Rebel Well: For Everyone
This piece is part of Rebel Well: a Starter Survival Guide to a Trumped America for Teens and Emerging Adults.
Sometimes we have to do the work even though we don’t yet see a glimmer on the horizon that it’s actually going to be possible. ― Angela Y. Davis
Take your own safety and the safety of others very seriously right now, and get safe before helping others:
Know how on planes they say to secure your mask first before securing the mask of the person next to you? The same goes here. Your own safety not only matters, but to ably and sustainably help anyone else, you need to first assure your own safety, otherwise you can put others at more risk instead of less. Develop a clear, actionable safety plan now, incorporating details discussed in specific sections of this document. Be safe for other people. No matter how scared or angry you’re feeling, by all means, do not assault or otherwise intentionally do others harm or hurt.
Get and save copies of all documents you may need to prove a case in court, document eligibility for a program or service, or demonstrate a pattern of behavior, like abuse on a social networking platform.
Consider installing a cloud service like Dropbox and turning on “camera upload” to automatically upload to the cloud — if someone orders you to delete material on your phone, you can safely do so to end a confrontation while knowing that you have backup copies. You can take advantage of apps like TapeACall to record phone conversations as well (check on your state’s laws about whether you need to tell people you are recording). Keep everything somewhere safe, alongside your birth certificate/naturalization certificate, Social Security card, banking records, identifications, and any other important legal or government information.
Be smart about media:
Don’t blindly trust any media. Use multiple sources to verify reported information, and include print media when possible. Don’t assume any one story means you’re getting the whole story, and be especially wary of what’s trending on Facebook and what’s showing up in the top search results on search engines, as purveyors of fake news and information are learning to game the algorithms that are designed to keep them down. Snopes is a great online resource for quickly debunking problem stories and your local library is another excellent tool; if you’re struggling, a librarian can help you locate useful information and provide you with tips on vetting the news for yourself.
Out or stealth? What’s best for you?
One difficult issue people with less visible marginalizations are going to be facing in the coming months and years is a decision about whether to go (or stay) stealth or not. You may hear it’s “cowardly” for people to minimize or hide their gender, orientation, immigration status, disability status, or race (for people who are sometimes forcibly passed as white). That is incorrect: there is nothing cowardly about doing what you feel is best in this respect for your safety and survival. You need to make the decision that is safest FOR YOU right now, and if that means remaining in hiding because that keeps you out of harm’s way, that is absolutely okay. Similarly, you should respect the choices other people make around this issue.
Create an on-call crisis team. Pick at least:
- One trusted and capable adult (minors have little to no power in justice systems, so having someone with adult rights is important) who you know in person, who is easy to get a hold of, and who’d have your back no matter what and would respond quickly if you needed help. That could be someone like a family member, a teacher or coach, or a neighbor or member of your religious community. Check with them to assure they would do this for you.
- One advocate or advocacy organization you can reach by phone, such as a lawyer, legal aid group, or an advocacy group that provides in-person help for any special needs you have or for a vulnerable group you are the member of, such as a transgender rights advocate or a youth rights group. That advocate or advocacy organization doesn’t have to be local, but they need to be able to be local or connect you with a local advocate. Parents can be advocates, but if your parents or guardians aren’t people you trust to advocate for you, choose someone else.
- One public service agency you feel safe contacting in an emergency. That may be the police, or the police may be the last people who feel safe for you in crisis. In that case, a local hospital, fire department, embassy, community center or community service organization may be a better fit.
Save the contact information for your three choices in a mobile device if you have and use one, and also write them down on a small card you can fit into a wallet, purse, or pocket and have with you. Try to always keep this information with you or memorize some of it.
As best you can, try to keep or start to create some kind of emergency savings you don’t dip into for non-emergencies. You or someone you care about may need funds for contraception, travel to services, legal help or other things that won’t wait and cost money. At the very least, try and be more frugal than usual and limit spending on non-essentials.
Sexual abuse and physical assault, as well as domestic violence, are likely to increase and escalate in nations led by leaders who have done or do the same, and diminish these as crimes. That’s horrible to know, but it’s important to be aware. For those in targeted groups, including women, people of color, Natives, Muslims, immigrants, LGBQT people, and disabled people, this danger is real. While it shouldn’t be on us to protect ourselves, learning self-defense and using a buddy system can empower you and make you safer, in addition to being a cathartic release of energy and a way to build friendships. Many communities offer self defense classes that are run as safer spaces, so you can spend time with people who share your lived experience. Learning self-defense can also help us feel safer and more empowered, even if we never have to use it.
Emergency Medical Services and You:
Medical emergencies that involve an element of the illegal, like drug overdoses or underage alcohol poisoning, are a scary reality. You should know that EMS aren’t law enforcement and that with some rare exceptions (gunshot wounds, child abuse, elder abuse), they do not report what they see to police. If you or someone else has an emergency like an overdose, call for help or take them to the hospital: Their life is too important to risk. If you or a loved one has a difficult relationship with narcotics, it’s also a good idea to keep Narcan on hand, because it can save a life. Medical services will not call police in the case of rape or sexual assault unless specifically requested, or the patient is a minor.
Take advantage of encrypted communication apps, like Signal by Open Whisper Systems, to create a secure, confidential line of communication now that can be ready if you need it. Pick strong passwords for all your stuff that’s passworded, keep an offline list of them, and update them often. Get in the habit of turning GPS stuff off, and out of the habit of posting your location to things like Tweets and Facebook posts. Lock your phone with a code, not a thumbprint.
Reject Gaslighting and Tokenism:
Don’t do it to other people, and try not to fall for it yourself. You will see individuals who represent every vulnerable group defend or justify Trump and Trumpism, and you will hear them pointed to as evidence that your fears or your active oppression are not real or are nothing to worry about. Don’t believe it. Pay attention to actions and impacts, not to whether one token individual has decided to throw their lot in with someone engaging in oppression. Hitler had a few Jews he liked. Misogynists usually have one or two women they say are “good” women, rare exceptions to the rule. Racists will often tell you they have “a black friend,” so they can’t be racist. Tokenism is often used to paper over or disguise oppression.
For as much action as you take, be it about yourself, others, or both, try to give yourself equal downtime to recharge and regroup. Rest and self-care are necessary in the best of times. Figure they’re doubly important right now.
“Never lose sight of who you are and what you value.”
Journalist Sarah Kendzior suggests writing an essay now about your life so far, your best memories, your most important values; about the good person you are and want to always be. These kinds of times in history have often changed people for the worse, and usually so gradually, they don’t realize it until it’s too late. In the event you ever have moments where you feel like you’re losing yourself, she suggests you reference that essay, and use it to remember. (“We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump," The Correspondent, November 18th, 2016)
all of rebel well: front page • why we made this guide • for everyone • healthcare • relationships & sex • conflict resolution • for those suffering harassment online, at school or at work • for those in abusive/controlling relationships, or who are homeless, transient or in the foster system • for those who are trans or LGBQ • for those who are of color • for those who experience religious intolerance or who are undocumented citizens • for those who are disabled • for those interacting with the justice system • for those engaging in active protest • when everything seems terrible or nowhere feels safe • how to help each other & improve this godawful mess • resources and helplines