Gender Issues (14)
About the Author: Robert D. Cubby is a retired police captain having served 38 years in the Jersey City Police Department. Most of his career was in the patrol division. He worked every district in the police department. He spent two years in the property unit and 8 1/2 years in Emergency Services Unit (SWAT). He was on loan to the Police Academy as an instructor for 3 years. He handled numerous officer involved shootings and worked closely with the CISM program and Deacon Robert Baker since 2005. He is very familiar with post shooting trauma and PTSD. He retired in 2011 as a captain. He graduated from Montclair State University with a BA in Psychology. He is a contributor to the Grieving Behind the Badge Newsletter. Robert manages the PTSD websites Surviving the Shield and Code Blue and is the Administrator of the Police Website JCPD West. He is a cast Member and Interviewed in the Documentary Film Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance. It's a film that explores the problem of PTSD in police. Soon to be a 90 minute movie and 13 week mini-series. Robert is a Public speaker on PTSD issues for NAMI, the NJ- Sussex County chapter, as well as a law enforcement instructor. He is a Co-Administrator of the JCPOBA- CISM program involved in peer support. Robert wishes to be able to reach as many people as he can concerning PTSD and to clear up many misunderstandings and problems the diagnosis of PTSD brings. He wishes to help remove the stigma attached to this problem and assist as many as he can with PTSD. He has contributed through film, writings, public speaking and conversations on the websites he manages to reach as many people as he can. Too many suffer in silence with the feeling of nowhere to go and no one to understand. Having suffered from PTSD himself, he understands.
It's OK for Males to Cry
This past week news from my former police department came that a fellow officer was killed during a robbery in progress at the Wallgreen’s Store in Jersey City. He was 23 years old and a rookie officer with 6 months on the force. The killing, it turned out, was not an armed robbery, but instead, an ambush by an individual who wanted to become famous for killing a police officer.
This incident brought back memories of the last officer that was killed almost 5 years ago, to the day on July 16, 2009. Like Officer Santiago who was killed July 13, 2014, Officer DiNardo was a young man who was cut down much too early in life. And like Officer DiNardo, Officer Santiago’s death was heartbreaking for the police department.
Heartbreak has a funny way of making you react. We want to express our feelings and tears and crying seem to be one way we can cleanse those feelings and release that terrible anguish of loss of someone we loved and admired, someone we worked with and someone we would wish a happy career and long life for. All that then snuffed out in the single action of a murderer .
Several problems, though, with being afforded the opportunity to allow that crying. I know that sounds odd but police are not afforded the opportunity to just react. But that’s a different discussion for another topic. I am focusing, instead on the male role and male reaction to grief, which, in a large sense, may involve police reaction to grief.
Males, in our society, from when they are toddlers until the day they die, are not afforded the opportunity to openly cry when they are hurt, when they are experiencing the grief of loss. You would think that holding back the natural flow of reactions to emotions is an unnatural act, and trying to do so would be like trying to hold your breath, it won’t last very long. But what happens to males from an early age? “ Stop crying. You’re acting like a girl. Men don’t cry.” That message continues throughout the male’s life, not being afforded the opportunity to cry when hurt.
`In an article “Boys Don’t Cry” Stereotypes Harm Masculinity (Baylor Lariat) crying, vulnerability, emotionality and self disclosure are all frowned upon and viewed as something that men do not do. These traits were reserved more for women and no judgment is ever rendered when a woman exhibits these same traits and actions.
Crying is a natural reaction and serves certain benefits for a person. In Benefits of Crying (psychology Today, the Health Benefits of Tears) Judith Orloff MD stated that crying is a way to purge pent up emotions so they don’t lodge in the body as stress symptoms.
In Wiki How (How to Cry and Let it Out) “ When you push your feelings down and keep yourself from crying, those feelings don’t go away. You may feel angry or numb.” “Give yourself permission: crying is a way to honor your feelings instead of denying them and pushing them down. When you cry you’re allowing yourself to be you.”
So many times I know as a police officer and a male, I wanted to cry but I held it back. I knew that being both a male and a police officer , I had no permission to act that way. In fact , my very ability to function as either would be called into question. But at times we are faced with such a horrendous and overwhelming tragedy, that we just have to give ourselves release and let those tears flow. In watching, today ,the funeral procession of a young officer, Det Santiago, I saw many officers holding back those tears, some with a great deal of difficulty. They were wrestling with feelings that needed release but they couldn’t find a way to release them.
Sometimes, though, the reasons for allowing those tears just become so miniscule and inconsequential, and we just let them go and let them purge our bodies. I had that happen 5 years ago at another death of a young officer shot to death. At the scene of the shooting, right on national TV who were covering the shooting, I broke down and cried. The emotions were just too great to hold back and I knew I needed to let them go or they’d destroy me. I didn’t realize the news services caught that and I thought that maybe I was able to hide that breakdown. I was a man after all and men don’t cry, especially a cop, especially a supervising officer.
Upon may return to the department after an administrative leave to recover from the shooting, I was not allowed to be alone and was accompanied by a lieutenant at all times. At the funeral I had two captain assigned to me to make sure I didn’t break down again at the funeral. All because I cried on TV. I appreciated the company and companionship but this was a little silly. I guess they were concerned about my ability to function or supervise. I could now understand why no officer would dare cry openly.
It was only at the funeral repast that I found out I wasn’t so successful in hiding my emotions. I was walking to the car that would transport me back to my office. I was walking with Cyndy a police officer, Mark a captain and our department chaplain . Cyndy was crying on my shoulder as we walked and I hugged her to comfort her. She said “I wanted to thank you for what you did for the department that day ( the day of the shooting)”. Perplexed I asked what did I do?. She stated something that just lifted all the pain I was feeling. She said “ I saw you on TV that day crying your eyes out. You helped us so much when you did that. You told us it was OK to cry.” I guess by giving myself permission to cry, I gave it to others as well.
Please, don’t hold back your emotions. Talk them out, write them out or cry them out. But get them out. They do not go away because you don’t allow them out. They remain and become stress symtoms. Stress kills.
The Art of Differentiation-Woody Allen, Philip S. Hoffman, Roman Polanski, Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, Richard Wagner and Ty CobbWritten by Philip W. Cook
Dianna has made numerous local and national television appearances, including the Today Show, The John Walsh Show, CNN, CNN Financial Network, Fox News Live, Montel Williams, MSNBC, and more. She's made hundreds of radio appearances, including NPR, Radio America, Talk America, ABC Radio, CBS Radio, BBC, the Jim Bohannon Show, the Dennis Prager Show, the Mike Gallagher Show, the John & Ken Show, the Bill Handel Show, the Jason Lewis Show, Tom Leykis Show, and more.
Dianna has written columns for or been quoted in hundreds of major newspapers and magazines, including Time Magazine, Redbook, the ABA Journal, Playboy, Smart Money, Black Enterprise, Insight magazine, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Orange County Register, Detroit News, Washington Times, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post, Newark Star Ledger, Miami Herald, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Sacramento Bee, Tulsa World, Houston Chronicle, San Diego Union Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, New York Sun Times, Chicago Sun Times, Cincinnati Post, Seattle Times, and the Associated Press.
Dianna is the former editor of Fathers & Families magazine and former Radio Show Host of a weekly radio show broadcasted in 40 markets on Radio America out of Washington DC. Dianna authored the social policy article "Child Support and Second Families" in the book "Choices in Relationships: An Introduction to Marriage and the Family" published by Wadsworth Publishing Company. Visit her Facebook page - click here
Glenn Sacks, MA is a columnist and media commentator who focuses primarily on gender issues and family law. His website http://www.glennsacks.com