While talking to a male survivor one day, I was told that he was awarded money for the emotional pain and suffering he experienced as a result of the abuse he suffered as a young man.
He also said that because the money awarded to him was due to emotional and psychological pain and suffering, after the lawyer got their part, his part was taxed. He said he felt like he had been abused again.
It’s not always easy to prove someone has been damaged emotionally specifically by another person or event if there has been no physical trauma as well. However, if there is physical trauma, it is easier to link that event to emotional issues later on that are connected.
In other words, it is easier to prove your PTSD is related to being in a car accident on your way to work than it is to prove that your PTSD is due to emotional stress from your job. Unless, of course, you can prove that your job stress directly affected your health in some way. In order to have such proof, there has to be documentation that the health condition was either caused, or exacerbated by, the stressful job situation.
In order to have such proof, it is best to have documentation about any health crisis that might be linked to a stressful situation. For instance, if someone has a heart attack after being made a target for attack by a co-worker, which produced many sleepless nights and mornings full of dread at the thought of going back into work….that should be mentioned in the patient’s chart as a cause of the physical manifestation of the stress.
In my case, after I was fired, I ended up in the emergency room twice in six months. Both times ended up having to do with gastrointestinal tract issues, although the second time, I was sure I was having a heart attack. It felt like a golf ball was trying to make its way through my chest. I also still have recurring dreams where my ex-boss is lurking in the shadows somewhere.
I think I remember telling medical staff that I had gone through significant stress recently, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t divulge the details as at that time I was still feeling that I had been in something consensual that had gone wrong because he was a priest.
So, yes, it is true that money awarded for physical injury is not taxed while money awarded for emotional or psychological injury and distress is indeed taxed…..unless the emotional or psychological damaged is a direct result of the physical injury….such as if my boss had hit me with a ruler and had broken a finger….and I might live in fear of him attacking me again.
And the same pretty much goes for sexual assault versus harassment. Although with harassment, the mind still feels violated, and it can create the same feelings of anxiety and fear and PTSD as actual physical contact, the law and those who collect the taxes do not see the two as the same and will not tax the physical, but will tax the emotional if it stands alone without physical injury.
With the survivor who told me this, there was plenty of emotional fallout for the rest of his life until now due to emotional manipulation that resulted in physical abuse. But that could not be proved, and so his compensation was taxed.
I’m hoping that things will begin to change. We are seeing people more and more who are speaking about the unfairness and antiquity of the system. We are seeing people being prosecuted…powerful people…who abused their power.
I know that I have begun to question things I never before questioned and I take another look at things I’ve seen all my life and I tend to hear things a bit differently now….becoming more aware.
Whether or not it is fair, knowledge is power. And so is truth.