Archive for the 'Victories for Men' Category

Oct 15 2016

An Example of Implicit Bias: Heterosexism (everyone’s straight) at a Victories for Men Breakthrough Weekend

In his doctoral dissertation, “Victories of the Heart: An Evaluation of a Transformational Men’s Retreat”, Josiah Miller, PsyD provides a useful and interesting look at at the issue of implicit bias.

Implicit bias is a widely researched process which shows that human beings have deeply held, unconscious bias which accounts for prejudice and racism in American society.

According to Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute the key characteristics of implicit biases are:

  • Implicit biases are pervasive.  Everyone possesses them, even people with avowed commitments to impartiality such as judges.
  • Implicit and explicit biases are related but distinct mental constructs.  They are not mutually exclusive and may even reinforce each other.
  • The implicit associations we hold do not necessarily align with our declared beliefs or even reflect stances we would explicitly endorse.
  • We generally tend to hold implicit biases that favor our own ingroup, though research has shown that we can still hold implicit biases against our ingroup.
  • Implicit biases are malleable.  Our brains are incredibly complex, and the implicit associations that we have formed can be gradually unlearned through a variety of debiasing techniques.

Implicit biases have a powerful effect on multiple levels. Many Americans on the right who support policies which overtly discriminate against people of color would deny being racist or biased in any way. They say the sort of things like we are supporting America and making America great again.

Josiah Miller’s research of the Victories of the Heart’s Breakthrough weekend offers a tiny, but very clear example of the implicit bias in the Victories leadership of the weekend studied and the the program as a whole.

As many people know, I was actively involved in the Victories program for several years and have observed and studied both the leaders and programs with both a supportive and critical view.

Along with Kurt Schultz, Rick Simon, a motivated team of volunteers, and lessons I learned from participating in Mankind Project’s New Warrior Program’s “guts trainings”, I was an instrumental part of creating a psychodrama training program which has been a very successful component of the Victories program since about 2005.

Not as widely known, Kurt Schultz asked me to help evaluate the Victories previous staff training mis-named the “spirit of generosity.” I learned very quickly this was a terrible program which left participants with mixed feelings and even resentments.

The reasons for the mixed feelings and resentments were obvious. Participants were asked by the leadership to bring an object of value to the day long training. They surrendered their objects at some point. What happened to the objects. This is sort of unbelievable and some may think I am making this up.

The objects the participants brought to the day were taken out of the room, onto the grounds of Techni Institute, then buried in a secret place. The participants never recovered their “valuable” objects.

One person I interviewed told me he brought a valuable and emotionally priceless piece of jewelry his deceased father had given him. He was not happy about what happened, but like many, chalked it up as some type of lesson he was supposed to learn on the way to personal growth and fulfillment.

Like replacing someone at work who failed miserably in their job, it was not difficult to create a more relevant, respectful, empowering and educational training event for volunteers. Many of the participants in those early trainings went on to leadership roles, including the two most recent Board presidents.

So, what evidence of implicit bias did Josiah Miller’s research offer about Victories? Research participants were asked to write about their experience after the weekend.

A gay man at the weekend makes several points about his perception the inappropriate use of heterosexist (everyone is straight) language:

“There was a certain tone that they were speaking from a place of authority and an absolute authority. There was a certain rigidness to whatever it was that was being communicated, there wasn’t that sort of openness. There was a sort of absolutism about it in a way that felt false to me.”

“There were also moments when they used some more hetero-normative language. As a gay man, I would have hoped that they would have used more inclusive language. Like during certain activities, they would be talking about the men and their wives rather than the men and their partners or you know companions or spouses. I’m pretty sure that I was the only gay male on my particular weekend.”

“Although at the beginning I was certain that a couple of the other men were. Then one started talking about his wife and another was talking about his girlfriend. Well, seeing that I am a clinician and knew several of the men conducting the retreat, I knew that there wasn’t anything negative meant by that. You know, I see a number of gay clients who…I would question if they would you know, feel comfortable in hearing language that was somewhat exclusionary. And you know, it’s not like I felt they were trying to single me out or intentionally exclude me, but it was just kind of something I noticed. I was also kind of wondering how Victories approaches transgendered or inter-sexed individuals and issues around their care and inclusion in Victories?” (Miller, 2016)

I write about his now because as early as 1993, I was a part of discussions both in Victories and the Mankind Project where the use of respectful cultural diverse terms like “partner” instead of husband/wife were actively discussed. It was part of the Basic Staff Training (the Psychodrama training) I helped design and implement in 2005 for Victories.

Why would a weekend program in 2016, 23 years after I know the issue was discussed, have staff using language that left a gay participant, apparently a mental health practitioner, feeling excluded?

Implicit bias offers the best explanation here. The staff leadership, if asked if they were biased against homosexuality, would say no, of course not.

However, this participant’s experience documents his felt experience of bias during the weekend. His words are a poignant description of how the LGBTQ community feels living in the dominant heterosexist American society.

There is no positive spin on this lapse in respect for cultural diversity within the Victories program. Their lack of sensitivity and self-knowledge at this time in history is inexcusable.

Although Dr. Miller notes the Victories principals were not happy with the results of his research, they have not disputed his findings or the comments of individual men, so we have to assume everything happeneds as described.

I think it’s safe to say, it was the staff leadership making the the lapse in respect for cultural diversity, not their evil twin brothers.

It goes without saying that the ethical code every profession has standards requiring the respect for cultural diversity.

We have to assume Victories, even though they have had the opportunity of over 30 years to evaluate and self-correct problems in policy and procedures, has more work to do.

Why is this important for them? They have to ask the question about how enthusiastic the gay participant will be in making referrals to the Victories programs.

Certainly, I would never refer a gay participant to a Victories program.

I’ve written about the ambiguous way Victories leaders and program have addressed the issue of sexual orientation and it seems to be still too ambiguous.

At a Victories program in the mid-1990’s I heard Buddy Portugal try to reassure someone by saying “we’re all homosexual.” I was confused by this at the time and observed this mis-statement throughout my years of involvement and study of Victories.

No, we’re not all homosexual and to say this diminishes and disqualifies the murder, abuse, and discrimination experienced by members of the LGBTQ community.

Most importantly, we are not all heterosexual. To perpetuate this bias is wrong.

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Jun 12 2015

Victories and Their Legal Threats to Silence My Writing: A Response to their 2011 Threatening Lawyer’s Letter

It’s been several years since I was initially threatened with lawsuits if I continued to write and publish about my experience in Victories of the Heart, previously known as the Men’s Room, now known as Victories for Men.

I so regret most of my involvement, especially the leadership and Board involvement.  Read my 2008 resignation letter here.

A graduate school associate at the time, Kevin Fitzpatrick referred me to Bob Mark for psychotherapy about 1989, then for some reason, changed his mind and suggested the late Buddy Portugal. Portugal was charismatic, with lots of hubris. His office seemed to be designed by an art director and interior design specialist to appeal to psychotherapy clients, especially men.

During the time I worked with Portugal, he changed the art work behind the couch where I sat. The new art work was directly in front of him, so he could look at it all day during his work. It was a fabric art piece of an older man holding the hand of a younger male child. Their profiles were facing away, so you could only see their backs.

It seems like the piece was meant to be evocative, much like everything else in his office, neatly placed to convey some meaning to the observer.

At the time, I concluded the art was meant to suggest how caring Portugal was to his clients. He wanted to be known as a loving father figure who held the hands of his children. To him, his clients were like his children, offering them the relationship correcting the harm or neglect of real parents.

Later, when I got to know Portugal better, especially the way I experienced him turning against me, demeaning me in voice-mails and to others in meetings and a Board meeting (May 17), the art piece took on a more sinister meaning. He had the piece commissioned by the wife of an early Men’s Room principal, so Portugal most likely told the artist exactly what he was looking for.

I considered everything done and said as projections of aspects of Portugal and the others they didn’t want revealed. So, the meaning of the art piece became at least suggestive to me of an older man who wanted to keep his real identity hidden. The older man holding the hand of the young boy suggested a desire to control and the walking forward suggested the older man taking the young boy somewhere, perhaps not a place where the boy wanted to go himself.

It was definitely not clear the older man was the father of the young boy, but it as clear this is how Portugal wanted to feel…someone who was dependent and could idealize him.  One’s imagination could conjure other meanings as well.

Why had Fitzpatrick changed his mind and referred me to Portugal? I learned much later Fitzpatrick relied on Portugal for referrals and wondered if it was some quid pro quo on his part. I could easily imagine Fitzpatrick making this decision even knowing Portugal might be a less brilliant therapist than Bob Mark. It was like offering up someone who would be a good client, a therapist (me) with a good (enough) reputation, to Portugal to add to his stable of therapist clients, emerging sycophants for the Men’s Room.

Portugal was not a good fit for me.

For Portugal, it seemed one solution fit all problems, namely seeing him individually and participating in his men’s weekend, then called the Men’s Room.

Ultimately, this was not helpful for me. I was much later diagnosed with serious brain health issues, likely caused by early childhood trauma. I was very smart, but had PTSD and depression, and anxiety when faced with new or challenging situations. This made me vulnerable to people to whom I gave my trust. My mistaken trust in a mortgage broker led to heavy losses in the 2005 recession and my re-engagement with Victories in 2003 are two significant examples.

I’m not sure Portugal thought much about my trauma and the impact it may have had on my brain. It was the early 1990’s and research was still being done to explain the complex way trauma impacted the brain. Also, he had some kind of learning problem and didn’t read much. He was the type of therapist who listened a lot and could give you the impression of great concern.

Yet, there were times too when his eyes struggled to remain open and he seemed tired during our early morning sessions. He told me he never took notes and many years later, he proved this when I formally asked him for my psychotherapy file, and he sent me a Christmas card I sent him of my family and an insurance claim copy. Nothing else.  It’s significant to note he decided it was time to end our therapy right after I was selected to form a new leadership team with a friend for the Men’s Room program.

In summary, I was recruited to join his men’s program as a leader in about 1993, did so, then left the same year…then was recruited again by Paul Kachoris whose male energy spell I was still under in 2003, despite my concerns about my experiences helping with one of his early or earliest Shadow weekend. I rejoined becoming a co-leader with Kurt Schultz a brilliant man whose vulnerability was in service to authority.

By 2007, I could see Portugal and Mark had subverted the 2004 Strategic planning process in their desire to make their Wisdom Years program come close to their hype of it being the only program of its type for men over 50. It could not come close to the hype. I attended the Boston Wisdom years and liked the experience. However, it was not a tour de force. Portugal’s two requests for me to provide an evaluation of this program (I wrote one at the end of the weekend) led to many disrespectful and degrading voice-mails. Click here to read some of these voice-mails from Portugal.

He at first seemed to understand he had crossed a line and was poised to apologize. However, after a meeting with Kurt, he changed his tune. He quoted Kurt as having said the only problem with the voice-mails was Portugal describing me as “chronically disappointed.” This began the cover-up and efforts to damage my credibility and integrity and scapegoat me as having an “emotional breakdown.”

I didn’t believe Kurt would minimize Portugal’s offensive emails. I was driving to a meeting with Kurt and he wanted me to play the voice-mails for him. He played them on his bluetooth system in his car. He was very upset and told me it reminded him of a similar time he was asked to be a part of a meeting where the founders expressed a lot of anger towards a volunteer.  This volunteer has a name and many of us have spoken to him about this. It’s common knowledge or one of those secrets everyone knows. Kurt told me he was shocked and speechless during and after their outburst.

There were three other men who had the wrath of the founders directed at them, in addition to me. I’m sure many others heard about these incidents. All but mine was kept hush-hush and the founders were able to maintain the illusion they were all kind and giving. Kurt asked me to offer support to another Board member and colleague who received the wrath of two other principal leaders, simply because he could only make one pre-weekend staff meeting instead of two. Another colleague contacted me after a similar event with these two same leaders.

In respect to these leaders, I was also accused of extortion because I brought up the fact they pressured me to smoke pot and kill a pet rat the night before a certain weekend in the very beginning of my dispute with Portugal. Killing any animal is a class 3 and 4 felony in Illinois.

My claim about the pot and killing the pet rat and the spontaneous anti-semitism…(“those f….ing Jew boys”) are completely true and would require the two other men to lie to deny it.

I admit, I was intimidated and fearful of these men. These men had more power than me in our relationship and I needed them more than they needed me. In placing so much importance in my relationship with them, the possibility they would reject me was disturbing. Place this in the “fear of abandonment” category. My loyalty to these men became more and more challenged after a failed attempt to collaborate during a Breakthrough weekend and a miserable failure to deal with the issue of nudity and effort to reform and improve the Shadow weekend.

While it’s difficult to completely assess, the Shadow weekend has limped along since the early 1990’s and is only offered once per year. Compare this with the Warrior weekend which began a few years earlier, but now is offered countless times all over the globe. The architects of the Shadow and Wisdom years weekends have to assume some responsibility for the lackluster success.

On the other hand, the Psychodrama training, which I had a role  in creating, has been offered each year since the mid 2000’s and even offers CEU’s to professionals.  Although I am taking some credit now (Victories offers none), it’s success is based on the collaborative approach in its creation and scientific research on neuroscience (priming, state and context dependent memory, and brain structure functioning), psychodrama research, and the several “guts” work trainings (Warrior’s psychodrama) I attended.

Since I remained silent about the rat and pot incident and the accusation of me extorting them, they were successful in the pressure they placed on me to not reveal these inappropriate behaviors. It wasn’t until the Penn State abuse saga where the Administrators at Penn State were found to have protected the pedophile coach that I realized I was being subjected to inappropriate pressure to keep something secret which protected two men I once thought of as friends at a disservice to myself.

While Kurt alleged in the lawyer letter to me that I had lied and distorted what these men said and did, he also claimed I violated the confidentiality agreement to keep what happens on weekends secret. Despite being completely untrue, the lawyer’s letter claiming I broke confidentiality reveals the hint Kurt knew I was being completely truthful. It’s a lot of lawyer talk but ordinary people might read it as “well they didn’t say that and you distort other things and even if they said and did something like this, you were obliged to keep it secret.”

Later, during my meeting with Kurt right before he died, I told him I couldn’t negotiate with him as he was sick and what was unsaid then, dying. He wanted me to sign an agreement to remove all my Victories writing and agree to never write again about Victories. I was not doing it, plus I knew he knew everything he wrote for the lawyers’ letter was untrue.

I didn’t have the heart to engage in that discussion with him.

Think of how cruel and self-absorbed Portugal, Fitzpatrick and Kachoris must have been to use Kurt to attack my integrity and honesty. I worked with Kurt as co-leader and catalyst for change in Victories for about 4 years.

As president of the Board, Kurt asked me to evaluate the Spirit of Generosity training. I did so and recommended it be terminated and a new training  on teaching psychodrama be created. It’s been successfully offered since about 2005.  He then appointed me and another Board member to evaluate the pouring of tequila on the genitals of wisdom years weekend. Yes. It’s true. That ended too, immediately.

No doubt Kurt saw me as an intelligent, sensible therapist with experience in training, teaching, and well-versed in applied neuroscience in therapy.

Kurt knew me, trusted me and understood I had already made several significant contributions to the organization, and knew I was not lying, no matter what content he wrote for the letter the Victories lawyer sent me.

Kurt was vulnerable to respect for authority and Buddy was a little like Darth Vader who could wave his hand and get you to believe and do just about anything. No doubt he co-opted Kurt who was just trying to keep things together, too much by himself.

Portugal harassed Kurt and manipulated him to get me to withdraw my complaint against him (Portugal). I have the notes from early meetings with Kurt and then his letters written by him and then sent by Portugal’s lawyer friend.

Kurt was obviously dying and Portugal pressured him to attack me with lies. It takes my breath away remembering this. Portugal, a leader of men?

So, Portugal began an even more damaging cat and mouse (I was the mouse) game where he cancelled a meeting and offered times so far in the future, it became clear he would not apologize and even perhaps felt no remorse. He certainly was in no rush to meet and resolve the damage he had done with his voice-mails.

He initially promised to listen to the voice-mails, as he “didn’t remember” what he said. However, when I sent him the cd of the voice-mails, his tune changed. He said he would not listen to them until we could “meet and listen to them together.”

I knew when his tune changed, his plan was to stonewall me and if we met, try to convince me that I was the one who had wronged him. I had quickly begun to request some type of mediation, as I knew Portugal would not meet with me alone in good faith. He searched for external validation and apologizing to me, even saying the words, “I am sorry” were not in his vocabulary. This is quite evident if you read the voice-mails and if you hear the voice-mails, his snarly, though confused defensiveness and entitlement is loud and clear.

The narrative became easy to understand as I listened to his projections of me avoiding him and not accepting his apologies. He had never made an apology and in the voice-mails and brief note he sent me, there is no hint of any remorse or accountability from him, while he continued to weave a narrative that I had injured him.

Initially, he claimed not to remember the content and tone of the most offensive voicemail and offered to listen again. I sent him a cd of all the voice-mails, but he had become more defiant and refused to listen to them until we met and would listen to them together. This was just one example, though significant, of the runaround Portugal gave me about a meeting.

I’m sure when he claimed to others I refused to meet with him, he did not disclose his cancelled meeting with me, and then his high pressure attempt to get me to “listen to his voicemails with him” as a way of manipulating me to end my complaints against him.

The context for the Wisdom years evaluation was my growing disagreement with the Portugal and the other three principals ignoring the 2004 Strategic plan which called for a transformation from a feudal system of so-called leaders subserviant to the founders who were not direct or powerful leaders. They were influential, but seemed to me to do more to sabotage themselves and the organization than help. I address many of these problems in my 2008  resignation letter which can be read here.

In my complaint against Portugal, I wanted him to acknowledge he had not apologized to me (as I was certain he claimed) and go to psychotherapy to address whatever personality or emotional problems he had that would lead him to degrade me, a person who had only done good things for him and his men’s program.

The organization and the men in power who protected him did not help him by allowing him to hide behind their backs. He died sometime after this dispute. Could his death had been averted if he engaged in psychotherapy seriously and addressed any underlying or undiagnosed health problem? We will never know. However, I believe those principals failed Portugal and the overall organization by enabling his inappropriate behavior, which may have included his neglect of his own health.

In a private meeting between Bob Mark, Paul Kachoris and Kevin Fitzpatrick, and Buddy Portugal agreed among themselves they would not meet with me discrediting my complaints publicly as arising from an “emotional breakdown.” I know this from a 5 page email I received from one of the participants at the meeting. I was not informed about the meeting and only learned of it when I received the email.

In this May 17, 2008 email, this person writes a great deal about the meeting and the pressure to discredit my complaints ( I had written a formal complaint with a long list of specific grievances related to the deviation from the 2004 Strategic plan, not just the voicemails by Portugal) by accusing me of having an “emotional breakdown.”

In his way, this writer expresses his displeasure with the focus and tenor of their meeting, indicates he lodged a soft protest claiming I was “a person of good intellect and  they should listen to my complaints.”

He states, “…then everyone was making about you just having an emotional breakdown and not giving you credence for many of the important things you were saying. (Again, at the Victories Board meeting of the 7th of May 2008, I said that about you in front of 18 men, including Buddy who was sitting across from me and I was staring right at him!)” (anonymous email. 2008, May 17)

It’s pretty sad. They believed my legitimate complaints rose from a place of an emotional breakdown, yet refused to meet with me. One would think esteemed mental health practitioners would want to reach out to a colleague who they felt was having an emotional breakdown. I believe the larger truth is these four men were not accustomed to be confronted so directly and in writing.

The notion I was having an “emotional breakdown” was a sinister, though easy way to explain why I had resigned from the organization, degrade me and my complaints. It was a classic ad hominem attack, discrediting my ideas by discrediting my person.

I was a bug on the floor they could stomp on.

So, the other three principals clearly sided with Buddy Portugal and circled their wagons. This enabled them to protect themselves from my core complaint about them subverting the 2004 Strategic plan to maintain their own unique way of doing things that relied on their personal charisma and the loyalty of their client based support system in their respective programs.

I could see the development process inspired by the 2004 Strategic plan failed and almost all of my time, energy, financial contributions and intellectual capital was wasted. It was four years later and the two principal leader teams were still fighting each other and men like me who were part of the effort to improve and develop the organizations and programs.

My vantage point and the view of the two distinguished psychologists who led the strategic planning process and wrote the report and recommendations, the old way of doing things relied on blind devotion to the founders and led to a variety of dysfunctional organizational problems. These consultants evaluated the crisis related to the previous Victories administrator which had been described to them as a “personality conflict.”

In explaining their view, they stated,

“From an observer’s perspective, what appeared as a personality conflict might represent more of an organizational crisis. The recent history of victories provides the context for this discussion. Recently, Bob and buddy had been trying to pass control of the organization  on to a new generation of leaders. Transitional processes like that crater. Change with opportunity for organizational growth, but also time with attendant dangers. The ambitious personalities, the formation of alliance and schisms, the competition over who is staying”truer”to the vision of the founders – all of these responses to the transition bespeak a cultish edge to the organization. If allowed to continue, these responses would really hamstring important work that gets done on the weekends. Many of us have encountered destructive processes like that in religious or political movements. Sometimes, periods of transition like this bring out what is worse in us as men. Ambition for power at the expense of men who we should be seen as colleagues and collaborators is one of these dangers.”   (Schwartz & Zuckerman 2003)

I have little doubt the organizational warning by Schwartz and Zuckerman was ignored, despite their clear warning.  The consultants warned the organization about the risk of not addressing the systemic issues and as a result they repeated themselves. The previous Victories administrator was trying to address the systemic (organizational) issues, but was caught in the middle between the founders and the second leader team. It was a volatile place for him to be and when the pressure built, both leader teams turned on him, scapegoated him, and, like me, he gave up and resigned.

The details of our situation are not identical, but the process is almost identical. A smart, assertive person lower in the hiearchy of the organization steps up to the plate and encourages change to help the organization grow and develop.  Portugal, Mark, Kachoris, and Fitzpatrick join together to push the other person out. I remember talking with this administrator and another leader at the time by phone. The other leader called to ask if I would consider becoming involved in Victories (it was still the Men’s Room) again. We had a long talk, but I knew better and declined. I declined again when another leader was looking for a new leader partner.

My admiration for Paul Kachoris and initial impressions of Kurt Schultz influenced my decision to return in 2003 as a leader. I loved working with Kurt and the other members of our leadership team, many of whom are now principals in the organization.

The excellent 2004 Strategic plan, offered promise, but the attendant dangers won out. The consultants process led Victories out of the woods, but it drifted back in due to the homeostatic pressures of personalities, ambition for power, as mentioned above.

This blind devotion and organizational dysfunction was evident in the 2003-2004 crisis related to the then Administrator who was mistreated and scapegoated by the same four leaders involved in my dispute. A second example is how Portugal was so wedded to his own view of the Wisdom years being the next best thing to sliced bread, he blocked himself from my excellent evaluation so completely, it led him to degrade me personally, referring to me as chronically disappointed. This was a manipulative way to say I was depressed and suffering an emotional breakdown.

It’s very important to stop and consider this situation. These are mental health practitioners who present themselves to the world as healers and innovators refusing to meet with me, a person who had been very supportive of their program and them as individuals for about 15 years. As for Paul Kachoris and Kevin Fitzpatrick, I had volunteered for several years to help them get almost everyone of their initial weekends off the ground, witnessed and supported their leadership development.

Being well-versed in dealing with different personality types, it was clear to me I was being the target of projections, much like the former administrator earlier in 2003. Was this a situation where others had to make me “bad” in order for them to be “good?”

Watching the Trump drama and his efforts to silence James Comey, I am reminded of the threats, first from Buddy Portugal and his attorney, and then from my former leader partner, the deceased Kurt Schultz who wrote the copy for the lawyer letter sent to me again by Buddy Portugal’s attorney.

So two threatening lawyer letters and one direct threat across the table at a meeting to try to find a way to resolve the impasse between Victories and myself. If it were not for the more measured, reasonable intervention of another Victories principal at the breakfast meeting ( I was unable to eat anything), I would have left. I am not sure who likes to be threatened while eating breakfast.

I was most concerned about whether the entire Board approved the lawyer letter to me. The letter was composed of lies and I wondered how other men I thought were friends, knew were licensed mental health practitioners and lawyers could approve a letter threatening me.

I had the two men read the letter, then read their response. They had not read it before. Who on a Board with liability is ok with sending a “threatening to sue you” letter to someone, especially when the letter is not based in truth?

Then, there was the final email threat. I was first scared, then angry, then calmly realized I didn’t have to be afraid because I was telling the truth and had volumes of memos, notes and emails (see James Comey method) which corroborated my story.

I had one telephone call with the Board president where I decided to restate my story about being asked to smoke pot and kill a rat the night before a weekend, even though the men telling me this was what we were going to do had to have known I abstained from all substances and had done so for many years.

I had revealed this before, but perhaps the other men believed Kurt’s version that I was distorting what happened and what I heard and essentially that I was lying. Did the other principal men involved tell him to allege this in the threatening lawyer letter? I feel sorry for them if they did. I would guess Kurt just said, “let me handle this…” and the letter was written and sent to my mailbox.

I remember I was most distressed that in addressing this conflict, Kurt and the others would resort to lying about key details and facts. Kurt and I were able to talk as friends and colleagues shortly before he died. I felt sorry he had been used so badly by Buddy Portugal and the other Victories principals.

Kurt was the fixer and his heart was in the right place. He wanted others to be happy and love him and this made him vulnerable to Buddy Portugal who was persuasive and quick to threaten the withdrawal of his hubris filled positive regard.

In the end, I told the principals I was publishing everything I had written and would continue to write. If anyone threatened me again, I would take legal action of my own and file complaints with the appropriate professional associations.

I told them to give some thought to seeing and hearing me testify about the truth, while the others would have to do their best to lie and make it believable.

I published the hostile voicemails from Buddy Portugal here and have the recordings from my voicemail system and warned that they would not sound pretty in court, being the hostile, abusive and scathing” (Portugal’s description of the worst message) words of a former therapists of his client become successful, effective leader.

My comparison to Comey is done without any suggestion my conflict with Victories and some principals is anything comparable. It’s similar only in the way self-absorbed men attempt to hide the truth by bullying and defaming the person speaking up.

In my case, Portugal, et al claimed I was having an emotional breakdown. I have this from one of the people at the key meeting where they decided to ignore my complaints about mistreatment and them hijacking the strategic planning process to promote their own programs to the detriment of the letter and spirit of the 2004 Strategic planning process which recommended building a more cohesive and collaborative organizational structure and programming.


Here is the 2011 Lawyer letter I received with my responses:

Lawyer copy is in black.

My response is in blue.

December 19,2011

Dear Mr. Martin

We are attorneys representing victories of the heart, and if the victories. The Board of Directors of victories has recited receive court your correspondence dated the 15th and 17th 2011, and we respond as follows. The letter state that you intend to publish information about victories and or its programs. Actual publication has already occurred through the posting of such information on your Internet blog. A preliminary review of your statements raises the following serious legal considerations and consequences.

My response:

I gave the recipients of the emails and letters sufficient time to be in touch with me to arrange some type of mediation, something I had sought for a few years. When I didn’t hear back from them, I published the document, as I had warned. I can only speculate they met together and determined the best course of action was to do nothing believing I would not follow through. When I did publish, their strategy was to accuse me of lying, distorting, as their lawyer letter stated. Behind the scenes, I would also guess they claimed I was having an emotional breakdown. The content and style of the lawyer’s  letter was very similar to language I had heard from Kurt. Also, the mention of David Karr is something few people would know, besides Kurt, so I know he had to be the source of the letter.  I spoke to Kurt shortly after this and met him just prior to his death. I thought it was doubly cruel for Victories principals to use Kurt’s power and relationship with me to prevent me from exercising my First Amendment right and holding them accountable. It was tragic to meet with him, understand he was so sick, yet manipulated to fight me, someone he thought of as a brother. 

First, please be reminded that in the written leadership agreement between you and victories, you agreed not to lecture publish anything concerning victories or its programs without the prior written authorization of the victories board or its designee. Such permission was never granted to you by victories. There are hereby directed to immediately remove all such items from your blog and take all action necessary to bring yourself into compliance with your contract. Failure to do so will result in further legal action against you.

My response: 

The contract mentioned here was something that Kurt thought of after I began to make my complaints with leaders and threats to write about them more public. Kurt described the contract as something to protect Victories programs and I had no intention, nor have I over the years, attempted to copy any of Victories programs. I suspected after receiving this threatening lawyer letter that it was Kurt’s way of trying to prevent me from making my unresolved complaints public. I had made every attempt to resolve these complaints privately.

I warned the principals I would write about these matters as I considered them abusive to me and an example of the systemic entitlement these men had within the organization. I knew they could do whatever they wanted, expect not to be held accountable, and further, key powerful people within the system, like Kurt, would be manipulated to fight others like myself who were more vulnerable.

My only recourse was to write and publish. I have to assume they underestimated my ability to write and the many contemporaneous documents I wrote about what was happening around me and to me at the time.

Anyone knowing how the dyadic leadership structure worked may also realize how personally damaging it was to Kurt to manipulate him to clean up their messes. When I met with Kurt shortly before his death, he told me how difficult this period was for him. He and I had been a leader team. He knew I asked him to recuse himself from this conflict, but Buddy Portugal pressured him to get me to back off and withdraw my request for mediation. No one would be surprised by this and it’s likely one or all of the surviving leader principals may be able to substantiate this as witnesses. Also, the letters I received were quite obviously written by Kurt. 

Second, your disclosure of the statements that you attribute to (leader name and/or leader name) in the context of the 1995 name weekend violates the confidentiality agreement applicable to all leaders and participants will weekend. Moreover, your statements concerning these individuals misquotes them and assert claims about them which are untrue and distorted.

My response: This point involves my disclosure I was told by two leaders we were going to “smoke pot and kill a pet, white rat from an Evanston pet store” at this Thursday night pre-weekend meeting. Allegedly, I talked them out of it. I only really know I didn’t smoke pot or kill a pet rat that night. So, everything I detailed in my letter was completely true and involved inappropriate behavior by leaders that could have risked the safety of participants and placed these leaders and myself and the Victories organization in serious legal and ethical jeapordy.

As I mentioned in my disclosure, I revealed this inappropriate behavior to my wife, a close friend and later Kurt. So, Kurt being manipulated to deny this actually happened was a tragic manipulation of him by others who he may have felt he had to protect. Kurt knew it happened and perhaps he felt it was so perverse it was essential to deny the truth and discredit and defame me in the process. What was said between these men and Kurt? I don’t know. 

My conversation with Kurt shortly before he died revealed to me his own distress and dissatisfactions with the events and the pressure placed on him by Portugal. I only know Kurt was dying at the time and it was painful for him to meet with me to discuss these things, knowing in fact I was truthful, including the spontaneous anti-semitism and the accusation I was using the “rat and pot” incident to  “extort” two leaders to get them to support me against Portugal.

Third, your discussion of the nudity on the shadow weekend without disclosing that nudity ceased in 2008 a fact known to you for years appears to be an effort to defame victories. The same can be said of your attempt to equate or compare the actions of the victories board of directors to the egregious conduct of certain religious and academic institutions.

My response: It was not a known fact that nudity ceased in 2008. I only knew the idea of men being nude for long periods of time at the weekend was being challenged. During my last formal meeting about this, I was told the plan was to have the men wear black gym shorts. There was no mention about how they would change into the gym shorts and whether there might be t-shirts as well. I still do not know that. The official website makes the pejorative statement that there is no nudity on the weekend in response to the question, “I heard there is nudity on this weekend.”

I believe the use of nudity by the leaders along with other inappropriate program ideas has been very detrimental to the organizational development process and it was part of my comprehensive criticism of programs during my 4+ years in leadership from 2003-2008. It was a dumb idea to copy something from another weekend and it only created doubt and ambivalence about the Victories’ program. I and others heard the complaints from participants of the weekend and it was numbing and frightening to me to hear about the length of time men were nude and silent. I considered these methods to be unethical and counterproductive to the welfare of participants and the mission/values of the organization.

 Further, there is a reason why this program has weak internal and external support within the larger community. If it was such a good experience, why does it still struggle to gain participants. I have no doubt if the principals listened to my complaints and responded, their programs (wisdom years and shadow weekend) would have been improved. Unless there is legal action, I do not plan to publish my evaluation for the Wisdom years experience in Boston where I was a participant. I was asked 2x for my evaluation. The second time it was received, it resulted in 30 minutes of hostile, ad hominem voicemails. It’s troubling when you are asked for an evaluation then personally attacked as being “chronically disappointed.” 

Fourth, your correspondence request appropriate credit for your contributions to the victories, basic staff training handout and defames victories by suggesting that victories has engaged in on ethical or legal misconduct by not acknowledging your contribution and subsequent versions of the handout. In April 2008. You acknowledge that victories have the right to use and publish those materials. The request for attribution was made at the time. It is our understanding the subsequent versions of the document, including those used while you were still waiting basic staff training, do not attribute authorship to any individual, just as your initial version of the document failed to acknowledge the contributions of David Karr’s work form the basis of your draft. Victories has never misrepresented a role in creating the handout. In fact, the message announcing the resignation from victories. Specifically, thank you for this contribution to one of victories programs.

My response:

Readers may find this surprising, but I felt like I put aside a lot of sharp elbows and myopic thinking while involved and even after I resigned. I thought my resignation made it clear I no longer thought I could have an impact and the rigidity of the system almost guaranteed the organization would continue to struggle with development.

On a practical level, it meant Portugal and Mark would have enormous power within the system to stop and divert much of the agreed upon changes in the 2004 Strategic plan. In my opinion expressed verbally and in writing in my ongoing complaints was the fact the 8 person leadership team of which I was a part was destroyed in a unilateral move by Portugal and Mark to leave the team and expand the Wisdom years program.

I remember this meeting vividly when they reported there plan to recruit and develop new leaders for the Wisdom years, but stressed they would bring these new leaders back to our leader team of 8 men (ostensibly) for approval. This never happened and in fact their efforts were so mismanaged and conflict laden, there was some effort on their part to actually secede from the larger Victories organization.

This was a hush-hush situation too and I still don’t know all the facts. I only know the idea of the Wisdom years becoming a separate, free-standing organization was being considered. This essentially bifurcated the organization destroying any momentum for change and development. Others may disagree with my assessment, but to date, I have not read any other perspective. If there is a lawsuit, we will find out.

Nonetheless, the practical results were a lot of dissatisfaction and unresolved conflict. I complained and resigned and other stakeholders were not happy either. 

The more practical issue was the two original leader teams continued in their passive-agressive hostility and competition further hampering any substantial development. The mythic idea two men as leaders and recruiters for weekends continued and I can only assume scheduled weekends are cancelled and others struggling to gain participants.

And all efforts would be made to keep the two founders and the other principal leader team happy. 

Ironically,  it was not until Kurt and another leader team were selected to give a presentation on psychodrama at a mind-body conference where I realized how insensitive these men could be. Kurt and I and several other volunteers were the ones who designed the psychodrama training (the original basic staff training) and enabled volunteers to learn how to do “heartwork” or psychodrama during Breakthrough weekends. The fact I was not included in the workshop I found shocking and unacceptable. I lodged a complaint about this too and it went nowhere.

At this later time I requested acknowledgement for my involvement in the overall creative process of the psychodrama training. I wasn’t looking for credit for the writeup or any document used in the training. I believe I should have been given more permanent credit for the total process of evaluating and ending the Spirit of Generosity, then working with the team of others, principally Kurt, to develop what is now the Psychodrama training.

My request for acknowledgement must have sent a shock wave through the leadership of the organization, as the dysfunctional culture of the organization only allowed “Bob and Buddy” to be credited for anything. There were others recognized at dinners, but they were usually outside persons or groups who were thought to reflect well on the founders, like Wendy Kopald and her women’s program, which Portugal helped her create.

While anyone involved in the development process would agree I had an important role, I was not surprised my request went nowhere, though I was a little surprised it was part of a lawyer’s letter threatening to sue me. So, out of site out of mind.

Your public statements are intentional and malicious acts calculated to inflict substantial harm upon the victories organization. Such conduct can form the basis for an award of compensatory and exemplary damages and would appear to violate the ethical standards of your profession. Moreover, the psychological injury you now allegedly finds a personally distressing is largely attributed to events, which occurred over 15 years ago. In that time you voluntarily chose to join victories as a senior leader, appeared with pocket shortest, Kevin Fitzpatrick, and other leaders of publicly distributed promotional DVD, referred a number of your psychotherapy clients to victories programs, helped recruit and train 60 L, and otherwise promoted an organization you now attack.

My response:

I worked hard to make the organization successful. The public statements I make are to defend my own integrity, hold others accountable, and provide a history of the organizational dynamics to help explain why weekends do not often get the needed participants and the dyadic leader teams who fail, drift off into the sunset. My alternative efforts were to have leadership teams, not two men trying unrealistically to love each other as much as the two original teams.

Ones true understanding of themselves is a retrospective process…a looking back. It was not until 2011 that I was diagnosed with brain damage from trauma and I began to piece together enough information to better understand the dysfunctional system and people I had been associated with from 1990 and especially from 2003 to 2008. As the more outspoken member of the disenfranchised group, I receive information from others who have helped me create a more cohesive narrative of my experience.

Also, 15 years is not a long time for someone to realize they were blocking and diminishing the impact of some type of abuse. I think Victories would find it impossible to find any expert witness, should they sue me, who would think there was nothing wrong in pressuring me, a volunteer with a history of PTSD and depression who abstained from all drugs and alcohol to smoke pot and participate in the killing of a pet white rat from a pet store the night before an intensive mens’ retreat.

They can claim I was and am lying, but my guess is they know better. Kurt knew I was telling the truth, as I had disclosed this to him several years earlier and I also told my wife and a close friend contemporaneously (see the James Comey method).

So, I do understand they wished I wouldn’t reveal the truth about these events, but then I would betray myself further and all the volunteers who work so hard to make Victories successful, but wonder why it struggles to fill weekends.  Victories has been plagued by organizational silos (the dyadic leader teams) and an inability to create a cohesive and collaborative organization. 

Victories seems a prompt resolution to this matter of the parties aren’t able to achieve such a resolution, we will commence with a civil suit against you without further notice and if appropriate, file a complaint with the Illinois Department of financial and professional regulation. Please direct all future communications to me.

My response:

OK. I hope they don’t sue, but I will stand up for myself. Like I told them, if anyone even threatens to sue me again, I will immediately take legal action myself to protect my First Amendment rights and personal integrity.

And, as I have told a few of these men, I am still available to mediate these concerns. However, I am no longer willing to share the costs of mediation. 

A sincere apology can go a long way.


Lawyer name

In publishing this lawyer’s letter and my response, I am fulfilling my promise to the current Victories board to stop being afraid of their threats to sue me. It’s freeing for me to do so. I am standing up for my constitutional right to free speech and my own personal integrity.

I would add I have been in contact with Paul Kachoris and Kevin Fitzpatrick by phone voice messages inviting them to meet, clear up the distortion and lies about me in a public way. They have not responded to my requests and I will not contact them again. My contact with them preceded my publication of this more overt, naming of principals post, along with the lawyers letter from Victories.

Me contacting them was part me showing them I was no longer afraid of them, part hope they would have the decency to address their part in all of this, especially allowing Kurt to send me the deceitful lawyer letter I rebut above. This letter is such an obvious example of projection. They lie about me in order to defame me as a liar.

True to form, this was another systemic example of principals hiding behind others to fight for them. Rather than respond appropriately to me as a colleague filing legitimate complaints and asking for a formal mediation of these complaints, I can only assume they allowed Kurt to “handle” it by composing a letter of lies then sent by another lawyer.

I was shocked by the lack of truthfulness of this letter and wondered how Kurt would have gotten the Board to allow him to send it to me. During a phone call shortly after receiving it, I asked him if he had the Board approve the letter or if he just had it sent it to me. He just said he was the President of the Board, implying he didn’t need approval. Of course, by this time, he was dying of cancer, so these other principals will have to live with the fact they placed Kurt in the position to fight me, his former leader partner and close friend. Sad.

I also sent these two principals and the current President of the Board copies of my neuropsychological assessment to show evidence of my cognitive impairment as proof I didn’t have whatever diagnosis or personality disorder was used by them inappropriately to label me having an “emotional breakdown.”

I also realize how protective I had remained towards these principals and willing to keep their secrets, about the voice-mails and the pot and rat incident. One might say I have made too big a deal over these issues and that’s fine. For me, there are these issues and the longer systemic pattern within Victories to pay homage to the leaders, despite their behaviors, and forfeit the opportunities of creating a healthier organization.

It’s impossible for anyone on the outside to determine what weekends have enough participants and what weekends are cancelled. I would assume there would be more information about this, if all or most of the weekends had enough enrollment.

I can only assume since the dyadic (two person) leadership team is still the primary structure, there have been and will be failed weekends.

Had the stakeholders had enough insight and power, the systemic problem of homage to the founders/leaders would have been addressed directly and effectively. It would have been a win-win for everyone.

As an example of my efforts, I could see that every annual fundraiser became a “love-in” for the two founders. I thought to myself, how many more years can these men be given all the attention and credit for something that others have also contributed.

I spoke to Portugal in person, had a phone call to Mark. I told them it was counter-productive for the annual dinner to focus on them so much. I told them while it feel positive to some, it caused resentment among others. I spoke to Kurt about this and there was a discussion to do something differently at the next dinner in 2007. Kurt reported to me and others at a Board meeting there would be a “roast of all the leaders.”

A roast of all the leaders should not have left any confusion about what would happen. For the first time, I dragged my teenage daughter to the dinner so she might hear one or two sentences poking fun at me.

So, what happened?

True to the underlying, powerful dynamic in the organization, the “roast” became a video portraying Bob and Buddy as the characters from Brokeback Mountain. The imagery and language in the video was at once, homophobic, degrading, and mortifying to me and others. My daughter looked at me and said, “what does this mean?” I told her I wasn’t sure and then waited for a “roast” to begin. It did not.

No “roast”, but a terrible public relations event with confusing sexual innuendo about the two founders. Although I tried, I received no explanation about how this video had been approved. From the men who appeared in the video, I understood it to be those closest to the two founders.

The psychological message I received was the founders were the “only leaders” of importance and the creators of the video were either unconscious or indirectly revealing there were men in the closet who were married to women.

This was terrible messaging, yet demonstrates the so called homage to the founders that has permeated the organization from its inception in the 1980’s.

This ambiguous messaging about sexuality and sexual orientation within Victories has made it a less safe experience for men with sexual orientation questions or fears. A recent study of a Breakthrough weekend revealed one persons’ observation substantiating this problem at that weekend. The participant states:

“There were also moments when they used some more hetero-normative language. As a gay man, I would have hoped that they would have used more inclusive language. Like during certain activities, they would be talking about the men and their wives rather than the men and their partners or you know companions or spouses. I’m pretty sure that I was the only gay male on my particular weekend. 99 Although at the beginning I was certain that a couple of the other men were. Then one started talking about his wife and another was talking about his girlfriend. Well, seeing that I am a clinician and knew several of the men conducting the retreat, I knew that there wasn’t anything negative meant by that. You know, I see a number of gay clients who…I would question if they would you know, feel comfortable in hearing language that was somewhat exclusionary. And you know, it’s not like I felt they were trying to single me out or intentionally exclude me, but it was just kind of something I noticed. I was also kind of wondering how Victories approaches transgendered or inter-sexed individuals and issues around their care and inclusion in Victories?”  (Miller, 2016, pps.98-99)

This participant expresses the hetero-sexism inherent to Victories. It’s not that everyone is straight, but rather there are gay men who are fearful of speaking up or are married to women and deeply in the closet. I don’t know who the staff leadership was for the weekend in question, but after three decades, it’s fair to openly criticize the organization for it’s lack of respect for cultural diversity. I can not tell you how often I would hear the founders talk about the need to “recruit” gay men or men of color to weekends. However, when this was done, the men would experience the undertones of bias, racism and hetero-sexism. The comments by this participant are evidence that even now in 2016-2017, there are weekend programs that are unconscious about the need to respect diversity.

Read my comments about this study here and links to the full study here.

True to form, the Victories stakeholdes involved in the study were apparently unhappy with the results. The reasons for their negativity were not explained, yet the informed observer would guess it was because the study did not find exceptional measurable results.

If so, it would be another example of how Victories principals depend so highly on praise to support their positive view of themselves, it makes them less aware of parts of themselves revealed in more honest inter-personal relations.

I enjoy the freedom I experience in writing.


Three of the Victories principals have written books. To read my reviews, click on the links below:


Victories of the Heart: Inside Story of a Pioneer Men’s Group (Bob Mark & Buddy Portugal)


Clearing the Path: Opening the Spiritual Frontier (Bob Mark)


Unmasked: Poetry of Self-Expression (Paul Kachoris)



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Jun 09 2015

Victories and the Legal Threats to Silence My Writing: One Letter

It’s been many years since I first was threatened with a lawsuit in about 2011 if I continued to write and publish about my experience in Victories of the Heart,  previously known as the Men’s Room, now known as Victories for Men.

I so regret most of my involvement, especially in leadership and Board involvement. A friend at the time, Kevin Fitzpatrick referred me to Bob Mark for psychotherapy, then for some reason, changed his mind and suggested Buddy Portugal. Portugal was charismatic, with lots of hubris. His office seemed to be designed by an art director and interior design specialist to appeal to psychotherapy patients. It was impressive.

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Mar 08 2014

Victories of the Heart: An End to Silo Mentality?

I am heartened by the creation of a new program, “Best Self Weekend” by Victories.

I like this concept for many reasons, one of them being the name uses commonly understood English words…we all know what “best self” means.

Also, it looks like some type of psychodrama will be a key part of the experience. As a key member of the team that developed the psychodrama training back around 2005, I am pleased that the current principals think it’s a good idea to use this powerful method.

Most importantly, the website states the weekend will be led by a mix of Wisdom years and Breakthrough leaders. To my knowledge, this represents the first time since a failed Breakthrough leader collaboration around 2007 that leaders are planning to let go of egos, stop competing and create a program entirely for the benefit of the participants.

I should add the psychodrama training was a collaborative program (just not with other leaders) in that Kurt Schultz and I involved a great team of volunteer men in developing the training. Many of these men are now leaders of programs and two men, Rick Simon and Ron Rooth went on to serve as Victories Board presidents.

Teaching prospective leaders how to facilitate psychodrama or what is also referred to as “heartwork” was a major roadblock to developing new leaders. I was one of these early failed leaders. During a weekend in the mid-1990’s, after absolutely no training, was told to go out and lead the next participants work. I failed and it was a regressive experience for me.

If we accept the notion our unconscious motivations show up in our lives as behavior, I wonder if the original leader teams were not motivated to develop new, competent leaders, as teaching psychodrama didn’t happen until our psychodrama training about 2005. Did they really want new leaders or men to be subservient and not compete with them for the incredible shot of dopamine which happens (at least for me) as a Victories (Breakthrough)leader?

Or maybe they wanted to make sure any prospective leader would protect them from any intense scrutiny of what really was beneath the surface. Selected on an early leader team, I was told that I and my other co-leader needed to take the founders, Buddy Portugal and Bob Mark to dinner at their favorite restaurant, an Italian place near the University of Illinois campus in the west loop area. They were already there when we arrived, at a table in a darkened corner of the restaurant.

I am not sure what the real purpose of the dinner was supposed to be, but the conversation included how leading weekends would be life-changing (it was) and the importance their relationship. I had no idea what leading a weekend would be like. When they talked about their relationship, I was struck by the multiple levels of meaning in their words and process. I was most unnerved by what I believed they were trying to tell us. I wanted to be there, feel important in their eyes, but never felt comfortable for a second.

What did seem clear was we were required to admire their relationship and replicate it as a co-leader team. We were expected to become like ” Bob and Buddy”, “Kevin and Paul”, less important versions of these original teams, but same structure and process. Perhaps, there was a felt safety in numbers. You know, the best place to hide was among your enemies.

I emphacize here the ego attachment to programs and competition between the two original leader teams had a tremendously negative impact on innovation and organizational development, from the beginnng in the mid-1980’s and especially in the post 2004 Strategic plan Victories world. The two programs involved, the Wisdom years and Shadow program had flaws, but the two leader teams would rather fight than switch.

For example, Buddy Portugal requested I send in my evaluation of the Boston Wisdom years program for a second time ( I had submitted a signed evaluation after the weekend). This led to about 30 minutes of ad hominem voicemail attacks on me, including a particularly abusive rant about me being so critical of everything and everyone, including my (biological) brother. Really?

Buddy Portugal didn’t want my honest feedback. He wanted me to endorse him and his Wisdom years program and support his effort to expend funds to develop this program in other cities. It was not a good enough program to expand and history has proven this.

I heard from other Wisdom years men who told me they agreed with my evaluation and have tried to change the program themselves. At some point, I may publish the entire evaluation, but one detail I will share is the problem I found with the small groups at the program.

There was an obvious pressure built into the language of small group facilitators. The message conveyed was we (participants) were selfish and needed to begin giving back to the world. Of course, the likely place to start was volunteering for the Wisdom years.

I never confirmed this with any Wisdom years guys, but it was obvious to me. I had heard this message from Buddy Portugal a lot. He had a pejorative view of men. When he tried to be motivational, I thought initially it was passion. Now, I believe it was anger. I think he felt resentful of some men, as if he had gotten a rotten deal in the world.

While Portugal helped many people, he died a controversial and probably conflicted person. His emotionally abusive messages to me via voicemail revealed some of these internal conflicts. Why would he turn against me? I understood him better than he realized and had been gentle and supportive to him over many years.

When Kurt asked me to play the messages for him, he just shook his head. He didn’t say much, but he had been in this same place before. Someone he liked (me) was the target of Buddy’s venom. Kurt had been asked to attend a meeting with Bob, Buddy and another man (he has a name) where this other man (who Kurt liked) was dragged over the coals.

Kurt told me all about it, as he probably did others. While this can be easily proven, I don’t think it’s necessary. I count four other men, plus me who were the target of misplaced anger.

The silos for both these teams consisted of two people…themselves. God forbid anyone from outside their silo dare to comment or criticize. We were all amoebas in their ocean.

Even if they force the old into the new by only having leader partners from those programs, I know some of the potential leaders and they are really just smart, great guys who want to offer good programs.

Unlike the original two teams primary attachment to each other and their respective Wisdom years and Shadow programs, the new principals seem to be trying to create a more collaborative leader style, programs that make sense in 2018 and offer participants a memorable, perhaps life changing experience.

I can think of any combination of the current principals for the leadership team and if they are careful to explore issues of culture (sexual orientation, color, gender, beliefs, etc) and power (shared vs. hiearchical) I think this could be a spectacular and fun experience for all.

Of course, there is no “I” in team, but Buddy Portugal is deceased, Bob Mark has moved on to the Emeritus role of supportive mentor, and the influence of Kevin Fitzpatrick and Paul Kachoris must certainly have waned after nearly 30 years.

Kevin and Paul no longer lead their Shadow weekend which never gained widespread support internally or in the larger community. In his Psychology Today profile, Victories founder Bob Mark proudly points to the successful Breakthrough and Wisdom years Victories programs, but does not mention the Shadow weekend at all. I don’t think this is a mistake.

I think it unfair to blame my public criticism for any failure of the Shadow program. They also know clearly while the controversy of the 2007-08 (approximate years) Shadow weekend’s nudity and silence, I was loyal to my commitment to them and promised to help them make the program work.

My offer was for all of the Breakthrough weekend leaders at the time, including Kurt, Joe and Steve to work collaboratively to develop a program that could be successful. They refused my offer, choosing to slog on on their own in the stubborn “silo mentality” position they knew better than all of us, certainly me, and continued in their determination to keep the Shadow program true to their preconceived notions.

I always believed the Shadow weekend was a very weak imitation of the Warrior weekend with several research based problems, especially the lack of sensitivity to potential trauma memories and risk of participants being retraumatized. One doesn’t need to know a male victim of sexual abuse might be triggered or injured by being asked to remove their clothing and remain naked in a public way during a weekend.

It was just bad judgment and their Shadow program never really recovered from a community support perspective. There were other problems I experienced at the first or earlier Shadow weekend I helped staff, including a flawed attempt at a sweat lodge.

My early attempt at collaboration regarding the Shadow weekend was naive. The “silo mentality” of the programs leaders remained firmly intact. The result has been a very poor outcome.

Now, Victories principals will say it’s a great experience and a legitimate next step for Victories participants. I have no doubt participants really benefit from the experience, but my opinion is the Shadow weekend and all the Victories programs would have been more robust and successful had Bob and Buddy and the executive leadership of the Board been more accountable and loyal to the written 2004 Victories strategic plan.

Historically, Victories has relied on a leadership structure of two men who are devoted to each other and dedicated to leading one of the organization’s weekend programs.

This type of leadership structure has some strengths and vulnerabilities. The main strength is in the continuity of the leadership dyad and their ability to improve their skills without fear of competition from other potential leaders. I’m sure Victories principals, especially the “old guard”, would describe other strengths, like the deepening of the love in their relationship and it’s impact on participants in programs.

Having had a lot of leadership experience, mainly on athletic teams and in community education programs, such as the substance abuse prevention program in Illinois, Operation Snowball, and within Victories itself, I believe the leadership dyad has caused strife, competition, lack of cooperation and collaboration (failure of weekends to occur), lack of innovation, barriers to communication, confused messaging about sexual orientation and a host of other problems.

About the confused sexual orientation messaging, the founders of the organization, the late Buddy Portugal and Bob Mark are quoted by Michael Jackman writing about men’s weekends in his the article Band of Brothers.

Jackman states:

“In some of these (men’s weekend) situations, the level of physical intimacy involved, men touching and holding each other, calls for new ways of defining what’s proper. (Bob) Mark and (Buddy) Portugal take care to discuss it frankly: “We are two men who love one another, who have developed a powerful bond in a nonsexual relationship. We do not intend to red-flag the nonsexual aspect, although it is important.”

The fact that the men’s movement is so friendly to gay men is likely to cause homophobes to break out in a cold sweat. As Mark and Portugal explain, “Gay men have the same needs as heterosexual men for connection with other men in a safe, respectful relationship that includes a sense of brotherhood and deep compassion for the welfare of the other person.”

I have read this passage many times and am always struck by the lack of clear meaning. Why stress the “non-sexual” aspect of their relationship? They say they don’t “intend to red-flag the non-sexual aspect”, but in writing the words and sentence structure in such a way, they do red-flag these ideas about a non-sexual relationship.

While this dyadic (two person) leadership model worked for Portugal and Mark, it’s not a leader structure made in heaven. It’s cumbersome, tough to develop and last, and stirs the pot related to sexual orientation without the program structure to give voice to these feelings.

It’s still hard for me to believe this happened, but a small group of Victories men thought it would be a good idea to create a video spoof depicting Bob and Buddy as the principal stars of the movie Brokeback Mountain at the annual dinner for families. I and my family found it to be a wierd and uncomfortable experience.

Such faulty and confusing decisions were more common in Victories. I won’t go into all of them, but many of them deal with the sexual innuendo and the poking fun or ridicule of male sexuality. Think the original name of the organization was “the Men’s Room and support group was “the keep it up group.”

Was it hahaha or something more hostile and negative. Most would vote for humorous, but I remain unconvinced of the jovial intentions for this sexual innuendo in organizational messaging. I have come to think of this messaging as a type of code, inside jokes and subtle hostility for those inside this sub-group or silo.

The vulnerabilities of the twosome leadership structure naturally led to the development of dysfunctional “silos” within the organization with each leader dyad developing their own teams further reinforcing barriers to communication, collaboration, and connection, thus the term, “silo mentality.”

Research shows that groups without a clear hierarchy and organizational structure fragment into sub-groups for safety due to anxiety and fear related to the more chaotic larger organization. (add Yalom citation here) Sub-groups in conflict was the norm for Victories in the 1990-2008 time period in which I am familiar. It was a time filled with excitement and meaning and horrible stress from unresolved conflict between leader dyads and other sub-groups.

As an example, I still do not know all the details about the threat of the Wisdom years program and new leaders splitting from the Victories program and going off on its own around 2007-08. I do want to know and think this is something current principals have a right to know about so as to not allow a replication of such an enormous and egregious error in the implementation of the 2004 Strategic plan.

While good men om the Board were working and donating to the larger goals of the organization, the two founders and unknown potential Wisdom years leaders were going to leave the organization and become a separate organization? This was more of a weaponized sub-group or silo doing damage. The fact that all these details and others are kept secret weakens the integrity of the organization and makes the efforts of current Victories principals more difficult.

Likewise, the controversy over the extensive nudity and silence during the 2006 (approximately) Shadow weekend was not just about nudity and silence. For me and others it was the lack of transparency by the two Shadow weekend leaders. They planned and implemented their program without sharing any information about their controversial plans for nudity and silence.

I was responsible for four participants attending this Shadow program and like others, was shocked by what I learned from participants after the weekend. Bob Mark called me and perhaps others to see if we knew about the nudity and silence, as he did not. I explained to him I knew the Shadow weekend I attended 10 years earlier had nudity, but had no idea nudity was such an extensive part of the current program.

I was a co-leader and Board member, as were many others. We not only had a right to know, but a legal responsibility to know what would happen. For two other leaders to assert themselves, plan and implement a controversial program, is perhaps the most crystal clear example of dysfunctional silos in historical Victories.

The fact the Shadow weekend has limped along with less than universal support is a clear by-product of the faulty, grandiose thinking related to the program’s origins. I have written more about this program and I know my criticism of it is the source of some effort to stifle my 1st Amendment rights by threatening to sue me if I wrote anything about Victories they didn’t like.

Silos and silo mentality are widely known organizational concepts and an excellent article can be read here.

During my involvement in Victories from the early 1990’s until 2008, the problems related to the dyadic leader model was obvious to me. A key problem was the almost delusional view that the power to change participants during what they called “heartwork” or as it’s commonly known, psychodrama, resulted from the two leaders relationship.

As a result, to be a leader in Victories, you had to find another man, develop a relationship, and somehow demonstrate you were intimate enough to join the leadership team. Words like “matchmaking” were not uncommon to hear when attempts to find leader partners for men were made.

The fact that men’s sexual orientation was not often an open topic of discussion was a ty pe of institutional homophobia. All men were assumed to be heterosexual unless they were “out” gay men. This allowed closeted gay or bisexual men to remain closeted, but ensured an internal bias against an appreciation for non-heterosexual men.

Recent research on the Breakthrough weekend found underlying heterosexist bias as experienced and described by a participant. You can read my posting on this here.

So, all of this is to say, I enthusiastically support the idea of collaborative teams and hope the staff team for this weekend have a great time and encourage this trend!

Why not offer it to the community, and not just alumni! I’m sure the principals involved explored this, but I hope to see more creativity like this from the principal group at Victories.

And please, be more transparent. Why not have someone write about the process to create this weekend and how the structure and process are similar and different from other Victories programs? I’m willing. 🙂

No responses yet

May 15 2013

Victories Psychodrama Evaluations about 2006

While training volunteers was commonplace in MKP, the VOH founding leaders preferred to act as if there was some magic secret to facilitating psychodrama, even calling it “heartwork” to suggest it arose from some deeper place in the facilitating leader’s heart or from the intense love relationship with the other leader. Kind of the idea that the warmth and caring between the two leaders would be showered upon the participants and they would be healed.

It would be nice to receive some credit for the Victories psychodrama training. Seems my role has been whitewashed and my article on the “trust circle and psychodrama” is not listed in the websites’ resources for professionals, I am suggesting this has some ethical meaning for me and the organization.

I therefore take credit now.

The National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics states:

“4.08 Acknowledging Credit

(a) Social workers should take responsibility and credit, including authorship credit, only for work they have actually performed and to which they have contributed.

(b) Social workers should honestly acknowledge the work of and the contributions made by others.” 
The concept of “who owns ideas” is the basis of intellectual property disputes.The “who, what, when and what is written/published” of these ideas are key factors.
Related to this psychodrama training, the key factors are:

  • Prior leaders had 20 years to create a similar training and did not do so
  • The training they created, Spirit of Generosity, was a very poorly conceived program which did not even address the concept of psychodrama, may even have been harming men, and damaging to any overall organizational development (evidence of this is the fact staff at this event took the item men brought and buried the item on the grounds of the training site…a man told me he lost his heirlook wrist jewelry…he was afraid to tell the staff he wanted it back)
  • Kurt Schultz asked me, no one else, to help him evaluate the upcoming Spirit of Generosity training (about 2004-05)
  • Kurt and I then participated in MKP “guts” training which helped us develop a more detailed approach to psychodram on weekends
  • Kurt and I and others collaborated to create the new training, Basic Staff Training (BST), designed to begin teaching psychodrama and the interconnectedness of different Breakthrough weekend elements
  • I insisted on a shift from the term “heartwork” to the more intellectually accurate and research based “psychodrama”
  • Now called “facilitating psychodrama”, the training created modules which could be replicated (meaning the purpose was to create a training of trainers who were NOT dependent on Kurt or myself), have been replicated, and offered to professionals as a continuing education opportunity
  • While I believe my role was critical in the training’s conceptual design and implementation, the fact it has continued, new men learned psychodrama methods quickly, were able to facilitate psychodrama under supervision during weekends, the training offers Continuing Education Credits, substantiates the successful use of my “intellectual properties”
  • I wrote the first manual for this psychodrama training which we used for every training in which I was a leader (I don’t know if it has been used since my resignation in 2008)
  • A key development factor which also substantiates my unique role in the psychodrama development is the creative way I applied Moreno’s “chorus” concept…the new team approach Kurt and I taught engaged more men in the process as a “chorus” increasing the meaning for all
  • Kurt and I even used the participants of the first BST trainings to develop a vocabulary we could learn together… for example, training staff and participants joined together to create names for different types of cradles, a standing cradle, sitting cradle and a lift cradle…in this way, we all could communicate quickly and easily during a weekend when calling for a type of cradle to use
  • After the initial success of the first BST, I even attempted to engage Kevin and Paul in the colllaborative process, encouraging them to write up some of their own psychodrama methods…they never did so (in my fantasies, I envisioned us writing a book on psychodrama together…)
  • Kevin and Paul (and the other Breakthrough leader teams) never developed a conceptual map for their psychodrama method, so terms, research, and methods were never available to teach anyone else…and their highly intuitive, individual style, successful for them, often caused a disconnect with the “chorus” or the men not directly involved in their work, especially later in the day when everyone was exhausted
  • In fact, Kevin and Paul’s only expressed judgment was the team based psychodrama method Kurt and I were teaching was like a “clusterf..k”, a derogatory term used by VOH to slur MKP’s psychodrama facilitation method
  • As another illustration of my key role, I (no one else…they were all afraid of Kurt) received a lengthy complaint from a participant (I’m sure he was encouraged by another leader…this was one of the passive-aggressive strategies between leaders) accusing me of saying “there was only one way to do psychodrama” (Kurt and I stressed during our training that we needed to use common research based terms, and where none existed, create terms we could all understand and utilize during a psychodrama…the analogy was one had to learn to walk before running…become competent in a core method before becoming creative)
  • Obviously, the other leader who encouraged this person to file a complaint against me saw me as the primary architect of what was seen internally as a new training model which challenged the sacrosanct, but mistaken view the love between the two leaders (hearts connected) created a “magical” process healing men…threatening to reveal the wizards behind the curtain were only ordinary men with stereo-phonically amplified voices
  • In fact, the new training model Kurt and I developed resulted in the development of several new leaders who have successfully led Breakthrough weekends…kudos to them!
  • I had been asked by Kurt to help create an effective training and not to protect the fragile egos of other leaders
  • My prior teaching experience and team building knowledge allowed me to influence our process even during the training to help everyone be a part of the process, and thereby guarantee the end product was the result of the best of our collaborative efforts
  • An article I wrote on the “trust circle” and its application to psychodrama was published in an academic book on therapy techniques
  • I acknowledge VOH in my biographical description, but am NOT acknowledged by Victories for my contribution (and Kurt and other men)
  • Later in about 2008, I was selected to participate as a co-host for a radio-podcast and a father’s day television show in which I regularly acknowledged VOH

I believe it’s time VOH recognized my contributions as well. In addition to Kurt, there are other men, like Rick Simon, and others who were interested and invested in the development of this training and the men who participated and valued the contribution of  my knowledge, intelligence, teaching effectiveness and ability to “walk my talk.”

In fact, another clinician who staffed a Breakthrough weekend called me after his experience to tell me how complimentary the other staff were about me and my leadership skills. I could tell he was surprised by their admiration for me and I guess he thought I would be surprised too. I wasn’t, but was grateful he took the time to acknowledge me.

But getting back to psychodrama and the confidence and skills Kurt, the other guys and I demonstrated during the training, I am offering these extremely positive evaluations  as evidence of the exceptional work we all did on this training.

Although professionally trained and very highly regarded as a lawyer, Kurt  is a gifted and intuitive psychodrama facilitator. I’m sure he and I would agree we were an excellent team and could not have developed the psychodrama training alone.

In fact, David Kaar, an MKP leader in psychodrama should also receive credit, especially the concept of steps to the psychodrama process.

There are probably no completely original ideas and the scientific method is constructive as each idea builds into other more complex ideas.

Time for VOH to credit others for their legitimate contributions. I will stand in line with everyone else.

Here are the results of the evaluations:
June 20, 2005


Thank you for taking part in last weekend’s Basic Staff Training.  It was a deep and productive experience for all of us. In addition, it appears that it also achieved its objective: giving you an understanding of heartwork theory and technique that will make you a more valuable guide to the men who attend future Initial Weekends – one whose presence will amplify the weekend’s power to change lives.

At the end of Saturday’s session, we asked you to give us your evaluation of the training program, and we thought you would be interested in some of the results.

Ratings. In scoring the program on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), six of you gave it a 10, seven rated it a 9, and four gave scores of 8. The average was 9.12.

One-Word Descriptions. The words used were:
Met All Expectations

Comments. Here are some of the positive things you said about the program. We’ve included comments from all 17 evaluations.

“I liked the combination of explaining the process of heartwork and then doing it.”

“Small groups worked great.”

“Conversations at meals made me realize I could invite myself to participate in an initial weekend and that could be really good for both of us.”

“Demystifying heartwork was a special gift for me to receive.”

“I’m excited about bringing what I’ve learned back to my group.”

“Understanding more about the process is key to understanding more about myself and the other men going through the process.”

“I am amazed and filled with gratitude for the instant connection that this experience affords total strangers.”

“The process of demystifying heartwork and leadership will be the salvation of Victories. The idea of 18 men practicing the process is incredible.”

“Understanding how the process works is helpful, especially developing a common vocabulary.”

“I’d do this again in a minute.”

“Small group work was great.”

“VOTH is taking a wonderful new direction.”

“I went to my first staffing experience with no skills and an inadequate understanding of the heartwork process…. After this training, I feel that I really can bring something valuable – that I can help men open their hearts and, at the same time, open my own.”

“I was honored to be part of my brothers’ heartwork – it gave me great humility and opened up my heart.”

“It made me look at the word ‘service’ in a whole new way – in serving, one truly receives.”

“One giant step up the ladder.”

“I felt safe and nurtured.”

“This was a fantastic experience that perfectly addressed the process of heartwork. The ‘basic steps’ gave me a clear, easy-to-understand framework that allowed me to focus on the man and his work.”

“This was a confidence-building experience, as well as educational.”

“The program is energizing VOH as an organization.”

“It was great that it was overnight. It put us in the correct mindset to get into real work for a complete day.”

“Encouraging us to take on each role was a great experience.”

“I learned more about the process of self-discovery….”

“It was a good time to re-connect with my brothers and staff.”

“The theory explanations were extremely helpful to feeling more comfortable with facilitating heartwork myself.”

“I experienced a lot of safety.”

“I learned a lot about what makes heartwork effective. Learned the value of trusting the man’s inner wisdom and its ability to heal itself.”

Suggestions. Some of you gave recommendations for improving the Basic Staff Training program. They were:

“I felt there was a contradiction between the training goals & the heartwork – in other words, since some real great heartwork was going on, I deferred and was also led by the more experienced staff. Perhaps staff in the training for heartwork could step back a little to allow trainees to get the practice….”

“I would have liked more hands-on training with restraints for those doing anger pieces.”

“How about a book list.”

“Within time constraints it would have been nice to have spent some time teaching some of the support techniques – safe cradles, etc.”

“When presenting the heartwork process, it might be helpful to have a couple of men model it step by step – ‘Anatomy of Heartwork’.”

“…it was kind of hard or distracting to have 3 different groups do heartwork at the same time.”

“I would like more defined “dos” and “don’ts for most situations. I realize that all are different but need some defined basis to work from when facilitating.

Once again, thank for your contributions to this workshop. We look forward to your participation as weekend staff.

Bill Martin
Kurt Schultz

No responses yet

Nov 18 2008

Victories of the Heart: Bill Martin Resignation Letter 2008

(Note: I am re-publishing this letter after many years. I want to state the Victories organization has made positive strides in making changes I am critical of in this resignation letter. I’m keeping it active as my right to state my opinion and explain some of the causes for my decision to resign. I have a First Amendment right to write and speak freely in this country and I think studying history is an important way to not recreate past mistakes. (For me also, it’s a way to stand up and protect myself. I don’t like being afraid and asserting myself helps me feel safer in the world.) I write with some discernment about what to reveal and not reveal. I am cautious to not offend anyone for my stated opinions. I have no malicious intent to harm anyone, though I expect anyone from back then who reads this may feel upset. I often heard the concept of “everbody has their own truth” and not one truth rules over others. I never agreed with this notion. Anyone studying ethics and clinical practice understands there may be different views, but their are ethical standards to follow rigorously. So, if I have offended anyone with this writing or any writing, feel free to let me know or add  your own comments.
From 2008:
As I have been asked many questions about why I resigned my leadership role in the Victories of the Heart program, I am publishing my June 2008 resignation letter here for anyone interested.
I am writing to express my thanks to Kurt and the VOH board to allow me to share some parting ideas about the work that each of us believes is relevant and important for men, their families and their relationships.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Nov 05 2008


Filed under bad voicemails…


“…one more time. Sorry we have to converse this way, but so be it. I would be happy to have breakfast or lunch, whatever and some day talk in person. I’m certain I had a reaction to what you referred to as your low level anger and irritation and I’m not surprised how deep it goes. You know, you’ve done a lot of things over the years and let me tell you my first reaction is always love and care for you and concerned about how you are feeling about a lot of things. I think over the years, for many years, I have been very supportive of you, but sometimes I hear you talk and get concerned about where it comes from and sometimes I get a little bit hurt and angry because you’re chronically disappointed about one thing or another and I’ve listened to you for years, not about me only, but about your brother, the program and about people and I’ll be honest with you, as your friend and your colleague and you are always being critical of someone and I hear it a lot Bill and I really do for you because I listen very closely to what you say.


Bill, I don’t. I don’t feel any need to talk about what happened 10 years, 13 years ago, I don’t remember anyone slamming you (hahahaha), I’m sure it was the case, I have no doubt about that, but I think you are off base with several things, one of which is the kind of support I’ve given the program regarding groups and infrastructure. I think you’re way off base….


You’ve got your opinion and I’ve got mine, but I think anyone who knows me would disagree with you about my commitment to the small groups, ongoing groups and the infrastructure. Have I been involved as you have been in the groups? No, I’ve moved away from that so I could do other things, but it just feels like sometimes that you’re just not going to be happy with certain things, and if I’m one of them, I’m one of them.


And I would like you to look at the whole gestalt of our relationship and realize that I’ve done some very good things that I rarely hear about from you and whether I put your evaluation on the bottom, I don’t remember that, I really don’t, maybe I did, but you have a tendency to be critical of how tacky I was for doing that and to use words that are really very pinching…


So that’s where I am . If you want to discuss it, we’ll discuss it then. I want you to know I am sorry that you are chronically disappointed about me, or anything about the program, but you know, that’s just the way it is, and I always welcome your honesty, you know that…


I will always meet with you and welcome conversation because I have a lot of love for you and your family, I always have. It’s been a long time Bill, stay in good health.




“We usually don’t talk this much in a month as we have over the last 24 hours.


When I left the last message to you about aggravation and stuff, please understand that I have a lot of care for you as a person. You and I have had a very long, meaningful relationship and I just needed to share with you some of my concerns, so I hope that’s the way you heard it.


I also called at a time quite honestly, because I’ve thought a lot about it, now that I’m driving home after a man that I’ve worked with off and on for over 15 years, left a message that was difficult to hear, put a lot of work into this man, that he’s going to leave our work, but not in a way that is healthy. I think I was troubled by that, I really do.


In any case, you know this work that we do is very much in the heart and trenches, so if we need to discuss anything, let me know.


I don’t need to discuss it anymore, but if you want to fine. I just thank you for taking the time and effort, for (which) I have always very deeply appreciated.


So, with regards to the rest of your life, good luck with the soccer, you’ll let me know about the case and all of that.


We’ll be in touch Bill. Take good care, have a nice weekend.




“…got your call and email and of course, it’s very, very disturbing and painful that (ahh) my (ahh) referring to you as being chronically disappointed (ahh) would cause you to do this (my resigning).


You were the one who was angry at me initially and all the stuff about whether I’m in support of the program and you’re leaving because of something I must have said and I’m very disappointed and very, very upset (ahhh) mostly because of my care for you, our friendship and the work we’ve done (ahh).


You know, I’m willing to listen to that message again, but I remember I just responded with my own truth.


So, with that said, I am to have lunch with (Board member) and of course, this will be discussed and I am sorry with the action you have taken.


I appreciate that you talked (in my resignation email to leaders) about the dream and not what happened between you and I. I don’t know if you have done that with anyone. I have not.


And in terms of getting clear, of course, I want to get clear with you. I don’t feel the need to have it supervised or structured or facilitated. I’m surprised by that. I think you and I have every bit an ability to put out on the table whatever happened and feelings associated with it.


So, I mean, you know, do I want to sit with the council (ahhh) that doesn’t even feel good to me. It really doesn’t, but I will do what needs to be done, as I always try to do.


So, I hope you have a different dream tonite and this can be worked out. I’m making myself available to have a conversation about it and get clear with it. You can tell me what you feel and I can tell you what I feel because that’s the way these things get cleared.


You don’t have to take your mitt and go away (ahhh). I really don’t think you have to and even about your dream about grandiosity and shame (ahhh), if you think I shamed you, (hahahaha), it would be mutual. I can feel that way too, but I told you my truth. The best way to reach me over the weekend is….


I call upon us, you and I, to sit down, over dinner, take a walk, I don’t care, just you and I and I don’t need anybody else for an intervention either to be honest, I really don’t.


Sorry that this has happened, but it did (hahahaha). It happened for a reason, we always know that.


# 4


I’m staying late in the office, I just got your email so obviously one of the differences between us is I choose not to email everybody when we talk, you do, and I want to tell you how bill, with both of us in the wisdom years, our memories are not intact, you know, because I want you to know very clearly that when all this started, I talk to you, probably on Wednesday, yet it was a Wednesday, and I offered to come to your office on Friday, March 7 Saturday, March 8 or Sunday, March 9 and you came back to me and said very clearly and appreciated the sense of urgency.




I was willing to demonstrate because obviously in the recent voicemail. It suggested that you are important to me and I had to come back to you and tell you that the Friday, March 7, I would not be able to meet because I had a personal conflict and would not be able to meet that. ahhh yes I offered you the seventh, eighth and ninth, but I had to go to that personal conflict, but I did offer you Saturday, March 8 Sunday, March 9.




You told me maybe the 8th would work, but you have to work it out, so you know what! Stop it already, bill! Okay, I did immediately respond. It was after it that you couldn’t do it that weekend, but we couldn’t find a time that I couldn’t do it for three weeks or so ahhh I couldn’t do it for a variety of reasons.




So please, you know what! If you’re going to email some of your stuff, you know what, do it as accurate as possible, because it’s just not true.




I didn’t want you to wait 3 to 4 weeks. I wanted to originally meet immediately the next weekend. And if you’re going to be nasty like this, I’ll start telling you and other people that that was not accurate.




Okay, now I really do want to meet with you ahhh, which yes, I’ve already made very clear to you, but I don’t have any need, any need whatsoever(!) to replace any kind of other event or experiences with the victories board…




I just want to talk with you about the CD and our relationship, and in fact when I come to talk with you, I have no intention(!) of going into everything about victories of a heart…




It’s not my intention ahhh…  My intention is for you and I get clear with each other, clean with each other, accountable with each other and hopefully, hopefully, and I mean this sincerely, Bill, at the bottom of my heart resolved with this already!!!




The issues that you have ahhh with victories, well, you’ll do what you have to do with that, okay ha ha ha!!!




Now with that said, and that’s the truth, because I feel it… Here’s the deal, I’m not going into every event I have coming up, but suffice it to say I truthfully can meet with you next on a late afternoon on Friday, May 23, come to you, the first time I’m in town, bill, I come back on the 21st, on Saturday 24th, Sunday the 25th, got a wedding in Ohio in the next week.




I’ll come to see you on the morning of Friday, June 6, seven or eight. So those are the times, bill, we can of the 23rd, 24th 25th. Those are the dates that I can do it.




I’m sorry we have to wait ahhh, but don’t, ahhh don’t be too critical of that. Okay, because you’re the one who told me you couldn’t do certain times, and I’ll honor that.




So, the ball is back in your court. If you want to email me the time and email everyone else, go ahead, but I think at this point, you can just call me or email me and let me know.




And again, I’m willing to come to your office. So let me know the best time that we can meet.




The best to you, your wife and daughter.




# 5


Staying late at the office so after listening to those two messages which, in this case, I will keep, ahhh, after those messages, it’s apparent to me that my attempt to see you, to call  you at home last night to speak with you, you know, whatever I do. It’s never going to be good enough for you, ever! Ahhh,




So I’ve gotten to the point. Finally, when if I was wrong about Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9, my apologies, ahhh. I didn’t blame you for not being available, you make so much! of so little! with that, ahhh.




I’ve talked to nobody about it, about who is right and who is wrong, but you need to do this, so at this point, Bill ahhh, I offered six dates May 23 24th 25th of June 6 78, so you don’t want to meet with me!, Bill, you want to say I won’t meet with you!




So that’s what you have to do I accept that and I will hold to the fact that I offered those dates ahhh, , that I call you in good faith, in that you ahhh, you know, I’m on your list !! Ha ha okay ha ha Ha




Whether it be your brothers, or whoever I am on your list and you’re not going to take me off.




And I wish you well…this is my truth and you, ahhh, your truth is not the truth. Ha ha ha, okay, as my truth is not the truth ahhh. It’s both true and it’s also both false.


I’ve not heard  you, once in a long time, take ownership of what might not be false, ahhh, of what , might not be real and right in your place… and I’m wrong and that’s all you need to do is to make me wrong, so Bill, I’ve gotten as far as I can. I made the offer. I called home. I talked to (name) for a moment, ahhh,




I really wish you well and it makes me sad you’re going through a hard time and in my heart, and all I could talk about is I wanted to be somebody who ahhh, didn’t hurt you and wanted to support you and you’ve got it that I am the devil, and a lot of devils, and you are not going to change your mind. Because you’re tenacious, you know that, you’ve always been like that, it’s one of the things that I always liked you, but now I don’t like it! Okay, now I don’t like it, and I don’t want to play more.




So you can send me emails or you need to do.




You know, bill I will be very available if you ahhh reconsider and want to meet on one of those dates… we can meet in my office, or I will come to your office, but don’t keep calling or send me scathing emails!




I haven’t sent you many scathing emails, I haven’t even sent you a scathing voicemails, since the first one, which I will listen with you!




So that’s it. Okay. I don’t want to hear from you anymore about it and it will be what it will be and I sincerely, sincerely! wish you well and wish you no harm, as I do to all the Martins.



I highlighted the admission he sent me a “scathing” (his words) voicemail. It’s really the fist time he acknowledges I might find  voicemail #1 offensive. In voicemail #2 he tries to rationalize why he left the offensive voicemail by suggesting it was something I did.

I thought it would be resolved immediately with him apologizing. We were set to meet the very next weekend, but he cancelled, then began to play a cat and mouse game. It would have been so simple for him to just say, “I’m sorry. I lost my cool and shouldn’t have left that voicemail. I hope you will forgive me.” It would have been done. I knew him and understood he felt like he did a lot for other people, like me, and did not get enough credit. Whether that was objectively true, I knew it was the way he felt. He left me an offensive voicemail and should have simply apologized and we could have moved on.

Instead, he turns the tables, suggesting I also harmed him and we needed to meet to “get clean with each other…”, which he means he tells me how I offended him, I tell him how he offended me and we agree that we were both responsible. This was not accurate.

He never apologized, perhaps didn’t  believe he needed to, avoided meeting with me, and set an arbitrary requirement that we listen to the taped voicemails together.

Eventually, the Board told him to do mediation with me, which is what I wanted. He finally met with me once. I told him in advance not to apologize during the meeting as it had gone beyond the need for an apology.

We met, he was cordial and charming, as always. He actually asked if he apologized, would it make a difference. I told him no and asked him if he had some health problem or something else going on. He denied anything was wrong. I had made it clear in my communication with others about this I felt it necessary for him to engage in some type of evaluation/therapy. I was not the first person he had treated in this way. There was a pattern, and he had subverted the letter and spirit of the 2004 Strategic plan along with the other principal leaders. His ease in doing these things needed to be confronted. I have no doubt had there been some type of internal conflict resolution process within the organization and this conflict been handled professionally, a later personal tragedy might have been avoided.

He called me the next day and left a voicemail that he would never do mediation with me and followed it up with a letter from his attorney stating the same thing.




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