I’m an outspoken person in life, so often I terrify the crap out of people that are more introverted or shy. The reality for me is that while I’m direct and open – I’d never attack anyone personally and if someone is upset with my view, or delivery of that view, I’m always open to discuss it. I don’t proclaim to be an expert, and I’m not stand offish. In my lectures I got into a debate before, it wasn’t even that dramatic but a woman was reduced to tears. She wasn’t participating in the debate – but I guess the emotions got to her. There isn’t much that will reduce her to tears and a part of me wonders why she’s doing the course, if she’s really ready. But I wouldn’t say that to her.
A debate reared up and I was clear that I wouldn’t support pedohiles and/or people that condone domestic violence. Everyone in the lecture took me to town over this. Brandishing me as judgemental, not giving people a fair go etc. although in my opinion I stayed impersonal the attacks from the class became personal. I wanted to walk out, get away from those arrows, but I refused to leave intimidated. It’s an emotive subject to me and although no one knows – I was coming from personal experience and having seen the pain caused by perpetrators – I would rather use my time on victims. After people got personal at me, that woman got emotional – again for her it was the emotions in the room, even though she didn’t participate. She started crying and everyone rushed to her side. I walked out and tried to find a quiet space so I could gather my thoughts and feelings. Not one person considered asking if I was ok. Instead I was seen as this nasty, opinionated student that had reduced a fellow classmate to tears.
I can live with the fall out. The reality is, most people wouldn’t spend their time listening to an offender, they couldn’t handle it. Which is why there are specialised services. I’m not afraid to speak my truth and people argued back with the ulteristic perspective that everyone should have counselling. If they considered that, really thought about, I’m sure even just one person would agree with me. But not in this class, no one considered it, everyone was quick to have a go.
I felt really deflated. Drained and fed up. Also annoyed that the lecturer led some of the attacks. It’s a new paper and this lecturer is a bumbling old fool. It seems just because I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve I am seen as heartless and with no compassion.
It had been a long week already, lots of lectures, lots of driving into the city which requires full concentration in the traffic so I often arrived already tired. It’s a 50 minute journey of stopping and starting and always being aware.
When I left that lecture, as I started driving home, I felt the tears come. I’m strong, but it was an emotive subject -brought up by the lecturer, which resulted in people including the lecturer having a personal go. Something I won’t stoop to. I thought I’d be respected for my honesty, but instead I received ridicule and aggression.
I later emailed the lecturer, he emailed back.
You can read the email below if you’re interested. Hopefully someone will find it helpful.
Anyway, his response didn’t help me. And I stewed over the situation. Finally resolving that I didn’t care anymore. Essentially it’s a degree and if I take everything personally, I might as well be like the woman that cries all the time. But I do need stronger skin. I wish I didn’t let these things affect me so much.
I’m back at the house this week as S is in Auckland for the week. Essentially that means doing the laundry and tidying from when I was last here. I only have one lecture this week.
Last weekend I had J and my son over to sleep at my place
It’s a pretty small place for two kids! But I think J in particular really needed it and to experience it.
Since I’ve accepted my new place and life outside of the separation I have noticed I’m sleeping with less nightmares. I don’t open myself up to rejection by S anymore and his inability to communicate with me on anything other than a superficial level reminds me that this is never going to be a healthy, deep relationship again. I enjoy his companionship and will always see him as a good friend. But I miss romance and dating and I feel open to meeting people. Whereas before it scared me. And I felt unsure of myself. I am comfortable with being a single woman. Moving out was the best thing I could have done. I have my downtime and peace and it has helped solidify the end of my marriage and the chapter of my new life.
It’s not easy, as the other day in uni highlighted. But I can learn and I can get stronger.
I’m still considering my appointment with my psychiatrist. She raised some interesting points and I’m really keen to remain well. I have relied heavily on S in the past to help with this, but I know that I’m only accountable to myself and I need to rely on myself. The new sleeping medication is working – that God! And my anxiety levels rise and fall, but I know that’s situational. I won’t be afraid to ask for help from the psychiatrist if I need it.
I wonder how Thursday will go – back in the lions den! At least this particular lecturer is compassionate and very aware of the class tension. She would never let things get out of control. I have a lot of respect for her and her teaching.
Thank you for your feedback. I’m wondering if you misheard or misunderstood the brief conversation around marginalisation. Accordingly, I just want to note a couple of responses in your email below using CAPITALS to clearly differentiate the responses from your message. (See below.)
Lecturer in Counselling
Te Hau Tapu me te Puna Oranga
Wellington Institute of Technology: Private Bag 39803, Lower Hutt 5045
Wellington, New Zealand
DDI: +64 4 931 6928
Fax: +64 4 931 6951
Sent: Friday, 18 March 2016 4:25 p.m.
To: Bruce A Robinson;
I’d like to express my disappointment and disheartened feelings from today’s lecture – counselling practice in NZ.
There is no question I have strong views and in my expression of these views, I keep personal attacks out of it because my views don’t concern my peers – I have nothing to gain from becoming vicious or malicious in my opinion. MORE THAN ONE PERSON SPOKE TO ME IN RELATION TO WHAT THEY EXPERIENCED AS HOSTILE STATEMENTS FROM YOU.
However, today’s example of peadophilia and the individual treatment/therapy of these people provoked my argument that I refuse to work with such people and as such I was accused of ‘marginalisation’ THIS IS THE PIECE WHERE I THINK YOU HAVE MISHEARD OR MISUNDERSTOOD THE CONCEPT OF MARGINALISATION: IN FACT, YOUR POSITION WAS THE ONE BEING MARGINALISED AS IT WAS DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF OTHERS. MY PURPOSE IN RAISING THIS WAS TO NOTICE OUT LOUD THAT YOU WERE BEING PLACED IN A MARGINAL POSITION BECAUSE OF YOUR VIEWS / THAT YOU HADN’T ARRIVED AT THESE LIGHTLY OR WITHOUT CAUSE / THAT PART OF A COUNSELLOR’S TASK IS TO FULLY HEAR A PERSON’S CONCERNS REGARDLESS OF WHAT THEY HAD DONE and Bruce, you made a couple of hints that perhaps counselling was the wrong career choice for me. I WONDERED WHETHER THIS WAS A GOOD CAREER CHOICE BASED ON SOME STRONG OPINIONS YOU EXPRESSED. THE REASON I APOLOGISED TO YOU FOR JOINING THE ARGUMENT WAS TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THOSE STATEMENTS WERE YOURS TO MAKE (EVEN THOUGH I STRONGLY DISAGREE WITH YOU ON THE POSSIBILITY OF REFORMING SUCH BEHAVIOUR- I’VE SEEN TOO MANY EXAMPLES OF LIVES CHANGING FOR THE BETTER WITH GOOD SUPPORT AND COMMITMENT TO AN ABUSE-FREE LIFESTYLE). MY PROBLEM WAS THE STRAIGHT OUT REJECTION OF THE IDEA THAT PEOPLE COULD CHANGE. IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THIS IS POSSIBLE, A DIFFERENT CAREER PATH SEEMS LIKELY. HOWEVER, I ALSO KNOW THAT YOU BRING A VOICE THAT QUESTIONS TAKEN FOR GRANTED ASSUMPTIONS THAT ARE OFTEN PRESENT IN DISCUSSION AROUND COUNSELLING PRACTICE AND WELCOME THOSE.
The class made personal attacks – which I didn’t rise to, and on the most part can ignore. I’m not stupid that I don’t know my views are controversial. I want to be a counsellor but I choose not to work with people that have committed crimes of domestic violence or sexual violence. I refer to my consistent stance that I will refer the client to someone else. I’LL BE INTERESTED TO HEAR IF YOU’VE CHANGED YOUR VIEWS ON THIS OVER TIME.
I don’t feel this makes me any less of a viable candidate to become a trained counsellor. AGREED. I THINK IT MAY BE IMPORTANT FOR ALL WHO RESPOND WITHIN REJECTION / MARGINALISATION TO ALSO CONSIDER THAT AROUND MOST ISSUES, A WIDE VARIETY OF OPINION EXISTS- THAT MANY RESPONSES WILL BE HELPFUL.
I have worked with victims of the above crimes. I have advocated for victims, and I have also volunteered my time to work on relevant government legislation in order to make change for victims – at one point using personal experience to teach a group at parliament of the importance of these changes – which was by no means easy.
I continue to do these things because I want to support, enable, and hear the victims of these crimes.
I shared my personal experience in the interview that I didn’t have to do but chose to for the sake of honesty.
I anticipate some triggering moments, and work through that. Unlike my classmates, I don’t take everything personally. Referring to the emotional displays I have witnessed so far that have lead to further personal alienation – which I can handle because I know I haven’t directly upset anyone, rather they feel unable to handle my honest and direct approach. COUNSELLING WORKS WHEN THE TWO PARTIES WHO ENGAGE IN THAT COUNSELLING ARE ABLE TO HEAR AND ACCEPT EACH OTHER’S POSITION / POINT-OF-VIEW, INCLUDING ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF DIFFERENCES IN VALUES / CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES.
My disappointment comes today because the class continued to personally attack me (oblivious to being hypocrites!) and Bruce made the situation worse by effectively (albeit with intelligence) joining in. I’M HOPING THAT AT LEAST TWO THINGS COME OUT OF YOUR DISAPPOINTMENT-
1. IN THE SAME WAY THAT YOU HOLD CERTAIN VIEWS AND VALUES, OTHERS TOO HOLD VIEWS AND VALUES THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO THEM
2. THAT DIFFERENCE DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY GENERATE HOSTILITY. CONVERSELY, SHARING SIMILAR VIEWS DOES NOT GENERATE USEFUL / HELPFUL OUTCOMES.
If you consider after the events of today, and the contents of this email that you feel I won’t be a good counsellor than I’d appreciate a meeting to discuss this.
At this moment in time, I must confess to feeling quite upset and tired from trying to hold my own in the face of what is in essence, a hostile environment. SEE COMMENTS ABOVE, WE COULD (IF IT WAS USEFUL TO YOU) HAVE A BIT OF A CONVERSATION ABOUT STRATEGIES FOR REDUCING THE EFFECTS OF DIFFERENCE , BUT THAT’S UP TO YOU. I HOPE YOU WILL READ AND CONSIDER WHAT I HAVE SAID ABOVE IN THE SPIRIT IT WAS OFFERED- LOOKING FOR A WORKABLE SOLUTION.