Friday, 19 February 2016

The Nature Of The Beast


When I was a psychiatric nurse in training, one phrase was always drummed into us students when dealing with " difficult" patients
" Reject the a behaviour never the person"
Sometimes it's a difficult rule to follow.

Last night I worked a late shift at Samaritans. The late night/early morning stint is usually a busy one with the phones constantly ringing, call after call after call. It can be a challenging and rewarding shift , and it one that I prefer to work on given the fact I am mentoring two new volunteers who would gain invaluable experience with the different myriad of callers.

Recently The Samaritans have implemented a freephone number and subsequently there has been an increased demand for the service. Anecdotally, I have noticed an increase in " crank" calls getting through to volunteers with sex callers making up a significant proportion of these incoming calls.

Of course the intensive Samaritan training covers strategies for dealing with sex callers. The caller is not rejected but the behaviour is , and the Samaritan is trained to take charge of the call, firmly but kindly bringing the call to an end unless the challenge opens up another avenue of discussion.

However sometimes it is difficult to remain upbeat when time after time you have been asked to describe the colour of your pants , or to listen to a caller in the throws of masturbation, and it's a little heartbreaking to see the disappointment on the face of the new volunteers after another crank call blocks the lines, preventing a genuine caller from getting through to some help.

Last night, we must have received a dozen such calls, and I must admit, instead of the usual " I am ending this call" conclusion to one man who wanted me to listen to what he wanted to do to small girls , I asked him gently if he understood that he was blocking the line from callers who were in genuine distress.
Characteristically the line went dead.
And seconds late the same man, with the same story was talking to my colleague.

Such is the nature of the beast. 

42 comments:

  1. and you do so well handling 'the beasts' ....hats off to you and all the other good Samaritans...

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  2. I feel angry about this... kind people giving up their time to take calls from fellow citizens in distress and you have to field calls from selfish perverts! Horrible!

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    1. I agree; there are many troubled souls in this world. perverts need to get a life. personally, I would hang up on the perverts with a loud F U thrown in for good measure!

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    2. Perhaps you and I should phone The Samaritans to chat through our anger issues Anne Marie!

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  3. I take my hat off to you, John. To carry on doing something so selfless despite the efforts of so many idiots shows incredible character. Kudos.

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  4. "man who wanted me to listen to what he wanted to do to small girls" is there a way of helping this person realize that what he wants to do would tremendously hurt a child? He needs help before he hurts others and himself.

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    1. In my experience verbalising the fantasy is the important factor here, and that cannot be allowed. We do, wherever possible explore other emotional issues, but more often than not the twarted caller will end the call

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  5. That's terrible. We have that poster by the exit of our pub. Good place to put it.

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  6. "What he wanted to do to small girls"?! Oh my,that's no joke!

    Chapeau to you, John for volunteering there! Greetings Maria x

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  7. Hat tip to you John; I know I couldn't do it.

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  8. Shouldn't you report to the police these perverts that say what they want to do to little children? Keep them on the line long enough to trace the call?

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    1. I agree with you, Rachel. And, no doubt, John will tell you about (possible) issues on The Samaritan's confidentiality clause.

      Fact is, unpalatable, and I have had this experience only a few days ago, some people get off not "on the actual act" but their telling you about their fantasies. It's awful. Sort of jerking off by proxy.

      U

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    2. I also was wondering this

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    3. I work with a Police CSE (child sex exploitation) team.

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    4. One of samaritans' strengths is it's adherence to strict confidentiality . This allows some of the most vulnerable of people in our society to contact us. We do not trace calls, we do not record them. Therefore it is the power of the volunteer to do what they can to support , listen and perhaps to help by reflection and good communication skills .
      As a nurse and a natural advocate , i found it very hard at first not to give advice, and to respect the confidentiality of all callers.... Now , i understand the strength of that pledge

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  9. I'm shocked to hear that even the Samaritans are plagued by sex pests. There seem to be more and more sex addicts pestering anyone they can get hold of. It must be very disheartening for new volunteers, and as you say their selfish crap is blocking genuine distress calls.

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  10. I'm afraid that the world is filled with silly idiots who do such things. No doubt they are lonely and sad, but there should be other outlets for their foolishness, not phoning the Sams.

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  11. One respects your position, John; however, after decades of dealing with damaged children I believe that the confidentiality of the help-lines (and the confessional) should end whenever children are threated by Beasts.

    Kudos to you, and to the volunteer Sams, for manning those lines. A current scandal here in the States is a recent report that states one in six calls to the veterans' suicide hot lines goes to voice-mail.

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    1. ...the dye has been set when the confidentiality nature of the service is questioned

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  12. "No doubt they are lonely and sad, but there should be other outlets for their foolishness,"
    There is an outlet for their foolishness, the Internet.

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  13. Its a tough world out there. People wanting to help...people needing help (including the perverts, they just don't know it or won't accept it). It can be very draining. John how do you keep your spirits up so well dealing with this sort of reality. Do you ever get depressed about the state of the world and the people who need so much attention and help? And its not just your neck of the woods, its everywhere I know. Sometimes reading about the world and dealing with personal issues...its just overwhelming

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    1. Sometimes you can have a whole shift that these sort of calls can dominate.... However, there is usually at least one call per shift that makes the effort worthwhile

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  14. Even the crank callers have a problem ...

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    1. Yes, but theres no excuse for their behaviour

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  15. you get sex pests on the phone i have to deal with them in person ..lol ..I love my job

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  16. Not sure what I think of this. Are they just being a-holes or contacting a help line because they know they are troubled and need help? And don't know how to get it. I'm sure there are phone sex lines for them to get off on if that is their wish. I'm sure you are trained to try to turn the conversation around. Bless you for doing this work. Takes a special person.......

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    1. A very small proportion and i mean a VERY small proportion of these crank calls are perhaps looking for psychological support ...

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  17. Even as an idiot teen, I can't imagine it would have ever occurred to me to crank call a help line. It'd be interesting to know how many of the crank callers are female.

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  18. I am truly thankful for all the volunteers who do this work, because I know many (including myself) cannot, and it needs done.

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  19. Is it possible the sex callers are damaged and needy in their own ways?

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    1. I am sure they can be, but the bottom line is that the service is for people in distress

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  20. Well done to you John for the patience you must have to deal with these idiots. I looked into being a Samaritan, but the chat about sex calls made me so angry that I knew I wouldn't be able to keep my cool. I try and support this amazing service by taking stuff to the local shop and dropping some cash in the box. Good on you x

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  21. Thank goodness for you, and all the other wonderful volunteers, John, it's not something I could do.

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  22. Sigh. All too familiar. And sadly these sad people have the number on speed dial. One shift I had the same caller eleven times.

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  23. Re your reply on my blog that the Prof always picks up on the one job you just haven't managed to get done. Same here. Very annoying!

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  24. There is something inherently sad about this too though John, isn't there?

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  25. I used to hate those calls - it's so hard to remain caring and compassionate when someone is basically abusing the service. Good job it's you on the phone and not me. :-)

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  26. And I automatically think of the very young girls who are in fashion magazines wearing very little and disturbed men being able to fantasize all they want .. society feeds disturbed people with this sort of thing ..
    I agree with the Weaver, it is so abhorrent and so sad. These people are a kind of disturbed that most of us cannot fathom.
    A long time ago in a hospital far away, I worked in a ReHab hospital for a summer. There are 2 patients that stand out in my memory all these years later. The 30 something man with a family who had his horse fall over with him and broke his back and neck. And the very old woman who became very agitated if her "baby" doll was not on the bed with her at all times.

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  27. Was woken out of deep sleep by what turned out to be a creepy sex caller the other week. Had the phone off the hook at night ever since. What really creeps me out is knowing that some of these people we probably have to deal with in person as we go about our days. They seem ok but their mind is crawling. That is worse than any walking dead show!

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  29. Some days human nature/behavior really makes me sad.

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  30. All kinds, aren't there . . .
    Good thought . . .
    "Reject the behavior not the person."
    Bet you have that . . . but how difficult it must be at times.

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