11/15/12: Abuse at the Pine Street Inn and the Women’s Center
November 15, 2012
I stayed at the Pine Street Inn last night. My 3-month stay at the shelter in Waltham is over; I have to be out for a month before I can call again to go back.
From the second that I walked into the door at the Pine Street Inn yesterday afternoon to the second that I left this morning, I was being abused. It has a lot more people than the Waltham shelter, so that’s part of it. It’s also a place where people don’t have to be as functional to be able to stay there.
I was abused both by some of the guests and by some of the staff.
There was also a young woman there who I guess was volunteering. There weren’t any seats in the lobby, so I sat on one of the benches that’s across from the front desk. She started coughing as soon as I sat there; I was reading and NOT DOING ANYTHING TO HER. SHE IS A TOTAL STRANGER TO ME.
She kept coughing, and finally I went over to her and pointed to the sign that’s above the mailboxes on the wall behind the front desk. I said “Do you see that sign?” She said “Yes.” I said “Do you see that the first thing that it says is “Respect and courtesy are expected of everyone?” She said “Yes.” I said “What do you think that means?” She didn’t seem to know what to say; she said “That everyone should be respected?” I said “Good,” and I went back to the bench and sat down.
The older staffperson who was also at the desk asked her what I’d said; I could hear some of what they said. After the young woman told her, the older woman said “Don’t worry about her,” and was obviously dismissing what I’d said.
When the young woman was leaving, she walked by me and coughed again. I said to her “I’m going to tell you something so that you can know it for the rest of your life. There is nothing that someone with power can do that’s more disgusting than abusing someone who doesn’t have that power.”
She said “I didn’t realize that I had done something that was abusive. I didn’t intentionally do anything to upset you.”
I said “That’s not true,” and went back to my book. However, I think that perhaps some of what she said was true; it seems to me that she and probably a lot of the other young people who behave the way that she did don’t realize that they’re being abusive. Sexual harassment, malicious lying, bullying, and specifically the abuse of women are all being treated by the conglomerate as things that are good rather than bad; that is what this woman and others like her have learned.
The older woman called her to the desk and asked her what had happened. When the young woman told her, I heard her say something that sounded like her asking if the young woman wanted a supervisor to be told about me. The young woman said “No.” The older woman told her “Be careful” while she walked away.
Be careful; be careful of me, is what she meant.
There’s no recognition that I’m being abused. There’s no recognition that what’s happening is wrong, that it’s degrading, that it’s bullying, that everything that makes society social rather than civilized and normal is being destroyed, that women’s rights are falling apart, that children are being raped all the time; there’s no recognition of that. I get abused, and then people who do it act like I’m the one who’s dangerous.
There are still Wet Floor signs all over the place. I think there might even have been a sign that’s been taped to the door going up to the next floor that says “Wet Stairs.”
I got coughed at more than what has been usual for quite a while at the Women’s Center this afternoon. I’m not sure why.
The Women’s Center and the women’s side of the Pine Street Inn are supposed to be FOR WOMEN. They are supposed to support and help women, not to abuse them or to corrupt them so that they abuse others.
Copyright L. Kochman, November 15, 2012 @ 7:59 p.m.