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.
On Thanksgiving, what I am always most thankful for is my family. My family is always there for me in thick and thin. My family has weathered many storms and enjoyed sunny days together; I can count on my family for love, compassion, and support, and I provide the same to them. I don’t have a very large family, nor do I have much money, but I have a big heart, full of lots of love. My love is shared with and among my family, for whom I am most thankful on Thanksgiving and every day.
Other things for which I am thankful include food, faith, community, freedom, education, technology, career, and health. I am thankful for food, though it is not easy to get by from month to month with food prices continuing to rise. I appreciate my faith because, if it was not for that, I would not be where I am today, and things would likely be much worse. I am grateful for community, such as organizations that provide fellowship, to my family.
I am always thankful for freedom and I remember my grandmother’s stories about when she lived in Communist Poland, with people fearing for their lives when homes were raided in the middle of the night and people were never seen again. I am grateful for education, though the large debt required to pay for it is a hardship. I appreciate technology that makes life easier. And, I am thankful for career in many capacities, including that of being a mother, as well as for the potential of a stable gainful and enjoyable employment in a workplace with decent people, if that is ever attainable. I am thankful for my good health so I do not have to pay out-of-pocket to see the doctor as a result of being without health insurance.
So often, organizations such as colleges, churches, and charities have fundraising drives to help give to those in need. When I am asked to donate, I reply that I could benefit from some assistance, myself. As a poor single white mother, so often such places overlook people such as myself, as has occurred again this year. People in my shoes are reduced to begging for even a little bit in return. People may maintain the perspective that whites have privilege and that is definitely a stereotype that hurts poor white single mothers such as myself because the majority of any aid, as I observe, goes to people of other races.
I am also thankful for the holes in some of my shabby clothes and worn-out shoes, the place that I live even though it is not my own, the student loans that provide opportunity, my nearly decade-old vehicle that is still in great shape, and that sacrifices that I am able to make for the benefit of my family. I am thankful for the $15 haircut that I get every two months instead of going to a salon and spending loads of money, and the $3 bottle of fingernail polish that I can use for a manicure or pedicure instead of going someplace to have it done for me. I am grateful for the free lunch that I eat twice each week at my apprenticeship, and for the store closing sale at the local KMart where I can save a few dollars on Christmas gifts for my son. I am thankful for what little I have because more is always spent than saved.
These are additional reasons why I am thankful for my family, particularly at Thanksgiving. Every so often, there is that rare person who comes along who might be caring and/or supportive, but with my family, I know they will always be there, in good and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. People should be more important than money and possessions, and indeed, my family is most important to me.
So, on this Thanksgiving, I invite you to think about family, values, and people in need. Think about and be thankful for people who are close to you. Think about people whom you see at work or in church every week who have little or nothing, and who are usually overlooked in their need. Take action on what you can do rather than what you cannot. Open your heart and mind to see what you do not want to see, and take action for what you otherwise would not have done. A little bit goes a long way, especially for folks who don’t have much.
Happy Thanksgiving! Remember what you are thankful for!
[Author’s Note: Within one day of posting this article, I was solicited by a man on LinkedIn, out-of-state, to contact him by whatever means necessary. People really need to get their heads out of the gutter, and be open to simply being helpful to those in need without being offensive and/or wanting something (inappropriate) in return. Solicitation is so offensive, degrading, and dehumanizing to me; is nothing that I have ever done; and it is incredible to me that so many men (I’ve experienced this many times on LinkedIn) do it. It is unfortunate and tragic for humanity that there are those who attempt (and succeed) in taking advantage of people in need in a sexual manner.]
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.
When I was a student at the University at Buffalo (UB), I had some really great experiences. In prior posts in this blog, I have described many of my wonderful experiences. I also had many unpleasant, hurtful, and traumatic experiences. Describing about some of these situations, to follow, I will also provide some suggestions to officials at UB so that such situations are not repeated with other students.
1) In 1993, I earned a baccalaureate degree in psychology and a bachelor’s degree in political science. This is a particular detail that is important to me, especially because the University at Buffalo Records and Registration Department (R&R) erred in identifying my accomplishment over a period of 10 – yes 10 – years. Additionally – and while I still very much appreciate it – UB’s President at the time, Dr. William Greiner – also erred on this detail in a recommendation he completed for me, such recommendation that is published in it’s entirety elsewhere in this blog. On my official UB transcript from 1993-2003, R&R reflected that I earned only one BA, however that was incorrect.
When I went to R&R, personally, several times during the course of that decade, no one would listen to me. I was brushed off and not taken seriously at all when I repeatedly told people in R&R that their records were incorrect. Personally, I went to R&R and I wrote letters to several individuals over that period of 10 years until someone finally listened to me, verified that what I stated about my degrees was correct, and corrected my official transcript to reflect both of my degrees earned.
I am sure that anyone in my situation would feel similarly, particularly after experiencing what I have in regard to years of trying to see to it that my educational achievements have been correctly recorded and documented by UB officials. This is particularly important when people read my resume, and other career-related documents, because I list my educational achievement of the two degrees correctly.
When this error was made during that decade, many believed that I was in error, and therefore, also dishonest, when it was UB that was in error. I spent $10,000s on my education, including for the acquisition of my second BA at UB. I also invested an obscene amount of credit hours to earn both of those degrees over a period of less than 3.5 years. It is important, therefore, that UB has it right!
2) In my first semester at UB, I experienced bullying by my roommate. She was often disruptive in our dorm room by coming back in the wee hours of the morning with her boyfriend, who would also spend the rest of the night in our dorm room. She also often moved my things and made many attempts at taking over my space, which we had originally divided evenly. On frigid winter nights, she would also open the window to it’s full four feet, and expect that it would be acceptable to me that we should freeze. She would often turn up her stereo volume loudly when I was quietly studying in our dorm room. And, she had a nasty habit of slamming the door to our dorm room, which as you can imagine, endeared her to everyone on the hall (realize I am being sarcastic here).
I tried to speak with my roommate many times about my concerns, trying to reach agreement and compromise with her, however she always refused. It always had to be her way. Therefore, I repeatedly reported these situations to my graduate resident advisor, and repeatedly asked to move, though he did nothing until a situation occurred in which we were both required to move out of the dorm room as a result of our behavior toward each other. Bullying and the creation of a hostile environment in dorm rooms are issues that UB definitely needs to take more seriously.
3) What I will always remember as a traumatic and negatively life-changing experience at UB was when I was sexually assaulted in my dorm room during my last semester there. Four people were aware of what occurred, though no one reported it. Two of those people became accomplices to the man who raped me by not reporting it. It took me about 2.5 years to gain the courage and overcome the humiliation to report this crime. When I did so at UB, one of the public safety chiefs laughed out loud about what had occurred. I felt like an ant that had just been smashed.
That was only the beginning of the repeated process of revictimization I experienced as a result of this crime that, to this day, has not been resolved to my satisfaction, and regarding which the offender was never charged or prosecuted. Additionally, a description of what occurred, as well the offender’s name and other identifying information such as his birthday (both of which I will always remember, by the way), have been deleted from the report that I filed at UB. I am thankful, however, for the female public safety officer who treated me with kindness and respect. She was the only person in the entire legal process who supported me in any way.
When I attempted to reach out, prior to finally officially reporting the sexual assault, to several UB administrators and/or their family members, I was ostracized and turned away. On a number of occasions, I tried to reach out to UB President Bill Greiner by sending him short correspondence. The answer that I received to my correspondence was from then-Dean of Students Dennis Black, threatening criminal action against me if I continued my communications with Bill! These were communications that were appropriate, and in which I was merely attempting to reach out for some emotional support and assistance. I did not get that from anyone at UB except the female public safety officer who originally took my report, and who was kind and professional toward me.
Shortly after reporting the sexual assault and experiencing repeated revictimization through the legal process of doing so, I wrote and posted about my experience at UB and other area campuses in an effort to educate and inform other students about my experience, in the hope that they would be able to protect themselves against something similar happening to them. One day when I posted my writings at UB, a UB official approached me and told me not to post my information. This only caused me to post and write about it more. Such insensitivity and lack of understanding was incredible to me!
Therefore, I have a number of suggestions to UB officials in regard to these situations. For #1, there should be an audit process at UB that reviews students’ degrees to be sure that the information on record is accurate. For the information about my degrees to be recorded and repeatedly documented incorrectly, over a period of 10 years, and still to the present day, is absolutely unacceptable. Also unacceptable was the treatment that I received by individuals in R&R who repeatedly refused to listen to me, nor consider that my information to them was correct and that they were in error.
In association with #2, all too often bullying and a hostile environment are created when people take no action to stop it and/or resolve the situations. The graduate resident advisor to whom I repeatedly reported these situations did nothing until a serious situation occurred that was unresolvable. Those who oversee the welfare of others must take seriously the issues of bullying and a hostile environment so that worse situations are not provoked into occurring.
Regarding #3, no one was there for me at UB when I was sexually assaulted. When I turned to many people, no one helped me. Being so hurt and humiliated by this violent and traumatizing experience in which I was internally-injured, I blocked it out for a period of a few years before returning to UB to report it, as well as to seek support and assistance for my recovery outside of UB. I have spent $1,000s on my recovery from this painful trauma, such assistance having been a great benefit and self-help for me. For any UB official to minimize, ridicule, disbelieve, overlook, deny, and/or cover up this crime, as well as to revictimize me as the survivor is abominable, and there were a number who did so.
UB can establish programs to support sexual trauma survivors, and can also educate about sexual trauma, including how it occurs and how vulnerable individuals can protect themselves from it. UB can also train it’s officials in regard to responding more sensitively and effectively to those who have experienced sexual traumas on campus.
Individuals at UB are what make up UB. Each individual is a part of the whole, and when any individual is harmed, the whole is also harmed. The institution should not be more important than the individual, however that was repeatedly proven to me in what I experienced. So, while I had many wonderful experiences at UB, many of which I have written about in this blog, I have also experienced these hurtful situations. I expected more from UB, but in regard to these specific situations, I received less. As a result, I am speaking out, and have already spoken out in several capacities, particularly in regard to being sexually assaulted.
UB will not silence me, nor overlook, minimize, or ridicule my experience, nor succeed in revictimizing me. Rather than attempt that, why not take action to help and support survivors and victims of sexual trauma that has occurred on campus? Indeed, I have become an activist and advocate for those who are minimized and bullied, as well as for those who have experienced sexual trauma. I am also a supporter for the recovery of those of all ages, including children, who have suicidal ideation, particularly as a result of sexual trauma.
My experience of being sexually assaulted at UB has been singular in my advocacy for sexual trauma survivors. So, while being sexually assaulted at UB created much hurt and pain in my life, the good thing is that it has caused me to become an advocate for others who have had similar experiences. I also try to be aware of speaking and reaching out to those who will actually be helpful to survivors and victims. Particularly in this area, UB can do better!
Recently, a UB official contacted me via LinkedIn through my personal email account, and requested that I write a recommendation for UB. Due to the above-described information, I am unable to author a recommendation for UB, however information about many of my positive experiences as a student at UB can be found in prior posts within this blog.
There is good and bad everywhere and in everything, however UB still needs to show me that it can get it right with regard to these issues!
Author’s Note (June 5, 2014): Since posting a UB article about Nursing Week, and how UB could potentially take some initiative within the nursing program to implement programs for student survivors of sexual trauma that has occurred on campus, my comments and posts in the LinkedIn group, University at Buffalo Alumni, have been restricted. I have attempted to post additional comments and articles, and have requested of the group manager that I be free to post, however she has responded to me that I am, however she has not approved my comments or posts. Currently, this is the only LinkedIn group (out of 51 groups) in which a manager has not changed my settings to be free to post, nor has approved all of my comments and posts.
It also seems that this is a greater reflection on UB that when controversial issues arise, there are attempts at silencing them. This is another reason why The Spectrum, the student newspaper at UB, is independent of the university – because of the politics involved in students previously being unable to publish freely, without experiencing retaliation, threats, and/or attempts at silencing them from UB officials. My view is that my article is an opportunity for people at UB to take initiative regarding these issues and make improvements rather than attempt to silence them and prevent freedom of speech.
Recently, a man commented on one of my blog posts that I made last year regarding a particular school in which bullying (and worse) occurred by children and adults toward other children. What was so shocking to me was that the man basically stated that he was physically abused by religious at a parochial school during his childhood, and he inferred that children should currently be treated more harshly (infer more abuse and violence) than what they already endure in many schools. In responding to the man – and seeking to provide information for his understanding of the seriousness of the issue – I stated to him that bullying, abuse, and violence is extremely serious in the United States. The United States has the highest child mortality rate of any Western country. And, in the United States, Texas is the state with the highest single mortality rate (about 4%) of any state.
Why isn’t the American public outraged about that?! Why do more people not stand up for and protect children, nor seek to listen to, hear, and understand them? Why is it so easy for so many people to minimize, overlook, ignore, and discredit children? It is no wonder that so many children and youth commit suicide when they do not receive the assistance and/or protection that they need from their families – or other adults, and then, experience bullying, abuse, and/or violence at school. Children and youth are so vulnerable. They are growing and developing, and are going through stages of their lives in which they are most fragile.
Too many people believe that children and youth should be harmed – and then, they call it discipline or disciplinary action. Children and youth need support, care, kindness, understanding, and compassion. How does American society expect children to grow and develop in a healthy manner when many of their role models, teachers, coaches, and/or other adults bully and harm them? What is worse in a Catholic or religious faith-based school is when the expectation is that children are to be valued and appreciated, but are bullied and harmed by many of the very adults who are charged with protecting them. The situation is not restricted to faith-based schools, but is present in all too many schools in the United States, both public and private.
I believe that much of the issue relates to the toleration, acceptance, encouragement, and promotion of violence – particularly media violence – within our culture. So many television shows, movies, and other programs that have been deemed “entertainment” are so horrific that I have rarely watched them, now, over a period of many years. Yet, for many people, the more violence they view, the more they want. It is as if there is a competition in the United States in media and entertainment to produce more and more violent shows and movies. That would not occur if people did not spend so much money to view violence, to play violent video games, to participate in sports that are violent, etc.
Thus, I have broached a few more topics about which most people do not want to contemplate, talk about, or take action to prevent or eliminate. These are, however, issues that must be brought into the open and discussed if there is any hope for improvement in regard to them within our culture. One person who takes his or her life due to bullying and abuse is too many. Yet, there are dozens of children and youth who commit suicide in the United States, with such deaths continually on the rise. Last I knew, there were about 135 reported deaths due to suicide in the United States in one recent year. There are likely many more that are not reported. And, many of these children and youth who commit suicide have been bullied and harmed at school, by their peers and/or teachers.
I have taken the liberty to post several links regarding children and youth who have committed suicide in such circumstances so that the man who posted his comment, saying that my article was “stupid” can have a better understanding that when someone is dead, the situation is too late to improve – and is far from “stupid.” For this man, ignorance is bliss. Following, therefore, are just a few of the 100s of links on the Internet (in no particular order), all of which I retrieved on April 30, 2014, related to children and youth who have committed suicide due to bullying and/or abuse experienced at school from their peers and/or teachers:
“Bullied 10-year-old girl commits suicide.” http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Girl+Commits+Suicide+On+Camera&Form=VQFRVP#view=detail&mid=7A9D5FDFA0071FC8A1657A9D5FDFA0071FC8A165
“Suicide of Amanda Todd.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_of_Amanda_Todd
“Suicide of Phoebe Prince.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_of_Phoebe_Prince
“Suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamey_Rodemeyer (One of my student teaching experiences was at a school that he attended, Heim Middle School, in the Williamsville (New York) Central School District.)
“Gay Ottawa teen who killed himself was bullied: Jamie Hubley was a figure skater and the only openly gay boy in his school.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/gay-ottawa-teen-who-killed-himself-was-bullied-1.1009474
“Suicide of Kelly Yeomans.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly_Yeomans
“Girl commits suicide after boyfriend sends her naked photos to fellow students, Family receives $154K from school.” http://news.asiantown.net/r/26323/Girl-commits-suici–100-e-after-boyfriend-sends-her-nak–101-d-photos-to-fellow-students–Family-receives–154K-from-school
“Girls, 12 and 14, arrested in death of bullied Florida girl who killed herself.” http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/10/15/girls-12-and-14-arrested-in-death-bullied-florida-girl-police-say/
“How a cell phone picture led to a girl’s suicide.” http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/10/07/hope.witsells.story/index.html
“Georgia middle-schooler commits suicide after bullying, being called ‘snitch,’ dad says.” http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/05/17616979-georgia-middle-schooler-commits-suicide-after-bullying-being-called-snitch-dad-says?lite
“Bullying allegations probed after boy, 15, commits suicide after first day of school.” http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/08/29/bullying-allegations-probed-after-boy-15-commits-suicide-after-first-day-school/
“Anti-gay bullying cited in Georgia teen’s suicide.” http://www.projectqatlanta.com/news_articles/view/anti-gay_bullying_cited_in_georgia_teens_suicide
“My bullied son’s last day on Earth.” http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/04/23/bullying.suicide/ (It is difficult to believe this already happened five years ago; I remember the news about it.)
“Ex-teacher gets 30 days for rape of girl, 14; judge says she was ‘older than her chronological age.’ ” http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/ex-teacher_gets_30_days_for_sex_with_student_14_judge_says_she_was_older_th/ (I am aware that the National Organization for Women made a formal complaint against the judge in this case, desiring his removal as a result of the sentence that he gave this man. The girl committed suicide.)
“Teacher Kidnaps, Rapes Boy.” http://abcnews.go.com/US/video?id=7390696
“Mary Kay Letourneau.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Kay_Letourneau
“Columbine High School massacre.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbine_High_School_massacre
These 17 articles represent at least 29 people who died, either by suicide or homicide, in relation to bullying and/or abuse by peers, or abuse by teachers. The articles also represent at least two other survivors of abuse who remain living. The victims and survivors in each of these articles are reason enough why bullying and abuse must be taken more seriously, and be prevented and eliminated, especially in our schools. Hopefully, the man who commented on a different one of my blog posts in relation to this issue no longer views it as “stupid.” 😦
As a result of the comments made by the particular man in regard to a prior post relating to these issues, I have been inspired to create a new LinkedIn group, “Stop Youth Suicide.” I created the group today, and promoted it within 30 LinkedIn groups, and invited 70 people on LinkedIn from around the world to join. Six fellow LinkedIn members – most of whom are mental health professionals – have already joined the group as of 5:30 PM Eastern Time today. I have also promoted the group on Twitter, and will continue to do so. Today, I have also gained additional followers and “likes” on Twitter as a result of creating this group. (As of 1:30 PM Eastern Time on May 4, 2014, there are 55 members of the group!)
The comments made by the particular man – and the thoughts and attitudes of so many regarding these issues – definitely reflect the need for increased understanding, sensitivity, compassion, and support toward children and youth, especially those who are contemplate, attempt, and/or commit suicide as a result of bullying and abuse, that which is especially experienced at school from peers and adults.