What is it that drives some humans to abuse those they perceive as weak, vulnerable and different? What is it that propels or instigates such heinous endeavour, and what dark creature feeds upon the morsels of ruinous activity? This has nothing to do with the fight for personal survival (which I can better understand). It seems to exist solely as a means of twisted entertainment.
Perhaps, this is the reason so many of us who are neurodivergent do not wish to reveal our diversities, and so many with more visible disabilities cower in the shadows of mainstream society without asserting their legal rights even in countries where they have those in place. A simple reason, yet so ominous: the fear of abuse at every level imaginable and unimaginable.
Abuse takes many forms. It is a nebulous entity that winds itself around its victims while morphing in shape, size, composition, manifestation and strategy according to circumstance.
My encounters with two real estate agents from the agency which manages the apartment I inhabited for the last year have been consistently unpleasant. The process of leaving the apartment has been (and still is) fraught with intensities that challenged every faculty, pushing the frameworks and boundaries at multiple levels of my existential paradigm.
Here is one example of a harassing phone call, directly aimed at my disability.
Property Agent (PA): Well, you never told me you were autistic! You only stated in the rental application form that you were a Ph.D scholar! * (see footnote below)
Me: That is irrelevant to my application for tenancy. For your information and education, a great many autistic people do have Ph.Ds!
- Accusation? Reprimand? What kind of statement is that? Confusion and alarm sets in…
PA: The rental application form asked “Do you have a a pet?” and you did not say you had a pet dog!
Me: I do not have a pet. My dog is a certified assistance dog, not a pet dog. An assistance dog functions as a disability aid, just like a wheelchair to a wheelchair user. As, such, I do not need to reveal to you any details of my disability or any disability aids.
PA: Yes, but you still ought to have stated in the form that you had a pet dog.
Me: I repeat, my dog is a certified assistance dog, not a pet dog.
PA: Yes, but you still should’ve told us you had a pet dog.
Me: Let me explain again, my dog is not a pet dog. Your form asked about a “pet.” You keep mentioning the term “pet dog.” Mine is not a pet dog. If I had a bunny, cat, gerbil, chinchilla or rat, I would have most definitely declared I have a pet. But my dog is an assistance dog, not a pet.
PA: (mumbling) Yes, but you still should’ve told us you had a pet dog.
- ??? Nonplussed. Talking to brick wall, or staring into the miry bog??? Discombobulation creeps up…
PA: Well, let me tell you, in the future, if you ever wish to rent in Australia again, you must remember to state that you are autistic, as a polite courtesy to the property agent. ** (see footnote below)
Me: There is no legal requirement for me to reveal my disability to property agents, and that includes my need for and use of any disability aids as recognised by the DDA. My responsibility as a tenant is to pay the rent on time, keep the premises clean, not destroy the premises and conduct myself in a manner that is within the law of the land. I will make sure I carry out my legal responsibilities but I also wish to I maintain my full legal rights.
PA: Yes, but just as a courtesy, you understand? If you ever wish to rent again in Australia, that is. Remember this for next time.
- A thinly veiled threat? What kind of verbal hissing is that? Nausea and vertigo begins…
At this point, I gave up trying to educate or inform this person. Even I, clueless as I am about liquid social nuances, knew for certain that this conversation was getting nowhere positive.
* This phone call was from the agent who first showed the property and with whom I dealt during the commencement of my tenancy. The other agent, who is supposed to be the Property Manager, communicated with me solely via emails.
** This part is most sinister: if left unchecked, this would disintegrate the entire structure and spirit of the DDA altogether. Where would this lead to? The thought is horrifying. Where rental accommodation is concerned, it would open the door to real estate agents requiring specific information on physical, mental, emotional and medical conditions, asking prospective tenants to specify not only the nature of their conditions but also the mitigation or treatment strategies, i.e. use of wheelchairs, assistance animals, medical equipment, types of medication etc. There will be no limit to such invasion of personal privacy, targeted oppression and prejudicial treatment. Is this the kind of scenario we want for our society?
Once again, I run headlong into yet another Theatre of Absurdities. The media likes to sensationalise the “autism explosion.” Yet, I am quite certain there are far more sociopaths scuttling around in society at large than there are autistic persons struggling to live a decent, quiet life.
At a time when I could least cope with such dramatics, I have been dealing with an Unholy Duo of personalities, banding together and assaulting me with two different styles of sociopathic focus. The one harping on and on about autism and pet dogs, and the other placing brick walls in front of my every attempt to perform a simple end-of-lease procedure. Although the latter did not mention my disability, there is no doubt that her colleague would have informed her about it. This person’s communications with me have been equally distressful: chastising me for inconveniencing her because I had become so sick that I had to extend my tenancy for another 3 days (I paid the rent, in full for these three days), refusing to meet me for a final inspection before I returned the keys but threatening to charge me even more rental if I did not return the keys (final inspection ought to take place just before the return of keys – a handing-over procedure), then, two days later, suddenly demanding with less than 24 hours’ notice that I attend a final inspection. I could not attend at 9am, as I was running a high fever, and I suggested a later hour in the day, but she ignored my response and just went ahead with her own inspection, after which she produced a long list of arbitrary items that she found fault with. All these were already in existence when I took over the old, crumbling, poorly maintained premises. Yes, I have before and after photographs, receipts from cleaning company and pest control. But the immense vexation is indescribable.
Upon contacting the relative authorities to enquire about my legal rights and responsibilities, I was told this kind of petty scurrying (for want of a better description) is not uncommon. However, it is a mindset that is so far removed from mine that it is most perplexing to have to deal with.
The one who scolded me on the phone about my not declaring I am autistic in the rental form called me again and pushed me to acquiesce to her version of yet another final inspection (puts another dimension to the meaning of “final” doesn’t it?) – she insisted that she would come and pick me up from where I am currently residing, take me to the former apartment, and armed with mop, broom and cleaning equipment, clean the place up according to the requirements set forth by her colleague. More bullying tactics. This person speaks to me as if I were an errant child, calls me “Pet” and other condescending names. So strong was her relentless coercion that I nearly went along with it.
However, I crumbled in a different way, which was fortunate. I finally had enough of their farcical theatrics – my mind went into a catatonic phobic state at the very thought of any further interaction with these two persons. The two weeks of racing heartbeat, ‘cold sweat’ and nausea induced by these two finally became too overwhelming to quell. I informed them that I had decided to leave the matter in the hands of the relevant authority to deal with.
I am willing to accept whatever ruling the relevant authorities decide. I just cannot and should not have to deal with these two persons anymore.
What pleasures or satisfactions do these distorted mentalities gain from such needling, provocative and demeaning agitations? The flora and fauna within their mindscapes, the elemental ecologies inside their actualities must be so distorted, and so cumbersomely bogged down by perverse concrete and abstract architectures beyond my limited capacity to comprehend or conjure up. And they are the ones who are pronounced ‘normal’ and without mental illness?
The final missive from them?
“We were not aware of the degree of your mental health. We will proceed as per your instructions.“
For what it’s worth, my cadential reply:
All my emails and conversations (…) have very clearly, politely and repeatedly provided sufficient explanation of my situation. Your lack of awareness is beyond my control. In fact, it has caused me immense suffering as a result, hence I have had no other choice but to leave it in the hands of the relevant authorities.