Up in Flames - Workplace Solutions

Fighting Rape and Fire on a Federal Hotshot Crew - One Womans Story

February 20, 2020 Abby Bolt
Fighting Rape and Fire on a Federal Hotshot Crew - One Womans Story
Up in Flames - Workplace Solutions
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Up in Flames - Workplace Solutions
Fighting Rape and Fire on a Federal Hotshot Crew - One Womans Story
Feb 20, 2020
Abby Bolt

Please keep an open mind and understanding heart when you listen to this. It is about much more than sexual assault. There are points in here that all leaders need to consider when someone in the organization finds the courage to speak up. It can be about rape, bullying... or even a basic safety issue. How they are treated afterward can change the trajectory of everyone involved for years to come.

Visit AbbyBolt.com for more. 

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript

Please keep an open mind and understanding heart when you listen to this. It is about much more than sexual assault. There are points in here that all leaders need to consider when someone in the organization finds the courage to speak up. It can be about rape, bullying... or even a basic safety issue. How they are treated afterward can change the trajectory of everyone involved for years to come.

Visit AbbyBolt.com for more. 

Support the Show.

Abby:   0:06
welcome back to another edition of up in flames. I'm your host. But more importantly, your advocate, Abby Bolt. Now, today we have a pretty controversial topic and a really special guest that I am just Well, I'm really impressed and humbled by the fact that she is willing to speak up. And what I want everyone to realize is this is not about names. This isn't about the who the what crew? The what? Hotshot crew. This is not about that. So we removed a lot of things that were very identifying like that. It was kind of a bummer, because we had some really great discussions about more of more details of her firefighting background and then also some of her personal hobbies, her athletic abilities and some things that she does. And, you know, the more we got to talk about it, the less safe she felt. You know, she we know that they're gonna be a lot of people out there, but that by listening to this just because of the hubbub that happens, they're gonna know who she is. They're gonna know what crew it is. I get that and charity knows when she's already dealing with an extreme amount of retaliation And do me a favor out there, You guys, let's not make it any worse. This is all about awareness and transparency and just getting each other to think a little deeper and, you know, try a little harder when these sensitive situations come up. This isn't even just about women and sexual assault. Okay, this is about having the guts to speak up when somebody isn't playing it right or there's a conflict or there's a safety issue and how we're gonna handle that. This one just happened to be a sexual assault, so it got a lot more complicated than it might have otherwise. And it showed how we still have no idea how to handle it. It's really pretty sad, and it's gonna take some creative, thoughtful leaders that really care out there for both sides of situations like this. You'll hear her talking that it really screwed up everything for the entire crew for well, for her career, and it's messing up even worse now, and it doesn't have to be that way. So dig d you know, don't turn this into a big crap talking thing. Turn this into a ah, how can we do this better thing and have some respect for her for being willing to talk about it and get us to think a little more? So with that, let's move forward and meet her and appreciate this. And, you know, for all my friends out there who are great leaders, and you're trying to do it right, I appreciate you if this makes you wonder if you're not doing it right, you know, take that under consideration and figure out a way to do a little better. All right with that. Here we go. Okay. So today I am with and she is. She has been a hot shot. For how many years now? Okay. And any other firefighting experience with that?

spk_1:   3:23
Oh, yes. I started in 2013 and prescribed fire. I did a few years in the softies before moving into the federal world in 2016. And I've also done a couple engine seasons with the feds. Well,

Abby:   3:37
nice. All with the same agent agency.

spk_1:   3:39
No, I've actually I floated around a little bit of fun. One season with park service, one with be a lamb, and the rest with fourth

Abby:   3:47
good deal. Yeah, I think it's best. Kind of mix it up a little bit and get a feel for all the different places. And now why in the world? So, like your first year, right? You're getting a taste for it. But tell me what it is that you love and for everybody. Sorry, I didn't really do a proper protection, but we're talking a wild land firefighter here who is dealing with some B s in the agency. And I just kinda wonder, Do shooter give you her background before we get too far into it? But tell me what it is about fighting while and fire doing this job that made you stick with it and why you want to stay at it?

spk_1:   4:19
Yeah, uh, I think my route tend to be a little unique in that I started in the prescribed fire and I was really, really passionate about the ecological impact of a fire, using it as a tool. And, you know, that was kind of my foundation before I got in this depression on DDE. I still kind of have a twofold mission and fire. You know, I really think that ecological impact on how we manage fire is really, really important. But then there's also just the job itself. The challenge, the variety constantly pushing yourself to be stronger, better leader. All of those types of things pliers really got it all. And of course, it takes you to beautiful places.

Abby:   5:00
Yeah, there's definitely those days were like, Oh, my God, I'm getting paid to do this. This is crazy people. I got to a point where I didn't want to travel or camp unless I was on a fire. Something because I got to see some great stuff that it was like, That's That's just that was my job. That was awesome. Yeah. So then doing so you you started out more with the prescribes stuff. And then when was your first year of like or what was your first job of full fire

spk_1:   5:26
that was working on an engine

Abby:   5:30
it on your own engines? And then you eventually ended up on a hot shot crew, right? Yep. Tell me your interpretation. You're kind of like elevator pitch on what is a hotshot crew.

spk_1:   5:39
So you often hear of hotshot who cruise related, like the navy feels the fire right there? Very elite crew, huh? Really stacked with technical qualifications, a lot of technical competencies And then also, you know, in leadership, we have the three operational Sorry fire. We have the three operational leadership values, right? Duty, integrity, respect. Andi, I think hotshot crews are really You know, I think their mission is to really embody those values like nobody else and fire, you know, like a lot of very strong. That's the beauty, a lot of integrity and a lot of back for people working with the job that they're getting done, you know, they typically end up in some of the should be a part of the fire. You know, the Simon that most people don't want heIp taking the steepest terrain and miniter and things like that. That kind of the fun part. Who?

Abby:   6:34
Uh, yeah. It's funny to hear somebody say that's the fun part, too, but kind of what sex is all into that that is the well, the thing I always loved about while and fire was it was never a real job. Like it's just a cool job that you got when you were younger and you got to hang on to that job It was just said like said, You're sleeping in the dirt, working in the dirt, just seeing all kinds of great train So but I love the way you talk about the leadership abilities and the duty respected integrity and everything of what a hotshot crews supposed to embody. And and so that kind of brings me Thio, Why we're talking today like, Do you feel like your last few months, your experience with a crew or with Cruz? Do you feel like they have been? I don't know. Do you feel like they've been displaying those values?

spk_1:   7:17
Absolutely not on. And I don't think I don't think that always intentional. You know, like as a hotshot crew, you spend a lot of time with each other, you're bonded very closely, and most of the time that's great, right? But it can also cause issues that that result in the need for really difficult conversations and my last few months on a hot shot crew. It really felt like those difficult conversations no, completely avoided more for the reputation of the crew rather than the true value of integrity.

Abby:   7:53
Wow, that's a great way to put it. So I'm gonna let you just walk me through this and you talk about what you feel comfortable talking about. Tell me why that is. Give me the give me the back story on why you're frustrated and and really just deeply hurt right now. Bye by that culture that you felt so embraced by, Tell me what's going on.

spk_1:   8:13
Yeah. So I was on a new crew that summer and came in a rookie level. And, you know, within a hotshot crew, there's kind of you need to earn your stripes. You know, you're the bottom of the totem pole, and you need to work hard and improve that you want to be there every day. So most of the season went really well, but there was, ah, new permanent senior on the crew who, fairly early in the season, I was actually faulted by this person and at her. You know, your first instinct is to protect the crew, right feel with every conflict at the lowest possible level, right? This is a really personal faults, and my first reaction was to handle it myself, right? Resolve it after what was possible level and and that's a month we're on this crew. I think there were some issues really manifesting for me. China shoulder bird and, you know, and kind of keep it under wraps. And I ended a crew. I chose toe report. What happened? You know, it was the last month of our season when I came forward. And as soon as as soon as I reported, there was just a total shift and the way I was treated by overhead the way I was talked to or lack thereof, you know, it was more like as soon as I reported the incident, I was removed from the crew and put in a little office by myself. And the overhead really did not want to talk about any of the but issue at hand.

Abby:   9:48
You really that wouldn't shut down and and isolated you immediately felt like the problem.

spk_1:   9:54
Yeah, definitely. And like, obviously, this is a, uh you know, I was putting myself out there to have difficult conversations. Now, at the end of the day, I felt like what happens to me needed to be documented on some level because it could happen to someone else to write on. Dhe just really heard all this vulnerability out on the line and and I was really Yeah, I removed from the crew and it's not received. Well, just really isolated. And that's really like traumatic

Abby:   10:26

spk_1:   10:26
I was taking out the time,

Abby:   10:28
So I'm, um I was gonna do, like, have you on video today just cause it's nice to be ableto see each other face to face, but just for logistics to make it easy, We're just on the phone. And now I'm kind of glad because just listening to you and, um, you know, my mind starts to spend out and think about just I mean, just being isolated and having the guts to speak up about something like that, like my hands were shaking. My eyes are tearing up because I, like you, said, you put yourself out there and you're so vulnerable with your brothers. You were hurt by a brother, and it's going to be really aren't for you and not just talking today. You've been trying to do this silently at the lowest level in the most respectable way that you possibly could, trying to trust the system that is in place that's supposed to protect you and other crew members and you know, and the crew member that you were talking about. And now I want to just kind of hit on all of the Yeah, but what questions People are gonna be thinking when they hear this. Because there are a lot of different factors and layers and you're at work. You're in the office, somebody throws you down in assaults you right there on the clock in the office. They know how to handle that. At least they know they gotta call the cops, deal with it, Whatever. Like Oh, my God. Yeah, She was on the clock and they were at work, and they were on the work, you know, on the work site. But if it's not that blatant, they don't know what the hell to D'oh! So tell me more details about, like what you shared with your superintendent so that we can understand. Maybe better. Why he I didn't know how to handle this situation.

spk_1:   12:01
Yeah, you know, like you thought it was pretty obvious. Howto handle something that's done at work and in a violent way and very, you know, brazen like that. But that not the reality of how sexual assault happens and something that I I've learned. After it happens, me and I started reaching out for help and looking in tow. Just one of those statistics. It's really like your chance of being a salted. It's really it's gonna happen with someone that you trust in a private place, right? So they were just two of us on this guys, a permanent GS five senior on the crew, you know, and and I'm a rookie seasonal for And so at the end of the day, you know, like if there's not physical wounds and things like that, there's no there's just no crew, right? But, you know, that's something that the evidence, you know, here's a video recording of it. There's nothing like that. It's just two of you in the room and, you know, you come forward a lack of physical evidence that you're coming forward because you feel like it's your duty to be honest right on. So there's that. That lack of physical evidence in the particular fault happened off the clock at a crew member's house, and, of course, no one else around. Not really on for service time or property. So I think with it being such a severe conflict. I think, you know, it came overhead line that, like, maybe this isn't even our problem like, yeah, this is a guy on our crew, but, you know, happened somewhere else and nobody saw it. So, you know, there is not reality that superintendent probably very aware of. I want someone come forward with something like that.

Abby:   13:49
Do you feel like they blew you off too? Because you had a close relationship with this person. You feel like they didn't take you seriously because of that as well?

spk_1:   13:57
Yeah. And, you know, like I put a Buckley learned more about it and tried to handle everything that was possible level. But after I was assaulted, I actually on three occasions tried to have a direct conversation with this individual about what happened, right? Like, of course, there's self reflection involved, And you just you want to make sure you're not missing something, right? So I have a conversation with individual and, you know, he alludes to the fact that he's done this multiple times. Other women and other women haven't complained and just like a very core value that, like it was okay to do this to people. And after those conversations with individual, that kind of when I came forward about everything. But, um, you know, not like, you know, the Pathans, but it's not like you could get away from that person, right? You're gonna see them every day,

Abby:   14:51
right? And you

spk_1:   14:52
want a four

Abby:   14:52
hours a day every

spk_1:   14:53
week, but a time

Abby:   14:54
you were putting yourself through a silent internal anguish. I can only imagine for months and, you know, and you you held off. And so the hard part is, you know, and we're trying to put ourselves in the supervisor shoes, too. But you were a seasonal, and the person that you were boarded was, ah, permanent. So it almost kind of felt like we gather watch out for him And it's easier to blow off than it is to, you know, protect that that seasonal gal. I mean, they immediately isolated you, which they immediately removed you. You reported it and you got put in a little office, right? It's not like a reported it. And they put him in a little office until they figured it out and kept you on the crew until they figured it out like you immediately got removed, and I think that was that was a big mistake right off the bat that people need to do better. And they need to think harder about what they're doing. Because that's what society is doing as a whole is the victim is immediately removed and isolated when they're the one you know, making a report which, like, let's say, your report, your claim was completely crap you were just going out to get after a guy doesn't matter like it needs to be. Why is the person reporting? Why's the victim the one that's immediately punished? If anything else? Yeah, it should go the other way around, especially if it's just like, Oh, we're just innocently removing this person until we figure things out across the board. And that's something that's something that isn't clear in a lot of places and in our society. So I remember talking to you. Win that, you know, when you were dealing with just basically pain stuck in a little room by yourself, taken away from virus. Simon's all this stuff and your world changed because it just does. It becomes your whole world, and you have to figure it out. So you reported it to your overhead. Who you protect? You trusted to protect you. So tell me what happened next after you got, you know, you reported it. How did they handle it besides putting in the room?

spk_1:   16:45
Yeah, but in the little room on. Like I said, the conversations that I tried tohave with my overhead there at my base became very limited. I kind of felt like they were definitely trying to be politically correct. Kind of cover your own ass rather than having like a really difficult conversation, right? And

Abby:   17:08
from being one of the tribe to immediately being an outsider, they were terrified of

spk_1:   17:12
Yeah, totally. And I think, like another reason, like people she's not to come forward or that a week come for it is like this really traumatic event happens to you. But then it's a whole nother traumatic event. Like, be completely ostracised from, Like what? Your family. Right? Like these people that you send so much pilot like enjoy being around. Some of these people never talk to me again after I came forward

Abby:   17:35
and I you know, guys, I want you to understand that this too. This isn't just about like it remains like, Okay, we're talking a girl, and she was raped and, you know, Yeah, yeah, yeah. This isn't just about coming forward about something like sexual assault. You can come forward about a safety issue about somebody on the crew who is doing things dangerously. You're worried they're gonna get someone killed. Or maybe they did something that did get somebody really hurt. You could be treated exactly this way. It's about being someone that is speaking up in immediately. Everyone just sees you as a screaming liability instead of knowing how to deal with it. So please don't just write this off as like to some sexual assault story, because, no, this is a general culture issue as a whole. So yeah, it's it's bigger. And especially when you get your family ripped away from you, it's people that fire and understand the camaraderie. Know how damaging it can be. It's a hole. Like you said, it's a whole other assault. It kills you.

spk_1:   18:28
Yeah, like one that I would want people to take away from This. Is that like as a leader in fire or wherever you are? It's okay. Did not have the answers for situations like this. It's okay to not know what d'oh all the time or right away or whatever, But you still have tohave the conversations that will be uncomfortable, right? But that's what you signed up for. Being a leader and fire like you're gonna have toe push outside your comfort zone and really listen to people you know, listen to understand, rather than listening to respond, we're defend the agency or defend the reputation or whatever.

Abby:   19:08

spk_1:   19:08
know. You really Yeah,

Abby:   19:10
yeah, about the fire.

spk_1:   19:11
Yeah, I you know, for when I first reported I really, like sympathize with the guy who's been running the crew for quite a long time, you know, like, man, what, like an awful position to be in, but he's gotta step up and take it and have the hard conversations and seek resolutions or at least closure for people. Right? So beyond being isolated and cut away from my crew. Her You have a couple weeks or so after I came forward. Ah, the overhead immediately stopped talking about rehire. So as a seasonal rookie, you're kind of rehired each season. And that was something that we talked about you know, you get a chance, develop your weaknesses, improve on your strength, and I kind of grow with your crew from season the season. And, uh, as soon as I came forward Ah, the rehire was completely taken off the table. You know, even the overhead expressed some other folks on the crew that he just really thought that this would all blow over. The senior would be back the next year, and and he would have to apologize for having a quote unquote relationship with me, which this individual and I were never, you know, in a some kind of, like, committed romantic relationship or anything like that, right? But that, you know, the over

Abby:   20:32
has e ripped everything out from under you when they write it off like that, like, OK, we'll have him come back and he'll have to apologize to the whole crew for being involved with another crew member. I think that was there. Yeah, that was their way of completely taking away all of your credibility. Exactly. Don't even know reducing that.

spk_1:   20:52
Yeah. I don't think it's honestly something that ever crossed their mind, right, Because, quite frankly, like most of these men and leadership roles. They're never gonna have to deal with being actually assaulted or raped or whatever, Right? So there's really a huge empathy gap right there, like they can't even wrap their minds around kind of what happens in those instances and how severe they are, how traumatizing they could be. The individual's right. I don't think that crosses their mind. And it's so I think it was the easy route who reviews it.

Abby:   21:27
I mean, part of me sympathizes with that because it's like, yeah, how can how can we expect them to really be that empathetic? Okay, fine. But you need to look at it is like somebody were boarding something difficult, no matter what it is across the board, like you may have reported somebody dropping a tree on someone, and now they don't like you anymore because you're willing to stand up and report this bad thing that happened by a crew member. And you're seen as a problem like they've got to find a way to be empathetic two people that are having these things and to realize how many women there are like you out there who are totally silent because they're terrified of the treatment that you received afterwards. Like there's gals who they were already not doing well in a situation or in an organization. And then they spoke up, and it's like, Yeah, here we go. You know, totally typical. You went from, like, consistent, steady two spoke up to nothing. So if even people like you are gonna be burned so bad for speaking up, how are we ever gonna empower people to do this, let alone women? How are we gonna power men? And how in the hell did we expect people to report things like life threatening safety issues? If they're afraid, they're gonna be shunned like this from the tribe, Like it's it is a complete and total thing, and it's just it's ugly. And how in the hell are we gonna improve this if we don't? I mean, if this is happening to you right now, this isn't 10 years ago. This isn't 15 years ago. This is right. Now. They're making all these promises, and they're still not handling the most simplistic thing correctly. Like they make a phone call to find out. What am I supposed to do with this employee and the people. They're calling four degrees away all the way up to the Washington office. Like they really don't know how to handle it either. And it seems as though no response is a safer response for them because they're like, Ray, if we don't. Okay, we're just gonna move this file over here. She's a seasonal, right? Okay, cool. She's off for the summer. Here is winter. Great. Like, let's just, um Let's just pretend like we're not hearing this right now because maybe it'll go away, because if we do address it, Holy shit. We're gonna have to, like, deal with her deal with the employees. God, we might be at fault. Maybe we're not at fault. What if we say we're not at fault and then we're in trouble for that? Like it just spins completely out. And so they go quiet because you're not being talked to right now at all, right? They're just not really even coming to you insane. It's our problem, or it's not our problem. Neither one,

spk_1:   23:43
right? Yeah. And actually, like the local overhead up that they completely stopped responding. Any correspondence? Once I was laid off, you know, it was literally like, Well, thank God she's gone like we don't even have to, like, talk to her anymore. And

Abby:   23:58
they may have even being been advised of that from above.

spk_1:   24:00
Yeah, and that's that kind of scary. You know, that's not a good

Abby:   24:04
That's what we're not a good was like, How did they have? You know, let's say you do have someone in a leadership position and they know in their heart what the right thing is to d'oh. But if they're being guided from above from H R E R civil civil rights, wherever it is that they're saying like, whatever, you d'oh don't respond. Even the best hearted leaders get misguided to not take care of their people because they've got that liability overhead weighing over them and you and then you've got the leaders that aren't afraid to do the right thing. They're not afraid. I'm not afraid to push back and take care of people, and they're very rare. And sometimes they either get pushed out or nobody messes with um but they are very rare. But I do know several and watching out for their people in doing the right thing. Sure as heck isn't easy, but they have the guts to do it. And it does take guts. It takes guts to have employee relations. Or somebody told me, give you an advisement and to say, like, No, I don't think that's right. I don't I don't think this is the right thing for this person or Hey, you know what? We're totally screwing her over, you know? But they've got to have the guts to say that. And they feel like if somebody from above them or in the H R e R office tells them something, then it's off their shoulders. They're not liable for you anymore because someone above them has advised them. And that's when I see happen all the time.

spk_1:   25:15
Yeah, and kind of You know, where I'm at now, the kind of the local leadership of this crew. I mean, I it sounds like they're not gonna have to deal with anything anymore as long as they denied my rehire like they're good to go. Everything else is gonna be handled above their head. You know, I

Abby:   25:33
am so and how they could justify not wanting to re hire you. I know you're like seasonals truly have no rights when it comes to that kind of stuff. But I don't know how they can sleep at night and explain to somebody why they're not rehiring you or why they would give you a reference.

spk_1:   25:48
Well, and the thing is, they don't have to explain it. Like they actually never even would come out and say, Yeah, we're not going to rehire you. I would ask the superintendent and his boss about my rehire status, and they would simply not. Yeah, for

Abby:   26:02
has no news as safe for them.

spk_1:   26:05
Yeah. So, you know, the only way I know I'm kicked off the crew is because I stop getting responses that that doesn't seem have any element of integrity or back to it.

Abby:   26:18
Now, you mentioned to me that you're not, so you're not able to come back or you're not. At least you're not being communicated with. And there's been a couple other crew members that aren't coming back because of that. Is that right?

spk_1:   26:27
Yeah. You know, I mentioned a few of the crew members who never spoke to me once again after I came forward, but on the foot pointed out there were two to, uh you out of eight being or not being that.

Abby:   26:40
That's a pretty big percentage, though, Really, In this situation?

spk_1:   26:43
Yeah. You know, one of, um I confided in the individual about the situation, and it's kind of bounce ideas off of him and let him know I really felt like I needed to come forward and say something, and he even warned me, You know, he said, you know, you already know this, but like you've seen in recent years happened, women have come forward. You know, he kind of gave me that warning out of concern. Which now, at this point, obviously, he was very right. Very valid concern. But, um,

Abby:   27:12
you have to do it anyway, because you know what's right?

spk_1:   27:15
Yeah. Still, you know, like for me, that personal integrity is gonna trump whatever bad things have happened and could still happen to me because of the

Abby:   27:24
right And you know what, And I look at this, it's like, Okay, how are they supposed to handle personal situations? Will calm that that happened off the clock. So let's say that you you were spending time with and remember, you're another. Let's stay here. Another dude and this other crew member who's in a leadership position kept punching you like, literally assaulting physically, assaulting you whenever you guys were out at night. Er, like if there was a crew barracks or whatever, but they like they just kept they, like, beat the crap out of you, you know? And and you finally can't you like, Hey, soup, I just wanna let you know, like so it's over there like he beat the living crap out of me a few weeks ago and I just let it go. But it's like, What would the soup do? Then what do you think would happen?

spk_1:   28:11
You know, then that I think it just be a totally different animal. If there was that that proves, like brew, bizarre dryers or whatever, that people could physically be right and

Abby:   28:24
everyone that even if it is like, they hit it until then. But now they're just saying, like, Look, there was this crazy conflict. Even that was off the clock with so and so over there, I just need to let you know

spk_1:   28:34
there would be handled totally differently. I feel like I feel like leadership would be comfortable to sit these people down and talk about what happened, right? Have these conversations that that they don't really perceive as uncomfortable because kind of more normal for that culture, Right, hotshot? They're kind of Ah, reaction, tumble crowd. People get insight that that happens.

Abby:   28:55
There was a guy

spk_1:   28:55
with a

Abby:   28:55
100 where I did Who he was fired just for threatening another guy from the same district off the clock. Just not even like, didn't Even it was before it ever even came down to physical. Like there was a really big deal for them. And that's the big difference to me. Like we're just We're not getting it. And what you did, I I know that the people you work for, I'm sure they're good people. I'm sure there are. You would have been there, and you would have enjoyed the cruise so much. Now what? Yeah, like what was in your mind? You knew that this was gonna bite you. You knew it was gonna be really hard. What were you thinking? You know, you knew it was the right and you just wanted to speak up because it was the right thing. Were you? Was there something that triggered you to do it were You frustrate with him? Did he say something? What were you feeling like? I needed to come from you reporting it to the superintendent

spk_1:   29:43
like you thought it. Obviously, the biggest thing is like I just knew I couldn't live with myself. If I didn't pay what happened, and because of the conversations with this individual, I'd learned that it happened. Other times it would probably happen again. And that cycle has to be broken somewhere, right? Like there's

Abby:   30:02
I don't know. There's one silently. There might be another woman that comes to the crew later. And yeah, like that track record,

spk_1:   30:09
if there's an upside to coming forward about the stuff, I'm not aware of it. Like nothing about this husband, easy or enjoyable or like

Abby:   30:19
there's even rewarding. There is zero in it for you. Except for like, you couldn't live with yourself if you didn't.

spk_1:   30:24
Yeah, and, you know, I kind of tried to handle the if you on my own quietly and like I thought it was still like, really manifesting itself in other ways. You know, this has never happened to me before and I never thought it would. And so when it did. My immediate response was just, like, hear denial like, man, if I just pretend that didn't happen, I can just keep working and thinking great kind of the trick that your brain is on you help you survive, right? That's what your brain is programmed to dio. And

Abby:   30:59
it's even wear suits from someone, you know interest.

spk_1:   31:02
Yeah, And once that denial started to wear off over a couple of weeks, I was totally unraveling, like as a person. And then there's the shame and guilt about not coming forward right away. And, uh, I could tell like this individual and I have stop talking. And there was one weekend where the whole crew was going out. This individual individual was going with them and I had made arrangements. Thio, go beat the crew where they're going out. But I I had secured my own my own Airbnb, a private place for me to sleep, obviously. So I don't have to be in close contact with this individual. And so we all show up at our fascination that weekend and actually for other crew members. Once I got to the destination, they just stopped responding to me and one of them lied about where they were so that we couldn't meet up right. And that was like like grade school level heartbreak, right to get, like, throw it up, society people that you really trust in love. And that's when I not opened my eyes to the fact that, like Okay, maybe I'm trying to handle it quietly. But this individual's obviously like saying things to crew members, and it's having a real impact.

Abby:   32:12
They need Thio. They need to gather their team and they have toe, you know, posture so that they can make themselves look good. Because when you're calling somebody out, that's what they do is they go and they start, they start getting their walls around them. And the easiest way to do that is to get the tribe that you're trusting and get them to believe in him. Morally given, it's just you see it all the time, no matter what. Whether it's sexual assaults are just like a minor conflict, and that that's that's what kids do on the playground. And that's exactly what an adult had to, and he knew that that would crush you that way. But if he got everybody on his side, It would discredit you. And it seems to really worked out for him.

spk_1:   32:49
Yeah. Yeah, it did. You know, And these particular crew members were also rookies on the crew. And so, you know, he's kind of in the senior leadership role.

Abby:   32:59
You have been incredible.

spk_1:   33:00
Yeah, well, and you walked out of a shot crew. You know, you have that fanny expectation of beauty, integrity and that then people in leadership roles, you're automatically just looking up to them and assuming the best, right, Like, man, these people must be styled. And they must be really solid good people to be in these old. But it's really not. Not always the case, you know, and

Abby:   33:23
well, in women in these jobs, he's kind of professions there as society. We're looking at them to fail. We're looking not even consciously. We're not doing it consciously. It's just we're looking like Oh, man, she seems like such an o whips. She screwed that up. Yeah, she's just another one. Those typical females. Like, why did we even picked her up? Oh, that one's really great. Yeah, she all I knew it. She sucks like, yeah, you really big bubble is very fine and it could be pop so easily because you're it doesn't make sense like it's you actually from like, Oh, she's won the cool ones Yam And she works so hard She's great. You immediately went to the problem because you assaulted and she's just another woman that's gonna be here and bitch and screw everything up for all of us.

spk_1:   34:10
Yeah, exactly. You know, it's not like, you know, this assault. Like he asked it. Obviously, like, really impacted me. But like something that weighs on your mind like, man, if I come forward, I'm gonna, like, shut down work for 19 other people, like I don't want to do that right. Like, not

Abby:   34:30
only is there that's what slowed me down when I was on a team because I was afraid that it was gonna It was it would have halted everything for like, 58 people incomplete offer them their families. The incident that they were to go on like there's popular realize the weight that that comes with it. And you just want to be a good girl and move forward and not say anything and pretend like everything is okay. But Yeah, Juries open more and you realize that this was kind of a chronic thing for this guy. And I'm really glad that you did, because I don't think you explain that piece to me before That justifies even more while you were speaking. And so everybody's default is like, Well, she should go to the cops. It's the it's law enforcement problem with which that's also with the agency's answer. Is there like it's law enforcement problem? But that's just as much the the frustration of that. And I'll have you explain that part to me. But I want everyone to know that just kind of depends on where you work like there doesn't seem to be. This standard location location could be kind of different, but it doesn't even have to be a conviction in court for there to be a conflict between people or something, that behavior that's unbecoming an employee of that agency. For them to do something about it, they don't have to wait until somebody's gone through a conviction to be like Okay, Clearly there's a conflict. We need to take care of both of them and do something about it, But it sounds like they were weighing on the cops. Maybe a little bit, but, you know, tell me what your experience as an assault victim was with the police department,

spk_1:   35:56
But it was really a rural area, a small police department, and and I guess I should even start with. Once I reported when I initially reported it to my supervisor, he actually, you know, this is maybe agency guidelines. I'm not sure, but he actually, like called police to our hotshot based. And so it was quite a spectacle, right? Like the whole crew is there, watching police officer come and talk to me in a tiny little room by myself. The police, like my superintendent, called, they actually weren't even Ah, the right jurisdiction for this case. So basically, they showed up and talk to me for five seconds were like, Oh, yeah, that didn't happen here.

Abby:   36:38
Okay. Bye Has. Okay, So they had to be That's not really what they was reported, but where it happened. Yeah, though I ended up going, I reported it out of to another jurisdiction, but they were more than happy to take the report. They were more than happy to do all of the detective work, and then they just, um, tight and correspondent with where happened. So that's not really disappointing how they handle that.

spk_1:   37:01
Yeah. You know, And the way this please talk, they're framed. It was Oh, you'll have to repeat the story again. Like if you tell it to me, you're gonna have to repeat it to the police in the correct jurisdiction is Well,

Abby:   37:13
that was code for I don't want to do the paperwork.

spk_1:   37:15
Yeah, yeah, that I've found out that that's a huge cop out for people who don't want the hassle. Like, you know, the opposite of being assaulted is like having choices and having control of your own situation. And multiple times I was sitting there listening to some fun. Dude, help me that I shouldn't talk about it again. Right? And he has no knowledge of anything of what it's like, right? But you have people just putting those words in your mouth and screaming. It is like, Oh, they're trying to help you. But really, like, if you wanted to help the one you could walk out. Hey. Hey. How can I help you?

Abby:   37:52
You know what? Can we talk about this incident for them to want to deal with. They want black and white simple. You know, like I always say, like if it would, it's so much easier if you just like I was saying Either get attacked right there in front of everybody at the workplace. Or if you get assaulted and beat like a back alley by somebody you never knew that those air so much easier. You know, I I'm not just saying like Oh, my God, Bad on the agency about on the supervisor Shame on them. It is a confusing situation, and it takes. It takes true leadership to figure out how to navigate this. And I'm really disappointed that they couldn't dig deeper and take care of both of you better because they're not serving you or the crew or that guy or the agency in how they handled it. Not your super, not every level, all the way up, like and the police department like these situations air just fuzzy, and I I see where the holes are in everybody's situation, but at the same time, like they need to do something, and I I honestly feel like the agency would have been protecting themselves a hell of a lot more. If they would have made sure that you stayed employed and had a job this season, somewhere like that would be a lot safer. So but he sees no employees. It's just easier for them to not do anything or say anything. So with the police department, I mean to drag away from that. So they blew you off. So then did you end up going to talk to the correct agency?

spk_1:   39:09
Yeah. I ended up going to the correct jurisdiction and talking to the police, who detective I first was like, very supportive, very encouraging for me to come forward with information. And I definitely expressed hesitation. You know, I know how the law works, right? Like I know how courts are that you have to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, right? Like you have to have physical evidence and things like that. Things I knew I didn't have. And so express hesitation to the detective and and, you know, he encouraged me to still report it and pursue ah investigation. But at the end of the day, there really wasn't much that investigation. The detective actually ended up going directly with my my superintendent. So actually, my boss was more privies. My case details. And I was sometimes, like the detective, and my boss is communicated directly on the the police. Yeah, that's not often I think was wildly inappropriate, right? The superintendent had new.

Abby:   40:15
You should

spk_1:   40:15
really like

Abby:   40:16
dog in the fight. It should have been No police department comes into play. It should have been you and that guy and that is it.

spk_1:   40:22
Yeah, because obviously, you know, there's a the whole another can of worms bringing in the superintendent of this crew has vested interests and duties to his agency and whatever. And he has, you know, he wasn't there. He has no. Like you said, no dog in the fight cannot offer any relevant information to the sexual assault that happened. But that seemed like a big role in my

Abby:   40:45
hands, in my view. The detectives Ah, view of it. Yeah. Ah, what's frustrating?

spk_1:   40:51
Yeah, And the police ended up just closing my case pretty quickly. And the police chief, actually, when they were closing my case, he made sure to tell me that his police department in particular, received a lot of false sexual assault claims. Which e kids that wildly inappropriate. Yeah, And if you, uh if you do the research, you know, sexual assaults are not made at a false rate any higher than any other crime. Like robbery. Like it is statistically no higher. And so for that police chief to come in and tell me that his department gets Steve all the time was really

Abby:   41:31
he said in a way that made you feel like you're wasting your time. We get these all the time. Yeah, whatever. We don't really have time for this, and it's not gonna go anywhere.

spk_1:   41:38
Yeah, yeah, exactly. In the detective. You know, after I found my initial report, he was telling me he's very busy. Had a huge case loaded, one detective in the whole county there. I think

Abby:   41:49
in, like you're which people could see that all of these actions, all of these treatments are way they're way worse on you than the initial assault. Like they're like, you were saying you get assaulted twice, three times four times. It's not just like that. No thing it really goes away. It's all the aftermath. That is what rips you a lot of rips you apart psychologically for a long time.

spk_1:   42:08
Yeah, And you know, my initial interview with detective with several hours and it wasn't recorded. And so the detector was kind of taking the scribbling notes all over this note pad, and it kind of looks like chaos to me. But I was like, you know, maybe he's got a method. He's probably been doing this a while. And then when the police report was finally published, I have toe boy of the police report to get a copy of my own

Abby:   42:32
days shocking to court. That's that's crazy, cause

spk_1:   42:36
yeah, well, I also got the case closure and realized that the police had published false information in the final report. Like pretty critical information. That was a completely false. And I had Thio go through a whole nother process to get that corrected. And then, at the end of the day, the detective rights amendment. That's a separate sheet of paper from the original report. So you could still get the first page of the report and never know that it contained false information.

Abby:   43:07
Wow, dammit. Yeah, Talk about Yeah. Yeah, first rating from top to bottom. And so these two and I get it. You guys thes two things are not connected. The agency, the federal agency she worked for in this this law enforcement agency thes heir to separate different problems. Got it. Totally See that? So let's wipe away the bad police work and just focus on Now you've got okay, So you're looking like, Well, you know, I mean, so sure, if they had, like, the police looked into it there like he's going down for rape. Of course, it would be like a 2 to 3 year case situation, right? So but like, let's say I said Okay, he is being charged there. Mike, here come my words. He's being charged with sexual assault. This is dead. It added up. OK, so that might have been something the agency could take a little more seriously. Let's say they said okay, he's convicted. Okay, that's something that could take a lot more seriously. So now they they don't have, um, something to stick with legally from the police department. But they do still have two employees who have a serious conflict, and there is a better way to handle this. So even all you guys listen out there. Even if we wipe that piece away, they're still You've still got two people who have a pretty, pretty sensitive conflict. Now, do you just write one of them off and throw them aside and trashed their whole career and then let the other one thrive? You know, Is that how we would handle if you just weren't getting along with someone on the crew If you guys were knocking heads about something? No, it's not. So why is that Okay here? Why is that okay for them to be like, Well, the police work didn't come out to where there was anything wrong. So we're just gonna write it off, and that's where we're missing. That's the gap here. So how do we How do you is like a seasonal employees? And looking back at this, what is your vision of what they can do? Better? How they could handle this better.

spk_1:   44:55
Uh, well, like, you kind of hit the nail on the head that they still have this conflict between two very serious conflict between two employees, But it you know, there's already a power differential, and and we know that the court of law they have functions at a a very extreme level that rape victims often don't get any resolution in the court of law. Alright, and though the agency's beauty still handle let that hand just because police cases closed, it doesn't mean that there's nothing saying that it was a false claim, just like there isn't evidence supporting at the other way, right? Ah, Police Department case closure. It can't carry that much weight into the agency, right? You still have those two people, you know, they've got careers on the line. They still especially after work together. And so it comes down to that leadership at the local level that they are in a really difficult place where they have make a serious effort and be really uncomfortable work towards the resolution by speaking with these individuals involved, right, and asking people like acting the victim what they want to talk about, rather than telling them that they shouldn't talk anymore, you know,

Abby:   46:15
Right. Well, in just acknowledging both of you, whether they believed you or him or her, both of you just acknowledging you both saying they value both of you and they want a win win for you both. Um you know? Sure, they can't take any action on him because there's nothing. There's no proof for them. It's just your word against his. But they handle things like this all the time that I referred not for sexual assault. So they're dealing with conflicts all the time. They don't do well when we all know that they don't deal well. But some some supervisors handle it well, just on their little lower level. And you never even hear about it because it was handled properly. Some cruise in the past have had boxing gloves and throw him out in the front yard and had to beat the crap. I mean, I think we finally moved past that, but, um but, you know, they have ways of handling it so and I can't help but wonder, how would they have handled this if he had thrown you down and raped you in the buggy on the clock? How would they handle that? I yeah, I really can't think that it would have been a whole lot better.

spk_1:   47:10
I can't think so either. And you know your present. That scenario of my first question is like what I have even reported that right away. Like I

Abby:   47:19
don't know, you're in the same Catholic because you're conflicted, just like they are for different reasons. But it's not that easy. And, you know, you put an immediate target on your on your heart with all of this, and I just I'm so glad that you're speaking up. I know it's so hard to do, but it's so important that we have whoever's listening to this, to think and dig deeper. Because if you haven't dealt with something this sensitive yet in your career, you're going to. If you keep moving up and it might be while you're running a crew, it might be while you're running in region, somehow you're gonna be facing it, and it's really important that you find a creative way to handle it. So that takes, like, Look at this gal. She is smart. She is. You're not, it's and you're for a seasonal employees. You're very burst also in how the agency works. But she's smart and she is on top of things. Clearly, she's an asset for anybody to have. She's not just out. I mean, there was no there's no benefit to her to do this other than doing the right thing. And if we can't, if we can encourage our employees to do that for something like this can expect him to do it for safety issues. Can't expect him to do it for liability or financial reasons that protect the agency. So how do we How do we handle these situations and take take care of people like this and like, let's say that you were in a situation where what you were reporting was baloney. It wasn't true, never happened. You're just pissed off the guy. You wanted to report this rape and get him in trouble. You know, that's possible to things like that can happen. So those people also deserve protection. He should also be treated in a certain way in this situation, but it needs to be handled better, and assumptions can't just be made. And guys can't just rally the troops and turn everybody on you or turn everybody on whoever's reporting it. It's the same thing of somebody's behaving and safely, and somebody reports them for unsafe behavior. They're going to start turning people on that person that brought attention to them because they're protecting themselves. So there is no magic answer to this. I get that. But if anybody's listening and you're on a shot crew and you want one hell of a woman there, give me a holler. Let me know that you got a position open and willing to take people and give people good people a place to be, because the way that she's being treated now, it's not fair. So you've been putting in for positions on other crews ever since, right? And? And how's that going?

spk_1:   49:38
You know, it's not going great. This was part of the warning my fellow crew member gave me that fires a small world and in my leadership from my path through probably has connections to some of these proves that I've applied for this season that

Abby:   49:55
they're all right now. They're all in the same room today. Yeah, all the superintendent's Aaron and say I mean, so, yeah, it's a mean fire is a tiny world, but then you take the hotshot world. It's It's minute. So as we speak, they're all talking crap in the, you know, doing good things. There's so many great people that are hot shot superintendents. But yeah, it is. It's globally or its nationally huge. But like today, they're all gathered in the same room for a training. So it's tiny.

spk_1:   50:21
Yeah, and you know, like going back with something leadership Could you better like? I understand. You know, these guys who are hotshot superintendents. I understand that they will probably go their whole life without getting raped to never having to worry about it. And that's great. I'm really, really happy for them, right? But they don't have toe completely understand or even be able to completely empathize, to be able to resist someone who this has happened to, like they don't have toe get what it's like to be that violated and that traumatized that they still have to make an effort to respect it. And I like to listen and respect that the experience that the person had and, you know, have a lot of negative impact.

Abby:   51:06
You know what a lot of people's answer to this is, is, uh, don't hire women. If we don't have it on the crew, there won't be a problem, and that's no shit like that's across the board. There are a lot of people that really do think that way and this is a shining example, because now they're looking. They're like, we didn't have a female. This would have been an issue, you know? And that's the assumption that gets made. But I I think they need they need If you can't handle having a woman on your crew because you're afraid your guys might raper you're doing it wrong.

spk_1:   51:34
Yeah, Yeah, exactly,

Abby:   51:37
Man. What? Okay, So where you going from here? So you're still a plane for jobs hoping for, you know, for your hunt. And you're you don't deserve just any job you deserve a good job on a good crew are a good place. And what's crazy is you're putting up with this and where do you want to be? You want to be fighting fire on a hotshot crews Still, because that's what you love. And that's what you want to do. And you're not gonna let them take this away from you. You're not gonna let him ruin this passion that you have, and damn right, you shouldn't. But there they're hurting you so much more. They're assaulting you more every day by anybody that is trying to ruin your name or say that you're a problem, whatever that is. Shame on them that they can't. They can't manage their people well enough to have you there. So what? What's your plan now? What do you do in moving forward?

spk_1:   52:22
But a very recently got the news that it was turned down by some crews that seemed like they had, you know, a good potential for hire. So this is pretty recent. I'm I'm kind of Grambling at the moment to figure out What do I I don't think it's really a choice of where I want to end up. At the moment, it's It's more what's left at this point in the hiring process. It's pretty late, isn't saying that there's not great opportunities out there, right? But

Abby:   52:51
what are your current inspirations when you wanted to do in the next, like, where do you see yourself in five years? If you weren't dealing with this crap,

spk_1:   52:56
Well, I I really wanted hey on a hot shot crew for the foreseeable future. I think, you know, five years, probably reasonable. I wanted end up in a leadership role of Wadi position, and I wanted to make a career out of fire, go potentially into the I emptied incident management team positions later on in life. But ah, you know, things like that. They really put all of that up in the air, right?

Abby:   53:22
Yeah. US service. The part of the Agriculture Department of Interior. We're talking to you. You guys have, like, look, right here. This is why you This is so I was just looking at the pictures of the hot national hotshot meeting yesterday. Not one woman in them anywhere. So many training and meeting pictures that I see no women, very few. And it just it eats. It frustrates me every day. And I'm like, I don't want to hire women. Just I hear women. That's not the point. But look at this Right here is the point. Is you listening to you talking to you? You people in the Washington office listen to this right now, because this is the kind of woman that, because we're not able to figure out how to handle it, is slipping through the cracks she wants to keep. She is a strong firefighter. She wants to keep going. She emulates the kind of woman that we want moving up in our ranks and look what's happening, slipping right through our fingers. What we want. Strong women that'll just shut the hell up and keep moving forward and not ever report things like this. Come on like it's slipping away. You guys, let's grab a hold of her. And however many are out there that we're letting slip away and do the right thing, do something bigger, do something better. I promised when I that is why I stepped away from the agency so I could have conversations like this so that I could open some eyes and make things better for everybody, somehow some way in a in the hard way, because they weren't willing to do it in the agency. They made that clear. So I'm right. That's I created a podcast that I could get the leaders toe. Listen to me and I cz that they got to do it different. They're not doing it right, and they need to have the hard conversations. Call people like me and call people like her ask what is going on and what we can do better. Don't be afraid. Everybody's so worried about liability. But you know what? They spend so much money and effort through all these legal fees by not doing the right thing by not confronting it, they would save so much money and retain so many good people if they would just just confront it and deal with it with without making it go through so many layers like you could be right now thriving. Looking forward to your next season, planning out the next 3 to 5 years of your career if they could have just been bigger people while dealing with this. And I certainly hope that they're listening to this and they grow from it because of people. Yeah, we're gonna know exactly who we're talking about.

spk_1:   55:41
How long has the agency have been talking about their struggle with retention of women, You know, like they can to keep repeating the same thing they've always done expecting different results.

Abby:   55:53
Right? And I think this certainly isn't gonna be a recruitment call or a recruitment interview like we're not screaming two women going like this, the place to be. And that's not my point. That is not my point. But we need to grow up. You need to make it better.

spk_1:   56:05
You know? Not I've met women who have been on hotshot crews and had great experiences and had very respectful, respectful and great crew members who really watched out for them and stuck up for them. And and that's great like that. That happens out there, right? But there's also the flip side that is all reality, right? Not getting acknowledged, getting swept under the rug. And since this happened to me and I've been fairly open about it, and I've actually reached up to and met several other women who have experienced similar similar cases in the four service or another federal agency, and they just leave that crew or quit that job and they don't go back, you know, they not all of them ever even came forward and said anything like some of them shouldered the awful experience and left and never looked back. You know, I don't think the agency realizes what they're missing in those people who

Abby:   57:05

spk_1:   57:05
don't show back up and they don't know why. And yeah, you

Abby:   57:08
know, sometimes the tent the time to say why it's just stuffed up its end of the road.

spk_1:   57:13
Yeah, yeah, yeah, like you thought, There's no, you know, magic coolest in all this, but, uh, I think some honest, genuine effort needs to be made on on the agency's behalf, especially even in and supporting their leadership at the local level And how to handle these things.

Abby:   57:30
Ah, damn, girl. I am so glad

spk_1:   57:33
I got

Abby:   57:33
here. I just want you to be able to have a great 2020 fire season. That's, you know, that's that's

spk_1:   57:39
something. It'll be good. You

Abby:   57:41
know, I'll make it good listening to this, that you know, if somebody is looking for a good gal that have on their crew and they want to help show that that hotshot crews out there are there are ones out there that have good leaders and I know how to lead a team. Reach out to me, let me know, and I'll connect you guys. Yeah, how far you will end up like I know you're kind of in the middle of the country. Like, how are you willing to move out and go someplace else, or how far you willing?

spk_1:   58:07
Yeah, Anywhere. Man, I'm so good at that point in my life where I'm really enjoying the transitions and going to new places. I've got a few home bases strung out across the country. So I'm I'm pretty happy anywhere.

Abby:   58:20
Now, what would you tell? Because clearly you still love the job. You still want to do it. So you got, like, an 18 year old girl just coming up and out and she won't start going toe. Gonna work, put herself through college. What? What would you tell her if she came to you? It was like, Hey, I'd really like to be on a hot shot crew.

spk_1:   58:34
You know, I over all of its still the 110% supportive of, ah, mission. I got the opportunity to peach some entry level higher classes and in November and the very eye opening looking at you, staring at the faces of Yeah, all 18 1920 year old and quite a good amount of women in the cease fire crosses. And, you know, over the course of our week that we had together, you know, I made an effort to just show support that a couple of hours here really into it, and we're thinking about being on a hand. Crew are a hotshot crew, and so, you know, I'm providing them all this information on how to get better pull up. You know, some of their physical training. They need to start now. And, uh, I don't want to scare anyone about you know, these things that could potentially happen. So I don't bring that up. What I do is I gave them Hey, the whole coffee, my cell number. And you tell them if anything difficult in their career happens and they just want to talk about it bounce ideas, get suggestions that, you know, they could call me at any point in their career, even if it's 10 years down the road. Right,

Abby:   59:49
You guys, are you listening to this Washington office? People in leadership positions. That's like your, uh and you're a great recruiter. And you're because that's how I feel, too. People ask me like, Well, I know that, you know, Should I tell my daughter not to? Even I'm like, No, that is not my point. I'm not saying don't do this, Don't go for it. But that right there, you're you're mentoring young women, and you're I'm Thank you for doing that because that says so much. Like they're This isn't This isn't a vendetta against firefighting or guys in fire service or the agency. You know, your it's still a job that you love, and that's what's hurting so much as it feels like it's being ripped away from you. So they would be damn lucky to have you. Any of the witnesses would clearly and I hope that they can, that they can see that. And yes, if I

spk_1:   1:0:38
I really think the more girls. But you know, there's women coming in the fire, right? It just it seems like they're dropping out at some point and retention kind of an issue. And I think, you know, at that point, all you can do is offer your support for these people. And like I said, a lot of women have had similar paraffin are, you know, issue that work, that they never even came forward or talk to anyone about. And it's like providing that for where people are comfortable to approach you and got some of these things that may eventually lead them leaving fire and just having that here to listen and understand and help where you can, you know, absolutely. I think that's like the best thing you can do at this point And, you know, even on the crew that I was on this past summer, my very first assignment, we're riding in a rig with our squad leader. And, you know, he expressed some views that that I see the value. But I also very strongly disagree with. Yeah, he kick breath, but he felt his duty as a squad leader. You know, he's still in his mid twenties, has only been on one crew. But he saw that it was his duty to weed out people that he didn't think were good for fire. So his whole mom that was geared towards like you gave the example of if he thought someone was not a good fit for fire than he would enter their time differently than someone who he thought was good for fire.

Abby:   1:2:05
Well, it's

spk_1:   1:2:06
a yeah, and and, you know, I don't think he realizes that, like number one, this is probably illegal. Number two, you're not helping anyone, you know, he's still really

Abby:   1:2:17
I mean, really young and allow in. Like, if somebody isn't there not cut out for the job. Yeah, I think that you need to be a good supervisor and guide them down another path if you can't get them to improvement. But and I thought that's where you were going with this story. Like they're just kind of like you need to toughen up, cater you're out. No, I'm gonna falsify their times. And,

spk_1:   1:2:35
you know, I I agree. The stomach that with the Yeah, you need to be tough and you need thio work to develop and improve all the time. And if you're not improving, then you do need to ask yourself what you're doing there. At some point, I totally agree with that, but just just like at that lower level that there's leadership already, like trying to gear the system against people that they don't immediately see fit, like it just it just seems like erode that's

Abby:   1:3:05
there like that nasty culture basis right there. That's that's what breeds it. And then they teach somebody else to do that. And it just it ripples forever.

spk_1:   1:3:13
Yeah, like like what if there was someone that you know had a place in fire but just did things differently than this person, you know, like those people are gonna have to work so much harder to get where they're going. You know if you got a squad leader is not gonna give you time off for an injury or something, you know?

Abby:   1:3:31
Yeah, and it happens all the time. I'm glad that you're so I'm glad that he was. He had the idiot gets to admit that that's what he was doing, because that gives you an example right there. There's a lot of people out there pulling that crap a lot.

spk_1:   1:3:42
Yeah, I can't really I don't even know if you like, realize how wrong that is. You know,

Abby:   1:3:49
it became so natural because he was probably taught that way.

spk_1:   1:3:52
And, you know, like I said, they're like people. Anyone in their twenties, even in their thirties. Like you're so young. And you still need the lake. We talked about being a student of fire, but you need to be a student of life, like constantly when you're in the leadership role.

Abby:   1:4:05

spk_1:   1:4:05
Like you should always be striving to learn something new. And you should be looking for the things that you don't understand rather than like trying to confirm what what you think is true. Which is what so many of us naturally. D'oh! I'm guilty of it. you know, you really need to be

Abby:   1:4:23
fire manages, just like 5% of the job. The rest of it's like human management and, you know, Yeah, yeah, Dr.

spk_1:   1:4:31
Yeah. And like I said earlier, like, in a leadership role, you have to be committed to understanding rather than, like, you know, listening. Just tow, defend yourself or defend your agency. Like you know, theaters and fire. They have a lot on their plate, and we can't expect them to like the psychologist or know how to deal with trauma like this, right? But they still need to be committed thio respecting it, respecting that experience and acknowledging they don't know what they don't know about it

Abby:   1:5:01
and seeking seeking about that they do. And that's the That's like I was talking about earlier. Some people seek that guidance from outside, whether it's from employee relations are or above, and they because they don't know what they don't know. Then they put there. They put all their eggs in that basket, and figure of somebody on the other side of the computer is telling them what to do. It must be right that we have to question that stuff, too. like we got to question the things that just don't feel quite right. Like, I'm sure somebody and you're in on the path that you've been going on at one point was like Oh, I don't know is this Is this how we need to be handling this? I promise you people been thinking about that, but it was easier for them to go. I don't know. It's not my problem and let it be someone else's problem and just they just moved on. It happens all the time. So

spk_1:   1:5:45
there was another fellow on the crew that year that I didn't mention who I wasn't even close with. We're on different squads. We didn't really have, like, any sort of personal friendship or anything like that outside of work. But he eventually like, caught wind of what was going on and asked me if I wanted to talk about it and and I did tell him a few things and and he was, like, so parted. I've, you know, at at first I feel like you know, the way the rest of the crew acted. I'm thinking like, Oh, this guy's like fishing for, like, ways to discredit Oh are like it was my fault or something. But I started telling a story and he was this lake. Holy shit. I can't believe it being handled this way. And, uh,

Abby:   1:6:32
that was helpful validation. That was good, that he was able to give you that and talk to you about that because a lot of time, that pack mentality takes over. And nobody's even willing to have that conversation or or say that or see it that way, you know? But then when they do and then then they don't know what Thio. They're like, Wow, that's not study different. They can't do anything. And that's what's. But I'm glad that you have had those people that that stuck by you. I mean, just the fact that even if it's just some seasonal on the crew is like you guys are handling this right, I'm not coming back because you're not handling this situation rate. Don't read their screams integrity, and it takes a lot to do that, and it means a lot. And that that might be the only support you ever find in this, you know, And but Pan, that is a really big, loud vow of support.

spk_1:   1:7:18
Yeah, Yeah, I don't You know, like when I first came forward about what happened on the crew and specially when I was isolated. I mean, it was one of the darkest period of my life. Like, you know, mental health is something else that fires firefighters really talked out of the hole. But I had never struggled quite like that of that week that I was isolated and dealing with coming forward about all the stuff, you know, you kind of, Ah, another acute trauma. Like you had it by getting re assaulted. Right? And this time, it's starting to add up by this point, right? It's gonna be cumulative. And and I was really, really struggling and the few folks to focus on my crew who did acknowledge what happened and even even though they couldn't do anything about it, you know that They acknowledged. And we're like, Wow, I'm I'm so sorry. I'm here. If you need me like that just made a world of difference for me in my damn week. You know? I don't

Abby:   1:8:18
need to hear that. They need to know that it does matter that they show their support like that and just letting you know that they're there and that its socks, even if you're just you're just getting down in the hole with them and go on like this sucks. Like you shouldn't have to be dealing with this. And sometimes that's all it takes is the, you know, to help somebody. And like, how many people are we driving towards really ugly places, even to suicide, without even realizing it? Because we're not handling these situations better. Yeah, but where were either pushing himto alcoholism or pill? You, sir, Someplace where they just don't have to be. Because we're not managing it properly and we're not willing to try harder or not willing to go out and above. And there's a better way. You gotta find it. Yeah, Well, I I God, thank you for talking like this and this. Like, I don't think you know how many people this is going. Thio. It's gonna hit, and there's gonna be some people hear this and that first are gonna be like, Well, it's a bunch of bullshit like, that's what we get for having women. But it's going to make him think even if they have that attitude, it's gonna make him think. And if they do cross a situation like this, they're gonna they're gonna remember hearing this and they're going to deal with it differently or at least pay better attention to it. And so I think this is really important that you're doing this and, you know, it's Would you so hard to tell? I'm never talking to you. Last year, like about its I knew that it would suck, and I knew that was gonna suck. It was killing you and ripping you apart. But I was just so impressed that you were willing Thio still speak up and do the right thing. And I mean, there's not gonna be a woman. You guys in the fire service, it's gonna jump up and scream rape for fun. It ruins your life now. So if you ever think that if you ever think that you better knock it off like there's there is no big settlement toe win, there is no there is nothing to further your career. It's gonna crush you. So if somebody comes to you with something like that, I don't care if you believe it or not, you better take it seriously. because, like she said, it's the secondary trauma now, and you are no better than that rapist if you're not gonna handle it properly, you were hurting her. Just as bad, if not worse. You've got to think about that and handle it better. That's all I have. Thank you so much for doing this with me. We'll definitely be in touch. Is there anything else you'd like to share?

spk_1:   1:10:34
I want to reiterate that, you know, for all the leadership out there who hasn't personally experienced something like this, either done themselves. They're done toe crew members or something. I just I can't dressed in athlete. It's going to be really, really difficult situations. And you're gonna be really uncomfortable that you still have to make these efforts of respect and integrity and try to understand people. I think that's really the takeaway. Like if you're in leadership and you find yourself assuming the worst in people, you probably shouldn't be in leadership, right? That's gonna shape how you react to everything. If you're assuming people have bad motivations, right, You should take yourself out of the game for us.

Abby:   1:11:17
Yeah. You gonna remove yourself or somebody else starts falsifying your times and moves you out. Yeah, Yeah. I still can't believe that. Thea. Alright, girl. Well, thanks for being here. I really appreciate it. And we will stay in touch. Yeah, Thank you. All right. Thank you so much for tuning in to this edition of up in flames. It's been, you know, a bit of a difficult one to listen to, because I know it kind of throws some triggers for some people. And it also you've got the people out there that just don't want to hear it. And I appreciate for those of you that wanted to have an open mind to think about how you're gonna deal with this of something like this happens, you know, no matter what, someone made a decision. Thio make a poor choice. You know her claims which the superintendent and all the management had to deal with Woods where her letting them know that she was raped by someone while she was verbally and physically fighting to make it stop. And and I wish the answer was so easy to where it would be so easy for you supervisors and leaders out there to be like, let's check this box is how we deal with this, but it's not. It takes some deep digging and, like she said, some hard conversations because someone made a choice to harm her. And that choice wrecked her. It's it was wrecking. The crew was wrecking everything. It wasn't her choice to speak up. It wasn't her choice to be there in his presence. These things are gonna happen again. We're gonna hear about him again. And what we need to do is think outside the box and get creative and not just let it be. A simple is kicking down some complaint down the road and letting it take its course. Think about what you're going to do when you have this uncomfortable conflict between two people you supervise. Who are you gonna separate? Who are you not going to separate? How are you gonna handle it? Who you gonna bring in to help you with the situation? You know, one thing is for sure is that the process that the U. S. Forest Service has going right now on others there the complaint process. But then they have this. What was supposed to be the mid answer to everything is this hotline. That's where she is. Ended up in the middle of is this hotline complaint that her supervisor called in for Guess what? After all these months, she's still waiting. She hasn't heard anything. They just left her in limbo. And then the part where that the superintendent was working with the detective and the cop. Come on, you guys, let's think about what we're doing here right now. The Forest Service and their hotline system is broken. I just talked to somebody yesterday about other during to make it better, but they need to acknowledge how messed up it is. We need solutions, you guys and creating a system like that hotline complaint system and then letting it turn into something just ugly. That was a really bad deal. It's lost a lot of confidence. People have lost complete confidence in that system that was built to help them. Confidentiality is out the window. Reprisal is even worse than it ever Waas. Let's go, you guys. We have got to do something better. You have got to do something better for the people. I am open. If you would like to talk to me and figure out something a little bit better. What you can. D'oh! What you are doing right now isn't working. I know there's probably a lot of cases out there we don't know about, but trust me, I am hearing about them multiple times a day from different people across the country, all trying to navigate situations with these tools that they have in front of them. And I am not hearing a lot of success stories. I am hearing a few, but I'm not hearing a lot. I'm hearing a lot more crashes. There are a lot of really good federal employees slipping away. It's really unfortunate. I will go down any further down that road. I just Hopefully, I'm inspiring some of you to think a little differently. Be a good bystander to use the hard right over easy silence, not not just when it comes to speaking up, but when it comes to being a supervisor manager and you've got a difficult situation at your feet that you need to deal with, you gotta raise up, let's do something better and don't forget toe lead with fire. You guys have a great day. Be sure to check out the show, notes for more information. We need more patrons to help fight the good fight. So please check it out. Become a patron and, uh, thanks again. You have a great day.