Category Archives: Police

#LetsTalk Conversations with new activists #women2gether

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Colorado river reaches sea for first time in decades

Colorado river reaches sea for first time in decades (Image: Sonoran Institute and LightHawk)

 

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

 

Women2gether are attracting supporters. I’ve had wonderful twitter conversations with some of you – you have been a delight to encounter; thank you for your generosity of both self and spirit. Yet, to some extent, we might look as though we were failing at the first hurdle:  it takes some extraordinary event, like no-one at all turning up to our Sunday ‘meeting’, to illustrate it. There’s also the issue of why so few responded to Jane & Debbie’s petition – start putting the ‘gestalt’ together in that way and we might all just as well pack up our efforts and head sadly away. That’s, of course, dependent upon what kind of ‘thinking’ you are using.

 

I wonder if the version that leads you to this kind of mind-set bears any comparison with this?

from Halifax Herald

from Halifax Herald

 

Notice how self-centred and ego-ridden this viewpoint is.  In fact, it’s the same kind of thinking that led me to do this.  If we are going to challenge and confront this thinking then, in order to get a much broader perspective and arrive at more accurate assessment on the reality of where we are, we have to entertain more diverse opinions and viewpoints. “I, for one, am certainly NOT the Queen”, for example, can do wonders in moving outside this lethal box of rich white male cloudcuckooland and into our own reality.

 

One of the things Jayne, Debbie and I were very clear about, from the outset of women2gether, was our own physical and psychological frailty. We knew there would be times like this so, intuitively, we planned ahead with our honesty. When I get ‘news’ that our Sunday meeting was in spirit only, I don’t see this as disaster – I see it as a conversation we’ve not had yet about what we three witches mean when we talk about being ‘activists’.

 

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A number of folk have commented on the absence of ego in the way we work together. This kind of behaviour – both practical and psychological – is a sign of an experienced activist because, at some point, we all get the ego knocked out of us. It’s based upon a set of assumptions and consequences imposed by our real-life circumstances (my version).

 

The first ‘rule’ of activism is that we leave other folk alone to make their own decisions. This is based on the following assumptions, whoever you are; however you are ‘packaged’; whatever internal psychic structures you use; and everything that defines you as a human being, means;

  • You know how to make up your own free mind
  • The only time you don’t is when your free mind has been tampered with by others.
  • If you want to kill the activist spirit, you tell other folk what to do and try to control their actions.
  • You know an activist by their behaviour – we don’t wait for permission if we see an opportunity to help ‘the people’.
  • Every single one of us started our activist career as absolute beginners!

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And we rode on the wings of the tales of older – and more realistic – activists; not because they led us (although sometimes they did if we got lost) but to help us over the pitfalls involved.

 

It took us a week to organise a spontaneous walk-out

Nalgo Conference c 1980’s

 

Even then, speaking from experience, it can take much longer. The difference between followers and activists is followers assume failure and give up very early on in any ‘game’ that is not specifically about them  – activists keep an eye on the ball of ‘all of us’ instead. Also, notice who benefits if the ‘failure assumption’ is held to be real?

 

Can you begin to see how your attitudes may have been tampered with? So, how do we fix this problem? Quite simple really – do a reality check!

 

For example:

As a newbie activist, ask yourself these questions: who is your membership? Be specific. There are activists in all areas – what’s your specialty; who do you prioritize? Mine are women first and then all those impacted by the WCA.

This doesn’t mean I sacrifice my concern for everyone – it simply means I know where my roots are.  Once we know that, we represent the views of that group in our own activist work to ensure our voices are included when we rewrite a  Harperworld Mindset to include us as human under Human Rights law.  The consequences of adversity are as complex as the causative action is simple – we need as many voices as need to speak. There are four million people negatively affected by these undemocratic and forced economic crimes against humanity. It shouldn’t be that hard to prove now, surely?! Where are their voices?

 

When we know our roots – and these change with time, as do we – it’s easy to gauge the mood, especially when your ‘membership’ are restive and nothing seems to be being done about it. This trigger motivates our actions, so whenever inspiration or opportunity arrives, we say Yes to the experience of giving it a try to see if it works. That’s all it is. That’s all we do. Because we’ve said yes on so many occasions we’ve got practical experience but that doesn’t mean we know what we’re doing now, other than catching the mood of our ‘membership’ and acting on it. For example:

It was my own wider WCA membership who triggered my letter to the ICC (still no reply but I found the answers I was looking for: there is a way in). Then came Jayne and Debbie’s new petition – this is their activist spirit at work. They created and I threw my weight behind it because it represented the views of my membership. The surprising lack of numbers is as informative as our Spirit Sunday meeting 😉

 

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The only problem I can see in the situation is a missing conversation with all of you. So that’s what this blog is about. Folk don’t seem to be talking about it much. When they do, the conversation always seems to fall flat, so – fellow activists – we either read our membership wrong or there’s a ‘blockage’ somewhere. So, let’s talk about it what we think it might be – share your experience; blog about it as part of Women2gether, especially the lads. How are you finding it so far? Writing it down actually helps your learning process and helps us understand which areas of our expertise are most useful to you. This isn’t about us; this is about all of us!

 

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Testing current theories, at this stage, can be also useful. Given the situation is serious enough to create activists out of us…

 

I was thinking about this governments schadenfreude – motivation for the vindictive policies we’ve seen this past 4 years that target the most vulnerable citizens most of all. Some people believe that the policies are a consequence of a redistribution of wealth from the poorest to the wealthy rather than being malicious acts. But the tories laughed on hearing the accounts of suffering of the poor because of the bedroom tax and the food banks in parliament,for all to see.

But entertaining the idea for a moment that the inflicted suffering isn’t a motivation but a consequence, well that would make the bastards indifferent, callous and unremorseful, since they show a supreme lack of concern for the plight of those least able to defend themselves against injustice and inflicted poverty, Either way, I know evil when I see it, and this government ARE evil. The shock and anger at recognising that again just hit me afresh.

We must each be responsible and work to get rid of this evil presence, and taint on our collective history. If we remain silent and indifferent, that makes us complicit in their evil

Sue Jones

 

A balanced judgement weighs all the options first before coming to a decision based upon the evidence. As an activist, I ask myself, if this isn’t enough, how much more to I need? Then I ask:  ‘How serious is it?’ What do others think? Everywhere on the planet, I see women breaking the spell of the various HarperWorlds and finding genocide underneath. I see my own WCA membership heading in the ICC’s direction. Every socially-responsible free-thinking individual on my twitter-feed  seems to be treading similar paths, whatever their political hue. And some of us have tried already – such evidence supports our contention of crimes against humanity occurring in Britain have a grounding in fact.

 

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When a bunch of us activists agree the evidence is in that we are, indeed, living in very dangerous times, we can’t afford to wait on others to decide what needs to be done. We act on our own initiative because the likelihood of HarperWorld trying to control us is extremely high. We can loosen this control on a personal level by self-determining what needs to be done and what contribution we can realistically make.

 

Women2gether – and then men who love us – here are our problems: Jayne, Debbie & me. We can’t tell you what to do because a volunteer is worth fifty conscripts, or so I’ve been told by a man who knew. A volunteer looks around for the places they feel happiest in and offers those – what do you think needs doing? Do you need help doing it? Is  there a particular kind of help you offer ? Do you need to set clear boundaries on what (and how) we pass on in our information and sharing? For example: None of us will tolerate bigotry in any form and particularly any type of xenophobia or misogyny. We are all unique expressions of what it is to be human. Whilst the mindset we are trying to deal with says some have more value than others, the one we are aiming for says quite the opposite and always has done – remember the river at the beginning? Has your river been ‘redirected’? You don’t need to be told what to do because you already know.

 

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The difference between Harperworld (or what ever other fantasy the ego has power to inflict upon others) and human reality is this: Harperworld has to enforce its dictates and has no problem with the consequences so long as they do well out of it. Seek evidence of compassion and mercy in this mindset; I find none. It’s absence points to the presence of evil, a form of dualistic thinking being applied to the planet itself, let alone all the Peoples dwelling within Her. The presence of dualistic thinking – them and us – points to the existence of the opposite. It has to – that’s the Law in a dualistic world – there is always a balance.

 

Harperworld claims to hold the unbalanced monopoly of thought on our collective reality and, to a greater or lesser extent, we have fallen for it  because it has become the means of survival in the West. To transform and bring balance to the issue suggests we need to ‘become’ everything this polarity is not. That mindset issues orders; we don’t. Neither are we perfect; every one of us is the human expression of a living-artwork-in-progress, created by our histories, intuitions, thoughts, feelings and evidenced in the actions we take; the words we write; and our desire to protect those that we love, on every single level it seems.

 

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We are going to make mistakes with each other. Mistakes, especially at the beginning, are learning experiences for all of us because they help us shake off the mindset we’ve been slowly shackled to by the like of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (another ‘buffoon’ like Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and, in his early days, Adolf Hitler).  That kind of mindset is Harperworld and it only ever heads in one direction. This is not the direction we go in. Nevertheless, we also need to be sensitive to the abuses we have all experienced as a result of the social exclusions we have been subjected to. These are unhealed wounds especially among women who have borne the brunt of them. This is why bigotry is forbidden among us – it’s classified as harmful to the complexity of our community. It is permitted to exclude those who disagree with our existence because they exclude themselves by their exclusivity. Simple. This ‘Law’ was established in evidence at the very outset. It also accords with human law.

 

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There are those who, for whatever reason, choose to remain asleep. These are the people being led. The power to act therefore resides with activists – especially when voting. Getting up to vote is what the likes of UKIP thinkers and provoked sheeple will be doing. Let’s at least ask any activist (voting means you’re active) to register their opinion too, particularly for the disenfranchised amongst us, like the homeless. Let’s encourage hungry women with hungry children to vote too – give their opinion of politicians who think austerity is an excellent thing and we ought to have more of it.

 

 

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Meanwhile, I’m still not well enough to go through the ICC procedures. If our women2gether activists want to go through them, that might be a good idea because they set the standards we have to work to. All the procedures are there. My thoughts, on why our last petition might have ‘failed’ is that it needed to explicitly include everyone – all ‘genders’, all issues. To get through the Prosecutor’s door, we need to do it without exclusivity. Nevertheless, our framework needs to keep everyone happy, like: we’re test-driving this new Gender policy to make sure the ICC listens to women on our terms because, if they can’t hear us, there’s a problem with the ICC.

 

ProTip:

Activists always read procedures at least once because we need to see what we’re going to be measured by. The more we know about the ‘how’, the more we understand about route, standards and evidence gathering.  Their aim is to elicit as much about what fails to achieve this as it does aiming to achieve a criminal standard of evidence from women. As we become more aware of how women’s voices have been silenced at all levels, as well as the depth of the very real consequences, we become more competent as activists. After I learned the ‘sacred’ principles underpinning ‘legal’ written procedures, the ground I stood upon as an activist became much more solid. This is could excellent learning for ‘newbies’ and anyone else interested in this stuff.

 

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Finally, thank you for reading this far. Any ‘confusion’ in this is entirely my responsibility. As new activists, take only what is useful to you – we build our own toolbox because we’re each unique. We also know when to stop – which is why I have to have ‘stopped’. I need to do pay attention to ‘group process’ before I go any further because, as an individual, I’m already stumbling.

 

So I ask of you: where do you think we should go next? Think we should stop now or do we want to carry on? Perhaps this is the conversation we needed that’s been  missing. If it isn’t, what do you think might need to happen now? The harmful are included on any planning because they form the problem, solution and evidence. In fact, like our own, their existence must be included if we are to be at all balanced. We are not like them, remember – our behaviour is different. What we do have is a not-so-successful-it-seems history of ‘managing’ it and we left a few Laws behind the last time we did.

In solidarity

 

Dee

xxx

 

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#DearCJSprofessionals We seem to have a very serious problem

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A few weeks ago, I had this idea about tweeting #DearDVPolice as a social media exercise in communication between police and public on the difficult subject of domestic violence. As you can see, from this blogpost (only just now un-password protected), I took the matter further because I have an interest in improving understanding between problem-solvers and those experiencing problems. The idea took off but soon belly-flopped when it got to @CollegeOfPolice, who leaped from huge enthusiasm to complete silence within a single afternoon. This was probably attributable to one of the many negative social labels I carry. Still, I gave them a couple of weeks to see if they’d get their act together and then said I was thinking of unprotecting the blog. “Go ahead” came the response “we welcome all kinds of ideas” as if they had never heard from me before. I felt as though I was dealing with “Dumb and dumber” because this behaviour lacked any real insight into the way women use the social media. It’s worth exploring this possibility again simply because results elsewhere have shown them to be effective.

From my CJS perspective, as a desister, there seem to be two schools of thought within the system at the moment. The first one – the school to which I belong – seeks to improve CJS ‘community relations’ from all sides. This includes identifying the problems, which leads to problem-solving whatever (or whoever) is getting in the way of effective lawful social solutions. For the purposes of this blog, I would confirm the existence of highly competent professionals across the entire CJS who adopt a similar approach. I’ve met them. They rarely have a problem with my desistance perspective because my intention is for the community to benefit. They are the most refreshing people you could wish to meet even though most say there is little they can do personally but tend to forget how powerful just listening can be.

The second learning mindset – this “School for Dumb and Dumber” – is the catalyst for this blog because it’s short-sighted approach is raising some very serious moral and ethical issues for the whole CJS, particularly in its attitudes to women. Bringing these out into the open where everyone can see them does, at the very least, define the problem because victims have the experience of how this system either failed or succeeded for them.

With regard to the issue of on-line abuse of women, the ‘second school’ is now making its attitudes very plain. What ‘Dumb and Dumber’ forget is that their ‘public policy’ now sets a social ‘standard’ of what is acceptable in the eyes of their ‘law’. The consequence produces a ‘virtual’ social sanction which permits the social-media abuse of women, both individually and collectively, and which completely ignores any evidence of the harm this ‘policy’ is actually causing the victims. In the matter of on-line bullying and stalking, the School of Dumb and Dumber transform the UK social media into a place where it’s perfectly acceptable to graphically abuse women until they are ‘dead’ or in hiding and to collude with blaming victims who object to it. Please bear in mind that the distinctions between on-line and real death are now extremely blurred – we already have a death count for this stuff. Whilst the prohibition of psychological torture is recognised as absolute in human rights law, its standard is not being applied by those responsible for UK law enforcement within the social media. With each failure to contain the problem, the danger of lethal violence towards women grows in real life with the end result of this ‘public policy’ can be measured by the death toll.

There are people in the CJS who understand this but I’m not sure you quite ‘get’ just how serious it has become – not yet, anyway. This ‘blockage’ seeks to systematically silence the abused whilst letting the abusers off the hook. The way around the problem is to remove it for the victims by enabling them to talk to you directly. Some stuff will be uncomfortable to hear; some may leave professionals feeling defensive but if we’re willing to give it a try I think we all might learn a very great deal in the process, particularly as to whether some CJS policy decisions can be reasonably regarded at lawful.

I’d like us to start having a conversation about what we can do to put a stop to what is going on here because I suspect this School of Dumb and Dumber are now way over a legal line they were never supposed to cross.

Attitudes towards Women within the Criminal Justice System

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Warning: Suicide and other PTSD triggers

 

When I was a prisoner, there were times when the atmosphere on the wing – or sometimes even throughout the entire prison itself – would become so toxic that I’d bang myself in my pad. There were times when I actually asked wing staff to bang me in so I could get away from it. I may be a battler but there are times when all I want to do is get away because my own mental health can’t take anymore. This worked but only to a certain extent.

 

A toxic atmosphere in prison as always very loud and nearly always violent. These are the times when the riot bell keeps going off until I no longer have to ask to be banged in – we all end up on lock-down because it’s the only way the staff can cope. Whilst there are always ‘screws’ in prisons, I was always grateful to the authentic professionals because they dealt with the worst kind of behaviour human beings can display. It may have taken time but it got sorted and those of us who simply wanted to get on with doing our time were able to with some degree of civilisation.

 

Mind you, there were times when even lock-down was a nightmare. Prisoners can still be loud and violent, even if they’re alone in their own pad. Flooding the cell, smashing up the fixtures and fittings, smashing TV’s, playing loud music, shouting at other prisoners, shouting at the staff and simply just shouting. The violence in the atmosphere would trigger self-harming and suicidal ideation amongst those of us with mental health problems, which meant that the pressure doubled on the staff. It could take days to sort out, which meant that if I was feeling suicidal or in need of support, I often had to wait as long for assistance to arrive. I often found myself caught between my own needs and the needs of those who were resolving the problem, simply because I was grateful that they were. My crimes had occurred because no-one stepped in to stop what was happening. I learned, in prison, the behaviour that would set the riot bell off. I learned that, in a healthy community, there were some attitudes that were simply not tolerated and which would incur sanctions if the individual persisted. Through the complaints procedures, I made certain this was applied to both prisoner or staff which was not difficult – staff are lawfully obliged, under Prison Rules, to set a good example too. All I wanted, when the prisoners went FUBAR, was for the Prison Rules to be applied fairly and equally to everyone. That’s not because I want to be particularly authoritarian because I believe some rules need to be broken; I wanted the Rules applied because, when they were, peace broke out. It meant we could get on with making life bearable. I lived on long-term sentence wings for the most part and, in peace-time, we could get our chores done – cleaning, washing, cooking and hanging out together. In peace-time, the staff were able to have conversations with their ‘no-bother’ prisoners that weren’t just about the emotional fall-out living with ‘prisoners-at-war’. We could remember we were human beings together instead of ‘just-doings’.

 

The reason I tell this story is because I’ve just come through a prisoner-inspired shitstorm. This one I wasn’t able to step away from, so I ended up doing exactly what I did in prison. I reported what I was seeing to those who hold positions of ‘authority’, both prisoners and ‘staff’. Because this kicked off outside prison, ‘staff’ in this instance were people who know what it is to hold authority within the criminal justice system that happen to be part of my twitter community, and particularly who have responsibility for enforcing either rules or law in person. I ‘spoke’ to both prison and police officers, together with one leader outside enforcement – none of them had any personal authority to act but they do know how to listen and I needed someone to hear me. In prison parlance, my counsellor put me on an ACTT last Friday. I hadn’t realised that this benefits torture stuff I’m experiencing had gone so deep but I’m way inside my Red Zone and the meter is still rising. I know about the ACTT because she did something afterwards that showed her concern for me and I’m very grateful to her for that. It validates how I’m feeling. The only other time I’ve experienced this has been in prison. An ACTT, for those who don’t know what I mean, is a suicide watch, which can range from four times a day to constant observation – I’ve been on every scale. What the procedure did, in my experience – (I think I’d probably be on around 15 min obs if this was an ACTT) – was to ‘concern’ the professional officers and, again, it showed in what they did.

 

I am so grateful that in this latter-day woman’s jail I find myself in, on an ACTT, the ‘procedure’ still seems work.

 

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That kind of brief check brings a visit afterwards because I’m not only feeling suicidal, I’m expressing fear too. Fear usually comes after I’ve done something that challenges the thinking process of so-called ‘authority’ and attracted some inappropriate or unprofessional comment from a ‘screw’. The screws learned, the hard way, to treat me with respect but there are always those who don’t want to learn. Someone has to stop them but it comes at a very hard price for those who try – ask a prison officer. It means they can hear me when I say I just can’t take anymore and unless this energy stops, women are going to start dying. We’re already cutting up.

 

My friends are expressing concern for me but I appear to have fallen out with quite a few people who didn’t quite appreciate that I really do make up our my mind and reserve my right to strongly disagree with them. They are disagreeing with my conscience and, if their behaviour is being socially condoned, being behind my door seems like a wise place to be. I need to talk because this is how women work through their problems and I am a woman. I refuse to be silenced when, as a desister, I see a very serious problem concerning public protection that isn’t being dealt with.

 

If trigger behaviour like that of Ben Gunn (which involved these women – here, here and was complicated by this ) had occurred in prison, we’d all be heading into deep shit because, in the words of my bestest prison officer friend IRL, ‘the lunatics are running the asylum’. I’ve been told to leave this bloke alone by a number of people but, you know what, they can fuck off now. I’m not going to play this game even if it kills me!

 

As a desister, I want to register a formal complaint with the entire Criminal Justice system about this! Why isn’t his behaviour being reined in? It wouldn’t be permitted on the wings! This is deliberately provocative behaviour and I’m appalled that anyone is colluding with it! Could we please remember what often happens to these so-called ‘predatory’ 13 year olds after a middle-aged man has finished with his statutory-rape fantasies about her! Let’s have some fucking reality in here!!!

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/mar/30/prisonsandprobation.mentalhealth

http://www.newstatesman.com/alan-white/2012/11/women-are-suffering-prison

http://www.howardleague.org/francescrookblog/women-and-the-criminal-justice-system

 

What is this? I hear a great deal about his ‘rights’ but whatever they consist of, they are inhuman to women like me. The Criminal Justice system has been told about this time and time again, and you are still not listening! Let’s have a discussion about who actually HAS any Human Rights in this situation. I haven’t ‘spoken’ to a single woman who agrees with his views about us. When we step out to object to his deeply disrespectful and offensive behaviour, we are subjected to the most appalling responses. Any woman who approves of what he’s been doing is in an absolute minority – we’ve all told him and I bet he’s still not listening (don’t tell me, I don’t want to know – I’m just dealing with the impact this is having on me – I’m on an ACTT, remember).

 

Do you know the thing that worries me the most? It’s this: I’m being told that there are political reasons why this “*removed under threat of libel*” ** seems to be untouchable – I question the standards of anyone involved in such an arrangement and I question them as a desister. I have no doubt that the man has buried himself deeply into the CJS changes going on at the moment and, as a woman, I have the strongest objections possible to that continuing. Not after this. Given his publicly proclaimed ideas about my ENTIRE GENDER his contribution could only worsen conditions for women prisoners. This is why I object so strongly and will not be silenced. Aren’t the women already in the CJS, or caught the aftermath in this concentration camp of a society, suffering enough for you already? How dare any of you point to this criminal as some kind of model of rehabilitation! I don’t give a fuck if he ‘doesn’t know any better ‘cos its environmental damage’. That’s absolute bollocks! I know ex-cons from far more hardened criminal backgrounds who do desistance – they wouldn’t dream of treating me this way. Neither would any of the other authentic CJS professionals! We treat each other with respect even if we can’t stand each other to begin with. I much prefer respect because it continues working in the worst kind of places.

 

In a place like this, the very best staff listened and made up their own minds – we were allowed to tell it like it is, not have to spout some misogynist fantasy. Ben makes out this is the old sex war stuff and what a hero he is. Bollocks! What kind of hero sides with a convicted rapist? Every hero or heroine I’ve ever met is looking out for the victim but is willing, with conditions, to allow sinners to repent – which is desistance in a nutshell. And every quality prison officer knows the procedure for dealing with bigots and bullies – which does not include staying on normal location. Not unless the lunatics are running the asylum.

 

I know I’m going to be hated for this but you know what? Each time I’ve done something like this in the past, the people I wanted to help often told me how grateful they were that I did. I know exactly what kind of prisoner I’m dealing with in this man – he likes hurting people – they come in all genders and they are the ‘few’ women that need to remain in prison as a matter of public protection. I’m not involved in a sex war – I go after women who do this too. He won’t change because he doesn’t want to – he’ll always hold these opinions – and this is the man ‘politics’ is making untouchable? Whoever is involved with this has no business in the Criminal Justice system unless they can wake up and see whats going on here. How dare this man have any traction or influence within the CJS? And exactly what else is being condoned because, one thing is for certain, its got nothing to do with public protection! Not if half the population have to tolerate this level of disrespect and no behavioural sanctions are being imposed!

 

Perhaps it might be worth remembering that the UK is being told – by EVERYONE – that it’s treatment of women is already breaking Human Rights law. This is how it is done – by giving abusers the power to abuse and not stopping them. I think what is occurring here is hate crime.

 

If you could see a way out of this – my fucking ‘reality’ – do let me know because I’m damned if I choose to live with this. And that’s my own moral and ethical judgment as a desister. And I choose to be ‘banged-in’ about it because that’s what desistance is all about.

 

And the biggest thank you to every prison officer who ever caught me in this frame of mind and managed to get me laughing after I’d ranted and so I could remember to cry. This stuff is so hard on every single dimension. It hits me physically, emotionally and instinctively. It makes me hyper-sensitive, touchy, with very sharp claws that I have to use very wisely – in the face of abuse and abusers, we have to be so fucking perfect because they’re so fucking not.

 

Oh, and if anyone wants to check if Ben Gunn’s knowledge about women is reality-based or merely carved out of a bar of prison soap, get him to write about me. He knows exactly who I am. Get him to tell you about this woman and then you can really get to choose which reality you want to live in.

 

Oh, and I’ve already bagsed the Lawful one in the name of desisters everywhere!

 

 

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**

I notice how quickly the world comes in to edit me. As a woman, I believe I can justify the phrase I used in fact, which then makes it fair comment. As a desister, I will take the advice as a way of demonstrating my ability to learn and correct my behaviour. I’m sure I am as regretful, in this instance, as the man is himself – I would suggest he be very careful with his thoughts though. They can kill.

 

Women, men and finding new ways of relating

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Once in a while I encounter someone who I experience as setting no limits on who I might become for them. When this happens, I’ve always found it helpful to explain the limits I work within.

Here is an example, which began with a twitter conversation and has arrived at the following email:

Good morning, Danny 🙂

Arrggh – the ‘Abyss of Masculine Sexuality’ into which I could have fallen! Thank you so much for being a gentleman and helping me past it!

It might be worth explaining my gratitude in more detail because this is always an issue between women and men in danger of exploding in both our faces – if we can avoid this trap, all the better for us.

When I talk about this, remember I am not talking about you personally. I’m giving you an insight into my problems, not yours. Hopefully this may assist you elsewhere in your own work, especially when it comes to ‘women’s issues’ such as sexism and rape.

Firstly, my personal relationships with men (and women, for that matter) have always been fraught with problems. True; I’ve learned a lot and one of the lessons I’ve learned is that I get on much better with men, as people, when personal sexuality is excluded from the dynamic. I like men but life has left me extremely prickly around sex and sexuality. At 58 – and sans womb after a hysterectomy – I’m no longer driven by hormones into that region and, to be quite honest, I find that to be a relief because it leaves me free to be myself and to channel my desires into other energy.

I’m not the first woman to say that there is something about me that frightens some men. In the sexuality arena, this is because – on a psychic level – some of the harm I’ve experienced in the past has left unexploded minefields any serious suitor would have to cross. Because these unexploded bombs are emotional in nature – and many men have very real problems even hearing the emotional dimensions, let alone navigating them – it seems far more merciful for everyone to simply remove the entire subject from my agenda.

When ‘consent’ is removed, at the extremely early stage, we can see how sexual/gender politics affects the debate on the subject. For example; between us (and because my ‘energy’ contains this ‘No’ from the outset), it enables you to help me sidestep the masculine minefield by being the perfect gentleman – and I can explain to you why this is so helpful to all of us. Firstly because it strengthens trust. When men and women protect and guide each other safely through the minefields of personal relationships, we strengthen each other. Because sexuality and power dynamics are so heightened and corrupted generally at the moment, this is vital for building communities.

When I asked to be included in your web network, I was asking as a teacher and guide. I don’t know whether what I teach is useful or not – that is for you to decide, not me. What I do know is that I can’t function in that role if I’m bound within the limitations of current ideas on human sexuality. By removing that element – but not the minefield (funny how towers surrounded by thickets spring to mind) – I can see who is willing to put that aspect of themselves aside too. It is very clear that you can – which makes you an excellent role model and enhances what I am trying to teach. Thank you, young man. You are a credit to all those who raised you to manhood.

Our example enables me to teach lessons about love.

For example: the ancient Greeks had three words for Love: Eros, Philos and Agape.

Eros is the first expression of it – falling in love; being hit by cupid’s arrow. That kind of thing. There can be this element in a heterosexual man’s feelings for a woman included in his sexual expression. If it is there for both man and woman, then the chances of their love growing into Philos are excellent. Otherwise, Eros blows itself out in the end. It is not a lasting Love.

Philos is the Love that grows between friends. It lasts. It is the kind of Love that keeps couples together ‘forever’ in this world and the next – and it’s the kind of Love I seek to access with you by bypassing Eros altogether. When Philos is established between people (whoever they might be), Love continues to grow and becomes Agape.

Agape is to experience the ‘Oneness’ of the unified Universe – where nothing is excluded excepting those who, by personal choice, exclude themselves. (This is a Principle of Free Will – we all have a choice and if that choice removes us from creation, it must be respected and managed.) It is this experience I am interested in enabling other people to find because the information contained there affects what we believe about ourselves and others. It frees us from many of the limitations we are presently struggling against. What makes it different from all other routes is, in my experience, the fact that it is personal to each of us. Agape is to experience the universe with each one of us – exactly as we are with exactly our history – being perfectly placed to transform our planet and our lives for the better. It is to learn that each moment is a step on our journey and each choice we make opens the door to the next step.

We live in ‘interesting times’, as the old Chinese curse would say. One of the curses that affect us all is the systemic treatment of women globally. I’d suggest that a woman who doesn’t have a minefield around her is a rare bird, which can make life very difficult for men who do see us as people. In addition, the power-abuse dynamic (clearly illustrated in rise of BDSM pornography) seems to overwhelm everything to the point where some men are only interested in what they can get away with.

The advantage to all of us of ‘gentleman’ skills from the men is this. By behaving this way with each other by free choice (as opposed to some social ‘rules’), we can see who can’t behave this way and won’t be corrected. These are those whose free choice is to exclude themselves from Love and they do this by their behaviour. Who they are – or who we are, for that matter – is immaterial. Such issues belong to the relationship between individual and Agape and are none of our business. Our behaviour has to respect this relationship between individual and Divine (which includes Atheism too – it’s none of our business!) and we do this by treating our human relationships as if they are ‘sacred’ because they are!

When we understand this – Agape – we have a much clearer idea about the problems we are all facing as a community capable of experiencing this kind of Love. We care about this energy, so we behave in ways that minimise harm and accelerate healing. This is what I am interested in teaching to anyone who is interested in learning.

I don’t teach details; I teach Principles because these can be translated into our daily life in one way or another. Principles are tools anyone can use in their own way without loss – in fact, when we share how they work in our own life, we often give each other helpful ideas. For example, in my reality, I discipline myself around stealing other peoples’ ideas: the ‘property’ remains with the creatrix – I am only permitted to steal the idea if I can improve and return it in better shape than before. If I can’t improve on it, I must share it as it is, giving full credit to its originator. In a world of patents and copyright, I wonder if that works for others. Please bear in mind the pattern of our unhealthy system to thieve the ideas of women and claim them as their own. We are in the mine-field here, so let’s be careful of each other.

Finally, I’d like to say this. There are legends about crossing this minefield – it is part of the Monomyth. The Planet has nothing against male desire – She evolved it from the Passion of the Creator. The thing is that it is Sacred! You guys get a hard-on for God as well as women – it’s why the early Christian churches displayed you this way and why erections are sometimes called ‘godhead’. What has been forgotten by some is that you channel this energy, you don’t ‘own’ it. When you channel your desire to enthusiastically consenting women who also are friends, you will have a far better time than you have probably had up until now. Adult women have desires too and we can be friends to each other along the way to encountering the one woman who will leave you saying “Thanks but no thanks” to Allah’s offer of all those dark-eyed virgins. What I’d like to see is more gratitude to the women who do offer this to you especially because I don’t. If gentlemen are going to bed friends, remember she will be someone you will be able to easily introduce, without hiding your true relationship, to the woman who is sacred wife to your sacred husband.

This is how I would like us to love each other.

How does that sound to you?

 

Bear in mind that I do not expect these interpersonal boundaries to apply to anyone else but me. I share them because I suspect they might function as an example of  ‘good practice’ amongst those genuinely seeking to transform our troubled world.

 

 

Therapeutic Reflections: Weighing the Pro’s and Con’s

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Mothers Day

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What I’m about to express here needs to be weighed in the balance of fairness and truth because this information concerns two living human beings in opposition  – of which I am one. I was involved in the action, so we have to trust that I have made mistakes; I will be wrong; I have certainly been foolish; and I am probably guilty of any or all ‘accusations’ I may make about others despite how hard I strive not to be them myself – it happens unconsciously. I call it ‘being human’. Therefore the matter needs to be determined by those less self-interested observers. All I ask of my ‘judges’ is that I am not required to carry more than my own fair share of responsibility. Disputes between opposing factions need to be balanced in this way if we, as a species, are ever likely to find a way to live with each other peaceably, let alone continue our existence.

The opposition I speak of began here, continued here and was terminated yesterday, by me, when my opponent issued what I considered a threat. It is the reasons and intent underpinning my actions that I am interested in exploring here and this cannot be done without listening to my opponent first. But first I need to put some boundaries down.

You will see, from her blog, my opponent claims the right of confidentiality regarding the emails we exchanged. This was not discussed with me and, in fact, violates some ethical aspects of both my desistance and shamanic standards which require personal transparency. I experience such unspoken requirements as controlling because they operate in a way unsuited to me. Nevertheless, it is also true that I did not discuss my own position and it is customary to treat personal sharing as private between two people. When ‘confidentiality’ occurs between two therapeutic professionals, there is a requirement for supervision and it is this I am seeking. This ensures that mistakes and faults are identified in order to protect the most vulnerable within the dynamic and minimises potential abuses of controlling behaviour from either ‘side’. This blog meets my professional requirement for this. I am willing to meet my opponent’s need for confidentiality provided that she complies with her own rules. If the content of our emails finds its way into the social media, I will assume that she has consented to its release and will publish our exchanges because I believe they provide extremely useful consciousness-raising material for other women. In the event that the information arrives within the public-domain via some other source (ie: the release came from neither of us), then I am happy to discuss the matter with her but will assume that the shamanic spirit I aspire to emulate wanted it made public. This is my boundary.

It is not my intent to be the cause of any harm to my opponent, as she vividly reports herself. I have been harmed too often myself to have any wish to see it done to others, whether such harm comes from me, from others or from ourselves. My intervention, which she reports, is not unusual behaviour as I’m sure others can confirm if it ever became necessary. I believe it is important to confront harmful behaviour but it is equally important to protect the individual when doing so. No matter how I might feel personally about those who express personal differences so vast they appear alien, the Creator Spirit put them here on this Earth with me. If I have a right to be here so, too, do they and it is not for me to question the wisdom of creation. These are matters beyond my ability to understand – they are existential no matter how much I might struggle to accommodate this within my limited human awareness. In addition, I have my criminal offences to consider. I lost track of this understanding ten years ago – to remain within any rehabilitation process, I had better not lose track of it now!

So it was not the person that caused me to sever my contact with my opponent. What caused that was controlling behaviour.  Because I am bound by my confidentiality agreement, I cannot discuss my opponent here – so I have another example I can use to illustrate what I mean by ‘controlling’.

This example arose during my voluntary three month stay in a psychiatric unit following my first suicide attempt. It was my first experience of psychiatry and the ward was an example of the worst the profession can produce. One of the features of psychiatric illness is an absence of boundaries among patients. Given that this unboundaried experience is ‘in the field’ within psychiatric institutions, undifferentiated establishments are likely to be produce similar behaviour amongst the staff group too. A healthy establishment ensures properly therapeutically-supervised staff so such boundary breaches are identified and managed – nobody is perfect and everyone is learning. But this particular unit – in 2002 – was not managed well and the patients suffered serious over-prescribing of medication; unnecessary forceful restraint resulting in injury; ill-considered and punitive instructions; and, most of all, a failure to empathise with the needs of patients. The story of the psychiatrist who called me, as a patient, ‘You people’ did not come from this unit, but he could well have done. The level of unexplored prejudiced reporting by staff, in my case alone, was horrifying and I challenged it whenever it came to my attention. For a while, my fellow patients reported some improvements in their treatment but I doubt that these lasted, given the unwillingness of some staff to consider the points I was raising as having any validity.

At one point and after a series of abusive incidents by staff, I found myself in conversation with the Unit Manager and we explored her thinking when it came to patients – her approach being the ‘medical’ and mine, ‘therapeutic’. I encountered a ‘wall-against-learning’ when she informed me that she did not bring her heart into her work. Her heart, she told me, was firmly protected and professionally unavailable to patients. In other words, she confirmed my suspicions that her unit was professionally “heartless” and, in doing so, validated my experience as a patient.  Not all psychiatric units are managed in this way and the one I transferred to afterwards was much better because it used a therapeutic model where emotional intelligence could be accessed for everyone’s’ benefit.

When I reflect on that conversation, what I notice these days is the need for control. The difference between the Ward Manager and I is the difference between control and containment. We all have ‘containment’ needs – it is not healthy for any human being to be completely without boundaries because we are social animals. We need only look to crime or Parliament to see what occurs when humans become unboundaried, especially in our negative behaviour. There is, however, a universe of difference between containment and control.

Containment recognises that whilst harmful behaviour requires firm boundaries,  it is harmful to our individual soul-self to impose rules on who we are permitted to be. As humans, our internal experience of Life is grow to whatever size we are able to aspire to, usually with effort and support from others. Where natural boundaries enter the equations are in issues of manifestation. Manifest life is naturally boundaried when it is healthy. When manifestation, however, spins into unboundaried growth this is often referred to as some form of cancer. Uncontained cancer of the body results in death of the person – the same is true for uncontained human activity in the manifest world, especially when it is enacted on a global scale. For both, the issue concerns that which refuses to, or is unable, die. Cancer cells have lost the action of their ‘death instruction’ and, as far as I can see, the same is true for human societies – nothing and no-one lasts forever in manifestation. Physical life is boundaried by death. Only Spirit can claim access to a boundless eternity – the rest is subject to death and taxes (or karma, if you like) for anyone walking the human road.

The questions of where we place our containment boundaries are a matter for each individual and are governed by human cultural developmental processes. In culture of the West, we acquire this through use of our ego – our initial sense of “Me” – although we fail to teach the way of the Soul. The ego serves a developmental purpose in that it enables us to distinguish what is good for us from what is not-so-good. This is important for survival but to live requires a further step. When we are bound by our ego, our ability to set healthy boundaries, for ourselves or others, is low because we become fascinated by self, by me and mine. We depend upon good parenting to teach us how to live well. Regrettably, in the West, such teaching remains uncommon and we can see the global results in the news. We fail to mature, so as adults we perpetuate unhealthy narcissistic behaviour that  results in our seeking to control everything from people, usually via ‘rules’ which we apply to others (but frequently not to ourselves) and even the planet herself. Whilst our bodies may mature to adulthood, individuals and groups remain trapped in the illusions of ego and the ‘me-and mine-first’ mentality. Rules of Ego are highly restrictive, especially when imposed upon those who fail to fit the prevailing culture. Our ego-bound self passes negative judgment on everything that fails to conform with its own idea of ‘good’ and imprisons the other (not-Ego) within those thought-forms. It is the ego who determines and labels scroungers, skivers, cheats and liars. In an ego-ridden society, we act this out and people die because ego refuses to make way for any other life than that which falls within its own, highly limited perspective.

A child’s developing ego needs to experience being a part of our far greater living organism if they are to come into their heritage of  human psychological maturity. Our ego has to ‘die’ a natural, appropriate, death so our Soul can step forward to learn. Our ego needs to be shown these connections but our healthy Soul does not. Our Soul is already aware of our connectedness to Life in all its forms – all it requires is for our ego to get out of our way so we can explore this Gift more fully. We don’t ‘lose’ anything by it – all that occurs is the ego is relegated to its proper place. Nevertheless my experience tells me that no one can force another to relinquish their ego unwillingly because this is a matter of personal choice. All we can ever do is invite. It is a matter of Respect and Free Will.

To the best of my ability, I offered an invitation for my opponent to grow beyond the control of ego and step, more fully, into the experience of Soul. She declined my offer as she is free to do. As a former therapist, this is unsurprising – no Western ego I have ever met has ever relinquished its desire to control everything without some form of to-the-death battle because this is how the Western ego experiences it. To access the source energy of the Soul, the ego has to release its need for control and being “In Charge” and this is perceived as ego-death. What the ego fails to appreciate is that this death experience is a necessary developmental step in becoming a mature human. It is a life-death-life transformation where the individual resurrects into greater dimensions. These often manifest as increased selfless contributions to the health of their community rather than simple aggrandising the self. Without this, communities of all descriptions experience this never-ending war where selfish, greedy super-ego’s fight for control of what is not theirs to begin with and, quite literally, the body count rises exponentially. The problem I see with Western culture is that we seem to have established an entire social structure based upon the personal ego needs of the unformed and selfish psyche whilst refusing to take the very necessary steps to achieve human maturity. The difference between the two? A healthy adult does not require lessons in how to give to or share with othersan ego-bound child-adult  is the very manifestation of selfishness and refuses the lesson of sharing every time.

What I experienced with my opponent was, I believe, an encounter with an ego that did not want to ‘die’ – what others see is their own business; this is what I saw and I responded accordingly by withdrawing immediately and severing my connection. An ego ‘at bay’ is a highly dangerous criatura – it believes it is about to ‘die’ and is readying itself for a battle for ‘life’. I saw glimpses of this in remarks like:

“I do believe in the good of the whole and that will inevitably mean than some will be sacrificed along the way to achieve that.”

My dispute with my opponent is that those subject to this ‘sacrifice’ are already dying and her position suggests that more need to die too. An ego fighting for its life is perfectly capable of heartlessly destroying other people in its determination to exist on its own terms. I call this ego ‘it’ because it is clearly inhuman when it manifests in some. I have yet to meet a powerful ego whose opinion of themselves requires no further bolstering and which would suffer no real harm by being put on the starvation ‘diet’ it is busy prescribing for others over whom these egos have a public duty of care. The evidence of this is plain in the histories of the West. That my opponent’s ego claims that is it acceptable to be entirely  unboundaried in manifestation is also evident:

“I believe in freedom of the individual to be, have, do what they want as long as it’s legal  (my parenthesis) and it is not for anyone else to say it’s too much.”

The final nail in the coffin, however, was this tweet – send in response to a conversation I was having with someone else about the experience of engaging with my opponent.

FireShot Screen Capture #011 - 'Twitter _ StokeParkCllr_ @wildwalkerwoman I think you ___' - twitter_com_StokeParkCllr_status_310335972854358016

In my own mind, it is clear that my opponent is getting ready to fight based upon the assumption that I was launching some kind of sneak attack against her (?). Actually, I was being an unhappy dickhead at the time (I reserve that right as a human being!) because I was struggling with my some of my responses to her private emails which, given the boundary of confidentiality, could only find expression via information contained in her public blog. I HATE being controlled into silence before I’ve even been asked! And her patronising attitude – it’s enough to do your head in. I was bound to act it out somewhere. Both Martin and Giles are forgiving people when it comes to locawoman. Others will have to make up their own minds whether I am assessing my actions and behaviour with any accuracy here. What I am absolutely certain of is that I have been on very best possible behaviour here and I am alarmed that she thinks she can treat me that way. I might even wonder if she was being intentionally provocative?

Since my actions seemed to have triggered my opponent’s ego defences sufficiently for her to issue threats, it is right and proper that I remove myself from the situation as quickly as possible, particularly given my history. Any kind of personal development can only be achieved by consent and it seemed plain to me that no further consent from my opponent was forthcoming. This is the understanding of the Soul. But consequences always accrue to any of our decisions and it helps to be clear about any change of intention at this stage.

My decision to sever contact on Twitter by blocking was based on following reasons:

  • If I were to remain within the confrontation, I would be facing a ‘killing’ energy.
  • I have faced killing energies before but, as a shaman, I am only permitted to act in the defence of another. If I don’t have to endure it, I leave asap.
  • For the record, I may have been born into the Labour tribe but I am, in no way, a member of it now because I believe all party politics in my country are now riddled with corruption. I don’t need to be a member of a group to express my own opinion. A replay of the War between Labour and Tory could not disinterest me more. I was looking for something new. I have not found it which is disappointing.
  • I have already faced this kind of killing energy from a woman and the consequence, to me, was a seven year prison sentence because I faced her down with her own energy. That was then. This is now and to remain in harmony with my adoptive community means I must walk away from such situations wherever possible. It is possible in this situation.
  • To engage in such a challenge with a killing energy now would be the death of me. My heart-mind cannot withstand the strain anymore of facing down those who seek to kill those aspects of my self I most value. Whilst I might do this for welfare of my healthy community, it is certainly not appropriate with an unwilling and armed opponent. Better to let go and set my opponent free – her journey of Spirit is none of my business.
  • Finally, my friends might forgive me dying in a confrontation if my intent was to benefit my community but I doubt it would be forthcoming for this purpose. It might also create serious problems for my opponent. I have no wish to be the source of any more unnecessary suffering than I already am responsible for.

What I can do is pause and reflect upon this experience and my reason for engaging in the first instance.

Certainly, it began when I stepped in to support a friend grappling with my opponent because I knew she was already vulnerable and in pain. My opponent was not aware of this and I would like to believe that, had she known, she might have dealt my friend a different set of cards.  Nevertheless, in more general terms, my opponent does not appear to have a problem inflicting pain on others because, she says, she is suffering too. I have no reason to disbelieve her but the problem with human-on-human-inflicted-suffering is that its depths – especially in an ego-driven society – know no boundaries and the outcomes are frequently harmful to life itself. Nor do comparisons between ‘my’ suffering and ‘yours’ offer any real solution unless the individuals concerned are seen holistically. In my opinion, my opponent appears to understand some of this but wants to restrict her understanding and, therefore, compassion to ego knowledge and not to the Wisdom of Soul. She is who she makes claim to be, then she might be on the right road for her – but she’s a long ways to travel yet before she catches up with me. This is true for myself too excepting my catching up is in different dimension altogether.

My opponent belongs to my past now.

In closing, I want to say this. I have yet to block my opponent’s access to my blog because I do not believe in discussing others behind their back as a general rule. There are exceptions but this is not one of them. I do however seek no further contact or engagement with her. I experience the standards she unconsciously imposes upon me by her politics as a violation of my integrity and the rules of respect. I want her to leave me alone. I want absolutely no further contact with the woman.

If she is to be believed, this should not be a problem.

FireShot Screen Capture #013 - 'Twitter _ StokeParkCllr_ @havantacluOTMP @wildwalkerwoman ___' - twitter_com_StokeParkCllr_status_310345192693694464

“Us and Them”: #Tories, #Women, #CasualStigma, #Envy & #ESAEndGame

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Whilst this is essentially an activist’s blog, I’d like to begin with a tribute to my cat (pictured above). His name was Jasper and he disappeared a few days ago. My intuition and local knowledge tells me he won’t be coming home again. Whilst I do my utmost to see the positive in others, I also have to face reality. The village I live in is cruel to cats. It’s a local thing – we have pigeon fanciers and other residents who poison or shoot them. In the past three years, I have lost three cats to this ‘final solution’. Jasper is the latest.

 

Cats have always found me if I have not been finding them first. We have an affinity to each other and like each other’s company. Jasper found me after my second cat vanished and my neighbour’s cat was poisoned. He was an opinionated criatura. He didn’t much take to the female cat I was asked to rescue or the kitten she produced but he never lost his affection for me. He would come to me in my distress and offer affection freely. My lap was his home and my bed was his next best choice. He took no nonsense from dogs and he made friends with all the local cat-lovers, visiting homes and seducing free meals out of each. And he was too young to have died naturally.

 

As an animal lover, we have to accept that our animal companions will leave us simply on the grounds of life-span. But they leave a hole in our souls when they do that is filled with grief. Now I have a Jasper-shaped hole in mine and it affects how I respond to human events. Yesterday was filled with those.

 

As some of my twitter follows are aware, I’ve been engaging with a Tory councillor recently. In truth, we have found we have a great deal in common, particularly when it comes to seeing trying to the best in people. Our difference – and it is a very great one – is that she can see the best in individuals but struggles to see any value in groups that are not her own. She is an intelligent, imaginative woman, who is committed to her local community – which is not mine (Tories are few and far between where I live). I can see the value of her chosen profession because I took a similar route out of my own problems when I was younger. Where we part company is in the matter of community.

 

From my perspective, the purpose of becoming an all-round ‘professional’ adult human being involves, at some point, a letting-go of personal ego for the ‘greater good’ of the community. It is a process of self-sacrifice which, if you happen to be the person inside the experience, teaches us that we are far more than just our ego. We learn that every time we do something, we affect and impact upon the entire living web around us. My own version now includes being willing to die for others like me – and I am not alone in this. Yesterday, whilst my Tory friend was explaining why she wanted me to learn how ‘not to envy’ those who are financially successful, another woman whom I really admire was putting her own life on the line for others in her position… again. If you want to understand why, check out #ESAEndGame on twitter. The voices there speak far more eloquently than I ever could about the depth and extent of the problems we are facing. I have made my own contribution but there are many others with similar tales who have been less fortunate than me. The fact that, following my GP’s intervention, Atos cancelled my WCA assessment and the DWP recategorised  my ESA claim (which, to my astonishment, means an increase in my benefits) was only made possible by the hard work of people like @Suey2y, the Black Triangle campaign and many other individuals, known and unknown, seen and unseen. Their work was done, not for personal gain – all the campaigners want is enough to live on – but for their community. All that effort, intelligence, wisdom and experience given freely to those in genuine need, without charge – to me, this is the best a human being can aspire to and I feel honoured to be in their company. The sad part is that I believe my Tory friend doesn’t understand this and I fear I cannot teach her. All I can say is that, on a personal level, if I had to emulate either woman, I would choose to be like @Suey2y everyday of the week and twice on Sundays. I have tried the route my Tory friend is on and, for me, it “grows no corn” – hers are the teachings of selfishness, as far as I am concerned, and I’ve done my best to leave those behind me. With all due respect to her, I aspire to become someone better than that. The rewards of selfishness do not interest me anymore.

 

Interestingly, at the same time, the #MHChat twitter community also took to the airwaves on the subject of #Envy but not before @MentalHealthCop had created the hashtag #CasualStigma. That a serving police officer dedicated to providing a professional service to the public could come up with something so thoughtful and compassionate is wondrous to me. That he can see the connections between the casual stigma directed at women ( #EverySexism ) and what he sees in his own job working with those who have mental health problems restores my personal faith in the police as a whole. He sees the overall problem this kind of stigmatisation causes and has done something to raise our awareness of it in his own field. He could have chosen selfishness – many police officers do – but instead he’s given voice to a largely silenced community, mislabelled and misunderstood, perhaps because he knows that we can change nothing for the better without listening to everyone involved, not just those with money, power or influence. Which leads neatly into the subject of envy.

 

Whilst I do know something about the subject of envy, last night’s #MHChat helped me clarify the distinction between an envy that is benign from that which is malicious. Envy is a feeling that arises from lack. We experience it when we see others with talents, skills, abilities or ‘stuff’ we do not have ourselves and everyone will have these feelings at some point or another in their lives. None of us are exempt. It’s what we do with those feelings when they arrive that makes the difference. Benign envy understands the feeling as an indicator of where we need to grow next. When we envy, it remains possible to look to see how the envied got that way. As one of my old therapists put it; “Take a look at what the person had to do to get to the point where you envy them. Then you can decide whether you are willing to make the same effort yourself. If you’re not, then be grateful that someone has so you can enjoy their expertise and, if you are willing to make a go of it, be grateful to them for showing where you need to grow.” Benign envy is open to envy’s cure: gratitude. I suspect it is this version of envy my Tory friend is referring to when she talks about Labour envying her party. Malicious envy, on the other hand, is a very different criatura altogether.

 

Malicious envy occurs when we see someone with something we believe we can never have. The sense of loss created in us by this realisation triggers a furious rage. Somewhere along the line, we decide that if we can’t have it, they can’t either and we launch an envious attack in order to destroy the ‘object’ that highlights our ‘loss’ (note the dehumanising that occurs here). We treat the envied as our enemy – even though all they are probably doing is getting on with their lives. The declaration of war comes from the envier long before the envied realises what is happening to them and the results are usually catastrophic. Envious attacks contain no mercy. To effectively destroy the quality we envy, we must destroy the human being who has this quality. To justify our actions, our total lack of mercy or compassion towards the envied and the bitter resentment of our envious attacks, we must reduce that whole person to someone despised. Our selfish self cannot permit them to exist in our world – we want them gone, removed, dead, obliterated. The very existence of the envied is offensive to us because they are reminders of our inadequacy. When such feelings run rampant through governments, we start to see genocide.

 

Is there a cure for this? I really don’t know – it’s a personal choice. Are we willing to acknowledge the appalling outcomes of our darkest feelings? Not everyone is, but if we’re willing to try then a good place to start is with our own experiences of being envied. We all have those too. We have all had experiences of being envied; where others take an unexplained but intense dislike to us and act on it. Remembering what that felt like is a route to having empathy for the object of our envious attack. When empathy finally arrives – which must include an acceptance of the darkest of our nastier emotions – envy shifts into benign mode where it can be therapeutically transformed into personal growth. However, if an envier refuses to learn and persists in such destructive behaviour, then their behaviour needs to be managed, usually by the police and courts, because uncontrolled envious attacks are, literally, crimes. There are no boundaries to a full-blown envious attack and people often die as a result. For those interested in these subjects, #MHChat is suggesting a causal link between envy and next week’s topic of #Bullying – why not join in!

 

There is one aspect of Envy Dynamic that is worthy of attention here. Those who have explored this in greater depth that I describe it thus: the relationship between envier and envied can be likened to a rope-bridge between two mountain peaks. Within the dynamic, the envier severs the bridge ropes on their mountain top but then blames the envied for the lack of bridge. It is the ultimate win/lose, where the envier ‘wins all’ and the envied ‘loses all’. This is why envious attacks are so destructive and it stems from profoundly deep level of selfishness that believes itself to be justified and our actions, justifiable. It is my own understanding of the deeper dynamics of envy that leave me despairing about my Tory friend.

 

On a personal level, my friend understands benign envy as a spur to personal growth but get her on the subject of money and, from my perspective, she espouses opinions that are very firmly based in malicious envy. From what I can understand (and I may be wrong), she believes that folk like me envy Tory wealth and what we really need is to learn how to get our own. Very little compassion exists for the human elements of this demand. If we don’t, then according to the Tory Party propaganda she uses, it becomes justifiable to inflict the casual stigma of skivers, scroungers and other personally destructive epithets to people like me in order to confirm our lack of any material worth to society. We become leeches to their material wealth and this must not be permitted. I suspect she regards me as the exception to this rule because I have stepped beyond her labelling and have become human to her. In doing so, I have surprised her because I don’t appear to envy those that have riches. She’s right. I don’t envy them at all. In fact, I look at their behaviour and find myself repulsed.

 

I have no problem with people making money. My problem resides with those, who I believe envy folk like me, for whom no amount of money is ever enough. When it spins out of control it looks like this. How does anyone need so much money? How many houses, islands, continents, planets, does one ego need in order to prove their ‘worth’? To me, this is a level of personal selfishness that knows no bounds and has no problem depriving countless others of their very real life needs – food, shelter and a valued place in society. There is no honour in stealing your ‘worth’ from the vulnerable, hungry, needy and destitute. Honour comes from what we can give to our community regardless of money. @Suey2y and @MentalHealthCop have honour because they give of themselves freely to the communities they serve. Even very wealthy people can have honour, as Joanne Rowling has already demonstrated by falling off the Forbes list by giving her wealth away to charity. In all these examples, the qualities of mercy and compassion are plain to the naked eye and they provide a sharp contrast to the merciless attitudes and actions of our Tory-led government.

 

In all things, I aim to be spiritual and I have learned this: where any form of Mercy and Compassion are absent, there evil dwells. Jesus – who lived the destitute’s life – teaches that we can serve Love or we can serve Money, but we can’t serve both. He is the one, so it is claimed, who said “The love of money is the root of all evil”. Each and every authentic Spirituality I am aware of teaches that true worth depends on the quality of the Spirit within each person, no matter who or where they are in the world. In Spiritual terms, how much money we have in the bank is irrelevant.  In fact, too much money has a corrosive impact upon the individual, because as their money grows so does their selfishness. Do I envy these rich people? Not a chance! My aspirations are rooted in my yearning to find acceptance and belonging in an inclusive community that recognises my value even as it sees my failings. If we have to use money, then let’s relegate it to its proper place – a simple means of energetic exchange within a healthy community. It is the same kind of exchange the planet shares freely with humanity and all other forms of life that dwell within Her. Only our narcissistic egos fail to see the value in this sharing and, like the tyrant Holdfast, seeks to gather it all to ourselves. But no individual ego is capable of experiencing this quality of sharing. Ego’s are too small, too limited, too selfish and, frequently, too lazy to make the effort to grow our Soul beyond the fascinations of self to the wonders of being part of a living planet. We learn these lessons when we dispense with our ego in favour of transcendence.

 

In reality, we are not separate from the planet we live in. We are an evolutionary miracle with, in my opinion, a far-too-high opinion of ourselves – especially in the West. The West’s Cult of Narcissism, however, severs us from this experience by destroying the rope bridge between self and soul by envious attacks upon anything that contains the Spirit of Life. Don’t believe me? Then it’s time you made the effort to research this yourself. Perhaps, in time, you may learn to be grateful for all those ‘valueless’ people who simply want a fairer distribution of this unearned and hoarded wealth. You see, when we understand community we realise that no single person is ever ‘more valuable’ than another and certainly not to the degree that current monetary wealth or corporate interests appear to be claiming. The endless destruction of people, habitats, environments and animal life, committed without mercy, bear all the hallmarks of an envious attack. I’m not interested in money for its own sake – God knows, money is finite because its influence ends with death. I’m interested in the kind of Spirit that will accompany me after death.

 

If, during life, I need to make use of money then what I seek is enough to meet my needs as a functioning and contributing adult member of my community; from people to work to cats. I, for one, need no more than that. In our present world, however, I take very strong issue with those who believe I should make do with less simply to satisfy their personal and misplaced narcissistic demands for something as ultimately meaningless as money. To them, I would say this:

 

I have not deprived you of anything. I don’t need to – you’ve done that all by yourself. If you envy my Spirit so much, why don’t you strive to find your own instead of seeking to destroy mine? And if you refuse the effort, who is lazy; you or me?  Discover your own capacity for mercy and compassion for all kinds of others instead of just you and yours! Learn the kind of humility you demand of me because, from where I stand, you don’t look humble at all! I may be no better than you but, beyond doubt, I am definitely no worse! Finally, if you want to fund the same level of Spirit I am exhibiting here, albeit imperfectly, then the end game will be to give away your money because you will no longer need it and the community can put it to better uses than you will ever find on your own.

 

If we must judge envy, then let’s judge the consequences rather than the feeling. If my assessment that current Tory Party policy is currently fuelled by malicious envy towards ‘outsiders’ has any basis in fact, then we ought to be able to know by looking at outcomes. Last night’s #ESAEndGame twitter storm – which trended as the UK’s No. 1 for a time –can provide all the evidence necessary. There are other examples: #EverydaySexism #CasualStigma #Racism #Bullying to name but a very few. When people suffer and die in such ways, the fingerprints of an envious attack are not hard to find, especially when accompanied by blaming, justification and mercilessness resentment. This dynamic appears at all levels; from government policy to, in my view, the selfish interests of pigeon-fanciers who have no problem killing their neighbour’s cats. Today, that last one is enough evidence to satisfy me.

 

Goodbye, my beautiful cat. I still love you, Jasper – you were my friend-in-need and I am grateful for all the time we did spend together.

 

As for my Tory friend, she will have to make up her own mind.

 

 

Dear #Atos and #DWP

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Further to my earlier communication with you, this is to confirm the following:

My GP has made her own assessment and written to you. I understand she believes attending your one will harm me and is saying I need to be exempted from this process. I’ve been waiting for my copy to arrive before contacting you by phone but as it still hasn’t come I will be phoning you today regardless. You’re just going to have to take my word for it. I have also contacted my mental health professionals on the advice of my GP.

Please understand that I believe you put me at risk of a further heart attack each and every time I have to have direct contact with you. This belief includes letters, phone calls and face-to-face because I believe you are trying to kill me. There’s been an interesting series of reports that support my belief since my last blog.

So, in case you missed any of them:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tG9a22hbrcY&feature=youtu.be

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/labour-mp-vents-fury-over-1724041

http://atosvictimsgroup.co.uk/2013/01/31/ex-atos-nurse-reveals-the-real-inside-story/

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/atos-scandal-benefits-bosses-admit-1344278#.USxzoVAHT21.twitter

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2094805/Why-does-David-Cameron-insist-disability-cuts-sickened-party.html

http://www.afteratos.com/?p=3033

I believe that, presented with this kind of evidence, a reasonable person might conclude that my beliefs about you have some validity in fact. This is an extremely alarming thought to have about the system I am about to be forced to telephone if I am to obey all your instructions and stay within your rules.

Did you know that when I offended I was charged with attempted murder and that I defended myself in court? To win a charge of attempted murder, the prosecution has to prove intent which they were not able to do in my case because the intent did not exist. I don’t believe you are able to make the same claim but then I’m not a lawyer or a police officer.

I wonder if it’s time to call them in?

Yours truly

Dylanie Wilde-Walker

Desistance, Resistance, Women and Fireworks

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Would be delighted to credit this beautiful artwork

 

Bonfire Night

 

 

My very dear Jules,

 

Warning: I really need to vent what’s inside. Blue-touch-paper is already lit, so stand well back from this firework 😉

 

Thank you so much for your intuition. I could do with a thoughtful woman’s response to this. Dusty provided the warrior-response by commenting that there was a lot of pain in the post which, through all the confusion and memories that were swirling through my psyche, I hadn’t actually felt – although I probably did at the time. That’s how trauma gets its hooks into me.

 

The problem I seem to be having is finding a way to comfortably bridge the abyss of understanding that seems to exist between the desistance Criminal Justice professionals I want to impress and me. Why do I want to do I want to impress them? Firstly, because they are impressive people themselves and they are unlikely to take any notice if I don’t! Secondly, because my ambition to return to paid self-employment has just come one step nearer. My work has attracted an admirer who might be willing to invest in me financially while I pursue the issue of women’s desistance. The impact of that possibility has turned up the pressure on my professionalism – which is great, in one way, and proving to be an absolute disaster in others.

 

In every tough experience I’ve ever come through, I’ve always had a ‘crack-up’ point and, interestingly, it’s never been the battles themselves but either some unexpected kindness or cruelty afterwards. With the latter, I’ve normally crumpled into overwhelming emotional pain much to the alarm of my better ‘handlers’ (the memory here comes from New Hall, where the officers tried to stop my tears by telling me how strong they thought I was – I am strong, but I’m not invulnerable). The melt-down I’m in now is the result of a long sequence of kindnesses that have supported my desistance ambitions. There’s my potential benefactor and her willingness to consider funding me. There are people like you and James and Dusty who, after I’ve made certain you all know the worst there is to know about me, have become friends of profound creativity. There are my longer term friends from the Guardian; all now in exile on Twitter. But the ‘big names’ of desistance, like No Offence and all these University professors are new to their ‘experience’ of me. They are the ones I am going to need if I am to really return to public service in my own way and here I am in a global public melt-down apparently confusing the hell out of them. Each time I open my mouth, all I seem to be doing is changing feet.

 

I feel very passionately about women’s desistance. I feel very passionately about how women prisoners are treated generally. This country has a whole bunch of women in prison – mainly for acquisitive crimes – who, according to Lady Jean Corston, shouldn’t be there – they don’t belong in prison. She said that in her Report  five years ago and, I understand, there has been a great deal of work done to divert women offenders from custodial sentences since then but nothing is being done for those already in the system.

 

The women’s estate is very much a poor relative within the Prison Service. We account for between 4-8 prisoners for every 100 incarcerated. The Criminal Justice system knows very little – apart from those officers who take the trouble to learn – about women. Corston described the system as designed by men for men, and she’s absolutely right. For a woman, this means ours is the experience of highly-controlling condemnatory paternalism coupled with an absolute refusal to engage on the emotional level or, sometimes, to even recognise its existence. Remember I am looking at this with a psychotherapist’s eye.

 

The women’s response is to self-harm, suicide or, in some way or another, go quietly insane. We lose our bearings emotionally and the punishment regimes can be continuous over long periods until whole wings are screaming, which means something has to be done to ease the pain and a woman dies. The levels of emotional pain these 4-8 women prisoners carry is enough to fill around 50% of the self-harm statistics for the entire 100 – that’s how bad it is. These figures rise and fall, but in no significant degree away from half the pain for the whole bally lot of them. There are those who understand how bad it is but I’m not certain these statistics quite sink in with the best of the criminal justice ‘family’.

 

Jean Corston’s Report wanted the women out of prison within ten years. We have five years left and we haven’t even looked at what to do for the women still imprisoned. It’s as if everyone has found something more important to do. That’s not to say that there aren’t more important things – there seem to be so many of them these days, I have to be very selective where I put my energy. But I do think we need more energy around Corston and women’s desistance because while everyone is faffing around elsewhere, 4-8 living breathing women are carrying the emotional burden for 100. As the justice system swings into attrition mode, this burden will increase as will the cutting, ligaturing and inevitable suicides. Women’s prisons – at their best – are relationship-heavy. The Prison Service is cutting staff across the board, so this reduces the capacity for relating between women prisoners and staff as well as placing an impossible burden on the good staff themselves. They are the ones who see our distress and it hurts them when they can’t help us because we are being systemically abused. These are the staff who arrive in the ‘nick-of-time’ to save a woman’s life and they are being set up to fail. Fail to implement Corston, and the suicidal women who succeeds in dying may have cause to be grateful because the alternative is no life worth living. It is an argument I had with all the prisons I was in and I knowingly put my health and life at risk in my refusal to accept what was on offer. The need to implement this empty-prison aspect of Corston is becoming more urgent every day – these women don’t belong in prison. So why are they still there and why are they now being subject to a heavier level of systemic judicial punishment through the criminal neglect of their needs purely on the grounds of gender? These women are already recognised as having a far higher chance of being victims of abuse than the general population – so these victims are now being further victimised by a system that doesn’t know how to relate to women and demonstrates no interest in learning.

 

You may not know this, but research into women offenders ‘in their own right’ is relatively new. For years, all research on offenders was based upon male offending. The researchers were just beginning to take notice of us women when I was in prison in 2008/9 and they found they had to go back to the drawing board. The reasons women offend are totally unrelated to anything men do – we have our own reasons. When women are imprisoned, families break down and children end up in care – men don’t seem to have that problem so much.  Issues around housing and work are harder for women offenders. As far as I can see, because the Criminal Justice system doesn’t know how to deal with women, they are doing what they usually do by putting their heads in the sand and hoping the problem will go away. They won’t take any real notice until the death toll gets embarrassing. Evidence? It’s what they did with the women’s wing at HMP Durham, eventually closing it down altogether but not before one last suicide. When the last lass died, the number of women being held in that prison was in single digits. That fucking regime couldn’t muster any compassion for a small handful of women when just ordinary compassion would simply be to treat women with the same level of consideration given to men. It illustrates just how bad it can get in prison on a very bad day.

 

I’m pushing women’s desistance because I think it would be a way to implement Corston. It could look out for the lasses on their terms and still meet reparative justice demands but it would have to be reparative on both sides. I have this fantasy of a women’s desistance project in my village. We have unused allotments, impoverished villagers and a global famine on the way. In my mind, I see women desisters earning their freedom by growing food; by ensuring there is a free breakfast club at the local school; by any number of other ways we could identify to contribute to the community – with the eventual aim of sending our ‘graduates’ out to teach other people how to do it, either as employees or paid consultants. Such a project would, by its very nature, be labour intensive but it would be a fixed term thing. Once the women are out of the system, there’d be no need for more unless the men steal our ideas because the methodology might work for them too. Before then, in my mind, desistance women would have taught themselves about social enterprises and creating their own work. Homes, work and a new social worth might go some considerable way to enabling these women to let go of their past.

 

The women emerging from these prisons have been living in emotional concentration/death camps – some have been in them all their lives. They are going to be disoriented and suffering from extreme emotional damage. I suppose that’s why I thought it so important to ‘do’ my melt-down in public – if people can begin to get a grasp of how I continue to be affected, then that might elicit some compassion for those women who have come through much, much worse. Example? How about Naz (eventually transferred to a psychiatric hospital (what was needed from the outset)) who performed her own mastectomies – not once but on several occasions? That was not her worst behaviour. When I talk about the women who cut, I’m talking about those whose arms, legs and probably elsewhere consist of scar tissue. There is no place on their arms where they haven’t cut. My sweetest friend, Melissa, has arms like that. The women’s obvious distress is so bad it disturbs the sleep of independent witnesses.

 

I wonder if part of the reason criminal justice finds this so hard to get to grips with are due the levels of professional complicity in not only creating but perpetuating this situation. They can’t say they don’t know anymore because Corston told them. She was shocked by what she saw five years ago. It seems some women’s prisons still refuse to learn today. As far as I am concerned, this report about New Hall suggests that they continue to use psychological torture on some women prisoners held within the Segregation Unit.

 

I wonder if they still fuck with our meds, like they used to. Or put newly remanded, first-time-in-prison, first night woman into solitary confinement at BASIC C&C and keep her on that regime for a month (without induction). I had to put in an app asking what it was I’d done wrong to be treated in such a way so that I could correct it, before I was brought up to STANDARD (the automatic entry point for all new prisoners). But that won’t show up on the prison’s computer in just the same way that my correct conviction didn’t either. New Hall transferred me to Durham with a record that claimed I’d been convicted for attempted murder. No – I was charged with attempted murder, based on fraudulent documents; I was convicted of wounding-with-intent after I successfully defended myself in court by demonstrating the documents were frauds. I had to write to Hull Crown Court and ask them to inform HMP Durham about the facts of my convictions because we can be certain that the prison would never have taken my word for it. They certainly thought I was lying about my psychotherapeutic past because they told my vulnerable young friend from New Hall solitary this after they’d ghosted me out. Fortunately, I had a good enough relationship with Toni to be able to laugh it off by saying that perhaps they could fill in this missing seventeen-year gap in my history where I’m convinced that’s what I was and can produce witnesses. Toni ended up cutting badly and now has a long history of suicide attempts including one very near miss indeed. It is profoundly unethical to lie to someone with existing mental health problems. Fortunately, Toni made it to hospital too – there are many who don’t.

 

Jules – is it alright for me to be blisteringly angry about all this? Or did I have it coming because I’m a criminal? This is the criminal justice mind-fuck. I know how I feel and I hear the other trotted out often enough even from the criminals in the men’s estate. But the biggest perpetrator of the “had-it-coming” mind-fuck, as far as I am concerned, is Probation.  This is where desistance becomes necessary on all sides. Whilst the Criminal Justice system fails to desist in its profoundly cruel and unjust treatment of women prisoners, nothing gets done to stop it. The system is so busy looking round pointing its fingers at us, it forgets three other fingers point straight back. But I’m not going to help matters if I join in the blame game too, even though the desire to deal with some of those bastards is, at times, overwhelming.

 

*SCREAMS*

HOW DARE YOU TREAT WOMEN – TO WHOM YOU OWE A DUTY OF CARE – IN THIS WAY!!!! HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU HAVE TO BE TOLD THAT WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS ABUSIVE AND CRUEL????

 

I’ve been a desister from the moment of my offence. If I can do it, so can they. We simply have to be professional about it. You’re a wise woman, Jules. How is a woman like me supposed to feel in the face of this stuff? How is she supposed to behave? And how am I doing in my ambition to be professional around women’s desistance?

 

And, just thank you, thank you, thank you for asking and, more especially, my friend.

 

All my love

 

Dee

 

“Shattering!” – A Personal Experience of #PTSD

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Professional advice regarding self-reflection

When you read the following, it is worth remembering that you are listening to my emotional past. Because our human psychic unconscious is vastly opportunistic when faced with an opening to unfinished business, many of my PTSD flashbacks relate to prison memories. Whilst this is connected to the present, the emotional impact still contains the shock of not just one, but many traumas. This shock, if experienced by the reader with whatever emotional triggers are felt as a result, is what is meant by projective identification. However, I am merely being myself during a PTSD episode – I’m having enough problems of my own navigating this hurricane of feeling – I don’t have time to be worried about manipulating you. Therefore, whatever is triggered has to belong to you, not me.

This is useful information for women’s desistance – please make a note of it.

The more you know about your own desistance trigger points the more you will begin to grasp where I am coming from.

 

 

As I’ve already indicated to Richard (*waves*), I am still working through the PTSD affect which I realise now, was mainly triggered by a problem I had at home with npower. My problem with npower is highly political and takes me right to the core of the problem I have with God/Queen, but hasn’t quite yet fully affected ‘my Country’. I have yet to be able to bring this to a more rational closure which means I am more susceptible to triggers that, at better times, might simply wash over instead of through me as they are now.

 

There have been a variety of triggers too – all of them related to the issue of integrity in public service and the standards we now seem to have to adhere simply to be kind and respectful human beings. But we do it. The Hurricane Sandy Storify – created by @PrinceOfRazors, himself a Katrina survivor – has integrity. It is the living story of people who, via the Occupy Movement, know how to respond to disaster from the bones of their humanity. I found this energy in prison. People from whom everything had been taken still finding that they had something to give.

 

When I remember the trauma, I am also required to report how this tragedy is balanced. My experience was validated by the prison officers who, when it got truly awful, talked me back from the edge. I was a very difficult prisoner to deal with if the officer wasn’t able to be human. What it meant, especially when I was in good hands, was that I got to meet some really amazing human beings and the way they talked me back was by telling me about themselves. I am a very easy person to talk to, or so I’ve been told. I got to hear stories about wolves, bears and helicopters in the wilds of Canada; or listen to the sorrows of grief from bereaved staff. These were the ones who understood that my rage was at the system and never personal – sometimes I got the sense that I might simply have been voicing how they were feeling themselves. I remember the small kindnesses and intelligent conversations whilst we went through the motions of the system because neither of us had any choice in the matter. I remember the astonishment on some officer’s faces when I treated them with respect and the way they always treated me fairly (but without unearned favour) as a result. They made my time in prison easier and I was grateful then and I still am now. These memories are the best human beings can be in the worst of times.

 

The officers and staff who gather in the above paragraph – and you know who you are – healed me on more than one occasion and I healed them in return. As a shaman, I can remove the harmful impacts of dealing with direct abuse from others – in my last prison, Low Newton, staff honoured me by letting me take all that crap off them. I did it for them – that kind of abuse has a corrosive power that eats away at our self-esteem. I did it for the wing or work area – because the energy of an off-balance officer affects everyone. A balanced wing has a lot of humour and prisoners can get things done – it’s a women’s wing, remember! There’s cleaning, ironing, washing, cooking, writing letters, hanging out and work. An off-balance wing is a nightmare.

 

Memory-release *In the segregation unit in New Hall, there were a couple of night staff who spent their duty healing all the wounds created by day. A softly-spoken woman who could spend hours talking down highly-provoked prisoners by, in my case, simply telling me that she saw the same things I was seeing; or the ex-miner who knew what it was to need a tab.*

 

When I remember these things, I remember the route out of darkness. At some point in any confrontation I may have had with the system – and I fought every step of the way through the proper procedures (being the good shop steward that I am) – I ‘won’ by bring transferred out of New Hall to Durham, and then subsequently transferred out of Durham to Low Newton. I owe far more than four Koestler Awards and a very great deal to be grateful for when it comes to HMP Low Newton. I notice that, as a prison, it scores as zero on prisoner suicides which isn’t quite the whole truth. There has been one suicide at the prison – I was there at the time and the Governor in Charge visited every prisoner personally. Perhaps the lass who died was on remand and not convicted, which is why she doesn’t show up in the statistics. Her death meant that every cell of its kind was changed to prevent further successful suicides.

 

*2004 memory of Ray, in F-Wing HMP Durham exercise yard, talking about creating a memorial for all our lost lives of F Wing – anyone who knows me from those days will know exactly who I am talking about*

 

The thing about Low Newton is that once officers and staff get the hang of working with women prisoners, they can ‘sense’ when a woman is in danger. This scale is measured by the near-misses Low Newton has experienced – I know exactly how near some of them have been. When that happens – especially if the woman is, in her own way, trying to desist – a shock wave goes through the prison. This is because officers and staff genuinely care about and are interested in the women as far as they are allowed to be by either system or individual. I would never have achieved Koestler Awards at New Hall or Durham. But after my recall to prison, Low Newton staff chivvied me into four of them by insisting on giving me resources I felt guilty for not using (bastards). Then they created a display along the main corridor which began with an exhibition of my paintings and was followed with commissioned Equality displays on subjects like Black History month, which was given a nod of respect for “Not bad for a white” by my beautiful black sisters. I remember each of you very well indeed and still treasure our experiences together in my memory. The compliment I value most, however, came unprompted from a highly disciplined officer and related to the display I had prepared on the Holocaust. It seemed that some of my posters had given officers an opportunity to educate prisoners about history. Not only had I got the right approach to open minds, I had also honoured the validity and integrity of those who died, civilian or service. Somehow, I had enabled a creative meeting place between prisoners and staff.

 

What we created was a cycle of validation.

 

I remember the friends I made among the prisoners. The ones who thought I was nuts. And the ones who would never dare do what I sometimes did, but were breathtakingly kind with their gratitude. I remember every hug, every tear shed, every tab and precious teaspoon of coffee shared. You know who you are as well. I remember stories too painful to share or too dreadful to relate here. This is just the beginning and the worst are forming a queue along the landing. These will be my prisoner stories.

 

The one I will tell now is of my exquisitely beautiful Muslim friend; an Egyptian woman with the long-necked Nubian look of Nefertiti – when she bound her hair, she was a dead-ringer for the Egyptian Queen. She was the one subjected to the most appalling racial and religious abuse on our landing by a treacherous old lag (a dead ringer for the ugly witch in fairy tales – a view that may be shared amongst staff as well). What was surprising was not the prisoner – she was no surprise at all – but the prison’s lack of response. My friend has to endure this for days and it had an awful impact upon her. On a spiritual level, I was once able to silence the verbal ordure with this – The Call To Prayer – and on a human level, I could be her friend and make sure that she knew she wasn’t alone. Between us and our faith, we were able to turn it around. Although we have lost touch, I hope my Egyptian friend, already traumatised through gender mutilation (she will not mind my speaking of this), understands how much I still love her. *There’s a great big hug for you tucked into this message, Nurat, wherever you are*

 

And then who’s next in this PTSD timeline trailing out along the prison wing at Durham? Hello TJ.

 

TJ is one of the loveliest souls I have ever met *”No – I haven’t forgotten you, shazza!” See, I told you they were queuing!* and one of the most honest. TJ is a local lass who could, when I knew her, only cope with life if she took the painkiller heroin. I asked her once if she could envision a life without it and she said ‘No’. In my opinion, she gave a fair answer to the life she was being forced to live. Whilst she may have given staff the run-around, TJ was always immaculate in her dealings with me. That – in my opinion – is a measure of potential desistance.

 

As for my Egyptian friend, she is already a model of desistance. During that prolonged racial abuse to which she was subjected – and which numerous prisoners, from two separate wings, complained about both during and afterwards – she never once retaliated. If she is still in prison and has not been released, she is a Corston woman.

 

And then there is shazza who, along with a member of staff at HMP Durham, was subject to predicted (by both prisoners and staff) violence causing actual bodily harm to both. I’m trusting she won’t be in prison anymore because she finally met the right woman. But the pair of them might be interested in the continuing potential of desistance (if I can find them –they are local (Durham)).

 

I carry the stories of everyone I ever met in prison, including the prisoner, whose name I now forget (a failing of mine, I’m afraid), who asked for her name to be included in the dedication of any book I wrote.

 

This how big my Prison PTSD reaches. I’m grateful for prison because it showed me, very clearly, what happens when the rules are broken. It also showed me that, sometimes, Governors and Governments – in all their forms – break these rules with malice aforethought. It is this malice that causes the trauma wound. When the wound is untreated, we get PTSD.

 

The only way to heal PTSD is with the truth. Sometimes we betray ourselves. Sometimes we are the betrayed. PTSD – the disorder, not the shock – is caused by a systemic refusal to acknowledge AND ACT upon the validity of authentic objections to abuse; a callous disregard for the existence, let alone the life of another.

 

Evidence? The governor of the Segregation Unit at New Hall who told me, to my face during a suicidal crisis, that my death would make no difference to him. Or the lazy officer on that unit who ‘lost’ my plastic knife? His behaviour resulted in my cell-spin and strip-search immediately following a 20:52 review – great way to treat a prisoner in segregation with an existing suicidal ideation. I gave every single officer absolute hell for his behaviour after that. I made sure they counted my plastic cutlery out on each and every occasion. That man also left his barbeque in the Seg’s office. I know that because I got on extremely well with the officer who told him to clear it out. So – a prisoner’s query here – with all that security, how the fuck did that man get his barbeque into that office. I was banged up in the cell opposite the office – I heard every word!

 

The SO in charge of the Segregation Unit in New Hall is one of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. The Unit’s governor – who once thought he could legislate my ability to love in a 20:52 review (I kid you not) – was a henchman for the Prince of Darkness.  The Prince of Darkness was HMP New Hall’s Area Manager – the man, who as prison governor, was named and implicated in the death of Zahid Murbarak at Feltham YOI. It was the “worry-wart” SO who went through the experience of a Catch-22 with me because he thought I was taking the piss. He learned something extremely important along the way because, forever after, he was always respectful and as kind as he was permitted to be within the rules of the unit. There are no rules that will ever confine how much gratitude I feel for that man… just for being willing to learn. When he ‘got it’, things really changed for the better for prisoners on that unit. Those with mental ill-health benefited from being there and those on C&C found it harder to misbehave. The changes that SO ordered – in full and proper accordance with rules, PSO’s, etc – and with the full support of the Governor in Charge ( a most excellent woman) included the level of legal kindness required by prison rules etc that had previously been denied. By the time I left, I don’t believe staff on that Unit would have got away with treating a prisoner the way I was treated at the outset.

 

But I’m not quite ready to tell that story yet.

 

 

Doing Business

Standard

 

 

 

Without doubt, the UK is a very troubled country at the moment. We have a government that is openly corrupt and sees no problem with its own behaviour. We have systematic looting of our public services by people who are blatantly breaching the Standards, Codes and Laws governing their conduct. It is blindingly obvious to anyone with a clear understanding of criminality or political wrong-doing – across all political parties – and yet we seem unable to do anything about it.

 

We are caught in a polarisation of politics where we are either committed to public service or dedicated to privatisation. Our problem is that we seem to be forced to choose one or the other. I’m not satisfied with either. The apparent total absence of morals within the private sector is totally abhorrent to me yet the politicisation and apparent corruption running through the public sector is equally repugnant. If I were choosing a way through this mess – which I am, in fact – I would want more choices.

 

One choice I have my eye on are the creation of social enterprises – which could be run by the best of our public servants  – and which start to address our most immediate needs. This police officer, for example, has identified a potentially very valuable social enterprise. If neither public nor private sectors have the stomach for such work, then maybe those of us who can see the problem need to start fixing it ourselves. We are not stupid people – there’s always a lawful way through a thicket like this. It’s just a case of finding it. We know exactly the kind of legal safeguards necessary to ensure a highly professional outcome. Successful cases will attract costs, so I’m sure that any business plan would look good. We know who to talk to and we know which people we’d like running the ship. We have plenty of good people who need jobs who might be willing to volunteer until the finances are sorted. For that we need a few rich and agreeable friends to throw us a few honest coppers to cover start-up costs. Who else do we know we could ask for help? It’s not difficult if you talk to the right people – we know that!

 

This police officer’s social enterprise would be my first priority because it recovers public money. Some of that can be used for grant-giving purposes to other social enterprises – like hospitals, transport and all those other services we used to have but don’t anymore. We become our own job creation scheme. And woe betide any PCC who fails to award contracts to policing social enterprises – they won’t be corrupt because we’ll be making sure they’re not.

 

There may be other ideas out there but whilst we are distracted into playing this rigged game of public/private, its heads they win – tails we lose, every time. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m tired of losing to these corrupt bastards and bitches. I think it’s time we took our power back. Social enterprise does this by taking the power out of private and political hands and returning it to our competent public. All we are doing is making sure public services are our business.

 

I like that idea. I think it could catch on.