Domestic Violence: The Downfall of Domestic Violence – Part Five, in a Series of Six

“I am a survivor of domestic violence.  Three of my closest and dearest friends never knew the hell I lived through during my battlefield.  Victims are the best at hiding our secrets from the world.  Our shame and blame defines us, strips our souls, and masks our identities.” — Dr. Gayle J. Hall.

One dear friend in Kansas City who has been with me for over 20 years, had an inkling that something was wrong; however, I was forced to move 13 hours away.   I made two new friends in the small town I moved to and saw each of them during separate venues.  They never suspected one thing was wrong with me, although one of my girlfriends asked me once why I was always leaving class so quickly and could not go for coffee or talk afterwards.  My excuse was that I had to pick up my little boy from his preschool.  I often wondered what might have happened if either of those two friends had known about the domestic violence before I had him arrested the night he tried to kill me.

A battered woman is hesitant to tell anyone about domestic violence because she is ashamed.  The motives behind “not telling the big secret” are numerous and may vary.  One common downfall is the issue of trust and being able to find a therapist, life coach, or counselor who the victim feels she is safe with.  After all, the victim's partner was supposed to be the one person in the world she could turn to for providing safety, yet he betrayed her.  Trusting anyone, after being a victim of domestic violence, takes a very long time.  The victim will become withdrawn from friends or family, or both, and as a result of this isolation, the abuse becomes more rampant.  The victim will learn to live without the ability to trust anyone.

Another downfall is that women in chronic abusive relationships blame themselves for the violence.  They feel they deserve the blame because if they were better wives or lovers, their partners or husbands would love them more and attack them less.  When the victim does finally seek help, quite often she will mask the real reason for the visit, due to blaming of self and others.

Chronic illnesses may also be a result and downfall of being a battered woman.  Reports have indicated the victim may suffer prolonged periods of anxiety, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and more.

Labels hurt people and they certainly harm a woman who has survived and conquered domestic violence.  Downfalls from domestic violence can be changed from living with disgrace to “living with grace and dignity.”  I am a survivor of domestic violence.  I suffer from OCD, GAD, and yes, I have PTSD.  I take prescribed medication for these illnesses.  I am not proud of this.  Nevertheless, I am not living in shame, nor am I in hiding.  I am living with grace and dignity.  I paid my price dearly during my years of abuse and now it is my calling to give back to others.

I still cannot sit with my back facing a doorway.  I still cannot put anything over my face or nose, for fear of not being able to breathe.  I still do not like dark rooms, except for when I am sleeping.  I do not like elevators or tunnels.  I am afraid of empty stairwells when I am the only person walking in them.  I do not like parking garages.  I still prefer sleeping alone.  I became an excellent marksman.  I will remember details of your face upon meeting you and be able to tell you what you were wearing.  I can provide distinct descriptions.  You see, once a person is ever attacked, has become a victim of a violent crime, or suffered at the hands of an abuser, any abuser, they learn survival tactics and skills.  I learned them well.  I also took many types of extracurricular classes during my training to help other battered women when I knew this was my calling.

Resiliency is my core and my backbone.  I have many quirks, but I am strong, I am a woman, and I am a survivor of domestic violence.  Watch me now, as I help you become resilient and restore your grace and dignity, also.

Hopefully you read the fourth article titled; “A Few Signs of Domestic Violence You Cannot Ignore – Part Four, in a Series of Six.”

Please read the final article in this series of six on domestic violence titled, “Domestic Violence Prevention.”

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

A Few Signs of Domestic Violence You Cannot Ignore – Part Four, in a Series of Six

“My personality and entire lifestyle changed.  I had to quit my active involvement with the Chamber of Commerce, could not call on my big corporate accounts with male clients, and was accused daily of having affairs.  My long-time friends did not know the hell I was living through. I was so ashamed.” — Dr. Gayle J. Hall.

Is your co-worker constantly making excuses for being late to work or missing work more frequently than normal?  Is your friend unavailable to meet you for lunch dates with no apparent reason, after getting into a new relationship?  Does she seem different, withdrawn, or  unhappy, when she used to be a bubbly, cheerful person?  All of these may be signals or signs of domestic violence.

The outward signs of physical bruising, black eyes, or broken bones are naturally, easy to spot.  Have you ever noticed a woman with a black eye and point-blank asked her how she got that?  If you have noticed this and not asked her, why not?  A person usually does not get a black eye unless they have undergone eye surgery or been smacked in the eye with brutal force.

The tanning salon I used for six months, there was a girl at the counter who had two black eyes.  I was not going to ignore what I already knew to be the truth.  I knew she had been a victim of domestic violence.  So I calmly said something akin to, “Wow, that must have really hurt getting those black eyes.  Are you okay?”  The  young woman looked away from me and lied, stating that she ran into a door.  Now, almost everyone knows when you run into a door your eyes are not the first thing that will hit the door.  I remarked, “I am surprised you do not have bruising on your forehead, too.  You were really lucky, huh?”  She looked up at me then and said, “Yeah, I guess I was really lucky that time.”  Her face was drawn and she was very sad.  I asked if I could hug her and she told me I could.  As I gave her a gentle hug, I whispered in her ear that I knew what had really happened—domestic violence.  I told her there were places she could go to talk about this and get some help.  I wrote my number down on the back of one of their business cards and asked her to call me if she ever wanted to.

Domestic violence causes loss of productivity in the work place more than employers understand.  Many supervisors blame employees tardiness on laziness, when in fact, this may be due to violence in the home.  The employees will not admit the truth for fear of being blamed or being ashamed.

One of the abusive characteristics of the batterer is to isolate his victim away from her place of employment, cutting her off from financial income and security,  while removing her source of social support from friends.  Additionally, by doing so, the abuser is forcing more control over his victim of domestic violence by making her rely on him for full support for food, fuel, and hygiene.  He may keep her trapped inside the home and not allow her to leave the house, even to purchase groceries.  In extreme cases, the batterer may limit her intake of food.

Isolation is a dominant factor in the abuser's mind.  He likes to remove his battered woman from society, her friends, and from her family.  The abuser may make the victim out-of-state thousands of miles from her home, just so he can have even more power and domination over his victim.

If you have a friend or co-worker who seems to have changed her personality drastically over the past few months, inquire what is going on in her life.  Most victims of domestic violence will not tell you what is wrong at first, because they have been threatened with harm by their abuser.  Very often, the threat of harm has been promised against a family member, such as their children, or their parents.

The principal key to take away from reading this article is to remember that domestic violence is not always visible.  One must be willing to step up and ask if help is needed, if uncertainties exist.  You could save a life by asking a simple question or showing that you care and gaining the victim's trust.  The first step is to gain the victim's trust enough that she can feel safe enough to talk with you.  Leaving an abusive partner is not an easy process.  Sometimes it takes the support of several people to provide enough courage to finally leave.

Please read the previous, third article titled, “Domestic Violence:  Recognizing the Three Phases – Part Three, in a Series of Six.”

Watch for and read the fifth article in this series of six on domestic violence titled, “Domestic Violence:  The Downfall of Domestic Violence—Part Five, in a Series of Six.”

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

Domestic Violence: Recognizing the Three Phases – Part Three, in a Series of Six

“I just could not understand the rage in the beginning. It was like the harder I tried to be perfect, the angrier he would become. I was beautiful–the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect in my job, and kept a perfect home. What was I doing wrong to make him act this way, threaten me, and scream at me until he frothed at the mouth with ire?” – Dr. Gayle J. Hall.

The first time I noticed hostility or minor violence was one evening when we, as a couple, were preparing dinner together. We were not married yet, nor living together, and were in kitchen of my home making a meal. He was chopping tomatoes for a salad and as he was speaking about his ex-wife, he started chopping harder and harder with the chef knife. I asked him politely to have a seat and let me finish preparing the meal. That one statement made him angry. He picked up the oval platter that was a gift to me from a dear friend, slammed it down into the sink, and told me to “shut up.” My prized platter was chipped beyond repair and I was frightened of this man I thought I loved. The next day, I broke up with him. He begged forgiveness, told me it would never happen again, and I took him back. Three months later, we were married. Four days after our wedding, I experienced domestic violence in the full realm, although at that time, I still had no clue what or why this was happening to me. My new husband chased me from the minute he got home from work, while screaming profanity and calling me a whore, in my home for hours. He later apologized. I so was exhausted that I finally went to bed. I woke up in the wee hours of the morning because I could not breathe. He had a pillow over my face and was trying to smother me, as he was laughing. He stood up in the bed and hovered over me, threatened to make me quit my successful advertising company, and demanded that I never speak with another man. I was pregnant with his child. I knew right then that I would divorce this man that I had just married. This was the beginning of a very long seven-year marriage. Yes, this story I just told you is one of many nights of terror, as I lived in a relationship laced full of domestic violence. I had no idea this could ever happen to someone like me, a loving, peaceful, happy woman.

Regardless of the type of domestic violence occurring in the home, there are three distinct phases, coined by the pioneer L. Walker, as the “Cycle of Violence.” These are the tension building phase, the acute phase, and the final phase. The following paragraphs provide brief descriptions of each phase.

1). The first phase in the cycle of violence is tension building, otherwise known as “walking on eggshells” for the battered woman. She never knows what may set her partner off in a rage. The woman is on high alert at all times, because she cannot do anything right. If she has cooked a perfect meal, her abuser may be angry because he wanted to take her out to dinner. If she waits until he gets home to ask him what he would like for dinner, the abuser may be angry or become violent because she is supposed to know what it is he wants for dinner. The abuse may be emotional, psychological, or verbal threats, such as mocking, screaming, yelling, manipulation, humiliation, or threats to leave. Sometimes, there may be minor physical violence during the tension-building phase. This phase may last for hours, or even days.

2). The second phase in the cycle of violence is known as the acute phase. The batterer may become extremely violent, either sexually or physically. The victim may be denied sleeping or eating. She may be tied up or restrained, locked up in the home, chased down by a vehicle if she escapes the home, beaten, choked, have broken bones, or be assaulted with a weapon. This is the shortest of all phases in the cycle of violence.

3). The final phase in the cycle of violence is the calm phase, otherwise known as the honeymoon period. The abuser is charming, promises to never hurt the victim again, may buy gifts and seem remorseful. He may ask for forgiveness. The abuser has very often even acted like nothing ever happened in the first place.

It needs to be noted that although each couple's story may be different or unique, the cycles of violence are not. As the duration of the relationship progresses, the cycles become shorter and occur more frequently. The victim is most likely to ask for help from family members or clergy, before seeking professional help. If she does ask for help, it is most likely to transpire during the honeymoon period.

Drugs and alcohol may make violence worse, but they do not cause abuse. Many batterers are sober, yet they still degrade, harm, or beat their partners. I have been free of that domestic violent relationship for 15 years. My abuser was a miserable alcoholic, hateful husband, and pathetic, terrible father.

Please read the previous, second article in this series of six on domestic violence titled, “DV: Descriptions of Physical, Emotional, and Psychological Abuse—Part Two, in a Series of Six.”

Watch for the fourth article in this series of six on domestic violence titled, “Domestic Violence: A Few Signs of Domestic Violence You Cannot Ignore—Part Four, in a Series of Six.”

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

Domestic Violence: Vivid Descriptions of Physical, Emotional, and Psychological Abuse – Part Two, in a Series of Six.

Domestic Violence Description

She looks normal, right?

“Even to this day, it is difficult to discuss with some people and provide vivid descriptions what really happens in a domestic violent situation. This is because some do not want to hear the truth and the facts.  More than ever before, I feel it is my duty to tell, to inform, to educate, anyone and everyone, who will listen.  This is my ‘job' and calling from God.” — Dr. Gayle J. Hall.

Have you ever noticed a woman in the grocery store or at work who has a black eye, marks on her neck, or seems extremely anxious for no apparent reason and wondered why that might be?  Quite possibly, she may be a victim of domestic violence.  Oddly enough, just last night, my son and his colleague were at their apartment when a young woman came over with her baby in her arms, asking to use the phone.  She had been beaten up by her boyfriend.  She dialed 911.  Before the police arrived, the abuser tried to cause trouble with my son.  Fortunately, the police arrived and hauled the batterer off to jail.  That telephone call may have saved a life.

Domestic violence is the principal cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 to 44 years old, more than all other forms of violence, including muggings, burglary, and automobile accidents.  Many victims of domestic violence seek treatment for their physical abuse before meeting their emotional needs.  Women may seek help for physical injuries from a hospital or medical clinic.  The emotional and psychological abuse is ongoing and may last long after the relationship has ended.

Physical abuse during domestic violence may include any of the following; Choking, biting, kicking, throwing, slapping, hitting, punching, breaking bones, confinement or restraining, assaulting with a knife or firearm, raping, forced group sex, or sexual bondage.  This list is not comprehensive.

Emotional and psychological abuse are very closely related, but they are not the same.  A good definition of emotional abuse is the humiliation and intimidation of another person.  Examples of emotional abuse in domestic violence by your partner may include, but are not limited to; name-calling, insulting remarks, verbally abuses your children or your pets, threatens to leave you or threatens to make you leave, governs all the money and decisions in the household, prevents you from working or seeing your friends, isolates you from your family members, restricts you from talking on the phone, refuses to take you out in public or socialize with you, criticizes or belittles you in public or in person, manipulates you with lies, tells you that you are worthless and cannot make it without him, accuses you of having affairs, ridicules your beliefs or thoughts, tries to change the person you are, frequently ignores your requests and feelings, withholds sex or intimacy, or intimidates you through body language or facial expression.

Psychological abuse occurs when a person's rational and emotional thinking is undesirably impacted due to extreme and repeated measures of power imbalance.  Another way of stating this would be; emotional abuse that is so intimidating as to cause  adverse psychological reactions and impact the person's psyche and psychological health over a long period of time, can be considered psychological abuse.  Examples of this may include that the victim of domestic violence suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), panic attacks, depression, or severe anxiety.

Hopefully, by reading this article, you will have gained a more clear understanding of the differences between physical, emotional, and psychological abuse in a domestic violent relationship.

The one constant that will not change is this…a woman will not leave the relationship until she has the support and courage to do so.  She cannot just walk out.  Domestic violence is a matter of control by the abuser.  Please read the first of six articles in this series titled, “Domestic Violence:  What It Is – Part One, in a Series of Six.”

Watch for the third article in this series of six on domestic violence titled, “Domestic Violence:  Recognizing the Three Phases – Part Three, in a Series of Six.

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

Domestic Violence: What It Is – Part One, in a Series of Six

“When I used to hear stories about men beating up their wives, I figured the wives were cheating around.  I never, ever, heard my father raise his voice to my mother, so this was foreign to me.  What goes on behind closed doors is someone's own business, right?” — Dr. Gayle J. Hall, (my thoughts in the 70's and 80's) before I became knowledgeable.

Domestic violence is a serious problem that affects one out of four women in the United States.  The numbers may change according to whether the people questioned are speaking about their former or current relationships.  The abuse may be physical, emotional, or psychological.

Socioeconomic status is not a determining factor of domestic violence in the home.  Domestic violence crosses all boundaries and borders, knows all colors, all ages, and affects women and children.  This is multigenerational.  A child who witnesses domestic violence may grow up to be a victim of domestic violence or become the batterer himself.

Lenore Walker defined domestic violence as behavior characterized by the exploitation of power and control by one person over another who are or have been in an intimate relationship.  This is further described as violence between people who live together and occurs when a family member, partner, or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate another.

A battered woman is a victim of domestic violence who has sustained emotional, physical, or psychological abuse by her batterer or partner.  For purposes of the articles in this series, I will refer to the victim as a woman and the batterer as a man, due to the fact that in 95% of all reported cases of domestic violence, the abuser is a male and the victim is a female.  There are same sex couples who report abuse and males may also suffer at the hands of a female abuser.  However, this is not the norm.

Sadly, when I interviewed professional therapists last fall who worked with victims of domestic violence at women's centers, I heard over and over again that quite often, the woman would walk in the door and state that “something was wrong, but they didn't know what it was.”  The victim did not think of herself as a victim.  She thought she had said and done things inappropriately to make her mate angry—so angry that he would slap her, call her derogatory names, hurt the children, or threaten to leave her.  The victim's main concern was how to make her husband or mate “happy” and how she could do a better job at home.  It never crossed the victim's mind that this was not her fault, but rather, the batterer's problem of control.  Many times after that first visit, the client would not come back for months.  It took months for the victim to realize there really was a problem and that she was not to blame.

Women have been victims of domestic violence throughout centuries.  Nonetheless, society has only been discussing this problem since the late 1970's.  Safe houses and women's shelters exist in almost every city, with several, in large metropolitan areas.  There are numerous shelters in the Dallas/Ft. Worth vicinity.  None of them have empty beds.  Is this because there is more brutality now, might it be because women are realizing what domestic violence is, or is it because women can finally ask for help and go to a safe haven instead of risk being killed or having their children injured?  What do you think?

Please read the second article in this series of six on domestic violence titled, “Domestic Violence:  Vivid Descriptions of Physical, Emotional, and Psychological Abuse—Part Two, in a Series of Six.”

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

The Effects of War on the Families of Soldiers

Nate Roberts and wife, Daisy, 2009.

“I'm just trying to be a father, raise a daughter and a son, be a lover to their mother, everything to everyone…yeah, I'm real good under pressure being all that I can be…I just work straight through the holidays, and sometimes all night long…'cause freedom don't come free.. I'm an American, an American Soldier.” — Toby Keith, excerpts from his song, “American Soldier.”

When the soldier receives his or her orders for going to war, this not only impacts the warrior, but also, the family.  As a military spouse, the partner must prepare for being apart from his or her soldier for long periods of time.  If the couple has children, care must be taken to ensure the family understands that “daddy” or “mommy” is coming back home after war.

Quite often, it is more up to spouse of the deployed, than anyone else in the family, as to how well the family unit will adjust during the soldier's deployment period.  It is vital for the soldier to believe he or she has 100% trust and support from their spouse (assuming he or she is married) before, during, and after deployment.

The following are four suggestions for the spouse to make the complete deployment easier for the soldier and the family:

(1). Maintain the same routines (in life, at home, work, or school) before, during, and after deployment as closely as possible.  This is what your soldier is used to, your children are used to, and this provides the soldier comfort knowing all is status quo.

(2). Once the soldier has deployed, join a support group with others, reach out to family members or trusted friends, and just talk about your feelings. There will be some difficult days, but always know people care.

(3). Keep your cell phone on 24/7.  There are times the soldier stands in a line and waits three hours just to hear your voice.  Things we take for granted every day, are important to a soldier who has a spouse. Keep yourself available for those calls, Skype, and the internet as often as possible.  What he or she wants to hear from you are normal, everyday activities. This is comforting to the one who is at war.

(4). Make no major life changes and by no means, vacant the deployment post.  The soldier needs to know their spouse is waiting for them during R&R.  Again, the soldier needs to be assured the family is right there waiting his or her return.

When the soldier returns from war, there will be an adjustment period for the entire family.  If the soldier is married, the spouse has had to maintain the household during the entire deployment period. This has become the norm.  The following are four suggestions for a smooth transition for families when the soldier returns from war:

(1). Understand it may take time for sharing of household duties, such as bill-paying, putting children to bed, preparing dinner, and simple things, such as grocery shopping.  Your soldier has been fighting a war and has not been doing any of these “normal” things.

(2). Psychologically, your soldier may need counseling or therapy.  Your family may also need help in recognizing some of the symptoms from battling in war so you can help cope with your loved one.  Furthermore, the family members may need support, either through reading, therapy, or talking with the VA, about how to handle the issues that may arise from their soldier who has endured war and come back home. There are things that should be said and things that should never be said to a warrior, even when that person is your spouse.  Education is the key.

(3). Give the soldier space.  There is no set time limit on how soon a soldier can reintegrate back into a normal everyday routine, even at home.  Your partner may want to make love with you every night for two weeks straight, and then not want intimacy for the next month.  Try to remember there may be flashbacks, or numbing, especially if they have been in active combat zones, and what used to be “normal” for you as a couple or family, may take time to be “normal” once again.

(4). Possibly, the most difficult adjustment for the family when the soldier returns from war is the social aspect.  If your family is used to attending church services every Sunday, the soldier may not wish to go immediately.  If the company you work for is hosting a large company party, your soldier might not want to attend that. If it is normal for you to go to the mall with your children, this may make the soldier uncomfortable, especially if there are crowds.  Even going to a bowling alley, movie theater, or things we consider to be “normal” may make your soldier feel uncomfortable at first.  Please remember to give your partner some time to readjust to social settings.  The soldier is trained to scan people in crowds, look for differences, and notice what we would never notice.  The social aspect of reintegration back into society is one many would rarely think of.

I personally, have never been a military spouse or even been in the military.  Nonetheless, I have counseled many military wives and numerous soldiers and understand the conflicts faced during war.  War is war.  There is no need for the home to be a battlefield, also.

With these suggestions, a lot of love, and a little bit of work, the families not only can survive the consequences of war, they can become a more closely knit entity than they were before.  It does take work, but who ever said being in the military was easy?

Please feel free to contribute your thoughts to this blog.  I appreciate your input!

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

Reasons Why Soldiers Have Difficulty Adjusting to a Civilian Lifestyle After Serving Their Country

          “The hardest part, by far, is to make the bad pictures go away.  In war time, the world is one big long horror movie, image after image.  If this is anything like Vietnam, I’m in for a lifetime of wee-hour creeps.” — Tim O’Brien, Vietnam Veteran.

Assimilating back into an everyday routine is difficult for anyone who has been absent for a period of time.  Have your ever gone on a long vacation and not driven a car for three weeks, then upon arriving back at the airport, gotten into your car, and noticed how strange it felt to put your car into reverse and pull out of the parking lot?  Think for just a moment about how awkward it must be for soldiers returning from a combat zone to come back to the United States after being at war.

Soldiers returning from active duty in the military serving in the combat arms, especially if they have been in the Infantry or a “Grunt” (meaning someone other than a POG—Personnel other than Grunts), are more likely to experience difficulty regulating back into normal, resident existence than a Fobbit (soldiers who never leave the gates).  Once these men and women are ready to leave the military and enter a civilian lifestyle, there are many adjustments to be made.  I will list three of the Psychological and Social dilemmas faced by Veterans returning to society.

Psychologically, these Veterans are faced with numerous issues.  Three of these issues include:

(1).  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects many of the soldiers returning from war.  This is the number one psychological problem.  There are specific ways to assess and diagnose PTSD symptomology for combat Veterans.  Treatment methodology may vary, according to individual needs of the Veteran, as there is no “one cure fits all.”  Cognitive behavioral intervention has proven to be effective over a prolonged period of time, as has psychotherapy.

(2).  Panic attacks can be set off by any reminder of the trauma the soldier endured during their line of duty.  Firework displays may be beautiful to the general public, but to a soldier, this sounds like gunfire and Javelin tank missile.

(3).  Flashbacks are the “trademark” of PTSD.   The terror of war can return months, years, or decades later at the drop of a dime.   A stressful experience can bring back the flashback.

Socially, our Veterans who are returning to civilian life have a challenging time adjusting, as well.  Three of the issues they face are:

(1).  Veterans cannot talk with the normal civilian when they are troubled.  Let’s face it.  You, nor I, have seen, heard, or experienced what a combat soldier has done.  Only those who have “been there, done that” truly understand with empathetic hearts what that soldier has been through.  Do not ask a soldier or Veteran what he or she did or what he or she saw while they were at war.  This would be insulting and one of the most stupid things you can say to a Veteran.  If they want to talk about it, they will.  And if they do, just listen.  You don’t have to say a word, except perhaps suggest they seek professional help if they need it (and trust me, most do).

(2).  Hypervigilance is both psychological (a pattern under PTSD) and a social problem for the warrior upon returning home.  The Veteran is constantly  hypervigilant to the point of noticing all smells, scoping out a crowd for the one who appears to dressed differently  (we may think someone dressed to the nine in a jacket is handsome, whereas the soldier is thinking, “What is underneath that heavy jacket?”), when they do close their eyes, a soldier’s ears begin working overtime because this is what they have been trained to do, and a soldier is always searching for the nearest door and exit route in every room.  A soldier has been trained to be “on guard” at all times, so letting down his or her guard, just because they are back in society, does not mean this will come easy for them.

(3).  Acceptance and integrating, in general, will be difficult for the Veteran upon returning home.  During the Vietnam era, the returning soldiers were hated and loathed because of the war.  Now, with the return of our soldiers, they are welcomed with open arms.  This attitude surely helps, but please remember, the soldier must train himself or herself to go from warrior mode to civilian mode.  What we, as civilians, take for granted and as normal, everyday routine, will not be normal to the Veteran for a long time.  When we are stopped in our car, not moving on six lanes of traffic during rush hour, we know this is because of a wreck up ahead or due to a traffic jam.  The returning soldier is instantly thinking, “How can I get out of here—where is my escape route?”  If you live in a large city and are stopped on an extended bridge due to traffic, you accept the fact you could be in your car for three hours and shut it off while waiting.  The Veteran is wondering where the IED (roadside bomb) is.

Hopefully, those three bullet points each for psychological and social aspects of blending back into society helped you understand what it is like for a soldier to return home and why they may struggle.  As one who cares for Veterans, try to remember that assimilating back into normal, run-of-the-mill routines is not going to be easy for the soldiers who are returning to civilian lives.  We must be sensitive to their needs.  When Veterans say they do not feel like going out into a large crowd or party, please understand they may be having a stint of hypervigilance that day and just do not feel like being in a crowd.

Above all, patience is the key in helping Veterans cope with returning to civilian ways of life.

©Copyright – Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

War Effects of Soldiers – Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

“PTSD is the fear controlling you. Exposing your fear is controlling your PTSD!” — Anthony Parsons.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, otherwise known as PTSD, is defined as a condition in which a person experiences enduring physical or psychological symptoms after an extremely stressful event or series of events.

In World War I, this problem was known as Shell Shock.  During World War II, this was called Combat Fatigue.  Now, it is known as PTSD.

Soldiers are trained to believe they must kill or be killed during combat in war.  War may leave deep, psychological scars.Understanding PTSD and the symptoms will help those who welcome home the soldier receive the treatment he or she needs so the soldier may work on regaining their psychological health and freedom.

The following are seven indicators of PTSD:

(1).  Flashbacks are the hallmark of PTSD.  A flashback includes vivid memories, feelings, and images of traumatic experiences.  When I say “hallmark” I  mean this is the most common symptom for those plagued with PTSD.

(2).  Nightmares are the second highest indicator of PTSD.  Many times, soldiers will sleep with the lights on (if lighting is available) or avoid sleep as long as possible so the frequent nightmares will not reappear.

(3).  Sleeplessness.  This goes along with nightmares, mentioned above.  The soldiers know if they fall asleep, they may have nightmares; therefore, a vicious cycle ensues to try to stay awake for extended periods of time.  Soldiers in the war zone have gone for 28 hours regularly with no sleep. Studies have proven that after 28 hours with no sleep, the possibility of making grave errors rises to an all-time high.  This places the soldiers at elevated risks and can get them killed.

(4).  Recurring anxiety is a common denominator for those affected by PTSD, especially soldiers returning from war.  They are anxious about many different things.  Think about it this way.  You, as a civilian, are at home, getting dressed for work and must decide what to wear that day.  As a soldier, the warrior is constantly apprehensive of where his boots, gear, bitch (M-16), and extra ammo are when he is at war.  It takes a while to get past this.

(5).  Intrusive thoughts haunt the soldier, as do certain sounds.  When the soldier is in the war zone, he or she is on high alert at all times.  They see and hear things that we have not seen or heard, such as unpleasant thoughts of shootings the day before, losing their buddies, horrific things we, as civilians, have not had to deal with.  These intrusive thoughts can enter the mind at any time, until they are controlled.  There are instances when they cannot be controlled 100% of the time.

(6).  A soldier has problems with attention when he or she has PTSD.  Soldiers are conditioned to never be relaxed, so when they do have that opportunity of being outside the war zone, there is difficulty in paying attention.  The soldier is thinking about war again and that is where his or her attention is focused.  The mind wanders if PTSD is not treated.

(7).  Social withdrawal is the final sign of PTSD.  Soldiers have a difficult time readjusting to civilian life after coming back from war.  They do not feel they can talk about what they have seen or done because nobody will understand them.  As a result of this, they turn their thoughts inward, this becomes shame, which turns into blame, and one big circle of negative forces drive them deeper into PTSD.

The good news is that there is hope for those who suffer from PTSD.  The first step for soldiers returning from war or any Veteran suffering from PTSD is to go their local Veterans Hospital (VA) and get the diagnosis.  File papers for disability.  Seek out treatment from the VA in support groups, find a good Life Coach who fully understands PTSD, or search for a mental health professional who can treat PTSD.  Many cannot do so.  What is important is that you find a therapist or professional person you can relate to, someone you can work with and feel comfortable with, and develop a relationship with.  Please understand that this is not a quick fix.  There is more than one method of approach for PTSD and it is a partnership to find what works best for you.

Watch for my next article titled, “Reasons Why Soldiers Have Difficulty Adjusting to a Civilian Lifestyle After Serving Their Country.”

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

How to Be a Happiness Millionaire

“There is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.” – Og Mandino

I love fragrances of all kinds but especially those erotic, woodsy, scents like the ones I have worn for years. These include Obsession by Calvin Klein and Michael Kors. I have been wearing a super sexy fragrance for the past two years called Euphoria, by Calvin Klein. Every time I wear this perfume, I seem to get compliments. For bedtime, I wear a subtle, sensual, light fragrance with my two favorites being either Romance by Ralph Lauren or Beautiful by Estee Lauder. Perfumes turn me on and the scent rubs off on others. This is analogous to happiness.

When you walk into a room and are happy, people will gravitate towards you. Have you ever noticed this? If you are in a room full of people and do not know one soul, you may just need to break out a smile and others will smile back at you. Before you know it, a conversation will strike up. I personally do not like small groups of five or six people. Speaking one-on-one is my preference, or just the opposite. Place me up in front of 50-1000 people and I become a millionaire. No, people are not throwing money on the stage at me because they think I am funny or pretty, and hundred dollar bills are not flying up on the stage because they think I am brilliant or prestigious. I become the millionaire of happiness because I give of myself. I give 100% dedication to my clients, family, friends and service organizations because that makes me happy when I am involved doing my best and it makes them happy in return. When I put my name down to “give” that means I am really going to bust my butt to give all I can.

I am here to tell you that I am a millionaire with more riches in life than any amount of money can ever buy. This is the greatest feeling in the world, that of spreading joy and happiness. So by now you may be saying to yourself, “Yes, she makes this sound so easy. I wish it was easy. How do I start? Where do I begin?” Here are some suggestions for you to find your “happy” and become a millionaire.

(1). Grab a friend, co-worker, or neighbor and sign up to help where help is needed. If you do not know where help is needed, start by calling your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, or a church and tell them you want to help spread happiness. They will be pleasantly surprised by your phone call and will be thrilled when you go walking in their door. So many organizations need help. Here is a true story and an example of spreading happiness. If you like to read, check out the Senior Citizens Center. Help is needed teaching illiterate people how to read. One of the most touching stories I have ever heard was when a 72-year-old man finally learned to read. A former student of mine, in her 20's, volunteered her time and helped the elderly man three times each week. It took six months and they are now friends. Jim is reading at the 6th grade level and his grandchildren are proud of him. Happiness was shared by both the teacher, a student in her early 20's, and the learner, an elderly man in his 70's.

(2). Pour that perfume of happiness on your family. I was blessed to be born into a great family. I still have my parents and all of my siblings. My grown children are healthy. Additionally, some of my dearest friends are like sisters to me. For these reasons, plus the fact that I donate much time in giving to others, I am a millionaire. Drop everything for a day and spend time with your family. Nothing is more precious to a child than making memories with his or her parents. As parents, we cannot make up for lost time. If you have aging parents, make time for them. Cut them some slack and realize they cannot do everything they used to be able to do quite as easily. Do you have a dysfunctional family? To those who have no close family members, create your own new family. I am serious. You can start over and make a new life so you can be happy. You deserve to be happy in this life. Happiness is just waiting for you. It is an inside job, but you must be willing to do what it takes and say that you want to be that millionaire.

(3). Act happy for a day with every person you encounter. Just try this. Be kind to all you meet, smile, give a compliment, hold the door open for someone, pay for the gas for the person in front of you as you have been waiting in line (if you can afford to do this), as you are checking out in the grocery store, pay for someone else, or let another shopper get in front of you, smile at a child who is crying instead of trying to avoid that child and get away from them and their parent as quickly as you can. Be gentle with your words to all you greet and to everyone at work. Be nice to your spouse, if you have one. Tell at least three people you love them, even though it is not a “special” day. See if this does not rub off some happiness on you, as it does on them. Giving happiness away is just so easy.

The one thing about happiness is that even though you give it away, there is always more to give. Once you understand this and implement this into your own life, you will become a millionaire of happiness also.

What can you do right now to become a Happiness Millionaire, after reading this article?  What will you implement into your own life so that you can be that millionaire too, just like me?  Please share your thoughts..we are waiting!

See previous blog titled: “Is Happiness Contagious?”  (The Happiness 5-part series blog posts).

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

Is Happiness Contagious?

“Whoever is happy will make others happy, too.” – Mark Twain.

I just came back from an Adriatic Cruise, visiting Venice, Bari, Bologna, and Dubrovnik. Due to flight issues on my previous Baltic Seas Cruise, I decided it would be wise to arrive a day early and leave a day later. This allowed extra time in Venice, off the ship. Happiness was observed far and wide.

My communication skills were lacking in the Italian language; nevertheless, having an Italian friend here in the States helped because I already knew that “Ciao, Bello” meant Hello Handsome Man, so I used that to my advantage whenever possible. Additionally, the word “Grazie” for thank you, was the only other Italian word I knew how to say. I never had any problems communicating with the native Italians I met because of one major thing…smiling. Smiling is the window to happiness and instantly helps make other people feel as though you understand and accept them.

The first full day in Venice was filled with happiness and bliss. I took many pictures and videos of tourists smiling, laughing, holding hands, and being in love. As I peeked down every canal and lagoon, I watched the gondolas with lovers kissing and surveyed people as they scrutinized the lovers. I observed scrutiny quickly tuning into happiness. Seeing others be happy or having their hearts filled with happiness makes one’s own heart happy also. Venice is such a romantic city, with vendors, boats, gondolas, and people from many foreign countries, all coming together. I don’t remember seeing anyone who looked grumpy, except for some crazy Americans who were dragging their suitcases all the way from the train station to the Metro buses far away, up and down many concrete flights of stairs. I guess they did not read Trip Advisor in advance and learn that was not the best mode of transportation upon arrival in Venice.

Gelato, or ice cream, is another contagious and delicious treat that brings smiles all over Italy. I discovered gelato stands in each city I visited. It was interesting that the stands were never empty at any time of the day, morning or night. The minute the gelato carts were rolled out, people came out in masses. They would wait, like I did, for 20 minutes if that is what it took, to get their little scoop of gelato because it made them happy–plus, it was delicious. Yum, for lemon gelato! I never saw a sad face in any of those crowds near the gelato stands.

In Childhood Development Psychology, we learn that tiny babies as young as six weeks old, learn to smile back at their care-giver when seeing a smile. This is not a nature vs. nurture issue–it is a matter of happiness and feeling secure. On the flip side, have you ever noticed that a 12-month old baby in a shopping cart will turn his or her head to find the child who is crying three aisles over? The same is true when this baby is in the same aisle with another baby being pushed by his or her caregiver and notices the other baby is smiling. Both babies will end up smiling. One smile will bring happiness to the other child. Perhaps we learn this when we are just babies. If not, we should.

When you smile at a stranger, even 5880 miles from home, your happiness becomes their happiness, too. What a wonderful feeling to know that something as simple as a smile can be contagious and make another person happy, even if they have had a lousy day.

See previous blog titled:   Wealth – Does Wealth Affect Your Happiness?” (The Happiness 5-part series blog posts).

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.