When I come home at the end of the day, no matter what that day has been like or how silly I may think myself, I am greeted by three children who run right to me for hugs. Behind them is my husband, hanging back to offer a peck on the lips and to ask about my day. I then enjoy stimulating conversation with my Mom. Whatever has happened throughout my day, I come home and find that I am cherished, loved and valued as the person I am. When I think about the almost 15 years I have been working in this field, I am hard pressed to remember people who have chosen services who have people to greet them at the end of the day and let them know they are valued.
Today I was talking with a man who struggled back tears as he spoke about someone he knows who he feels certain is being abused. This woman, who has chosen services, uses alternatives to spoken communication and people don't believe the things she does try to communicate(about the abuse), with the exception of this one man. He has tried to make sure people know, he has tried to make it stop, but because this woman can't come right out and say "I am being abused," she is being left right where she is and nothing is being done. It's partly because of the way our system is set up, but mostly it points to the lack of value we have for people with disabilities.
Don't believe that people with disabilities aren't valued? In this country we pay people in prison about 19cents an hour for work, I have supported people who worked at "workshops" and got a 19cent paycheck for two weeks of work...The R word still gets thrown around as one of the lowest insults one can be paid...People still tell me I must "be a really special person" to work in this field...Almost everyone I know with an intellectual disability has been abused, and of all those people, not one of them have seen their abuser behind bars....the list goes on and on.
So at the end of the day, I get to come home and be seen, heard and known as a full human being and know that I am valued...but somewhere else there is a woman coming home to get used and abused, even though people suspect it...how valued does she feel?