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Vitriol and Vitriolage – Acid Burns and the usage of victims in Atheist Bullying

PTSD is a funny beast.

[important]TW – Atheist Drama, Bullying, PTSD, Acid Victims[/important]

To suffer from it is not a form of weakness. I suffer from it due to the actions of others and trauma inflicted.

How you cope with it is different too. Some revel in it and use it as a source of strength. They fight it and mock it and push themselves to not be held back by it. In many cases normalisation of routine helps PTSD sufferers by getting them up and about and back into routines.

But then there are some people who avoid their triggers. That’s okay too it is a way of coping. I honestly don’t care how you live your life and cope with the beast as long as you live your life. Whether you harness the beast or you cage it it is up to you. It’s your monster, it’s your choice on how to fight it.

My PTSD is due to war and in other sufferers there is a range of reasons for PTSD. Some get it due to suffering wounds. Some get it due to seeing their friends die. Some due to the fear of artillery… the infamous shellshock and bomb happy.

And there are some who get it over the weirdest things. A discarded and broken doll. A dead cat on the street. It’s not that incident that breaks something inside you but a slow application of stress and terror and abuse that eventually  breaks something. It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.

With civilians it is different. I get lumped in with the soldiers because mine resembles theirs. There are also umpteen causes here and many get it as part of work. Doctors, Nurses, Fire Fighters. And some get it due to experience such as people who witnessed murders or rape victims and assault victims.

And there are those we puzzle over. People who have gotten it from a doctor’s visit or a dental visit.

It seems puzzling to us that something as harmless as a dental visit can cause PTSD but I know people who fought wars where the thing that broke them was not artillery, blood and killing but something as banal as a dead kitten. Because there are underlying stresses and pressures.

It’s an iceberg of a disease.

Your Trauma Is Not Real Enough. Is is hard to listen to someone with a Trauma you consider lesser. Imagine telling a story about how you were wounded by enemy fire and saw your friends get hit and one of them die near you and the next person tells you about a bad dental visit.

It’s easy if you put yourself in the first person’s shoes and think “Is Person 2 serious?”

But we don’t know about the iceberg. Sometimes PTSD’s cause is loud and clear. Sometimes it’s a variety of things all precipitating it.

I have had the pleasure of working with the Acid Survivor’s Trust International. ASTI, for those who are unaware is a medical charity from the UK who’s role in fighting the menace of vitriolage is from the reconstruction and rehabilitation standpoint.

I have said before. In South Asia, vitriolage is a perfect crime. A cup of liquid flung into the face of the victim in a crowded area and the perpetrator melts into the crowd. People are more interested in the victim.

In a situation where a person is burning in front of you, do you worry about the person or do you seek out the perpetrator?

ASTI is about reconstruction. ASTI helps rebuild the lives of women through plastic surgery. The scars will never ever go completely away.

I have a tiny acid scar on my hand. I accidentally broke my glove while treating the victim of an acid attack  some of the stuff got onto my thumb. It’s a callus of rough dead skin.

The Samaritan who brought her in though. His hands were covered in burns. He grabbed her and tried to clean the acid off and kept doing so despite the pain. He may have saved her eyes. And considering how it hurt, I can only imagine how much it hurt him. Ironically  it didn’t hurt her because the damage was extensive and deep. The acid had burnt out her pain receptors.

The last time I wrote about acid attacks a fair few people asked me how they should treat it in a first aid situation. Here is the thing. In most of the west acid attacks are a thankful and happy rarity. But they do happen and should you wish to learn? Follow these Basic Steps.

1. Be SAFE

This is a British Acronym.

Shout for Help/Assess/Free From Danger?/Evaluate

This is vital. There is no point in responding to any emergency situation half-arsed and poorly.

2. One of the major reasons why some of the damage in Asian countries is severe is the unwillingness to do this.

Strip. Everything covered in acid must be removed unless the item of clothing is adherent to the skin. Prolonged Contact  = More Damage. Clothes, Jewellery and Hats.

When the lady on my train yesterday had a Grand Mal seizure, to me the greatest thing I was worried about was her striking her head on a seat or lashing out and breaking a leg or an arm. I placed people in the way to get hit instead since  bruises heal but broken bones are painful. But in this all there was one woman who kept trying to adjust the sari of the victim. In her mind the “honour” of the woman was more important. I had to cut her blouse loose in a “chaste way”. (it’s called a skin incision. You concertina cut the blouse around the back this will expand and loosen it. One vertical cut from the top and two from the bottom and you have turned a tight fighting supportive part of the sari into something loose and better for breathing).

But many people don’t realise this even in the west. The patient’s life and later prognosis is helped by quick removal of the acid covered medium.

3.  This is the most important step. You need to wash the patient constantly in clean water. The used water must be removed and more replaced repeatedly. The ideal is for 30 to 40 minutes and running water is ideal. The water MUST be at room temperature.

4. Neutralise the acid with a solution of weak alkali. It’s a simple and elegant solution and distilled water and baking soda are good enough for the job. Mineral water and baking soda can do the trick too. The water MUST be clean.

5. Bring the bagged clothing to the hospital. And do so safely. Remember my scar and remember the acid is still active.

6. Superficial burns present with more pain than deep ones.

7. Remember speed of response is vital. The faster treatment is started, the faster you get the acid off the victim and the faster you get the victim from the setting to the hospital the better the morbid prognosis. Acid burns are not aimed at killing the victim so much as destroying their life and many a patient has been saved by simple and elegant first aid from much worse.

Do it well, do it good, speed will come on it’s own. And remember to keep it simple and safe.

And ASTI do some phenomenal work. I have seen their slide shows and met some of their phenomenal staff including the rather amazing Fiona Procter. These are her photos and there is a trigger warning. Many of these are pictures of people undergoing treatment after a tragedy.

Fiona’s photos encouraged me to actually put effort into expanding the clinic’s specific equipment list to handle such a case. Well it really meant keeping baking soda on hand since we have a running water system for the treatment of OPC poisoning but it was something we thought about.

Seeing people like her expand the care of acid burns and provide technology and expertise for reconstruction is great.

And let us NEVER forget the staff on the ground who coordinate and who often go unnoticed and unsung but who still fight against this horrific practice. There are cultural and religious issues which make this crime so common. Many victims are burned simply for their looks (because they are attractive) and because they may have spurned the advances of a man. Many victims from Muslim communities suffer worse burns due to the hijab and burkha as those absorb the acid and since many people won’t dare remove it. Many of the attacks are honour attacks. There is a definite gender ratio with more women being attacked than men. There are so many issues here and it is such a multi-factorial crime. ASTI are more catered to the care of the victims irrespective of these and that is incredibly vital to giving back these people’s lives.

But all this praise must stop here.

When I looked for a photo of ASTI’s work and logo I came across something a bit more sinister. And it was done by an atheist.

Two days ago I wrote about Pat Condell’s racism and pushing of racist ideas. To which I received a fair bit of hate mail. One person on twitter who I have known since I started writing responded with the claim that I don’t do as much for atheism as Pat Condell. That may be true. I am extremely inactive as an atheist because of my chosen location and job. I simply do not have the time to do anything but write a blog. I am an atheist slacktivist. I don’t speak at conferences. I don’t interact as much with other atheists.

From what I could understand from the conversation, I was a gigantic hypocrite because I did not condemn PZ Myers for “his actions” (What actions? The Michael Shermer malarky. I assume PZ Risked his gigantic and vast readership solely for shits and giggles. The accusations that PZ’s drumming up blog hits through creating controversy is moronic because slander being what it is can result in a lawsuit that costs way way more than the earnings from a blog and being dishonest is an excellent way to lose all credibility and lose your ENTIRE blog income not to mention professional respect. So no. PZ actually has placed a lot on the line to support his source.) but I was condemning the actions of Richard Dawkins (que?), Sam Harris (for supporting racial profiling), Hitchens (He’s dead and honestly his ideas on the Iraq war were quite repellent) and of course. Pat Condell.

But I have to call atheists who do bad things out. They aren’t helping. I mean how on earth does Pat Condell help me when he is pushing racist organisations? How on earth does Sam Harris help us by defending snap judgements based on skin colour? How did Hiitch help us by supporting a clearly bad idea?

And how the hell does this help anyone?

Let’s look at this in pieces.

Does it help vitriolage victims? No. It doesn’t raise awareness. It doesn’t campaign for them it doesn’t do anything positive.

Does it help ASTI? No, the awareness it raises is negative and quite honestly ASTI are not in the business of telling others that their suffering is greater or worse than those they help. This kind of makes the claim that ASTI are likely to produce hateful pictures in order to harass some random person online.

Does it help Melody Hensley? I have a vague idea who she is. I have even more of a vague idea of what she does. I know she has stepped on a lot toes doing something because I see the name bandied about but I don’t know what size boot she wearing and who the manufacturer of the boot is. I assume this is a case of harassment and if so it’s aimed at denigrating her harassment by comparing it to something much worse. It’s like going up to a kid who is bullied because they are gay or ginger and telling them it could be worse. They could be a Child Soldier in Africa. So they should stop complaining.

And I am going to assume this was done by atheists. Do you think it helps us? Do you think we come off as good people when  we see this? Do you think others think we are good when they see this?

Because from where I am sat I am embarrassed and ashamed to be an atheist. This is not honour. This is not valour. This is not courage. This is not kindness. This is not humanitarian. This is nothing but vile usage of the victims of acid burning to silence someone you disagree with. Why would you even make this. These are real people.

It’s bad enough that this is bullying even if the maker probably doesn’t think so and indeed designed to mock the triggering of PTSD in an individual and is akin to setting of fireworks near me or chasing me with a balloon and a pin or doing the same thing in a Veterans hospital or to a meeting of the Legion. It’s worse considering how it goes about it and the fact that it is effectively using the victims of acid attacks as collateral damage and an acceptable loss.

ASTI, Acid Victims and Melody do not deserve this.

And I as an atheist definitely don’t need things like this associated with me.

Comments

  1. Pitchguest says

    Melody Hensley is an executive director of CFI who’s called other people shit, too, including trying to get a YouTube video deleted by throwing her followers at it.

    She’s called other women “sister punishers” and when it came to emphatise with a blind man at a CFI sponsored convention, when the blind man complained about lack of accomodation for the disabled she said, and I quote, “I know how it’s like be disabled because I once broke my ankle and I couldn’t go upstairs.” Granted the blind man comes off as a whiny diva who seems to expect things on a silver platter, but that still doesn’t excuse Hensley on just how enormously stupid that comment is.

    An utterly incompetent woman who’s unable to take criticism in any form, whose psyche is so sensitive she develops PTSD from Twitter. PTSD? Pretty damn serious. You don’t fuck around with claims of PTSD. So if Melody says she has it, we better believe it. However, if she has it, and her ailment originated online of all places – Twitter, specifically – then maybe she should stay away from Twitter? Moreover, soldiers who come back from warzones who’ve developed PTSD get panic attacks from fireworks. (Or as you say, from the various things you say the trigger first came from.) So how is it Melody can safely browse online, on Twitter, on Storify (which she has claimed is a tool for harassing people [like from @Elevatorgate]), respond and sometimes even address her so-called “harassers” and be completely fine?

    In addition, after she had announced she’d gotten PTSD from what she called “online harassment” and the fact that Twitter has a block function and oolon’s block bot had been in circulation for a while, she willingly unblocked people to see what they had to say. What?

    If you ask me, I think she’s full of shit. That mocking ‘shop? In light of her actions, it’s like a proverbial pinch on the cheek.

  2. opposablethumbs says

    Shorter Pitchguest:

    I demand the right to bully whomever the fuck I please with impunity. That is what really matters here. And as for acid attack victims –

    it is effectively using the victims of acid attacks as collateral damage and an acceptable loss.

    – well I couldn’t care less about them, so much so that I never even noticed that entire aspect of Avi’s OP let alone bothered to respond to it.

  3. says

    PitchGuest is a scummy asshole from the Slymepit and a perfect example of why that place should be shunned. Here is what Melody has survived –

    Following the lead of several people in the secular movement, Melody’s been open about having a mental illness and treating it. What she hasn’t said to more than friends (and yes, I’m saying this with her express permission) is that she has a history of traumatic events in her life. She came through physical, sexual, and emotional abuse in some of her closest relationships with a resilience that surprised mental health professionals. She came through foster care to become executive director of a CFI branch. She was not just surviving, but thriving. Then she was targeted personally and professionally online. Now she has a mental illness that she is actively coping with.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/08/04/an-organizer-for-a-state-level-skeptic-group-in-the-us/

    The pitters know this and they know she is a role model, having come through a difficult childhood to get a high level position in the CFI. As Avi says in the post (That PG didn’t read or understand) her “dead kitten” or “broken doll” that pushed her over the edge was an out burst of vitriol and nastiness from her own community on Twitter. Much harder to take viciousness from people you thought were on your side, I have a lot of sympathy for EllenBeth Wachs there and it’s the same reason why her treatment at Pharyngula had such an effect on her. Not the abuse, they’ve both had a lot worse I’m sure, but from people they thought were allies and where they felt safe. Having that pulled away can clearly be very traumatic. Weird how none of the “FTBullies” has used the same argument the pitters make and called EllenBeth “weak”. In Melody’s case it pushed her over the edge. Of course the truth makes the Slymepitters look like a bunch of assholes, so they say she said it was just Twitter and before that she had no stresses in her life at all!

    None of this makes a person weak, what is truly weak is using a persons mental heath to attack them. Just like using someone’s physical health to attack them would be. I mean its not like anyone calls people suffering from cancer weak or not “victim enough“, do they!? Well at least reasonable people don’t … So remember, people with something worth listening to talk about issues not nasty gossip about the people they don’t like.

  4. Pitchguest says

    #6: Please.

    #7:

    PitchGuest is a scummy asshole from the Slymepit and a perfect example of why that place should be shunned.

    That’s nice, dear. It’s a shame I don’t live up to my reputation.

    The pitters know this and they know she is a role model, having come through a difficult childhood to get a high level position in the CFI.

    If we’re going to compare notes, I think it’s safe to say that most of us have experienced a difficult childhood. Should I tell you what I suffered through as a child? I could, but I have a feeling it would be considered irrelevant – or just not as relevant as the ordeal suffered through by Hensley. Especially since you know several ‘pitters have been raped, beaten, or both, but chosen to shun them due to their place of residence. I mean, it’s not as if you could have missed how I pointed out that Hensley isn’t exactly clean behind the ears. She’s had her fair share of shit-stirring (and you should know all about shit-stirring). Should she be considered a role model simply because she’s had it rough?

    As Avi says in the post (That PG didn’t read or understand) her “dead kitten” or “broken doll” that pushed her over the edge was an out burst of vitriol and nastiness from her own community on Twitter.

    There is no evidence whatsoever to support this. None. The claim has always been that it was online harassment (full stop) that triggered it, not that it was (specifically) online harassment from “her own community.” I don’t know where you divine your information, but it’s not from reality. (Still, even if it happens to be true, that should be another reason to avoid Twitter altogether. You don’t go looking for the things that trigger you.)

    Much harder to take viciousness from people you thought were on your side, I have a lot of sympathy for EllenBeth Wachs there and it’s the same reason why her treatment at Pharyngula had such an effect on her. Not the abuse, they’ve both had a lot worse I’m sure, but from people they thought were allies and where they felt safe. Having that pulled away can clearly be very traumatic.

    So you’re saying that EllenBeth Wachs has undiagnosed PTSD?

    Ironically when you bring up Wachs, you sort of prove my point for me. I said that Melody Hensley is unable to take criticism in any form and whose psyche is so sensitive that she developed PTSD from Twitter. You say that this is because the vitriol she received came from within her own community. Meanwhile Melody hasn’t been afraid to dish it out to people from within her own community, like Ben Radford (prior to his revelation), Sara Mayhew, Miranda Celeste Hale, Harriet Hall, Abbie Smith, etc, etc, etc. But because she was in turn dished (or just dished), it was so terrible and so ghastly that she got PTSD.

    Then you look at EllenBeth Wachs and the treatment she got from Pharyngulites after she dissented, and subsequent treatment since, from within her own community and guess what? She made it through. Doesn’t seem like it had any lasting effects. In fact, terrible as it sounds, it seems to have served as some sort of catharsis and made her stronger as a result. As for Hensley? Let me get this straight: she survived a traumatic childhood with resilience that surprised even mental health professionals, but the thing that finally got her was people being mean to her on Twitter? Why is she in a leadership position again?

    Weird how none of the “FTBullies” has used the same argument the pitters make and called EllenBeth “weak”.

    No, just every *other* thing they could think of.

    Of course the truth makes the Slymepitters look like a bunch of assholes, so they say she said it was just Twitter and before that she had no stresses in her life at all!

    I really couldn’t care less if she had any stresses in her life prior to her diagnosis. As we all know, having a troubled childhood means fuck all when demagogues are on the case. Dawkins was molested as a child but that meant absolutely nothing when Zvan wrote her patronizing screed to Dawkins saying he should apologize to sexual assault victims. Melody has herself been vitriolic to people like Sara Mayhew, Miranda Celeste Hale, Abbie Smith, etc, and she doesn’t even expect even a tiny bit of pushback in retaliation? As far as I’m concerned, she could be the next coming of Hellen Keller and it wouldn’t matter one iota if she acted like a complete and utter douche.

    None of this makes a person weak, what is truly weak is using a persons mental heath to attack them. Just like using someone’s physical health to attack them would be.

    I’m not using Melody’s mental health to attack her. I just think she’s full of shit. PTSD sufferers generally tend to *avoid* what caused it to develop, not spend more time with it. Not only that, her followers (friends) link stuff to her that says mean things about her – in other words, her own friends are responsible for triggering her. Yet she’s still busy tweeting, day in and day out. Am I missing something?

    I mean its not like anyone calls people suffering from cancer weak or not “victim enough“, do they!? Well at least reasonable people don’t … So remember, people with something worth listening to talk about issues not nasty gossip about the people they don’t like.

    No, they just call them every *other* thing they could think of. No wait, I got it wrong.

    Since I’m not prone to mock cancer sufferers, I probably wouldn’t call them out for not being “victim enough”, but I would probably think that buying $300 shoes after a donation drive to raise funds for living costs as they couldn’t pay for the healthcare themselves and keep their current lifestyle a bit dickish and somewhat ridiculous. Especially considering they might have another cancer scare (though luckily the prior tumor was benign and only required a snip) and could use the money. But that’s just me.

  5. says

    Rest is the usual pile of tu quoque and false equivalence we would expect from one of the pitters. Do you actually have a way of justifying this other than call to hypocrisy fallacies?

  6. Stacy says

    Pitchguest defends using ASTI’s name and images of acid victims to attack the director of CFI-Washington D.C. Why? Because she has argued with some of his friends.

    And because she has argued with some of his friends, Pitchguest dismisses her PTSD.

    Yup, that’s the rationalization. Tu quoque.

    P.S. That quote attributed to Melody is phony.

  7. Schlumbumbi says

    @Oolon — Is that not enough ? Do you folks really not understand how disgusted people are by the daily diarrhea of hypocrisy that’s dripping from your butt mouths ?

    And on a personal note:
    You are the coward who refuses to apologise for your wrongdoings because of your petty fear for legal ramifications. How dare you lecture other people about their morals ?

  8. Holms says

    There is no evidence whatsoever to support this.

    And yet you expect us to believe your anecdotal diatribe against her? Hypocrisy.

  9. says

    Since I’m not prone to mock cancer sufferers, I probably wouldn’t call them out for not being “victim enough”, but I would probably think that buying $300 shoes after a donation drive to raise funds for living costs as they couldn’t pay for the healthcare themselves and keep their current lifestyle a bit dickish and somewhat ridiculous.

    You know, this exercise in mental gymnastics is way more funny when my kids try to get away with using the word “asshole” in as many ways as possible without getting into trouble.
    So you’re not prone to mock cancer patients but you would probably, blahblahblah. Only that you just did. And just for your information, the people who actually contributed to Greta’s funds were more than glad for her and more than glad that she bought herself some nice shoes. I think the hateful bullshit like yours resulted in people explicitely giving her money to buy more shoes. So, before you get all indignated on behalf of people who can speak for themselves and actually did so, save your breath.

  10. says

    You are the coward who refuses to apologise for your wrongdoings because of your petty fear for legal ramifications.

    What “wrong doings” are these pray tell? I better sort it out fast or Father Christmas will have me on his naughty list!
    (Hint: I think you’ll find the pitters and assorted slack jawed yokels who made claims about legal action over the block bot have all been shown to be amusingly ill-informed. Or maybe those “online libel barristers” take months to compile their cases. Certainly hope so as the bill for them will be large!)

  11. thetalkingstove says

    Oh boy, these clowns are still complaining about someone buying some shoes?

    Dear god. $300 isn’t really that much for a good pair of shoes which you’ll get a lot of use out of. It’s not like she spent $5000 on a tiara or a diamond encrusted cowboy hat, or something.

    Let’s see if I can fill out some more of my slymepit bingo card. How about you complain about PZ calling you Marc Lepine again, I haven’t heard that one for at least a week…

  12. Holms says

    Since I’m not prone to mock cancer sufferers, I probably wouldn’t call them out for not being “victim enough”, but I would probably think that buying $300 shoes after a donation drive to raise funds for living costs as they couldn’t pay for the healthcare themselves and keep their current lifestyle a bit dickish and somewhat ridiculous.I might also point out that Greta took the highly unusual step of offering to return the money to any donor who was not satisfied with her use of said money. Strangely enough, no one did so, even under the anonymity offered. One might come to he conclusion that those who donated were happy enough with her expenditure, abd that those who were dissatisfied were members of her hate-club and thus did not donate in the first place.

    But if they did not donate… why the fuck were they angry with her use of said money? Why the fuck do they think they get to tell a person how to spend their gift, especially when they did not contribute? Cynics might say that they were just a bunch of fuckwits looking to complain about a person against whom they have a vendetta.

    I guess I’m a cynic then.

  13. says

    Holms

    But if they did not donate… why the fuck were they angry with her use of said money?

    That’s because they’re all big about freedom and personal choice and whathaveyougot until it’s us deciding how to spend our money. Then every personal decision is subject to evaluation and judgement.
    Something similar happened when Stephanie announced that she would start taking contributions* because her job was massively damaging her health and so she needed to take time out to get well again.

    *I don’t actually want to call them “donations”. I’m basically paying for content I like and value. It’s just that I’m paying in a flexible way, giving when I can and to whom is in a tight spot at the moment. That actually excludes Pharyngula, the place where I hang out the most

  14. David. Jones says

    The DSM criteria for the diagnosis of PTSD are available for anyone to read. Bring traumatised by Tweets would not be sufficient.

  15. says

    Who needs a degree in psychiatry or psychology? Just call yourself a Skeptic™ and skim the DSM, you’re good to go. You’ll be diagnosing strangers in no time!

  16. says

    I couldn’t correct this as the hamster that powers my Internet “upped and died” and it took me a bit to obtain the cash and indeed dance through the hoops needed to get a new hamster (This one’s burlier…)

    @21. I don’t think you understand PTSD at all.

    See, PTSD has something called a trigger. So many soldiers for example are triggered by fireworks and balloons popping. Now PTSD is not caused by watching fireworks or balloons popping at a party.

    PTSD is TRIGGERED by it. The DSM criteria are NOT universal (Sorry America!) and secondly you can be traumatised by a concerted effort to stalk you especially if you consider a person’s past is not exactly known to you so you ignore the possiblity of prior trauma.

    In fact? What you are describing is a slightly altered history of events, I assume this is done in order to flog the notion that your victim is just making shit up and allow you to keep harassing her.

    If you went up to a veteran with PTSD and followed him around chucking fireworks at his feet in order to trigger his flashbacks… even the most genteel person would consider you the douchiest of bags. Your entire dialogue is that harassment online isn’t real despite the fact that a huge number of atheists are part of It Gets Better and openly support children who are subject to this sort of bullying and who do end up committing suicide.

    Now you say “stop using the Internet” but I say “Perhaps the Internet should not be for douchebags”.

    And Mr. Jones, I must point out that I am still offering to raise money for the Acid Survivor’s Trust International who are blameless in this whole idiotic thing. For the love of fuck man! Who do you think the creator of this helped? It didn’t help victims of PTSD, It didn’t help Melody, It didn’t help the victims of acid violence, it didn’t help ASTI. In fact?

    All it did was portray atheists as callous IP stealing bullies who harass women. The sort of people ASTI fight against day in and day out.

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