Archive for the ‘Bullying’ Category

Triggers

September 2, 2013

Hi all, Prodigal Brigid here. I feel the need to share something that has happened to me, and set me way, way, way back in my recovery. I thought I was doing really well. Even the review board didn’t want to give me the full 30% I was entitled to for the MST I suffered for over a decade. They said I was too well adjusted. Too well adjusted, but not able to drive 50 miles to see my best friend. Too well adjusted, but I deadbolt my door the second I get home, and check several time throughout the day/night to make sure it is locked. Too well adjusted, that I will not open the door for anybody, period, unless the text or call me and let me know they are coming over and when. Too well adjusted.

I’ve got news for them. I am not well adjusted. I am a blubbering mess, terrified, out of my head. And back in therapy again, and all my meds have increased, some doubled. I am also on Worker’s comp now, and am possibly taking an intermittent leave of absence. Can’t go to the grocery store. Can’t sleep. Can’t make it a day without crying. And why? Triggers.

Here I am trying to help others, and now I am just a big ball of jello. Never thought I would be susceptible to this, but here I am. Once a very strong, brave, indestructible woman, and all the doctors and authority figures just keep on asking me if I am suicidal, or want to do harm to myself. Uh, no, harm was done to me. But the thought started crossing my mind a few days ago.

Long story short, I got molested by a woman at work. I have no idea who she is, I never saw her. And I froze and panicked after she whispered in my ear, to make sure I knew she had done this intentionally. That one single incident has set me back, almost worst than when I was gang raped 25 years ago. I can’t explain it, but this one single stupid incident has me terrified. Is she going to do it again? She would be a fool to do so, because I will harm her if I figure out who she is. Mt therapist says it was a case of bullying. My employer states even if they find her, it will be my word against hers. 

But the biggest surprise through all of this, my employer is paying for all the meds and therapy, to help me get somewhat back to normal. And they actually are being very decent to me. Maybe there is some hope. 

My psychologist is going to test out a new PTSD therapy on me, one she has never done before. It will be long, and painful, but hopefully will help me never to react like this again. In the meantime, I can only pray for strength. 

Please pray for me,

Brigid

 

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Spoils of War

August 20, 2012

What does that mean to you? How many times have you heard that term? Think about it. What three words ALWAYS proceed that statement?

RAPE AND PILLAGE

That was the reward for winning the battle. Take whatever you want of the enemy’s and rape as many women as you want. Make them slaves, kill them, it didn’t matter. They were just women anyway.

Some of the greatest military leaders of all times adhered to this. To reward the soldiers for doing a good job. Napoleon, Ceasar, Alexander the Great, Ghengis Kahn, the list goes on and on and on.

What about the Vikings? Do you know what Viking means? To go a-viking means simply to go and rape and pillage, and decimate the opponent.

Oh, let us not forget about our own history here. The Civil War. Didn’t matter which side you were on, but if you were lucky enough to march up to a nice plantation, or a farm house of nothing but women, chances of at least one of those women being raped was pretty high.

World War II, Korea, Vietnam. Yes, our soldiers did a lot of raping in those wars. Lots of raping. And it wasn’t always raping the enemy. They were raping the male soldiers back then, and what about the female staff of nurses?

Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom. These last two wars changed everything. Now our soldiers stop raping the enemy, and started raping ONLY their fellow soldiers. Men and women being raped by the people supposed to cover them in the fox hole, or to be their backup, raping them.

During The Invisible War, there was a statistic that made me almost vomit on the spot. They say a sexual predator in the military will go on to assault/abuse 300+ soldiers.

300+ soldiers. And there is no sex offender registry for them, unless they are actually convicted AND spend more than a year in prison. And that is rare. It is about 1% of all REPORTED military rape cases that actually result in a conviction with jail time, and only a FEW of them are for over a year.

After the film was over, a gentleman in the audience said none of this went on while he was serving. Joan’s husband was beside me and said, “Oh yes it did, you just didn’t notice.”

Last week was the anniversary of the first female Marine. Pvt. Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve Aug. 13, 1918. But rape in the military started even before then. The Revolutionary War, women like Florence Nightingale and others who tended to the wounds of the soldiers, many were raped by the soldiers.

All of these examples caused my boyfriend to say, “That’s why women just don’t belong in the military!” I don’t know why I allowed him to keep his manhood after that, or why I didn’t lay him out flat. But we should feel sorry for dumb animals and men. That is NOT why women should serve. Women have EVERY right to serve. We also have the RIGHT to NOT be assaulted/raped/harassed/abused.

But how are we going to stop it, when the whole basis of the military since time began was rape and pillage?????

Pray for change

Brigid

Suicide by Bully

March 7, 2012

I found an interesting article in the news this morning.  As usual, incidents like these are buried on the web.  A young soldier killed himself in Afghanistan after being abused by other members of his squad.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/03/06/military-recommend-court-martial-over-suicide-linked-to-taunting-by-fellow/?test=latestnews

In a rare turn of events – the military is actually recommending court martial for these individuals.

Notice the ranks of these individuals?  There are a lot of NCO’s on this list.  It leads me back to the same question that I have asked time and again – what is our NCO Corp coming to?  It was the same question after Abu Ghraib and after each story of Sexual Assault and Harrassment.  It is the same question after stupid things like Koran burning.  What happened to the good NCO’s?

Any leader knows that there are days that you have to take corrective action.  In fact, every leader knows, that there are some people who are just not playing with a full deck.  Not the quickest bunnies in the hutch or the sharpest crayons in the box.  How do you bring these little black sheep back into the fold and TEACH them something?  It is a question that all leadership has to deal with.

I had a young soldier once who just didn’t get it.  She was very young and so green that you couldn’t tell where her uniform ended and her skin began.  She was an intelligent young girl…she just didn’t have the sense that the good Lord gave a cabbage!  It was a constant struggle to teach her the simplest tasks.  One of her favorite tricks was to assume that any duffle back that was green and any sleeping bag that was black…must be hers.  This also went for any gear that might look like hers, vehicles, protective masks, weapons, helmets and MRE’s.  The reason she would pick up any weapon or any mask was because she was always misplacing her own.  Yup…she had a history of laying down her weapon and failing to remember where she put it.  Even when gear was clearly labeled with someone’s name…she would still pick it up and think it was hers.

The question became how do I, as her NCO, train her and teach her without humilitating her.  Some of her habits, like picking up a sleeping bag that isn’t hers, are relatively harmless.  Some of her habits, like chronically misplacing her weapon, are potentially deadly.  The rule is:  Train as you fight.  Regardless of being in a training environment, you have to assume you are going into combat.  The additional problem with the weapon is that the weapon could fall into civilian hands.  We train with live weapons, and they are capable of firing in a three round burst.  Even when we don’t have ammunition with us…you can purchase the ammunition just about anywhere.

The annoying habits have to be broken through constant monitoring.  Making sure that her bags, her sleeping bag and her gear is clearly labeled.  Gentle and private reminders to her when unloading gear to make sure that she grabs the ones that have her name on them.  Of course, while I am babysitting her – there are several other individuals that aren’t getting any of the attention that they need.

The security items are a whole different story.  These things become serious safety hazards.  Anyone who has gotten stuck searching through the woods for a lost weapon or a missing pro-mask understands this.  On one field problem I spent way too much of my time doing accountability checks on her.  I finally had enough the 3rd time she misplaced her weapon in one day.  I put a zip-strip around her wrist and a zip strip around the front site post of the weapon and I zip stripped them together.  She wasn’t happy with me.  Now it was impossible for her to misplace her weapon.  I had recommended that she do her own dummy cord – I even gave her the parachute cord to do it with.  Nope – she didn’t want to help herself – so I had no choice but to help her the hard way.

I had an NCO that worked for me once that was such a poor soldier that I spent 6 months counseling her every drill weekend.  I was responsible for the recruit platoon.  This was a reserve type unit that had kids who hadn’t even been to basic training yet.  Because they weren’t really soldiers yet – they didn’t have to cut their hair and we couldn’t hold them to uniform standards.  Yet, each one of those kids wanted to learn how to wear the uniform and they wanted to look like soldiers.  “You know – you volunteered to be here and I’m not going to tell you that you have to cut your hair or iron your uniform or shine your boots.  However, if you want to be a soldier – you start by looking like one – how can I help you?”  Every one of those kids ironed their uniform, wore their hair according to regulation and shined their boots.  Every one of those kids…except the piece of work SGT I was given as a squad leader.

Every month started with uniform inspection.  Mostly to teach them what to expect and how to behave during an inspection.  Every single one of them tried to look “inspection ready.”  Their Squad Leader – slept in her uniform, was missing parts of it, shined her boots with hot Hershey bars, had her hair all over her collar with pink scrunchies and had none of her inspection materials (dog tags, drivers license, military ID.)  Every month was the same story and I often felt like I nagged her to within an inch of my sanity!  I never did it in front of the “kids” – but every morning at drill I would present her with another counseling statement for her file.  It reached the point that I just had them made up and ready to go.  She would weep and sniffle and cry about how she didn’t want to train new kids – she wanted to be out with the “real soldiers.”  Well – my response was always, “When you become a real SGT – you can serve with the real soldiers.”

It is a hard thing – to keep your soldiers on the straight and narrow.  There is a fine line between corrective action and abuse.  It wears at an NCO – dealing with people who just don’t seem to get it!  It appears in this recent case of Suicide by Bully – the NCO’s crossed that line. 

I was a road guard one day when I was in basic training.  All I had to do on this road march was to push the button that dropped the road barrier so that cars would have to stop.  I pushed the button too soon.  As the platoon ran by in their full battle rattle – the LT said to me, “You didn’t follow the instructions, PVT…as a result – you have made good soldiers run.”  I learned a valuable lesson that day – more about leadership than about running or road barriers.  I was the only one who heard his statement.  I wasn’t made to do pushups or made to run or forced to low-crawl across the road.  The only one that knew I had made a mistake was that LT and the PLT SGT.  The PLT SGT never said a word to me and the LT never brought it up again.  I learned to listen more closely and to understand directions fully.  There is nothing wrong with asking a question.  I wanted to be one of the GOOD Soldiers. 

I wanted to be one of the GOOD leaders – I hope that I was.  If I was ever any good at my job as an NCO – I know it is because of the leaders who taught me well.  I wish I could thank them.

Peace,

Joan

Bullies

March 1, 2012

Hello, Friends,

I have had bullies on my mind the last couple of days.  Anytime bullying makes the news, it makes me think, and remember.  I mentioned in my last post that I was the target of bullies as a child.  I won’t go into a lot of details, because they are still painful for me.  I know that this blog is about MST – but what is Military Sexual Trauma if not an extreme form of bullying.

I think that one of the things that I truly loved about the Army was that there was a connection and friendships formed quickly.  I was different – but in the Army – I was the same as all of the other girls.  We shared a similar mission.  As you know, I went from the Guard to the Active Duty.  I was always the “weirdo” in school, but in Basic Training, I was the funny girl that people enjoyed spending time with.  There was acceptance.

My first few days on Active Duty were frightening.  I was 19 years old and I didn’t know anyone.  Everyone always seemed to be in a group and I wasn’t sure how to make friends.  I still struggled socially.  I hadn’t been there more than a few days and we were waiting in line for something…just like we always did.  These two very beautiful girls were talking about a party that was coming up.  I still remember their names, Pam and Maria.  Suddenly, out of the blue, they turned to me and said, “Hey, Joan…got any plans on Friday?”

These two pretty, popular, cool girls were asking me what I was doing Friday…why?  I couldn’t believe they were asking me this question – did they forget I was new here?  I simply responded that I really didn’t have any plans.  “You should come with us!  We are going to this great club.”  I couldn’t believe it was that simple.  In high school I would have been reminded that I didn’t have any friends because no one liked me.  Any questions about my plans were always the opening joke to the punchline so I was pretty excited. 

As it turned out, their boyfriends had a friend, so this would be a blind date…so to speak.  Actually, it was more of a handful of unattached girls being introduced to a handful of unattached guys.  We had a great time!  I made a lot of friends and these girls were more than willing to invite me into their little group.  The men I met that night weren’t about “hooking up,” their goal was to meet friends and maybe find someone to date. 

That night I discovered the simple joys of true acceptance.  They didn’t expect me to be anyone other than who I was.  They asked nothing of me except friendship and I expected nothing but the same.  The Army was the first opportunity that I had to be liked for who I was. 

Maybe that is part of why I took the first assaults so hard.  It not only destroyed who I was – it ruined who I was becoming.  The new open and happy me was being attacked.  The bullies had found me again.

I guess I really mean this to be an open letter to all of those who are bullied.  I want to encourage you – it does get better.  There are times it also gets worse.  However, there have been too many suicides lately.  Too many beautiful young lives cut short.  It is a little like smashing the egg just as the chick is being born.  Don’t smash your own egg! 

I am now in a place where I have a lot of friends – good friends.  People that I trust.  People that I enjoy just the way they are and they do the same for me.  It is okay for me to be different, it is okay that they are different, it is okay that you are different.  It’s old school – but there is something to be said for “I’m okay and Your okay!”

We recently had an event that brought some of our VSO members together.  It was a good time standing in the kitchen working our butts off to get the work done.  Three of the guys were picking on me – but it wasn’t cruel – it was funny.  I was giving as good as I got!  It was good.  It felt like being home again.

We were at my parents house for Thanksgiving and my father has my basic training picture up in his office.  One of my sons called me to come here.  I looked at the little girl in that picture.  My son said, “You know mom, you look a lot like Denise Richards in Starship Troopers.”  I laughed at him!  I was an ugly little child – that is what everyone said and that is what I believed. 

I looked at that little girl and suddenly it occured to me:  “You know – he’s right…I do look a little like her.”  Thanks, son!

Peace,

Joan

Ohio School Shooting

February 28, 2012

Hello, Friends.

I haven’t had much to say lately.  Life is very busy and has been a little rough.  However, Monday’s news out of Ohio leads me back to the computer.

On Monday, a young man reported to be TJ Lane, walked into his local high school and shot several people.  Two young men are dead and TJ’s life is over.  I have to wonder how many of those children will carry the terror with them for the rest of their lives.  Reports are still mixed – but many people are reporting that TJ was a victim of bullying.  It seems to me that he probably had specific targets – it’s not really like he was shooting randomly.  There were Twitter and Facebook posts that showed that this kid was looking for someone to do something to make him stop. 

I was the victim of bullying as a child.  In fact, I was bullied daily in my school, and it wasn’t always just verbal.  Sticks and stones might break bones – but words can never hurt me.  That’s bullshit!  Words – they hurt and they become a part of our psyche in a way that creates a lifetime of problems.  I struggle with negative self talk – those hateful little voices in my head that remind me that I am ugly, stupid, annoying and not worth loving.  My husband says that I shouldn’t judge myself so harshly – but I can’t stop those voices some days.

There has been a lot of research about how to stop school shootings – and teenage suicide – since most all of them are related to bullying.  There was an article on a website today that said, “Someone should have called authorities about those Facebook and Twitter posts.”

I’m sorry – but by the time someone is making an outcry on a social website – we are way past the point of “calling an authority.”  The only people who seem to be learning anything from these school shootings are the kids who are being bullied.  They are learning how to take things into their own hands – and they are throwing away precious young lives…theirs and their victims.

I was watching a news report about this and someone said, “being bullied is part of growing up.”  Why?  Why is being treated like shit part of growing up?

Liz Trotta, Fox News, reported that women who serve in the military should expect to be raped.  Why?  Why is being raped part of military service.

I can see the links between these two statements.  Rape is always about power and control; bullying is always about power and control.  It is about subjugating and humiliting another human being. 

Frankly, what the terrorists did on 9/11 was about subjugation and creating fear…and this nation has given everything to make sure that never happens again!  Why…Why do we treat these other issues like they are “part of life.”  Imagine if our Nation’s leadership had stood up on 9/12 and said, “We live in a dangerous world and we should just expect to have our citizens murdered.”

Since lots of other people are giving their opinions on how to stop school shootings – I figured that I would give mine.  Mine comes from experience…not just my own, but I have watched my children face down their bullies as well.

First – children are stupid and they cannot see the consequences of their actions.  I promise you that not a single “high school bully” is looking at this news thinking – “Wow…I better change my ways and be nicer to people.”  Not happening. 

I have taught my children to be kind to everyone, not necessary to be everyone’s friend, but they do have to be kind.  This doesn’t prevent them from being bullied – it just means that the minimum standard of their behavior is to be kind.

My daughter has been bullied, alot.  I used to think that the beautiful girls didn’t get bullied – but she has shown me just how wrong that is.  I have taught her to be kind to everyone, but don’t be a door mat.  Stand up for yourself.  Luckily, she has two older brothers, who have also been taught to protect their sister.  Don’t start anything – but be prepared to finish something.  When she was in second grade she had a third grade boy who wouldn’t leave her alone.  Yes, I know he had a crush on her, but he was also becoming physically violent with her.  He would push her down, pull her hair and try to touch her inappropriately.  The school was called over and over and over again.  There was no result.  Finally, I had enough.  My daughter was given specific instructions to wait with the yard monitor for her brothers to get off the bus at her school and they would take her home.  Her brothers were given specific instructions to beat that kids ass if he started anything.  Don’t kill him – just scare him.  (Her brothers were in 4th and 6th grade.)  Then, I told the Principal the “new” plan for my daughters protection.  The Principal apparently informed the other parents and her tormentor – he never got near her again.

The one thing that I have noticed about school administrators and teachers is that they really don’t know what to do with a child who is being tormented.  If I had a nickle for everytime someone said to me, “You bring it on yourself,” I could have gone to Harvard or Yale.  Yes, it was my fault that I was different.  It was my fault that I preferred baseballs to Barbies.  It was my fault that I was reading Edgar Allen Poe and Shakespeare when the other kids were reading Judy Bloome novels and comic books.  It was my fault that I was fascinated with science and biology.  It was my fault that I loved to learn and study and play football and catch worms.  It was my fault that when my female classmates were buying bras I was still buying baseball cards (I love that gum!)

It was my fault that I joined the Army.  It was my fault that I was a woman.  It was my fault that I was good at my job.  It was my fault that I was a threat to a man’s ego.  It was my fault I got hired for a job he wanted.

WHEN IN THE HELL ARE WE GOING TO STOP BLAMING THE VICTIMS!

There are all of these programs in schools about character and about tolerance.  The thousands of dollars we are spending on these programs is not helping.  The programs are useless.  If they were working we wouldn’t be talking about another school shooting – about another teenage suicide.  All of this transcends into adulthood, for both the perpetrators and the victims. 

Administrators and Teachers – stop and look.  Don’t blame the victims.  It is okay in this world for someone to be different.  I had a very special teacher who taught me to write.  She gave me little story starters when I was done with my work (mostly so I wouldn’t disturb others – I have always been a social person.)  That was over 30 years ago…and I still like to write.  She would take 10 minutes out of her day to make little notes in the margain – and to tell me I was special.  I was blessed, I had a lot of teachers who were kind to me, and they made school bearable.  I also had a handful of administrators who considered me a problem.  Never the other kids…just me…because I was different.

I am different.  I have learned to be more accepting – although I still have times where those ugly voices in my head remind me everytime I say something stupid.  I still like baseball.  I still like medicine.  I like Poe and Shakespeare.  I like to write.  I still love those few teachers that took a moment out of their day – they are in my prayers.

The difference between a shooter and a survivor?  Hope.  Hope that tomorrow will be better.  Hope that out there in this nasty world is someone who will love us for who we are. 

Hope for peace – both in our world and in our heads. 

Peace,

Joan