A Safe Place for Survivors

A Safe Place for Survivors – J. Remet, P. Wrightsman

The Fourth Annual Ritual Abuse, Secretive Organizations and Mind Control Conference – 2001

This page has been put on the web by S.M.A.R.T., P O Box 1295,Easthampton, MA 01027
E-mail : smartnews@aol.com

This transcript is from a presentation by Judith Remet and Pat Wrightsman at The Fourth Annual Ritual Abuse, Secretive Organizations and Mind Control Conference, August 10 – 12, 2001 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Windsor Locks, CT. Some of the topics discussed may be triggering. The conference is educational and not intended as therapy or treatment. All accusations are alleged. Our providing the information below does not necessarily constitute our endorsement of it.

Please note : This transcript is not intended as therapy. It is an educational resource only. You may want to consult your therapist or support person before using any of these techniques.

Judith Remet, M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O. worked for 25 years as a clinical psychiatrist. A few years ago, she ended her practice and now focuses on writing, teaching, and consultation. She has presented several conferences and workshops on trauma-related topics Pat Wrightsman, M.S. R.N. has been a registered nurse for 30 years. She has worked with traumatized children, families and groups. She is a certified Breathworker and clinician. The title of their presentation is: A Safe Place for Survivors .And now I would like to introduce Judith and Pat.

Thank you, Neil. Well, Pat and I were just sort of touching base after the previous speakers, and I must say we’re blown away. I am truly humbled, truly honored and very grateful to be here. I’d like to thank all of you and S.M.A.R.T. for having us. I’d like to thank our Women’s Spirit group whose members are here to support us, and the other organizations who are supporting S.M.A.R.T. And that said, I’m Judith Remet, one of the founding (C)leaning (L)adies. Pat Wrightsman, the other founding Cleaning Lady will be talking a little bit more about us in a few minutes. But just to take a quick moment to tell you something about me and my background. As Neil mentioned, I worked for nearly thirty years as a clinical (psychiatrist) before ending my practice and turning my focus to writing and other creative pursuits. These kinds of projects consume almost all of my time now and although people sometimes ask me if I can make myself available to see them, the answer is regretfully ‘no’ at this point. I’m no longer working as a psychiatrist; that hat has been set aside and over the last two years, I have put on a somewhat different one or in fact, a few different ones. At this point, I consider myself a writer, a consultant, a friend and advocate for survivors, a speaker, and although I say this with the utmost humility, sometimes a healer. For about ten of the years I was in practice I worked knowingly with the alleged survivors of trauma and abuse. And for about half of those years, with alleged survivors of extreme trauma and abuse–in other words mind control and programming.
I say ‘knowingly’ because I assume trauma survivors had always been a part of my practice, but nothing in my psychiatric training had prepared me to know what to listen and to look for, or understand the effects of being badly hurt, physically, sexually, emotionally and spiritually.

Fortunately there was a window from about the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, when there was a kind of renaissance of awareness in the mental health community about the aftermath of trauma and abuse, and I found some wonderful professional teachers, attended some really great conferences, of which there were quite a few in those days. Not so any more. And (I)read some good comprehensive books that helped bring me up to speed. But of course, once I was open to the awareness and the understanding, it was the survivors who taught me the most. From the beginning, it has always been survivors who have helped the rest of us to (bear) witness to what has happened in our midst, behind closed doors. And hopefully, inch by inch, to open those doors and clean out the painful messes created by those who, for the most, part function in a spiritual vacuum and think little or nothing of hurting children.
As it turned out, I also happened to be married to an alleged survivor of extreme abuse, although, for most of our marriage, Henry and I knew next to nothing about post traumatic stress disorder, dissociative phenomena or abusive scientific experimentation, and for a long time his memories of childhood were few and far between, to say the least. I found out when it was too late to be of very much help to him. However, I’m here today partly because of Henry and partly because of all the other survivors I’ve known over the years who have had a profound effect on me and my understanding of the world. Without exception, the survivors I’ve known have graciously and eloquently helped me to appreciate the extraordinary resilience of the human spirit.

My husband, Henry, died in 1993 under questionable circumstances. Recently I wrote some songs in his memory, and I dedicated a few of them to him. My good friend (with) the golden voice you’re about to hear, Mary Juneau, composed the music for the songs. She’s been generous enough to take time out of her very busy schedule to travel here to sing some of them for you. We’d like to start with one called “Freedom,” which was the first one to come along. Pat will explain a little bit more of what I mean by ‘come along,’ in a while.
Neil suggested that we let you know that these songs are copyrighted.


Listen to my tale, listen to my tale, listen to my tale.
Open up your hearts, open up your hearts, open up your hearts.
Stay with me for just a little while.

What I’ve been through
Is beyond all words.
You won’t want to know the details.

It could ruin your day,
Knock you off your stride,
Take the wind right out of your sails.

The day I was born,
The angels wept.
They saw the pain and darkness ahead.

But they stayed nearby,
As I silently cried
And wished day after day I was dead.

Freedom don’t come easy.
No, freedom don’t come easy.
Freedom don’t come easy.
No, freedom don’t come easy.

From the earliest days
I just learned to hide
Deep inside my fragmented self.

And when the going got rough,
I tried to hang tough,
Storing all my grief on the shelf.

I’ve traveled far,
I’ve traveled wide,
Often a hostage to shame.
Wondering how I got called upon
To be a target in some evil game.

Freedom don’t come easy.
No, freedom don’t come easy.
Freedom don’t come easy.
No, freedom don’t come easy.

One day I woke to find a light
Shining right through all my fears

I knew without a doubt
I’d been singled out
To bear witness to the hell of those years.

I’ve found a strength
That was always there
Hidden like a seed in the ground.

It sprang right up
And sang its own clear song.
My soul rejoiced at the sound.

So linger awhile in this open space
And know that my story is real.

Together our souls
Will reach right out
And spread an awareness that heals.

Cause freedom don’t come easy
You know that freedom don’t come easy..
Freedom don’t come easy.
No, freedom don’t come easy.

But I can tell you first hand
That from where I stand
Freedom comes welcome like the Promised Land.

I used to think like a slave,
Felt like a whore,
But now (I’ve) got my wings and I’m learning to soar

Yes, I’m learning to soar, Oh, yes, I’m learning to soar…soar

Hi! My name is Pat. I’m the other half of the (C)leaning (L)adies program, and I don’t write songs and I don’t compose music, but I’m their cheerleader. One of the things I want to tell you about is a little something about these songs. I absolutely love music; it goes to your heart. One of our missions as (C)leaning (L)adies is to tell people what you’re telling us. It’s just so harsh, they run screaming from you, but somehow when it’s in songs, people can hear things. They’re hearing it and then they’re asking. And it’s gentle and somehow it goes in, I think, it goes in to the heart. Judy writes books; she is a writer, but she didn’t write songs previously. She called me one morning at six o’clock in the morning–a song called “Freedom” is running through her head and won’t stop. You don’t know Judy, but she doesn’t get up at six o’clock in the morning, and she’s up at six writing songs. And then she’s sending them to Mary, (our) musician friend who’s a working mother full-time (and) who’s sitting up late at night writing music. And these songs are coming so fast, we think because of this conference. We had a date coming up and these songs were coming with us, but we didn’t know that. They’re beautiful songs; there’ll be more, we’ll have one more at the end, too, this afternoon, and then tonight Mary’s singing. They’re so great. So I wanted to tell you that the other thing that we’ve had is that these songs have been coming, because we’re not sure whom they’re coming from. There’s a very strong sense that there are survivors on the other side of the veil (as they call it) who are with us working with us and we have a much, much bigger and more impressive group on our team than might be visible or obvious to the powers that be. We all kind of feel Henry here – and others; there are others we know. I just want to share that; it’s our hope.

What we’re here to talk about is “A Safe Place for Survivors.” Anybody who’s been in therapy, and there are a few people here who know that word, has probably heard about safe places and has worked with them. We’re presenting a particular design that has been developed over a period of years by survivors of the very extreme abuse about which we’ve been hearing this morning. Those survivors have taken a tool, developed it, fine-tuned it and by sharing it, are working and trying out things to see what doesn’t work. We are attempting to gather up what we know works and start sharing, so if you have laboriously found a way to heal yourself, somebody else just starting might be able to move quicker by you sharing what you know. So that’s what we’re going to look at.

It’s, as I said, safety and containment, a safe place, a refuge. That’s the absolute fundamental line you start with in terms of healing work. You have to be safe in order to do healing work, in order to create a place of safety. And we’re looking at an internal, visualized safe place inside your mind that you will have. The advantage, obviously, is that wherever you are, and whatever’s happening, your safety is with you. I think Cheryl said something to that effect. What you need is inside of you; that is one of the great miracles. One other word about this: the goal of the safe place is to provide safety and containment of trauma memories. The goal is to promote faster and gentler healing. This particular design helps to disengage alleged programs that were designed to disable the survivor. We’re going after what we know of alleged programs using very gentle healing tools, and this will also provide self-help tools so that the survivor will have power and (more control over) their own process.

One other word before I tell you about it: one thing we have learned over the years with what you’ve been telling us is the alleged programmers had a very rigid structure; they used a real uniform process across the country. It’s pretty much the same design of all the initial stuff that they did. Therefore it is possible to take that design and turn it around as a healing tool. That’s another reason why survivors develop this particular safe place–to use what was done to provide containment and safety rather than what they wanted you to do with it.
We don’t have time, so we’re giving you only an over-view today. This is for the purpose of giving you a sense of how this tool works. We’ll kind of move quickly through it. I will be talking about the basic, generic design. We’ve put it together for the rest of the world, because this world is not ‘normal’–Lord, there’s nothing normal here. Everybody is stressed, so we’re using what survivors gave us to share with the whole world, because it is a wonderful tool which we call ‘the generic basic design.’ We will be expanding it by providing you with the modifications that were developed to assist people with DID and with alleged programming.

Step 1. Here we go with the design of your internal safe place. First of all you choose a landscape (this is going to be internal–visualizing inside your head.) We’re talking about a beautiful piece of land, something that feels good to you. Everybody has their own knowing of what that is. Some people have seaside scenes, places on islands, a beautiful meadow that feels protected and surrounded on top of a mountain–each one chooses a piece of land that feels safe to them. You are looking for several hundred unspoiled acres that’s safe for you and for plants and animal that are important (to you) (and) will be part of your safe place. The other thing about the land is that it’s bathed in a somewhat beautiful magical light, for your healing. There’s a sense of light and energy around it. So you start by choosing your land–your landscape.

The second thing is to choose a house to put into this place. There are a couple of rules about it, but the design of the house is up to you. What do you like? What feels good? What is your favorite thing? (I wish I had the money to do this other than as internal and visualized). It’s wonderful to get whatever you want. The rule about that house is that it’s single story, (a)one-story house. There are no attics and no basements. It has a concrete or stone foundation that is eight to ten feet thick. Single story, nothing above, nothing below, OK? And this house, when you see it, is sort of surrounded by this absolutely beautiful and welcoming sort of energy or light or color or whatever you see around it. It’s a wonderfully safe, perfect place for you.

Step 3. Not far from the entrance to your house, you’re going to design what we call a healing waterfall. This is a very gently tumbling waterfall. It’s misty, it sparkles with light and mist. The water and the light and the mist kind of sparkle together. Some people say that when they put their hand in to feel it, they can barely feel it, it’s such a gentle wonderful waterfall. It is cascading into a shallow healing pool. Now the concept of light and water used as a healing tool is present in just about every culture on the planet. Survivors have found ways to develop that particular thing for their own safety and comfort and exactly what works for them–what temperature, what size, what kind of water, that kind of thing. That’s your healing place, the healing waterfall.

The next step is really important – and it’s another waterfall not far from the entrance to the house. It’s a protective waterfall cascading in front of the entrance to a very large storage area. This is a well-lit, very solid, contained storage area. The entrance to it has this waterfall in front of it. It’s important because it’s a place where you can store unwanted memories, sensations, and feelings. It’s to give you control over the time and place of your healing. This gives you a place in a real concrete way to put something aside that you’re not going to deal with in this point in time. That gives you some more control. It’s a real important concept and it takes a while to get good at it. It’s really helpful if, when you’re out in the world in the grocery store or at work and you get hit hard and fast with a flashback, a memory or something’s in your face. And it’s not exactly where you want to deal with it. How about when you’re behind the wheel of the car? There are places you don’t want to be doing this, so in your mind, you can surround the memory, the image, kind of surround it in light or (bubble) it in something, you just send it drifting right off to the space behind the waterfall. This is done quickly when you get good at it. It’s not guaranteed, as you all know, because I know you’ve all worked with safety (and) containment of memories. But with practice people tell us it gets quite effective. It is not a space thought of as “Where are you going to put this memory so you’re never going to have to deal with it as long as you live? Once was enough, thank you.” (What) we look at is control over the timing. You will choose the time, place and with whom you’re going to take this memory out and be able to do some work to heal it and change it. So that’s an important one–the storage area.

Back inside the house we’ll look at some rooms there. You can put any rooms you want in that house and they’re all beautifully safe feeling, beautifully designed and furnished any way you want. There are a couple of rooms that survivors strongly recommend for everyone.

First of all is what we call a solarium or sunroom. This is a centrally located, light-filled room which has a healing fountain–a beautiful fountain with the same healing water available to you in the house. So there’s a fountain with water gently moving through it. (It’s nice to have the room) filled with vibrant flourishing plants. Sometimes you might put a transparent dome over it or big windows, (so that you can be there in any kind of weather). It’s a very beautiful room with wonderfully comfortable chairs, and it’s another place that is used for healing. We’ll talk a little bit later about on some of the healing work that’s done, but that’ s (one) place for it.

(Among the other rooms) that survivors suggest is a creative studio. Again you would design it as a big, beautiful, comfortable room in which you can safely and privately explore your own creativity. (It can be used for) journaling, art, music, dance (especially if you haven’t danced) and (a variety of) other things you can do to allow yourself expression. This is a place safely to be able to do that.

Another important room I’ll mention briefly is the kitchen. Food. Creating a space with nourishing, healthy, sustaining, wonderful food is important. And it has the real component to a spiritual type of nourishing at the same time.

There’s lots of other stuff, library room, computer room, people come up with wonderful, amazingrooms.

So that’s the sense of the basic design. And we’ll talk a little bit now – which will probably be of more interest to you – of modifications that people have developed who are DID and for survivors.
Before I do that I just want to spend some time on looking at three absolutely critical concepts for this safe place.

1) The safe place exists in present time only; it is always the present. You’re going to be in trouble with the past; there are parts and memories that come up from the past. The safety of the safe place is that it exists in the present, and you are safe. So present time is an important concept.

Now another important factor:
2) The safe place is for everyone, there is no part, and nobody in the system ever excluded from the safe place for any reason. We have ways to help people who are perhaps feelinglike acting out, but the safe place is for everyone. Everyone is safe in the safe place. Everybody’s welcome.

And 3) The location of the safe place is on one level inside your head. It will go from forehead to the back of your head (and) from ear to ear. That makes it one complete level inside your head. This is an interesting and important concept when you a are visualizing the safe place and designing it inside your head. It’s important to know that it exists there. So those are the key factors.

OK, (Beyond the Basics) — modifications. Some of them are so obvious, you would have thought of them. Inside the house there are children’s rooms. They are important, with safe and comfortable sleeping areas and safe play areas with toys and things for children. It is really important to design what your children want and need and to have those things in there.

Next is the conference room. I’m pretty sure everybody ‘s worked with that idea of conference rooms. It’s a really big, nice, pretty room with comfortable chairs. Maybe it has pretty, open windows. The conference room operates with some clear cut rules: everyone is welcome. When you have conferences there, everyone has a right to speak, everyone has a right to be heard and no one gets hurt. The conference room has rules to it, and it’s real good when you’re working on developing some plans to keep you safe and work on your healing. There’s other stuff you’ll think of. As I said, people get real creative with what they do.

Another concept of the safe place is teamwork, which is something else you may be familiar with. We work in teams; it’s not good to work alone on healing stuff, so parts need to come together and work in teams. We’re going talk about two different teams. The first one is the healing team. People who are on the healing team take care of children and anyone else who is disoriented, unwell or sick. These are the parts, the people in the system who are really good at taking care of people and healing. There are also very specific ways that the water, both inside and outside, will be used for that healing. So they have some very concrete skills for when somebody’s in trouble and they take them to the pool or the waterfall and use the water in very concrete ways to heal (them) outside. They even have sick parts drink the (healing) water to do some healing inside (the body), depending on what came up.
Now I’m going to turn it over to Judy. She’s going to cover some more of the modifications.

(Judy) I’d just like to reiterate that present-time concept that’s really important. Sometimes parts get really confused and think they’re stuck in some other time and place, often a really bad one – and others, like members of the healing team, for instance, and some other teams we’ll mention in a minute, need to help them know the date, the time,(and) the location. They often need to orient them or re-orient them to the safe place as well, and help them find their own safe room in the house.

From here on, we’ll be referring to modifications of the safe place that pertain to alleged survivors of mind control and programming. Again, (although this is a) talk about safety, please take care of yourselves, as some parts of the presentation may be triggering for some of you – or not.

Let’s talk briefly about the security team. In addition to the (healing team Pat just) described, it’s important to have a security team to keep an eye on the safe place. They scout any potential dangers and dismantle certain program(med) threats that have a way of popping up now and then to keep the survivor frightened, disoriented and confused. Very often, members of the security team are composed of parts who once saw themselves as kind of bad and angry. It usually doesn’t take long (for them) to understand that their role, deep down, has always been a protective one, even though they may have previously seen themselves as bad. They’re often, although not always, teenagers, and they tend to be naturals at handling threats with considerable ease. They tend to be really tough and brave. In the safe place, once they’ve agreed to be part of the security team, they will carry around particular kinds of protective devices that are specially designed to disable programs.

In addition to the security team, there are a number of protective sensors and other handy devices that make up part of the security system for the safe place. These would be operative at all times to keep the safe place safe. They help the security team monitor and move more thoroughly to protect the safe place. Certain kinds of equipment for the security system can be installed in particular areas of the safe place to detect and disable unforeseen or (programmed threats). And besides the sensors and devices we might suggest, very often survivors come up with pretty good additional protective devices of their own that they feel comfortable with once they understand what’s involved.

I think this is probably a good point to apologize, if I seem somewhat vague about some of these strategies. For one thing, there really isn’t enough time to go into detail, and for another, much of this work should be done with a trained therapist over the course of several sessions, not on your own. And of course, it goes without saying, only if this approach feels right for you and your system. So my apologies for the vagueness.

One of the issues that comes up sometimes inside, as I’m sure many of you know only too well, is the difficulty you have to deal with when someone inside feels angry and out of control. Generally, the situation can happen when someone gets triggered–sometimes knowingly, sometimes unknowingly. It can be enormously helpful to have a time-out building somewhere in the safe place for this eventuality. This is a building in its own peaceful setting away from the safe house created just for the purpose of helping out- of-control parts calm down and get their bearings without hurting themselves or anyone else in the system. With the help of the healing team, maybe the security team, and sometimes others, whoever is feeling out of control can go into the time-out building. (Inside), there’s soft light and comfortable, safe surroundings that promote calm, until they feel more at ease and more oriented to time and place. There is a lock on the door of the time-out building, but the lock is on the inside. Its purpose is to keep the occupant safe and secure until he or she feels in control again – at which point the lock automatically opens up. So it’s the person who goes into the time-out building who determines just how long to stay there and how secure the lock needs to be. If they’re feeling really angry and out of control the lock will provide internal strength and help (them) feel safe inside this calming space. As they begin to calm down, the lock loosens accordingly and by the time they feel in control again and ready to go back to other parts of the safe place, the lock will open and they can let themselves out. There are a few other things to take into consideration regarding the time-out building, but these are the basic concepts.

Let’s move on now to the switching place – where again, time and safety considerations will not allow me to go into a great deal of detail. And let me say again that aspects of this discussion like this one may possibly be unsettling or troublesome for some of you or not, so please be alert to that and do whatever you need to do to ensure your safety and well-being. According to some observers, many, if not all, individuals with DID have an internal location in their minds to which we’ll refer to as the switching place. This is a visualized area, where the different parts or alters who manifest to the outside world change places with the host personality or with other parts. Let me say that again: This is a visualized area, where the different parts or alters who manifest to the outside world change places with the host personality or with other parts. What the switching (place) “looks like,” so to speak, is unique to each individual. It may be indoors or outdoors, a small space or a large one. Sometimes alleged survivors consciously know about their switching place; sometimes they don’t. So don’t worry if you have DID and you don’t know if you have one, or where yours might be. That’s OK. Most likely you’ve been managing just fine in your own way and will continue to. Let me just emphasize at this point that there are many paths to wholeness. From listening to some of these speakers today, that should be pretty obvious, because you’re really brilliant at finding your own ways forward to your healing.

Allegedly, most programmers knew about the switching place, even at times when their dissociative subjects did not. Because it was considered critical to programming work, they allegedly went to some lengths to locate the switching place and bring it under their own control in various ways. Among other things, they allegedly devised methods to camouflage it, move it from its original internalized location to another internal place where they had easier access to it and where they had easier control over it. And finally they would booby-trap the perimeters, thus making it a much scarier place for the survivor to access than the original (one) might have been. Although many alleged survivors do not know where or how to find the switching place, with the help of their internal system and a skilled therapist, locating it, if it exists, is not too difficult. Once the switching place has been located, it can be cleaned up. That is, using safe place techniques, any alleged booby-traps or other scary devices can be dismantled fairly quickly. This can also be accomplished within the time frame of a few therapeutic sessions. In many instances, when this work is done, survivors express a profound sense of relief, since they intuitively know they have regained considerable control over their own heads.

Once the switching place has been made safe, there are a few simple safety routines the survivor needs to practice daily to ensure that the safe place and the switching place remain safe and secure. Sometimes these can be done a few times, (sometimes) many times, daily–but they can be done really, really quickly, The security team is invaluable here, in some instances, being assisted by other parts who often have a knack for showing up at just the right time. Sometimes when survivors are feeling bad, no matter where they happen to be at the time, checking the switching place and implementing some simple safety practices can restore a sense of well being fairly quickly.

I remember someone who was actually shopping in a department store with her kids and a friend, when she actually started to abreact. She left the kids with her friend and went to the ladies room, into a toilet stall, and very quickly, through the use of safe-place techniques, was able to get herself back in control and go on with her day. So these safety practices can be quite dramatic and can make all the difference to how well you feel and how your day goes. They can become second nature very soon after you learn them. Alleged survivors seem to have a natural ability to overcome obstacles, once they know the obstacles are there and what they are. And the growing sense of control over things that used to be disabling gets to be a pretty compelling reason to keep doing it.

Beyond these routine (safety) practices, which survivors can easily do on their own, any more detailed or more serious work can be done with a therapist at the next scheduled session, or if need be, postponed until some future session that’s more convenient for you. Sometimes other issues are more pressing or immediate. One of the nice things about the use of the safe place, since it is about safety and containment, is that you can neutralize and store things until you and your therapist decide you’re ready to deal with them.

Again, this is only an outline, and again, because of time and safety concerns, I’ve had to be vague in places. But hopefully this will give you idea of a method that works for some people who may or may not share similar histories to some of yours. So in a few minutes, Pat’s going to sketch out a hypothetical case example that may make some of this a little clearer for you. Thank you.

(Pat) Somebody was having episodic chest pains. They were working with their medical doctor who prescribed medications and what have you, but it didn’t seem to work, it didn’t seem to impact. So (then) it became a question of “Let’s see if we can find out a little bit more about what’s going on here.” What happens first of all is…this is a phrase some survivors know in their sleep…”Did you check the switching place? Check the switching place.” We had a group of survivors who would turn to each other and say, “Why don’t you check your switching place?”Get your security team in, and in this case, check the switching place to see what has come up as a memory into the switching place that you don’t want there, that’s kind of stuck there. The security team is able to contain it, circle it with light, get it out of the switching place, get it into the storage area. Their ability to do this is like lightning. The things they can handle are breathtaking. Once they’ve got the skills in there and the tools in there, they’re going to move it. At the same time, get the healing team looking in the safe place for who is in trouble–“Who here is feeling bad? Who’s got chest pain? Who inside has chest pain?” And that person is carrying the memory we’ve just been dealing with in the safe place. So somebody is in the past with some event that is triggering serious chest pain. The healing team then begins to work. They move this person who’s in trouble to the healing pool where there’s a variety of things that may be done. Most often they are gently carried and floated in the pool. The water is used to work externally in the body and heal whatever happened. They may drink some of the water to soothe (the) inside. There’s a protocol the healing team knows for checking the individual from head to toe in great detail, to clear and heal from anything that may have occurred. And then perhaps they would assist the person into the house to rest or whatever.

Also, the healing team is always orienting: “This is August 2001,( for instance, and) you are in the safe place. This is not happening now. That is what was the past. It is not happening (now). We are done with that. You are safe. You can heal now.” So that orientation and healing goes on with the person who goes into the house and rests. The effect is that they feel a whole lot better. And the episodic chest pain has stopped, and they can stop popping nitro, which didn’t’ do any good anyway. So it’s always a combination of looking at those physical and non-physical things. An example of how to use it: for most people, the going drill is that every night before you go to sleep you check the switching place. You clean it out–clean up the entire safe place and make sure everybody feels OK. Now you can go to sleep and odds are you might sleep better. You check the switching place the first thing when you wake up. You make sure there’s nothing cooking in the switching place or the safe place that might wreak a little havoc in your day. Some may wake up when somebody’s in trouble and you can clean it up real quick. So your day goes a lot better. Any time you feel bed, check the
switching place. What’s going on? Is somebody in trouble? If you know you’re going to face a trigger, like going to some “nice” family event or something that’s going to be so “good,” you all get together in the conference room and plan how you’re going to handle it. The children all go into their rooms in the house. They’re able to go to sleep, because children don’t deal with conflict; adults do. You will protect them; you’re re-parenting them at this time. The children are safely in the house, you’ve decided what security teams are on board, you’re running 24-hour security, and we’ve got a night team that’s covering that place. You can go to sleep and know that if something happens, they’re going to wake you up. So you have teams on board that are constantly monitoring your safety and security for the safety and security of everyone. And it really, really works well; it’s a wonderful thing. You might be able to tell at this point that (it was developed by survivors), because they know what to do (and when to do it).

And so that’s basically it. This particular safe-place design is an overview, as we’ve said. We have put a tape together with music and Judy and I speaking, which is the generic basic design. We have people interested in how to get more detail on this tool; for that we recommend that your therapist contact us. We do training with therapists to teach the details of this and we’re available through (our web page and e-mail address).

Quickly about the (C)leaning (L)adies. Why do we call ourselves “The Cleaning Ladies?”

I can’t tell you how many people think we’re going to clean their house, and “do you do windows?” We’re equipped to do windows to the soul. I thought that was good, we kind of like that one. We found it’s interesting how much that concept of Cleaning Ladies pertains to trauma work. One is working through what sometimes seems like a large, overwhelming mess, or a house too big to clean, but it’s not true. Every step you make is moving you forward. It is not endless. It’s a lot of battles cleaning an area, opening closets, getting doors to open and close and all sorts of stuff. So we try to be light, be (simple), and be honoring of that. What is the answer to the dilemma or the mess or the problem our planet happens to be in right now? Who’s going to handle these perpetrators and who will undo this?

And the answer is everyday people. People like (C)leaning (L)adies–people like us. We are not looking to Washington for help. We are not looking for some savior to appear. It’s people who are going to help. And so what Judy and I are about right now is telling people what you’re telling us. We truly believe that if they knew, people would work to help.

So we’ve got another song. This is one of my favorites; it’s called “Walls.” It’s a tribute to dissociation; it’s our (thanking and) tribute to that miracle of the mind that jumps in and protects a child and keeps a child alive and allows a child to stay sane in situations that are just unbelievable. So our intention is to honor that gift of dissociation, the ability to keep things separate and protected in the face of overwhelming trauma. It’s about “walls.”

(Mary) (I’d like to) invite my friend Lucy up. The other night when we were kind of going over last minute changes and so on, in the music, Lucy came up and was jamming with me, and since she was going to be here today anyway, I said, “You gotta help me.” And she’s really good.
(Lucy) A kind of sixties leftover..


I sing my song to the walls
They’ve held me up when I fall.
No telling when I may need their defense,
If you knew what I know, walls just make common sense.

Hey-hey-hey. Ho-ho-ho.
If your life’s on the line, you’d better know where to go.


The rooms deep inside me contained hidden force
They held every memory, every personal resource
The walls kept them separate, while I found (the skills).
They formed the foundation that protected my will.

The people who hurt me were smart, mean, and cold.
Some acted like big shots, won honors and praise.
They tortured in secret like jailers of old.
Tore down my resistance in so many ways.

Hey, hey, hey. etc.

I’ve watched and I’ve waited like some refugee
For moments when I could feel safe, clear and free
To share what I know, overcome all my fears,
Cause honey, I’ve been there, and these walls have ears.

So give me a moment and open your heart.
I’ll put doors in my walls, so that we can both start
To air out the house, take the bars off the cage,
Then I’ll fill in some blanks on the secrecy page.

Hey, hey, hey. etc.

Throw open the windows, sweep under the rugs,
Hang out dirty laundry and banish the bugs,
Cleanse all the dark corners, dust off every shelf,
And gather the courage to honor the self.

Then feel the change from fort to haven, nearly lost to found
The walls were salvation, and I’m still here, yes, I’m still around.

(To chorus)