October 19th, 2010

Tormented Lives

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Christopher

I’ve just watched ‘Tormented Lives’ on the BBC.

It’s a programme about the suffering of families who have someone with a disability & how they suffer at the hands of the generally terminally stupid, uneducated slugs so often to be found on the council estates up and down the land. That’s not to say everyone on a council estate is a thick scum-bucket with nothing better to do with their lives than infest the lives of decent folk with their pond-life ethics, just that everyone who exhibits that kind of behaviour seems to derive from that ilk.

I’m not a man given to tears, but I will stand up here & now and say I was as close to tears watching that programme as I have been in many a long while. I’ve done 30 years in the police & a further 2 as a police civvy, 27-ish of those years were on the streets, so you’d think I was inured to the things that happen at the bottom of the barrel.

The programme features a man called Christopher, who suffers from learning difficulties brought on by the condition of  hydrocephalus, or ‘water on the brain’ which gives him enlarged head & facial features. He’s 47 & has been abused, insulted & victimised since he was a young child. he lives alone in an old folks home on the south coast because the council can’t find anywhere more suitable for him.

Watching his story unfold, among several other victims, throughout the documentary was enough to make anyone cry. A man who clearly has so much to give but whom society has let down time & time again. A man who, despite his condition, has obvious talents that nobody is prepared to accept because they can’t look beyond the visual.

I shouldn’t be shocked at the behaviour of those who blight disabled people’s lives day in & day out, yet somehow I was. Seeing the footage of rodent teenagers stoning a family’s car, house & windows, repeatedly, because one of the children has cerebral palsy was enough to make me want to leave a few of them at the bottom of an alley beaten within an inch of their lives to show them what it’s like to be a give-ee rather than a give-or. Fucking scum.

Time & again we hear that the police can’t do anything because there is no evidence. This is broadly true, but with a bit of time, effort & the will to investigate thoroughly, I doubt there are many cases which can’t be solved. It just takes more time, effort & money than nicking someone for possession of a bit of weed or taking someone’s car off them for no insurance. It’s people like the victims of disability hate that we really ought to be helping. This will not change while the people who run the policing show are focused on easy arrests, ANPR & detection rates.

Christopher got taken on as a volunteer to look after a charity’s computers at the end of the programme. I hope his life improves.

You can catch the show on the BBC iPlayer for the next seven days. The people who should watch it are the very people who never will.

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35 comments

  1. the_leander says:

    “I’m not a man given to tears, but I will stand up here & now and say I was as close to tears watching that programme as I have been in many a long while.”

    Glad I’m not the only one.

    Powerful stuff.

    October 20th, 2010 at 00:53

  2. Crofty in Canada says:

    Great post.

    October 20th, 2010 at 02:02

  3. Ash, UK says:

    Brilliant!!….
    I watched this same show too and couldn’t believe that in the 21st century this sort of thing is happening…!!
    If these morons could take a step back and realise they are very precious people and need our help aswell as trying to cope with the stresses and strains of there own private lives what right do these idiots think they have causing them even more misery!!

    My sister had downsynedrome and reminded me of rosa’s daughter domenica unfortunately my sister couldn’t speak…she did pass away 5 years ago now and she never received anything to what the likes of Christopher or Lisa got….I was truely disgusted, I’m also a fitness instructor/ personal trainer working in a health club and we have a few members with special needs who I love to work with no matter how busy the gym gets they have my 100% attention!!

    I’m really glad to see others are feeling same way about this show tonight as I am

    Healthy Regards

    Ash

    October 20th, 2010 at 03:06

  4. Claire says:

    Thank you for your post. I am still haunted by this programme, especially Christopher’s story. I had read about these things happening, but to hear and see the people affected talk about it moved me to tears.

    October 20th, 2010 at 06:28

  5. Tom says:

    I’m gong to watch this soon. But if your recommendation is half as poignent as you suggest, I am sure I shall be likewise moved to tears.

    Here goes BBC i player!!

    October 20th, 2010 at 12:41

  6. Ian Young says:

    I also watched this extremely upsetting testimony to the way our society is degenerating. The plight of each of the subjects should shame us into acting against the morons who direct their bile towards these unfortunate human beings. But, will we ? I fear not. In a society which vehemently reacts to the maltreatment of a cat, yet ignores the disgraceful torture of those with learning disabilities, there can be little hope towards any likelihood of a rebirth of morality. Where the fate of X-Factor contestants is of more importance to the population at large than real social maladies, there can be little hope. Another example of evil prospering where good people do nothing.

    October 20th, 2010 at 12:50

  7. Tom says:

    200

    Ian has hit the nail on the head.

    I have to say that Rosa Monkton (sic) was somewhat patronising, however this was a powerful piece.

    Thank you

    October 20th, 2010 at 13:54

  8. Hogday says:

    Like you, 200, I would take delight in tracking down the scum like this, but the only chance I really had to devote serious time to it was during my 3 years as a country beat officer with my own 3 villages to look after. If the job required it, I’d sit for hours in a bush or any other suitable O.P. so that I could be the `professional witness` as it was rare to get a MOP to come forward and give evidence – frankly, the way the system treated them I didn’t blame them. I could only do it because I had autonomy and was largely left alone. What the accountant-bean-counters in the job would see as `low level/low value` criminality, I saw as the foundation of civil responsibility and social control. Its all about the little things, but now the little things aren’t even on the to-do list anymore.

    October 20th, 2010 at 14:57

  9. Paul Hardisty says:

    After watching this programme its made my fight for justice for disabledc people as a disabled veteran I have had similar experiences and my heart and soul goes out to these families on this programme. The justice department need to pull their finger out and make Disability hate crime the same as Race relation act. But Government won’t act and more disabled people will die and this fight is not over.

    As a veteran and proud to have served God Queen and country but these abusers are the scum of the earth and we shall not be beaten.

    Paul

    October 20th, 2010 at 16:57

  10. Renie says:

    I watched Tormented Livss last night and have been unable to get the programme out of my head. I don’t agree with the comment that Rosa Monckton was patronising. She represents parents who have to face the reality of what life will be like for their disabled child when they are no longer around. She tried to help Christopher in a practical way and the moment when she hugged him before his job interview with the charity reduced me to tears. All of the stories were very affecting but Christopher’s was particularly distressing; clearly a bright man who can’t find a place in the world because people can’t accept that he looks different. Also teenagers like Garan who have missed out on their childhood because of the cruelty and stupidity of others. I agree that the people who carry out this cruelty are unlikely to have watched the programme(sadly). I wish Christopher all the best and hope there will be an update on his progress.

    October 20th, 2010 at 17:39

  11. Grace says:

    Im a 17 year old girl, and studying health and social care at college because i want to be a midwife. What they dont tell you in the books about disability is how difficult it can be. Yea, ive learnt about down syndrome and learning disabilities, all the medical stuff, but last night as i was flicking channels i came across this program and it very nearly moved me to tears, and nothing makes me cry! I couldnt belive how these people were being treated. im scared to admit that yes, i was that naive about this. i thought people who suffered with disabilities had loving families and the community they lived in love them too, accepted them, helped them. How wrong was I. Sorry for this long reply, I dont usually do this, but now ive seriously started to re think my midwife option, because i so want to help these people. I was homeschooled, and very scared to leave my own home and make friends for years, and so i know how these people feel in some way – the isolated, worthlessness, lonliness, discrimination because i was a freak at home. But i changed my life around, very slowly, and now ive never been happier and more free. I want these people to feel that freedom and happiness too!

    October 20th, 2010 at 18:50

  12. Gemma says:

    This programme really affected me too. I have a sister with Asperger’s Syndrome who has suffered years of bullying, particularly through her school years, for being overweight, scruffy and socially awkward. I’ve grown up feeling angry and hurt by the way people treat my sister so am touched that there really are people with enough compassion to be drawn to tears by this documentary and take the time to post on this site. I just want to say one thing though – sometimes it is easy not to realise that someone even has learning difficulties. A person may just look a bit dishevelled or be a bit grumpy/rude to you on the tube for example. It is more common than any of us think – so please, those who really care, think twice next time you get annoyed or put off by someone who seems to be lacking in social skills. It may turn out that they are simply mystified by the world we live in and are just struggling to get along in what can be a very lonely existence. Remember the compassion you’re feeling now – this may be your chance to express it.

    October 20th, 2010 at 19:08

  13. 200 says:

    Did anyone notice in the final credits that some of the music used in the programme was written by a Christopher Burke, who I believe is the Christopher from the programme.

    October 20th, 2010 at 19:08

  14. YorkAlex says:

    A superb post, it’s nice to see at least some of us are like minded.
    Even more depressing than Christopher’s tragic story, a bright, perceptive and strikingly funny man discarded by society, is the fact any help available to him now will surely only reduce after the recently announced government cuts. This isn’t an anti Tory rant, whether such a swift reaction to the economic crisis is right or wrong is not my point – more that the funding available to help him (and let’s face it, it wasn’t a government scheme that finally came to his aid but a BBC documentary)won’t be there in six months time.

    I wish the BBC would have given this a prime time slot to increase awareness but Strictly Come Dancing it wasn’t.

    Thanks for the post.

    October 20th, 2010 at 19:39

  15. isabel says:

    I watched this programme too and i’m so pleased to see that i was not the only one who cried their eyes out whilst watching – i was even crying this morning recounting the story to my sister! Christopher struck me as the most amazing man, he is obviously very intelligent with a quick mind – the retort he gave Rosie bout being the only person to stand up to her was a beautiful example!
    I only hope that the bravery shown by Christopher having his whole life exposed on tv will have some reward. Is there nobody out there that can give this wonderful man some help? Does nobody else agree that instead of the animals who abused this man being in prison Christopher is stuck in his own cell in an old folks home? It is all our responsiblity to look after the vulnerable in our society so please please can we start with Christopher?

    October 20th, 2010 at 21:22

  16. AdamM says:

    “I’m not a man given to tears, but I will stand up here & now and say I was as close to tears watching that programme as I have been in many a long while.”

    Same here!!! could not believe my eyes.

    All I can say is that I happen to have a sound engineering degree, and although it is not my full time job (as I didn’t quite make it), I would love to help Christopher mixing his brilliant compositions!!!!

    I am not rich and am not sitting around all day, so even if I can only squeeze in a few hours a week inot my hectic life, it would be totally worth it. Of course he is not the only one on earth, but he happens to be one I could make slightly happier as I have the skills he needs!

    So how can I get in touch with him???

    October 20th, 2010 at 22:00

  17. John Williamson says:

    @200 A great comment which I agree with 100%. At times watching the programme (which I’ve done twice) I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

    I wonder how many of the punks throwing the stones/extorting a couple of quid/issuing verbal abuse, would persist with it if “the court of public opinion” was closer and more immediate (as it used to be).

    Time “the public” got involved.

    October 20th, 2010 at 22:46

  18. Fraser says:

    Great article! I would just like to say I was also moved by Christopher’s story. It’s hard to believe some people would be so nasty to such a nice guy. I would tell Christopher if I could, that contrary to what his father said, he is not worthless. Christopher is a special guy and has some amazing abilities, and has such humility for someone who has had to endure some of the treatment he has be subject to. In fact it has been a blessing to have been able to watch this and we can all learn some lessons from Christopher, that inspite of all of the bullying he is still a gentile, kind person. I wish there were more people like Christopher!

    I would also like to show my appreciation to Rosa. When I first started watching this programme I wanted to turn it over because I felt it was depressing me. However, I kept watching and I’m glad I did because it made me realise that we also need more people like Rosa!

    October 21st, 2010 at 01:22

  19. Matt says:

    I was absolutely sobbing by the end when they showed the pictures of Chris as a baby with his mother, it just floored me. To think that such a happy looking child could now be living such a nightmare made me feel just.so.sad.
    My older sister has a learning difficulty and thankfully she lives in a community where she has a job and support and is cherished and valued by those around her, both with and without LD. I wonder how different her life would have been if she had not found that place, as I recall her being teased when we were kids. The feeling of helplessness and shame at not being able to protect her against a gang of bullies still haunts me to this day.
    As one reviewer of the documentary said, the people that carry out these attacks cannot be shamed. And if the law doesn’t do anything then what can anyone do?
    I deeply hope Chris can find the strength to carry on with his life, because he seems like such a genuine and decent guy – and he has more to contribute to our world than the pondlife who make his and other people’s lives such hell.

    October 21st, 2010 at 13:03

  20. Salli says:

    I can’t watch the whole programme. I only got five minutes in, and I couldn’t bear any more. I have a son of just 3 years with learning disabilities due to a chromasome abnormality. I’m too scared to watch programmes that are so hard hitting. I can’t bear the thought of what will happen to my son if I’m not here to protect him.

    October 21st, 2010 at 13:33

  21. Stuart says:

    There are thousands of people like us, who are disgusted with the torment of people with learning disability. I feel moved to find time in my life to work towards preventing this kind of thing, but making a change in this area requires unrelenting group force, and of course, a name like Rosa’s helps big time in getting attention.

    By the way, Rosa is genuine. She’s driven by her own experience to do what she does. After the programme I actually sent her a message thanking her for using her power for something that really matters, and she personally responded the next day, even though she was abroad. If anyone is serious about helping any of the individuals on the programme, why not send her a message via her website. She’s genuine. I’m sure she’d be interested in reading all of this actually. She can’t make a difference alone.

    To any of the people featured in the programme who reads this, know you are not alone, and that you are loved, and that not everyone in the world is that awful.

    October 21st, 2010 at 18:10

  22. Ash says:

    This programme has opened up the eyes of the country on how bad behaviour is like towards people with a disability. The one that really really annoyed me was what happened to Christopher, for someone to say ‘What’s it like being a retard?’ is absolutely disgusting but for what Christopher said back made me laugh, ‘Funny I was gunnah ask you the same thing’. My Laughter ended when he then told the country what happened next, ‘I was punched, then I fell and he stompped my face in Doc Martins and broke my teeth. Then he gets punched in the head for no reason!.
    I really felt for the man, he’s so intelligent and he really is an inspiration to me. I cannot stress on how something needs to be done about this, it angered me that much I just said to my dad, I am going to try and help this man.
    He needs protection from all the bullies and the beggers who take advantage because of his disability and take his money without guilt.
    This man needs friends that will look after and care for him. If no one does I am more than willing to step up to the job.

    In some cases the law needs to be taken in the hands of the public who are willing to help people!

    October 21st, 2010 at 19:10

  23. Scott says:

    I watched the programme and was as equally moved as most of the people who have left comments here. I found all of the stories shocking and very upseting, but I found the story of Christopher’s daily ordeal and past torment particularly upsetting. I too was very close to tears and have never been effected in such a way that I have felt the need to come away and comment on such an issue or any other issue for that matter. The way in which Christopher has been treated during his life is truly shocking and should not be happening today. To hear that Christopher’s father also stated that “HE WOULD NEVER AMOUNT TO ANYTHING” and Christopher believes that he has proved his father right is even more shocking to me. When Christopher said this my heart sank and I felt a feeling of emptiness. I truly hope that Christopher reads this and if you do I would love to speak with you in person. Christopher there are members of society that do care and recognise that the way you have been treated is totally and wholey UNACCEPTABLE. Please keep your chin up and do not let these so called people win, you are ten times the person they could ever dream to be.

    October 22nd, 2010 at 14:40

  24. Isabel says:

    I’ve already left a post but carrying on from what people have said I think the reason Christopher’s story touched us so much was the apparent lack of any family or any kind of “help” for Christopher..the other participants were not so obviously alone as Christopher and that is what touched the hearts of so many.

    I have left a message on Rosie’s website and on the bbc website because I really really want Christopher to see what he has done, to hear the comments from us all, to see how we are all with him and to see that he is not alone anymore.

    If anyone from the programme or from the bbc or even Christopher himself is reading this please please please let us get in touch with him on some sort of level all we want to do is tell him that those few minutes of television have made a huge impact on us all and its all thanks to him being brave enough to tell us.

    October 22nd, 2010 at 16:12

  25. Laura says:

    So far I have watched Tormented Lives 3 times, simply because I can’t stop thinking about Christopher and what a remarkable man he is. I was horrified while watching the programme about how brutal and cruel people can be and it angers me that the people who need the help most are the ones being let down.
    After first watching the programme I did some local research to try and find out what help there is available for people like Christopher in my area. It came as no surprise that I didn’t find very much. I am a teacher of children with special educational needs, and while at school the children gain access to lot’s of support and activities which help them to stay protected from the uneducated idiots that unfortunately exist. The documentary has clearly shown that there is very little support available to protect people living with a disability outside of school, and for adults like Christopher who are living alone in society. I plan to bring the subject up at work with the aim or raising awareness and gathering ideas about how we can help individuals like those shown in the programme. I am fully aware that it will not be any easy task, but I have been inspired by Rosa and all of the people featured and if I only manage to help one person or family, then it will be better than just sitting back and not helping at all.

    October 22nd, 2010 at 22:53

  26. June says:

    I watched this programme in tears -tears of sadness, disbelief and total frustration that this kind of maltreatment is allowed to continue. My heart went out to the victims of mindless, senseless bullies and cowards, how I wished they – the perpetrators – could be named and shamed.

    What a bleak testimony of Society this portrayed.

    October 22nd, 2010 at 23:13

  27. Alison says:

    I was horrified watching this programme, but it did not surprise me. My daughter has autism and goes to a mainstream school. She is in year 6 now and thankfully will finish next year. It does not take the children who start in reception long to work out she is different, as she spends break time running around the playground flapping her arms. They like to tease her and this gets a response from her, and she gets into trouble. She is told to ignore it and as the headteacher informed me, she will have to get used to it. It seems the younger children at no point are told not to tease her in th first place. They learn young and are not told to stop, it is easier to punish the child with the disability.

    October 23rd, 2010 at 14:34

  28. Ruth says:

    In this country it seems that while racial hate crime and homophobic hate crime are taken seriously (and quite rightly) disability hate crime is not taken seriously. My children’s school have been having lessons on ‘show racism the red card’ why not show disability intolerance the red card as well?

    October 24th, 2010 at 00:33

  29. Ian says:

    Having watched Tormented Lives, rarely has a documentary left me feeling so livid and ashamed of being a Brit. I’ve never posted anything on a website before but the plight of the individuals featured in the programme has moved me to do so.
    I also plan to contact the BBC and Rosa through her website to register my support for guys like Christopher and the families featured.
    It really makes me think about what kind of society we have created. A predatory one if the footage and stories recounted in the documentary are anything to go by. It’s obvious from this comment thread that there are a lot of decent people out there who found the actions of these thugs as abhorrent as I do. To be honest there aren’t the adjectives out there to describe how I feel about these feral scum.
    All Christopher and other disabled people want is normal human respect. Not pity. Just normal human respect. Is that really too much to ask?
    I do hope that Christopher is doing well in his job, it sounded right up his street! You haven’t amounted to nothing mate, no matter what your Dad said.
    Being able to build a computer from scratch is a great, amazing skill, and obviously valuable to society and the economy. Being able to write musical notation is brilliant, I certainly would not be able to get my head around either of those things. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re useless. And more imporatntly never start believing it yourself. You are an inspirational human being for putting up with what has been meted out to you.
    I hope that the other families in the programme have aslo found some peace in their lives. They deserve it just like anyody else.
    I hope Christopher, Kelly, and Asher and her family read this thread so they know that there are a lot of people out there who support them and are haunted by what they’ve been or are going through. You are the good guys. Don’t ever give up.
    If anyone is interested I’ve included the link to the disability charity RADAR below. The programme has moved me to make a donation and join. It’s the best way I can think of to do something practical to help the most vulnerable and show my support.

    http://www.radar.org.uk/radarwebsite/tabid/0/default.aspx

    October 24th, 2010 at 10:06

  30. Ian says:

    Having watched Tormented Lives, rarely has a documentary left me feeling so livid and ashamed of being a Brit. I’ve never posted anything on a website before but the plight of the individuals featured in the programme has moved me to do so.
    I also plan to contact the BBC and Rosa through her website to register my support for guys like Christopher and the families featured.
    It really makes me think about what kind of society we have created. A predatory one if the footage and stories recounted in the documentary are anything to go by. It’s obvious from this comment thread that there are a lot of decent people out there who found the actions of these thugs as abhorrent as I do. To be honest there aren’t the adjectives out there to describe how I feel about these feral scum.
    All Christopher and other disabled people want is normal human respect. Not pity. Just normal human respect. Is that really too much to ask?
    I do hope that Christopher is doing well in his job, it sounded right up his street! You haven’t amounted to nothing mate, no matter what your Dad said.
    Being able to build a computer from scratch is a great, amazing skill, and obviously valuable to society and the economy. Being able to write musical notation is brilliant, I certainly would not be able to get my head around either of those things. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re useless. And more imporatntly never start believing it yourself. You are an inspirational human being for putting up with what has been meted out to you.
    I hope that the other families in the programme have aslo found some peace in their lives. They deserve it just like anyody else.
    I hope Christopher, Kelly, and Asher and her family read this thread so they know that there are a lot of people out there who support them and are haunted by what they’ve been or are going through. You are the good guys. Don’t ever give up.
    If anyone is interested do a google search for the disability charity RADAR. This site won’t let me paste a link for some reason. The programme has moved me to make a donation and join. It’s the best way I can think of to do something practical to help the most vulnerable and show my support.

    October 24th, 2010 at 10:08

  31. Claire says:

    I wathced the programme and was sickened. I did not think that Rosa Monckton was in any way patronising.

    October 24th, 2010 at 21:41

  32. Rosa Monckton says:

    I don’t know if anyone is still reading these, but I wanted to thank you all for your response to the programme. I have received over 1000 e mails, and spent yesterday with Christopher at my kitchen table going over the various offers of help that he has received.
    Thank you all very much.
    I am now planning the next programme

    November 2nd, 2010 at 16:38

  33. Craig says:

    I unfortunately missed this programme on BBC and was wondering if there is anywhere it is available for viewing?

    The iPlayer no longer stores it and a google search has brought no results either.

    November 6th, 2010 at 01:58

  34. Ali says:

    Thanks to Rosa for highlighting the plight of people with special needs. As a mother of a 30 year old daughter with cerebral palsy and learning difficulties , I found myself deeply moved by all the families affected. Many tears were shed in empathy.

    I am so pleased that Christopher’s talent has been recognised and wish him all the best for a brighter future.

    November 7th, 2010 at 18:21

  35. Erick says:

    http://documentaryheaven.com/tormented-lives/

    September 24th, 2011 at 22:41

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