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Identity change: a change for the worse

You don't disappear after an ID change
You don't disappear after an ID change

No, it's not a bad made-for-TV movie or a game of cat-and-mouse in a spy vs. spy novel - it's real events that have happened in real people's lives with very real consequences - and it's all taken a turn for the worse because of a missing plane headed for Bejing. What am I talking about? Identity Change, better known as the Social Security Administration’s New Numbers for Domestic Violence Victims “service” (?) more commonly referred to as “Valenda’s program”.

Although I’ve written three prior articles trying to warn victim-survivors away from this change for the worse (see the two-part “Identity change: giving up your life to save it & “The real realities of identity change articles) I didn’t do a good enough job – I was recently contacted by yet another victim-survivor recently inducted into this “program” who went online searching for answers and instead came across my articles:

Hi, I just read your articles on Identity Change and am sitting here crying. I was researching identity changes and problems because that is my current life and there is not one person I know that understands what this is like. Your article is the only thing I've heard or read that tells me that maybe I am not going crazy. I was left high and dry because I do not currently have an advocate who can work with us.

Horrific and terrifying in all the specific details, her story is really no different then the other survivors who’ve gone through an identity change; in no way to minimize her plight, her account is simply a variation on a theme – how absolutely sick and sad is that? (And I’m NOT referring to the abuse as sick and sad – I’m talking about how she was treated by those identified to help her escape her abuse!)

Rather then me recounting her thoughts, feelings and experiences for you about her life after an identity change, I’m going to let her tell it:

You and your new identity are held up in a place you would have never of chosen to live, with no money, food from a food bank, no friends, no tv (cause you can’t get an account in your new name) and not a single person in the world who understands. It makes me constantly wonder, "Why the hell did I leave?" And I have plenty time to wonder too because thanks to the new identity and the imminent threat of the ex, I have nothing else in the world to do.

Not only do I feel the most isolated I have ever been, but I had advocates who aren't real educated on DV: they gave me some bad advice, which I followed (because they're the advocates) and now it exposes me more. "She meant well and is learning" is going to get me killed!

I have had more advocates along the way and lived in more shelters and safe houses than I can count (and believe it or not, I got kicked out of a few because I was "too high-risk” and “the safety of all the other shelter guests comes first"). The years of me hiding AFTER I left him and being so transitory is making me feel like my life is over and there is absolutely no hope.

This is a far cry from the “happy ending” that people (and victims) imagine DV survivors will have after “successfully escaping abuse” and then the picture gets worse with a random event: the disappearance of a jet over the Gulf of Thailand.

What potential effect does this have with a DV survivor’s identity change? As investigators looked into the jet’s disappearance they discovered that two of the passengers had fake passports – a passport that did not reflect the holder’s true identity. Whatever the intentions were for the fake passports it’s fair to say that in our post 9/11 world, passports are going to be scrutinized more vigorously hereafter as a result and it appears that the concern is already taking form in its serious implications. The more scrutinizing the more chances for exposure, investigation and the consequences thereof for DV survivors who’ve undergone an identity change. Without third party verification and confirmation of their legal identity change, DV survivors don’t stand a chance once “caught”.

It has become so important to me for people to understand 1. how messed up DV is 2. how even more messed up it is after you leave and then 3. the most messed up thing that can happen - an identity change that causes you to lose everyone/everything you know because your ex tried, still wants to and probably will kill you.

Identity change is a change for the worse so please don’t let anyone convince you that it’s a safe option. If you were able to survive an abusive relationship and successfully escape it, you’re smart enough to survive beyond it. PTSD is a pain in the butt but it’s a survival instinct that will serve you well if you’re being hunted by a relentless abuser. (Remember: it’s NOT paranoia when there really is someone out to get you!)

Accept whatever help and assistance you can along the way but when it comes to believing what’s in your best interests, believe in no one but yourself and Our Father in heaven. Until the experts are willing to risk what they’re asking you to, the best expert in your case will always be you so keep strong, keep on keepin’ on and survive!

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