EP 179: Abusers and People with Disabilities: Win Charles Part One

Diana WinklerDomestic Violence

What would you do if you had a physical or mental disability and you’re being abused? You have no resources or support. You’re dependent on people to help you and instead they take advantage of you and abuse you. Domestic violence and abuse are horrible even when you don’t have any kind of disability.

Just imagine being in a wheelchair or not being able to feed yourself, bathe yourself. Something as simple as being able to verbally express what your needs are, or you’re visually or hearing impaired. It can be even a darker place for someone who’s experiencing sexual, emotional, financial abuse. I have Wynne Charles on the show today who is going to share her story of having cerebral palsy and being abused by a woman and her advocacy work for the disability community.

That is next on the Wounds of the Faithful podcast.

About Win Charles

Born with Cerebral Palsy, Win Charles has defied the odds by becoming an author. Her memoir I, Win is an amazing story of how she remembers her life through the years of having a condition called “CP”. As a competitor in the Kona Iron Man Triathlon, CEO of her own jewelry design company, and motivational speaker, Win Charles truly is an inspiration to many. Today Win Charles tours the country, speaking to schools and institutions to raise awareness about cerebral palsy and living a full life no matter what holds you back. She is also an advocate of veterans across the world.

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Win Charles Part One Transcript

[00:00:00] What would you do if you had a physical or mental disability and you’re being abused? You have no resources or support. You’re dependent on people to help you and instead they take advantage of you and abuse you. Domestic violence and abuse are horrible even when you don’t have any kind of disability.

[00:00:24] Just imagine being in a wheelchair or not being able to feed yourself, bathe yourself. Something as simple as being able to verbally express what your needs are, or you’re visually or hearing impaired. It can be even a darker place for someone who’s experiencing sexual, emotional, financial abuse. I have Wynne Charles on the show today who is going to share her story of having cerebral palsy and being abused by a woman and her advocacy work for the disability community.

[00:00:59] That [00:01:00] is next on the Wounds of the Faithful podcast.

[00:01:03] Welcome to the Wounds of the Faithful podcast, brought to you by DSW Ministries. Your host is singer, songwriter, speaker, and domestic violence advocate, Diana Winkler. She is passionate about helping survivors in the church heal from domestic violence and abuse and trauma. This podcast is not a substitute for professional counseling or qualified medical help.

[00:01:29] Now, here is Diana.

[00:01:37] Welcome everyone. Just a small announcement today. I have been a bit overwhelmed with keeping up with everything in my life. I’m trying to do the time management thing as best that I can, but I have a lot on my plate. I did reduce the episodes to around 30 minutes, thinking that would be [00:02:00] easier. I am considering now posting every other week instead of weekly.

[00:02:05] to see if that helps me. Oh, I’m not going anywhere. I still want to do the podcast. I just need a little more breathing room. This past week, my editing software for the podcast wasn’t working, so I didn’t even get to post an episode. That’s just the reality of it, folks. Not the end of the world, but it is really frustrating to me when the technology doesn’t work.

[00:02:32] So starting this week, I’m going to try posting every other week. Now you can binge previous episodes that you might have missed. They are all on my website, DSW Ministries dot org slash blog, or I think that Spotify shows all of my episodes from the last three years. I think Apple Podcasts only shows the last 10 or 20.

[00:02:59] Don’t quote [00:03:00] me on that. But as I said in the intro, we have a wonderful guest today. I’ve been wanting to have differing viewpoints and experiences on the podcast from those who have suffered abuse and domestic violence. I’ve been wanting to have someone on the show who is disabled to tell their story, because I know for a fact that This is a vulnerable population.

[00:03:23] Vulnerable people get taken advantage of and abused. So Win Charles is on the show, she reached out to me to be on the show. Let me read a little bit about her. She’s a podcaster herself and has a podcast called CEO of a Disability Podcast.

[00:03:42] CEO of a disability welcomes you to give you hope to a differently shaped community defined as the disabled in the dictionary. And also, but most importantly, giving hope to their caregivers and those that love them with teaching [00:04:00] them how to start their own business or not giving up on their disability.

[00:04:05] about the host, Wyn Kelly Charles. She has cerebral palsy and her mission is to help others with physical and mental disabilities to find their voices through written or spoken word using today’s assistive technologies as needed. I have a written transcript on my website for every episode when you need it.

[00:04:31] On YouTube, I have, uh, captions for each video. If you need that for better understanding, be sure to share this episode with somebody that really needs it. If you yourself are not disabled, I’m sure you know somebody that is, that could benefit from the content that Winn is going to share with us today.

[00:04:55] So, I hope that you enjoy my conversation with Wynn [00:05:00] Charles.

[00:05:00] All right, please welcome to the podcast, Wynn Charles, right here in Phoenix. Thank you, Diana, for having me on. For those of you that don’t know what cerebral palsy is, let’s Cut right to the chase here. Cerebal Palsy is a Lack of oxygen injury at birth. I was born with Cerebal Palsy and 1987 1 pound 13 ounces 27 weeks.

[00:05:31] Thank you very much. So you figure that one out. I was supposed to be born in September when I was born in June So, that’s the short version of Cerebal Palsy. So, what would you like people to know about Win, right out of the gate here, about you? Give me a challenge and I don’t say no.

[00:05:55] I love it. I take challenges heads [00:06:00] on. You do. And we were, talking about how everybody thinks, Phoenix is bright and sunny and hot all the time. Today it’s raining buckets today. And it’s rainy, it’s cold, it’s miserable. So, well, I wouldn’t say it’s miserable, I would take this cold over Aspen cold.

[00:06:27] Any day, yeah, well let’s talk about Aspen, Colorado. Why don’t you tell us about your, your childhood. You already told us about when you were born and such.

[00:06:38] Tell us what your childhood was like. My childhood, I had the best childhood I could imagine, up until I was 23, and we can get into why. But I was, thankfully mainstream in a private [00:07:00] school. And also in public schools and in college, too. I have a college degree in education and I’m working on my journalism degree that life got in the way and so I had to quit that, take a break, and then, um, I hope one of these days I can go back and pursue my journalism degree, but I had, because I was mainstreamed, I had the best job.

[00:07:32] Childhood imaginable. And unfortunately, because of best childhood imaginable, my mom didn’t tell me that I had CP until I was in seventh grade. So then she decided to take me to school one day, and stop at the end of the driveway and look at me in the [00:08:00] face. And said, Win, you have CP, it’s a condition that will affect your life, for the rest of your life.

[00:08:10] Now, go have a great day. And I’ll see you later. And I’m like, okay, you just gave me words that would change my life. Fast forward, I get to high school. I am doing research on cerebal palsy. I type in what is CP because at the time I didn’t even know what CP was. And I’m like, what? And these words pop up in my head.

[00:08:42] Screen and there are several cerebal palsy. I’m like, oh boy. Oh boy. That’s CP. And then life goes on and then this is a tricky part. I graduate high school. My life is [00:09:00] Sailing along up until 2010, the demeanor of my mom changes. And I unfortunately lost her when I was 23 years old, two brain aneurysms, one of which they caught, and she was recovering in a hospital, two of which they didn’t catch, and she landed up having malgrave seizures and dying of brain aneurysms, which is quite common if they don’t catch.

[00:09:35] Brain aneurysms, because brain aneurysms burst. It’s a pocket of blood on your brain and you have to be careful they don’t burst. So, of course, my mom dies of brain aneurysm. They, call. My family was there, they call a chaplain in to do the last rites. Of course, Now, [00:10:00] I have spoken to chaplains about this, and the chaplains that I have spoken to couldn’t believe it, that I got kicked out of the room, her next of kin, as I’m doing the final rites on my mom.

[00:10:15] So I’m like, okay. You can kick it out of the room. And then, the day she died, we came from a church in Denver, Colorado. My dad was an atheist. He would barely step foot inside a church. My mom’s family was Catholic and is Catholic. And so, They wanted to go to church. The day she died, we were, coming, from church to the hospital, and that was the most somber, because I knew something was up, and I’m like, I went home [00:11:00] thinking that she was going to be fine.

[00:11:02] She was going to be recovered. Family came up to get me and said, mom is really sick, we need to go back down.

[00:11:12] And I was like, okay. Here we go. And then I remember going to say my final goodbyes because by that time I knew that she was in a medically induced coma. I get greeted at the door. by family members who happen to be physicians. One was a nurse and the other one was a family doctor. And, they said, your mother’s medically induced coma. It wasn’t, hello, how are you? Why are we here?

[00:11:50] And I’m like, great. Just got here with my dad, and then my dad tried to hide the cell phone [00:12:00] message that the doc had left him about her. Yeah, that was a good one. I figured that one out because I heard the message being, I heard the message being played,

[00:12:09] I get kicked out of the room when the chaplain comes in to do the final rites and That was the first blow.

[00:12:20] The second blow, fast forward, was my dad and I are struggling, after the loss of my mom. My dad doesn’t even know how to help me, let alone take care of the house, let alone take care of me, let alone pay your bills. And so, that was the first blow, and then the second blow was nine years later, in 2019, he drives himself to the emergency room after telling a doctor that he can’t breathe.[00:13:00] [00:13:00] And so he gets diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and dies 6 days after diagnosis. And that was the second blow of my life, and I’m like, okay, now what? And so, the day he got diagnosed with cancer, I stayed behind at the hotel. And I made the decisions. One of them was to sell my house.

[00:13:28] Well, I told people I wanted somebody to sell my house and I told people that and that’s the time I was going through a legal case too. We all had to pick up the pieces and that’s why I say to people, get your paperwork together while your loved ones alive, especially if you have a disabled child that you’re dealing with.

[00:13:55] So, anyway, the legal case just [00:14:00] now finally got resolved. Since I moved down here, this legal case kept going on and on and on and on, and more people kept getting involved with my legal case. But in the meantime, while this legal case was going on, and All this chaos after my dad died. So, after this legal case, believe it or not, my family comes out, and then I got abused by my And believe it or not, that was my abuser’s sister calling me. I still have contact with , and I find out Ivana, and I’m telling this story that she called me.

[00:14:48] So, she abused me, my godmother abused me, and for those of you that follow the Catholic faith, know in Catholicism [00:15:00] that they say the godparents must help the kids.

[00:15:05] Isn’t it true that they say that and aren’t the grandparents supposed to have that covenant to help the kids, not abuse the kids? Thank you very much. Yeah. And so she put me in the shower against my will, number one, and then did a number on me. And I won’t say what she did, um, because it’s too graphic for this But, well, so I thought because of the graphic nature of what she did. And then dumb dumb didn’t realize that she was abusing, uh, what they call a mandatory reporter.

[00:15:50] And what a mandatory reporter is, is a person, if they see something strange, particularly with [00:16:00] kids.

[00:16:00] Me having an education degree, I got that mandatory reporter training. Basically, what that is, in a nutshell, is that the kid comes in with bruises all over his body, and he ends up falling on the playground. Wow. And He says, Mommy, hit me. You’re supposed to call as a responsible adult protective service.

[00:16:29] So after this, all abuse towards me happens. And of course, my age My step sister at the time, my mom, my step mom at the time, was the oldest in the house. My step mom and my dad weren’t married by any means, because of my dad wanted me to be financially stable.

[00:16:55] Me, to be financially stable before he got my [00:17:00] stepmom involved. But she kept calling herself my stepmom, don’t know why. But, Anyway, she witnessed it, my aide witnessed it, my stepsister witnessed it, enough. And my abuser almost broke my stepsister’s arm by dragging her down the stairs with a shaver to shave me.

[00:17:26] People have got to remember that my aid had massively changed her position from housekeeper to now personal assistant, to now cook, to now, and we’re all trying to do the best we can.

[00:17:44] They leave it to the people around the next of kin, or they leave it to the next kid when a person dies. So my family comes in and abuses me. So I’m like, okay, now what? [00:18:00] They abuse a first, a mandatory reporter, and so what does that mean?

[00:18:05] What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to call Adult Protective Services and say I was abused? Or am I supposed to take it one step further? Well, I took it one step further. I had a counselor at that time ask me, Do, you feel safe at home? She knew I was disabled, and I said yes, but this has happened.

[00:18:33] And so, this is what happened, and me tipping her off, the counselor off, and the counselor, By the way, counselors are mandatory reporters, if you haven’t figured that one out. Any counselor you go to, if an adult says a person is molesting me, a person is raping me, I’m in trouble. The counselors are trained. And [00:19:00] so My counselor, at the time, reported it, without my knowledge, to Adult Protective Services.

[00:19:07] So I walk in to counseling that next week, and I was like, okay. We finished the counseling session. I go out to lobby to go look for my aide. I thought she was, downstairs, on the phone, reading a book, or because she could do whatever she wanted during my appointment. I didn’t require her to be at counseling, even though my stepmom wanted her to be, I don’t know.

[00:19:38] My stepmom was a little too nosey, thank you very much, and wanted control, control, sleep, and she wanted to know what everything that was going on, and I put the kibosh on it, and I said, no way, I said, no way, no way, I said, you stay out of my counseling sessions. [00:20:00] Thank you very much.

[00:20:01] And then I walk out at my counseling sessions, and then she’s nowhere to be found. And I go, okay, she must be in a car, on the phone, she must be in the bathroom. I will start walking out, A stranger to me says, are you looking for your aid? Because he knows I’m not a walker. I mean, he could see it.

[00:20:29] He knows I’m disabled. And he goes, your aid is in adult protective services. He didn’t say giving a witness statement. Well, in my brain, it clicked that she was giving a witness statement. And then it clicked to report it. the whole abuse to Adult Protective Services because she did her job outside of counseling.

[00:20:57] She did her job. So I’m [00:21:00] like, oh great, here we go. So then I walk over to Adult Protective Services. Now this counseling office and Adult Protective Services were two feet away from each other, next door. And so by the time I get pulled into Adult Protective Services, they sit me down.

[00:21:25] They said, well, Win we know about your case. And I said, okay, that’s fine. We want to schedule a professional to deal with. I said, well, that’s fine. I’m my own guardian. I was always my own guardian. So even though I lived with my stepmom, she wanted to take custody of me.

[00:21:50] That was another fun custody battle, but That resolves in who not to give custody of, you know, my family. And so, I’m [00:22:00] my own guardian at this point. The Adult Protective Services said, We need you to go, and my aide listened to this whole thing. We need you as the main witness, as the main abusee, to go down to Grenwood, which was 30, miles away from my house at that time, and give a professional interview.

[00:22:29] And I’m like, okay. That’s fine, but does my step mom know about this? And they go, oh yes, she does. We called her at work. And I’m like, okay. You called her at work. You got her cell phone number.

[00:22:47] And I’m like, okay, this is great. And then adult Protective Services, my aide, myself, walk out. And I remember Adult Protective [00:23:00] Services, Saying, do not tell Mallory Pisano, who was my stepmom, what had just happened, because we need a witness statement from her, and we don’t want to screw up anyone’s witness statement.

[00:23:22] They go succinctly. For those of you who have ever witnessed a or physical abuse or anything else, they wind up going succinctly because they don’t want to cross contaminate what people are saying. So, my aide says, okay, I won’t tell Mallory.

[00:23:43] And Mallory goes, well, to my aid, what, what happened at Adult Protective Services? And my aid goes, I’m not allowed to tell you. And so, we, I go down [00:24:00] to the professional interviewer’s office. The DA, the VA, and the cops were sitting behind a wall. It’s all the same in all 50 states, and when you get professionally interviewed, you tell the story again, which The first time I did it, it was a little traumatic, and my aide goes, Do you want me to be there with you, or do you want me to stay with you?

[00:24:34] And I said no, for the exact same reason that Adult Protective Services told my aide, Don’t tell Mallory, what went on. Because you already gave your witness statement, and I didn’t want Mallory to find out anymore. And so, they actually called my step sister by the phone. [00:25:00] She gave her witness statement. And then, Mallory gave her witness statement at my house.

[00:25:09] We all got shooing out of room when Mallory gave her witness statement. Before the cops showed up at my house, Mallory goes, Why do I have to do this? I don’t want to do this. And I’m like, Okay, you just witnessed an emotional and physical abuse by my mom’s family, and you don’t want to do this? Well, yeah.

[00:25:41] So she did, but it was, uh, but I was like, okay, most people in my mind would say, Yes, I want to help her personally, but no, that was my stepmom for you. And, then we’ll get to [00:26:00] the end of it. And, Adult Protective Services calls my abuser and her stepsister and her sister.

[00:26:10] And my abuser that she did nothing wrong still to this day, She thinks that she did nothing wrong towards me. And then, Adult Protective Services in Colorado said, Don’t you dare have any communications with her. And I said, I will not. I will not. Ever. And so, she now, my abuser, has A record against her. I just told a reporter, I wanted to do this anyway.

[00:26:46] She now has a record against her because of what she did to me. And so, my main point of that whole story is Always, always, always trust your gut [00:27:00] and it could happen to anyone. It could happen to disabled or not. It could happen to anyone.

[00:27:09] Well, this is a great place to stop my conversation with Wyn. I know that you’ll want to hear the rest of her story and what is she doing today. And I know that

[00:27:24] she is doing great things to help the disability community. So we will see you next time on the Wounds of the Faithful podcast. So God bless you and bye for now.

[00:27:39] Thank you for listening to the Wounds of the Faithful podcast. If this episode has been helpful to you, please hit the subscribe button and tell a friend. You can connect with us at DSW Ministries. org where you’ll find our blog along with our Facebook, Twitter, and our YouTube channel links. [00:28:00] Hope to see you next week!