When I returned, I got the scrunchy faced lady, of course, and she checked me in. Within about 10 minutes, I was summoned by yet another Government worker that was clearly tired and underpaid. I followed her into the hovel that was her office and we began the process of what I assumed was an Intake. She asked the pertinent questions, I gave the required answers. I explained I was there for sexual assault trauma care while she bemoaned the horrible operating system on her computer and the difficulty she had in seeing the print on her small screen. After about 15 minutes had passed, she informed me that she was setting up my first therapy appointment. I was a bit confused as I was sure three hours had not passed. She then stated proudly, I have you scheduled with Brian on Wednesday at 11:00 o’clock. Are you okay with a man? I was stunned. I stuttered, “umm, no I’m not.” I was lost in the midst of what had just occurred. Are women that have been sexually abused generally okay with discussing the details and trauma with a man? She shook her head and mumbled that she would try to find an available woman. After much huffing and puffing, she informed me I had an appointment at 3:00 pm.on Wednesday with Sheila. I nodded my agreement, so ready to get out of this very negative space, gathered up my copies of the documents I had signed, grabbed my belongings and followed her out of a back door.
As I stepped into the sunlight, I felt the negative energy leave me. I gratefully slid into the front seat of my car, ready to head to the vegetable store for my week’s supply of healthy food. I called my friend and confidant and told her I had an appointment. She reminded me that I teach a class from 4-6 on Wednesday and I slapped my forehead in disbelief. I hung up with her and proceeded to call the office to change my appointment, as there was no way I was returning to that building. I’m still running the conversation that took place when I called back through my head days later.
What happened next blew my mind. I called the number on the paperwork they gave me and the voice of a young man resonated in my ear. Damn. I told him my dilemma only to enter into a most bizarre verbal interaction. I gave him my name and this is what ensued.
Him: When were you here?
Me: Five minutes ago.
Him: What were you here for?
Me: An Intake.
Him: And you were here today?
Me: Yes, I just left five minutes ago.
Him: And what were you here for?
Me: An Intake.
Me: Um yes. Did I call the right place?
Him:(Elevated voice) Yes. Clearly you don’t understand what I’m asking you and can’t give me the answers I need. I’m trying to explain to you that you were not here for an Intake if you were only here for about 20 minutes. An Intake requires a three hour time slot. So, you weren’t here for an Intake.
Me: I was told when I called on the phone and spoke to a woman that asked me a lot of questions, that I was coming in for an Intake today. Excuse me, but I’m a little confused right now.
Him: You couldn’t have been here for an Intake because it takes three hours.
Me: I understand that, but that is what I was scheduled for.
Him: Who did you see?
Me: I don’t remember her name. A middle aged white lady. (That actually describes almost all of the employees I saw)
Him: Was her name Jane?
Me: Could have been, I don’t remember.
Him: Hold on!
Now by this time, I was freaking out. Not only was he rude and nasty, but he was very condescending. I started to question whether or not this had been a wise idea. I didn’t really want to pursue this anymore. He came back on the line, and was now like a different person. He was calm and nice.
Him: Hi. Sorry to put you on hold, but I wanted to get some information so I could figure out what was going on.
Him: You were here for enrollment, not an Intake.
Me: I did the enrollment on the phone already and I was told I had a three hour appointment for my Intake today. I’m not sure what happened.
Him: Well, let me reschedule you for an Intake. The first available one is in two weeks. After the Intake, your first therapy appointment will be scheduled about 2 weeks later.
We scheduled the appointment and I hung up. I was shell shocked. Mass confusion. Mass frustration. My mind was reeling and I was pretty sure every trigger in my brain and body was firing at lightning speed. How can a place that’s supposed to be designed to help people in crisis mistreat them like that?
Moreover, how can one schedule a person needing trauma care to come in for a three hour session of bringing up every horrific experience that had brought them there in the first place, and then send them away for two weeks before providing much needed decompression? Wouldn’t that be a dangerous practice?
To be continued.