Totally angry - no access to justice
16 Februari 2018 | Nederland, Eindhoven
Since June 2017, many of my travels have not been reported on this blog. I was unable to write down my experiences. This had a number of reasons, but overall it was mainly because I was submitting my personal case to the European Court of Human Rights.
I would like to explain what this all means, what it feels like to go through this process, how deeply I long for justice and change, how much pain is caused by the ignorant authorities which never investigated my complaints at all, how unfair and unsustainable that is, and how this pushed me to go all this way, how much the memories hurt me, which effects I still struggle with, how it cannot heal without recognition and justice, how important it is to stop such ill-treatment, how the high hopes and deep fears took turns and occupied my feelings, how intense it is, how much it all means…. but I don’t really know how to express this. It still feels like it is too much, too complicated, too hard to find words, like I cannot really grab it or handle it.
I found out that without having identified for myself what I feel, I cannot blog, since my experiences affect my perspective, like a coloured lens. I cannot really describe my perspective without giving a place to my feelings, because it really affects me in many ways, and causes me to dwell between hopes, fears, in agony, easily triggered. My steps to find access to justice bring extremely intense feelings and resurfacing painful memories, including things that I will never be able to prove… things that risk being misunderstood.. things that changed me and didn’t heal.. very profound injustices ..and how much time I lost already in these battles without finding recognition and justice.. Will I ever win these battles? The step to the European Court of Human Rights is somewhat a “last resort” in the justice system. It was overwhelming and confusing to be so up close, feeling like it’s all or nothing… It really took all my energy to deal with these feelings, and to balance. And since I failed to address the complex feelings and memories that came up with my case, I also failed to blog on other issues, since I needed to distinguish between personal feelings and professional views. I just felt overwhelmed by the injustices and pain. With the highest hope, and the deepest fears combined. No clarity which side of the coin it would be... I couldn’t voice my perspective, nor organize my thoughts as I could before. It just became too complex, too painful, too disturbing. It was truly overwhelming to go through the struggle to seek access to justice.
So I couldn’t blog for a while, because I couldn’t oversee all my feelings, while the feelings deeply impacted my perspective.. I basically felt too overwhelmed to write about it, yet unable to leave it out as it coloured my lens and carried me away. It blocked me from writing. I first had to sort it out. It is still hard. I’m still torn.
MY APPLICATION TO THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
(Case number: 80512/17, Santegoeds v. the Netherlands)
I will try to outline what it is about.
Key of my case is: Confinement is the opposite of care.
At age 16 to 18, I was subjected to horrible forced interventions in psychiatry, because of suicide attempts. I was called “a danger to myself”, and they said they locked me up in isolation to “protect me”. Yet it was absolutely horrible and degrading to be left alone in a cell like a criminal (without a criminal record), horribly overpowered and being held down by adults, stripped off my clothes, invaded by rubber gloves, often left naked (or in a horrible prison-dress), strapped to the bed, injected with forced medication. For nearly 2 years of my young life, I was stuck between 4 walls, subjected to horrific measures, fully powerless over my miserable life, abandoned physically and emotionally. While I was not a criminal, but I needed mental health care…. And then I was stuck in a miserable cell instead!! I felt hopeless and completely misunderstood. I had to live like a caged animal... I didn’t want to live like that, and so it didn’t stop my suicidal thoughts at all, it only drove me further into depressed suicidal actions. I kept on doing suicide attempts, because I thought death would be the only way out. I was desperately lost in this life. I was nearly 2 years subjected to such a regime, at age 16-18, in the Netherlands, a wealthy country, with good infrastructures and resources, a country which is surely able to do better than this, when it comes to providing mental health care to adolescents (or anyone else). These measures were harmful not helpful. It must be stopped. Confinement is the opposite of care.
You can read more about these experiences in my personal testimonies:
- 16 years old depressed and tortured in psychiatry: https://tekeertegendeisoleer.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/16-years-old-depressed-and-tortured-in-psychiatry.pdf
- Gender interrupted by forced psychiatry: https://tekeertegendeisoleer.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/personal-testimony_-gender-interrupted-by-forced-psychiatry.pdf
22 YEARS OF TRYING TO ACCESS JUSTICE IN THE NETHERLANDS
My human rights were violated at age 16. For about 22 years (the majority of my lifetime) I have been trying to access justice in the Netherlands with my personal case, in order to expose these injustices, hoping for change, to prevent such suffering and harm for present and future generations. I became activist, seeking to remedy the violations, by trying to change the practices, the laws, and seeking access to justice.
NEVER did any Dutch authority take the step to start an impartial investigation into my persistent complaints (and the hospital itself denied that they did anything wrong, while acknowledging that they DID subject me to all these measures for such a time). I tried all levels of complaint procedures, yet none of these procedures ever resulted in an investigation of what actually happened. All my complaints in the Netherlands seemed in vain. My files still have never been opened, never exposed to daylight, And have never been reviewed. All procedures seem to find my case “inadmissible”, because psychiatrists called me “a danger to myself”, and then the law says that forced treatment can be acceptable (basically without any limitation). So according to them “the law hasn’t been breached”, leaving me without any possibility to effectively complain about it.
So, I DO have many official papers confirming that I was solitary confined for nearly 2 years, with additional horrible measures on top, yet it doesn’t mean a thing. (They could have given me a pile of drawings instead, it would have made no difference to me in terms of access to justice…). Apparently, once you are labelled as a “psychiatric patient”, you have to accept anything the psychiatrists decide, and the law backs them up. As if psychiatrists can never make mistakes, and their work doesn’t need any testing on lawful limits, they get a carte blanche, a veto to decide. And the laws seem to presume that psychiatrists are always right (and the patients are always wrong??). There is no other profession in the Netherlands that has the power to decide on fundamental rights of persons, while excluded from reviews by legal bodies and criminal court proceedings. I have found out that there is no way to expose their actions in court. They have impunity, and I am powerless towards the injustices.
Solitary confinement didn’t save my life, it ruined my life and made me feel utterly miserable. I have always known it was wrong what they did. It is not right to lock up persons without a criminal record. And it is not right to say that solitary confinement is a form of “mental health care”. Real mental health care is about personal support. I feel deep hurt, deep anger towards the Dutch authorities (and also towards the European authorities, like the Council of Europe with their outdated guidelines). They enable ongoing injustices and they have no clue what they are talking about when they legalize the measures of “forced treatment to protect persons with mental illness”. Protect from what?? Do they even know what it means to be locked up?? (it is considered the worst penalty in criminal settings). HOW would it be beneficial for me or any other person with psychosocial problems?? It was utterly harmful, and nobody seemed to understand my tears.
And now, about 23 years later, it is af if nothing has actually changed (it only got worse with the new Dutch law reforms). I still feel that the Netherlands is a really stupid country, where people in power (psychiatrists, politicians, police and so on) still don’t see the difference between care and punishment. And it is really stupid, since psychiatry was essentially established to take persons out of general detention. (so they consider that a police cell is inhumane, but a similar cell in another building is considered “proper mental health care”). It really makes no sense, and it is typically one of these professions where they change the language to cover up the real practices, and to place these outside of the regular law.
And I am still so incredibly angry now. I can hardly bear it. How can all systems fail?
I tried so much to expose the injustices. I tried to raise awareness in so many ways.
I relived my pain, to address it for a greater cause, to prevent it for others. Wrongdoings must be addressed. Faults must be remedied. Wrong systems must be exposed and reviewed. And I tried so many things for so many years. I had all the right arguments, yet it didn’t work. There was no fair dialogue. My case was found “inadmissible” again and again. The psychiatric professionals have the power (including in law reform), and users/survivors are ignored (like the trauma is part of the “illness”, or “lack of insight in the illness”).. Fuck THAT! It is bullshit. People ARE actually traumatized by psychiatry, on a large scale. Ignoring THAT, is injustice in itself.
I can’t stay calm.
Recently, at 31 January, I received the news that also the European Court of Human Rights found my case “inadmissible”. I still break down when I think of that. I feel like I am suffocating. Why doesn’t dialogue work? Why do all systems fail on me? Why doesn’t my country care about my experiences? It is disgusting and heart breaking.
And then, when I try to reason with anyone in power (like psychiatrists at conferences), they say I am “radical”. They don’t allow me to feel the pain and trauma. I am not supposed to express any negative feeling towards them, because then they treat me like I have a chemical imbalance or “mental illness”. They don’t take any responsibility for the trauma’s they caused.
I have been so patient, and tried to reason very politely, hoping that it would make a difference. But it didn’t. And now I am desperate, because I always believed that reasoning and argumentation would work in the Netherlands, or Europe. I really believed we had a justice system here, and that I only needed to find the right address. But by now, I have tried all levels, and they all failed on me.
I feel lost. I don’t know where to start. I can repeat all the arguments again, but the people in power are just not listening. They don’t really care. My country has a good name when it comes to upholding human rights, but I can see it is a fake image (typical trade-nation, making things seem more beautiful than they actually are. And finding themselves superior to others. I really start to hate my country, despite the nice appearances. They don’t care about my life at all, while I was taught that the Netherlands would be fair and just. It is all bullshit. I was locked up without a crime, and there is nobody who ever reviewed my complaints, despite the fact that I have expressed my complaints at literally every level. I don’t see a way out now. What to do if reasoning doesn’t work? I am devastated. I hate the Netherlands, and I hate Europe. They are oppressors, and they lie about justice. I cannot take it anymore – Yet I also cannot give up. I feel so stuck in powerlessness).
I can still only be angry and heart-broken. I’m not sure where to find the energy to engage in the so-called “dialogue”, where I am expected to leave out my feelings and be “professional”. It is impossible right now. I am viciously angry. I need to fight my depressing thoughts and overwhelming feelings. I wish I had more positive news, and that I could write a more positive blog, share some inspiration, but I have run out of hope for this moment. I don’t see where to start if reasonable dialogue doesn’t work… I must find new hope. I must carry on the fight. They won’t silence me, that is for sure.
Right now, I won’t even try to sort it out better. I just feel blind anger. There are still a whole lot of political arguments which I would like to make, but I can’t right now.
I have been to South Africa from 5-14 February 2018 (returned yesterday), and I spent a few days on the beach with Annie. That gave me air to breathe, and the power to start facing this huge disappointment. I know I am far from digesting it, giving it a place.
The European Court of Human Rights sucks as big as the national politics in the Netherlands. Right now, I cannot find a single bit of respect for their work, and I just need time to heal right now. I’m totally angry, and I’m disgusted by European politics, and European (and American) style of “mental health care systems”, segregation, my country never learned a thing from the horrible European history of Holocaust, nor Apartheid. Remnants of these horrors still remain present. (such as the way Europe treats it’s incoming migrants, or persons with disabilities, or elderly (or anyone who needs some kind of compassion) as a so-called threat to our so-called wealth. The politics of the West are terrible, and should not be followed or copied by other regions).
I am starting to face the disturbing anger now. It is overtaking me fully. I am aware that my lens/my perspective is very coloured now. This is my reality, and I have the right to be angry. It is the psychiatric professionals, the politicians and the justice system who should reflect on what their actions actually do with people (including at conferences where persons who feel anger are sidelined as “radical” and “non-cooperative”. I AM traumatized, and I shouldn’t have to hide that towards “psychiatric professionals”. I am angry about a million things right now. The world is sick……
And my only comfort is to know that I am not alone in this immense hurt, but there are many people who feel what I feel, and we stand together. It comforts me to know that more and more people started promoting the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. So something is growing. Not everything is lost. There is still hope. I must stop here and hold this thought now, repeating it like a mantra, trying to convince myself: Let there be hope….
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