Safety on the Inside

Here is a page with literally hundreds of articles on safety in all sort of places and situations. Well worth reading!

I’ve saved the most important part of keeping yourself safe for last. Why? It’s the hardest to write! And perhaps it will linger in your mind, which has been prepared by all sorts of practical advice in dealing with the outside world.

Your internal safety and internal communication are crucial to creating external safety. All the precautions in the world won’t help if part of you refuses to take them and sabotages every effort of yours to put them in place. The image that comes to my mind is having a pretty carriage, attaching six horses to differ parts of it, and then telling the horses to pull as hard as they can indifferent directions. Even if one horse is stronger than the others, it won’t go smoothly on one direction. Chances are it will quickly break into a million pieces.

Internal communication, therefore, is the key to successfully keeping yourself safe. Everybody has to be on the same page, or at least watching when the others agree on a plan and put it into action. You might try appealing to alters’ curiosity. “We did it the old way last time. Let’s try a new way as an experiment and see what happens.” Or you might try reassuring your insiders that you are older and stronger and wiser and you have found all these nifty new safety devices and therefore you can keep the whole system safe.

It’s the sad truth that it takes a long time and a lot of hard work to establish internal communication and cooperation. I’ve heard of some people who left the cult all at once and never looked back. Like they snapped their fingers or threw a light switch and immediately saw everything differently. But all the people I know (myself included) had a dimmer switch to work with. They left slowly, left and came back, left and came back, over and over. Many have made it all the way into freedom, others are still struggling and experimenting.

It’s not how long it takes, it’s how persistent you are and how strongly you persevere. You take small steps forward, rest, assess how it went, and plan your next small step. You stay curious and willing to experiment with new approaches. You stay determined. And then one day there is a break through.

I met a woman who was beaten up in her apartment on a regular basis. She tried different ways of keeping her assailants out, but none worked. Or they seemed to work for a few weeks, and then her apartment was broken into again, just as she started to relax a little. She was hurt, puzzled, frightened, and discouraged to the point of giving up. She was convinced that they  knew how to bypass each way she tried of securing the windows and doors.

She had also been talking to her insiders and thought they all agreed on the efforts to keep intruders out.  She kept talking to them even in the face of failure. One day a little stepped up and said that if she opened the door, they did get hurt, but that the men had promised that if they could come and hit her a little they would not kill her sister. The little was full of love and more than willing to get hurt to save her sister’s life.

Suddenly it all made sense. Her perpetrators had no high tech or magic way of bypassing the alarms, they just knew how to bully a child. What worked was helping the newly discovered alter to grieve, thanking her for her loving heart, explaining how the adults tried to control children by making threats, and finally explaining that they would not kill her sister because they wanted her alive.

There were no more “break ins.” But there were, of course, other challenges to be met with a whole new bunch of baby steps.

This short entry only skims the surface of things that you can do internally. You can find an article by Arauna Morgan, “Seeing and Breaking the Chains: Steps for Recognizing On-Going Abuse and How to Break FREE,”  at If you get overwhelmed reading it, remember that you don’t have to do everything at once. Pick what speaks to your condition and start with that.

Try and remember that every small step is an achievement: reading part of the article, talking to your insiders, speaking to them with love and respect, pondering what else you can do to protect yourselves. Most of all, cherishing your hope and determination.


I hope you all get through the holidays okay. May you stay safe, inside and out, may you cry if you need to, may you be calmly alone or with people you trust and care about. For those of you that have a faith that celebrates these days, may your soul be filled. For those of you that don’t, may you think of things you can be grateful for and feel happy about them, even for a moment.

Safety Issues: Documentation

I’m going to circle back and talk more about increasing your own personal safety. I know this isn’t fun to read about. I know some of you will think, “I don’t need to read this – I’m safe where I am. Nothing she will write will apply to me.” I truly hope you are safe now. But it can’t hurt to read it, right? And you may meet somebody who really needs to know all this.

Okay, on to the tough stuff.

First of all, you need to keep good records about any kind of harassment. Good documentation will make it somewhat more likely that the authorities will take you seriously and may help you spot a pattern to the harassment. It can also be used to frighten your abusers – I’ll get on to that later.

You can get a separate notebook to record incidents and keep it with you. Each time something suspicious happens, note the date, time, place, who was present, what happened, what action you took. List, by name, anybody involved that you know. If you don’t recognize anybody, you can add a guess as to who might be responsible. Make sure you separate the facts from conjectures. You can also add how it affected you – whether you had panic attacks or nightmares afterwards, etc.

I’ve found a lot of people are reluctant to do this. “It’s too much work, there’s no need to write it down because I am sure I will remember, it’s embarrassing to stop what I am doing and write stuff down;” all sorts of good reasons not to start this project. Chances are there are parts inside who are frightened and need reassurance. Ask inside what is scary about writing down upsetting things. If you get an answer, take it seriously, and try and get a little more information before you jump in with reassurance. You may not get the most important fear first.

Actually, this  response is normal. People who are trying to lose weight are often told to keep a food dairy. They find it’s really hard to make themselves do it. I think that’s because part of them knows they eat a lot more than they admit to themselves. If they do write it all down, they are shocked to find out the truth.

In the same way, keeping records will serve as a reality check and, if you are being harassed, help break through any denial you may have. It will draw your attention to the environment and may help you become more alert. It may also frighten you deeply if the harassment is severe. You can’t forget the incidents as soon as they happen because they are down in black and white.

After a while you may find a pattern. This is an invitation to change your routine; go places at a different time, take a different route, go with a friend. They aren’t omniscient, and unless you tell them, they won’t know where to find you. They are just human beings, like you and me, and can’t read minds or predict the future. For example, if you go to the supermarket every Friday at 6 PM, go before work or school. They will still be asleep or having their morning coffee.

These records can be used to tell your abusers, “back off.”  Basically, you take advantage of their fears and use the records to threaten them.

It’s a good idea to make several copies of your documentation.  Attach a statement that you are not suicidal and that if you die in an accident it should be investigated thoroughly. Copies should be kept in different places: your therapist’s files, an attorney’s office, or a safe deposit box are all good choices. If you have good friends, they can be given a copy, too. If you have chosen to go to the police, they should get a copy of each incident.

The reasoning behind this is that your abusers do not want to get caught. Even if they are questioned and then let go, it really upsets them. And they will get in big trouble with other members of the cult.

Don’t spend any energy trying to keep this project secret! If word gets back, it may well make them stop harassing you. So once you have a record of several incidents, you may get up the courage to find a way to let them know what you are doing. That might be giving a copy to a friend you aren’t sure is safe, talking about it over the phone if you think your phone might be tapped, writing about it on your blog, or even broadcasting it on Facebook or Twitter. That will stop them from seeing you as a helpless victim; you obviously are somebody who can think, reason, and take effective action!

And perhaps you won’t find anything at all suspicious to record. Wouldn’t that be absolutely wonderful!

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing about other practical things you can do to help protect yourself, most probably with breaks for other topics.

If anybody has tried this, write us a comment – we would love to hear what happened.

If the Abuse is Ongoing

There is a blog entry on Labor Day at

I haven’t ever blogged about this, at least that I can remember. The closest I have come is writing about how to handle harassing phone calls, which, after all, are cues to show up for more abuse.

I wonder why. I think it is because it breaks my heart that some of us think we have escaped, but haven’t. When a friend has unexplained bruises or little burns in strange places, I get really upset. Or when they start remembering recent abuse, perhaps after a long stretch of safety.

I’d like to believe that each and every one of us has broken with our perpetrators, worked through all the cues and programming, and disarmed all the triggers once and for all. That would mean we never could be hurt in this way again, we never could be abducted and reprogrammed. Unfortunately, this is only a lovely daydream.

If you think about studies on domestic violence, you will recall that the abused person often returns to the abuser, perhaps because they are too afraid not to, perhaps because they hope against hope that this time it will be different. The abuser may turn regretful and apologetic and things may be better for a short period of time. But the abuse inevitably returns, and often is more violent. The sweet talk is the carrot, the stick is the threat of dire consequences for disobedience. It’s the same with cults. Empty promises of power and status, more abuse.

There is another dynamic going on with cults. The parts who have been tortured into staying with the perpetrators are young and easily bullied. They also long for connection at any cost, believing that being hurt is the only way to stay attached to somebody, believing that is all they are good for. It is really hard to convince them that they deserve better and that they can live in freedom and safety. Unless they are 1000% convinced, that little kernel of doubt can be used as the entry point for bringing them back to be used and abused as before. (It’s these young parts who believe they must  report to their abusers and tell where they are, whether they moved, what they say in therapy or to their friends.)

Another problem is the existence, in some people, of more than one group or layer of alters. They may be identical to the presenting group, created as a back-up, or they may be organized in a very different manner. The presenting group usually is unaware of the other group(s). And so it is possible, even if all the parts in the presenting group have worked through all their programming and triggers, for there to be other parts who are still susceptible. Extremely discouraging!

Sometimes moving ends the abuse and harassment, sometimes it doesn’t. Many cults network with cults in other locations. In this way, if they want to harass a survivor, they don’t have to pick up and go to the place the person has moved to. They can call and ask for a favor or pay for the local cult to do the harassing. As long as there are active reporting alters, safety is an illusion.

On the other hand, they might leave the survivor alone for a period of time, counting on being able to call them back when they are needed. That period can be positively used to work with the reporting alters and to dismantle call-back triggers.

Please don’t take what I have written to mean that the situation is hopeless. It isn’t. Leaving a cult is very difficult, but it has been done by thousands and thousands of people, and you can do it, too. You have to be brave and face what is preventing you from escaping and you have to figure out what to do about it. And you have to remember that life outside the cult is infinitely better than what you have known. The world is wider than what you were taught, and it contains things you have never experienced,or only experienced for a short while. Things like love, compassion, respect for yourself and others, freedom from terror, beauty, – you an add your own dreams to this list.

Giving you a place to start this leg of the journey, here are two excellent articles on

“Seeing and Breaking the Chains: Steps for Recognizing On-Going Abuse and How to Break FREE” by Arauna Morgan at

“Ritual Abuse and Torture-based Mind Control: Reducing and Preventing Re-contact with Abusers” by Ellen Lacter

Go for it!