What happens after a traumatic event? Often it’s PTSD. – Pat Bondurant

PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder has been a large part of Pat Bondurant’s life and career. Join us on the Behavioral Corner as she tells us her story of overcoming PTSD and her work in helping others do the same.

Hi, and welcome. I’m Steve Martorano. And this is the Behavioral Corner, you’re invited to hang with us as we discuss the ways we live today, the choices we make, the things we do, and how they affect our health and well-being. So you’re on the Corner, the Behavioral Corner, please hang around a while

Steve Martorano

Hey, everybody, how are you? Welcome to the Behavioral Corner. I’m Steve Martorano, sort of the chief hanger out are here on the Corner. And we hope you’ll join us. What we do is we talk about what we talk about everything. This is a podcast about everything. Everything that informs changes affects our behavioral health. So that’s a very, very big topic. You know, where we are going to focus today on a specific malaise that affects our behavior health in a fundamental way. And that’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s more common than you probably imagine. It’s not just cops, and firemen, and ex-military, lots and lots of folks suffer from the results of trauma. We’re going to focus primarily on how women are dealing with this. And to that end, we welcome a guest to the Behavioral Corner. Pat Bondurant. Hi, Pat, how are you?

Pat Bondurant

I’m very good.

Steve Martorano

I’ve got to start with Pat’s story because it is something out of a James Bond movie. As a schoolgirl, Pat was an excellent athlete. And how can I say this without sounding sexist? Is also a beauty queen, which no doubt can kind of understand why. The beauty queen thing led to a career as a runway model. That naturally, led to working with NASA, where she worked on the design of the very first space shuttle. So it’s not such a long walk from that to an architectural career. The first building she helped work was the Tomahawk cruise missile facility. Where is that by the way?

Pat Bondurant

I was the lead designer. In Huntsville, Alabama,

Steve Martorano

Huntsville, Alabama. And there’s a whole lot more about her backstory. All fascinating. But it sort of leads to her — the guy who’s the love of her life, and the person she is most obviously involved with now — her husband, Bob Bondurant. And a moment about Bob, because I got to tell you, I mean, I knew a little bit about his background as a race driver, but I had no idea that this guy’s a legend. Bob Bondurant not only is a world champion driver himself, but he has taught other world-class drivers how to drive fast, and a whole bunch of Hollywood stars.

Pat Bondurant

Yep.

Steve Martorano

For over 50 years, Bob has been working — and now his wife as well — with the Bob Bondurant School of High-Performance Driving. I know we’re going to talk about post-traumatic stress. But I got to talk to you a little bit about that career path of yours. Did you have a plan there? Did you? Did you just catch things that he came along with?

Pat Bondurant

No plan. Born in the middle of five brothers, and they’ll teach you right up front: be tough, jump in the creek with the snakes, you’re not pretty, and keep up with us. That was my school of hard knocks growing up. And no, my plan was to go to fashion design school. I was doing regional Ford commercials. I was doing runway modeling for particularly for bridal gowns, which is a little tougher than the average runway. I thought that was my world. I was headed off to fashion design school and my dad says you have to get a real job. And I’m like, “Daddy, I do have a real job model.” And so lo and behold, I took drafting my senior year in high school so that I could be ahead of the curve going to fashion design school. And NASA there in Huntsville, that in my particular branch was that Teledyne Brown Engineering was hiring senior high school graduates who had taken drafting. And I’m like, “Oh, this will be a piece of cake.” And they would not let me go for about three years. They just kept giving me raises. There are two sides to that one. I am a tall, long-legged blue eyed blonde. So I’m sure that helped a little bit on getting hired. But my drafting skills were impeccable. And I was known for that. That was a result I got a lot of promotions and advances up higher and higher. And yeah, we got that first shuttle off the ground.

Steve Martorano

Well, that must have been really exciting. The shuttle was an exciting program. Then you use the addressing skills to a more immediate and that’s in architecture. Yeah. How did you meet Bob?

Pat Bondurant

I was auctioning off my Viper at a big car auction here in Scottsdale, Arizona. And having five brothers I went through a lot of race cars myself and he came up and he had already known that all of his life he was looking for his dream woman I had had enough disastrous marriages the last thing on this planet I wanted to look for was a husband. So at the beginning was tough on him because he wanted my number and I said, I don’t get my number out. Man, rest is history. It’s such a karmic love story, that I believe you’ll be seeing this in the movies not too far away. We have some pretty big cats wanting to hear the love story between Pat and Bob Bondurant.

Steve Martorano

But you know, it’s interesting because as I read your brief bio you sent me I said, you know, this is something you make up this kind of life and it really does have…

Pat Bondurant

Very colorful.

Steve Martorano

It has a lot of color in it. What are some of the Hollywood stars he’s taught to handle a car?

Pat Bondurant

Well, we just recently — for the movie, Ford vs. Ferrari — we trained Christian Bale: phenomenal guy off-screen and obviously on screen he’s you know, exceptional. You know, Bob just loves telling the stories about training, Tom Cruise, four Days of Thunder and Nicolas Cage for you know, anybody that was in a movie to race, they came to Bondurant. Bob trains all the NASCAR drivers. He picks the champions. And…

Steve Martorano

So if I get myself to — you’re in Scottsdale, you guys, right?

Pat Bondurant

Yes.

Steve Martorano

So if I get myself to Scottsdale one of these days now that everybody’s getting back on airplanes, can I rely upon you guys…

Pat Bondurant

Not yet. Not yet. We are looking for the home of our new track.

Steve Martorano

Okay.

Pat Bondurant

We’re in a place now where we sold the assets to the old track. So we don’t have that anymore. I will preface this by telling you that I do have a settlement agreement with some guys that did some pretty disturbing things to us in the business side of things. So we are looking for a new home, it looks like Europe is extremely interested in a Bondurant School, as well as right now negotiating with three different titans — all coming to the table, so we’re going to build a new track before I invite you out here to go through the Bondurant School.

Steve Martorano

I have no doubt that you guys will put all that together and if I can put it together myself I’ll be whipping around one of those tracks at 140 miles an hour. I’m looking forward to it. I had a big Steve McQueen — I still do have a big Steve McQueen thing because Steve could drive a car and was cool. And I was a big fan of a movie called Bobby Deerfield with Al Pacino. Anyway, let’s okay. So it’s very colorful. By the way, some of that I don’t know that you’re at liberty to talk about the specific details of the battle over the company. But there were traumas involved with that as well. Pat joins us because she has been very active in talking about and getting people to help with post-traumatic stress. She comes to us through friends of the Behavioral Corner and friends of our underwriters Retreat Behavioral Health. They are doing a month-long series of Facebook live streams. And they’re going around talking about post-traumatic stress. That’s the Birdwell Foundation. Our pal of Roger Marshall put us together. I know you’ve done some speaking for them, and some, some interviews on post-traumatic stress. That tells us what the nature of those was?

Pat Bondurant

Well, because June is the month of PTSD was happy to do a handful of podcasts. You know, I want to also preface this by saying I’ve been on the Childhelp Board for — state board — for eight years and they’re the largest and oldest advocacy center for use in neglect of children. But remember, children, grow up to be adults. So I’ve gained so much knowledge about post-traumatic stress to women, which I understand is today’s topic is you know, women and how we deal with trauma. So I have that background and then being with the PTSD Foundation, speaking confidentially to lots of female veterans who many, many, many ways too many are being raped in our military forces, which is disgusting, but they will come back and tell me “Well, I was molested by my dad or my brother or my uncle or my grandfather when I was a young girl.” And when that subject comes up to me, you know, I freeze, I go back to being that little girl and I have no power and here I am in army fatigue. So the story to me seems to always circle back on women’s trauma. It circles back to sexual and or emotional trauma. And that’s where our PTSD not being a veteran just being a woman. I, in my opinion, that’s the heart of it.

Steve Martorano

Yeah, too often we think of post-traumatic stress as being the province of first responders, police or male, active duty military, and we forget that women do all those things as well. And in addition to that specter of rape and that kind of abuse as well, all of which leads to trauma. Just in terms of definition so people understand. I’ve looked this up — I guess the clinical definition of post-traumatic stress is the effect of either witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. They used to call that for military people. battle fatigue.

Pat Bondurant

Yep. I was married to one of those guys and they go combat fatigue.

Steve Martorano

Yeah, combat fatigue. And that rocky — hat was a rocky road. You had a lot of trauma associated..

Pat Bondurant

He was a monster. He was an honest-to-god monster.

Steve Martorano

Yeah, yeah. It was recognized that he was suffering from this syndrome wasn’t it?

Pat Bondurant

Well, when I would take him into the emergency room because he had such anxiety attacks, they would just say, “Oh, did he go to Vietnam?” And I’d say, “Yeah.” And they go, “Oh, that’s combat fatigue. There’s nothing we can do about that.” So, occasionally, they would give him a shot of, I don’t know, some sort of tranquilizer and just knock him out of it. And that’s, you know, the flashbacks and all that stuff. But at the time, none of us knew what that was. We didn’t know how to take care of our husbands. We didn’t know, when we were being slammed across a room, eight months pregnant, kicked out of a truck, that it was bigger than him.

Steve Martorano

So they had little chance of helping his traumatic event. And, obviously no, helping you deal with it because his trauma was causing your trauma. How did you handle that?

Pat Bondurant

You know, I tried to be the dutiful faithful wife and put up with it, the bruises and, you know, gun to my head and emergency room, at least four times while I was pregnant, where he would punch me so hard, I would go into it literally into an emergency room situation. And at that time, I would tell the doctors, don’t let me go back out there, he’s going to kill me. And they would say, “Well, we’re not involved in family disputes. So you’ll figure that out on your own. When all your parents.” That was the advice you got from doctors back in the 70s and 80s.

Steve Martorano

As a mom, you mentioned your work with children. We know we want to concentrate on women, but this certainly is an aspect. Children are victims of trauma all the time. It doesn’t have to be physical trauma. It can be just psychic drama or listening to mom and dad flight for years. Seeing mom getting beat up is a traumatic event. That’s an additional burden on women with post-traumatic stress. dealing with the stress of their children

Pat Bondurant

Well with their own children is one thing because I had a son from this marriage. And he was so severely abused as a boy child by the father on weekend visits that he grew up. And I’ll never forget the psychiatry is telling me at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, and he said, “Pat, your little boy is either going to commit suicide by the time he’s 18 or he’s gonna marry a woman who’s just like his father.” And he married that woman. And she’s been a nemesis of this family. And it’s been unfortunate.

Steve Martorano

So let me ask you personally, and the women, you know, and I’ve come in contact with them helped with post-traumatic stress. Could you change as a person because of this trauma and post-traumatic stress? What do you see as typical personality changes in women?

Pat Bondurant

Personally experience, I was one of a large family, mom and dad didn’t fight. They didn’t drink they got us to church every Sunday. You know, happy family. There were five boys and four girls. Two sisters did not escape the horror. None of us knew what was happening. The oldest sister was crawling out her bedroom window at 11 years old, meeting up with a 21-year-old navy guy. So she got pregnant had a baby at 12. And the other situation in our family was the other sister, younger sister than me. One of the brothers molested her she said from the time she had memories of three until she was about 10 — under our noses, the sweet family environment never dreamed this was happening. Because the terrorism behind if you tell I’ll kill you, if I, you know, the all the threats. So it was pretty embarrassing for our family to have to suffer through that but none of us knew any of this till we were adults that any of this had happened or going on. So the sister who survived the pregnancy at 12 and the embarrassment and humiliation of having to give up the baby. She turned to the Bible. And she is as solid as a rock because of her devotion to being able to understand. I’ve got to walk this path. Don’t go back down that path meeting up with boys. The second sister was molested by our brother, which is not fun to talk about, but she’s an alcoholic. She started behaving at 13, like being wild, skipping school, being defiant, being angry, you know, just defying authority. Those two examples of one chose their faith, and the second one chose the bottle.

Steve Martorano

I mean that’s…they’re pretty, they’re pretty devastating stories.

Pat Bondurant

Those stories are light compared to the stories that we hear at Childhelp.

Steve Martorano

You’re hearing stories like that and worse all the time, aren’t you?

Pat Bondurant

We have a situation in this country where our men don’t seem to be able to control their sexual urges. And so a Childhelp five children die every day, every single day of every single month of every single year at the hands of their abuser. That’s not acceptable. But it’s happening every single day. Most of the abuses that are happening are infants to three-year-olds. You know why? They have no voice, and they have no choice. So these men and boys and uncles and grandpas and boyfriends — the mother’s boyfriends are, well, I had one message to say to a mother out there: Do not leave your daughter alone with anybody. if you’re going to have a baby, you be dedicated to staying home with her until she’s five, even if that means you had to bring babies into your house, or other mothers so that you don’t expose your daughter to any male. So in my opinion, I’m not bashing man, I have five brothers, I’ve been married, I adore my husband. But there is a certain circle of our culture that is allowing it, not stopping it, and not putting a lot of effort with the exception of Childhelp, being able to get it into the schools on this is not acceptable for you to do this. So we got to start at the beginning.

Steve Martorano

Our guest is Pat Bondurant. We’re talking about post-traumatic stress disorder. The month is dedicated to taking a look at the disorder, which is as you can tell, well, horror and not going away anytime soon. Pat, in another area of potential trauma. women, as I said at the beginning, are doing all the things men have traditionally been doing by themselves. They’re in law enforcement. They’re first responders. They’re certainly in the military. Do you hear from women in those professions, you know, who has different sort of traumas associated with their jobs?

Pat Bondurant

Yep, of course, I do. Being with, you know, the PTSD Foundation and working closely with Roger Marshall Jr, who is a phenomenon all to himself. What he has done for the face of PTSD. But as a result of that, I’ve met a lot of first responders and I asked them, “How come more men commit suicide than women who do the same job?” And I’ll tell you, it’s because we women have this sense of, I’m maternal, I’ve got to take care of, everybody comes first and before me, and instead of me. Women are complicated beings. I mean, we are. Men are a little simpler, and a lot of ways. But you know, we’re dealing with hormones and all of this stuff. And a lot of our confidence comes from our relationships with our fathers. Man, I had the most phenomenal relationship with my father and so, therefore, you know, I thought I was going to be the healthiest person there was in relationships. And I found every guy that you can imagine that was abusive, and just betrayed my left and right until I met Bob.

Steve Martorano

I don’t know whether you’ve had actual clinical treatment for any of the trauma that you have endured. But I’m sure you know about treatment options that are available for people. What sort of things do you find helpful?

Pat Bondurant

I will tell you the most successful treatment hands down, I’m not promoting anything — but it seems to us that the veterans and the first responders have the most incredible recovery from going from a gun in their mouth to being a counselor for the PTSD foundation are the ones who turn back to their faith. That is the answer, whether you like it or not. And that is what honest to God that gave me the grace to be able to tolerate and put up with the stuff. I mean, my own son took down me and Bob at the school attempting a hostile takeover. He failed at it, but he did drop us to one knee. So we had to sell the assets. My son, my kid, did that. And it was bad. It was horrible to have to go through that. And of course, Bob was thinking this is my adopted son. You know, he’s not going to do this to me. So as a result of you asking how do people handle trauma, my own world champion 10-time Hall of Fame husband, his reaction to the stress of the son, he adopted taking away his school, he would blackout. We would be walking across the parking lot. And bam, down, he would go. And of course, his head would hit the ground like watermelon. And I’m in the back of an ambulance with him or finding him on the bathroom floor. And he’ll tell you every time, “I started thinking about what those horrible lawyers did to us, and how they help Jason do this to me.” And that was how he handled trauma. So he is a very faith-based man, a lot of people don’t know that about him as a driver, because he did have a reputation of being an international playboy.

Steve Martorano

Fast cars and fast women.

Pat Bondurant

I mean, yeah, I can’t blame myself for that. But my goal in my life, honestly, is to make it into the book of life. And if I do enough good deeds, and I’ve handled my betrayals, with grace, then I think at the end of the day, God has the last word and so be it. I just love for people to understand the power of what the Bible does for your soul, your mind your spirit, it brings you back to the center.

Steve Martorano

Well, I remember from the little bit I do remember of my college psychology course, that I think it was Carl Jung, who’s famous for having told one of his patients, after years of psychoanalysis, You need to see a priest, an I’ve taken as far as I can, you need to see a priest.” So that’s not surprising to me at all. Finally, Pat, as you do your work, you find that it’s helpful for women to come together in groups and talk about post-traumatic stress.

Pat Bondurant

You know, we’ve taken the lid off the secrets. And I hope that women are more aware of protecting their daughters with their life. I want women to be warriors in protecting their children. I’m not excluding boys, but particularly your daughter.

Steve Martorano

Alright, so Pat, thanks so much for your time and for being so candid with your stories. Everybody should appreciate the work you’re doing. I just want to impress upon people again, that the Birdwell Foundation, which Pat has done a lot of work within that they are really helpful to us and our partners at Retreat Behavioral Health. If you want more information about treating post-traumatic stress, the Birdwell Foundation website is where to go. And a reminder that they’re partnering up with Retreat on some Facebook live streams that will begin as called Faces of PTSD. That series begins on June 9. Check Facebook, they’ll tell you more about that. Pat, continued success in spite of some tough stories.

Pat Bondurant

Oh, I’m a survivor.

Steve Martorano

I’m sure– I’m sure you’re going to try to get…

Pat Bondurant

I dare somebody to try to knock me down and they can’t tell me to go to hell, because I’ve already been there!

Steve Martorano

And I look forward to you guys putting the track back together because I want to go around here real fast.

Pat Bondurant

You’ll get the first invitation.

Steve Martorano

Thank you so much.

Pat Bondurant

You’re welcome.

Steve Martorano

Talk to you again soon.

Pat Bondurant

Thanks, Steve.

*Posted with Author Approval*

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