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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Apathetic Adolescents—Aspiring Abusers

This past weekend my husband and I were walking on the bike path discussing the possibility of buying a new home in Hawaii. My husband is retired and I work for myself. We have a pretty amazing life, I think. As we were enjoying the fresh air and dreaming about the sunsets on the beach, three young men around 19-20 approached us and were taunting, "Good luck in retirement" like if retirement was some kind of insult. They hadn't heard our conversation so my guess is they saw that we are in our fifties and old to them. Jack Nicholson once said his mother never saw the irony in calling him a son of a bitch. Well these apathetic teenagers who are probably busboys with no real direction seem so angry that they were essentially insulting our freedom and not reflecting on their own pathetic lives. Angry people want to hurt others because they are hurting and don't want to be alone in their pain . The unhealthy emotion of anger can make people jealous, hurtful and destructive. Anger eats away at the soul turning people into ugly, apathetic and unhealthy people . Each time someone takes action with their negative thoughts to crush someone else they're tearing down their core. The sad irony is the people who are really hurting are the ones mulling the emotions around in their heads. Everything we express outwardly we impress on our psyche inwardly. We have all looked at negative people and could tell by their body language they were troubled. The irony that three pimple face boys who don't have a pot to pee in could actually view their lives as more superior. I have worked with people with abusive behavior and this is how the behavior patterns start. Batterers hate the success of other; they hate competence and need to tear people down to feel powerful. The problem though is they never really feel good because it cannot feel good to make others feel bad. They get what they want but they know they didn't get their needs met honestly. The psychological term is learned helplessness. When people have the dog-eat-dog mentality, they are fighting the world and they are often doing so alone and afraid.

If we want our kids to have resiliency and healthy interpersonal behaviors role model to them how to love themselves and those around them. Adolescence is often a time for discovery but if what they learn about themselves is nasty, mean and hateful they'll become insulting, disrespectful and apathetic abusers. As they mature, or should I say immature, they will only find pain in their future. Teach then compassion and how to get their needs met the right way so they don't have to hurt others to be seen and heard. There's a difference between having power and being empowered. Give them the wisdom to know the difference.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Normalizing Violence & Unhealthy Behaviors

The NFL not only endorses their players to perform on the field but they also condone their bad behavior off the field by overlooking serious predictive signs of future violence. Here was a clear-cut opportunity to help a young man brighten his potential for healthier living. Not with money or prestige but with interpersonal success. Infants are not born violent they learn it through social tolerance, reward and lack of consequences. Given this fact, we need to play this out. Generational learning is most likely the culprit for the behaviors both Clark and Diamond experienced as a couple. The adults and mentors in their lives most likely demonstrated that it’s okay to hurt of be hurt by someone you love.

Diamond Hurt indicated that her siblings were not involved in the domestic violence Frank Clark perpetrated against her, yet sources state the kids ran for help crying out, “He killed Diamond.” Children are literal and when they see someone being choked and knocked out, it’s easy to conclude that someone is dead; and, that one experience has lasting and devastating consequences. These young children are forever changed as a result of one drunken night when a professional football player felt justified to hurt another person in front of children. What he did wasn’t just domestic violence; it was family violence. His one moment of indiscretion changed the future of these children. In many states when someone inflicts violence against another person in front of kids, they are charged with child abuse and mandated into treatment. Unfortunately, we’ve made getting help a bad thing. Instead of trying to figure out who’s guilty let’s figure out how to make these families whole. My experience shows that at least 40% of convicted abusers were actually victims and since the “guilty” party is mandated into therapy, the real violator walks free. My grandfather once told me when something happened he’d consequence all eight of his kids because he didn’t have time to figure out who was wrong. He would say this way he knew he got the right one. In most cases of domestic violence regardless of who is charged, the relationship continues and sadly they maintain the status quo because when nothing changes, nothing changes.

If we want to see change, everyone in the family needs treatment. They’re called relationships. The litmus test is that when two people are together as two halves, do they make a whole or a hole? Are they left feeling completed or defeated? Without the information necessary to make informed choices, people don’t know what they don’t know. They can’t improve their relationships until each person acknowledges their part in the dysfunction. Frank Clark has potential on and off the field if his new team does the intervention necessary for him to recover. Clark and Hurt both need replacement skills to learn to communicate and operate differently. The children who witnessed this event will need help processing the trauma they experienced before they adopt the behaviors as normal. We have to break the cycle of intergenerational violence that’s being modeled and show families how to live well. We could eradicate violence simply by promoting healthy alternatives. Everyone would benefit from addressing how to make this right rather than focusing on being right. Let’s change the playbook and strive toward healthy outcomes. Football players and other professional athletes should be held to a higher standard because of their immense power to influence our youth. Let’s look at domestic violence training as an opportunity rather than a punishment. Let’s get everyone involved in the dysfunctional relationship, involved in treatment. This way they can make informed decisions based on their newfound knowledge. A college education isn’t considered a punishment; on-the-job training is not considered a punishment; and getting help to live well shouldn’t be either. I’m asking Roger Goodell to campaign for a cause—Healthy Habits, Happy Homes. 

To learn more called 303.696.SAFE(7233).

Domestic Violence & Professional Football Players: First time a player hits a woman shame on him; second time he abuses her shame of the NFL

Domestic Violence & Professional Football Players: First time a player hits a woman shame on him; second time he abuses her shame of the NFL

After last year’s fiascos when Ray Rice was captured on video brutally assaulting his then girlfriend and pictures of Adrian Peterson’s son with flogging stripes covering his tiny little body, the public became incensed. It seemed the NFL was finally taking a stance and making families the priority. Roger Goodell admitted they didn’t get it right. He stood up and promised to make changes to ensure the safety of women and children. Now that there’s been time for the dust to settle, the Seattle Seahawks make headlines by drafting Frank Clark last week knowing he has potential for further violence. In countless articles, Clark has been reported, as having persistent disorderly conduct, being intoxicated while assaulting Hurt and he pled guilty for a home invasions yet these behaviors weren’t enough to warrant "Conduct unbecoming of a professional athlete." Photographs illustrate the extent of damage he inflicted upon Diamond Hurt where he left her battered and bruised yet the Seahawks are openly embracing their new star without any intervention. They are unwittingly glamorizing abuse—making violence against women and children socially acceptable. 

Professional sports at one time demonstrated integrity and represented what real men were Athletes served as role models for our young boys to aspire to be someday. The message being sent perfectly clear to our youth is that money and talent out trump social expectations and that players don’t have to follow basic fundamental rules. Interpersonal violence is a grooming process where abusive behaviors become habits. Frank Clark isn’t necessarily a bad person but he does at a minimum have unhealthy interpersonal skills. He needs help. I work with families in recovery from violence and ironically when they are given replacement skills they use them. This young man needs education and training. He needs to be reinforced that he has a responsibility to our youth. He needs to take ownership of what he has done and work toward never violating anyone else ever again. And lastly, the NFL needs to step in and say this is not okay. Players show up for practice so they don’t get cut from the team; they don’t spit on refs because they know they aren’t allowed to. Domestic violence ONLY happens because nobody is stopping it. We have a unique opportunity to build this young man in a healthier direction. We teach players how to take timeouts during games but not off the field. This is an injustice—a wrong we can make right. Stay tune for my next blog!