULANCE. IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE A DANGER TO ANOTHER PERSON, CALL 999 OR GO TO A POLICE STATION OR ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY***

This blog post will be pretty different from my usual posts. This one is born out of a need to do something constructive in the wake of yet another terrible tragedy befalling my community. Issy Stapleton’s mother tried to kill her.
And even though I’ve never met Issy or talked to her online, that tragedy affects me because I, like Issy, am autistic. Us autistics look out for our own and when one of us suffers violence, the rest of us want to help. We are here for you, Issy. What happened to you was monstrous and abusive and wrong and I am praying that you survive it and come to learn that even if your mother could not be trusted to love you and protect you, you still have a family in us. We love you and we will try our best to keep you safe. My friend Bridget wrote this for you and here is a whole blog dedicated to telling you how precious and loved you are. How much we want you to live, how great a loss it would be to our community and to the world if you died. We are here for you Issy, and we always will be. That’s a promise.

One way to help though is to try to stop this ever happening again. Parents and carers killing or trying to kill their autistic or disabled family members happens so frequently that we have Vigils and days of mourning  planned throughout the year, we know the names on the growing list of those murdered. We pledge, again and again, to “Mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living“. This what I’m going to try to do here.

Paula C. Durbin Westby compiled this list of resources for US-based autism families where either an autistic person felt unsafe or a parent/carer felt they were likely to harm their child. I am going to try to compile a similar resource for autistics and families in the UK.

FOR AUTISTIC / DISABLED / ANY CHILDREN AND AUTISTIC / DISABLED ADULTS

If you are in danger, for example if someone is hurting you or talking about hurting you and you can get to a phone call 999. Even if you can’t talk, yelling or screaming into the phone may still cause help to arrive. If you have a mobile phone, register it with the 999 text service by following these instructions NOW in case you ever need to call for the police or ambulance when you cannot talk or need to call for help without your parent / carer knowing what you’re doing.
If you are a child (under 18) in the UK and you are unhappy or scared because of ANYTHING that is going on in your life, contact Childline  by phoning 0800 1111 or chatting online with a counsellor through the childline website (good if you’re nonverbal). If you’ve no access to the internet at home, see if you can go online at a friend’s house, at school or at your local library or youth centre.
If you are over 18 and you are scared or unhappy but not currently in danger, you can call The Samaritans on 08475 909090 or email jo@samaritans.org. They will listen to you and talk through whatever is upsetting you. They won’t tell you what to do and may be able to give you details of other organisations who can help you.
Learning disabled people who are scared of someone at home hurting them or who are scared that they might hurt someone can get in touch with RESPOND. At the time of writing, RESPOND’s helpline is down and they suggest calling Mencap on 0808 808 1111 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
If you are a girl or woman and you are being hurt, threatened or are scared of someone you live with, call Womens Aid on 0808 2000 247 (24 hours a day, every day).
If you are a boy or man and you are being hurt, threatened or are scared of someone you live with, call the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or email info@mensadviceline.org.uk.

If you are thinking of running away or have run away from the place where you usually live, call or text Missing People at 116 000 (24 hours a day, every day) or email 116000@missingpeople.org.uk . If you’re an adult, they can’t make you go back and will talk you through your options which may include sending a message home that you are safe. They will not tell anyone where you are unless you want them to. If you are under 18, the law means your parents / guardians may be told where you are but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go back to them if you don’t want to, the number to call is the same as for adults and text messages can still be sent to this number even if you’ve no credit on your phone.

If you are not sure whether or not you are being abused, read this information. If you’re still not sure, get in touch with one of the helplines or websites above anyway. They won’t tell you your problem is too small or not important, they’re there to help. You can even call a helpline just to practice how to do it and say “Hello, everything is okay right now but I wanted to know what it’s like to call a helpline so I won’t panic about it if I ever need to”. They’ll understand.

If you’re an adult now but when you were a child someone did bad things to you and you’re still hurting, call NAPAC on 0800 085 3330 or 0808 801 0331 between 10am and 9pm Monday to Thursday or between 10am and 4pm on Friday or email them at support@napac.org.uk

If you are worried about someone else, call a helpline. If they are a child and you are an adult call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 or text them on 88858 or email them at help@nsppc.org.uk. They answer calls 24 hours a day, every day. If you are both under 18, call Childline. If you are both adults, call Women’s Aid or the Men’s Advice Line or their local social services.

REMEMBER IF YOU FEEL YOU OR SOMEONE ELSE IS IN DANGER, CALL 999 AND ASK FOR THE POLICE.

INFORMATION FOR ADULT PARENTS / CARERS WHO ARE WORRIED THAT THEY MAY HURT, ABUSE OR KILL A DISABLED PERSON IN THEIR CARE

***If you feel that the person in your care is in danger of death or injury at your hand, go to a separate room and call 999 and ask for the police. Tell them exactly what it is that you’re afraid you are going to do and ask them to make sure you don’t.***

If you have a more general concern that you may be harming or at risk of harming a child in your care, call the NSPCC on 0808 0800 5000, text them on 88858 or type the name of your town and “child services” into google to find the details to contact your local children’s services directly. Do NOT wait until the worst has already happened, if you feel likely to harm your child, you NEED help and support. Yes, maybe your child will be taken into care, probably temporarily. THIS IS A MUCH BETTER OUTCOME THAN BEING KILLED OR HARMED BY YOU.

If you are thinking of killing yourself, call the Samaritans 08457 90 90 90 or make an appointment to see your GP. If you are worried you might kill yourself in the immediate future, call 999 and ask for an ambulance or take yourself to A&E and tell them you are worried that you might kill yourself. They will get you a psychological assessment and further help.

If you are struggling to cope with caring for a disabled adult family member but no one is in immediate danger, contact Carer’s Direct to find out if more support is available to you and the person you care for – you may be eligible for extra money, support services, discounts and respite care. Their number is 0808 802 0202 and lines are open 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and from 11am to 4pm, at weekends, except bank holidays. Calls are free.

The National Autistic Society also has a helpline which may help you to find support and services locally for both yourself and the person you care for, whether they are a child or an adult. Their number is 0808 0800 4104, lines are open 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday except Bank Holidays. This is NOT an emergency number, in an emergency, call 999.

If you think you may be abusing someone in your care and want to stop, call RESPECT on 0808 802 40 40 to get help. Remember, if someone you care for is in danger from you, call 999. If abuse has occurred or is likely to occur, contact your local social services and ask to speak to someone about safe-guarding vulnerable adults. Don’t wait for your situation to get worse, get help as soon as you think you might be a danger to the person in your care.

FOR FRIENDS OF AUTISTIC / DISABLED ADULTS, CHILDREN AND THOSE LOOKING AFTER THEM

Friends don’t let friends get murdered or abused and friends don’t let friends become murderers or abusers. If you see something, say something. If you think someone is in immediate danger, call 999. If a disabled/autistic person tells you they are being hurt by a carer or are afraid of a carer, help them get help by calling a helpline or child or adult services. If you are even a little bit worried that someone you know may hurt their child, call the NSPCC or Child Services. Don’t wait for confirmation that harm has occurred, it’s much, much better to be safe than sorry. Look at the various websites I’ve linked so you know what signs to watch out for and GET HELP if anyone seems like they may be being abused or abusing.

IN AN EMERGENCY, CALL 999.

Whatever you do, whether you’re scared someone might hurt you, scared you’re going to hurt someone or scared for someone you know, please don’t do nothing. Okay? Get help.

We don’t want any more Issy Stapletons. And we don’t want any more Kelli Stapletons either.

This has taken a lot out of me and several days to write but if it helps just one person, it will be worth every ounce of energy I put into it.

If you’ve read this far and you needed any of this info, I just want to say that I love you and I hope you get the help you need.