>Users:   login   |  register       > email     > people    

How Do You Train For This?
By Caterina Spinaris
Published: 01/18/2010

Manleaningonwall The C.O. looked tough—what I lightheartedly like to call “the testosterone overload type”—and very professional. I knew he was a veteran who had seen it all during his 13-year corrections career—inmate murders, drug overdoses, beatings, stabbings, and staff assaults. What came out of his mouth though, and the tears that periodically welled up in his eyes, told a story that is rarely voiced.

As I sat listening to this warrior-like officer, I tried putting myself in his place. I ended up flooded with sorrow for the human condition, anger at evil, and a sense of urgency to be of assistance to this individual.

The C.O. described two incidents when he responded to inmate on inmate assaults. Both times he could not deliver the victims fast enough from their blood-thirsty would-be executioners.

In one case an inmate was getting viciously assaulted by his cellie with a lock in a sock. The C.O.’s “soul armor” was pierced by the abject terror in the eyes of the inmate who was getting pummeled—his wordless frantic begging for help. As their eyes locked, the C.O. was startled to experience overwhelming compassion for the victim, anguish for his suffering, and a powerful urge to save him from his impending fate, even if it meant risking his own life. However, he had to wait for more staff, as per policy. Not being able to do anything to help for what seemed like an eternity—less than three minutes in reality—caused him to unravel inside. He took his duties to serve and protect very seriously. To him, being unable to stop the fight shortly after it started meant that he had failed as an officer, that the inmates were in control, even if only for a short while. This thought weighed him down with guilt and shame even though the inmate survived his injuries.

In another case there were six on one in the yard. The C.O. tried to dive in the middle of the pile of human bodies to extract the targeted inmate, but a coworker kept pulling him back until a sufficient number of staff had responded to the incident. He helplessly watched the inmate get stomped and kicked, head eventually swollen as big as a pumpkin, while his assailants’ white tennis shoes turned red with blood. Not being able to intervene for a good two minutes devastated him. Again, grief, guilt and shame overwhelmed him.

The C.O. added that I was the only one to whom he had confided about how these two incidents had affected him. He stated that he would never tell his coworkers about it because he was certain they’d call him weak, an inmate lover and a hug-a-thug.

When I asked him how he dealt with these painful memories, in a resigned tone of voice he replied, “I drink. Every night.”

And in case you may think that this C.O. is a strange bird, I’d like to tell you that over the years I’ve heard similar stories from staff that had been wounded emotionally by witnessing horrific violence which they could not prevent or stop before grave damage had been done. They all said, “I don’t care if they are inmates. They are still human beings.” I even heard such comments from staff that were not at the institution when the assaults occurred, but who saw pictures or read reports days later.

As a psychotherapist I can state that some degree of psychological traumatization is practically unavoidable when people are exposed to gruesome incidents. Witnessing extreme violence firsthand rips open our “protective membrane” and penetrates our core where we “feel with” other human beings in their acute suffering.

How do correctional trainers prepare rookies to face such occurrences? How do they teach them to confront extreme violence and horror (a) without losing their own humanity by becoming totally calloused, desensitized and indifferent to others, or (b) without becoming devastated and suffering in secrecy for years after?

I believe that trainers need to acknowledge that, in different ways and to various degrees, all staff is affected by the horror to which they are exposed at work. Trainers also need to emphasize that being affected does not make staff “weak,” unless you call being human a weakness.

Staff needs to be encouraged to seek professional help to process traumatic memories and acquire tools for healthy functioning on and off the job. Traumatic memories do not evaporate by themselves, and no amount of alcohol can wash them away.

And just as importantly, we need to change the culture so staff can discuss their reactions to horror openly and honestly without risking being alienated or ridiculed by coworkers.

Risk Factors that Contribute to Psychological Traumatization Here is a list of factors which can aggravate the impact of traumatic events and contribute to the development of acute stress disorder or post-traumatic stress.
  • Peritraumatic dissociation (dissociating/“spacing out” during the incident )
  • Close proximity to the traumatic event
  • Prolonged exposure to danger
  • Intense distress upon exposure to the event
  • Physical injury due to the incident
  • Prior life losses
  • Prior exposure to traumatic incidents
  • Pre-existing anxiety and/or depression
  • Substance abuse or dependence
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Lack of family or social support
  • Lack of opportunity to tell one's story to a caring listener

Visit the Caterina Tudor page


  1. johnb6174 on 07/08/2019:

    Nice Informative Blog having nice sharing.. Teddy bear

  2. johnb6174 on 07/06/2019:

    Best work you have done, this online website is really cool with great facts. taroko park

  3. johnb6174 on 07/03/2019:

    You completed a few fine points there. I did a search on the subject and found nearly all persons will go along with with your blog. retro indie games

  4. johnb6174 on 07/03/2019:

    You completed a few fine points there. I did a search on the subject and found nearly all persons will go along with with your blog. retro indie games

  5. johnb6174 on 07/02/2019:

    This is a brilliant blog! I'm very happy with the comments!.. túlméretes nemzetközi szállítmányozás

  6. johnb6174 on 07/01/2019:

    This article was written by a real thinking writer. I agree many of the with the solid points made by the writer. I’ll be back. túlméretes nemzetközi szállítmányozás

  7. johnb6174 on 06/30/2019:

    This is actually the kind of information I have been trying to find. Thank you for writing this information. Villen zu vermieten.

  8. johnb6174 on 06/25/2019:

    Thank you for very usefull information.. Saatgut-Mischungen

  9. lahujuva on 06/24/2019:

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info. toronto prolotherapy

  10. johnb6174 on 06/24/2019:

    Very useful post. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. Really its great article. Keep it up. Offshore Software Development

  11. johnb6174 on 06/23/2019:

    This blog is so nice to me. I will keep on coming here again and again. Visit my link as well.. https://bbeautyful.nl

  12. johnb6174 on 06/22/2019:

    Thank you so much Love your blog.. tra vy tea

  13. johnb6174 on 06/20/2019:

    Excellent and very exciting site. Love to watch. Keep Rocking. Point of rental

  14. nudob on 06/19/2019:

    I am definitely enjoying your website. You definitely have some great insight and great stories. porno files

  15. johnb6174 on 06/18/2019:

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. diccionario de sueños

  16. johnb6174 on 06/17/2019:

    thanks for the tips and information..i really appreciate it.. best running shoes

  17. johnb6174 on 06/13/2019:

    Merely a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding style. international haulage

  18. johnb6174 on 06/12/2019:

    I gotta favorite this website it seems very helpful . Kopp Dental & Associates

  19. johnb6174 on 06/11/2019:

    Thank you very much for writing such an interesting article on this topic. This has really made me think and I hope to read more. Loop Perio

  20. johnb6174 on 06/10/2019:

    I love this blog!! The flash up the top is awesome!! sandiegoinjurylawyerblog.com

  21. hegu on 06/04/2019:

    I am definitely enjoying your website. You definitely have some great insight and great stories. international haulage

  22. johnb6174 on 05/03/2019:

    Super-Duper site! I am Loving it!! Will come back again, Im taking your feed also, Thanks. my conveyancing specialist

  23. johnb6174 on 05/03/2019:

    Great Information sharing .. I am very happy to read this article .. thanks for giving us go through info.Fantastic nice. I appreciate this post. road freight

  24. johnb6174 on 05/02/2019:

    Its a great pleasure reading your post.Its full of information I am looking for and I love to post a comment that "The content of your post is awesome" Great work. bodybuilding tips

  25. johnb6174 on 04/28/2019:

    These are some great tools that i definitely use for SEO work. This is a great list to use in the future.. my-health-store.com

Login to let us know what you think

User Name:   


Forgot password?

correctsource logo

Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of The Corrections Connection User Agreement
The Corrections Connection ©. Copyright 1996 - 2019 © . All Rights Reserved | 15 Mill Wharf Plaza Scituate Mass. 02066 (617) 471 4445 Fax: (617) 608 9015