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!  http://www.minneapolismn.gov/police/crimeprevention/

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 http://endritualabuse.org/healing/breaking-the-chains/. 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: Email

Here is a page with literally hundreds of articles on safety in all sort of places and situations. Well worth reading!  http://www.minneapolismn.gov/police/crimeprevention/

Email dangers fall into two categories: 1. Messages that try to trick you into clicking something, and 2. Messages that contain programming or threats.

There is a lot of information on the Internet on how to deal with spam that may be dangerous. I’ll try and summarize the main points. But I want stress that this kind of email has nothing to do with whether you are a survivor or not – everybody gets it.

Basically, somebody has gotten your address from somewhere and is sending you messages hoping you will think they are illegitimate. They may want you to read ads or they may want to get into your computer and use it for their own purposes. They might want to copy all the addresses in your email address book and send out spam with your name as the return address. Worse yet, they may put a little program on your computer that records every key stroke. That way they can collect passwords for bank accounts, charge card numbers, etc.

Be very careful before opening an attachment in an email or clicking on a url. If you have a feeling that there is something “off” about a particular message, trust your instincts and be cautious. It is far more important to protect yourself than it is to be polite and answer every e-letter.

Here are some examples of things that made me suspicious.
1. Weird senders: potent @comfortlife.eu
cartesian @impiantidepurazioneprefabbricati.eu
streptothricin @investinspain.eu
lovelifeplus @vertiadier.xyz
2. Weird titles: things I have zero interest in. Injured — Find– a– personal    injury-attorney — to–get–what is deserved
++ Check Out A Private Yacht Experience ++
3. Nothing except a url to click in the body of the message. This often comes from a person you know because their address has been stolen.

Moral of the story: Don’t click and you will be safe! (And have good anti-virus software.)

The other category, messages that contain programming or threats, can be harder to deal with because there is no one practical rule (like don’t click) that fits all.

The first step is to learn to recognize this type of email. A red flag is a message from a person you have been out of touch with for a long time, especially if it is a family member or somebody you have always felt uncomfortable around.  Another red flag is if you start to feel trancy, dizzy, nauseated, frightened, or just plain uneasy when you start to read it.

This might indicate that the message, whether by accident or on purpose, has touched an issue of yours or triggered a program. In this case, stop reading and either delete the message or save it to analyze later or to show to your therapist. Do something to get back into the present — move around, wash your face, drink something cold — whatever works for you. Promise yourself you will not finish reading it now and you will not act on any suggestions contained in the message or any sudden urges you may have. Ask inside if that is okay with everybody and ask what else they need to feel protected. Later on, you can try and figure out what got triggered and how.

Other times, you may start to get an uncomfortable feeling about a particular person. As in “real life” relationships, it’s wisest to go slow and not reveal a lot about yourself in the beginning. You can always share more later. It’s perfectly okay to say, “I’m not in a place right now for this kind of correspondence” or simply to let the e-relationship fizzle out. It’s also okay to delete emails before reading them.

If an email contains a threat, there are two additional things you can do. You can report it to the police, which may or may not help, depending on the nature of the threat, the department, and the particular officer you report it to. You can also report it to the ISP (Internet Service Provider,) the company that the writer uses to send email. For details on how to do this, contact the Webmaster or Postmaster at that ISP. ISP’s are not happy about people misusing their services and they may close that person’s account. Since they are concerned with their reputations, they are often more responsive than the police.

You could also answer that person once, saying, “Do not write me any more. If you do, I will report you to the police.” If you are trying to collect evidence, put any other emails received in a folder without reading them. Otherwise, delete messages without reading them or block the address (black listing).

The hardest part of dealing with frightening email is refusing to read it. It’s natural to feel that if you knew what you were being threatened with you could better protect yourself. But the game they are playing with you us called bullying, and you will be playing into their hands if you let them know they have gotten to you or you allow them frighten you. It’s far better and more effective to walk away with your head held high.

Safety Issues: Cars

Those of us who are older probably feel inviolable in our cars. They are like little portable fortresses surrounding us with thousands of pounds of steel. We can curse or sing off-key and nobody will hear us. Sometimes we almost feel invisible. They are like a second home or a second skin.

Younger survivors are usually more aware of the car’s vulnerability. They probably know how easy it is to put a GPS tracker on their car, and if they have a new car, are aware that GPS in a built-in component of the car’s computer.

If another car starts messing with us, the illusion of invulnerability, if it was there to start with, goes out the window. Being followed, being cut off, or being tailgated is a frightening experience for anybody. But for ritual abuse survivors, especially those who have escaped recently, such incidents make us assume immediately that we are being harassed by the cult. We go into high alert, with adrenaline surging through our bodies.

Now, we can’t make ourselves and our cars 100% safe, but we can make it a little harder for the bad guys to get to us.

Here are some safety suggestions. Some are simple and can be put into place immediately; others are a little harder to implement. Choose what works for you.

Ask the Department of Motor Vehicles not to give out your name and address. Remove your name or identification from reserved parking spaces at work. Remove bumper stickers and easily remembered items like magenta fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror: they make your car easy to spot.

If at all possible, keep your car in an alarmed garage. Don’t let another person borrow your car keys, and if you think there is a possibility your key has been stolen or duplicated, get the locks changed.

Whenever practical, park in high traffic areas. Know where the highly populated areas are in your town, for you are less likely to be attacked or your car broken into where there are plenty of witnesses. If you have one of those invaluable nosy neighbors and you park on the street, ask them to keep an eye on your car when they can and call you if somebody suspicious is hanging out around it.

Lock the car doors when you park and whenever you are in the car. Keep the windows closed and use the fan for ventilation. Before unlocking and entering the car, check the back seat to make sure nobody is hiding on the floor.

If you have a cell phone, take it with you whenever you use your car. Keep pencil and paper handy to record incidents, including time, place, description of the car and driver, and license plate, if at all possible. If you can use our phone to take a photo of the offending car, all the better.

Minimize the amount of time you are near the car or in the car but not moving. Get the parking meter change  ready before you get out, get your keys out before you reach the car, don’t wait in the car for a friend (circle instead) or take time to check your make-up.

It’s a good idea to vary the time of day that you use the car, as well as the routes that you take to work, friends’ houses, or stores. Being unpredictable makes it a little harder to follow you.

If you think you are being followed, make four right turns and see if the suspicious car does too. If you are being followed, never go home or to work or a friend’s house; instead, drive to a police station. Park illegally and stay in your car until an officer arrives rather than going into the station. Make a report of the incident, giving as many facts as possible.

If you are blocked so that you can’t get out of a parking spot to driveway or one-way street, lean on the horn to attract attention and draw witnesses to you. You are much safer with people around than if you were alone.

If you are worried about tampering, check the tires and lug nuts to make sure they are tight before starting out. You can protect your gas tank by buying a locking gas cap that can only be opened from inside the car.

Some people feel safer with a permit to hold concealed weapons and keeping a gun in the car. But you have no assurance that the person harassing you is unarmed or that they aren’t much better and quicker than you are. If you do choose to have a gun, make sure you practice enough so that you are an ace. Same goes for stun guns and tasers.

Instead, you could carry a pepper or mace spray and one of those piercing whistles that can be heard a great distance away. Both are low-cost and small enough to be carried on your key chain. Actually, in a pinch, the keys on your key chain make pretty good brass knuckles.

I haven’t talked about GPS systems because I don’t know that much about them. I do know that newer model cars have a GPS incorporated into the software that controls may of the features on the car and that data is collected by the manufacturers. I also know that cars can be hacked and the signal diverted, but I have no idea how to protect this from happening. I don’t know if somebody can eavesdrop on a manual or cell phone GPS. It is easy enough to turn your cell phone completely off. Perhaps you could live without your manual GPS or unplug it when you don’t need it.

I also don’t know much about safety measures if you live in an isolated rural area. I’ve never lived in the country and I can’t imagine how to protect myself from being run off the road, for example.

If any of you have suggestions or comments (especially about the things I am clueless about), please use the comments section!