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Thursday, May 22, 2008

What It's Like To Advocate For Justice When You'll Have None

I know, I’ve been doing a bit better lately just sticking to the news and issues of police misconduct and detainee abuse, and I can tell readers appreciate that… thanks.

While this site is primarily to raise awareness of these kinds of issues and act as an advocate for victims of police misconduct and detainee abuse, it is also my outlet unfortunately. See, it’s hard to keep all the feelings about what happened to me bottled up and quiet… and I don’t really have anyone to talk with about it when it becomes overwhelming for me… so you’re stuck having to read my thoughts from time to time. (or you could just skip over this and get to another story). My apologies for that in advance.

There has been a lot of stories lately about lawsuits against the Seattle Police Department and the King County Jail, which I think is a great thing because it helps raise awareness that these kinds of abuses are still happening and it also helps, bit by bit, to increase the odds that city and county government leaders will be convinced that they have to do something honest to fix the problems that create the need to file these lawsuits that cost taxpayers so much money… and that just trying to ignore it and cover it up isn’t the solution.

However, I have to be honest… while I’m very happy for the victims of abuse who finally do get some limited justice out of their unfortunate experiences with this kind of abuse. It also makes me terribly sad because it seems more unlikely each day that I will ever get the chance to have the injustices committed against me righted like they did. It’s not jealousy because I’m hopeful that what this site offers to some is the resources to find justice themselves and I hope everyone wronged does have that chance… But… it’s still terribly depressing for me at the same time to be a victim of the same abuses who was denied that same chance because there wasn’t a site like this for me when I was abused.

See, I’ve talked to so many lawyers about what happened to me that I’ve developed a bit of lawyer aversion. It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn't been traumatized and the left to their own devices without support to try and find a way to get that wrong righted… and that’s what happens when you’re abused by the police or jail, nobody wants to help because of the stigmas attached to being that guy who got arrested, even if it ends up that you did nothing to deserve it. So there isn’t anyone to help, no victim’s advocate for you, no support from friends and your community… nothing really.

But, the worst part of it has to do with the post traumatic stress disorder I guess, because every time I talk about what happened to me I am forced to live it again in my mind… think of it as a sort of “daymare” that’s a mix of uncontrollable daydream and nightmare for the lack of a better way to describe it. The same thing happens when I read stories of people being abused by police officers or while in custody, it's a painful experience for me because it forces me to relive my own experience and imagine what it would be like to be abused like they were as well.

...but it's much worse when you talk to a lawyer about what happened to you. You have to go into great detail, and repeat details, and jump back and forth through the story multiple times…. So, by the end of a consultation I’ve had to experience all that pain and fear over and over and over again within a very limited period of time… it’s a dreadful and horrifying experience, talking to lawyers when you've been the victim of abuse… and it leaves me afraid of having to do it again, it feels like being left in a state of shock... shaking, teared up, and feeling like someone is squeezing the life out of you.

So, I’ve had to do this a number of times… each time suffering through it all with the hope that somehow it’ll result in something good. It always seems to start out well, the lawyers sound positive, some downright eager… But, in the end, each time it only resulted in the pain of being rejected… being told that for some unexplained reason, you’re not worthy of justice. They all do the same thing… “Sorry we can’t help you at this time, but we encourage you to try to find another legal professional to help you find justice.”

…so I do… so it ends the same way again and again.

My wife, being the well connected sort, has talked to a lot of friends about what happened, and has asked them all for advice. One friend from a different state got a hold of several lawyers he knows and has worked with in the Seattle area and asked them about me and my case… He got back to us recently and told us that it was the strangest thing… That normally when he would talk to these people about someone’s case they would be really talkative and helpful…but when he asked about me, they got quiet and refused to talk about it. He said it was very suspicious as this wasn’t like the people he knew and it seemed to him that they were under pressure or afraid to talk about my situation.

My wife thinks that they got pressured to not help me by someone in the PD or city government. I honestly don’t know what to think myself, but I do know that it feels very isolating being the victim of torture and not having anyone there to help or try to understand… and the unwillingness of people who are supposed to help people like me just makes it all that much worse. It feels like I’m still being punished and tortured for doing nothing wrong, for doing what I thought was the right thing and stopping two people from killing each other… and it just leaves me more confused than ever about whether everyone else is right when they tell me I have to stop helping others, because no good deed goes unpunished.

As I said…these stories leave me conflicted… one part of me is very happy for these people who finally saw justice at the end of a long struggle… but another part of me is reminded yet again that I won’t have that same chance, that I am not worthy of the same rights as others for some inexplicable reason… that I am subhuman in everyone’s eyes and thus fair game for more abuse because of that… and it’s just a matter of time until they do it to me again… and get away with it.

...after all, that's the purpose of a justice system, to advocate for victims, make things right, and prevent those injustices from happening again... and when that system fails it only encourages further injustices to be inflicted., even though it's painful... I still keep trying. For myself, and for others. All while being constantly and painfully reminded that no good deed will go unpunished.


Nick said...

Well, even if it's a message from all the way across the country, I have to say that I appreciate what you do and would hope to see you keep going and talking about and raising awareness. Even if I was never a victim of police abuse, it is obvious to anybody that looks that it does exists.

There's a saying I heard a while back that seems appropriate here: "When you cower, you become stepped on. When you stand up, you become targeted." You are definitely doing the latter by putting this stuff out publicly where as the far majority would have done the former. That doesn't make you subhuman, but superhuman; you are doing more than what I would have done, for sure.

I have added you to my daily reads, and I thank you for speaking out. Police and justice systems, like any other public service, are necessary parts of society. But they are supposed to serve society, not the other way around.

Also, this is *your* blog. As a regular reader, I do not mind.

Packratt said...

Thanks for saying so, Nick, I really do appreciate it.

Sometimes it feels like I'm just talking to the wind really, so it's nice to hear that people do hear what I'm trying to say. As for the saying, it sounds familiar, yet it doesn't matter to me much anymore whether they want to do whatever they want to do to me. In the end, the only way I can live with what happened is to turn it into something positive...

The only way left for me to do that is to try to turn what was a devastating event for me into something that might help others. So, hopefully, I'll be able to do that at least... and hopefully, in some small way, it'll help change things so nobody else has to go through what I did.

So, thanks for the support, it means a lot to hear it, and I hope I can write some things that are worth reading.

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