One Reason People Accept TSA's Sexual Abuse

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by barbell, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    I survived childhood sexual abuse. The very nature of it is eerily similar to what goes on at airports today, so it is doubly traumatizing to me. As for any survivor of sexual abuse of any kind, one of the most egregious actions at the current security playhouse production by TSA is the forced loss of dignity by having control over one's own body forcibly removed from yourself. Whether one agrees to undergo whole body imaging (AIT) scanning, even with ATR, or agrees to undergo the opt-out "pat down", the innocent passenger must cede control of the body to a stranger or not fly that day and possibly face fines.

    I share this background because it's important to recognize what TSA is doing at checkpoints today is sexual abuse. Period. I know because I've both been sexually abused and because I've transited TSA airport checkpoints over the last year.

    There is an interesting piece at regarding the current Sandusky scandal at Penn State. I share it here because it explains why people will willingly go along with, and even demand, that TSA do these things, not recognizing them for what they are. Let's call it what it is. What TSA does at checkpoints today is sexual abuse. Now consider how it affects the psyche of the public at large.

    And before the sanctimonious rubes inhabiting the halls of DHS/TSA who become appalled because, after all, they aren't in the locker room shower after hours penetrating young boys, you must remember that sexual abuse takes many, many forms. Look into your own soul and see these things for what they are.
    Fisher1949, Lisa Simeone and LeeAnne like this.
  2. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    The article starts:

    Consider, then, TSA's own description of its workforce:

    TSA wants us to know that they are just like us. Sound familiar? It's difficult to believe that your neighbor, your friend, or your relative would fondle you. However, first-hand experience tells us otherwise.

    Furthermore, the article rightly recognizes how people in positions of power can do as they please:

    Therefore is it really such a stretch that TSA clerks, allowed full discretion to do as they see fit, given a procedural frisk that makes genital contact possible, and supported by the statement "proper procedures were followed" at every step a complaint becomes public, wouldn't abuse this privilege? They are given absolute power, and are then given our bodies.

    By creating these procedures, and then continuing them in light of sustained dissent against them, TSA has created a hostile environment against the public. While the people working at management level positions within TSA are likely too stupid to understand what they have done, it is understandable that the public at large who have not experienced these measures directly can deny it because it is simply unbelievable.
  3. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    Genital contact is not only possible, it is SOP for females, as per the many incidents, such as the Abbott incident in Tennessee, where the genital contact is indisputable, hard forceful genital contact on a minor girl in that case, and the TSA said everything was SOP.
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  4. LeeAnne

    LeeAnne Original Member

    Barbell......thank you. As a rape survivor (something I NEVER revealed publicly until I was sexually assaulted by the TSA and began to speak out about it), I thank you for bringing this up.

    This is one of the main reasons I have joined the fight against TSA abuse. My rape occurred when I was 13, and I can attest that one of the most important things for me, and for many victims of rape/sexual abuse, is to feel that we have control over our own bodies and our own sex organs. I, and ONLY I, should get to choose who touches my genitals. To have to cede that control to strangers is a horror that I cannot even articulate.

    This is why it upsets me so when people like Ron make light of it, and suggest that WE are the ones in the wrong for having a problem with it. He cannot understand what it means to a rape survivor to be forced to stand there and allow an unknown and hostile stranger slam her hand up into my crotch or rub my pubis.

    And the "you don't have to fly" line doesn't work. If I didn't fly I would never get to see many of my family members. I wouldn't have been able to go to my son's Army training graduation. I would have had to miss my uncle's funeral last month. I wouldn't have been able to be at my elderly mother's side when she had to have breast cancer surgery and a hip replacement last year, leaving her all alone.

    I am forced to choose: subject myself to being sexually molested by hostile strangers, forced to relive the rape of my childhood...or miss these crucial life experiences and family responsibilities?

    No American should be forced to make that choice. And anyone who thinks this is okay is, simply and indisputably, a monster.
  5. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    From Nightly News last evening:

    In the video, although he was not sexually abused, one Second Mile participant tells of his feelings when Sandusky touched him. He knew the touching was inappropriate. We, as adults, know that if any touching feels wrong, it is wrong.

    We have heard many people who suffer the grope at the airport say they don't like it/that they put themselves in another place while it is taking place/they use WBI to try to avoid it, although they don't like WBI either. (Of course, that is the goal of the grope: to force people into WBI and that, too, is a form of abuse.)

    ALL of those reactions speak to TSA gropes as being sexual assault. I would venture that 99% of passengers who are groped are very uncomfortable about it but, as we have said so often before, they are afraid to speak out.

    I wish there were a way that we could get across to that 99% that what they are experiencing through their feelings means they are being sexually violated at the airport.

    I wish we could get organizations, both local and national, that deal with sexual abuse to step up to the plate and talk about what happens at the airport and the feelings people experience when being screened, even the fear of being selected for a grope, about how having those feelings mean, in fact, that your body and your mind are being violated.
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  6. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    The Penn State sexual abuse scandal is merely the tip of the iceberg. This behavior goes on all the time, in all sorts of ways, in the world of athletics (and fraternities), something I've been researching and writing about for decades. But, just as with the abuse in the Catholic Church and abuse at the airports, people don't want to hear it. They want to hear it even less in athletics, because their "heroes" are involved.

    Can't criticize athletes! Can't point out these "heroes" have feet of clay! People worship at the altar of sports in this country. "Sports are good!" "Sports teach values!" "Sports teach team work and discipline!" So when something like the Penn State scandal finally breaks through to the general public, there's a big hue and cry, it's all "I'm shocked! Shocked I say!" When in fact nothing about it is shocking; it's sickeningly predictable.

    I've never been sexually assaulted. But I've been a crusader for those who have all my life. It disgusts me that people want to stick their heads in the sand about it, and, worse, that they dare to blame the victims, something that happens over and over and over again, no matter how much education there is out there. The blaming and dismissiveness and even ridicule -- the "just suck it up!" attitude -- that is being thrown at people who are complaining about getting groped at airports is entirely reminiscent of the same attitude towards rape and sexual assault victims.

    I have only contempt for people with this attitude. They are cruel and stupid. And by their cruelty and stupidity, they reveal that the only way they'll learn is if a similar bad experience happens to them.
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  7. RB

    RB Founding Member

    Perhaps if we rename TSA Pat Downs to TSA Sandusky Screenings people will finally understand.
  8. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    If only. But the denial is still out there. It's out there now with Sandusky and, especially, Paterno. "He didn't do anything wrong. He did what he was supposed to do -- he reported it to his higher-ups. He's not at fault. He did what he was legally required to do."

    Of course the fact that what is legally required often isn't what is ethically required doesn't make a dent.
    barbell likes this.
  9. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    I am wondering if, delicately, we could use this scandal to further our own aims of stopping gropes, or perhaps more accurately, to help people to see that gropes are sexual abuse. More people are going to read articles about this than are ever going to read articles on sexual assault at the airport.

    Perhaps this could be done through comments to on-line articles to the effect if being touched makes one feel uncomfortable, whether child or adult, then that touching is inappropriate; relate it to the airport gropes.
  10. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    This was my aim in bringing this up. But we have to be very careful. It is very easy for TSA to balk in feigned offense, "But we aren't like that! We are doing this for safety!" Every single time I've confronted a screener, supervisor, or manager with these thoughts they've immediately shut down. They can't face it. They won't. I don't expect the public at large to be any different. The sad reality is that TSA is exactly this. If they weren't there wouldn't be repeated instances of pedophiles, thieves, and perverts found in their ranks.

    Of course, what's going on at the airport is not near as horrid as what went on at Penn State, or as Lisa correctly points out in athletics and fraternities everywhere.

    This story struck me because it happened in a series of events that made me realize that people don't see what's really going on because they don't understand it. My mom has become increasingly agitated by airport abuse, and has become more and more vocal in her outrage with it. In fact, she couldn't understand why I thought it was such a big deal. And then, out of curiosity, she opted out on her last trip. She hasn't stopped talking since about how shocking, how violating it was. She has started performing the opt out "pat down" on her friends and neighbors, and then ends by saying, "Now, imagine you're male." She is changing minds one grope at a time. People are literally shocked when she is done.

    Just before this story broke, I shared the No, TSA, I will not lift my skirt story with her and asked that she share it. She called me in tears, which is significant because my mom is tough and doesn't cry, begging forgiveness for not knowing what was going on under her own nose. Growing up she was a huge advocate against both sexual and physical abuse. She brought in speakers to the PTA, she helped organize fundraisers, she brought counselors into my school to help kids cope. The whole time she was clueless it was going on under her own roof. She said she just had no idea because it was unfathomable to her that her own husband was not only capable of such things, but that it was going on and she didn't even see it.

    And that's why we need to link these stories. We need to make people aware that being touched is wrong. Being viewed naked is wrong. Period.
  11. N965VJ

    N965VJ Original Member

    This Wikihow article came up earlier this year. Originally it contained nonsense such as:

    Myself and some others went round after round deleting "advice" like that.
  12. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    Makes me extremely nauseous.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  13. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    When you get the full-crotch grope, you've been been "Pistoled" with the full "Sandusky"?
  14. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    The Penn State cover up broke the other day while I was at work and the details still vague. An impromptu discussion began among several coworker regarding regarding the University's decision to terminate Joe Paterno. Some thought the firing premature or simply wrong, since, after all, it was Joe Paterno. Others weren't so sure.

    After listening for a few minutes I offered that I thought it may well have been true simply because of the amount of money and prestige at risk should the scandal surface. As I said this it reminded me of TSA situation, and many others, where money and prestige lead otherwise good people into covering up their misdeeds or attempting to excuse or legitimize them through a series of spurious arguments and distorted facts.

    Unfortunately, this seems to be an instinctive response and requires that one have a highly developed sense of morality, and the courage to accompany it, to actually do the right thing. Just as with a Milgram experiment, the group at risk will collectively agree that they are doing the best thing and rationalize their lies as necessary. A prime example was Watergate.

    My point in this long winded response is that the scanners were the money component of the TSA assault and the groping instituted to enforce the use of them became the misdeed that needed to be legitimized. Once TSA has crossed the line there was no retreating without risking huge liabilities and personnel repercussions throughout all levels of TSA and DHS. Thus began the attempts at cover ups (no recording at checkpoints) and rationalizing and legitimizing, saying these are needed for safety, " we treat passengers with dignity and respect" and claiming the 5,000+ documented bad episodes were just "one offs".

    In the end it all comes down to money and power.
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  15. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    The 4th Amendment argument unfortunately comes across as academic, but it really isn't. It's a shorthand for all of this. Having a government agent put his/her hand up your crotch , on your butt, on your breasts is an offense against human nature. It is always an offense no matter what the circumstances are. So much so that the people who reluctantly agreed to establishing the federal monster underlined the things the federal agents were not to do, and this one one of the most important ones. They didn't want a federal agent's hands on their person without a warrant.
    Because this offense is against human nature itself, it will never be accepted, not in the long run. That criminal masquerading as a TSA administrator is on the losing end of this, on the losing end of this ultimately in history. My hope is that he will be brought to account for his actions in his lifetime.
    Elizabeth Conley and barbell like this.
  16. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    I've asked a couple of mental health professionals for their take on this -- not just one person's publicized account, but on the entire TSA policy. I've asked them if their various professional organizations have adopted a statement on it, on the trauma to sexual abuse victims, or if they themselves have had to deal with this in sessions with patients. Haven't heard back yet but will report when I do. (As I recall, one psychological organization did issue a statement -- earlier this year? last year? -- but can't remember now and would have to dig around in my files to find it.)
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.
  17. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    If the organizations these professionals belong to get any federal funding, you won't hear a peep from them, Lisa.
  18. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Ah, interesting. I'm thinking of self-organized groups. But perhaps you're right.
  19. Fisher1949

    Fisher1949 Original Member Coach

    Precisely. ^
    As usual it is a matter of following the money.
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  20. barbell

    barbell Coach Coach

    After I went through my first grope, I wrote a letter to His Grace John Pistole detailing my childhood sexual abuse and drawing a distinct parallel to the current procedures, and how because of my history, both options are traumatizing. I didn't expect him to read it. I knew it would end up in the hands of a lower-level bureaucrat. I wanted an individual to read what they were doing to people.

    What I got back was a response letter so shocking in its disregard of reality that it made me realize they haven't a clue what they are doing.

    I don't have it on me at the moment, so I can't quote it directly. However, it basically dismissed all blame of TSA (big surprise, I know) for retraumatizing sexual violence "victims" (the fact they even use that term is appalling) by saying they consulted with sexual abuse victim support groups to develop these procedures. WTF?!?!?!!! :eek:

    I wrote a letter back asking for the names of these groups so I could better understand how I wasn't coping correctly with these procedures.

    It has gone unanswered for almost a year.
    Elizabeth Conley likes this.

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