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: 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.