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Will my past of being a victim of abuse prevent me from getting into law enforcement?

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  • Will my past of being a victim of abuse prevent me from getting into law enforcement?

    I’ve applied to quite a few departments now. I’ve successfully completed 5 polygraphs. During the polygraphs, my history of being a victim of abuse and the resulting mental health issues as a teen always come up. And I’m very forthcoming and honest about it. My parents were physically and mentally abusive, and the police were involved quite frequently. I was also raped by a classmate at 15 and subsequently bullied over it for the remainder of my high school career. I struggled a lot and ended up with serious mental health issues at the time. I was on multiple medications and institutionalized twice, but never court ordered to do so. Once I was able to leave my high school, my rapist, and my parents behind, everything changed. I was able to be taken off my medications and have been off of them for over 8 years. I have not struggled with any mental health issues since.

    I have explained that I wish it was possible that I could change the past, I wish I could have coped with these terrible things in a healthy manner at the time, but I didn’t. But I did manage to learn how to cope, and to reach out for help if I am struggling with something. I’ve also learned how to recognize the signs in others who are struggling. I was told I “passed” the 4th polygraph and about a week later I took my 5th polygraph for another department. The examiner confirmed with the examiner from the 4th polygraph that I “passed.” But today I got a letter from the 4th polygraph department saying I didn’t successfully complete “one or more components of the terms and conditions,” and the only component I took was the polygraph.

    is it my background as a teen that is preventing me from this? Will I never be able to get into this field because of what happened to me as a child and teenager?

  • #2
    Originally posted by OliviaJK View Post
    I’ve applied to quite a few departments now. I’ve successfully completed 5 polygraphs. During the polygraphs, my history of being a victim of abuse and the resulting mental health issues as a teen always come up. And I’m very forthcoming and honest about it. My parents were physically and mentally abusive, and the police were involved quite frequently. I was also raped by a classmate at 15 and subsequently bullied over it for the remainder of my high school career. I struggled a lot and ended up with serious mental health issues at the time. I was on multiple medications and institutionalized twice, but never court ordered to do so. Once I was able to leave my high school, my rapist, and my parents behind, everything changed. I was able to be taken off my medications and have been off of them for over 8 years. I have not struggled with any mental health issues since.

    I have explained that I wish it was possible that I could change the past, I wish I could have coped with these terrible things in a healthy manner at the time, but I didn’t. But I did manage to learn how to cope, and to reach out for help if I am struggling with something. I’ve also learned how to recognize the signs in others who are struggling. I was told I “passed” the 4th polygraph and about a week later I took my 5th polygraph for another department. The examiner confirmed with the examiner from the 4th polygraph that I “passed.” But today I got a letter from the 4th polygraph department saying I didn’t successfully complete “one or more components of the terms and conditions,” and the only component I took was the polygraph.

    is it my background as a teen that is preventing me from this? Will I never be able to get into this field because of what happened to me as a child and teenager?
    The history of mental illness and requiring medications to treat it, is going to make a career in law enforcement an uphill battle...

    Comment


    • #3
      ...and your username and all the info you put in your profile, appears to reveal way too much personal information about you, especially considering that you are female.

      For your own personal safety, I would recommend removing your age, date of birth, vocation, and location, and then get your username changed...

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Aidokea View Post
        ...and your username and all the info you put in your profile, appears to reveal way too much personal information about you, especially considering that you are female.

        For your own personal safety, I would recommend removing your age, date of birth, vocation, and location, and then get your username changed...
        Thank you, I didn’t realize my birth date was visible.

        And although it may be an uphill battle, will it be impossible?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by OliviaJK View Post
          the only component I took was the polygraph.
          If you got as far as the poly and the department you applied with followed standard hiring practices, then somewhere along the line you had to fill out a personal history questionnaire. In that questionnaire you answered hundreds of questions about your background. No doubt there was something in your personal history that met the criteria for disqualification. Personal History is a component of the hiring process.

          To answer more directly regarding your mental health issues and generally speaking, they would not be addressed at this stage as they are medical issues and under Federal Law (The Americans with Disabilities Act) they cannot be considered until you are made a bona fide offer of employment (i.e. you are offered a job subject to you passing medical and psychological screening). Even then, the decision must be made by a licensed medical professional and not by police officers who lack the expertise and training necessary to pass judgement on medical issues. However with that said, if during the hiring process you volunteered any medical information that met the criteria for automatic disqualification they can remove you from the process immediately.

          Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

          Comment


          • OliviaJK
            OliviaJK commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, the personal history questionnaire has always been completed at the polygraph appointment so I tend to consider them the same component. The other things in my history are I changed a price tag once and then physical altercations with my parents, which I never started and would simply try to protect myself. There are mental health questions on the questionnaire which is why my history of mental health has always been brought up.
            I am simply just confused and wish if I will truly never get through a process due to the struggles I had as a teen, I would be informed of that so I can stop applying.

          • L-1
            L-1 commented
            Editing a comment
            Write the agency that disqualified you ans ask. Explain that you want to know for three reasons. First, if there was a mistake made on their part in interpreting your information, you would like an opportunity to correct that error. Next, if there was a valid reason for disqualification, you would like to know what it is so you can take steps to rehabilitate yourself and your history so that you might become a viable candidate in the future. Lastly, if this is a fatal disqualification, you need to know so you don't wind up wasting both your time and that of other agencies you might apply with in the future.

            You never know. Some departments might give you a good answer.

          • Bing_Oh
            Bing_Oh commented
            Editing a comment
            You never know. Some departments might give you a good answer.
            But, let's be honest, most won't.

          • L-1
            L-1 commented
            Editing a comment
            I don't know. A lot of departments out here are starting to get enlightened about that and will tell you, but its usually with your DQ letter and often just a snippet that is not rich in details. Others have been more specific.

        • #6
          Impossible? No. Difficult? Yes.

          Past psychological issues are generally closely scrutinized in LE hiring. You have to realize that LE experiences many, many extreme issues on duty that could trigger or re-trigger emotional/psychological issues in officers. You'll be dealing with domestics on a regular basis. It's almost certain that you will eventually be a first responder on a sexual assault at some point. You have to be able to remain neutral and professional on such calls. Likewise, you have to function effectively through them (ie, your past trauma cannot be allowed to effect your work). The point of psychological screening as it relates to LE hiring is to help ensure that an officer is psychologically and emotionally capable of dealing with the extremes of the job (suicide rates in LE are disturbingly high in comparison to the general public, for example).

          Then you have the departmental liability issue to consider. If a department hires someone with a history of institutionalization and psychological medication usage, and that officer is involved in a serious incident that ends up being scrutinized publicly or in a civil lawsuit, then the officer's past could come back to haunt the department. Let's say you shoot and kill a domestic violence suspect and the family sues. During the civil trial, it comes out that you were a victim of domestic and that if resulted in institutionalization. The lawyers will play that up, even if the shoot was totally justified.
          "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
          -Friedrich Nietzsche

          Comment


          • OliviaJK
            OliviaJK commented
            Editing a comment
            Thank you for the insight. I always knew it would be difficult, which is fine, I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t impossible and I’d be fighting for something I’d never get.
            I do understand the challenges for both myself and a department, and thought about it all for a long time before making the decision to pursue this career. I know there’s a risk for mental health issues for all first responders, but I truly believe I would not be at a higher risk than any others. I’m sure there are people who will disagree with that, and that’s okay.
            Thank you for the time for your response.

        • #7
          Originally posted by OliviaJK View Post

          Thank you, I didn’t realize my birth date was visible.
          Removing your age and date of birth is an improvement, but this is a public forum that ANYONE can view, and you still have your profession and your state listed in your profile, and your username appears to be a variation of your real name.

          Googling your username reveals (among other things) what appears to be your real first name, last name, and middle initial, connected to an Instagram account containing photos of a very attractive young lady posing in a bikini, apparently drinking alcohol.

          Let's put aside the history of mental illness for now, and address your judgement:

          A significant portion of the U.S. doesn't like cops. They don't like people who like cops. They don't like people who want to become cops. A lot of them would like to injure or kill us and/or our families.

          You have been victimized once, and yet (to put it as politely as I can) you are doing less than nothing to prevent it from happening again.

          If you want to become a cop, you need to demonstrate better judgement than that.

          Again, I am recommending that you get your username changed to something else, something that doesn't lead the whole world directly back to you.
          Last edited by Aidokea; 02-21-2021, 03:25 PM.

          Comment


          • OliviaJK
            OliviaJK commented
            Editing a comment
            I cannot remove my profession or location, they are required. It is my first name, but those are not my initials but instead an inside joke between my friends and I. And I can promise whatever you found is not my Instagram, mine is private and not linked to my name, and I don’t have any photos posing in bikinis. I take my personal security and my internet security very seriously, and even people who know me cannot find me online unless I tell them exactly what to look for and I have it that way for a reason.

            I appreciate your concern, but I have it covered.

        • #8
          Originally posted by OliviaJK View Post
          I’ve applied to quite a few departments now. I’ve successfully completed 5 polygraphs. During the polygraphs, my history of being a victim of abuse and the resulting mental health issues as a teen always come up. And I’m very forthcoming and honest about it. My parents were physically and mentally abusive, and the police were involved quite frequently. I was also raped by a classmate at 15 and subsequently bullied over it for the remainder of my high school career. I struggled a lot and ended up with serious mental health issues at the time. I was on multiple medications and institutionalized twice, but never court ordered to do so. Once I was able to leave my high school, my rapist, and my parents behind, everything changed. I was able to be taken off my medications and have been off of them for over 8 years. I have not struggled with any mental health issues since.

          I have explained that I wish it was possible that I could change the past, I wish I could have coped with these terrible things in a healthy manner at the time, but I didn’t. But I did manage to learn how to cope, and to reach out for help if I am struggling with something. I’ve also learned how to recognize the signs in others who are struggling. I was told I “passed” the 4th polygraph and about a week later I took my 5th polygraph for another department. The examiner confirmed with the examiner from the 4th polygraph that I “passed.” But today I got a letter from the 4th polygraph department saying I didn’t successfully complete “one or more components of the terms and conditions,” and the only component I took was the polygraph.

          is it my background as a teen that is preventing me from this? Will I never be able to get into this field because of what happened to me as a child and teenager?
          I'm not sure I understand this correctly. How many departments have you actually received a rejection from? It sounds like only the fourth department informed you that you would not be moving further in the process. What happened with the first three departments? Are you still in the process with them? And has the 5th department made a decision yet?

          If you've only received one rejection thus far, then I'd say it's way too early to completely give up. It's not unusual for applicants to be non-selected or disqualified from multiple agencies before finally landing a job.

          I agree with the others that it is going to be an uphill battle for you. Based on the limited information you provided, I would encourage you to keep applying. More likely than not, the psych evaluation (done towards the end of the hiring process) will ultimately be the determining factor. It doesn't sound like you've gone through that with any of the departments yet.

          If LE doesn't work out for you, there are other career options where your personal experiences might not be a hurdle, but an asset. Good luck!

          Comment


          • not.in.MY.town
            not.in.MY.town commented
            Editing a comment
            What is your educational background? You could look into victim advocacy. One of the most competent investigators I ever worked with was a detective with the county prosecutor's office who got her start as a victim-witness advocate.

          • OliviaJK
            OliviaJK commented
            Editing a comment
            My educational background is actually veterinary medicine. I choose not to continue on to veterinary school due to the income to debt ratio.
            Victim advocacy does sound interesting. I was considering looking into volunteering opportunities to help those suffering from domestic violence, so it’s definitely an interest of mine. Thank you for all the help!

          • not.in.MY.town
            not.in.MY.town commented
            Editing a comment
            See if there are any Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART) and/or Domestic Violence Response Teams (DVRT) in your area. They are very common in my area and we work with them regularly. They are typically staffed by volunteers who respond to police stations and hospitals to provide support to victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. They provide emotional support, give information and answer questions, assist with paperwork (police reports, medical forms, restraining orders, etc), and provide them with additional resources (shelter services, legal services, safety measures, counseling, medical follow-up, etc). You'd basically be a "first responder" during a crisis, and you'd be the one person who stays with the victim from start to finish. You could be making a tremendous difference in someone's life. Big bonus: It's a great way to meet, get to know and network with all the local police departments, EMS and hospitals. You never know what doors it might open for other opportunities.

          • OliviaJK
            OliviaJK commented
            Editing a comment
            Thank you so much! I never realized those were volunteers. I just submitted volunteer applications for my area. It sounds like a great fit for me.

        • #9
          Excellent. Good luck with everything!

          Comment

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