We have been discussing horrifying things, and we both have bad news, so why am I so cheerful? Trigger warning of extreme violence and a rape which child abusers might find appalling.
I did not get the job. He notes that this means I will not be leaving Swanston, and is happy about that. That’s OK, you are allowed to be selfish, and counting my blessings I note that I do not have to uproot myself again. I have friends here. We go on to the evisceration of social care. The Severe Disability Premium is abolished in Universal Credit, as “Social Services will address needs”. That is monstrous: they cut £61.85 a week from the income of disabled people on means-tested benefits, the most vulnerable group in society apart from the homeless. And Social Services, facing crippling cuts, cannot meet the needs they were juggling already.
He asks if he had ever said why he could not be a social worker. He has not: I would have remembered this story.
He had seen appalling things at the hospital. He had been able to continue working, and control his own feelings, after the case of a man who had broken into his former partner’s flat, smashed everything there, and broken just about every bone in her body. Then he was involved in a case where a baby a few months old needed reparative vaginal surgery after her own father had raped her. He was physically sick on the way home, and could not be involved in social work any more. So he changed his Master’s degree from social care to social policy.
I always seek empathy. I imagine the man, holding his daughter and not seeing her, holding a baby and not seeing a human being, but a lump of meat on which he relieved sexual urges. Or, perhaps, finding a way to attack the mother, and make her insane. My mind recoils, I cannot imagine it. I can imagine violent acts undertaken in anger- Hume’s example of preferring the end of the world to a cut on my finger comes to mind- but not that. I do not recognise him as a human being. I hope the other men in the segregation unit killed him. I want him crushed like a bug, expunged like a virus. My lovely, gentle friend- too gentle, perhaps, for his own good- had murder fantasies about him. I had heard of the lie that sex with a virgin would cure AIDS, and an epidemic of the rape of babies in South Africa; but even that has a motive, and is less monstrous than this.
Someone has to deal with such people- but not me, or my friend.
Why were we cheerful, after? Because he is still affected by it, decades after. He remains angry. I could hear his anger, and sympathise with my friend; and drain a little of his hurt. So I validate my friend’s feelings, and we feel together. And cheerful, after, perhaps because we could leave the abomination behind.
I will not be affected by it. I was not involved.