lb_lee: M.D. making a shocked, confused face (serious thought)
[personal profile] lb_lee
Hey guys, this is part two of the Tristan Grey story. Part one focused on that multiple's crimes of kidnapping and raping teenage girls, and how we found this all out after becoming his penpal. This post will be focusing on the tactics they used, why they succeeded or failed, and hopefully, other people can learn from our own vulnerabilities.

Teenagers

First, Tristan favored teenaged victims. His two New Braunsfels victims were fifteen and sixteen, and he focused special attention on our youngest system member, Mori, when she was the same age. In one letter, his headmate Echo wrote Mori specifically to tell her that Tristan had a crush on her, begging her to be kind to him. (Personal correspondence, 9/3/2015)

This has a couple layers of creepiness. Besides the obvious grossness of a twenty-seven-year-old man crushing on a sixteen-year-old, there's the added weirdness of telling her via third party. Since Echo told Mori, ostensibly without Tristan's permission, Mori couldn't call Tristan out on it. She couldn't even claim that he was being inappropriate, because OBVIOUSLY he hadn't shared his feelings with her, Echo had. By having his headmate express his feelings to Mori, he could avoid responsibility for them.

This ended up failing; Mori shot him down anyway. Since her old system job involved driving off unwanted suitors, she felt absolutely no guilt or pressure to do anything else. However, a teenager without that history, and one who perhaps liked Tristan back, might not have recognized the trick, and been taken in. They might've felt obligated to play along, or god forbid, returned his feelings, which he would've exploited. And he would've felt no compunction about it; as he told Mori later, "When you love someone their age, looks, race, ect... (sic) stop mattering." (Personal correspondence, 11/13/2015)

(As a side note, that line is creepy enough, but adding to the skeeze is that he specifically said it about our system member Biff, who was in his mid-thirties at the time and is sort of Mori's surrogate parent/best bro. At the time, Sneak preferred to think Tristan merely expressed himself badly, but in hindsight, he probably WOULD have thought that a sexual relationship between them was acceptable.)

Predators like Tristan often target teenagers, because they can be smart but unwordly. Their openness (and sometimes lack of parental supervision) makes them preferred targets, ESPECIALLY if the predator can claim that the teenager was very adult for their age. One of Tristan's victims was described by her mother as "a very intelligent girl and very mature," and also isolated. "We moved around a lot for work, so I thought it [online roleplaying] would help her stay in touch with people and could be a creative outlet." (Woman indicted in sister's disappearances, Herald-Zeitung) So Tristan specifically targeted a girl who had trouble keeping friends, whose parents weren't paying much attention (they paid the 2000 minute phone bill without noticing), and he roleplayed her with three years, building rapport.

Which leads us to his next tactic.

Love-Bombing

Tristan tried to get very close to us very quickly. By his third letter to us, he was saying things like, "Have you ever met someone who just seemed to melt into part of you? --you have seemed to have done this to me." (Personal correspondence, 10/21/2014) He quickly moved onward to, "Know we're here for you all and will stand by you no matter what. If you need us we are just a letter away," (Personal correspondence, 12/10/2014) and "You help me keep my head on straight and I am glad I have you guys in my world. I wouldn't know what to do without all of you. Your letters help more than just a little, they help me tons, more than I could ever tell." (Personal correspondence, 1/22/2015)

Tristan also liked to talk about the importance of loyalty and honesty. In his second letter, he told us, "I promise to be honest with you always. Lieing[sic] doesn't build it breaks" even as he was blatantly lying about being Native American. (Personal correspondence, 9/23/2014) This was probably intended to test us, to see whether we would catch him in a lie or call him out on it. He acted as though we were special, that he rarely gave his loyalty to anyone, but we had proven ourselves to him

All of this fawning attention was probably meant to instill reciprocal devotion and loyalty. In this, he failed--Sneak thought he/they were merely happy to meet another plural, so never returned the intense interest. We weren't isolated like his previous victims; we had many friends, plural and singlet, so Tristan wasn't anything special. All his talking about loyalty did was make him look creepily overenthusiastic.

Shared History

Similar to this lovebombing was Tristan's attempt to build rapport by claiming we shared a great deal in common. Besides being trans (which was most definitely true) and plural (which might've been true or not), he also claimed to share a disability and a history of incest with us. He expressed rage at people who victimize children, said things like, "Rape is never a choice for anyone," and generally tried to act as though we shared in a battle against the wrongdoing of the world. (Personal correspondence 11/11/14)

Of course, he sexually assaulted children himself, and I have no way of knowing whether any of his claimed history was true. He very well could've invented the whole thing to get closer to us, building a shared sense of victimhood. But for the sake of argument, let's say he hadn't. Say he truly had been through the horrors he described, that we really did share a surprising amount in common. Even then, it would've made no difference. We learned a long time ago that a shared history of victimization is only that. It does not imply shared ethics or goals. Many people survive earthquakes, but they usually know better than to think that such an experiences makes someone more trustworthy.

Tristan wanted us to believe that we were in it together. But there's no reason to believe that is true. Even if we did have a lot in common, even if it were all true, it only makes his actions more heinous. Someone who has survived child abuse should know more than anyone the damage it can do, and know better than to repeat the process.

But I suspect he may have hoped to use this shared history to support more mystical claims.

I Hear Dead People

From almost the start, Tristan claimed to be able to hear and see ghosts. He claimed that due to being Jicarilla Apache, he grew up in a family where this was a normal thing. (Personal correspondence 9/23/2014)

But this seems to be untrue. My very rudimentary research into the Jicarilla implies that the dead and ghosts for them were a purely negative thing. They were evil, filled with only the negative parts of the deceased, and were to be avoided. Speaking to the dead would NOT be a positive experience, or a revered skill. So I suspect all of this was simply bunk. (Jicarilla Religion and Expressive Culture)

Tristan was pretty insistent on it, though. Asides from building his system off these spiritual beliefs, he'd try to convince us that he had supernatural powers and had a special bond to us. "You can feel me wincing cause friend we got that BOND like that we know each other." (Personal correspondence, Spring 2016.) We, of course, didn't believe this; we had no special attachment or bond to him; he was just a penpal. But Tristan obviously wanted us to believe otherwise.

Over time, he read some of our comics, though often with long delays. After reading All In The Family part 1 and 2, he tried to persuade us that our father had hurt us, by claiming a ghost told him these things. "There was more than just you hurt and someone that was hurt can't speak for themself unless she choose to come back, but I doubt that maybe one day." (Personal correspondence, 9/3/2015)

It is a gross breach of boundaries to try and convince someone that a relative abused them. It is my opinion that nobody should ever do that under any circumstances, even if it is true. And Tristan was not a trusted friend whose opinion we asked on the matter; he came up with that himself, and used it specifically to try and bolster his claims of supernatural ability.

Even if he truly believed that nonsense, there's a simple rational explanation for his claim: the end of AllFam2 specifically involves a psychological apparition of a little girl named Doll Girl. She is not a literal, actual ghost. She is a psychological symptom of our own mental illness, of which All In The Family is a chronicle. So Tristan was specifically leveraging our mental illness to try and loosen our grip on reality and get us to believe supernatural bunk.

This didn't work on us, for a few reasons. First, by that point we had a pretty strong grip on how our mind and illness worked. We knew what the apparitions were, and that they were psychological, not supernatural, in origin. Second, due to the lime lapse between letters and our publishing schedule, Tristan didn't know that we had already long since figured out for ourself our father's role in the whole business. But had we been less certain in ourself, more spiritual in bent, and had Tristan had better timing, we very well might have believed him. He very well might've roped us into believing he had magical powers. I can easily see that working on isolated teenagers.

No Shame

One other thing about Tristan. He never mentioned any of his crimes at all, but I am positive that he had absolutely no regret or remorse for anything he did. Why? Because he spoke freely of things related to his crimes, merely avoiding the bad parts. He happily told us about his wolf paw tattoo and drew it for us, never mentioning that he'd branded it on his victims. He was happy to natter on about his religious faith, completely untroubled by the fact that he'd used it to brainwash children and was now trying it again on us.

If he truly felt that what he'd done was wrong, he probably wouldn't have been able to enjoy such reminders. But he did. He happily talked about his love of tech and the Internet. He talked about how age meant nothing when it came to love and used his own multiplicity to try and rope Mori in. He had absolutely no shame. He merely censored his history to avoid driving us off and continued doing exactly what he'd done before.

Did We Fall for It?

Well, sort of. We didn't really believe much of anything he said, certainly not that he had supernatural powers or that a ghost told him about our trauma history. Tristan was emotionally sensitive and intelligent, but his writing skills lagged behind, to the point that Sneak flat-out didn't understand what he was meant when he was saying some of these things. It seemed like incoherent nonsense, so ze just ignored it.

However, since we didn't know the nature of his crimes, we didn't realize that he was trying to manipulate us either. We thought he merely had very poor social skills. I actually underestimated his intelligence, passing him off as rambling and incoherent, when in reality, he was making strategic steps to undermine our sense of reality and convince us of total nonsense.

Unfortunately for him, the underestimation seems to have gone both ways--he mistook Sneak's politeness for credulous belief, and Mori's age for acquiescence. He didn't get a foothold into our head, and he didn't establish a sense of control over us. All he achieved was hurting Sneak's feelings, which is still not okay, but a minor setback in the scheme of things. Ze is already bouncing back, and feeling much better.

Ze is taking a break from penpals for a while, though.

Sources

Shettig, Bryan. "Woman indicted in sisters' disappearance." Herald-Zeitung 12 August 2010. Herald-Zeitung. Web. Accessed 2 February 2017.
Grey, Tristan. Personal correspondence. 23 September 2014.
Grey, Tristan. Personal correspondence. 21 October 2014.
Grey, Tristan. Personal correspondence. 11 November 2014.
Grey, Tristan. Personal correspondence. 10 December 2014.
Grey, Tristan. Personal correspondence. 3 September 2015.
Grey, Tristan. Personal correspondence. 13 November 2015.
Grey, Tristan. Personal correspondence. 22 January 2016.
Grey, Tristan. Personal correspondence. Spring 2016. (The exact date has sadly been lost with the envelope.)
"Jicarilla - Religion and Expressive Culture." Countries and their Cultures. Advameg, Inc. 2017. Web. Access 9 February 2017.
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