Raped by the State: How the ACC Rape Machine Inflicted Legal Genocide on Survivors across NZ
This article details the events of how a deliberate campaign of abuse and rape culture fueled malice against thousands of survivors across New Zealand was inflicted on us all by the Accident Compensation Corporation.
For overseas readers the Accident Compensation Corporation is the NZ state agency tasked with providing funded access to treatment and other lawful entitlements to sexual abuse victims in New Zealand.
In the 2009 -2014 period 94% of survivors were cut off from all treatment and entitlements as the result of collusion between ACC picked assessors and the Corporation united by financial considerations and a wholesale contempt for sexual assault victims.
I describe what happened from my own perspective and how it was I came to find myself at the epicentre of what amounted to a legal genocide inflicted on some of the most damaged and vulnerable people in NZ society.
What followed was a nightmare where women were ringing me at all hours of the night. Some begged me to help them make the Corporation stop. Others who were beyond all help begged me to hold ACC responsible for its crimes.
Providers I talked to were gripped in fear and essentially tens of thousands of abused women, children and men were driving headlong in panic without support or hope of an end to the horror that was being inflicted on them.
I was told of women who had ended their lives and the desperate struggles of providers, who had funding cut off as claims were rejected, as they fought to keep others alive.
Here are the basics of went down when I, an uneducated CSA survivor and ex street punk, threw myself face first at a multi billion dollar government backed rape machine and the brutal one sided affair that followed.
February the 5th 2010
The landline rings and I had already guessed who it would be before I picked up. Sadly I was right and a very cocksure young man introduced himself as Mike from ACC.
Big Mike started launching into the corporation's spiel in most perfunctory manner. I could hear the barely concealed contempt in his voice as he started to tell me just how things were going to be.
I assessed that Big Mike was spoiling for a fight and that he had already had many such conversations. It is fair to say I predicted we were not going to get on. I let him finish his goose stepping.
"Is that so?" was my contribution to the discussion. I was told that indeed it was so and that the law had changed and there were no options available to me. The call ended with Big Mike's triumphant departure ringing in my ears.
These were the days before Vapes and so I found myself out the back applying lighter to cigarette. Despite my stoic response I was deeply concerned. The Accident Compensation Corporation is a most powerful enemy.
A multi billion dollar agency that has tentacles in every branch of government, ACC is a goliath that has the merest whiff of regard for the law. I had fought them before but back then my partner was a lawyer.
Now I was absent my lawyer and the cost of fighting the Corporation was going to be tens of thousands if I hired another one. I had already had a pretty good idea it was coming.
In 2008 a National party government was elected and National worships but one God and that is money. What National despises is anyone getting State assistance that does not serve their interests.
The sense of doom was palabal. Yet there was no predicting the reality of the horror that was to come.
Big Mike was extremely unfortunate to get me on his list because it just so happens I can fight like a cornered fiend. I learned the legislation and read case law until I was able to fight on my on behalf.
After a long protracted fight I fought them off. As for Big Mike? Well I can safely say I played a personal and direct role in his personal development.
Big Mike the puppy kicker had unwittingly tried planting his boot into the side of something so much more capable of fighting back.
By 2012 the ether was howling with the fear and fury of survivors across NZ. The Corporation had wiped 94% of us off the books. I stood there in horror as I discovered I was numbered among a mere 6% of claimant wins.
I found myself staring into the abyss of the single largest crisis to hit NZ survivors in this country's history. I had already been involved in ACC activism to one degree or another and I turned my attention to trying to inform others of their options.
I made a google site providing information and made as much noise as possible while ACC carved through survivors across the country. It was then I got an email.
It contained a woman's entire file and stated that even though she had no idea who I was she was so beaten down by the Corporation that she had lost the will to give a shit.
Fair enough I mused as I started looking over her file. PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder were the factors in play and ACC psychiatrists had succeeded in creating an environment where BPD sufferers were automatically excluded as suffering a comorbid disorder unrelated to sexual abuse.
The Psychiatrist in question had neatly negated all PTSD considerations and planted everything on unrelated comorbid BPD. Not only that but she had a physical injury as well and her file was being managed between two different ACC departments.
The departments were bouncing her back and forth in what was clearly a gas lighting campaign. She had lost all her entitlements and was going under. I had won my own reviews but I had never acted for anyone else.
I committed to providing advice and being a support person but I was not willing to take on the responsibility that comes with actually acting as advocate. I had no experience and I felt it would not be right.
That was not all of course. The Corporation was playing at the filthy level. In 2012 a woman named Bronwyn Pullar exposed a huge data privacy breach by ACC. Her main support person was a very high profile woman named Michelle Boag.
Both women attended a meeting with ACC management and not long after the news of the breach hit the media ACC complained to the police that the women had tried to extort ACC using threats of releasing information to the media to gain entitlements unlawfully.
New Zealanders were gobsmacked. Michelle Boag is one of the most influential women in NZ society. The whole idea of it was astounding. The mystery was solved quickly. Michelle Boag did not get to where she is by being someone's easy meat.
Unknown to ACC the meeting was recorded. It was evident that ACC was quite prepared to stitch people up in retaliation for hindering them in the country wide violation of survivors and the injured across the country.
Not only that I had met a survivor who was of the 6% who won her claim but ACC had stitched her up the same way. In this case there was no recording but this individual had gone to the meeting with her advocate.
Despite the increasingly vehement correspondence from her advocate shrieking her innocence she was convicted and facing sentencing. I totally believed that she was innocent and we talked by phone before she headed off to sentencing the next day.
I knew I was talking to an innocent woman who had suffered the most appalling abuse in her life was being sent to jail after essentially being framed and there was not a thing I could do about it.
Imagine my surprise then when the phone rang the following afternoon. Victory had been snatched from the jaws of defeat. It turned out there was a document that proved her innocence and when asked for it ACC denied it existed.
Turns out this woman was the kind to keep every document received and in the wee hours, with blurry eyes while sitting amid a huge pile of documents, her hand fell upon the document that changed everything.
In brief the defense asked the prosecution to provide the document. The prosecutor informed the judge ACC had denied the document existed. The defense then presented the original hard copy with ACC logo and staff signature in place. The judge went through the roof.
Needless to say we were howling with victory and delight but it was very clear that the Corporation was willing to do anything to anyone who got in its way.
By this stage, in the face of increasing opposition attacks, the National government very nearly blushed when presented with a 94% declinature rate on sexual assault claims but was holding firm.
While the bluster and raging lashed across parliament the ACC rape machine raced on chewing up survivors lives and spitting them out the other end. I rang treatment providers across the country.
The fear was intense and universal. Two providers told me of claimants who they knew had taken their own lives. Some of them literally burst into tears. Survivors were driving headlong in panic and complaints and reviews were brushed to one side.
Then I got the news from the BPD claimant. She had been posting remarks about the psychiatrist online and had received a lawyers letter as a result. Upon telling her own lawyer of the situation the response was a request for money up front.
Upon hearing that no more money was to be had the law firm immediately dropped her on her ass and sent her a $10000 legal bill. Needless to say she was feeling the stress of the situation.
I was informed that I was her only hope and even though I had no experience I was all she had.
So with no experience outside of my own claim, the proposal was that I take another person's life in my hands and go head on with a multi billion dollar state monster that was willing to frame high profile women and rape victims.
It is also fair to say that I had already inflicted a great deal of inconvenience on ACC and I was not on the Christmas card list. ACC had already rigged the system to reject BPD claims by default.
Oh well. What was I going to do? Leave her with nothing?
The first thing I did was to write a letter back to the lawyer and having regard for a professional manner I informed her what she could do with her threats and exactly how completely unintimidated I was in general.
I concluded by painting a vision of what it would look like if a rich psychiatrist bullied a vulnerable patient in the courts and the badness went away. Now to face the Corporation. There was only one way forward. It meant going full mongrel.
The ensuing melee was a brutal conflict bereft of pity. ACC staff hurled letters and demands and I hurled complaints and legal arguments back. I was actually threatened by a staff member who told me she was going to take my attitude in mind when dealing with the claim.
Talk about walk into the wolf's jaws. Howling misfeasance I slammed a complaint on the woman in question and ACC management started to panic. It was at this time I got my first insight into the Sensitive Claims Unit from the advocate perspective and the rape culture I discovered was extreme.
There was a group of mostly female staff members who were making a game of how they could decline claims. An ex Unit member was head of the complaints department and she was right in there with them.
These people were playing a very nasty and sadistic game with people's lives and pretty much getting off on it. Clearly this was a bonus to add to the kudos being bestowed upon them by their corporate masters. Needless to say my arrival in their little world from the advocate angle was not appreciated.
I had gotten over the wall and was tearing into the Corporation's minions future employment prospects while lifting the bar on the gate for the screaming mob battering the Corporation's defences.
The Corporation retaliated by launching its equally useless managers and team leaders at me. One of the first was a woman who I had fought on my own claim. This was indeed a most happy coincidence as far as I was concerned.
I had seen this one face to face and the memory of her contemptuous malice was fresh in my mind. My foe did not last long. This process of one sided attrition continued until one of the most infamous Reviews (appeal) in ACC history took place.
My BPD claimant's Review was up and I had written a massive submission that was required to cover off the multitude of ACC strawman attacks on the claim. I was confident despite the odds for I had discovered a major hole in the psychiatric assessment and the Corporation's reliance on it.
As the Review was in Wellington and I was in Auckland I had to argue the Review by teleconference. I knew the moment the Reviewer identified himself that we had run into a major problem.
This man had a well known reputation for trashing survivors claims and being a proud proponent of the ACC rape culture machine. It was also clear he was a big fanboy of the woman from the Unit who was also a well known rape culture enthusiast.
My arguments were bulletproof but I was an uneducated ex street punk and one of those nasty survivors to boot and this was a guy who was not going to let such an upstart impinge upon the system. Oh no.
The Review went so badly that my claimant was left in tears. I tried to present a positive face but we both knew the score. Review outcomes are provided after 28 days and now all we could do is wait.
So I thought. My claimant was sending a stream of emails to the Corporation including the CEO and the CEO got fed up to the point of handing the file to an internal ACC psychologist for internal review.
I got that news but did not hold out any hope. I was focused on the court case that would be the next step in the appeal.
On day 27 I got an email from ACC. ACC had revoked its decision to decline and full cover would be provided for BPD with all applicable entitlements.
I had to read it three times before I could call my claimant such was my state of shock. The Corporation never surrendered. Ever. Yet here we were.
The psychologist had seen the dreadful hook in my arguments. ACC knew if the case went to court the Corporation would be exposed as having gas lit and abused a highly vulnerable sexual abuse victim in the most disturbing ways imaginable.
The psychologist went into cockpit automated warning mode. Terrain pull up! Terrain pull up! The Corporation was pulling back on the joystick as it screamed towards the legal and political hell I had waiting for it.
The Corporation managed to miss the hook but the Reviewer was not so lucky. Unaware that the Corporation was aborting its flight path this minion of the rape machine had compiled a decision that essentially defecated all over my claimants rape history and he had a few choice words about me also.
By the time this loser found out that the Corporation had abandoned him the Review was already in the post and of course both I and my claimant got a copy on day 29. I immediately picked up my phone and called my claimant.
I informed her that because the Corporation had revoked its previous decision the Reviewer's decision was null and void. I then rang the Corporation and ensured that it also was aware of that fact.
It was very much I was informed in a tone bordering on hysteria. The Corporation had read the Review also and a very cold and desolate wind was caressing its corporate spine.
Another hour went by and I started to get a bad feeling and rang my claimant again. Turns out it was a good thing that I did for despite the fact we had won, the Reviewers attack on her history and credibility had led her to make the decision she was checking out permanently.
I had caught her while she was still halfway through the necessary pill consumption and after 30 minutes of discussion and a notification to her treatment provider the crisis was averted.
So what was the hook that the Corporation had managed to scrape past? I had noted that there was no relevant assault history in the psychiatric report. The psychiatrist had noted an incident of what amounted to an indecent assault.
The real history was a heartbreaking narrative of two sisters who had suffered years of the most hideous rape and sexual torture at the hands of a family member. Naturally I got the entire history which was the one the Reviewer went on to piss all over.
The Corporation had been relying on the fact that BPD was not related to the sexual abuse of the claimant. ACC and its hit squad of rape culture psychiatrists had created a situation where they could decline BPD sufferers by default.
BPD has recognised precursors. At the time ACC focused on two of these being maternal deprivation in childhood and environment. The argument ACC was winning on was that these matters should be treated as their own factors and unrelated to sexual abuse.
In most cases this would hold true. For example a woman suffering BPD who was not abused as a child but raped as an adult would have BPD excluded for cover. However I was dealing with a childhood sexual abuse case and I presented two line of reasoning.
The fact that the offender was telling the victim that the atrocities he was inflicting beginning at the age of four were happening to her because her mother desired her to be punished. This amounted to offender induced maternal deprivation.
The fact the offender had total control of the childhood environment which he used to facilitate years of extreme sexual abuse against two child victims meant the environmental component was offender influenced.
Essentially I linked the recognised precursors of BPD directly to the actions of the offender in the claim in question. The psychiatrist of course had been wholly uninterested in actually looking for information and did not have the history.
In an instant my claimant had transformed from grievant BPD sufferer to child sex abuse victim who was being abused at every level by the State. Panic and chaos ensued as the Corporation management realized just what its staff had done and who it was who had unearthed the fact of it.
The result was that I won my first payouts for an abused survivor. Needless to say it did not stop there. The first version of Cassandra Complex went up attacking the Corporation at every level.
I took on proper clients and suddenly I was everywhere and the one sided attrition continued in my favor. This went on for two more years until finally ACC offered a peace flag and a meeting was held.
I was told about all the new things ACC was doing and would I please reconsider my policy of going Lobo on the Corporation? I agreed. I didn't really believe it but political necessity required me to give the Corporation a chance to redeem itself.
The result? All will be revealed in the next installment.