Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Danger Remains (Chapter 4, The Concluding Chapter)

The following is a true-life account.  The names of the people mentioned have been changed, as has the name of the educational institution involved.  My real name is not Trevor Lenox.

Trigger Warning:  The contents of the piece, as a whole, make references to self-harm (cutting), rape, incest, and molestation. Reader discretion is advised.

Also please be aware that not all cases of untreated Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are like this; there is variation in cases.  Some cases are more severe than others.  If you experience any of the symptoms described herein and are disturbed by them, please seek out or return to regular mental health treatment; your well-being is paramount and you deserve to be happy and well.

The following has previously been read aloud by the YouTuber Be.Busta.  The following written work has been revised slightly from the version that he read; some of the words have been changed.  The posting of this blog was conducted by the original author who submitted the story to Be.Busta.

This is the concluding chapter.

In case you missed the previous chapters, they are:

Chapter 1:  Innocent Beginnings.

Chapter 2:  The Unease.

Chapter 3: Her Murder Threat for Her Mother, Still on the Web As This Is Posted.

To skip to the start of Chapter 4 on the video, go here.

Chapter 4: The Danger Remains (Concluding Chapter)

I asked our mutual friends, most of them from Private Hawaiian College, including members of its SIFE team under Inger Johansen’s leadership, if they thought there was anything suspicious with respect to Inger’s public behavior. They admitted they could not miss the morbid gestures and were disturbed by them, but then they added quickly that they would never, ever, ever confront Inger about any of it. They were too intimidated. Inger was thin but she also towered over them and they did not dare to incur the wrath of someone who uploaded photoshops as ghoulish as Inger’s. Besides, she occupied a supervisory role over some of them. These schoolmates maintained it would be rude and bossy to tell Inger not to perform these morbid gestures. I replied:

It doesn’t have to be. When Inger kept making the self-administered wrist wounds more obvious years ago, she was playing a game of "chicken." The idea was that if no one called her on it, she could tell herself that what she was doing was perfectly normalized and therefore safe and acceptable. It’s important not to play along; that tacitly reinforces these tendencies. I propose telling her something like this: "It’s cool knowing you, and you bring value into my life. When I see the dark imagery—when I see the Fourth Reich video—I cannot help but think that you have a lot going on in your life. If you don’t want to talk about it, you don't have to. But I want you to know that if you ever do want to talk about it, I am here for you." If you put it as that, it’s not being bossy or demanding that she change. It's being caring. At the same time, it lets her know that of course you notice the morbid gestures and that it is concerning. You are letting her know that she isn’t fooling anyone and that you aren’t rejecting her, as a whole, as a person.

The so-called friends scoffed at my recommendation, proclaiming it would be too much trouble and that I’m a self-righteous jerk.

I decided to make one more appeal to Professor Rothbard on the matter. Bringing up her shouting “I like [Sao]” elicited a disappointing response from him months prior, but Professor Rothbard seemed too distracted that afternoon. Perhaps if I won his undivided attention, he would realize the gravity of the situation. I also mentioned to him that throughout May, she started switching back and forth on that on a nearly daily basis.

Upon my having gone over these developments, Professor Rothbard sighed and lectured to me in a resigned, paternal tone: “[Trevor], any girl her age would do that. All women are prone to scream false accusations of rape.” Then he started telling me horror stories about his ex-wives.

The extent of his misogyny stunned me. Something in the man’s psychology draws him to damaged women and he assumes all females are like that. I thought, “Is he including his own daughter—his real daughter, the ‘first daughter’—in that category?”

I tried to talk to him about a compassionate intervention and I told him why playing along—acting as if the morbid gestures are safe—reinforces the pathology. He got defensive and said that by always acting as if everything Inger did was safe, he was the one who was being supportive.

I had known that professor since 1997. My opinion of him has never recovered after this conversation.

I resolved that there might be another route. On Twitter, I noticed Matt Pennington following a rather strange woman in Minnesota, Judie, who was apparently in her fifties. When I got a gander at this Judie woman’s Angelfire website, it said she ran a nonprofit for at-risk youths who suffer from suicidal depression, nurse body-image issues and gender-identity issues, and cut themselves. I thought, “These are Inger’s symptoms! Who is this Minnesotan woman—perhaps a psychologist from whom Mr. Pennington sought advice about Inger some years ago?”

I reached out to this woman and confessed to her that I was worried for a friend. I also inquired if this Minnesotan woman was a psychologist; I mentioned that I feared that maybe she knew my friend and therefore she might evaluate it as a professional conflict of interest if I approached her about someone she knew. The Minnesotan replied that she is not a psychologist and she wanted to know what bothered me. I disclosed it to her; I didn’t provide Inger’s name, but I did state that my then-unnamed friend’s father was originally from Minnesota and that my friend was born and raised in northern Europe. I didn’t specify the exact country.

I also went over the suicidal ideation and the corpse pictures, but I didn’t bring up the obsession with child molesters, the dynamic with the boy at age thirteen, or the frequently reasserted belief that American men are just itching to rape her.

Minnesotan Judie replied, “I figured out you’re talking about my niece [Inger].” Judie remarked that this was quite strange, because what I had revealed was both familiar and unfamiliar. It was unfamiliar because Judie was not aware that her niece, who dwelt an ocean’s distance from her, carried this burden. Yet, Aunt Judie said, this was familiar in one respect: Judie assembled that website and founded that nonprofit organization because the symptoms she described were her own. Aunt Judie went on that she herself had attempted suicide in three separate instances; this disclosure is even on her Angelfire website, though I hadn’t read that paragraph prior to contacting her. Judie said that when I described Inger’s issues, it was as if I were reciting Judie’s own life story.

Before I could raise any topic pertaining to the child-molester obsession or the phobia of men, Aunt Judie inquired if Inger was bedeviled by any extreme hang-ups concerning sex. This startled me. I wanted to know why that was one of the first questions Judie advanced to me.

Aunt Judie stated, “Sexual abuse is common in my family.” Both an uncle and cousin of hers killed themselves, and the other relatives long suspected the uncle and cousin were child molesters.

In the beginning, Aunt Judie told me she planned on talking with Matt Pennington, her half-brother, about this. But then she quickly changed her mind, imparting that although she grew up with Matt Pennington, he remained a stranger to her; he is terribly secretive and doesn’t show emotion. His face is usually blank. Judie said this was not a moral condemnation but she doesn’t respect his judgment. Therefore, she concluded, she planned on having a heart-to-heart directly with Inger.

Aunt Judie went through the following cycle. About every three weeks or so, she told me she would finally have the talk with Inger. Then she would say something else came up and defer this plan. She didn’t go through with it. Then, unsolicited, Judie started emailing about something else: first she wrote about Matt Pennington—then Matt Hokkanen—learning the truth about the circumstances under which he was born, him being the result of their mother’s extramarital affair. As you can imagine, Matt took this much harder than Inger let on to Professor Rothbard and me. Through his own sleuthing, Matt tracked down his biological father and met him, but the man wanted nothing to do with him. Crushed, Matt thereafter departed for Tromsø, which he had made his new home. Judie was unclear on the precise reason why Matt changed his name to Pennington, other than that it must have been, at least in part, due to his feeling forsaken by the man who raised him.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Aunt Judie emailed me that she herself was sexually abused as a child by Walt Hokkanen—Walt being her biological father and Matt's secretly adoptive father. In Judie’s estimate, Matt must have been aware of the sexual abuse the entire time. But when she tried to talk with Matt about it, he replied, unconvincingly, that he could not recall anything of that nature. Shaken by the news, I asked Judie if Inger had ever been left alone with Walt. Judie replied yes, during Matt’s return visits to the United States, Walt had babysat Inger alone on a number of days.

I do not doubt Inger’s story about her friend forcing himself on her when both he and she were thirteen years old. But that does not account for the enduring focus on child molesters specifically. I began to wonder if maybe, when Inger ascribed her fears about men and sex to the incidents from when she was thirteen, she still omitted another likely cause, something that happened to her years earlier.

Then, over the next few weeks, Aunt Judie went through a new phase. She told me that she would initiate that caring talk with Inger . . . after she took care of her own business with her own father. Judie wrote out a draft of a snail-mail letter she planned on sending to her parents. She emailed the draft to me and I retain possession of it. The letter is to confront both parents with a description of the sexual abuse in graphic detail. While most of the grievances are directed toward Walt Hokkanen, the letter also reproaches Dorothy Pennington Hokkanen for looking the other way, being an enabler to Walt.

Yet, at the last minute, Aunt Judie decided against sending the note. She rationalized that Dorothy is too old and therefore such a distressing topic would harm her health physically. At that point, Aunt Judie became somewhat uncommunicative and rude toward me. I suspect it finally occurred to Judie that if she looked further into the matter with her niece, she might uncover something incriminating about Matt Pennington and then there would be no plausible deniability.

I was alone when I tried to engage in that compassionate talk with Inger. She had previously told me of the times her ex-boyfriends pegged her as a "lying, cheating whore," and she just laughed. I did not express moral disapproval; I informed her that I was concerned her symptoms had taken over and that this was unsafe. She reacted as if my confronting her was the most evil, hateful atrocity perpetrated, and my speaking with her on this aroused more anxiety from her than did her once believing that Sao intended to assault her.

Then, suddenly in the conversation, she feigned memory loss—she pretended there was no retention of her having told me anything of her past, and she wanted me to act as if there could not possibly be any connection between her corpse pictures and what she said previously of wanting, since childhood, to be dead.

For my own safety, I had to sever contact from Inger. But I never stopped caring. And on into 2012, she kept insinuating herself into my social sphere—people who I thought were my friends but behaved as Inger’s sycophants when she was around, and tacitly treating the public morbid gestures they witnessed as if they were safe. Prominent business executives and prominent elected officials indulged in that. It was noxious. To avoid any run-ins with Inger, I had to be a complete recluse.

In the summer of 2012, Inger returned to Tromsø to keep near her mother.

Entertaining the prospect that maybe the passage of time might have offered new insights, I decided, in July of 2015, to think over these events once again. At that point, I noticed Inger posting as PRO user on the BiggerPockets real-estate networking forum. She finally stopped using the photoshopped corpse pictures; she looks alive and is beautiful again, except that her grin looks more maniacal in her new photo than it looked anytime I saw her up close; the smile seems phony and reminded me of the Joker’s from Batman.

I wanted to believe that Inger ditching the corpse photos signified recovery on her part, but she unmistakably underwent another conspicuous change: she is going by the names “[Inger Johansen Pennington]” and “[Inger J. Pennington].”  People might consider that a touching tribute on Inger’s part to someone important to her. But given Inger’s obsession with child molestation and, in consideration of what Aunt Judie revealed about the patriarchs of the family, I think the name change is not a good omen. It seems to me to be yet another morbid gesture, albeit one less obvious than those previously exhibited.

As a PRO on the BiggerPockets forum, while being an assisterende butikkleder (assistant store manager at an Ikea Service-and-Pick-Up Point), Inger happily proclaims herself an ambitious real estate investor who owns a parking garage and, bizarrely, putting up images of New York City architecture. I remembered what she had told me earlier—that she tries to come across as having lots of authority and responsibility, overselling it exactly because if everyone projects that image of her, no one will question her. She is trying to network with people near her. If those people become very close, they are in danger that Inger may repeat the Sao incident with them.

I noticed Inger’s mother, Lilith Johansen, on Facebook. As I think Inger already mentioned me to her, I sent Lilith a private message re-introducing myself. As gingerly as I could, I told her of the morbid gestures Inger had displayed during her stay in Honolulu, and I gave the URL to the murder threat Inger wrote for her. Hours later, Lilith Facebook-blocked me. It felt tempting at that juncture to say, “If Mrs. Johansen is going to be like that, then I guess she doesn’t deserve a heads-up about the hazards that await.” But the truth is that Inger’s mother is not the only one at risk. Inger could falsely accuse someone in Tromsø of sexual harassment or violence toward her, ruining that person’s life.If you work at a particular IKEA Service-and-Pick-Up Point, you should be very concerned.

I wrote to the Tromsø police about the still-online homicide threat. These police were not especially responsive. I additionally wrote to police in Minnesota on this matter. First I mentioned Aunt Judie informing me of her having been sexually abused by Walt Hokkanen, and of my storage of the emails that describe this in detail. I then explained that Judie’s niece, Inger in Tromsø, still has online her murder threat against her mother. I went over Inger’s fixation on child molesters and how, subsequent to learning new details from Aunt Judie, I am concerned that Inger’s morbid gestures might be connected to what Walt Hokkanen allegedly did to Aunt Judie. Finally, I explicated my concern over the remaining perils of Inger’s condition going untreated. The Minnesotan police told me that they cannot take action here unless Aunt Judie approaches them herself. Sadly, it’s unlikely she will come forward.

I fear Inger very much, but that does not diminish my wish for her well-being.  I am afraid . . . both for her and of her.  Absent of an intervention, it is likely that she will one day do something extremely dangerous, possibly acting on her threat against her mother, or falsely accusing someone else— possibly an IKEA co-worker—of a crime. And the target of any violence on her part could still be someone other than her mum—it could be anyone to whom she feels emotionally attached. Inger might take this dangerous action tomorrow or she might do it fifteen years from the date on which you read this. But, if there is no compassionate intervention, it will happen.

End of this account, though not the end of the danger, as of this posting.

If you have missed the previous chapters, go to:

Chapter 1:  Innocent Beginnings.

Chapter 2:  The Unease.

Chapter 3:  Her Murder Threat for Her Mother, Still on the Web As This Is Posted.