Saturday, May 16, 2009

Violence, Victims, And Survivors

Via Xavier, I recently learned about the book "Meditations On Violence" by Sgt. Rory Miller. Based on his description of the subject matter, I ordered a copy and was tremendously impressed.

This book covers violence from the perspectives of the realities of how actual criminal violence varies from training or naive perception, what happens when we experience violence, and how successful and unsuccessful outcomes affect the intended target. Among the unsuccessful-outcome discussions, the author provides the best representation of rape recovery I've ever seen in print from a bearer of the Y-chromosome.

What the author says about trusting an instructor (or therapist) was profound. The most beneficial therapeutic work I ever did was with a psychiatrist who forced me to face the festering places, rip them open, and scrape out the rot. It was painful and ugly, but absolutely necessary. I had to trust him when he said I would survive the horror of facing what I had tried to block away. I trusted him, I did survive it, and I am a better, stronger person for doing so.

When going through a process, some realizations come with very visceral reactions, such as the time something clicked into place while I was driving to work. I had to pull over to throw up in the ditch alongside the highway. Some of the things I'd felt intuitively that Sgt. Miller put into words triggered similar strong reactions when I read them. And that's a good thing, because it meant somebody out there gets it.

The urge to stay a victim is seductive. Our society favors victims, cosseting them and setting up well-funded groups to be their advocates. These groups depend on a steady supply of victims for their existence. Government and law enforcement officials also depend on a steady supply of victims to justify expanding their power and control over every aspect of subjects' citizens' lives.

Staying a victim is also a passive-aggressive way to manipulate and control people. Sgt. Miller describes how such stuck victims can hijack a self-defense class. My family of origin was full of passive-aggressive stuck victims, and they very nearly hijacked my life. Now the only one of them I have anything to do with at all is through sending checks to her nursing home. I will not subject myself to her abuse any more, not hers nor anyone else's.

Stuck victims choose to define themselves by their damage instead of working to overcome it. They can build their entire lives around being a victim. I met lots of people like that during my active process. They only associated with other victims. They went to a different support group every night of the week, groups for sexual abuse, codependency, addiction, overeating, bulimia, you name it. They worked very, very hard at not getting better.

Years after I'd progressed beyond the need for a support group, I ran into someone I'd met at the one I'd attended for a while. She asked me when I had "moved back." Moved back? I never moved away. She said when I stopped coming to the meetings, the group decided I must have moved out of state. That the group meetings had served their purpose and I didn't need them any more was inconceivable.

We cannot always control what happens to us in life, but we are absolutely in full control of how we let it affect us.

Years ago, a sheriff's deputy suggested I needed to get a gun. I asked a friend and her husband who had been a firearms instructor in the Army and the Oklahoma State Patrol about it, and they recommended a .410 pump shotgun. In the finest tradition of "go big or go home," I got a 12 gauge instead. The rest, as they say, is history.

Becoming involved with firearms, making a full commitment to the responsibility of ongoing training and practice, studying firearms law and the judicious use of deadly force, all of these things put teeth in my resolve to be strong, independent, and never again go down without an effective defense. My gun gives me a fighting chance against bigger, stronger, faster assailants or multiple assailants. My training teaches me how I can avoid situations that could force me to present my gun. But if I need to use it, I will.

And anyone who would take that away from me has a vested interest in preventing victims from evolving into independent survivors.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Love BUG

The more I work with my S&W Airweight J-frame, the more I think this little gun is one of the best investments I could have made in my shooting skill set.

Oh, I'm not producing any targets yet worth keeping or posting online. For every live round I fire, I probably execute fifty or more hopefully-perfect dry trigger presses. Most of the time, I can keep a dime balanced on top of the gun while dry practicing.

So what's the value of all this "non-productive" busywork? Besides ammo savings, I mean.

My shooting with the snubby ain't there yet, but my 1911 shooting is getting WAY better.

The Close Quarters class I had on April 18 showed me that my old tendency to jerk the trigger still returns under pressure. Watching my groups straggle off toward the lower left was frustrating and discouraging. So I decided to buckle down and confront my problem head-on by concentrating on the little, lightweight, jumpy gun as a means to get better with the big, heavy, stable one.

And it works.

But targets with such little tiny holes sure look funny. They'll look a lot less funny when all the little holes come together to make one big ragged one.

It'll get there.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Zipper Horse

The boarding farm where I keep my horses puts great effort into providing as safe an environment as possible. Even so, Murphy has a special affinity for horses and horse people.

So when I got the call that Farrah had a cut on her side, I said of course have the vet look at it. At least she had the decency to show up injured when the vet was already there to do a vaccinate-a-thon on several other boarders' horses.

But I was surprised to find this when I went out to the barn after work.

The gash is over a foot long, and the little tan things are segments of rubber tubing to keep the sutures from tearing through the skin. Followup care includes my giving her 20 cc's of penicillin IM once a day for five days. To put it mildly, Farrah isn't real happy about that.

For those unfamiliar with intramuscular injection techique in horses, you first fill the syringe, then remove the needle and hold it between thumb and forefinger. Next you find the center third of the center third of the horse's neck, away from major blood vessels and ligaments and the cervical spine. Then you use the heel of your hand to thump the injection site sharply three or four times before smacking the needle in: thump, thump, thump, STICK. Finally you fit the syringe to the needle hub, draw the plunger back to make sure you aren't in a vein or artery, then inject the penicillin and remove the needle. Jolly fun.

And the cost associated with this little equine experiment in creative self-destruction? $255.81 for the vet bill. Baled wood shavings at $8.00 or more each for bedding the oversize stall where Farrah (and her boyfriend Max for companionship, also keeping Max from having a separation-anxiety nervous breakdown) is confined until cleared by the vet. Another $20.00 or so for extra syringes and needles to give the daily penicillin injections, since the vet didn't leave nearly enough of them. The return vet visit scheduled for two weeks after the injury will cost a minimum of $50.00.

Which brings me to a rant.

Horses are a huge responsibility. A huge, potentially dangerous, expensive responsibility. One misstep can instantly generate untold veterinary costs -- or doctor bills since horses are big and strong with excellent reflexes. At the best of times, becoming a horse owner should never be undertaken without careful consideration of the knowledge, skill, time, and money required. In this economy, buying a horse on a whim is unconscionable.

Horses need a lot of space in order to be horses and not unhealthy four-legged house plants. They need training from qualified, humane trainers, and their owners need to make sure those trainers are qualified and humane. And riding lessons, what a concept. You can't learn to ride by watching Hidalgo any more than you can learn to shoot by watching Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

Guess what, good horse care facilities, training, and riding lessons cost money, too. So does good equipment that's safe for the rider and won't harm the horse.

And if selling a horse, the seller absolutely must do everything possible to ensure that horse does not go to slaughter.

So to the idiots who wanted to buy one of my horses, no preference which one, because my horses are nice and well-behaved, never mind they have no clue what owning a horse entails, I have this to say:

Not just No, but OH HELL NO!

There. I feel better now. Time to go back to the boarding farm to throw hay and refill water and check sutures and otherwise keep my horses in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

And you thought guns were the only things I wasted lots of time and money on?