street warfare

Repulsion (Part Four)


Requested by @suiren1:

angst I.M scenario where he used to be a gang leader but left because of you, then his former gang members threaten if you don’t break up with I.M and bring him back, they’ll hurt people close to you (and you), the ending can be up to you

Vibes: numbed pain, mention of gunfire
Word Count: 990

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

Originally posted by wonhontology

About a week or so had passed since your break up with Changkyun. You weren’t counting the days … you were barely resolving your inner turmoils from that day and just somehow managed to continue on with your life (albeit in a very painfully numbed manner).

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Not shit rich college kids say, but I think relevant to the theme of your blog. Figured I would share my experience being homeless because of my mental health.

As soon as I turned 18 I moved in with a guy I knew in Wisconsin (Florida native) to escape my abusive home situation. I got a very well paying job in customer service and was doing well for myself. At one point my mental health deteriorated as a delayed reaction to abuse, and after several breakdowns sending me home early from work, I lost my job.

My mental health got worse and worse as I stayed home all day filling out application after application, eventually I got to where I needed to go to the hospital. This choice resulted in my boyfriend packing up my things and dropping them off at the hospital several days after I was checked in, as an unceremonious message that I was dumped.

So now I can’t focus on recovery or health or my paranoia or delusions or stress because I know as soon as they release me, I’ll be homeless. I started focusing less on my health and more on seeming as unstable as possible so my stay is extended.

Once I found myself homeless, they assigned me a social worker. My doctor told me my social worker could give me all sorts of resources to contact and numbers to call so I have access to somewhere safe when I get out. My social worker then sat down with me and told me they could get me a ride to the salvation army in a taxi. That’s it. I remember breaking down and begging and pleading for help, but she just shook her head and left.

I assumed this was the standard treatment until I noticed that another girl assigned a different social worker was provided applications for many low and no income housing programs, and actually was accepted and had a home to go to when she left. When I asked this person’s social worker for help she just said “I’m not assigned to you, we all have this.”

I never got any help. When I asked my doctor for computer access to research such myself, I was informed that would be “inappropriate” and that I need to “focus on recovery.”

It was quite the wakeup call. The system abandoned me as an abused child, and there it went, abandoning me again as a new adult escaping the pain they left me to suffer in. Unfortunately this story has no happy ending as of yet, as I ended up spending 2 months homeless, applying to every available job, and getting assaulted by most of the people I attempted to trust.

Now I’m back in this household and. I truly hate capitalism more than ever. My experiences left me even more emotionally wrecked, and I barely have the stability to work (despite desperately searching for a job anyway). So yeah. The system is broken, and if you’re neurodivergent they don’t care if you die. They’ll just tranq you when you start to panic over being left on the street to die.

There is a lot striking me as very wrong about Channel 4’s Benefits Street; less a fly-on-the-wall documentary, more an unabashed exploitation of the poor in Britain.

First of all, there’s the choice of name for the program: Benefits Street. Consider for a second that this program was meant to give a “sympathetic, human, and objective” portrayal of people living on state benefits under austerity. Now consider the number of other names they could have given the program that don’t rhyme with ‘benefits cheat.’ Whether this is a deliberate decision by the producers or not is up for speculation, but there’s no denying that the naming of the show already leads viewers into a subconscious judgement of those within. Not only are there implications of the ‘benefits cheat,’ but the idea of a whole street on benefits paints the impression that abuse of the state benefit system and ‘benefit scroungers’ are rife in the UK (spoiler: it isn’t and they’re not).

Secondly (and I’m allowed to say this, coming from Wolverhampton), there’s the location. They chose a street in Birmingham, and while the West Midlands – particularly the Black Country – does have a high rate of unemployment, there is an underlying cultural subtext to this. The second city and its surrounding area enjoys the reputation of having the worst accent in the UK. Without getting into regional nuances between Yam Yam (Wolverhampton), Brummie (Birmingham), and so on; the ‘Black Country’ accent is, admittedly, a bit of an up-down lilt, with something of a drawl about it. In British pop-culture, it’s synonymous with not only the working class, but the dim-witted, the under-educated, and generally the butt of many jokes. Along with the title, already the country will form an ill-opinion of those featured as soon as they open their mouths.

Not that it really matters what they say, since the show was, according to those involved, heavily edited and manipulated in order to completely misrepresent the people they featured. The information provided to those living on the street said the show was about the community spirit in the street despite austerity and circumstances. According to Dee Roberts, who is featured on the program, “they lied to us from the very beginning. We opened our doors and hearts to them and they violated us and abused our trust.” In terms of editing, they filmed a sequence where Dee walks down the street and points out the houses of those who were unemployed or on benefits, however, before the edit, it was shown that she walked down the street talking about those who were and weren’t employed, and the sequence, to Dee, was meant to be positive. The production company also broadcast private phonecalls and ignored residents’ requests to not film certain aspects of their lives.

Channel 4 has betrayed the trust of a whole community, threatening to tear it apart, and placed a group of people at the mercy of a public who will see them with intense vitriol and judgement.

You only need to glance at Twitter during and after the show to see what their ‘fair and balanced’ portrayal has done with regards to the public opinion of those on benefits.

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This is what happens when you lie to people, then stereotype and demonise them in front of a few million viewers. This is now how the public views Britain’s 2.49 million unemployed people. This is Channel 4 inciting class warfare. West Midlands police had to issue a statement due to the amount of calls flooding them to arrest the people featured, and yet have remained silent on the death threats these people are receiving. Nothing about this program is okay. The perpetuation of stereotypes that justify the hatred of those in economic disparity, unemployed, or unable to work is unforgivable – and dangerous.

People who are unemployed are already in a dangerous place. 1 in 10 British unemployed people under 21 feel like they have nothing to live for, 1 in 3 have contemplated suicide, and 1 in 4 self-harm. The ‘expert help’ the Job Centre provides is a joke. Add to that the government scheme to make people work in actual job roles to keep their benefits under the banner of 'experience and we have a fundamentally flawed and morally wrong system that is failing citizens. If they’re working, they should get paid a wage, not to keep state support which is meant to be there while they’re not working.
The online jobmatch program is flawed and rife with scams, fraud, and outright false adverts for jobs. You are matched to arbitrary jobs with no consideration for any qualifications you may or may not have, and not given any consideration as an individual with any skills that are unique to you - or at least geared in a certain direction. I wasn’t there long enough, thankfully, but there are courses you are sent on, which may be inconvenient to get to, have no relation to anything you want to do, etc. and the cost for being late is a benefit sanction.  A lot of people claiming benefits and attending Job Centre appointments are people out of work - who had jobs with skills, graduates, and others who were genuinely wanted to work - so to be treated like the way they are is frankly depressing.
Very few people want to do nothing. It’s depressing, demoralising, and makes you feel incredibly shitty about yourself as a person; but considering the way the system is run, the way the media portray the job market, the jobs made available to you through government means, it’s no wonder people begin to give up hope.

When Benefits Street was filmed in 2012, fraudulent benefit claims accounted for less than 1% of total state benefit paid out, and that while benefit fraud cost the state £1.23bn, the amount of benefit underpaid, due to applicants not having the support to properly complete forms or official error, came to £1.3bn. Benefit fraud accounted for a grand total of 8% of all public sector fraud – the second least draining on the economy under identity fraud. Compare that to the £14bn drain on the state that tax fraud and legal loopholes for the rich and elite classes caused (accounting for 69% of public sector fraud) – you have to wonder, when will we get a show demonising bankers, elites and CEOs using offshore accounts to fund drug binges, obscenely expensive drinks, and unapologetically abusing their places of power.