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Treatment, Self-Help & Recovery => Self-Help & Recovery => Frustrated? Set Backs? => Topic started by: DV on January 25, 2019, 12:47:52 PM

Title: Boundaries and border crossings...
Post by: DV on January 25, 2019, 12:47:52 PM
So I haven't posted on these forums in a long time, but I had a terrible experience yesterday that I wanted to share with you all, since I felt like most people here could understand this a lot better than the average person.

Just some advanced warning, there may be "triggers" in this post for people who fear authority figures or have had bad experiences dealing with border guards.

Anyway, I was crossing the border from the U.S. back into Canada yesterday when I was questioned by the Canadian border guards. I had nothing to hide, and I'm a Canadian citizen, so I didn't expect anything much... just maybe a couple simple questions and then they'd let me go.

Apparently not. I won't go over all the details of what happened, but basically there were a couple misunderstandings and I ended up driving into an area I wasn't supposed to go, and so I was sort of anxious from the get-go. The border guard took this nervousness as being "suspicious" and then found some old cell phones in my trunk, which he also found to be "suspicious"... etc.

So basically, the net result was that I ended up being detained for very dubious reasons. They went through all my stuff, and even confiscated my phone and computer and essentially told me that I'd be arrested if I didn't unlock it for them and allow them to go through all my private data... Talk about a major intrusion of privacy, and crossing all sorts of boundaries (excuse the unintentional pun...).

The whole thing made me feel so violated that it just sent me spinning and spinning... I couldn't believe what was happening to me or what I had done to deserve such a thing. And in a country like Canada, of all places, and me being a citizen!

It's hard to really put into words how the whole thing left me feeling... violated, angry, incredulous... I couldn't believe that the government of my own country would condone such practices, but it seems they're basically legal.

Anyway, I partially posted this just to sort of vent/share my frustrations, but also partially as a warning to everyone else who might not be aware of this stuff (as I really wasn't before today)... if anyone else is concerned about this sort of thing, I'd suggest traveling with as few electronic devices as you can (especially ones that have private/sensitive info), and perhaps just getting a cheap laptop/phone for travel purposes, if you can afford it and it's worth the safeguarding of your privacy.

Also, if it isn't already obvious from my story, I'd suggest avoiding traveling with more than one phone if you can...

It seems like this sort of intrusive searching at borders is becoming more common from some statistics I saw... in the U.S. and Canada and probably other countries as well. So just a heads up to any of you who weren't already aware of this sort of thing... don't want to unintentionally "trigger" people or make them even more nervous when crossing borders, but I think this is just some stuff we should all be aware of. This is apparently the sad reality of the world we're living in today.

I think part of what made the experience so especially negative for me was I was totally unaware that this was a "normal" thing, or even something that was legal for border guards to do, so I was caught very off guard... hopefully my experience and sharing about it can help at least a few more people to be more prepared than I was.
Title: Re: Boundaries and border crossings...
Post by: Three Roses on January 25, 2019, 04:01:52 PM
You must have been terrified! I'm so sorry you went thru all that.  :hug:
Title: Re: Boundaries and border crossings...
Post by: LilyITV on January 25, 2019, 06:18:14 PM
OMG that is so awful!  There was a time in the U.S. when people fiercely protected the right to privacy but since 9/11, people have been so willing to chuck the principles our founding fathers fought and died for all out of the window.  All out of fear.

I am very reluctant to visit other countries for this reason or even to fly.  I'd rather drive 10-12 hours than give up all my civil rights to a tyrannical TSA agent. 
Title: Re: Boundaries and border crossings...
Post by: Kizzie on January 25, 2019, 07:58:25 PM
It's hard to really put into words how the whole thing left me feeling... violated, angry, incredulous...

What an awful experience for anyone, but especially given you struggle with Complex PTSD AND you're Canadian. I am Canadian and I too don't expect things like this either. Sad reality though is things have gotten much tighter at the border now. 

I had a recent encounter with airport security traveling within Canada because of two new knees that left me feeling similarly - embarrassed, vulnerable and angry. When the scanner beeped I had to go into a private room and show them my knees. We're flying next week and if they have questions I will insist on going through the scanner vs end up standing in a room with my pants around my ankles while two strangers check out my knees. 

I think it's a difficult situation for most people, but when you have CPTSD it's ten times worse because it feels so much like being trapped in an abusive situation with little or no power.

Anyway, tks for the warning :hug:
Title: Re: Boundaries and border crossings...
Post by: DV on January 28, 2019, 03:22:48 AM
Thanks for all the responses and support everyone. I guess I've settled down somewhat since the experience a few days ago, although still feel shaken up by it. I definitely feel like my eyes have been opened to the dark underside of border patrol operations... and reading some accounts of other people online, there's some really sad and disturbing stories of what people have experienced at the hands of some border patrol agents.

I think it's a difficult situation for most people, but when you have CPTSD it's ten times worse because it feels so much like being trapped in an abusive situation with little or no power.

Was thinking about this statement... I agree that the situation is naturally made much worse having CPTSD. However, I'm not sure if you meant it as I read it, but I disagree with one point. It's not just that it feels so much *like* being trapped in an abusive situation with little or no power, that sometimes (if not often) actually *is* the case.

I can understand how people with CPTSD could potentially see a situation as abusive when it isn't really, or perhaps see it as more abusive than it really is. I think that's a very real struggle that many of us, if not practically all of us, go through.

However, in this sort of situation... when you're alone with border guards who have few restraints (legal or otherwise) on what they're able to do to you, and naturally are in a position of having much more power and authority than you do... that's a situation that's extremely high in potential for easy abuse. The fact that there's extremely little external oversight or accountability on the actions of the border patrol makes the situation even worse.

I suppose you technically have some legal rights when you're detained by the border agents, but as I've just recently found out, lot of the problem with how they operate is that they're in a very murky area of the law and given an enormous amount of power and freedom to do what they want with people crossing the border. They can search you and your property without any given reason, and can ask any questions that they feel are necessary for their investigation, and you're practically obligated to answer them (or else you're "hindering the investigation"), no matter how personal, inappropriate, or insulting (or just outright irrelevant) those questions are.

For example, after the one border agent went through my text messages, he started asking me questions about my friends and family and whether I was in regular contact with anyone, and then sort of indirectly told me he found it suspicious that I only had text messages from one person in the recent past (as if being isolated from other people is a sign you're a criminal). And at one point he basically admitted that he thought I could be a pedophile because of the old cell phones he had found in my trunk, telling me about a pedophile he had caught who also was also carrying a bunch of old phones... as if there was no valid reason a non-criminal could be carrying multiple cell phones with them...

It was pretty obvious to me from the beginning that this border guard didn't like me, and thought I was "suspicious" for some very dubious reason(s), and so he was just looking for any possible reason to detain me, go through my things, and grill me with ridiculous questions.

Eventually when he couldn't find anything after his ridiculous search, he let me go (no doubt very reluctantly and feeling very disappointed that he didn't find proof that I was a pedophile like he thought).

The amount of power these border patrol agents have is something I honestly find excessive and even disturbing... they're not limited nearly as much as regular police officers are, as I found out. I'm not saying all border agents are terrible people, or will take advantage of the power and freedom they have... but when you run into a bad apple... well, things can get bad very quickly, in any number of ways.

Anyway, this post has gotten really long, and I could go on even more... suffice it to say, my views on this whole topic have changed dramatically after that experience a few days ago. It seems to me like the entire system needs serious overhaul, and especially a lot more external oversight and accountability, to limit the potential for easy abuse.