Dear Mrs. Obama:
I am writing to you today because I respect you very much, and I know how important both the issues of Domestic Violence and the right of everyone to have Affordable Health Care are to you.
I want to introduce you to an amazing woman and advocate Susan Murphy- Milano. Susan is currently dying of Cancer due to the lack of Health Insurance. Everywhere she applied for help turned her down and she was informed that she did not qualify for their services. I know you agree that there is something terribly wrong when a country as great as ours can let this happen to anyone, yet alone someone who has devoted her entire life to saving the lives of others and without once thinking about what it could mean to her own.
Susan grew up in Chicago, the daughter of a 30-year veteran Chicago Police Detective and Violent Crimes Investigator Phillip Murphy. Susan’s father murdered her mother in 1989 and then turned the gun on himself committing suicide. His intent was to kill his daughter as well. On the way to the house to try to save her mother something made her take an unexpected turn on the way. This decision is the only reason Susan is alive today. Had she taken her normal route Susan would not be with us now! Susan lived a life of trying to keep her mother alive her entire life and after her mother was murdered she devoted her entire life to saving others.
This most amazing woman is now on her last days after putting up a good fight. I am writing you today because I know you care. I know you care about the women and children in this country, the state of our health care, and every person’s God given human right. It is not just women and children that Susan has saved; there is no gender bias when it comes to abuses towards another.
Susan is the leading expert on Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence, and at the time when she discovered she had Cancer she was already in stage 4. This all happened just as her lifelong dreams were coming true. Susan is the women who mentored Rev. Neil Schori , Stacy Peterson’s Pastor and taught him everything he knows about Intimate Partner violence. Together they created The Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit which is a legal document that can be used in court as legal testimony even if the victim is murdered or missing.
This tragic news about Susan came just as her lifelong work was getting known. Susan was getting invitations from law enforcement agencies all over the country to come and train Law Enforcement and first responders what to look for when they answer a call, or respond to a crime scene. She was preparing to start working at a University where she was given Carte Blanche and offered full use of the Universities resources to help her with her work. She did not apply to work at this University they came to her asking her to please come and head this project. Susan was offered her own Television Show which was scheduled to air this winter. Again she was approached by the producers she did not seek them they sought Susan. These are just a few of the triumphs that have a major impact in the field of Intimate Partner Violence! Susan was now in high demand all over the country. But her work was suddenly halted in its prime due to her health.
Susan had a good chance to recover had she had the treatment she needed. This is a disgrace and an embarrassment for this Country which I know you and the President both agree. I am so sorry that the President’s Health plan has been fought against and has not been put into place. This is something that may have saved not only the life of this amazing woman but could have saved countless other people both through Susan’s work and the health plan combined.
This is what Susan said when she made the announcement about her Cancer:
“My dreams and hard work are now becoming reality.
In early fall there will be a national announcement about the Intimate Partner Violence Institute with two major universities.
A national conference and training hosted by the Naperville Christian Church is scheduled for the first week of October on the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit for law enforcement, prosecutors and first responders.
The Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit APP will be at the Apple Store on Monday July, 2, 2012.
Holding My Hand Through Hell will be released nationwide October 1, 2012.
Everything will still happen as scheduled”.
Susan Murphy Milano June 27 2012
Please check out these links and Google her name for more on Susan. I know you will love her as much as I do and as the countless women she has saved
Susan’s Cancer blog Conquering Cancer which she started to try to change the way society looks and Cancer treatment
Susan’s Main Blog Susan Murphy Milano’s Journal to educate the public on Intimate Partner Violence
Document the Abuse website for the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit
Susan’s latest book “Holding My Hand Through Hell” is about her life and what it was like for her growing up in an abusive home. She wrote this book for the purpose of helping others who are living the same hell that Susan grew up living in. After reading this book people will know why Susan is the who she is.
Chicago Tribune article and interview with The Rev. Neil Schori.
Listen here to Rev. Schori interview after the trial of Drew Peterson
Susan Murphy Milano and her work in Chicago. Please watch this video and you will see the great work she has done in the past!
Thank you for taking the time to read this and listen to the interviews.
I would like to invite you to the Facebook prayer page for Susan. You will be in awe of the outpouring of prayers and thoughts of people whose lives were changed just by knowing her.
God Bless you and The President for all the work that has been done and is being done to make our lives better.
Amy J. Matthews
Warning signs to watch out for teen dating violence include: sudden loss of interest in activities, low grades, changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, loss of regular friends and drastic changes in clothing.
Often victims will wear long sleeves, long pants and scarves to hide bruises and marks. If you as a parent suspect that your teen is in an abusive relationship, encourage zero tolerance for inappropriate dating behaviors.
If you suspect that your teen is being violent to their dating partner, talk to them. Let the teen know that love is about respect. Sometimes it is difficult to realize that your child is being mean or violent. Do not allow aggressive behavior in the home. Talk to the teen about emotional abuse and how it is unacceptable in any relationship. You could say something like, “It bothers me when you yell at so-and-so.” Express concern and talk to the teen about appropriate behavior. You may even want to seek professional help for your teen.
Teen dating violence is a problem that parents can help prevent. Talk to teens about the different types of violence. Be alert for warning signs and let the teens know that you care. Most of all, show teens the appropriate way to behave by being respectful and caring towards other people.
Encouraging teens to have healthy relationships before they begin dating is important. Be aware and keep the lines of communication open with teens about their relationships.
Signs of an abusive relationship
There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner—constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up—chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.
To determine whether your teen relationship is abusive, ask her/him to answer the questions below. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that your teen may be in an abusive relationship.
Your Inner Thoughts and Feelings
- feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
- avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
- feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
- believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
- wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
- feel emotionally numb or helpless?
Your Partner’s Belittling Behavior
Does your partner:
- humiliate or yell at you?
- criticize you and put you down?
- treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends and family to see?
- ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
- blame you for his/her own abusive behavior?
- see you a property or a sex object, rather than a person?
Your Partner’s Violent Behavior or Threats
Does your partner:
- have a bad and unpredictable temper?
- hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
- threaten to commit suicide if you break up with him/her?
- force you to have sex?
- destroy your belongings?
Your Partner’s Controlling Behavior
Does your partner:
- act excessively jealous and possessive?
- control where you go and what you do?
- keeps you from seeing your friends or family?
- constantly checking up on you?
- excessive texting or calling you?
If your teen is afraid for her/his safety or has been assaulted by her/his partner please dial 911 or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-787-3224.
Take care and STAY SAFE!
VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN TO DISCUSS ISSUE OF DATING VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT AFFECTING TEENS AND YOUNG ADULTS, LIVE ON “THE VIEW,” TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie, executive producers of the ABC’s Daytime Emmy® Award-winning talk show, “The View,” announced that Joseph R. Biden, the 47th Vice President of the United States, will be the special guest, live, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 (11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon, ET). The Vice President will focus on the threat of dating violence and sexual assault that continues to exist for teens and young adults across the country. The Vice President’s appearance is part of “Red, White & View” continuing the show’s commitment to political guests and discussions.
The author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Vice President Biden has led the effort to combat violence against women for over 20 years. He continues the cause today leading the fight from the White House.
Over the past year, in response to the high rates of violence and abuse that continue to face young women under the age of 24, Vice President Biden has refocused his long standing commitment to reducing violence against women specifically on teens and young adults. Under the Vice President’s leadership, the Administration has undertaken a wide range of new and innovative efforts to address the issue. Just last week, in a video message released via Twitter and YouTube, Vice President Biden launched the “1is2Many” project calling on high school and college-aged students to share their ideas on preventing dating violence and sexual assault at schools and on their campuses.
Dating abuse isn’t always as obvious as bruises and beatings. In fact, if you don’t know any better, some of the most common forms of relationship abuse might seem like the way that boyfriends and girlfriends are supposed to act.
That’s why it’s so important that you learn the signs of abusive relationships as soon as you start dating. If any of the signs below are true for your relationship, get help. The following signs can be applied to abused males as well by girlfriends. Victimization DOES NOT discriminate.
1. He Constantly Checks In on You
If your sweetie’s attentive and asks you about your life, that’s fantastic. But if he constantly calls you and expects a full report on where you’ve been and who you’ve been with, then something more sinister’s going on.
2. He Lies to You
Relationships can’t survive unless you trust each other, and if your partner abuses that trust by lying to you, it’s a relationship that isn’t worth keeping. A couple of white lies are forgivable. Lying regularly, or lying about important stuff, is absolutely not.
3. He Won’t Let You Talk to Other Guys
Don’t stand for this form of relationship abuse. You’re allowed to talk to anyone of any gender you want. If your sweetie is suspicious of something, he should have a mature conversation with you about it, but he’s not allowed to control your behavior.
4. He Threatens to Hurt Himself
When someone tells you something like, “I’ll kill myself if you break up with me,” they’re using fear and guilt to manipulate you. Any threat should be taken seriously, so speak to a parent or counselor about it. But you don’t have to play along.
5. He Loses His Temper Quickly
Everyone gets mad sometimes, and that’s okay. But if your sweetie snaps at you over the tiniest things and blames you for things that aren’t your fault, then something’s wrong (and it’s not you).
6. He Embarrasses You in Public
No one who loves you (or even likes you a lot) should ever make you feel bad about yourself. Doing it in public – by calling you names or making fun of you when other people are watching – is especially cruel, and you don’t have to stand for it.
7. He Forces You to Have Sex
Sex doesn’t just mean intercourse. It can mean a whole range of sexual activity, including oral sex or even just touching. If your partner forces you to do anything physical that you don’t want to do, get out of the relationship.
8. He Keeps You Away From Your Friends
Abusers are pretty smart. They know that if your friends found out the truth, they’d tell you to get out of the relationship lickety-split. By pushing your friends away, abusers are trying to protect themselves. Don’t let them.
9. He Looks at Your Phone
No one – not even the love of your life – has the right to monitor your calls and texts. And you’re allowed to be in contact with whomever you want (even your exes). If your sweetie disagrees, he’s trying to control you, and that’s a form of abuse.
10. He Does Anything That Scares You in Any Way
This could mean physical violence, the threat of violence, harsh words or dangerous behavior of any kind. Bottom line: if you’re scared to be around someone – even someone you love – don’t be around them any more. Break it off right away.
At ten o’clock that night, Lindsay had checked that her doors were locked, as usual, before shutting the lights off and going to bed. She assumed she was safe within the protection of her apartment walls. A typical night coupled with a typical attitude. At four o’clock in the morning, Lindsay’s night drastically changed. Her worst fear had crept out of her nightmares and forced its way into her bedroom.
“Don’t make a sound or I’ll kill you…just do exactly what I say” — a ruthless command and a lethal threat on an innocent human being. This was not a practical joke carried out by a friend. It was real and it was happening to Lindsay — a tall, think, ultra-feminine woman who had always thought with confidence, “It (rape) won’t happen to me.” But there he was and there she was.
While Lindsay slept a man had broken into her locked apartment and moved silently into her bedroom. He woke her from a peaceful sleep with the forceful words, “Don’t make a sound, don’t move.” That statement would repeat over and over in her mind for years to come.
As this angry man, a man that she had never seen before in her life — stood over her in her bedroom; made one last reminder for her not to do anything. Lindsay’s mind raced back to her self-defense workshop that she had taken, she was reminded of the emphasis placed on fighting back in order to surprise the attacker.
- Don’t think of anything other than survival.
- Look for your window of opportunity – it may be as little as five seconds – when he is vulnerable and to use it to your advantage.
- Fight back.
And that is what she did. She knew she needed to remain calm, assess the best time for defense, and strike.
Lindsay did just that. As she watched his body fly across the room, Lindsay was amazed to see the shock on his face. He was caught physically and mentally off-guard by her blow that she landed him in the chest with both of her feet, using all the force she could gather. Lindsay had enough time to escape. As she ran out of her apartment to get help, he ran too…not after her, but away from her.
Lindsay experienced a life-threatening situation. It is our responsibility to ensure our own safety. You may be wondering why Lindsay didn’t hear her intruder as there were no noises of a break-in; the man had a key from the previous tenant who lived in the apartment….previous to Lindsay.
The landlord never changed the locks when Lindsay moved in!
Personal safety is a habit not a fear. I’ve had students tell me that their family members think that they are scared or paranoid because they lock doors even when they are home; when they go out to walk the dog and in their car. I’ve heard many parents say that having your children’s carton images with their age and name on your vehicle window was not dangerous. All of us in the personal safety arena agree, IT IS DANGEROUS! Ask any pedophile who wants an easy target.
The fact is, paranoia will freeze you with fear and fear is the most dangerous mindset of all.
- Trust your gut feelings, your instincts, intuition
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Establish and enforce your personal boundaries
- Exhibit confident body language
- Incorporate safety tips into your daily routine and life
The benefits of personal safety impact your entire life in a positive manner. “An ounce of prevention is a pound of cure.”—-Benjamin Franklin
The people who tell you or call you paranoid for being aware and safe are O-B-L-I-V-I-O-U-S!
The impact of being oblivious and not facing the fact that all type of crimes and assaults are happening on a daily basis is an individual with blinders on. Electing not be educated or taught how to be safe is just downright ludicrous.
ob·liv·i·ous = unmindful; unconscious; unaware
Synonym – absent-minded (so lost in thought that one does not realize what one is doing, what is happening, etc.; preoccupied to the extent of being unaware of one’s immediate surroundings)
There is nothing wrong with being the brightest light bulb in the room!
What do you think?
Take care and STAY SAFE!
For survivors of sexual assault, new TSA screenings represent a threat. The new pat-downs and body scans can trigger “flash backs” of an assault and traumatize males, females and children recovering from a previous assault/attack. The new TSA policies and procedures do not even give consideration to the millions of victims and survivors who travel. This outrages me beyond words which I am sure you have gathered by now.
There is no evidence that those in charge of these decisions even gave a thought to victimization and the effect that these procedures will have or had. Again, I understand and respect the absolute need for safety but the catch 22 is that there is no guarantee that if an individual agrees to the scan that they will not end up being patted down anyway and groped. Hence, you are damned if you do and you are damned if you don’t.
For women and men who have already been sexually assaulted, the new screening rules—or just the threat of these rules—present a very real danger. They can be triggering events, setting off a post traumatic-stress reaction. “I started crying. It was so intimate, so horrible. I feel like I was being raped,” an anonymous rape survivor has reported. Another rape survivor had a panic attack as an agent began touching her leg.
“After a sexual assault, it seems that many survivors have difficulty having their bodies touched by other people,” says Shannon Lambert, founder of the Pandora Project, a nonprofit organization that provides support and information to survivors of rape and sexual abuse. This fear of contact even extends to partners and, often, medical professionals. “A lot of survivors do not want to be in positions where they’re vulnerable. They put up defenses so that they can be in control of their body. In cases like this, it seems like some of that control is going away.”
If that sense of control is violated, it can lead to more than hurt feelings. There’s a physical reaction associated with a triggering incident, and the response can vary from person to person. “It could lead to a person shutting down and becoming noncommunicative, it could result in a person becoming emotionally upset, it could trigger flashbacks, not just the thoughts and feelings they experienced, but perhaps other sensory experiences,” says Jennifer Marsh, director of the National Sexual Assault Hotline for the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network(RAINN).
TSA employees are clearly not trained properly as to how to perform a pat-down WITHOUT humiliating a traveler. The experiences that are coming forth are heart-breaking and someone needs to get a grip on the TSA workers – the pat-downs are NO JOKE! We are seeing over and over that TSA employees have no compassion what-so-ever as being demonstrated on a daily basis.
Passengers who decline the scan are subject to a pat-down to achieve that same goal. Again, even if you agree to go through the scan there is no guarantee that you will not be required to have to have a pat-down either. It’s a pat-down that many travelers say may be more thorough, but is also more invasive and humiliating than previous security frisks. “It was a horrifying experience. I was touched in my private parts, in my genital area, without consent and without warning,” says Erin Chase, an Ohio woman who flies several times a month. (TSA says that all airline officials should tell passengers what’s going to happen prior to a pat-down.)
I will leave you with this thought: “It is acceptable and encouraged that a TSA government official can do something to an American citizen that US military personnel cannot do to a member of the Taliban.”
Things that make you raise an eyebrow, eh? Hmmmmmm………
Take care and STAY SAFE!
More and more victims (females, males and children of all ages) of TSA procedures will and are coming forward as they are realizing that they have been victimized. It is encouraged that all victims of the TSA to report and file appropriate charges accordingly. I do have a distinct problem and issue with any media minimizing victimization that any individual may encounter with the TSA procedures now in place.
I completely understand the need to protect the United States from terrorism in our friendly skies but I do have a problem with the invasive, intrusive, ill-mannered reports that we are receiving from those traveling and dealing with TSA employees working in our airports.
We have all read and heard over the weekend how this invasion of privacy has been minimized by our media and even our President. As far as I am concerned neither have concern for our privacy, compassion to others nor remorse because “they are just doing their jobs”. Well, they are doing much more than their “J-O-B”. I don’t give a flying flip about the projected percentage of travelers that “will not” be affected by these procedures or what airports have the scanners or don’t; I care about the individuals WHO ARE SUBJECTED to these procedures. These individuals are the true victims of assault and it’s legal – go figure! Not one government official will endure these procedures.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put down TSA pat-downs on Sunday, calling it an “offensive” security measure she wouldn’t want to experience herself.
“Everybody is trying to do the right thing,” Clinton said on CBS‘ “Face The Nation.” “I understand how difficult it is, and how offensive it must be for the people who are going through it.”
Asked if she would be willing to submit to an airport frisk, Clinton laughed and admitted, “Not if I could avoid it. No, I mean who would?”
According to every state in our country — and also under federal law – it is illegal for an individual to grab, grope or touch our bodies without the explicit permission from the person being… touched. There is no choice, either we get scanned (your naked picture being displayed for TSA employees to view OR get a pat-down).
The detrimental effects of re-victimization is not to be discarded, shrugged off or ignored. Unless you have experienced an assault and you were a victim and have transitioned into a Survivor…you have no clue or idea of the helplessness one feels. Anyone that has been victimized will now be re-victimized by our government and TSA workers.
TSA and President Obama continues to refer to “the Christmas underwear bomber”, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who attempted to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253, en route. I would like to remind everyone that he boarded in Amsterdam and flew to Detroit, Michigan. He didn’t board the plane in the United States. The most recent scare of packages found in cargo originated outside of the United States. I pray that our government and TSA are making a sincere attempt to prevent flights coming into the USA as secure as they are making domestic and outgoing international flights from within.
Cathy Bossi, a cancer survivor flight attendant forced to remove her prosthetic breast during a pat-down. Talk about stripping an individual of dignity.
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – A Charlotte-area flight attendant and cancer survivor contacted WBTV after she says she was forced to show her prosthetic breast during a pat-down.
Cathy Bossi lives in south Charlotte and has been a flight attendant for the past 32 years, working the past 28 for U.S. Airways.
In early August Bossie was walking through security when she says she was asked to go through the new full body-scanners at Concourse “D” at Charlotte Douglas International.
She reluctantly agreed. As a 3-year breast cancer survivor she says she didn’t want the added radiation through her body. But, Bossi says she did agree.
“The TSA Agent told me to put my I.D. on my back,” she said. “When I got out of there she said because my I.D. was on my back, I had to go to a personal screening area.”
She says two female Charlotte T.S.A. agents took her to a private room and began what she calls an aggressive pat down. She says they stopped when they got around to feeling her right breast… the one where she’d had surgery.
“She put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’. And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that’.”
Cathy was asked to show her prosthetic breast, removing it from her bra.
“I did not take the name of the person at the time because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn’t believe someone had done that to me. I’m a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work.”
Since then, Cathy has contacted the Legislative Affairs Team, a group through the flight attendant union. She says she wants to see a crackdown on these personal pat downs.
“There are blowers and there are dogs out there that can sniff out bombs,” she says. “There’s no reason to have somebody’s hands touching your body parts.”
A T.S.A. representative says agents aren’t supposed to remove any prosthetics, but are allowed to ask to see and touch any passenger’s prosthetic.
T.S.A. says it will review this matter.
In the end……
the choice is to fly or not to fly. I’ve taken my shoes off, adapted to rules and regulations about carry-on items (even had items thrown out because they were slightly over the size (begged them to take them home because of the items worth), walked through the metal detectors, had the wands used on me; however, personally I will not subject myself to an invasion of my privacy by going through a body scanner nor allow anyone to touch me WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. You can’t even fight back other than to…….NOT FLY.
One last thought…..is anyone focusing or talking about security on our other means of transportation (Amtrak, buses and tunnels that have traffic backup)?
Take care and STAY SAFE!
Friday, 19 November 2010 19:00 Vicki Polin
VICKI POLIN: I believe everyone needs to refuse pat downs at airports and find other ways of traveling until our government stops allowing our citizens to be sexually assaulted by TSA workers. This week, several men and women contacted my office, describing situations that would be legally defined as sexual assault. The perpetrators of these assaults were agents of the United States government.
The victims of these sex crimes were traveling for work and for pleasure. Some described symptoms of of rape trauma syndrome.
Over the last few years, most of us have been sitting back, watching our civil rights disappear as part of homeland security’s efforts to combat terrorism.
But this week, on the brink of the busy holiday travel season, our government went too far: It is now urging TSA professionals to take pornographic pictures and to commit sexual assaults against our friends and neighbors.
What they don’t realize is that one of every four individuals who travel in airports are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Some were raped as adults. Does our government not care that their actions are traumatizing those people?
According to every state in our country — and also under federal law – it is illegal for an individual to grab, grope or touch our bodies without the explicit permission from the person being touched.
It is also a sexual assault if the individual being touched grants permission under duress.
These are crimes that often mandate a prison sentence — yet, over the last few days, our government is promoting the sexual assault of its citizens, all in the guise of homeland security, by mandating “enhanced” pat-downs.
If we are not allowed to walk down the streets naked, why is it OK for our government to have strangers frisk us or see through our clothing? What ever happened to our right to privacy?
The next thing you know, they‘ll demand that recording devices (both audio and visual) be placed in our homes, as they did in the former Soviet Union.
How long will we, the citizens of what is supposed to be a “free” country, keep allowing our government to take away our civil rights?
After living in Israel, and seeing firsthand the media hype of terrorism there, the truth is that you are more likely to be hit by a car than by a terrorist.
My body and my personhood are private, and as a citizen of the United States, I should have the right to choose who touches my body and or sees my naked. I’d rather have our government utilize racial profiling prior to flying than allowing TSA personnel to undress and fondle me.
And what about those with children? Do you send your youngster through the radiation of a full body scan just to keep someone’s hands off him or her?
Of those who have been sexually assaulted by the TSA, I wonder: How many are eligible for the Crime Victims Compensation Act, to cover the cost of therapy due the fact they were victims of a sex crime? Funding for the Crime Victims Compensation Act’s comes — you guessed it: the federal government.
A friend in law enforcement recently told me authorities actually discussed an exemption for Muslim women. In fact, many of us who have traveled to the Middle East will joke that when terrorists take vacations with their families, they fly on El Al – the Israeli airline.
That’s because of El Al’s reputation of being able to protect its customers from terrorism. And they don’t need naked body scanners to do it.
The folks at Homeland Security would do well to take some lessons there.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Several passengers are organizing a “National Opt-Out Day” on Nov. 24, one of the busiest travel days of the year. An online petition also is being circulated, to be sent to President Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and all members of Congress.)
Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC is the founder and director of The Awareness Center, which is the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with over 25 years of experience working in the sexual trauma field.
It’s difficult to catalog all of the myriad controversies besieging the Transportation Security Administration this week, but the biggest seems to be the new policy forcing select passengers to choose between an open-palm, very invasive pat-down or a full-body scan that produces a very detailed image of your most private regions. There’s also the 35,000 full-body-scan images that some officials in Florida kept despite rules requiring the images be immediately deleted, the threatened $11,000 lawsuit against a man who refused to have his groin patted down, the insistence on applying both the basically-nude scans and the invasive pat-downs to children, and the call for boycotting TSA body-scans by the 11,000-strong pilots union. In other words, it’s bad.
- Leaked Images Belie Our Implicit Pact with TSA Gizmodo’s Joel Johnson writes, “At the heart of the controversy over ‘body scanners’ is a promise: The images of our naked bodies will never be public.” But the Florida marshals who saved 35,000 of those images, suggesting that promise may be a lie. “That we can see these images today almost guarantees that others will be seeing similar images in the future. If you’re lucky, it might even be a picture of you or your family.”
Besides health risks, there is the issue of privacy rights. When a government agent looks beneath your clothing with this machine, you are actually being strip searched. A recent article in the San Diego Entertainer on August 31, 2010 stated that “the scans are detailed enough to identify a person’s gender… to identify a passenger’s surgery scars, or to discern whether a woman is on her menstrual cycle or not.”
- TSA Screener Accosting 3 Year Old Child at Security Checkpoint: I’m not saying that children who fly shouldn’t be subject to security screening, but do they really need to be treated like this? Ed Morrissey put it best, I think: “If we’re mugging random three-year-olds to provide security to air travel, I’d say we need to rethink our approach.” This little girl firmly tells the TSA employee “STOP TOUCHING ME!” Children are not exempt from being searched (see video). If the child goes through the metal detector twice and the alarm is set off twice, they will be searched. Prepare you child for this trauma if you absolutely must fly.
- Are These Scanners Really Safe? Liberal blogger John Aravosis finds reason in the leaked body-scan images to wonder about the scanners’ potential health impact. “I did notice something weird. Why does the scanner seem to be scanning people who aren’t even in it? Note how the device is recording the image of people standing in line to get into the scanner in the photos below. They’re not in the scanner, but it’s picking them up. It even picked up the security guy with his wand. … I’m sure there’s no radiation leakage from a device that can pick you up from ten feet away.”
“Backscatter X-ray uses ionizing radiation, a known cumulative health hazard, to produce images of passengers’ bodies. Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with defective DNA repair mechanisms are considered to be especially susceptible to the type of DNA damage caused by ionizing radiation. Also at high risk are those who have had, or currently have, skin cancer. Ionizing radiation’s effects are cumulative, meaning that each time you are exposed you are adding to your risk of developing cancer. Since the dosage of radiation from the backscatter X-ray machines is absorbed almost entirely by the skin and tissue directly under the skin, averaging the dose over the whole body gives an inaccurate picture of the actual harm. In their letter of concern, the UCSF faculty members noted that ‘the dose to the skin could be dangerously high.’ The eyes are particularly susceptible to the effects of radiation, and as one study found allowing the eyes to be exposed to radiation can lead to an increased incidence of cataracts.”
- TSA Backlash Reaches Congress, National Groups Wired’s Kim Zetter writes, “a growing movement among pilot associations and traveler rights groups suggests the TSA is under increasing pressure to reconsider [its policies]. Several groups have called for a National Opt-Out day on Nov. 24, traditionally the busiest travel day of the year, to protest the TSA’s attempt to force passengers to undergo invasive scans or face an intrusive pat-down. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is also holding a hearing on Wednesday to discuss TSA oversight. Privacy groups such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center are seeking a court order to halt the use of invasive scanners, saying the scanners are illegal and violate passenger privacy.”
However, if you opt out of the body scan, you are subjected to an intrusive full-body grope. These pat downs are rigorous and include the TSA using their palms to touch your genitals in a manner that could feel like sexual assault. If you feel that you or your child were inappropriately touched during the enhanced pat down, call for a law enforcement officer.
- This Isn’t TSA’s Fault: The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, leading the charge against TSA practices perhaps more than any other journalist, takes the broad view. “Yes, it’s true — it’s not the TSA’s fault, all of this airport security craziness. The TSA is a government bureaucracy within a larger government bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security, and both organizations have as their mission the protection of American citizens from terrorism. They are going to do whatever they believe it will take, and is legal, to keep Americans safe. That is their bureaucratic imperative. But it is the mission of the President, and of the Congress, to supervise and monitor these bureaucracies, to hold them back when their mission comes into conflict with other missions, such as the protection of the privacy of American citizens.”
- Is Flying Still Worth It? Outside the Beltway’s Steven Tyler wonders, “The more I hear and read about the options being presented to air travelers: allow a full body scan that shows all the intimate details of one’s anatomy or allowing a stranger in a uniform to grope my nether regions, the angrier it makes me, to be honest. Thankfully I usually only fly maybe once or twice a year. Quite frankly it is all enough to make me rethink whether flying at all is worth it.”
- This Is Not Good Counterterrorism: The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg discussed these practices on The Colbert Report, noting, “If you’re fighting terrorism at the airport gate, it’s too late.” In other words, formal counterterrorism agencies from the FBI to the CIA and beyond are going to be much more effective at detecting and stopping a terrorist plot than these TSA procedures.
Contents of posts from Examiner.com and TheAtlanticWire.com