How can we advocate for survivors of ritual abuse by example and advocacy?
This transcript is from The Seventh Annual Ritual Abuse, Secretive Organizations and Mind Control Conference.
Neil Brick is a survivor of alleged Masonic Ritual Abuse and MK-ULTRA. He is the editor of S.M.A.R.T. – A Ritual Abuse Newsletter. He has published numerous articles on ritual abuse. His topic is: “How can we advocate for survivors of ritual abuse by example and advocacy?” The address for S.M.A.R.T. is P O Box 1295, Easthampton, MA 01027 USA, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please use caution while listening to this presentation. It may be very triggering. All accusations are alleged. The conference is educational and not intended as therapy or treatment.
Advocacy is defined as active support, like that of a cause. Advocate means to support or work for.
This is the time we can make some real progress in our movement. But we need to work together. We do not have the financial resources the other side has, but we have much greater numbers.
Advocacy can occur in many ways. One way is to become an example for other survivors, simply through our recovery work. The way we carry ourselves, the way we interact with others, the way we grow and recover from year to year. Once we believe that we have gotten strong enough to manage our own lives sufficiently, by this I mean finding safe living spaces, safe relationships and for some jobs, then we can move to the next step of helping others by reaching out.
But how can we reach out to help other survivors and other people?
One way, a very powerful one, is to use the media, in any way we can, to promote our point of view. Letters to the editor, articles, editorials are seen by many people and can be a good way to not only express our views, but to also help other survivors by example.
How can one write a letter to the editor? In a smaller town, or even a larger one, you probably have a good chance of being published if your letter follows the rules and is well written. Letters to the editor are usually responses to articles that have been published. Usually, one would want to get a letter to the editor sent within a few days of the publication of the original article.
Letters to the editor should start off with the name of the article of the article you are responding to. If there are any rules for letters to the editor for your particular paper, one should know these in advance. A general rule is a length of no more than 250 words. Some papers may be 300, I believe the NY Times is 150.
Letters should respond to specifics in the particular article. An example could be one’s response to a pro FMS article, where they deny that ritual abuse exists. These articles are usually easy to respond to. They may cite the McMartin case, or another case in your area. It would be important to do some quick research on the case you are responding to, to provide quick factual information to counter the arguments in the article. Our website has a search engine. This should help you find any pertinent information fairly quickly. Also, please feel free to write me by e-mail if you have any questions about a particular case and I’ll look this up for you.
The McMartin case has a lot written about it on both sides. The tunnels found, the problems the prosecution had with the case, allegations about those writing about the case, can all be used in a letter. Make sure you can back up what you say, if necessary show this to the editor in an addendum that won’t be printed. The Friedman’s movie is another case that has a lot written about it on both sides. There is an AOL site http://members.aol/com/friedmansmovie that has numerous references and statements on this movie.
Letters should be grammatically correct, with correctly spelled words and they should be easy to read and interesting. Other ways to use the media are editorials, op-eds and actually articles. Articles might be of local interest, with the story of a local group, issues or person. Op-eds are responses to editorials. One should contact the editor of the local paper for the rules on how to submit an op-ed, article or editorial. Usually there is a length limit and date they would be due if in response to another article.
Many people see these letters and articles. Another reason to do this is to help one’s own recovery. This can help survivors realize that they can make a difference in their lives as well as the lives of others. These letters are also important because they can help highlight the issues and help encourage others to protect children to diminish the amount of child abuse.
Another way is to use the internet and e-mail. Creating a web page is very easy and is often a free way to disseminate information to others. Most word processors have html converters. Html is the language computers use to make web pages. This can often be done under the “save as” part of your word processors. Both Word and Word Perfect can save articles in html fairly easily. Even better is to get a computer program that can make web pages. And some internet providers have built in programs that can help one make web pages. Once this is done, then you need to upload your page to the internet with the help of your internet provider. AOL has an easy way of doing this. There are also free services out on the web that can provide one with megs of web space. Of course, one wouldn’t want to put up a page that is slanderous, libelous or defamatory, as this may cause the page to be taken down by your ISP or free web services.
Once your web page is created, you would need to let others know about this page. This can be done through user groups (such as yahoogroups or topica) or by bcc-ing friends and other survivors with the internet address of the page and a short description of the page. You might also want to let certain search engines know about your page(s) by going to their websites and adding your url to them.
Another really easy resource to create for either survivor news groups or support groups is to create a user group on either topica or yahoogroups. The web services for this are usually very user friendly and even have mechanisms that can help one promote your group. One important thing to do is to not add people to your group until they agree to be added. Otherwise, you might be accused of spamming others and lose your group. A group can have various focuses. One focus could be a group for survivors of ritual abuse. One might want to screen members in the case of a discussion group. A simple questionnaire can help one ascertain the level of recovery of a person wanting to join and whether they will be able to follow the basic rules of the group.
Usually group rules will include no flaming or insulting others and no name calling. I have found it necessary to be strict about this on some groups. Some group internet services have a way to moderate posting, so if one feels the person may not be able to post appropriately for the group, one can moderate their posts and send them to the group when appropriate. These user groups can be very helpful for survivors’ recovery. Starting a group can be an excellent way to help oneself and other recover from ritual abuse and break the isolation around this.
Joining groups is usually really easy and can usually be done by simply sending an empty e-mail or one with a few words to a subscription address. One may want to read the posts a while before posting to see if the group is a safe group to post on and ask for help on. Once you post, you might want to be very careful about letting others know your full name or where you live, as there can be many people on a list, and unfortunately all of them may not be entirely safe. Also, e-mails can be read by others, so it is important to use adequate caution on the web, especially if you are trying to avoid cult members.
Web safety is also another important issue. One should definitely have an internet security program as well as a virus program, where both are kept up to date. These are often sold together and are easy to install on one’s computer. One might want to screen cookies and scripts to avoid others being able to monitor your web usage. One should not download anything from the web, either by e-mail attachment or programs, unless one is sure that they are virus free and not spy ware, which can also be used to monitor computer usage. It is important to be well versed in computer usage when using a computer, just like it is important to know how to drive and maintain a car or other piece of machinery.
Another nice thing about the web is that letters to the editor can also be sent by e-mail usually, so this can increase the speed and ease of sending these to newspapers. The web is definitely a means of communication that can be used in a positive manner to help others. It is usually easy to do so and can help decrease the isolation of survivors and increase the amount of support one is receiving.
Other ways to advocate for survivors include using 12 step groups, such as SIA, where people can get together and talk about issues in safe settings. These groups are usually confidential and though not everyone may always be safe in them, they can be very helpful in breaking one’s isolation and helping one to reach out and connect with other people.
It is fairly easy to start a 12-step group, but it is harder to promote one and keep it going. Usually it takes at least two or three people to start a group. One would write SIA for a start up kit and let them know your date, time and location of the group. You might want to put up flyers for your group or call other survivors to let them know about your group. It is also possible to start other types of groups to help survivors, where survivors can get together and discuss issues in social settings or in a private setting. The initial numbers of group members may be small, but once people learn about the group and start coming to it, the group can be an excellent help for survivors in your area to get support and reach out to others.
Groups usually need a focus topic of some sort, be it a commonality of issues or a more specific discussion topic. They also need a leader or moderator with some recovery on the topic. Groups that are meant more for therapy should have someone trained and if necessary licensed for the particular activity being done. Groups take a commitment of several people to keep them going, but they can be really helpful for survivors.
Conferences can also be very helpful for survivors. If you live in a part of the country where there aren’t any conferences, you might want to consider starting a conference in your area. They can be small or large. One would need to find a location for the conference and then decide on a specific group that would attend the conference. One example could be ritual abuse survivors and co-survivors. Then you would need to work with the particular place the conference is at on particulars, such as food, room set up, dates and times and price. Having previous business experience can be very helpful in terms of budgeting a conference and predicting trends, like the amount of people one can predict will attend. These things are very important to insure that one’s conference will be successful and hopefully at least break even or even make a small amount of money to fund a future conference or future advocacy efforts. My opinion is that one should start small, but others have been very successful starting larger. Conferences are hard work and take a lot of time, but in my opinion, they are definitely worth it.
As you can probably tell from this conference, conferences are an excellent way of disseminating information, as well as helping provide support and validation for oneself and other survivors.
There are also important qualities that are needed to help create successful advocacy efforts.
For lack of a better word, stick-to-it-ive-ness is a very important quality. While an initial effort can help survivors and be a learning experience, sticking to one’s advocacy effort and following it through can help a lot more. An example would be someone that starts a web page, but then doesn’t continue with it, with promotion and updating. This can help people, but if it had developed, it could have helped a lot more people learn about ritual abuse and could have even develop off shoots, like a user group and perhaps even conferences.
While discussing meeting groups or conference, I do believe the same thing applies. Groups that continue and conferences that last year after year, can develop a high level of support for survivors as well as an incredible data base of resources for people, in the case of groups as a recovery base and in the case of conferences as a recovery base and resource base. This is why we have tapes and transcripts available here.
Intelligent action is also an important quality for the development of advocacy efforts. It is important to try to think things through, like playing a game of chess, trying to see things several moves ahead. Being able to see and write down the steps one would need to take to start a local SIA group can be very helpful in terms of knowing what resources one would need to have and develop. This can also help one brainstorm and avoid possible mistakes that could occur, like making a large financial outlay without ensuring or being able to predict an adequate return to cover this outlay. Thinking through things can also help make a safer experience for survivors. But it is always a learning process and mistakes are always unfortunately made, but they can be learned from, adapted to and help one’s growth process.
Hard work is another important quality that is needed in any advocacy effort. One should be prepared through intelligent action to know how much hard work is going to be needed. This differs from stick-to-it-ive-ness, because it is measured by the amount of effort used in one moment, as opposed to maintaining one’s effort. One should be prepared to put extra time and effort into any endeavor one starts. One should also have adequate resources to deal with any stress or strain these efforts might cause a person. Hard work is crucial in any advocacy effort. With it, advocacy efforts can be very successful. Without it, they might not succeed and might actually hurt those these efforts are meant to help.
The last quality that I believe is needed is a clear mind and spirit. One should be in the right place with any effort that they are prepared to do. One should be as sure as they can that they are doing this effort to help others as much as possible. A person doing advocacy needs to check in with themselves and ask, “why are they doing this?” “Is it helping others?” “Is it helping themselves?” The effort might be painful and exhausting at times. “Is it a positive growth step that one can look back on and say it was helpful for all or most of the people involved?” With as much clarity as possible, one should be able to look at the entire experience through all of its stages and ask these questions as well as any other questions needed. A clear mind and spirit, coming from a good place in one’s heart and psyche, is very necessary for any advocacy effort.
A lack or insufficient amount of these qualities should not discourage anyone from performing advocacy. A discussion of these qualities should encourage people to develop into these very important advocacy roles. This may be slowly at first, but eventually I believe we all need to become advocates for other survivors by example and advocacy.
The last topic I want to discuss is the reason for advocacy. Why do we need survivor advocates?
We need to develop our advocacy efforts, first in small groups and then work together across the country. SMART works with many other organizations in different ways to help promote survivor advocacy efforts. Looking at our co-sponsorship list can show people one way SMART networks with others and helps promote survivor cooperation and advocacy.
Advocacy can help ensure that survivors will continue to have the adequate resources they need to heal or can help ensure that there will eventually be the adequate resources we need to heal. It can help ensure that we get adequate support from our communities and support services. If our communities and support services only hear one side of the argument, then we will probably not be able to get the support to heal, or it will be much more difficult to do so. But if they occasionally see articles and letters in the local newspaper, read about survivor issues in their e-groups, see op-eds in the local paper by survivors and hear about 12 step or other groups, then these support services will be much more open to providing services to survivors. They will also be more likely to help children out of these horrible situations.
Advocacy is crucial. Without advocacy, we cannot progress as a movement. If you have a lot of recovery, now is the time to start. If you are new to recovery, then use your own recovery as an example to others. Each individual and every action can always make a difference. It is up to all of us to use our every action and movement to help others. And by helping others, we help ourselves.