The widespread sympathy displayed for attempted murderer K. Stapleton exemplifies a disturbing trend implying that it is "understandable" when disabled people are harmed or even killed by caregivers. It has been stated that "anyone can be K. Stapleton" and that people shouldn't "judge her unless you've walked in her shoes." We are united in our opposition of this rhetoric; disabled lives DO matter. We affirm that #IAmNotKelliStapleton and implore you to #WalkInIssysShoes
Saturday, October 11, 2014
I am Not Kelli Stapleton
(By Beth Ryan, posted on the Love Explosions blog here)
I am NOT Kelli Stapleton. Don’t call me that.
And I sure as hell hope you aren’t either. Or I have a call to child protective services that I am morally obligated to make.
I have a bipolar diagnosis. I’ve struggled lifelong with bouts of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. I’m no stranger to emotional instability. I can say with some certainty that I will never break. More on that in a bit.
I can say with absolute, unflinching, unyielding, certainty that I will NEVER break my children.
How can I be so sure?
Because I love my children. When I am feeling low, you won’t find me on Facebook or Twitter posting nasty little ditties about my kids.
Not like this:
Because this kinda thing? It isn’t about mental illness. It is about a selfish mother who doesn’t have an ounce of respect for her child as a human being.
This? This is about a mother who has systematically and publicly demeaned and degraded her child–over the course of years. A mother who does not, and has not, valued her child’s humanity for a very long time.
If I am crumbling and close to the point of breaking? I’m not blogging about my hatred for my child. I’m taking a big old break from the blog and social media. In fact I am doing that little break thing the moment I start to feel overwhelmed–like I have more on my plate than I can currently handle.
I’m getting help before I get to the point where I am loading my kid and poison into the van. Well before that.
If I don’t get to choose what help will look like? Like if around the clock care for my kid is just not good enough, for instance? I’m surrendering my child to protective services. to protect her from me.
Kinda like alcoholism. I have all of the empathy in the world for a person who struggles with alcohol addiction. The moment that person sets foot in a car and recklessly kills another person? My empathy dries up. Not for all alcoholics. But for that person. I don’t want to talk about how the system failed that person. I don’t want to talk about what help that person should have had. That is disrespectful to the person who was killed and the people that cared about that person.
Does that mean I think we should stop talking about alcoholism and the supports that alcoholics need? Not even. It just means that I keep that conversation separate from the one around the crime.
Crumbling, breaking, falling apart parents of disabled children? The ones with “caregiver” stress/burnout, whatever? They don’t have the time or energy to pop on Twitter to say something humiliating about their children. Or to write blog posts filled with intimate details about their children.
This isn’t some vendetta. This isn’t about vilifying anyone. No need to vilify a person that is ALREADY a villain. This is about the methodical devaluation of disabled human beings–and all its possible tragic endings.
This isn’t about discouraging caregivers from connecting with resources. This isn’t about silencing those that need help. This isn’t about denying stress or mental illness.
This is about insisting that there is always an alternative to killing your child. This is about acknowledging that as parents, we are responsible for our mental health.
This is about not allowing the allies of murderers or would be murderers to cloak reality in the guise of lack of services and mental illness.
This is about not speaking about disabled people and especially disabled victims of violent crime in ways which normalize and establish caregiver murder as understandable, acceptable, or even expected.
This is about not allowing ourselves to be indoctrinated, by the murder apologists, with the notion that we could be Kelli Stapleton This is about all of the would be Kelli Stapletons refusing to acknowledge that they have taken steps down that same road Kelli traveled. Deliberate steps through the choices they make every single day.
This is about their manipulation tactic: “You could be Kelli.”
Attempted murder doesn’t happen to just any old parent of any old Autistic kid. It happens to the ones that don’t love their kids. The ones that would rather snuff out a life than take a brand of help that is undesirable to them.
I could not be Kelli Stapleton.
Not now. Not ever. Not in the absolute worst possible set of circumstances.