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Friday, November 29, 2013

Workplace and school bullying are about power
"There have been complaints; That’s strike two; I may have to write you up." My school principal would pass me in hallways and whisper his words of intimidation.

That's how his bullying started. It ended, after a year and a half of escalating emotional abuse, with me on a medical leave diagnosed with Acute Specific Stress Disorder. 

The detrimental health consequences of workplace bullying for bullied targets are real. Studies show that emotional violence--and workplace bullying feels like an assault--actually alters DNA. It frays our telomeres. You may not know what telomeres are, but, trust me, you do not want yours frayed. 

Stress hits us hard; hits our guts with gastrointestinal disorders; hits our hearts with palpitations; hits our minds with obsessive thoughts. 

Nathan Fox, a professor of human development at the University of Maryland, co-authored a study of the effects of bullying and violence in children. Dr. Fox found that: “....stress gets 'under the skin' and into the genes." 

It's hard, then, for teachers to put together dynamic lesson plans when their jobs are in hands of district sanctioned psychopathic principals.

Why was I targeted at that school? I was targeted because I did not fit the toxic culture the principal had established there. It's that simple. I was a "half-glass-full-living" individual placed by my school district into a "half-glass-empty/abusive" norm. To survive I would have had to "fit." I did not "fit." I did not lie when, towards the end, he screamed at me to fraudulently complete official documents; I refuted his false report against a teacher (he'd named me as a “witness"); and I respectfully asked that he not call me "honey." 

I was not a "team player." Jonathan Martin of the Miami Dolphins wasn’t a “team player” either.

Bullying is all about power and not just bullies' and their followers' "power," but of all the powerful people who gave it to them. The upper echelons of companies' and school districts' and football teams' management are ultimately responsible for assuring safety for people--whether those people are 50 pound kindergarten children, 110 pound kindergarten teachers teaching those children, or 320 pound professional football players. The dynamics of bullying are the same.

There are two key pieces to preventing bullying. I call them “magic.” The first piece of the “magic” is leadership. Leadership is the framework into which the other piece of the “magic” fits. If companies, school districts, and professional football teams are led at all levels--tippy top down--by kind and respectful leaders who “live” their policies against bullying, the other piece of the magic happens. That piece is trust. If children and adults in schools, and employees in workplaces trust that they will be kept safe from emotional abuse, then more and more will stand up for others. Bullying is prevented from the top down, not from the bottom up. 

Now that truly is magical.

Contact Kim at: kimwerner@apiecefullworld.com

8:48 am est          Comments

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I am reading the Miami Herald's sports page!
Why am I so fascinated with the Miami Dolphins bullying and the team's "investigation" and its butt covering?  Because I have lived it.  Oh, yes, I have lived it.  My school district's "coaches" wanted me to "man up" and "go back on the field."  Even though they, like the Dolphins coaching staff knew about its abusive team culture,had known of my former principal's abuse of his employees for a long, long time, they turned a blind eye because that school was "winning.....:" or at least it looked liked it was winning....

Thanks Cam Cleeland for telling the truth.

"Cam Cleeland nearly lost vision in eye after hazing incident in 1998"
By Jeff Gray 

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
The retired NFL tight end, who's personal experience with the league's culture of rookie hazing permanently altered his life, recently defended Jonathan Martin and discussed his former teammate, Richie Incognito.
When former NFL tight end Cam Cleeland discusses the dangers and immorality of rookie hazing, he's speaking from experience.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the former Saint, Patriot and Ram, who nearly lost an eye in a hazing ritual during his 1998 rookie season, discussed the recent Jonathan Martin bullying scandal and defended the Miami Dolphins tackle from allegations of passivity.

"Any NFL player that gives Martin a hard time — I don't know him — but any guy who says, 'This guy should have been a tough guy, should have stood up to him,' it's BS," he said.

"I don't care if you're a good guy or not, you don't deserve that kind of treatment in any workplace. You've got to be tough. We're all tough guys. But in the end, you're still a human being."

As a rookie with the Saints, the now-retired Cleeland was subjected to a mandatory rite of passage in which first-year players were forced to pass through a gantlet of punishment from veteran teammates. He was forced to walk a hallway lined with free-swinging vets who doled out blows as the young players navigated the length of the hall with a pillowcase over their heads.

"You tried to make it through, and they literally just beat the ever-loving crap out of you as you tried to get through," he said. "Everything you can imagine, from kicking, punching, scrapping."

At the end of the gantlet, Cleeland was struck with a sock-full of coins. The blow shattered his eye socket and badly broke his nose, and he still suffers with limited vision in the eye to this day.

Cleeland, who went on to earn Pro Bowl honors and finish runner-up for Rookie of the Year behind Randy Moss that season, scoffs at the idea that Martin could have brought an end to the bullying from Richie Icognito and others by going to the coaching staff.

"This guy [Martin] was probably feeling threatened and bothered by [Incognito] from Day 1," Cleeland said. "He let it simmer and let it go and finally, instead of going to the coaches. ...

"What happens if you go to your coach and say, 'This guy's bothering me.' He's going to look at you and go, 'Are you crazy? You wuss. You're not tough. Get out of my office.' I'm not saying that's what would happen with [Dolphins Coach Joe] Philbin, because I don't know, but that's what's going to happen with 95 percent of coaches."

Cleeland shared a locker room with Icognito as a member of the St. Louis Rams toward the end of his eight-year NFL career, and doesn't have fond memories of the suspended Dolphins lineman.

"I'm not afraid to say that he was an immature, unrealistic scumbag," Cleeland said. "When it came down to it, he had no personality, he was a locker-room cancer, and he just wanted to fight everybody all the time. It was bizarre beyond belief."

9:38 am est          Comments

Friday, November 15, 2013

I am a "masculinist."

"So in light of my belief that there is an attack, assault, maybe those words are too strong, but there's something -- you know, masculinity ain't hip. Masculinity isn't cool. Metrosexual and that stuff is. Masculinity is brutish, it's predatory, it's all kinds of rotten, bad stuff, mean. The other kind of men aren't." --Rush Limbaugh

I am a "feminist," but I'm a "masculinist" too. Men, I want you to be free. I want you to feel free: liberated. Feel free to treat me and other women--men too--with respect. I want you to feel free of pressures to call me and my sisters and daughters derogatory, derisive name. I want you to liberate yourselves from cynicism. I want you and your masculine, non-eyebrow plucked comrades to feel freedom to truly love me and love my sisters and daughters.. I want you to proclaim your desire, your craving to treat us kindly. 

You don't have to be a "metrosexual" to do that.

I want you so free from societal expectations--so liberated from the rotten and mean stuff Rush Limbaugh and his friends say is masculinity--because that's what they're doing--they're making fun of people (men and women) who say: "Hey, saying you're going to 'shit in someone's mouth' smacks of at least rudeness." 

I want you to be free to say "I'm sorry. I went too far." I want you to be liberated from the brutish predatory locker room mentality of your so-called friends. 

You are so much more than that. 

So,yeah, I'm a "masculinist." I want you free. I want you to feel freedom. Burn your bras--sorry--I mean jockstraps. Come on out of the Rush Limbaugh burping, farting, football watching closet and join humanity. 

We girls need you.
9:09 pm est          Comments

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"Man Up, NFL. Man up."

Who are we as Americans? Do we help each other? Or do we look at someone who needs our help--even if that person is a 370 pound, 6'7" football player--and pretty much say: "Fend for yourself, sweetheart. Man up."

I've read that Jonathan Martin just didn't "man up." But he did! He did "man up;" for to tell the truth, to walk away, to get help, is a courageous thing to do.... Jonathan protected himself. He protected his sister. He was the only one, it seems, on "his side." I've not yet read of any coach or player outright saying that what happened to Jonathan Martin is unequivocally wrong.

Jonathan is the only one on his own side.

And who is on the other side? The power, baby. The coaches and the NFL and the team captain and team leaders.

I've been in my own "locker room" of abuse: a public school. I've been the only one on my side too. The only one. The only "insider" on my side. And who was on the other side of my having been targeted for abuse by a school principal? The power, baby. School district lawyers and superintendents and administrators and--within the school--assistant principals and counselors all holding ME accountable for not being a "team player" even though that meant lying and covering up and turning blind eyes to the principal's profanity and screaming and coercion.

It also meant sitting--just sitting in the courthouse's waiting area with the plaintiff in the law suit. There, right there...there. There he was...surrounded by district "big-whigs" all there to protect him.

There I was too. I hadn't slept for days. I'd taken time to recuperate from the health consequences of bullying and been subpoenaed by the bullied plaintiff--the irony of being a bullied educator and supporting a bullied student in a lawsuit against the school stays with me--so I wasn't recuperating much. Still, I sat with the plaintiff and her family. There were only two of the school's employees on "that" side. All others were on the packed "other side." It felt safest there.

So, yeah, I "manned up" too. "Manning up" is not easy.

Had Jonathan Martin stayed with the Dolphins and kept his mouth shut, he would have been a "team player." Had he--by all accounts a talented, smart, and sensitive man--allowed the abuse (one of the text messages said;"I'm gonna 'run train' on your sister. She loves me"), he would have been protecting an abusive culture that preys upon those perceived by the weak as weak. He did not. How about that? The bullies and their protectors and all the bystanders--and that includes the coaches--are the weak ones here. Watch them scurry to protect themselves. They're doing it now. They're protecting their unscrupulous actions and inactions with words about "manhood" and "football culture" and "manning up." They talk of family and the locker room being a "home."

Who on Jonathan's team--coach, or player or trainer--right now is defending him? Who, inside the NFL, is saying: "It's not right. It's not okay?"

Man up NFL. Just man up. Jonathan Martin already has.
11:45 am est          Comments

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Workplace and Domestic Abuse Share Characteristics
Workplace and Domestic Abuse share characteristics. The effects are long lasting. Three years later, I am beginning to understand. 

I am tired of being troubled. I am sick of being agitated. 

It's a beautiful morning. There's a chill in the air and a cat on my lap. There's a cup of coffee--fixed up just right. There are two delightful children sleeping still. There's a dedicated and loving husband flying in from Atlanta this morning.

And there is an abusive brute--my former boss-- residing inside my head.

I want him out.

I want him gone.

I'll think he's gone from time to time. I'll think he's moved on. Think he's abandoned his abusive efforts.

He hasn't. He still visits me now and again. 

During the time I worked for him; during the most appallingly awful time of my 57 years on the planet--he'd set up a small cottage in my head. Built it himself. It's well hidden. For a long while, I didn't even know he was building it.

I knew my mind's delight trees in my mind's delight forest were disappearing. But I didn't know why.

I would hear his buzz saw in my ears as I drove to work. But I didn't know what it was.

Each day at work--and then at home too, I would feel the continual jarring impact of my delight trees slamming down. My abuser was cutting them down to build his cottage in my head; one of his many "get-away" places.

At work I'd actually hear and see his ugly intimidation of those of us working for him. 

Away from work--at home--he was still in my head. In my head I would hear distant hammering as he, cursing and yelling--whistling only when he was particularly pleased with the installation of a particular torture device--assembled the cottage. 

That's how I found him there. I followed the onslaught of abusive language: "GET THE F%$# OVER HERE! WHERE DO YOU KEEP THE F%$#ING NAILS IN THIS F*&%#ING HEAD? HOW CAN YOU BE SO F%#@&ING STUPID?!"


Here's the strangest thing about abuse: I almost pulled out a buzz saw too. I almost helped him cut down my precious delight trees. 

There are many women still working there who have very few authentic delight trees left. They are victims of abuse. They are receivers of violence. They have suffered for so long that they now wield buzz saws too. 

They help the brute. They've helped him cut down their own delight trees. They squash their fragile seedlings of hope. Squash them. Grind their heels right into them.

Workplace and domestic abuse work that way. Unending abuse messes with the mind. The unending stress; the anticipation of abuse; the hopelessness that there will ever be any real help makes us do crazy things.

Makes us cut down our own delight trees. 

Makes us help our abusers build their torture chambers in our minds.

That feels nuts to those of you happily frolicking in your minds' delight forests. I used to feel the same way. I used to be perplexed at women's staying with abusive men.

"Just get out!", I would admonish abuse victims as I read of their horror. I would speak to them from my delight forest as I climbed one of many delight trees and regarded their lack of forestation. 

"What happened to their trees?", I might ponder as I turned to the next story in the newspaper. "Oh well....." I might add as I enjoyed the glorious shade of my delight tree.

Now I've put away the buzz saw. 

Now I am planting seedlings of hope in my mind. I am replacing my mind's delight trees: those trees our brute cut down so indiscriminately. 

I got out of that school. I escaped. There was no way I could have planted anything while I worked there. 

But I see--oh so clearly, dear fellow targets--that the only way I will ever get my former principal and his buzz saw out of my head for good; the only way I will tear down the cottage he's set up in my head--is to help you get him out of your head also.

So here I come. I bring precious hope seedlings. I bring soil. I hope I bring help. Lots and lots of help. 

6:39 am edt          Comments

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