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WARNING AND DISCLAIMER
Because of the nature of D.I.D., it’s possible that something in this article could be triggering to your system. Please use caution and your best judgement when reading this article. Safety first!
Disclaimer: We are not doctors, therapists, or mental health professionals. We’re just a bunch of alters that are speaking from personal experience to help other systems live their best lives.
Know That You Deserve To Be Safe
The first step is to make sure that you and every one of your alters know that you deserve to be safe. When we first heard that one of our abusers was planning to visit, we were immediately overwhelmed by an intense sense of dread. The idea of them being in the same town as me was intense and the thought of them being in a room with me was unbearable.
After the initial wave of emotions leveled out, the self-doubt started to rear its ugly head. We started thinking things like “It’s no big deal now since I’m an adult; I’m just being paranoid”, “It would be selfish of me to ruin everyone’s holiday for something in the past” and “I just need to suck it up and deal with this like an adult; it’s wrong for me to expect them to stay away from me”.
Thankfully for my system, the Tommy system helped us to quickly see through that nonsense. We would NEVER dream of saying any of those things to a friend in the same situation. Yet we were so quick to discount our own safety for everyone else’s convenience.
If you’re in a similar place, we’re here to tell you that you’re not being dramatic, difficult, or demanding. You and your alters are 100% correct in wanting to stay safe and away from your abuser. Safety is a need and it is absolutely valid and legitimate.
Stay Far, Far Away
As a DID system, your top priority will always be the safety of your system. If you’re anything like us, your system has probably had some of these thoughts:
If your system has thoughts like that, it’s ok! It happens to a lot of systems. Regardless of your system’s initial thoughts and feelings, your system’s safety still depends on your body being far away from your abuser.
Our systems completely believe that forgiveness is essential for anyone who has been hurt in any capacity. That being said, forgiving someone does not change the threat that they pose to you and your system. If you’ve forgiven them, that’s fantastic! Even if you’ve forgiven them, space is still needed to keep your system safe.
Pro tip: If your abuser is coming and staying with your family, it can be incredibly helpful if you have a trusted family member that can give you inside information. This way, you’ll know things like when that person will arrive, where they plan to go, etc.
Pick And Practice Your Speech
Once your system has decided that yes, you all are allowed to want to stay safe and that you’re safest by having distance from your abuser, the next step is to plan what you’ll say. In a perfect world, your system would be effortlessly able to have space from your abuser without having to come up with a reason at all. Unfortunately, most of us will need to have a “speech” picked out and ready to go.
Every system and situation is unique so pick a “speech” that makes the most sense for you. Here are some ideas to get your system started:
Ask your system “what common rebuttals might we have to deal with?”. Go ahead and come up with a “speech” for those as well. Once your system has your “speech” picked out, go ahead and encourage all of the fronting alters to practice. This way, every alter will know how to handle things.
Pro tip: “No” is a complete sentence. While it can be much easier said than done, just know that you are totally allowed to say “no” for any reason at all. And if you’re allowed to say “no”, you’re absolutely allowed to use a “speech”.
Create Your Plan (And Back Up Plan)
Again, in a perfect world, people would leave you alone after you’ve asked them to leave you alone. But depending on your situation, it can be very, very helpful to have a plan A, B, C and beyond. This way, if someone tries to see you after you’ve said you’re unavailable, you can have a safety net.
Here are some suggestion of things your system can do (or say you’re doing) to fill up your time:
Whatever it is that your system picks for your backup plan, the goal is to make sure your body has a safe place to go so that you can stay away from your abuser.
Pro tip: If you ever really need to sell not being home, it can help to park your car at a nearby parking lot and walk home. This way anyone wanting to drive by won’t see your car and they’ll think you’re gone.
Care For Any Alters That Need Extra Attention
Even with the best plan to stay away from your abuser, you or some of your headmates might still need some extra care. To make sure everyone is taken care of, simply ask to see who in your system needs some TLC and what would help them the most.
Oftentimes, just listening to them can be exactly what they need. Don’t try to change what they feel; just allow them to fully express themselves while you lovingly hold space for them.
If someone in your system does need some more to help them to feel safe, go ahead and do your best to safely meet those needs. Having an abuser in town can be a LOT to process so be gentle with your alters and with yourself.
Now that your system knows what to do when an abuser is coming to town, what is the next step? Click here to learn how to make a safety kit that works for your whole system and click here to read about what to do when you’ve been told that your DID or trauma isn’t real. You can also click here to plan for the holidays when you have DID or you can click here to learn how to build your support system.