Reader’s Commentary “Years ago, I was supporting myself in a professional course and financing school by waitressing.
“Riding my bike home from work after my shift, a car pulled up close to me and a passenger reached out and made a grab for me from behind.
“The car forced me over and I was injured. The driver paused briefly and a witness ran over and tried to detain the car. The driver then took off, injuring the witness, too.
“The police arrived and wanted to know what I was doing out at that hour. They ignored my rescuer until he insisted on giving a statement so he could leave and attend to his wounds.
“The police said the driver would be long gone. No one suggested that I seek medical attention.
“Sometime later, my rescuer found the car on a side street. He then called the police again.
“I went to the court hearing and learned that the car’s occupants were members of a sports team.
“The judge said, almost in so many words, "boys will be boys." There was no serious penalty imposed on them for deliberately injuring two people.
“Worse, the team doctor ended up in my employer's bar telling his cronies that a young fan went with the team willingly and then complained when things "got a little rough."
“I couldn't confront him as I was certain that doing so would cost me my job.
“I sought help from a lawyer friend. However, everyone was telling me not to ruin the “boys’” careers. I thought, “What about mine?”
“I’ve never been the same since that happened. It was probably the trigger for my fibromyalgia condition which has plagued me ever since.
“I’ve had 30 years of back pain, three surgeries, and had to give up my career over a year before my official retirement.
“I must sell my home and incur extra debt. Meanwhile, I’m still struggling to get well.
“It didn't seem to matter that I was the victim of an assault - all of the people/institutions I turned to for help sided with the sports-team’s players.
“The injustice still infuriates me. I keep the pants I was wearing with its bike-tread mark that cleaning can’t remove, because it reminds me to stick up for myself when those who should help, don't.
“It also set me on a path of advocacy for others working for my Union. To this day, injustice makes my blood boil and people in authority who are derelict in their duties make my skin crawl.”
Ellie – Yours is a story that has relevance for today.
It stands now in the light of changing attitudes through the #MeToo movement. And, to be fair, the accompanying increased awareness by police and the courts that assault on women is NOT dismissible because of the power of the perpetrator or “boys just being boys.”
I haven’t published identifying descriptions of those who were involved in this incident, because this relationship advice column is not an investigative forum.
The after-effects of the event clearly took a toll on you. It’s a testament to your strong sense of injustice that you became an advocate for others within your union.
You don’t need to save those damaged pants any more.
You have the inner strength and confidence to manage your future and focus on your health issues with positive determination.
Also, perhaps your union can be helpful to you as your circumstances undergo change.
I supported my daughter and granddaughter, for four years, after my husband left us.
They’ve moved far away. I see them and my handicapped son once a year. It's all I can afford.
When I visit, I’m generous.
Yet I barely hear from them.
My daughter and her husband are high-earners now. On my last visit, she was barely civil to me.
I have health issues but still have to work to survive.
When I can no longer work, I’ll be at her mercy.
What Can I Do?
Prepare for your future needs, now!
You can’t count on family that forgets how they counted on you.
See your bank manager or accountant to determine your financial state. Contact agencies that provide low-cost or free services for older people.
Research what’s available in subsidized or low-rent housing, and consider making early applications.
Facing realities instead of wishful thinking is essential to your well being now, and for your future.
Tip of the day:
Victims of sexual assault - men and women alike - deserve our collective support of attitude change.