Happy holidays to all! May you enjoy happy and restful holidays, and a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous new year! Thank you for all of your readership and support during 2017.
Happy holidays to all! May you enjoy happy and restful holidays, and a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous new year! Thank you for all of your readership and support during 2017.
Life and life experiences bring many joys and challenges, successes and failures, jubilation and pain for all of us. Of adults, women often seem to face many more challenges than men. There are different familial, cultural, and societal expectations of women. Women are portrayed differently (and often less respectfully) than men throughout the media. Women can be leaders or followers or somewhere in-between. However, women are always women, regardless of the types of experiences and lives we lead. There is so much that women embody, and there is so much that women do and say. More often, I encourage women to be more supportive, understanding, and helpful toward each other. One never knows exactly what another person is experiencing, and just a simple smile or word of encouragement can go a long way. On International Women’s Day, it is the perfect day to promote awareness of all of this.
In my own life, I have experienced many joys and challenges, successes and failures, jubilation and pain. I recall some of the happiest times of my life being when I gave birth to my son, my wedding day, and each of the days that I graduated from school, college, and university. Additional happy times have been in celebrating happy occasions and accomplishment of my son. Some of the most painful experiences I have had have included my divorce, being unemployed, and having financial challenges. I am thankful for the people in my life who I am closest to and my faith for helping and supporting me through the ups and downs of my life. I am thankful for those, whether female or male, who have helped me to become a better, stronger, more sensitive and compassionate person. I am thankful for all those in my life who supported my life, growth, and development, as well as my beliefs in myself, my self confidence, and my self esteem.
There is so much expected of women. We are expected to be wives, mothers, teachers, caretakers, bosses, employees, leaders, and followers. We are expected to carry our religious faith and convictions over to our children, and even to others’ children. We are expected to help others, to volunteer, to give of ourselves, sometimes until there is nearly nothing else left to give. What is there left for ourselves, at times? This is what we have to find, and this is often the balancing act that we have to play. How do we get our own needs met while also fulfilling (or helping to fulfill) the needs of others? For some of us, we have it all worked out; for others, it is a lifelong journey.
Some of the most important aspects of my own life have been the support and interactions of family, friends, and/or colleagues (emotional and/or financial); religious faith; education; and career. Supportive people in my life are sometimes few and far between, however those who are supportive are those I highly value and cherish. My religious faith has always been there, and while I do not support everything within my faith, I know where I stand with it. Education has always been something I have supported. Knowledge is power, and one can never have too much knowledge. Regarding career, I am a woman who believes that working in a career position, such as a teacher or counselor, is as much a career as remaining at home and raising one’s children. And, there are many of us who do both of those and do them well.
Therefore, these aforestated aspects of my own life have contributed to shaping me into the woman I am today. While I am a woman who would like more work and career opportunities in order to be more financially independent and self-sufficient for my family, I am also a woman who is thankful for the opportunities I have had to be an involved mother, role model, and guide for my son. I am thankful for being able to be personally involved in my son’s life. I am not a woman who regrets being unable to spend quality time with my son because I am one who has done that. And, it is my hope that it has contributed to his welfare and benefit, and that he has and will become a better and stronger person for it, as well.
As women, we are all intertwined with each other, whether male or female, girl or boy, woman or man. I encourage women to be more supportive, helpful, and understanding of other women. Our society so often encourages men and women to be hard and insensitive on our way to the top. However, I question whether what society perceives as “the top” might sometimes actually be the bottom, based on my own values and perceptions. We must all consider who we are and how our lives and life experiences has contributed to making us into who we are. I would like to ask that, on this International Women’s Day, we all consider and take action toward being more supportive of women, and reflecting on who we are and what has made us into who we are. I would also like to encourage that if there is anything in those perceptions and reflections that we dislike and/or can improve – in a values context – that we do so. If all of us do this, it will have a positive ripple effect throughout our society, one that we can definitely use.
This week, there were three lottery tickets that were sold with winning numbers for the lottery jackpot of $1.6 billion. Just hearing about the extremely high jackpot was incredible to me, not to mention more incredible that the winners of the three winning tickets will be splitting those monies between them. That kind of money is simply that which I am unable to fathom. I mean, what does one do with 100s of millions of dollars? Certainly, it is nice to have money. More than just enough to live on, with a bit of a cushion or buffer, is always good. But, being the winner of a lottery jackpot requires a lifestyle change that is likely a difficult adjustment for some.
Believing myself to be a person who is not very “lucky,” I am not a gambler. There are definitely certain calculated risks that I have taken in my life, I have invested in the stock market in the past, and I have earned some money on some investments, however I am not one to play the lottery. In fact, I think I may have played the lottery only once. That was in a similar situation in the past few years when the jackpot was insanely high. I really just played it for the fun of it, and bought only one ticket. The odds of ever being the winner just never pan out in those types of situations anyway. Why put money out there if there will be no return on it? And I already know that I am generally not a person who is “lucky,” so why waste my money. That’s my philosophy.
I am a person, however, who will apply for scholarships, grants, fellowships, and monetary awards. In the past, I have applied for several of them, and have received them. Most recently, between six to seven years ago when I was earning my healthcare certificate at a local technical college, I received the Hope Grant which helped finance my studies. I am thankful to all of the taxpayers out there in Georgia who supported my education in healthcare. I believe the grant I received was about $750 per semester for three semesters. That was really helpful!
More recently, in the past three years, I have applied for several scholarships and a grant to support my studies in counseling. Unfortunately, while I have been eligible to receive them, I have not been selected to get any of them. I applied for merit and academic scholarships at my university, and would likely be among the top candidates for receipt of them, however none have been awarded to me. Within the past two months, I applied for a $5,000 grant in the counseling field through a national counseling organization, and was not selected for that either. More recent than that, I wrote an essay for yet another national counseling organization in application for another scholarship, and am waiting to hear back – probably that I was not selected to receive it.
Certainly, I have the writing skills, and I have the knowledge, commitment, and dedication to always do my best in whatever I do. However, receiving $500, $1,000, or – can you imagine – $5,000 would really go a long way for me. I often wonder why it is that those people who sometimes have the greatest financial need are those who are most often overlooked. I would be happy to provide my tax returns for the past several years to reflect my financial status and to prove my financial need. This, however, never seems to be good enough.
So, here I am again, back at square one. I am glad not to have gotten my hopes up about any of those grants or scholarships. I could have recently applied for a fellowship, as well, but the particular organization that hosted it wanted winners to invest too much out of pocket than I am willing to do. At any rate, it would have been nice to receive even a small scholarship or financial award rather than financing so much of my education for my second graduate level degree through student loans. Obtaining the $5,000 grant could have already paid down the interest that has accrued on my student loans.
I cannot say that I did not try. At least I made the effort to apply for these scholarships and the grant. Now I know that I would not have received them whether I applied or not, but at least I applied. One never knows unless you try. I have gained nothing, but I have lost nothing either. I am not that discouraged because I did not elevate my hopes for anything, though it would have been nice to receive a small sum to support my efforts toward becoming established in the counseling profession.
Already, another year of blogging has passed and I am into the next one. I must say that I have been somewhat remiss in keeping up with blogging about many interests and issues that I would have liked to, particularly in the past six months or so, however it is a comfort to know that this WordPress platform is here when I have the time for it.
Therefore, I would like to take a moment and express my appreciation to the 34 regular followers of my blog, for recently attaining 100 “likes,” and for amassing nearly 26,500 hits to my page! While I have not kept up with the specific stats this past year regarding the most popular topics on my blog, and it is not a goal to acquire an obscene amount of followers or hits, I am grateful that there are those out there who read and take some enjoyment from my posts.
So, thank you, again, and I hope you continue to have an interest in my posts on WordPress! 🙂
If I was a gambler, I would bet that no one ever thinks she or he would lose financial stability and become impoverished in our great land of opportunity. I mean, 65 years ago, my mother’s family immigrated to the United States from Poland and Germany because this is the land flowing with “milk and honey.” After all, the streets in the United States are supposed to be “paved with gold,” right? I guess it all depends on who you talk to.
Sure, my immigrant grandparents obtained work and opportunities in America, but they worked and slaved hard to achieve it. Sometimes, they worked up to three jobs at a time to pay for a home, food, and clothing for their four children. Though they worked hard, they were still poor. There was no money for sending any of the kids to college. But, that was also a time when people could make a decent living by having only a high school diploma. Today, the expectation is that one must have at least a college degree.
My dad has also always been a hard worker. Beginning as a little kid, he would sell soda pop at the weekly community bingo games. Then, he would collect the empty bottles back and return them for deposit compensation. He was also a newspaper delivery boy, and then he pumped gas to fill customer’s vehicles at the gas station. My grandfather worked, but my grandmother did not; and my grandfather died when my dad was 17. There was no money for college. I doubt it was even considered. Even so, my dad became a dedicated employee of the State of New York for 37 years.
As a girl, growing up, I had all the expectations about life that many girls probably do. When I grew up, I was going to have the million dollar family, the home in the suburbs with the white picket fence, a great career, and everything was going to be rosy. We would live happily ever after – or so I thought.
The real fact of the matter is that a few things have been rosy, but most things have been a great struggle. I never imagined that from my upper middle class background that I would be at below poverty level status. I have experienced the feminization of poverty in America. Considering everything, however, I think that I’ve done really well. I have avoided poverty as much as possible, but it is still with me. Poverty has been my lover for the past 7 years now. I don’t love him, but he can’t seem to get enough of me.
No matter what I’ve tried, no matter how I’ve tried to help myself for the past 7 years, I’ve been unable to escape the specter of poverty. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I’ve never used drugs, I am intelligent and hard-working, and I am one of the kindest people you will ever meet in your life. I have also learned to be extremely careful with what I have, in both possessions and finances. I am also not one to complain…because I know there are always those out there who are in a worse position than me.
Perhaps these are reasons that no one ever would suspect my true financial status. In fact, when I attempt to broach the subject with people, nearly everyone always brushes it off. They don’t take it seriously. I mean, how many impoverished people look as good as I do? How many care for and support their family as well as I do? One charity volunteer who interviewed me a couple of years ago honestly stated to me, “You don’t look poor.” I don’t look poor. And, I am not poor – I am impoverished.
Throughout these past years, I have tried to do what I can to help myself and my family. I have tried to avoid poverty. I have tried to be as frugal as possible. I don’t have healthcare, nor do I have the money for it. I have been unemployed out of my main career field for the past six years. I have gone back to school, twice, in an effort to jump start my career and get back on my feet. Either those efforts did not work or there were unforeseen setbacks that occurred. I can already foresee student loan payments in the near future that I will likely be unable to make, thus destroying what little progress I’ve managed to make recently.
There are so many other things that I could say and identify that have happened, but there are some things that are just better left private. I do not want the situation to get worse by divulging too much. After all, I’ve learned in life that when you’re down, most people are there to ignore you and/or kick you around. Those who are encouraging and supportive are truly few and far between.
Life is truly about the survival of the fittest. In our competitive United States, I think cooperation. Where I think kindness, too many others think selfishness. And, people who have never experienced poverty simply cannot and do not understand it, nor can relate to it. When you try to explain it to them, they have no clue about it. For someone such as myself, I do not look for sympathy, but understanding, support, and opportunities for empowerment. If people are unable to relate, then there is no chance for any of that to occur at all.
So, while I have done and continue to do what I can for the best of myself and my family in trying to avoid Poverty, it seems to have gotten the better of me again. Just when you think you cannot cinch your belt any tighter, it becomes even more constricting. So, I have thought that, perhaps, I am doing it all wrong. Maybe I should not try to avoid or run from Poverty, maybe I should just embrace him. But, then again, I cannot do that, or Poverty will have won. Remember, Poverty loves me, but I do not love him. He might think that he has won, but he has not. I will be okay; I will be a Poverty survivor.
Mental health care is a challenging, but rewarding field. There are many positive sides of mental health care, and also areas that need improvement. One of the biggest rewards of mental health care is observing and experiencing progress, recovery, and a return to wellness of clients. Healing, recovery, and a return to wellness of clients in mental health settings requires patience, understanding, respect, and sensitivity. Agency and organizational stability is also needed for clients in order that they receive optimal care. While each agency and/or organization has its own culture, a culture in which workers live in fear of becoming a statistic in extremely high turnover is unhealthy in itself.
As an individual working toward licensure in the mental health profession, I am one whose perspective is from a position of wellness. First and foremost, one must view a person as a person. To perceive and treat a person with respect, kindness, nonjudgment, and impartiality are requirements in supporting and empowering the wellness, healing, and recovery of clients. In the counseling profession, one based on a view of wellness in people, there exists a positive and supportive hope for the overall optimal health of the individual.
This view is different from many other mental health professions in which the general view of the client is one of sickness. Certainly, approaching an individual with a perspective of what can be improved is helpful, and for insurance purposes involving payment for services rendered, a diagnosis of the client is required, however it is my perspective that viewing the client from a wellness standpoint is much more healthy for all involved rather than judging a person as being sick.
Those who view and describe an individual as a “sick person” have already negatively judged him or her. They have not viewed the person as a person, but as an “ill person.” Such a perspective held by such individuals causes them to treat the client differently, as one who needs more and more treatment, more and more medication, more and more confinement. In these situations, the positive view of wellness is gone, and is replaced by a judgment that the “sick person” is unable to become well.
While clients have challenges to achieving and maintaining wellness, it becomes even more of a challenge when many in the mental health field view clients as sick, and only they as the professionals who hold those views have the power and expertise to make them well – or they have already judged that they will never become well. A professional who approaches a client from a perspective of wellness (a perspective that is in the minority), therefore, faces even more challenges, not only for themselves but also for their clients when others view them as sick and unable to become well. A person is still a person, regardless of their diagnosis or disorder. A person is still a person, and has the capability of becoming well. A hopeful perspective toward client wellness must exist in the mental health profession – rather than client sickness – in order that clients are supported and empowered to experience that wellness.
A further challenge in agencies and/or organizations in which a “sickness” perspective prevails is that experienced clinicians fall into the trap of believing that their views and judgments about clients are the best – that they are the experts. Certainly, the experience of a veteran clinician is extremely valuable in treating clients, however experienced clinicians who believe that only their views, judgments, and culture of sickness are the most helpful approaches create a potentially dangerous situations for their clients. Clinicians of all levels of experience must be open-minded to considering and perceiving different views – including those from a wellness perspective – so that their clients receive optimal care and so that they profession, itself, can grow and develop in a healthy way.
Clinicians who view clients from a perspective of illness and negative judgment place their clients at risk for further illness. Clinicians who are set in their ways of expertise toward mental health treatment, and who are unable to be open-minded toward viewing different perspectives regarding it have already erected walls around themselves that are harmful for themselves, their clients, the culture of their agency/organization, and the field of mental health.
What clinicians must always place as a primary priority is that people are people. As such, people should be treated with dignity, understanding, kindness, respect, and sensitivity. If a perspective of client wellness is lacking or absent, clients will likely experience a more difficult road to recovery and may not achieve wellness. What is healthier – being an “expert” clinician whose views of client illness cause him or her to be closed to considering a client’s optimal recovery, or being a clinician who treats a person as a person, and who applies a wellness perspective that supports rather than negatively judges the client? You be the judge.
Rape, sexual assault, molestation, and other sexual traumas are far too common throughout our society. So many people have experienced sexual traumas in their lives; unfortunately, it is much more common than might actually be fathomed. Pediatricians, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and first responders are those who may often have interactions with patients or clients who are victims and survivors of sexual traumas. They are those who often work with individuals following sexual traumas, though I am one who is also interested in teaching about the respect and protection of the human body in order that sexual traumas may be lessened and/or prevented in our society.
Last year, writer and political analyst Zerlina Maxwell shared five objectives regarding how men, particularly young men, can be respectful of women’s humanity rather than viewing women as sexual objects. Maxwell’s objectives were in regard to addressing the issue that women do not need guns to protect ourselves from rape because that places the blame on the victim/survivors, rather than placing responsibility on the offender.
I agree with that. Society still often blames and stigmatizes victims and survivors, though I have observed that to be changing slowly as a result of more survivors speaking out about their experiences. Speaking out is a good thing for many reasons. It helps survivors heal, it can help provide information that protects others from experiencing sexual trauma, and it helps reduce and/or eliminate societal blame, revictimization, and stigmas experienced by survivors.
Also important to address is that people of all ages and backgrounds can be sex offenders, whether or not they have been charged and/or prosecuted. Research that I, myself, have completed in this area has reflected that those who experience sexual traumas by others may be infants, children, teens, or adults. It is also important to state that males an females may experience sexual traumas, and that those sexual traumas may be perpetrated by males and/or females, as well. This is not an issue, therefore, that solely affects women, but also is a worldwide issue that affects our entire society.
That stated, a focus that I would like to bring to this post is in relation to protecting and educating young men about the humanity and integrity of young women’s bodies. A particular focus in these respects is one that I direct toward male undergraduates and male entrants into the military. Perhaps, then, a focus can be on stopping and/or preventing rape, as well as including language that focuses on protecting and respecting women’s bodies.
In my experience as an undergraduate college student, I am aware that there are those college men who rape, who encourage their male peers to rape, and who believe that rape is sex. Both my experience and that I have observed includes the views of some college men who are fraternity members and football players. It is the attitudes and behaviors of some of these men who reflect negatively on their peers.
Similar attitudes and behaviors are increasing in regard to many men in the military. Those who rape and sexually traumatize others cause and perpetuate trauma, particularly when much of our society still appears to blame, stigmatize, and revictimize survivors. Survivors of sexual trauma should not be viewed as, nor treated as criminals; offenders should receive consequences, treatment, and be held accountable and responsible.
Another focus that I would like to state in this post is to share with young women, teen girls, and others who may be targeted for sexual trauma, ways in which to potentially protect themselves from it. No matter how much one may work to protect oneself, it may not prevent or stop a sexual trauma from occurring, though such information is more helpful to know than not to. One red flag to recognize is when a boy or young man is repeatedly pressuring, particularly about sex and/or drinking alcohol. An objective of teen boys and young men who rape is to get a target drunk and/or spike alcohol with the pill known as the date rape drug.
One way to immediately protect oneself from this is to be aware of and recognize when a male is being pressuring regarding sex and/or drinking alcohol, and to remove oneself from that situation as quickly as possible. Regarding some males, as soon as a female says, “No,” that becomes a cue for them to work more quickly toward raping their target. So, in order to excuse oneself from such a situation, a female should not draw attention to feeling uncomfortable, wanting to leave, or desiring to return home, but should use some other excuse to leave the situation that will not escalate any potential for the male to commit sexual trauma toward her.
Other ways for females to protect ourselves is to recognize and be aware of males who are members of college fraternities, football and/or other sports teams, and who are in the military. This also applies to males who serve in professions that support a strong male patriarchy and hierarchy, including the Catholic Church and other employers or volunteer organizations. Unfortunately, males in many male groups often protect each other with a code of silence regarding offenses and/or crimes that may occur by their members. When such offenses are brought to the attention of their superiors or the authorities, they may continue to be protected by other males, however it is important for such offenses to be officially reported and documented.
Something else for females to keep in mind is that some males believe that rape is sex, and that if they want it, they are going to “take” it by whatever means necessary. Because some males believe that their action of raping another is sex, they seem to think they are “being men,” experiencing a “rite of passage,” and being “one of the guys.” They may brag to peers about their sexual prowess, and how a female who was targeted was “easy,” “slutty,” or “trashy,” thus causing other male peers to become interested in targeting her, as well. Females must be aware that males talk, and that their talk among each other may not reflect a realistic or accurate portrait of what occurred. So, when other males appear “interested,” females must be aware that their interest may not be genuine, but may be based only on the inaccurate perspectives received from the males’ peer(s).
A big disadvantage for women in our society is that society teaches girls to always be agreeable, cooperative, and nice, and to look up to males, respecting them and holding them in high esteem. Certainly, many males are worthy of trust, respect, and being viewed positively. However, for girls who become women who have been taught to trust, respect, and view positively those who should not be, they may be more easily targeted for and experience sexual traumas. Those who target others seek vulnerability. Those who have any potential for being targeted should be aware of this, and also be aware of the other ways identified and described in this post to protect themselves.
Again, when a person experiences sexual trauma, the person who was the offender should be held responsible and accountable, not the survivor or victim. A person may take every action to try to protect herself or himself from sexual trauma, and it may still occur. Therefore, it is imperative for the survivor to know that he or she is not at fault and not to blame. Those who offend have had experiences and/or learning that causes them to believe that it is acceptable for them to commit sexual offenses and/or traumas against others.
If you know of anyone who has experienced sexual trauma, consider going with them to report the crime. Consider accompanying them to their doctor. Perhaps, refer them to and go with them to a rape crisis agency. There are trained professionals who are very sensitive toward survivors of sexual traumas, and there are other trained professionals who are not sensitive at all, but blaming and revictimizing. Survivors and victims of sexual traumas must be supported on their journey to healing. And, society must take every possible action to educate about and protect people of all ages from experiencing sexual traumas. Respecting and honoring others and their bodies is all-important in establishing and maintaining healthy relationships.
Whether it’s bullying or mobbing, in venues that are online, in-person, or behind one’s back, it always seems to start in the same or similar fashions. A person is either perceived as somehow different from the mainstream, and/or introduces thoughts, ideas, or perspectives that are different from what may be generally accepted. In some instances, bullying also occurs toward those whose ideas or perspectives are different from those which most people might blindly go along with; in effect, the person who thinks outside of the box is somehow viewed as wrong or bad. I would estimate that, in at least 95% of instances that I have experienced throughout my life in which bullying or mobbing behavior was directed at me, those situations have proceeded in the same or similar manners, which I will describe further herein.
The first instance of direct bullying that I remember experiencing was when I was in kindergarten. I was in the coat room taking care of my jacket and book bag. Two girls, who also happened to be cousins, approached me in the coat room; they were also in my class. I believe that both were jealous of me in some way, and attempted to degrade me for my characteristics of kindness and intelligence. I remember being very surprised about their hurtful comments toward me, as I had never said or done anything to them. It was a shock to be approached and mobbed by two of my female classmates, especially having been taught that girls are supposed to be cooperative and agreeable with each other. That was an eye-opener to my sheltered existence.
Another instance of bullying, that actually turned into mobbing, occurred when I was in fourth grade. It began with another girl as the target, and I stood up for her. This girl was intellectually disabled, taking her core classes in what was called a resource room. For her enrichment-type classes, such as physical education, art, and music, she joined the regular education classes. I remember this poor girl being taunted unmercifully by several of the “popular” boys and girls in my class. One of the boys who was the ring leader of the mobbing toward this girl was the youngest son of the school’s board of education president. Another girl was the daughter of a teacher who taught at the school.
The mobbing of this girl became contagious, and before long, I recognized that I was participating in teasing and bullying this girl. When I became aware of what I was doing, I was upset that I had been sucked into the actions of the popular kids – who were actually bullies; it felt very ugly, and I resolved to change my actions. No teachers ever stood up for this girl when she experienced bullying and mobbing from our peers, and that was another issue that was extremely upsetting to me.
One day while my class was walking in the hall to P.E., several boys and girls began taunting and teasing this girl, calling her stupid and crazy. She was silent, not responding at all, and taking all of the verbal abuse. The more it continued, the more angry I got. Then, I spoke up for the girl, directing my comments specifically at the kids who were bullying her, stating to them that they were the ones who were stupid, and that they should shut up. The more they repeated their taunts to her, the more I told them to shut up. At that point, I had taken action in standing up for someone who was vulnerable and unable to protect herself, and I became ostracized by the popular kids whom I had believed were my friends. When they stopped being my friends, I realized that they had never been my friends at all. I was happy and proud of myself for standing up for what was right.
Over the years, I have experienced many more instances of bullying, harassment, and mobbing. Because I am very self-aware and confident in myself, I recognize how these issues begin, how they proceed, and the manner in which a need seems to exist in society for people to hen peck, gang up on, and destroy those who are somehow different, and therefore, who are perceived as bad, inferior, or weak. I can resolve these issues for myself because I am a person who is a leader. People who are confident in themselves can take a stand against others whose behavior or communications are wrong, immoral, inappropriate, unethical, or even criminal. I recognize that it is those folks who really have the issue because they are unable to cope with what they don’t want to hear.
Throughout my life, it has been my experience that such folks may not only be bullies, but who have pathological issues or psychotic features. These are often the folks who always have a need to be right, who can never consider another’s perspective, who can never compromise or admit they are wrong, who always have to “win” and can never admit “defeat,” and who are masters at convincing others that the targets of the bullying are those who have the problem. Typically, these types of situations occur in the same ways, and often lead to the pathological bully blaming and punishing the target, including taking actions to intimate, harass, harm, destroy, and/or suggest or state that the target somehow is the one who has a mental deficiency or mental health issue.
In these situations, I have also observed that when a person is in a position of authority, and another individual challenges them to consider a different perspective, they take offense to it, seeing it as not only a threat to their bullyishpower, control, and authority, but also a threat to their identity. They, then, lash out against the person with whom there is merely a disagreement or, to them, who has some appearance of threatening their cozy existence in which they are typically successful in exerting their bullyishpower, control, and authority over others.
A situation of cyber mobbing that I am currently experiencing is in the international, nonprofit writing organization in which I am a member, and which is male-dominated. The situation began when another writer deleted a substantial amount of information that I had contributed to an article. Even before contributing to this particular article, I reviewed its history, and noticed that this particular writer had often made deletes of other writer’s contributions during the past several years. I actually expected that she would delete some or all of my material, and I was correct.
When I challenged this writer regarding what I perceived as an action that was excessive, unnecessary, inconsiderate, and one that did not follow established standards of procedure, she responded by degrading me and my work on the article. The situation got ugly and deteriorated from there. Also, having experienced such situations in the past with five male writers in the organization, I expected that she was male, but discovered otherwise, much to my surprise again. This, then, began communications between us in which the other writer found and stated more and more reasons to discredit me and my work.
Never taking into consideration any of the perspectives and thoughts that I presented to this writer in regard to what she could have done to maintain my information, have formal discussion about it that was open to everyone, and/or make a compromise regarding my proposals to her of how the situation could have been improved or handled better, she continued communications with me by furthering her attempts at discrediting and discriminating against me by introducing her ideas that I did not know how to write (intellectual and professional bias), that I was a kid (age discrimination), and just generally doing her best to add other “issues” to the one that should have been the focus of resolution and compromise. The writer’s conduct was also hostile and disrespectful toward me, including her use of words in all caps (which is generally regarded as yelling), as well as threatening to report me for simply following protocol by communicating, personally, with her.
Continually, I brought the writer back to the real issues at hand, including being blatantly honest about the lack in sourcing of the article, reflecting a low quality of it, even though it was rated as high in importance. I had attempted to improve on all of that, although this writer’s deletion of nearly all of my material, as well as her regular deletes of other writers’ contributions, reflected to me her unnecessary and bullyish power, control, and exclusivity regarding the article.
Now, my experience in writing spans decades, and I have also established myself in having taught writing. I have also had experience in researching, editing, and proofing, including in the professional writing arena. This writer has many years of experience, is a senior writer, and has numerous outstanding contributions to her credit, though her pathological bullyish nature has caused her to believe she is always correct and never wrong, thus also causing her to be unable to consider any value in alternative perspectives such as mine.
The writer continued to harass, degrade, and discredit me, my writing, and my experience, even going so far as to suggest that I had some mental health issue. To me, she is the person with the issue. Even so, three other writers supported her point of view, also being unable to even consider an alternative viewpoint, thus causing a situation of cyber mobbing. The writer’s threats and attempts at intimidation toward me caused me to report her to the mediation group of the organization due to her inappropriate and unacceptable conduct.
With regard to the mediation group, I also expect that there will not be one person who will side with me. In fact, I expect that there will probably be another 10 or so people who will add their perspectives to this situation about how “wrong” and “bad” they believe I am. In these types of experiences, that is what I have observed to typically occur. People cannot cope with what they don’t want to hear, discredit and degrade the person who is the target of bullying and/or harassment, and support the person who is basically the victimizer.
Thus, the target’s bullying and harassing behavior contributes to harming the target’s reputation and credibility which also has a potential negative effect of also causing financial and economic instability in the life of the target. This is because bullying and mobbing sometimes becomes so extreme that the target is forced to leave an organization for purposes of self-preservation; the experience of bullying and mobbing is one that can cause many health problems. It is no wonder that people who actually are vulnerable and whose identity is so closely attached to what others think and/or say about them contemplate or commit suicide as a result of these types of situations. When many people support the bully, and no one supports the target, things can get out-of-control and potentially harmful or lethal toward the target very quickly.
So, this current situation is one that has caused me to feel offended, misjudged, and victimized, however I am not a person who rates my worth according to the negative and harmful perspectives of others. Even after having informed the bully of how she has made me feel, she has continued to blame me, be unable to consider any of my views, and suggest that I have a mental health deficiency. Refusing to tolerate any further bullying, harassment, and intimidation by her, I felt empowered to report her conduct for mediation.
While I doubt that my perspectives will be supported or even that anything constructive might come from my report, I am pleased at having brought the issue of her inappropriate and offensive conduct toward me to an official body within the organization in which these issues are supposed to be handled. What I expect is that there will be even more degradation, bullying, and mobbing behavior to be experienced within the mediation group. I hope to be wrong about that, and will follow-up later regarding the outcome.
This has been the perfect experience for me to observe the process of how bullying and mobbing works, particularly in a large, online forum. I am one who has always believed and worked toward being an individual who holds high standards, and who is of high moral and ethical conduct. Therefore, I ceased my direct communications with the particular writer, and made a report about her conduct. Also, I ceased making any attempted contributions or work to the article over which she appears to exclusively “manage.” And, I won’t be making any contributions to it in the future. My intentions of being a part of the organization are to contribute and make improvements; anything less than that detracts from what should be the goals of each member.
This experience is also not the first experience of bullying, mobbing, and/or harassment that I have had, nor will it be the last. It is, however, I believe a reflection in society of the disease of so many people being unable to not only tolerate, but accept people who are different, or who have different perspectives, values, beliefs, and behaviors. Just because a person’s words, thoughts, or actions are different, does not necessarily mean that the individual is somehow wrong, bad, or mentally ill. People who are pathological bullies are masterful at causing others to believe all of that about their targets. Sadly, many others in our society often appear to blindly go along with them rather than consider something different and/or with which they may simply disagree. If more people agreed to disagree, as well as to make compromises, I think our world would be a better place.
*Author’s note: I have posted this article in four online forums, including WordPress; Twitter; LinkedIn; and CoPromote.
*Follow-up (July 2, 2014): Within the organization, I filed three reports regarding this situation; each one was closed without resolution being achieved. The first report that I filed was not even read, but promptly closed. So, I filed another, and was directed to file it in another forum within the organization. Therefore, I filed my report in the other forum, and was informed that it was not the correct location (in fact, the first forum actually was the correct location). So, I was given the run-around by everyone involved in the “mediation” process, which achieved nothing.
Finally, I decided to request a “cease and desist” from the writer with whom conflict erupted, and while she did mock me and identify our organization as a “three-ring circus,” for the most part, she has stopped her offensive and harassing communications. As I expected, I did experience escalated cyber bullying in this situation, which transformed into escalated cyber mobbing. In all, there were four writers who communicated only negative and harmful statements to me; three writers who shared a mixture of both positive and negative communications; and only two writers who were supportive in any respect. In fact, I am surprised that there were any writers, at all, who were supportive.
To me, this is a reflection that this situation could have been entirely avoided and, at least, de-escalated, had there been understanding, flexibility, compromise, and a willingness to consider and apply a different point of view. By the other writer refusing to do so, conflict not only erupted, but escalated. I informed this writer that her derogatory statements to me were inconsiderate, offensive, and misjudging. I also shared with other writers that this was the worst experience that I had, to date, in the organization. In fact, this experience has been the worst instance of cyber bullying and cyber mobbing that I have ever experienced, in any organization.
This really goes to show that there is much to be learned in these types of situations by everyone involved, particularly the adequate and sensitive consideration of others’ concerns. In too many organizations, courtesy and consideration get thrown to the wind while people steadfastly hold to their own rigid views, contributing not only to diminishing the people involved in the conflict, but also the organization as a whole. I have lost respect for many of the folks who joined in the conflict, as well as for the organization, all of this having been completely avoidable and unnecessary had consideration and compromise been applied to the situation.
*Follow-up (July 7, 2014): I was actually wondering when the retaliation was going to start, and it began shortly after posting my previous follow-up information of July 2. I recently wrote and submitted six articles to the organization. Out of the blue, another writer has been stalking, bullying, harassing, and degrading me. I believe that the writer is the same person with whom there was the initial conflict, but that the writer is simply using a different account and profile. The pattern of behavior is the same.
It is so unfortunate that such ugliness exists. There are always those people out there who believe that their thoughts and actions are self-righteous and brilliant, though they could not be more morally and intellectually incorrect. It is these types of folks who create hostile and toxic environments, and typically, as with these two particular writers, they are in high positions of authority in the organization. To me, it is a very bad reflection on the organization, and serves only to worsen such situations and further discourage those who genuinely and honestly desire to contribute. It is difficult to maintain respect for, and participate in, an organization that allows such unacceptable conduct.
*Follow-up (July 12, 2014): My to my relief, this story has a happy ending, at least for the moment. The person who was stalking and harassing me in this online forum has now received consequences for their actions. The writer has been restricted from the organization for an uncertain period of time. This was an online harassment and stalking experience like I’ve never experienced before; one experienced writer at the organization of many years stated that it was something of the magnitude that he has never observed before, either. Sadly, the writer evidenced in their communications of not being remorseful, nor of realizing the wrong that was done.
Authenticity. Just what is authenticity? And, what is it not to be authentic? To be authentic, to me, means many things. A person who is authentic is real, honest, genuine, and appropriate. Someone who is authentic is one who is able to have respect and appreciation for another person, but not necessarily always agree with or go along with the other person, especially if that other person’s words and actions are inappropriate, unprofessional, wrong, immoral, or illegal.
For instance, a friend who is a true friend can say something to another person that might be potentially hurtful, but may be something that needs to be said. A true friend is one who can say something to another that is honest, and that the other person may not like to hear, but also that is something that needs to be brought to the other’s attention in order for growth, development, and progress to occur within that other person. A person who is able to risk losing a friendship or personal interaction by behaving in these ways is one who is authentic.
There are also those who are not authentic. Inauthentic people are those who are unable to say what they truly think or feel. People who are not authentic say and behave in ways that they want, being oblivious of the manner in which they may speak or act toward others in ways that are harmful and hurtful.
When I think of people who are not authentic, I think of those who commit some type of wrong against another, and ultimately, against themselves. These are people who may be unfaithful to their spouse; sexually harass others; overlook, minimize, or deny serious issues occurring within relationships with others, such as different types of abuses; commit crimes against others; and deny that they have had any part in causing another person to think, feel, or act in a certain way.
People who use verbal, physical, and/or sexual harm toward others, therefore, are those who are inauthentic. People who use their power, influence, money, and status in ways that harm others, deny services to others, or marginalize others are those who are also inauthentic. People who are the puppets of others, doing harm toward others just because they are “doing what they are told” and/or “following orders” are those who are inauthentic, as well. They are unable to see how their words and actions are inauthentic and harmful toward others.
There are many more examples of people in my life who have been inauthentic rather than authentic. Perhaps this is because they are more prominent in my mind as a result of the hurt and harm they have caused. At any rate, some people who have been authentic in my life have been a school principal who became my supervisor in a school where I was substitute teaching many years ago. He was authentic.
Another person who is authentic is a lady who was an administrative assistant in a Catholic school at which I worked several years ago. She is authentic. My son is also a person who is authentic. Perhaps it is because I have taught him to be authentic and that it is okay to be truthful about something, even when his conduct could have been better, that he is real. I am proud that my son is authentic, real, and honest. I have found that those who are truly authentic seem to be people who are confident and sure of themselves, without having to put on a mask and hide who they really are.
An example of a person who is not authentic is a former professor/mentor who wrote recommendations to accompany my applications to law school many years ago. Believing that he and I had established a strong and good rapport, I asked him to provide recommendations for me, only later discovering that they were worthy of lining a trash can. He was and still is inauthentic, as I also had a recent experience in interacting with him in which he proved to me that he has remained inauthentic.
Other examples of people being inauthentic are those who portray themselves as trusted members of the community, and then betray that trust and confidence. These can be people such as a church priest who threaten others with the Mafia, simply because they are unable to take responsibility for their own wrongs. They prefer to dishonor themselves and cause harm to others because they are in denial and are unable to hold themselves accountable for their own unethical or immoral conduct. The same can be said of the wealthy and powerful church Santa Claus who sexually harasses those of the opposite sex, beginning when they are young girls, believing there is nothing wrong with his behavior, and in fact, blaming the girl for his own misconduct.
The same can be said of those whose misconduct reaches a criminal nature, particularly in relation to sexual abuse or sexual assault. And, what makes it worse is when a group, church, or community supports the person who is inauthentic because they are unable to be insightful about and believe that others can conduct themselves in the inauthentic manner that was described, which simply leads to even more inauthenticity with even more people. Additional people who are inauthentic are those who stand by and doing nothing to stop another person from being inauthentic toward another person in a harmful way. Simply not wanting to get involved is a cowardly excuse to me.
In my experience, it has often been those who have positions of authority, and/or power due to wealth, influence, or status in a group, church, workplace, or community who are inauthentic. A person who is inauthentic can also be a parent or a spouse, simply because they are not real and are unable to consider or believe the truth of another’s story. Perhaps no one was there for them in their time of need, so they are unable to place themselves in the same position when a loved one is in a position of need.
It is important for people to be real and authentic. Often, people who are inauthentic believe they are always correct, believe they can do no wrong, and are unable to even listen to or consider that they may have had some part in a situation in which their inauthenticity caused another person to be harmed in some way. It takes two. And, sometimes, it may be an entire group that is inauthentic versus one person who is authentic. When people are unable to recognize that they are inauthentic, such inauthenticity only continues and potentially worsens.
What is needed for people to recognize is that in order to be authentic, one must be able to admit wrongdoing; take responsibility for his or her actions; not believe that he or she is always correct about everything; and make efforts to improve his or her conduct. Only in those ways will people become more authentic, being responsible and accountable for their words and actions, and making efforts to improve, no longer harming others, whether intentionally or not.
There are many countries, particularly in Asia, in which honor is taken very seriously, even too seriously. In Japan or Korea, for examples, there are many instances of men taking their own lives due to what many in those nations have considered to be failures, particularly if losses of innocent lives have been involved under their leadership. In fact, it seems that it is even an expectation for men and/or women who have been viewed as failures, particularly when harm or death has come to others as a result, to take their own lives. It appears that such people who have taken their own lives as a result of these particular instances do so because of their feelings of honor and dishonor. It seems that there is the expectation that they should take their own lives as a result of actions that may have been considered dishonorable.
In several middle eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, for examples, as well as in countries such as India and Afghanistan, women and girls are expected to remain covered and/or virginal until marriage, according to cultural and/or religious dictates. If a woman of such culture is raped, however, she is typically blamed and punished, often being disowned by her family, the very people who should be supportive of her. When a woman is raped in such cultures, society places the burden on her and dictates that she has been dishonorable rather than the man or men who raped her. Often, then, her family is unsupportive of her and/or may disown her because of her culture’s views that blame, punish, and even torture and kill women for being a victim. Such killings are known as “honor killings,” however they only bring dishonor to those who have done the killing. Little or nothing is heard, however, about the man or men bringing dishonor to themselves for perpetrating such crimes. How often do they get away with it, only to do it again and get away with it again?
Three hundred years ago, in the United States, questions of honor – at least among men of European descent who considered themselves “honorable” – may have been settled by a duel. If one man believed he was dishonored by another, he could challenge that man to a duel. In a duel, it was the accepted notion within society that the man who won the duel by killing his counterpart was, therefore, “the better man.” To me, this is not necessarily correct. That one man may have won a sword battle by killing another man reflects only that he may have been more skilled in wielding the sword. To me, for anyone to challenge another to a fight to the death simply for believing he was “dishonored” does not value the other’s life. Therefore, is it worth killing another or taking one’s own life in regard to questions or concerns about honor? I think not.
Today, however, very different views exist in the United States about honor and dishonor. One may even ask whether or not honor is a quality that is at all considered of high value in American culture and society. In the United States (as in other countries, as well), there are those who dishonor themselves by having affairs. There are those who dishonor, not only themselves, but their spouses and/or children when they divorce their spouses for situations and/or issues that they, themselves, contributed to and/or worsened. There are people who dishonor their children by hurting and abusing them; in doing so, they also dishonor themselves.
Crime victims (particularly rape and sexual trauma survivors) are often quick to be dishonored by the harassment and/or bullying of others, which may, in turn, cause them to take their own lives. In society, in general, women are not honored when they do not experience the respect, equality, and/or privilege that most men seem to typically give, unquestioningly, to other men. Children are not honored when they have no voice and are simply told what to do, how to feel, how to act. People with disabilities are not honored when parking spaces are occupied by vehicles that are not legally allowed to be there. Female (and male) military service members and veterans are not honored when they seek treatment for PTSD as a result of sexual trauma experienced by their colleagues, and are denied such treatment, thus being blamed and revictimized.
I am familiar with situations in which wealthy American men of influence and power have traumatized women and girls by sexually harassing them and/or committing other acts of sexual misconduct against them for decades. Such men may have performed such actions against various girls and/or women across generations, getting away with it because their wealth, power, influence, and privilege have always allowed them to get away with it. Not only do they get away with it, but they discredit their victims, spread false information and ill repute about their victims, and do whatever they can to cover up their wrongdoing, cause their victims to be ostracized, and save their own skin. Because of their powerful status in the community, state, nation in which they live, however, most people hold them in high regard and are unable to believe that any of them could possibly commit such acts. These men have, therefore, dishonored not only themselves, but their families, their communities, their churches, and their businesses.
What is sad, then, is that most people seem to be unable to see below the surface of these situations, or even to care about them, and/or attempt to change them for the better. When such situations are discussed, many avoid taking on these issues because they cause controversy. This often includes legal counsel and/or the legal system. How can a poor, albeit educated and intelligent woman be successful in bringing a lawsuit against men who have prominence and power in a state or nation? Further still, what about a girl who has experienced such situations by men of wealth and power? It just doesn’t happen, and if it is attempted, the female is discredited and portrayed as the liar, seductress, villainess, while the men are innocently reflected as having done no wrong. While the men don’t realize it, and likely even deny it, as a result of these situations, they have dishonored themselves.
So, my remaining question is to wonder if it is, indeed, correct to believe that there is little or no recourse for victims and/or survivors of the above-described situations? Those who create, provoke, and perform such situations are those who, typically, seem to get away with them. While mainstream society may hold them in high esteem, and/or they may obtain success in defending themselves through the legal system, they have still dishonored themselves by being dishonest and by behaving dishonorably.
People who are honorable lead in the footsteps of goodness and righteousness. They lead by example. Honorable people place value in the lives of others; they do what they can to help and support those who most need it; they recognize where they have been wrong, and seek to correct and improve themselves. People who are honorable are also forgiving, but also learn to protect themselves from those who are dishonorable as a result of their experiences. It is honorable to be good and forgiving, though it is also honorable to help oneself so that he or she is not further victimized.
People who are dishonorable care only about themselves. It seems that they, often, cannot see the harm that they create, nor do they care. And, when confronted about it, they do not take responsibility for it, but instead do whatever they can to deny it, cover it up, and further harm, discredit, and dishonor their victims. I have observed and experienced this reflected in people who bully others. I have observed and experienced this reflected in those who sexually traumatize others. I have observed and experienced this to occur in people who tend to be narcissistic, arrogant, and who believe that they are always correct, and that their way is the only way. While these people may not realize it, they have dishonored themselves. Contrary to their faulty thinking, it is not their victims who have dishonored themselves.
Therefore, it is important that people look below the surface of interactions, communications, and situations. Sometimes, it is important to analyze, research, investigate, and become better-informed about people and situations before making decisions and/or judgments about others that may be incorrect. It is important for society to realize and recognize that, just because people may appear “honorable” does not mean that they are. Especially in the United States, where wealth, power, status, and privilege are held so highly by society, it is imperative for people to look below the surface, to recognize that people may not be as good as they seem. It is also important for people to recognize that some situations, on the surface, may appear to be the fault of the victim, but were really created by the one in power, even years or decades prior to things coming to the surface.
As a person of honor, I appeal to others to view and consider as many possibilities about a particular situation as they can, and then to also investigate to know and understand the true background of such situations by looking below the surface, prior to coming to a conclusion that may be incorrect, and before making a misjudgment that characterizes the victim as the offender, when it may really be the other way around. I ask people in our society to consider the true nature of such situations so that they may be understood and revealed. Only then will the honor of those who are truly honorable be known.