About elephants in captivity and people drawing conclusions

I follow the activities of Global Elephants Brazil and I found myself being influenced too much by comments such as that the most recent rescued elephant – deceptively called Bambi – was “fearful” and “insecure”.

She was the fastest to leave her crate upon arrival and possibly also the fastest to start exploring.

The judgement that she was fearful and insecure essentially came from the well-meaning but inexperienced zoo staff at Ribeirão Preto.

Have any of you ever lived in captivity?

Well, I have. I know what it is like.

(I am in my 13th year of what became an increasingly sadistic form of slavery in which I am kept by ill-meaning third parties as a powerless Dutch migrant here in the UK.)

Particularly for intelligent beings, captivity is excruciatingly boring. You have very few options. Choices.

So what do some intelligent beings do? They create more options for themselves in any way they can and that includes negative ones.

In my case, that includes no longer giving a shit about money as caring about money is about “tomorrow” and I no longer have a tomorrow as I have no option of escaping. I choose to eat now. Tomorrow may never come and hopefully never does. Deciding to stop caring about money gives me an extra option.

My tormentors often punish me and otherwise manipulate me through money. By not caring about money and the results of the lack of money, I take that power away from them, too.

(What’s more, when the power electricity is off and I have no internet, they have one or two fewer access avenues to me.)

This creating of options for yourself may well include stereotyping.

I “stereotype” too occasionally, for example by literally dragging my heels across the pavement when my tormentors are being particularly nasty towards me and I feel immensely powerless and immensely bored at the same time because there is almost nothing I can still do.

I do that – literally dragging my heels – because it gives me an extra option, a choice. I can either do it or not do it. When I do it, it gives me a little bit of freedom and a little bit of power because now I suddenly also have the option of not doing it. Now I can also stop dragging my heels on the pavement if I want to. Until I started dragging my heels on the pavement, I didn’t have that option.

(I have asked the police for help a million times, but one of my tormentors appears to be police or former police and both my main tormentors have police officers among their friends.)

(I have made four escape attempts that were all thwarted. It takes a certain amount of money to escape and it takes a while to cotton on to the horrific nature of the kind of situation that you are in because it is not something you ever expect and that you are not familiar with until it is much too late. You keep telling yourself that you must be mistaken or that it will surely stop soon. Even if I could, I can’t escape at the moment because my driving licence has been taken from my postal mail, unless the DVLA renewed it in early June but only sent it to me a few days ago, which is what I am trying to find out. Your options shrink even more when you can’t drive.)

The people here in this town tell themselves all kinds of lies and excuses to explain to themselves why some supposedly educated foreign woman isn’t making more than about 300 bucks a month even though she clearly made a little bit more than that before she moved to Portsmouth.

Now, back to elephant Bambi.

While Bambi might have loved to use explosives to be able to escape, it was not an option. Going into her barn and standing in the corner was. She was creating more options for herself that way. She now had the option of going into her barn and standing in the corner whereas the humans wanted her to be outside where all she could do was walk around in small circles or just stand.

By going into the barn, she created several more options for her, including the option of not being seen by the other elephant.

It can also serve as a communication.

“I choose to remove myself from the situation that has x in it.” and after the team from Global Elephants arrived “I choose not to be in the transport crate right now.” or “I am getting bored with the transport crate now”.

When anyone interprets an other being’s choices as fearfulness and/or insecurity, it may say more about that person who’s making that judgement than about the other being.

My situation has been called sadistic stalking by forensic psychologist Lorraine Sheridan:

 

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