Saturday, May 11, 2013

Military Leaders Wrong-headed Victim Blaming

Unwanted sexual contact, sometimes merely an intentional physical brushing up against another soldier, is up 35% in the military over the past two years. It has always been a problem, as is more obvious sexual assault, and top brass have always known about it.

Case in point, the forty year plus tradition of the Naval Association Tailhook convention. The purpose of the annual convention turned "party/drunken brawl" is to learn new aviation techniques. But it becomes a morass of drunken aviators and naval officers, and the worst, in 1991, in the Las Vegas Hilton, saw scores of male naval officers convicted for the sexual assault of 26 women, 21 of whom were officers.
The Tailhook Scandal


Following that convention, Naval Admiral Frank Kelso (who was there) did his best to suggest zero tolerance for sexual assault in the military, and at the same time squelch the investigation.  George Bush accepted the Secretary of the Navy H. Lawrence Garrett III's resignation without regret for mishandling the affair. The story, The Mother of All Hooks: The Story of the US Navy's Tailhook Scandal is about 500 pages of testimony and tale, perfect documentary Oscar-award winning material.

Now we hear from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh at the Senate Armed Services Committee mistakenly associating consensual teenage sexual behavior with the rise in sexual assault in the military. Welsh failed to communicate that sexual assault is a failure to ask permission for the favor of sexual contact. Communication is everything, especially when we speak of sensitive topics like this.

Here's what he said. Parenthetic italics, our additions:

“It’s a big problem for our nation. It may be as big or bigger elsewhere. . . . Roughly 20 percent of the young women who come into the Department of Defense and the Air Force report that they were sexually assaulted in some way before they came into the military (consistent with the general population) . So they come in from a society where this occurs (he is talking about sexual assault). Some of it is the hook-up mentality of junior high, even, and high school students now. . . . (This is only correct in that there is pervasive acquaintance rape, and his use of "hook up" is a mis-use of the term that implies consensual sex.) The same demographic group moves into the military.
“We have got to change the culture once they arrive. The way they behave, the way they treat each other cannot be outside the bounds of what we consider inclusive and respectful.”
 He has it right, the military has to foster an inclusive and respectful culture. At the same time, that the object of his speech is that 20 percent of young women who bring to their adult lives in the military a history of sexual abuse, indicates he blames them in some way. They somehow encourage it. After all, they "hook up."
Language is everything. And when you are top brass, what you say is representative of the thinking of the entire military, the country. A blooper like this, and we wonder if the lessons of Tailhook were lost, need revisiting. 
Sexual assault, sexual harassment, make up a continuum of violence. None of it has to do with sexual history of the victim, or the permissive culture of our high schools, or the culture of a traditionally drunken convention. It is all about consent--the lack thereof. 
What we have now, what is happening internationally, finally, is a revolt against the tolerance of sexual assault. In India the rape of a 5-year old girl, a gang rape of a student on a bus, and another of a 23-year-old woman dragged from her home, jarred the country as women take to the streets in protest. This is a revolt against the cover-up of sexual assault, even in political arenas and countries that once overlooked it, subtly even condoned the sexploitation of women, children, and even men. 
So General Welsh, time to revise your statement, if you haven't yet. Women who want to enlist in the United States Armed Forces need to know that you know that they are not to blame when they are over-powered, when they are hurt. 
It is ironic that the media glorifies these same women in uniform when they return from their tours of duty. The hearts of women in a country at war, fighting, side by side with other soldiers.
You bet.

Linda Freedman, MSW, PhD, LCSW, LMFT

Friday, May 3, 2013

Intimidation and High School Kids

Adolescents are sometimes thought to be exaggerations of petulant children who may have deep thoughts but are driven, for the most part, by hormones--a dangerous combination.

In Columbus, Ohio, a jury is reviewing evidence to see if two teens broke laws by tweeting intimidating threats after the Steubenville football players, Ma'Lik Richmond and Trent Mays were charged with raping a 16 year old girl.

After Ma'Lik's conviction and two year sentence in juvenile prison, his cousin tweeted:  You ripped my family apart!

The other threatened the victim with bodily harm.

Charges of intimidation of a witness and aggravated menacing were dropped and the two 16-year-olds admitted to a single misdemeanor charge of telecommunications harassment and received six months' probation, said Sara Gasser, an attorney for one of the girls.

Worse, the investigators have to determine if coaches and teachers covered up the rape.

What are we to make of this?  Depends who you ask.

Some would say that teens are learning to value winning more than justice.
We could also say that persons of influence, coaches, teachers, parents, should be more involved with what is going on in the heads (and on the phones) of their kids.
Psychologically oriented types might say that intimidation is one way of making us feel more powerful, putting someone down to feel bigger.
We would also suggest that when there is violence in the family it will likely bleed to the world beyond, to the school, to the workplace. Not that we're casting aspersions here. But it happens. Respect for women, respect for men, respect for one's self is learned in the home, first and foremost.

That would be a good start.

Linda Freedman, MSW, PhD, LCSW, LMFT

Monday, April 8, 2013

Key Words



Glossary



© like everything else on this website, definitions are copyright 2011- Linda Freedman, PhD

Anonymity—the omniscience associated with Internet relationships; the opportunity to mask one’s identity or impersonate.  Anonymity emboldens predators who seek personal gain or sexual relationships via electronic communication. 

Behaviorally green®a work or school environment free from relationship-violence.

Bullying—a type of relationship abuse characterized by exclusion, physical attacks, and/or  name-calling.  On-line, it is called Cyber Bullying.  Adults are victims of Cyber Stalking

Coercionby virtue of authority, one person is able to convince, persuade, or blackmail another into behaving in ways that hurt or shame, an abuse of power.  Coercion is associated with holding rewards in abeyance for lack of compliance to morally disagreeable acts, firing, hiring, withholding wages or advancement, and negative evaluations, grades, or job reviews. 

Empathy— having the ability to feel the feelings of others, or at least recognizing the feelings of others intellectually.

Gaming, media, and social network addictions— addiction is implied when productivity or learning is impaired, and when other relationships outside the social network or game suffer.  Research that grades and work performance is impaired by the compulsion to play or to network indicates developmental delay associated with withdrawal from the “real world” and responsibility.

Hazing-- a form of bullying and harassment, often an initiation rite for a fraternity or a sports team. Being able to tolerate hazing signifies worthiness for acceptance into the club. 
Hostile environment—a work, school, or play atmosphere characterized by threats and disrespect, fear of retaliation for refusing to participate in sexual demands.  A hostile environment can be defined by upsetting sexual or racial/ethnic communication.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 entitles workers and student to emotional safety at school and work, a respectful environment. (read more)  MAG,add the rest of the definitions any way you want, obviously.  I threw in Read More because that’s what I see everywhere.
Informed consent—sexual relationships, even some those that may seem consensual, are not always legal.   Informed consent , a legal term, implies that the persons who agree to relations are not impaired by substances, are not impaired mentally, and are of majority age.
Internet predators—thought to be individuals who troll (search) the Internet for psychologically vulnerable people, maybe children, but also trusting people who need friends.  The predator develops a relationship, usually through a social networking site, and grooms it to obtain sexual favors or financial gain, i.e., money or pornography.
Litigation — the threat of law suits and damages is always inherent when corporate, team, civil, or school social rules, rules that are not work related are scoffed, when individuals cross psychological, sexual, or physical boundaries.
Pedophilia—a mental disorder, a paraphilia, according to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental and Behavioral Disorders-IV-TR (DSM-IV-TR, 2000).  Pedophilia is defined as having a sexual preference for prepubescent children.  That preference is manifested in persistent and recurrent thoughts, fantasies, urges, sexual arousal, or behavior.
Pornography and sexual exploitation—Internet predators seek out and groom teenagers, but also children and adults to supply an ever-growing demand for media and photographs with sexual content.  Because some targets are not old enough to provide informed consent, teens and prepubescent children are vulnerable to sexual exploitation, and ultimately, even sex addictions.
Position of authority – anyone who has the power to influence decisions by virtue of age, position, or rank.  Being in a position of authority enables people to exert unfair influence, to exploit those who are in subdominant roles, breaching what should be trust.  
Protected classes — legal designated “classes” include biological sex, age, ethnicity, race, disability, religion, national origin, or sexual identification.   The spirit behind the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is that everyone should be treated the same at work and at school.  The protected classes also include other groups, i.e., veterans.  Amendments that vary from state to state.
Relationship system— we start with one system, ourselves (made of many biological systems) and add family, partners, friends, people and institutions in the community, work colleagues and administrators, and find that we are a part of several of networks, or systems of relationships.
Sensitivity- being aware that others may not have your sense of humor and might feel badly about what you say to them and refraining from it. We are sometimes wired this way, to be sensitive but sometimes we become this way because of the context of our families. This is about being sensitive to the sensitivities of others.
Sex addiction— an obsession with sexual gratification or sexual behavior.  Exposure to pornography at a young age seems to be associated with obsessive thoughts about sex that don’t disappear with growth and development.  Many think that sex addictions begin very young, probably due to experience with sexual abuse, or exposure to pornography.
Sexting—sending photographs or videos with sexual content over electronic media, i.e., cell phones and computers.  These are easily copied and disseminated, causing shame, embarrassment, and psychological distress for victims.  
Sexual harassment – (also see unwanted sexual communication and hostile environment)  On the scale of sexual assault, sexual harassment is often less physical, more often with words and pictures.  It is always emotionally upsetting and psychologically invasive if not physically aggressive.  The mere suggestion of desired sexual behavior or a body part might be sexual harassment, especially if it is repeated and disturbing.   Examples:
sexual joke about someone’s sexual behavior, perhaps where that person slept the night before.  Patting someone, touching, even gently, and saying something about a body part, when the touch and the comment are unwanted.  Publicly saying things like:
I really put it to her! 
Even privately saying:  I want some of what you’ve got. 
Suggesting:  Go out with me, or you might just lose your job.
Social Intelligence  knowing when behavior or words will stress someone or will make them happy.  It is also referred to as a social or emotional IQ, and having empathy, feeling the feelings of others.
Social skill—a having a behavioral repertoire that makes others comfortable in social situations.  Socially skilled individuals usually have the ability to feel the feelings of others, but don’t always.
Unwelcome sexual communication— a wide spectrum of undesired communication, i.e., sharing and sending unsolicited pornography, leering, stalking, coercion for sex, threatening job loss, unwanted touch, making offensive jokes. 
Verbal abuse – more than a spouse calling another spouse a bad name, or making a sarcastic comment.  It is more than calling an employee stupid or incompetent.  It is even more than calling a player a disgrace.  (link “player a disgrace” to Team Wise). 
 It is also verbal abuse to threaten, to intimidate, scare, or coerce.  Whenever words convey something negative, whenever they directly insult or imply someone is deficient in a mean way, the interaction might be considered verbally abusive, a form or relationship violence.  These are allbuzz words for harassment litigation.  

Linda Freedman, MSW, PhD, LCSW, LMFT

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sensitivity

It is assumed that corporations considered work-friendly have trained managers about sexual harassment, and that schools provide workshops for teachers.

Workshops tend to be about the law, which can be harsh, and employee handbooks, how to communicate the wisdom behind the laws to employees so that they don't cross them.

The active ingredient in the workshops that work is engaging participants, somehow making it so interesting, so accessible, that they want to talk. But who is willing to talk about harassing anyone?  Or having been harassed?  Work isn't an encounter group. It isn't where we need to go to get therapy.

So the better workshop is about every day situations, what we might call, every day miss-steps. Because like those statistics, every five minutes someone is being raped, every ten seconds someone is being beat, probably every day people somebody is putting a foot in a mouth.

Call it sensitivity training, call it empathy training. Whatever you call it, it is about watching what we say.  SO not easy.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ethnic Slurs

It is astounding how many there are, and we considered sharing them here but all anyone has to do to find an exhaustive list is google it. Or look here

The only reason we bring it up is that people inadvertently use ethnic slurs and upset other people. They may seem funny, but seeming isn't believing. So sometimes it is worth it to go over the list, discuss words with friends, and make a point to tell others, especially kids-- hey, this is not cool.

Linda Freedman, MSW, PhD, LCSW, LMFT

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

James Eganl Holmes, aka the Joker

That a brilliant student would make a dramatic shift, amass weapons and perpetrate a massacre at a movie theater-- sounds much too much like the plot of an adventure film.  But we know it is the truth, the scientist seemingly turned mad.

Or is he a criminal?  The media certainly seems ready to execute him.  Yet we know that Student Services at the university he attended flagged him as a potential danger.  A psychiatrist treated him and he sent her a present, a package with drawings of a shooter and his victims. Perhaps the doctor asked him to draw out the things going on in his head.

He might have been hospitalized, had he not dropped out of school, fallen between the cracks.  It shouldn't have happened, and yet, probably others, not only his psychiatrist knew that he had violent thoughts.  Why didn't anyone stop him?

That's a very good question.  Clearly the answer is mandatory psycho-education about violence and mental illness.

Read this blogger's take on it for more.  James Egan Holmes


Linda Freedman, MSW, PhD, LCSW, LMFT

Another shooting at school

First day!  Not what we expect to hear, that a teenager brings a gun to school and a bottle of vodka and opens fire in the school cafeteria.

But it is happening, and it did happen in Perry Hall, Maryland.


Robert Wayne Gladden Jr. was being held without bail on charges of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault, Baltimore County police said. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Sept. 7. The state's attorney's office did not know if he had a lawyer.Gladden's last status update on his Facebook page, posted the morning of the shooting, read: "First day of school, last day of my life. ... f--- the world."

What can we do about it?  The young man had warned his friends on Facebook, and yet, nobody called his parents.  Not one "friend" stopped him from his rampage.  His father tells us that he was bullied.

Anti-bullying workshops are popping up everywhere, but clearly are not universal.  Nor are psycho-educational efforts like those that Relationship-Wise, Inc. puts out, School Wise division.  We're hoping to see more of these, and less violence.

Linda Freedman

Monday, June 25, 2012

Jerry Sandusky and His Family

It has to be an oversight that Penn State missed a pedophile among the hundreds, no thousands of people working for the school.  On the other hand, he had a supervisor.  Everyone has one in a sprawling state school, someone is responsible for the actions of someone else in that tier below.

Penn fired beloved coach Joe Paterno, and others, too, for failing to stop Jerry Sandusky.  Mr. Paterno passed away, a nation grieved (certainly a state and a university), and the rest of us are left wondering how the winning head coach could not have known, and if he did, why didn't he send his friend to the locker room for good. (Perhaps a bad choice of words).

We would have preferred that someone sent Jerry Sandusky for help, but help becomes a criminal investigation when it comes to pedophilia. This is the terrible double-bind that loved ones face.  Blow the whistle and the head of the family, sometimes the sole support, is sending a perpetrator to trial.

So no, of course Mrs. Sandusky kept it quiet, refused to expose Jerry as a rapist of children, assuming she knew about her husband's unpleasant, disturbing sexual habits, and how could she not?  She didn't talk because she knew that he will likely either kill himself in prison or be killed.  And yet, it caught up with him, her denial, his denial, the denial of a university.

He should have been evaluated so many years ago, even if he did spend time in prison, and it is possible he would have avoided that, working for a prestigious school under prestigious coaches.  He could have been  treated, watched by authorities, denied access to working with children. He had a charity called The Second Mile.  He could have started a Second Life.

Now we'll just wait for the next episode, some new scandal or new information about Sandusky.  Hopefully a movie, maybe one about the Sandusky family.  That's the kind of exposure that exposes this problem, encourages people to report early, as soon as there's suspicion. 

Do schools need a better understanding of this problem?  As the kids like to say, "Do ya' think?"


Linda Freedman, PhD, LCSW, LMFT

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Secret Service and the Prostitutes

Mark Sullivan, Director of the United States Secret Service, believes that what happened in Cartagen (Columbia) last April, twelve secret service agents caught with their pants down, is an isolated event.  He insists it is not a systematic, cultural issue. Dumbfounded is the word he uses about hearing the story for the first time.


For us, that he would be dumbfounded, is the hardest part to believe.

What's that mean, anyway, a systematic, cultural issue?

Systematic, in research, indicates that an event repeats, often, under predictable circumstances.  Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, noted the agents used their own names when signing in prostitutes as overnight guests in their hotel rooms. Senator Collins thought that had this been an isolated event, then the agents would have feared exposure, would never have used their own names registering at the hotel. 

But they didn't seem to worry about a thing, visited several night clubs and strip bars, and brought home the known prostitutes, who registered under their own names, too.

That they feared nothing is an indication that they had done this so many times before, they learned there was nothing to fear.  They knew there would be no discipline.  There's that repetition thing.

The cultural issue would be a description of how a system responds to variants of behavioral norms.  No discipline, laxity, tolerance of behavior unbecoming to the protectors of the President of the United States, should be a variant of executive branch culture.  But since such behavior is tolerated, it is the cultural norm.

What is egregious about this lack of discipline, tolerance of sexual promiscuity and alcohol indulgence to the degree that it impairs decision-making, is that as sworn public servants, these men should know the circumstances that contribute to compromising the success of their mission in foreign lands.

This is why so many are upset with a culture tolerant of systematic promiscuous behavior.  It isn't because we're such prudes.


Step down, Mr. Sullivan.  The job market isn't that tight that the country can't replace you. As should the twelve agents implicated in the scandal.

And the new hires?  Something tells us they won't repeat the mistakes of their predecessors. 

We'll be glad to discuss the science of systems and dysfunctional culture with members of the Executive Branch, and the Legislative and Judicial branches, as well.  The objective of our workshops (Safe Service division of Relationship-Wise, Inc.) is clarity of thinking, and the essence of representation-- even on road trips.  It is not as easy as people might think.  Just ask Mr. Sullivan.

Linda Freedman, PhD



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pedophilia and Sandusky

There will inevitably be accusations that Jerry Sandusky is a pedophile.  But being a pedophile isn't a crime.  Sexually offending against children-- molesting, fondling, any form of sexual touch, intercourse, child pornography, the range is vast-- is criminal, all over the world.  Sexually desiring children is not.

A sexual preference for children, pedophilia is a disorder, according to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental and Behavioral Disorders-IV-TR (DSM-IV-TR, 2000).  Pedophilia is defined as having a sexual preference for prepubescent children.  That preference is manifested in persistent and recurrent thoughts, fantasies, urges, sexual arousal, or behavior.

The DSM is a manual of the mental and behavioral disorders, not crimes.

Probably because we are so afraid of people being turned on by our children, and we're terrified of childhood sexual abuse, the association of desire and criminal behavior has become a foregone conclusion in the minds of the American people.  And because of this naive conclusion, it is hard to find those with sexual desires for children who never act upon them.  The actual epidemiology of pedophilia, the prevalence, is total guess work.  We can't find those afflicted by it who have never acted upon their desires.  But we know they are out there because they respond, anonymously, in empirical research investigations, surveys.  Not knowing who they are, it is hard to study them.*

We can find sex offenders, of course, people who have been arrested for having sexual contact with children. It is estimated that only 30-50% of sexual crimes against children are committed by pedophiles.  The rest of these sexual offenders have other issues, perhaps anger, sociopathy, or sexual disinhibition under the influence of alcohol and other substances.

Pedophilia is a sexual orientation, like heterosexuality or homosexuality.  The difference is having more or less mature sexual preferences.  Heterosexuality indicates a sexual preference for members of the opposite biological sex. Homosexuality indicates a sexual preference for members of the same biological sex. Neither is associated with predominant sexual desire for children, and neither is pathological or illegal.

But pedophilia, having persistent sexual desires, preferences for children, is considered a disorder. And like homosexuality and homosexuality, it is not a crime.

Because Mr. Sandusky can't say loudly enough how much he loves children, how much he adores them and loves being with them, even wishes he never had to leave childhood (see reference to his biography in the post below), having the context of sex abuse allegation, it is hard to see him as normal, not a pedophile. Whether or not that's true will come out in psychiatric examination, we hope. If the accusations against him are validated, he will be considered a child sex offender, if not a pedophile.Or both.

The point of differentiating, even with Jerry Sandusky, is that it isn't fair, lumping the two together, child sex offender and pedophile.  Having persistent desires for children, yet refraining from acting upon them is praise-worthy, extremely laudable.  We need to hear from people who don't act out their sexual desire for children, they need to be teaching others, telling it like it is, that sexual contact with children isn't right, and it doesn't have to happen.

It is when one has desires and can't refrain from acting upon them that societal controls, social sanctions, punitive measures, are needed.  And yes, public humiliation, inevitable.  Even, we think, appropriate.

Linda Freedman, PhD, LCSW, LMFT

My thanks to Michael C. Seto (Pedophilia and Sexual Offending Against Children, 2008) who worked for 15 years to sort through, analyze, and disseminate what we know about pedophilia and sexual offending against children today. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Penn State and the Privilege of Being an Athlete

It's not at all a new story.  We've been talking about it for over over a decade, the privilege of being an athlete.  When an ordinary student on campus brawls anywhere-- on campus or off-- breaks a bar stool over a head, perhaps,  that student is suspended or disciplined, maybe expelled.  There might even be civil charges.

To meet the same disciplinary standards, an athlete on campus, a hero, has to kill someone. Think University of Virginia lacrosse star George Huguely,  who is accused of shaking his girlfriend Yeardley Love, bashing her head against the wall.  Yeardley, a young woman with so much goodness, so much potential, died in an early morning conflict in her apartment; it's been said to have been a quarrel about breaking up. 

Huguely had been disciplined previously by the school, and ordered to alcohol rehab, but none of it sunk in, and he kept playing, we're pretty sure. He's in jail now, awaiting trial for beating Yeardley, for leaving her to die.

That story, and many stories about interpersonal violence, is very much about alcohol abuse, a transgenerational problem.  George Huguely's father, George Wesley Huguely IV, is currently charged with a DUI.  Alcohol abuse is the enemy when it comes to relationship violence, it's worth noting.  It is invariably associated with accidental death in group statistics.

The latest is that Joe Paterno protected his ball players from academic disciplinary measures and suspension. In 2007, two dozen football players broke into an apartment and violently bashed heads with broken bottles.  Dr. Triponi, Vice President of Student Affairs, complained that the players weren't cooperating in the investigation. In a meeting with Paterno, University President Spanier, and others, she was told that it would ruin team cohesion if the players testified against each other.

No one missed a game.  Paterno's version of discipline for head bashing? The team takes responsibility for cleaning the football stadium after a game.

Any one of us would be tried, fined, jailed. Something. Accused of other campus rule infractions in the past, Mr. Paterno forced players to train to exhaustion, run.  It is a military model.  A hundred and fifty pushups for scowling, more for smarting off.

Ms. Triponey resigned, couldn't be a part of an institution that relegated privilege to student athletes.

Obviously the sex abuse scandal that put Penn in the spot light, the cover-up, the very thought of Jerry Sandusky raping young children in campus locker rooms, disgusts and appalls.  That investigation will go back to 1975, as it should. Assuming Sandusky is found guilty, the 1.7 billion dollar Penn State endowment, a haul to the credit of football supportive alumni, will feel the pinch, much as the Catholic church is feeling the pinch for sexual assaulting clergy.

But it is just a pinch.  The only good thing about the scandal is that the other issues, this one about privilege, are in the public consciousness.

It is a privilege to represent a university or a college in any capacity.  Despite the thinking, each and everyone of us is replaceable.  When the behavior of one, especially the behavior many, demeans the honor of an institution, it can't be tolerated, can't be swept under the rug. One thing about the Internet. There are no rugs big enough anymore.

We impeach presidents in this country for lesser crimes. Let's see if team cohesiveness, if team performance, actually does suffer when teammates, even coaches, are held accountable for breaking the law. It's not a proven hypothesis by any means.

Linda Freedman, PhD, LCSW, LMFT

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sexual Abuse of Olympic Athletes: Under 18

Gymnastics is a sexy sport.  But they all are.  Every sport is sexy.  Rigorous study of Canadian Olympic athletes reveals that children are easy to exploit.  They are handed over to charismatic coaches-- willingly-- by their parents to train for the gold. 

Now, apparently, we have this here in the United States.   This game is as old as the sport, unfortunately, no matter which one.

Don Peters, a U.S. gymnastics coach, resigned Tuesday following allegations of sexual and physical abuse of minors dating as far back as the 1980's.  The statute of limitations has run out for Mr. Peters, but now, you can be sure, other stories, more crimes like his will surface.  Already two other Olympic gymnastics coaches have been dismissed from their positions, Doug Boger and Michael Zapp.  We shudder to think about it.

Team Wise, a division of Relationship-Wise, Inc., launched in 2009 with this in mind, that children are vulnerable, as are women in sports, and men, too.  Athletes are often perpetrators of sexual assault (studies on college campuses find their acquaintance rape statistics higher than any other group, except, perhaps fraternity men).  But young athletes are vulnerable to that assault.  Players grow up to be coaches, and coaches are in positions of authority, power.  They coerce, seduce, and they have time.

It is up to parents to communicate well with their children about dangers facing them in their chosen avocation and profession.  Losing is the least of a child's worries when he or she leaves home to become a hero, a competitor.  Athletes are attractive.

And it is surely up to the institution that hires, be it a corporation, a club, a school, a not-for-profit, a team, whoever is in that position, to be sure that excellence in athletics doesn't compromise ethics off the field, outside the gymnasium, in the locker room.  Young people who compete travel.  They live in hotels.

How it happens isn't a mystery.  That it still happens, systematically, all over the world and in America, in our enlightened era, 2011, when the rights of animals, even whales are protected, is the travesty.  It has to stop.

Linda Freedman, PhD

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Imposter Scams Women Out of Money

Stephan Pittman (33) is charged with first degree fraud, for impersonating a football star, Vince Young.  He told people that he played for the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Pittman is a registered sex offender. 

He conned at least one Washington, D.C. woman into giving him$2500 dollars.  He told her the money goes to buying things like hoola hoops and bikes for D.C. kids.  Young's real agent spotted Pittman doing this at charity events and exposed him. 

Vince Young is thrilled about the arrest.  The men are the same height and weight. 

The lesson to be learned might be, even the stars can be victims.

But consumers, especially, need to beware of con artists.  Pittman's neighbors were shocked.  He apparently conned them, too.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Porchlight Counseling Services

Porchlight Counseling Services is one of the better kept secrets in Evanston, Illinois, a social service agency for college students who have suffered sexual assault.

The mission? Turn victims into survivors.

 

WGN-TV is airing the story at 9 p.m.

Sept. 7.

 

The agency is tucked in a little house in a bucolic suburb.  You would never know there is healing and wholeness going on inside.

Tonight WGN will interview Anne Bent,  founder and board president, an inspiration to all who know her.  Anne has been working for years for the successful fruition of this project.

The story also features Amy, a Porchlight client assaulted after being drugged (fairly standard) in college.  Her story is powerful.

Watch the video below for more on Porchlight, or visit their website.



For more about Porchlight Counseling Services, click here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Prosecution of Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Therapy

A grand jury indicted Dominique Strauss-Kahn last May over allegations that he had sexually assaulted a Sofital Hotel housekeeper.  Few people doubt that Nafissatou Diallo performed some kind of sexual act in the guest's hotel room that evening in New York.

A judge has finally dismissed the charges. Rape charges, you should know, rarely hold up in court.

Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, made the move to dismiss the case because he believed his client, Ms. Diallo could not be trusted as a witness.  She had lied about so many things that it was difficult to believe anything she said, hard to tell fact from fiction. She reported, for example, being gang-raped by soldiers in her native country, then, recanted. Never mind.  We would call one of those a whoppers.

Mr. Vance is saying that his client is devastated, has been crying all night, and that it is only because Mr. Strauss-Kahn is rich and powerful that the charges had to be dropped. If Strauss-Kahn drove a bus, Diallo would have a fair trial. 

We disagree, not with that history of deception, but nobody asked us.  And in this country, the rich and powerful do go to jail.  Sometimes. Illinois has incarcerated three ex-governors: Otto Kerner, Dan Walker, and George Ryan.  Governors swing some power, but not enough when they break the law to escape successful proscecution.

Strauss-Kahn is the former head of the International Monetary Fund and is known in France as a womanizer.  It is easy to see how he might be easily framed for rape.

The story about a sexual attack, Nafissatou Diallois accusing  the head of International Monetary Fund, is really about proof, not truth, according to Jeffrey Toobin, senior CNN legal analyst. 

Nafissatou Diallois's lawyer, Cyrus Vance, believes she was raped, but that her credibility has been compromised.  Too many mistakes under pressure, too many mis-truths about the chronology of events, and then, those whoppers.   Vance believes that in a jury trial, Benjamin Brafman, Strauss-Kahn's defense attorney, will tear his client apart. 

Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin reminds us that the object of the defense is just that, to poke holes in the prosecution's case.  It is the task of the prosecutor to build that case.  Journalists, he suggests, get at the truth.  Lawyers are there to poke the holes, discredit witnesses.

In other words, it is up to Ms. Diallo's lawyer to present her story, to make her narrative sing, to make it believable.  It is what therapists accomplish every day, with every patient, encourage an honest narrative.  Patients tell a story, their life story, and it unfolds slowly, over days, sometimes weeks, in a context that is quiet, accepting, and free of judgement.  Telling the story is liberating, takes away the pain, at least some of it, anesthetizes.  Leave it here, with me, we say.  We take raw material, what hurts, and add oil.

Very few people ever lie in good therapy. 

Maybe before anyone interviews a victim of a felony, or a crime, certainly one that is high profile, surely every one of them that involves an alleged sexual assault, the precinct psychiatrist should do the questioning first.  Reduce the anxiety, eliminate the lies.  Sort out the truth before it goes public and discredits the victim.

Linda Freedman, PhD, LCSW, LMFT

Sunday, August 21, 2011

College Rape Accusations and the Presumption of Male Guilt


About this time of year many educators are encouraging new students to please, please, go to student orientation on campus. Skip the bars for a couple of hours and learn something that will matter.  Attend a sexual assault workshop.  Know the definition of informed consent. Don't take it for granted that what you do on a date won't come back to haunt you.

And then there are people like Peter Berkowitz bemoaning that schools literally legislate what students should think and say. These rules, originally there to combat sex discrimination, are direct from the federal government. Schools that benefit from federal funding (i.e., almost all of them) must comply to the statutes and amendments of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. Institutions receiving federal funding must: (1) educate both students and teachers about the law;
(2) report all incidences of known sexual assault on campus to the U.S. Department of Education; and (3) adjudicate complaints.

Mr. Berkowitz believes that the campus adjudication process unfairly favors the victim, unjustly leads to the expulsion of the perpetrator. Ruins his life.

Interesting to those of us who see the victims in therapy, when they should be in school. They are young men and women who have dropped out, who never even thought to tell over their experiences as rape victims, not to the schools, certainly, not even to parents or friends. They dropped out, dropped off the map. Just couldn't concentrate, you know.

But unfair, unjust things happen to young perpetrators of acquaintance rape, don't you know, because, according to Mr. Berkowitz,
On campus, where casual sex is celebrated and is frequently fueled by alcohol, the ambiguity that often attends sexual encounters is heightened and the risk of error in rape cases is increased.
Well yes, if they're not up to speed. Getting there is the point of the workshops Berkowitz feels are so intrusive, so likely to hamstring free thought, this illiberal education the kids are getting these days, the one about sexual violence. Oh, dear. Perhaps we shouldn't teach them to look both ways crossing the streets, either, or not to shoot people, to obey walk signs. All restrictions of freedoms.

Mr. Berkowitz believes that when schools try the accused, that guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard of civil jurisprudence, is diluted, replaced by the preponderance of evidence standard.

That may be true. But my understanding is different (the picture above with all those book, represents some of my understanding).

Procedures vary from school to school. In many schools the jury is a board composed of peers, or students who are impartial, and the accused and the one accusing, have a say in its composition. Rarely is a young man who has committed acquaintance rape and been through the process expelled. Rather, he learns definitions, laws. He is changed for the better, more empathetic. He has had a little sorely needed psychotherapy, and found that it didn't hurt, and to preserve his future and his self-respect, is sure to restrain himself the next time.

Poor guy. Doesn't even realize he's suffered an illiberal education!

Well before school begins, to add insult to injury, all incoming students receive student handbooks in the mail, or are encouraged to read them online. Their parents are encouraged, even psychologically pressured, to read the handbook (talk about riling up our founding fathers), as well. And these very same parents are encouraged to reinforce the rules of the institution. Should students break certain rules, i.e., commit felonies, they might be asked to leave.

Sexual assault orientation is generally conducted by students, themselves young people familiar with the matter. They reinforce awareness, recognition and treatment, what to do when someone you know has confided a rape. The engaging programs educate about the other Title IX laws that protect against ethnic harassment, racial and gender discrimination. The protected classes keep growing, dependent upon jurisdiction.

When it comes to sex, however, it is all about informed consent. It isn't that one cannot have sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which precludes informed consent. Most everyone's judgement is compromised under the influence. To be sure that sex is what both partners want, that both will be happy with the decision the morning after, the question of whether or not we'll have sex tonight is something that might be discussed before the real partying begins, before one loses one faculties. (Uh, oh, there goes that free will.)

Speaking of faculties, Mr. Berkowitz wants to know,
Where are the professors of literature who will patiently point out that, particularly when erotic desire is involved, intentions can be obscure, passions conflicting, the heart murky and the soul divided?

Where are the professors of science . . .the professors of political science . . . law, . . .
They're writing books, sir, like the ones above. And they have spent a good deal of time at work, on campus, and have already attended a workshop.

Or perhaps they know someone who has been raped. Maybe a sister, a niece, a daughter. Most of us know someone.

Linda Freedman, LCSW, LMFT, PhD

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Empathy Training

It's becoming more and more important, social intelligence, and empathy is the active ingredient.  Success in business, success in politics, success in family and friendship-- it all depends upon this.

I promise I'll fill in the blanks in a week or two, talk more about it, but it isn't natural, mind-reading.  It is a skill and it rides upon words, not divination.

You would think that reading people's feelings is easy.  Some of us wear our emotions on our sleeves, but even these are misinterpreted.  Many of us do a fairly good job, intuiting what others are feeling.  We can tell when we have upset someone, we can tell when someone is angry.  We can feel the anxiety of a spouse who wants to leave earlier for the airport. 

Some of us care more than others, is the truth.  We tune in better, more often.  We're the ones who teach others how to do it, because we're the ones who see that it works.  We need it, no question, to be successful (depending, granted, upon one's definition of success).

You can teach people to empathize in therapy and in group training sessions, because they want to learn.  They already care.  There is no beginning, it is a homeostatic system. Caring people empathize and empathetic people care.  They watch their words, how their actions affect others.  Most of couples therapy is founded upon this principle:  If you care, you'll feel your partner's worries and you won't like how it feels.

Another way to say it is that if one of you has a problem, the other has a problem, too.

So how do we do this, empathy training?  A grown man will cry when his favorite team loses, will bang the table when the ball is fumbled. But he might call his kid a cry baby for crying over a lost toy.

So one way is to say, Your team lost a game and you felt bad.  The kid lost a toy.  Same feeling.  Why would you want him to feel bad?

When we run groups, when we teach a room full of people to become empaths, the procedure is a little different, more provocative.  But the idea is the same.  The job is getting inside someone's head, reading someone's feelings implies feeling our own, making comparisons.

Empathy training is a little more complicated than that, but there are tricks, and we have to begin to talk about it. 

Linda Freedman, LCSW, LMFT, PhD

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

They Won!

The Chicago Children's Advocacy Center won a Toyota van to transport children!

Thanks to all who voted.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Aggressive Sex and Mental Health

The first Chinese member in Congress isn't running for reelection following accusations of "aggressive and unwanted sex."

If it is not rape, (we don't know the details yet), the episode certainly has the markings of attempted rape, a violent attack.  Whatever the reality, his behavior traumatized a young woman who graduated high school just last year. 

Mr. Wu is getting treatment for mental health issues.

What does this mean?

It could mean that he has a mental or behavioral disorder.  Mr. Wu has a right to his privacy, but there are only a few handfuls out of hundreds of mental or behavioral disorders that relate to sexual behavior.  They  include the parafilias, fetishes, voyeurism, Peeping Toms, pedofilia, and others. 

Sometimes, during the manic episodes characteristic of mood disorders, Bi-polar Disorder, specifically, individuals can be hyper-sexual,  focus upon nothing else. But that doesn't mean they attempt rape.

People addicted to cocaine or alcohol or both can be hyper-sexual, as well, under the influence.  They cross boundaries, engage in behavior that they wouldn't do otherwise.  Under the influence we all become uninhibited-- a bad thing, sometimes.

Or perhaps Mr. Wu's defense counsel is thinking that he might have a personality disorder.  Individuals with antisocial personality disorder habitually flaunt laws because they think they can.  But it is unlikely that someone who has achieved as prestigious a position as Congressman, someone with so high a profile, habitually, without guilt or detection, flaunts the law. By now someone would have noticed. 

If he's narcissistic enough, he might think that No means Yes.  Narcissistic thinking:: How could anyone say no to someone as charming and as attractive as me?

Or he could have a sex addiction, the latest of many powerful people to admit how hard it is to stop that compulsion, sex.  We're seeing more of that in the office than ever before, and 12-Step programs work wonders to obliterate various character defects.

It's encouraging, whatever the case, that the Congressman sees that it isn't normal to force himself sexually upon women. The real question is whether or not the crime of attempted rape is being covered up with a mental health defense, one that doesn't exist.  If that's the case, then he might serve time in prison, and maybe rehab, too.  We're hoping that when it all shakes out in the end, that he tells his story, deters others.  That would be a meaningful amends to the people who voted him into office, a real public service.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Four-year Prison Sentence for Facebook Stalker

We tell parents: Tell your kids to be careful about what they post on Facebook and to watch their privacy settings. Don't tell us where you went to school, where you live. People who know you already know that.

If the privacy settings are loose, if anyone can read the wall, then anyone can steal pictures, even find you, hurt you somehow.

The kids know we're not being unnecessarily paranoid and many are getting the idea. Everything on the Internet is permanent.

But it isn't just the kids, of course, who are vulnerable to social network stalkers. Stalking is growing. It may be the fastest growing way to pass the day for bored, unemployed people looking for a little fun, and profit.

The latest news is about a stalker, a California man who trolled Facebook pages for information that would help him hack into email accounts. Reading the wall, George Bronk learned enough about his victims to answer basic security questions about their cities of origin, schools they attended, etc. Once he hacked into their email addresses it was easy to find nude photographs and videos that women sent to their boyfriends and husbands. He distributed these to entire contact lists. The crime spans 17 states, 117 emails.

Mr. Bronk pleaded guilty to charges of computer intrusion and false impersonation. He says he was bored and unemployed and this was fun.

He had hoped to become a paramedic. Now he won't be doing that. Registered sex offenders can't be paramedics.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cyberbullying-Stalking and Might Makes Right

Internet safety presenters get the greatest rise out of the audience with talk about online sexual predators.  The predators exist, no question.

But the most common, most prevalent online danger to emotional health is cyberbullying, or cyberstalking.  We call it cyberstalking when the perpetrator is an adult.  The word bullying tends to soften intimidation, blackmail, slander, etc., tends to make it a children's crime, not really a crime, at all.

Adults bully, too, however, don't just stalk. Any time someone intimidates, threatens, verbally harasses, physically violates--  it is a manifestation of might making right.  Seeking power, attention, a persona of strength, this is what drives bullying.

By definition adults make better bullies. They are more powerful.  By virtue of their size and authority they can coerce children both physically and emotionally  to do things they wouldn't normally do.   Hence teachers are charged with sexual harassment when they have a sexual relationship with a student, even if the student initiates it.  The teacher, as a professional, knows the law and is supposed to know better. 

But the Internet is the great equalizer.  Online, children have power, too.  They know how to fake authority via anonymity and impersonation.  They have the resources, the means with which to harm others.  Electronic media-- digital photography, computing, texting, phones-- these are powerful tools. 

In a new study, the American Osteopathic Association recently found cyberbullying to be a real issue for parents.  Surveying 1000 parents, a majority showed concern about their children online and six had a child who had been bullied. We can't vouch for their methodology, i.e., how parents were found, or the reliability/ validity of the study, but we can tell you that nationally, in fifty states, the States Attorney's concur.  Of all the threats facing children online, cyberbullying is the most common crime, and parents should be concerned.

Defined in the study as taunting or spreading rumors about a peer online, cyberbullying is linked to the popularity of online social media, the ease of with which kids can connect with one another on sites like Facebook.

Mental health professionals have always worked with children who suffered from bullying by other children in the schoolyard.  The bully isn't usually anonymous in these cases.  Other children see, several others hear, what  is said or done.  Intimidated, they are afraid to report, even go along with it.  They participate, too, are a part of what we call, Group Think.

When teens fight on the street, when they "gang up" on other teens, it can be a right of passage, a way to be popular.  Strength is attractive.  When they don't outgrow the behavior, professionals see bullying as an indication of an emerging, perhaps serious personality disorder.   Online bullying isn't literally physical battering but the effects certainly are.  Everything psychological is physical.

The consequences for the anonymous perpetrator are minimized, a huge incentive for the behavior.  It is much easier to displace anger online, to cause tremendous psychological pain via viral messages, malicious gossip, or exposure and shame, and the audience can be in the thousands.  Beats the schoolyard for impact.

It is the ultimate danger of sexting, really.  Pictures can go anywhere.

Victims of cyberbullying suffer anxiety and depression, lose interest in socializing, may become aggressive or withdrawn, slack off on school work.  They may have suicidal thoughts, and some follow through with these.

According to the new study parents are owning responsibility to make sure their kids are okay. They discuss cyberbullying with their children and many "friend" them to monitor their interactions. Others even check security settings.  That is enlightened parenting.

It is better than saying, "No Facebook for you." Barring children from social networking isn't effective, isn't even possible.  It is like telling kids they can't go out and play.  But discussing the possible dangers, teaching them how to avoid bullies and what to do as a victim (tell parents, contact police)-- these are first steps toward healing and prevention.

Again, it's that relationship that matters and not all kids are going to listen.  But when it is obvious that a child's behavior has changed, that he or she is overly anxious, doesn't want to go online anymore, can't concentrate, or closes the browser when someone walks into the room, then it is time to have that talk, time to insist upon getting help.


Linda Freedman, PhD, LCSW, LMFT

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Zapping Zappos

Ryan Holiday, director of online marketing at American Apparel is suggesting that brands consider their motives for using nudity and sexuality in ads.

"Are they doing it because they want to get attention from blogs and Web sites . . . or are they doing it because it's the ad campaign that speaks most truly to who they are and what they want to sell?"

He’s talking about the new Zappos advertising campaign. Models will henceforth be modeling au natural. They will be featured walking, cycling, living life wearing nothing at all. We, the consumers, are supposed to dress them, imagine them with clothes on.  Quite a switch, isn't it?

Zappos is hoping buyers will also read the text below the visuals. The text will tell them what's for sale.  Photos of nude models are not  (please say there will be no actual photos).  Website photos are free (you're on your honor) on the Internet.

Are they doing it because they want to get attention from blogs?   If so, hopefully the feedback will influence Zappo's ad campaign. Selling sex is nothing new.  In therapy we call this: objectification and sexploitation.  In this case it is objectification and sexploitation in advertizing.

We could say that posing seductively, even nude, for a camera is voluntary.  No one should criticize the right to that.  And traditionally, attractive young people with skills or not, with college degrees or not, seek jobs in the glamor industries.  Careers like acting and modeling are attractive, especially when your best features are your looks.  Beauty sells.  No coercion is necessary, nobody is twisting anyone’s arm to strike a sexual pose, to wear scanty clothes, or to model nude. The money is incentive, sometimes under the guise of art. 

The money is why so many people raise their hand for the job.

But everything on the Web is permanent and replicable.  That's why there's risk to this business.  It is mostly about risk to the next generation.  Ten years from now, as parents of elementary school children, models who pose au natural, with no clothes, for whatever reason, may have children who care.  And these children may be more vulnerable, even, to emotional abuse and blackmail, than their parents, by virtue of their age. 

You can picture it, other children taunting them with digital files, hard copies. In color.  Those very same advertisements.

Something for show and tell.

What could be worth that price?  The Zappo ad campaign is negligent, irresponsible corporate thinking.  Dangerous stuff.

Exposure like this, public embarrassment, drives psychological pain and suffering. The shame begs therapy, and shame, some of us think, drives the mental health industry.  The economy of psychological health tilts on the heels of this kind of corporate decision making. 

New social work and psychology grads won't have to worry about a therapist glut. There will never be too many of them.  Not the way things seem to be going.

Linda Freedman, PhD, LCSW, LMFT

Monday, June 13, 2011

Anthony Weiner and Sex Addiction

So it turns out that indeed, the Congressman Anthony Weiner did send pornographic photos of himself to women online.

Does this make him addicted to sex?

We generally think of a sex addiction as related to illegal activity, or associated with dysfunction in a marriage or family, or perhaps to one's work, i.e., partners, children, customers, colleagues.  Others find the behavior objectionable, or it hurts someone.

How can pictures hurt?  By association, feeling sullied by them, or by exposure.  Not everyone who is sold in this way, as a photo or a video, ever asked for the modeling job.

Surely the constituents are chiming in, asking him to resign.  People want their representatives to focus upon their problems, not themselves and their sexual needs.  That's why we hire them-- to work hard, to get legislation, our agenda passed, whatever it is.  Maybe anti-porn laws, for example.

As a therapist I can name many ways that pornography upsets people, especially children.  The reputations of individuals who are exposed on line can never be the same.  The impact upon a child who sees pornography is tantamount to a snapshot memory, a picture in the mind that won't go away, might never go away, ever.  It is lifelong.  An unwanted picture, one that the child never asked to see.

We used to surround our children with beautiful things, and we encouraged them to be creative, to work hard in school, not deliberately look for the lurid.  Children who did that were shamed, punished.  Now it is so common, ubiquitous, that a search for porn is thought to be what kids do

But once, when a child found a stash of "dirty" magazines, it concerned parents.  A child shouldn't have to see these photos, shouldn't have to look at people in this way.  It is a short step from seeing a picture online or in a magazine to seeing everyone in this way, with eyes that wonder, 
"What does (s)he look like without those clothes?"

So it corrupts, Congressman Weiner.  What you did corrupts, ruins a perfectly clean disk for some kid who really never asked for it.  Just reading the story corrupts our children.  Sorry, that's how a therapist sees it.

Sure, get help.  And step down. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sorry for the Inconvenience

The website, www.relationship-wise.com, RELATIONSHIP-WISE  is down temporarily for construction.

 RELATIONSHIP-WISE is the host website for the following divisions:

TeamWise
CorporateWise
SchoolWise

Please contact Dr. Freedman with questions about our programs.

Write to me at freedman.lin@gmail.com
for more information.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Patti LaBelle Versus Richard King

The story has to be true because no one could make it up.

Richard King, a senior at West Point, soon to be a second lieutenant in the United States Army and cornerback for the West Point Cadets, is standing "too close" to R & B star Patti Labelle's luggage at baggage claims.  Not too close to Patti.  He's standing too close to her expensive luggage.

He's oblivious, talking on a cell phone, when Ms. LaBelle's body guards beat him, drawing blood, pushing into a concrete pillar.  King is carried onto a stretcher, whisked off to the hospital.  He has a nasty concussion.

Two things are wrong with this:

(a) Football players are supposed to get beat up on the football field, not at baggage claims.

(b) Nobody should have to fear body guard police at the airport. We have enough on our plate with the terrorists.

Ms. LaBelle's staff believe alcohol was involved, that Mr. King was inebriated. That's the only predictable part of the story.  He denies it is true.

It's all on the surveillance tape.

Generally the subjects on this blog are perpetrators of some sort of violence or they think they're above the law, or don't respect someone. If we're writing about it here, it's the indignity that matters.

We would have expected more from an R & B star, wait patiently for more details to come. Meanwhile, Mr. King won't be a second lieutenant any time soon, and he certainly won't be playing football. 
And that, frankly, shouldn't have happened.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ethics and Management in Sports

We wrote about the problems of Jim Tressel, Coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Luke Fikell is serving as interim coach, but that won't last for long. There's a short list of replacements for Mr. Tressel, and the job is perhaps one of the most coveted in college sports.

Mr. Tressell resigned a contract worth 3.5 million a year through 2014, and Ohio State will not be paying him for the duration.

ESPN:
. . . fined him $250,000 for knowing his players had received improper benefits from the owner of a local tattoo parlor. The school said at the time it was "very surprised and disappointed" in Tressel. Yet, the school still managed to crack jokes.

Asked if he considered firing Tressel, Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee said then: "No, are you kidding? Let me just be very clear: I'm just hopeful the coach doesn't dismiss me."
That's what it means to have power. Even the president of the school can see that.

Which is why ethics in sports has to reach beyond the playing field. It's not how the game is played, it is how the money is managed, how the behavior of the team and the management of the team reflects upon an institution.

Spoke Too Soon

Now they're saying, that actually, maybe Anthony Weiner did take that picture. The big joke is that everyone recognizes his/her underwear, and apparently Mr. Weiner recognized his. And he can't say with certitude that the man in the photo isn't him.

Either an elaborate prank, as he initially insisted, or a real attempt to smear the man and put a stop to his career.

But two congressmen from New York caught in the same act? We talked about Chris Lee, never dreamed that there would be a second act.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Anthony Weiner

Then there are the good stories, the guys who didn't really send "lewd" photos via Twitter, i.e., New York Representative Anthony Weiner.

See, you can't just accuse people without checking out the story.

Military Kids Helping One Another-- Surviving Father Loss

Probably all schools should have a number of social workers, but in these hard economic times we're lucky if each school district hires just one. 

Divorce, loss, death.  These happen every day and children suffer, can't express, don't know how to answer questions. 

We're hearing that there's a summer camp that helps children of fallen veterans cope with their feelings.  "Good grief!" used to be what Charlie Brown said when facing frustration, but now it's caught on in other venues.

The kids interviewed describe the annual "good grief" camp organized by the nonprofit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors every Memorial Day weekend as one outlet that's allowed them to learn to work through their feelings, and many attend every year. The activities range from going to a baseball game and seeing the horses used at Arlington National Cemetery to writing a letter to their deceased parent that's released in a balloon.
Apparently  each kid has a mentor for the weekend  and adult survivors meet for sessions, too.

Sounds fantastic, and we hope we don't sound too jaded when we say we hope someone is keeping an eye on the kids, making sure there's no exploitation.

For sure, too jaded.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sex Offender Busted in an Apple Store

If you haven't been to an Apple store, you're missing something. We're free to browse on the best of the company's machines, try out new Aps, see what others are doing.

A sex offender who has been banned from the Internet-- for reasons we talk about on this blog-- has been apprehended in one such California store.  A sheriff's detective recognized Robert Nicholas McGuire browsing Facebook and logged into a computer right next to him.  He pulled up the Megan's Law, a sex offender web site to confirm his suspicions.  Pop in a zipcode, find the perpetrators living near by.

Had Mr. McGuire not been so engrossed in what he was doing, he might have noticed.

McGuire was arrested outside of the store.

Certainly one way to catch a sex offender.

Linda Freedman

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Censured: Delta Kappa Epsilon at Yale

Best known for the fraternity of both Presidents Bush, Delta Kappa Epsilon is banned from activities and recruiting for the next five years. DKE pledges chanted obscenities about women, apparently a hazing rite of passage. 

Pledges held signs, "We love Yale sluts," and chanted, "No Means Yes." Following complaints numerous young women came forward to say that their petitions about acquaintance rapes fell on deaf ears. Schools that receive federal funds must report such incidences to the Department of Justice and conduct hearings.

The fraternity came under fire in October after pledges marched through campus and chanted phrases about sex acts including necrophilia. Chapter leaders later apologized, and the national fraternity office ordered them only to stop all pledge activities.

Thus ends, we suspect, this particular rite of passage, one that in our parlance amounts to verbal violence. Yale is asking the fraternity's national office to suspend the chapter for five years.

Now that's the kind of response we're looking for.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Arnold Schwartzenegger


The French are upset about the release of this photo to the press, that Strauss-Kahn essentially  walked a "perp walk" prior to a fair trial.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund, an organization that provides money, bail out money, to many struggling countries in Europe.  Nearly at the pinnacle of his career, a sure candidate for President of France, an alleged rape attempt threatens his political future.

The story, a media favorite, is that Strauss-Kahn hijacked a maid in the Sofital Hotel, pulled her into the bathroom, and forced her to perform oral sex.  She escaped, and as he caught a cab to the airport to return to France, she reported the crime to the police. Meanwhile, Strauss-Kahn called the hotel because he forgot his cell phone, and the hotel tipped them off.

Perhaps he was in a hurry to catch the next flight, which is why he forgot his phone, or perhaps, innocent of these charges, he had no reason whatsoever to think that calling the hotel for the phone would culminate in his arrest.

The police found him at the gate, returned his cell phone, but slapped on the cuffs, figuratively, we suppose. The charges?
Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have denied the charges of a criminal sexual act, attempted rape, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. He was denied bail Monday.
Fifty-seven percent of the people of France believe he was framed. After all, he was the favorite political candidate of the country, and a known womanizer, not a crime in France or anywhere else in the world, unfortunately or not.  But perhaps not the best reputation for a married politician, womanizer.  His wife stands by his side, always has. 

This, the same week that Arnold Schwartzeneger admits to fathering a child with his housekeeper. Maria Shriver, however, has filed for divorce.  The pundits say that Mr. Schwartzeneger is finished politically, would have been finished without an affair, certainly is now.  He wants to go back to making movies.

Whether or not it is the death knoll of a public servant's political career or not, whether or not it is a marriage buster, or not, one thing is certain.  Philandering isn't a rape, but it is a breach of trust, and it feels like a travesty. Ms. Shriver ended her marriage, and the Governor of California is out of the governor's seat.

And Mr. Strauss-Kahn, it is likely, will also never run for political office again.  He may spend twenty-five years in prison if he is found guilty.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Derek Boogaard and Brain Injury


It is definitely the risk professionals take, getting hurt.  The old Jewish joke is that Jewish mothers won't let their children play touch football, certainly not hockey (a stick!).  When my son ripped his knee apart playing football at recess, his father didn't even tell me until he had stitched him up. The scar remains today.  Although his father did a nice job.

But everyone knows kids don't listen to moms.  And Derek Boogaard's mom surely adored her son, encouraged his athleticism, because we're defined by our attributes and not everyone can play hockey, certainly not well.

Apparently this happens in contact sports, lethal brain injuries.  Derek, 28,  is perhaps the youngest professional to suffer a fatal casualty on the field.  The "Big Teddy Bear", as he was affectionately called by his family, will be missed.  He had exactly the type of personality we need in sports today-- proactive, kind, charismatic. Generous, good.

After the injury Boogaard committed to contributing to trauma research.
Boogaard was approached by researchers after the death of former NHL enforcer Bob Probert, who died last year at the age of 45. The BU center found evidence in Probert’s brain of the chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is associated with cognitive and behavioral problems and eventually causes dementia.

Derek said yes.

To the family-- we're sorry for your loss.  Like many great athletes, he was a wonderful role model.


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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rating the Girls

Didn't the kids learn anything from The Social Network? That's the movie about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. His entry into social networking, a website where Harvard guys rated Harvard women, caused a row, hurt the feelings of many, including his girlfriend. She never recovered from that inconsiderate, base act, and although he tried to apologize, tried to win her back, she could see the real guy behind the HTML, and she rejected him.

I'm told, however, that rating women is the oldest game in the book.  Yet it is still obnoxious, and apparently, because it shames and debases, is considered disorderly conduct at the current level, public humiliation.
A a boy has been arrested in Oak Park-River Forest High School for making a list of girls he thought sexy or not. Mostly, he degraded them, objectified them.
Oak Park, Ill. - An Oak Park juvenile was arrested Monday for allegedly devising and circulating a list ranking 50 female Oak Park-River Forest High School girls by their sexual characteristics and alleged sexual behaviors.

The list described the girls by explicit, derogatory nickname, physical appearance, sexual activity, desirability.  Posted on Facebook, hundreds of copies printed, distributed during lunch.

The father of one of the girls: “I’m gratified that the investigation continued, and that charges are being filed. I’m hopeful they consider additional charges as they gather more evidence.”

And therapy, for sure.  Get the kid some therapy.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Athletes and Women

Athletes are fit, and depending upon what a woman is looking for, attractive.

That doesn't give them the right to take what they want, certainly not women.  The latest case heralds from the University of Miami football team.  Jeffrey Brown is no longer on the roster.  His attorneys are saying the accusation of sexual battery is totally trumped up, and maybe it is.  The lesson, whether he is guilty or not, is that a man, a woman, an athlete, a college student, anyone, needs informed consent for sex.

If there's alcohol involved, it's hard to get informed consent.

There are people, for sure, who say that if a woman drinks too much, if she can't control how much alcohol she consumes, then she deserves what happens next.  She's surely going to have difficulty resisting a sexual assault.

But there shouldn't be sexual assault, of course.  This is not how civilized people behave toward one another.  Civilized people, those who have been raised to respect other people, don't press an advantage.  Life is not a game.  You don't press your advantage over those who are physically or mentally unable to resist assault.

It's a fairly old story, athletes and the association with rape, college males and intoxicated college females (although females can rape, too, and men are raped). We studied this one on campus in the late nineties, and the overwhelming consensus, burned into law in fifty states,  is that if a woman is forced to have sex especially under the influence, no matter if she knows him, no matter if she's in a relationship with him, no matter if she's had sex with him in the past, then what has happened is rape. Sex with an intoxicated partner, one who is legally substance impaired, can be deemed as rape in a court of law.

Accusations are legitimate, whether or not that seems fair.

Thus we started workshops at universities and colleges, even approached kids in high schools and middle schools, to tell them about the consequences of sex without informed consent. We told them not only does No Mean No, but even a Yes under the influence, isn't necessarily a Yes.  And sex with a minor is likely to  be considered statutory rape.

We focused on athletes and frat boys back then, but the "stars," for the guys in jerseys are celebrities, still make headline news for sexual battery and assault.

Again, they're not always guilty.  It has happened before,  false accusations against athletes, the most famous of these cases at Duke University, the lacrosse team.  Players were accused of gang-raping women hired to dance at a party (women of color, which made the case even more significant).  The players were later exonerated, not without extensive bad press and publicity. The prosecutor was asked to resign.

Forget athletes for a moment.  Rape is still a phenomenon on campus, even with all of prevention seminars at orientation, the peer pep talks.  Rape, even at Duke,  just won't go away.  The Chronical, Duke's student newspaper features a story about "Kate," a student forced onto a table and raped by two men on the last day of classes. Once free-spirited, the coed has lost her sense of safety, her trust in people.  Statistics:
Between July and December of 2010 alone, the Women’s Center saw 29 cases of rape or sexual assault, 25 in which the alleged perpetrator was a Duke undergraduate or a recent alumnus. Even this seemingly high number is likely a vast underrepresentation of the actual instances of sexual assault. By reporting, survivors often fear confronting the stigma that had they consumed less alcohol or dressed conservatively, they wouldn’t have been sexually assaulted.
So who do we educate?  Women? Tell them not to look good?

Or men who look good, or think they do, who think they have the right to take what they want?

I'd say the latter is still our priority.

Linda Freedman, PhD, LCSW, LMFT

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Second-graders Having Sex in Class?

Say it isn't so.

But this is the latest:
In  a second-grade classroom, Oakland, California, a male teacher allowed children in class to undress, down to the skin, and the class watched as two classmates performed oral sex.
How does such a think happen?  Maybe it didn't happen.  Maybe the child who reported it to the teacher's assistant made it all up for attention.

But if it did occur, there are reasons.  A not so pretty, not exhaustive list:

(1) The child performing oral sex might have watched it at home, seen parents or siblings in the act.

(2) The child might have seen porn on a home computer, or pictures, magazines.

(3) The child may have been victimized himself, forced to perform oral sex on an adult or a cousin, a neighbor, a parent, anyone. Coercion, it's called.  Tell and I'll hurt you.
But sometimes it feels good, and being naughty is fun.  No need to tell.

(4) The teacher might have witnessed the child's sexual behavior, seen him touching himself or someone else, and encouraged the sex acts.  Live child porn on the job, irresistible for someone with a sex addiction, perhaps.  Pathetic?  Yes, but an addiction implies powerlessness.

(5) The teacher might be one of those people who photographs children having sex for personal satisfaction or financial gain.  These sell for a premium.

(6) The teacher might have become an elementary school teacher to have access to children.  Taking advantage, exploiting little children, really isn't very hard to do.  They're trusting.

(7) The teacher might be a registered sex offender, may have priors, and somehow evaded his employers.

How can schools screen for such a thing, is the real question. And what about damage control?
How will the administrators at Markham School talk to those second-graders about what they just saw, about what they did, without shaming them, damaging them?

Tell them sex is for adults?  That this variation of fun is something you do when you're all grown-up?  They don't see the point of waiting for pleasure, not usually. They're children. And they see sex on television, that it is attractive, inviting, fun, exciting. The stars of vampire movies are in their teens, and they're clearly attracted to one another, sexually attracted. It's not reserved for adults.

One thing is clear.  We have to talk to the kids, and we can't wait for them to get to that age of maturity, whatever that age seems to be.  Fifty years ago we thought,
We'll talk to them just before they reach puberty, begin to tell them about the birds and the bees.
At this rate puberty will begin in first grade.