Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I don't know what to tell them

“Blind men do not fear the darkness. Because they live in it.”

Everyday. Over and over and over again. I get the same emails. But they are from different kids. Everyday. I get them from kids in Los Angeles. From kids in the inner cities. From kids on Indian reservations in South Dakota. From kids in Scotland, the United Kingdom, and everywhere in between.

I hear from Surenos, Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, and gangs no one has ever heard of. Local gangs, national gangs, and international gangs.

All of them want the same things. Family, love, kinship…hope.

They want to be respected and rescued. They don’t want fear, jail, and death. But they live that daily. They all want one thing. The kids that write me that is.

To get out.

They don’t know how. They are afraid to try. They are afraid that they will get hurt, their families punished, or getting themselves killed. Because they want to live a life without Gangsterism.

I don’t know what to tell them.

I can only offer to be there for them. Whatever that is worth.

I hear it from educators. From community workers. Social workers, law enforcement, and even Homeland Security. How do we stop it? How do we get kids out of gangs?

And I don’t know what to tell them.

I know what causes it. But I can’t fix that. I know what makes it grow and spread like a plague all over the planet. But I cannot give them the cure. I know what is killing these kids. But I cannot rescue them.

I am asked, “I am interested in what is the intervention to stop it?” I can only say,

“Interest is the intervention.”

Sometimes it is someone to listen. Sometimes it is someone to protect. All the time it is someone to love. They are called stupid for being in gangs. But they are kids. Kids will do what they are allowed to do. If they are not led. They will follow anything. If they have no guidance, they will be guided by those who would guide them to destruction.

They don’t know any better because they are kids.

They are afraid to die. But even more, they are afraid to live. They live in places most of us would be afraid to drive through. They live in the shadows but they do not fear it, because they are all too familiar with the darkness.

Kids ask me why don’t my parents care? Why doesn’t someone come up with some way to get us out? Why don’t churches spend more money on me than on people a world away, than on carpeting and new pews? What am I going to do to get free of this life of pain and imprisonment? They ask me to save them. And I am a stranger. I ask others why aren’t their parents there to answer them.

And no one knows what to tell me.

Monday, November 06, 2006

the eyes of the snake

Predators and How They Operate:

Just like anyone attempting to overthrow an ‘enemy’ the predator uses tactics to first get
close. He will often, more than not, attempt to ‘catch you off guard’, to get you to lower
your defenses. Predators generally do not like hard targets; rather they prefer those whom
they can first violate in the mind before they violate the body.

This not only applies to those who would seek to harm you physically but also to those who have other intentions that can leave your life in shambles. These men may be the kinds of men that are abusers, those who destroy families by manipulating women into illicit affairs, or those who are intent on defrauding someone.

Predatory Tactics of Deception and Manipulation:

Methods Predators Use to Control and Victimize

Like a snake that mesmerizes his prey, individuals intent on doing you harm, emotional or physical must first use distraction. They must get you to let your guard down. Like a mouse in a feeding cage, you may find him attractive, physically and or emotionally. The mouse often will climb around and over the snake, the snake never striking. Until you are positioned properly.

1.) “Mr. Really, Really Nice Guy”... Ever thought someone was just too
nice? What about the car salesman or telemarketer? Granted these
individuals may not technically be predators, but their motives are not
entirely pure nonetheless. Thereby these individuals may use flowery
speech, excessive kindness, and charm in order to ‘butter you up.’
Predators may use excessive niceness/politeness in order to cover up
their ill intentions. This serves the purpose of charming the mark,
(intended victim), into letting down their defenses. The predator may
shower you with compliments and praise. Different than any salesman,
the predator is not interested sales, but rather in victimizing you. He is
however, trying to ‘sell’ himself as trustworthy.

2.) “To Make a Short Story Long”... Someone who is trying to deceive
you knows he is not being truthful. Even though what he is saying may
sound believable to you, it is not to him because he knows it to be
false. So he keeps talking trying to reinforce what he is saying with
excessive detail. Detail that you probably have not even asked for...
be aware of the context of the story. Some predators like to hear
themselves talk as well. They may feel psychologically superior to their
mark, and feel as though they can easily mislead the victim by
changing the story, adding extra details, or making themselves out to
be larger than life.

3.) “The Sunshine Blower”... When someone consistently “kisses up”,
“brown-noses”, “blows sunshine”. Granted, many people who do this
may not be predators but their efforts are no more sincere. It is about
subtle manipulation. They may say things like...” I couldn’t do that half
as well as you...” He attempts to put you on a pedestal.

4.) “We’re in the Same Boat”... The predator tries to draw a common
link of unity between you and him, often over nothing and where none
exists. Key phrases may be like this: “We’d make a great team”,
“Looks like it’s up to us”, “What are we going to do?” “You and I”
phrases…This is false partnership and is usually a red flag when
utilized very shortly after meeting.

5.) “Allow Me”... Remember the phrase, “Kill them with kindness...”
A predator may offer and insist on lending you a hand with something.
This is an attempt to make you feel obligated to “owe him one”. The
red flag is his refusal to accept your refusal for help, no matter the
situation if you tell someone “no” they should respect that. The guy
may think you are rude or snobbish, but when it comes to your safety
it really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of you.

6.) “Space Invader”... The predator continually ignores your attempts
to physically distance yourself from him. He may also “invade” your
space with his eyes, scanning you up and down like a steak
dinner...with no obvious intent to hide it. If you feel uncomfortable
there is a reason. He must respect your personal space both physically
and emotionally. He may even try and pry into your personal life. In order to victimize you he, like all predators, must get close. He will do this emotionally first.

7.) “Promises, Promises”... Often reveals his intent and your underlying
fears by “promising” to do this or not to do that. This promise is one
you usually have not asked for, which in effect may reveal his true
intentions. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to rape you” “I’ll help you with
this, and I’ll leave, I promise”. He is telling on himself by
unconsciously announcing his true intentions.

8.) “Destructive Criticism”... The predator may give a slight insult that
is easy for you to refute. It is an effort to open dialog. “Oh, I’m sure
you’re too good to talk to me.” “You’re too beautiful to hang out with
me.” Do not worry about being rude to a stranger when it comes to
safety! Your sense of self may compel you to ‘prove him wrong’ and
that is what he is counting on.

9.) “Sob Story”... He may try and appeal to you by using a sob story to
tug on your heartstrings. He may try and present himself as a victim
and you his savior. He may let you know right up front about all his
sufferings. Women are nurturers by nature, and predators know this
and take advantage of it. Serial killer Ted Bundy exemplified this by
pretending to need help while wearing a fake arm cast.

10.) “The Volunteer”... The predator may offer real or contrived
personal information about himself, (without your asking), in order to
make you feel obligated to offer personal information about yourself.
This in effect may make you feel he trusts you, so you must trust him,
both emotionally and physically. Any personal information you give
may be used against you later. This tactic is especially popular over
the internet.

Crimes against the family. Another kind of predator.

Additional to these there are variations in approaches, specifically with men who are looking to “score” with women who are married. Nothing makes a better notch on a bedpost than a man who can get a married woman to forsake her vows. She will still be a victim but one who volunteers nonetheless.

He may also be a married man himself. If you are single or married yourself his desire for sex and or money can still suck your life down the abyss. He may tell you how his wife just doesn’t pay attention to him. He may talk about how he just wants to “snuggle” or whatever else sounds romantic (candle light dinners, beach walks, whatever), but says that she isn’t interested. He acts as though he wishes he could have had someone like you.

He will give you the attention you think you need. Men are attracted by physical appearance primarily. Women are attracted by what is said, primarily. And men know this.

The only time he will mention your husband is in a criticizing way. Like “He is a lucky man, but he doesn’t know what he’s got.” “He should really pay more attention to you.” “If I were him, I’d spend more time with you…” And so on…Otherwise he will avoid talking about your relationship so that guilt doesn’t have a chance to creep in. He will tell you how he has never met anyone like you. How you are so special. But if you have kids, he will avoid talking about them, because kids = family = guilt. Unless he feels that talking about kids may somehow get you closer to him, though this is more rare.

He may offer to take you out on a “harmless” or “innocent” dinner, after he knows that he has you. If it is an internet affair, just the willingness of him traveling so far will seem to you as though you are so special he will go to great lengths, “just to spend plutonic time with you.” This is never the case. And when he is done with you, your family is over and he is on the prowl looking for another victim. A victim who will be a willing participant of one of the worst crimes against a family.