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April 20, 2023 20 mins

Andrea and Jennifer speak with Shannon Henry and Brett Carney Brown from the organization SASS Go to discuss the importance of noticing the signs of predatory behavior.  SASS stands for Surviving Assault Standing Strong.  Their mission is to eradicate assault, abuse, and trafficking against women and girls globally through prevention education, self-defense training, and emergent case consulting.

Also, we have a sneak peek at Betrayal season two, premiering May 18th

More information about SASS can be found on their site:

If you would like to reach out to the Betrayal Team, email us at  

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi everyone, It's Andrea Gunning. I know it's been a while,
but today we are back with not just new bonus content,
but with two major updates. First, we'll be back with
season two of Betrayals starting May eighteenth, and we even
have a sneak peek at the end of this episode. Second,
Betrial Season one is being turned into a documentary. More
details on where and when it will launch, so stay

tuned on the feed for updates. In the meantime, check
out this bonus episode about an incredible organization.

Speaker 2 (00:55):

Speaker 1 (00:55):
One of the best parts of doing the podcast is
learning about the resources didn't know about. And there's an
organization called SASCO that really intrigues me.

Speaker 3 (01:06):
I had the opportunity a couple weekends ago to attend
and I Will Survive weekend, which was put on by
the SASCO organization out of South Carolina, and it was
a great weekend. One of the ways we spent our
time was learning self defense moves, specifically what were to

happen if someone were to assault you or to come
at you and attack you.

Speaker 1 (01:36):
And you brought some of the ladies back from the weekend.

Speaker 3 (01:39):
I wanted to bring back a little souvenir. So today,
Shannon Henry and Brett Carney Brown of the SaaS Organization
are here to talk to us about the five tactics
predators used to break down their targets.

Speaker 1 (01:54):
Brett, can you share how SAS began?

Speaker 4 (01:57):
It really started because we have been working with survivors
of violence for seventeen years in a number of different ways,
and we kept hearing the same three questions. One why
didn't I know that this could happen to me?

Speaker 5 (02:10):

Speaker 4 (02:10):
Why didn't I know what to do when it did?
And three why didn't I know where to go for help?
And that really was the beginning of what ultimately became
the nonprofit because we wanted to make sure that everyone
had the answers to those questions before anything ever happened.

Speaker 1 (02:26):
That makes total sense, Shannon, What was the idea that
empowered you to do this?

Speaker 5 (02:32):
It wasn't until I took a self defense course that
I really felt like for the first time I could
trust my mind and my body to recognize danger and
hopefully end it before anything happened, and it gave me
the tools to do that. So really that was the
impetus for me, was that empowerment it's the prevention which

is super important. If we can keep people from having
to experience this, that's what we want to do first
and foremost. But it's also making sure that systems and
agencies and women and girls and families know how to
intervene when it does happen, and then how to get
the response the help that they need in the aftermath.

Speaker 3 (03:13):
Shannon, you have gone through your own personal experience with
sexual assault. Would you mind sharing that story with us?

Speaker 5 (03:22):
Like any other teenage girl, I dated a guy, fell
in love. I thought he was wonderful. We dated for
about a year. He put me on a pedestal and
made me feel special. He was older than me, and
I always had this idea in the back of my
mind that I was lucky to be with him because

he was somebody that other people wanted to be with
as well, and he chose me. So one day after
school he asked me to come by and bring him
a mountain dew to his place. I didn't want to go,
and I knew I didn't want to go, but I
felt this disease to please, and so I thought, Okay,
I'll just go by, I'll drop it off. I'm not
going to tell my mom where I'm going, because she'd

kill me if she knew I was going to his
house by myself, but I did. When I walked in,
things were different than they normally were there. It was
loud and there were a few other people there. I
also noticed that he had alcohol in his breath, and
so I said, you know, here's your drink. I've got
to go, but i'll talk to you later. And he said, well,

just wait a second. I want you to come back
in my bedroom with me for just a second. I
want to show you something. And I thought, oh, I
don't want to go back in his bedroom. But at
the same time, it's my boyfriend and I trust him
and I love him, he loves me. We're fine. So
I walked back in his bedroom and he shut the door,
and I can still see him turning the lock on it,

and I remember looking at that and going, why is
he locking the door? And then that's when he looked
at me and he started to kiss me. But it
was a kiss that wasn't about me, and it wasn't
about us, it was about him, and I didn't like it.
I was very uncomfortable, and I pushed away from him
and I said, look, I've got to go, and he

grabbed my wrist and it hurt, and he said, get
on the bed or that's next, and beside the bed
was a hunting knife, and I remember thinking, there's no
way he's going to hurt me. But I was scared
enough to lay down on the bed and not make
a noise. And he did with me what I didn't
want to do. And then he stood me up and

he opened the door and kissed me on the cheek
and said, how fun at dance? And I walked out.
I remember just being totally in a fog, and as
I looked to my right, there were three people that
I knew well from high school, and they all high
fived each other as I walked out, as if it

had been planned before I got there. And I got
in my car, I went to dance. I didn't say
a word. I went home. I got in the bed
and I cried myself to sleep, and I never talked
about it again. In my mind, I was already turning
inward and blaming myself. I was in dance clothes. I

shouldn't have gone there. I knew better, like what was
I doing? And so that started a spiral. I turned
to drugs and alcohol and boys to self medici because
I was only sixteen. But eventually I got the help
that I needed and that was a turning point for me.
But it wasn't until I took that self defense class

that I really felt like I could trust my mind
and my body again and fight for myself if I
needed to. And I said, you know, if you left
your purse out and somebody stole your wallet, it's not
because you left your purse out, it's because there was
a thief in the room. So nothing that I did
that day should have resulted in my rape, except that

there was a rapist in the room.

Speaker 1 (06:59):
Jan thank you for sharing that. It was difficult to
hear as a fellow survivor.

Speaker 3 (07:06):
To be honest, Dre, you've never brought this up before.

Speaker 1 (07:11):
I know, I don't really talk about it. I think
that the one thing that I'm just kind of reckoning
with is the fact that you can kind of define
look at this behavior after the fact, But these perpetrators
and these predators are so good that the red flags
are usually not even there. Like in my case, I
wasn't picking up these character traits in the moment you

would never know this was your boyfriend, Shannon, this was
your husband that you knew from college.

Speaker 3 (07:38):
Jen, Shannon, I think one of the words that can
describe my ex husband's behavior is predatory.

Speaker 5 (07:46):
What are some of.

Speaker 3 (07:46):
The tactics that these predators use?

Speaker 5 (07:50):
Sencer was using what we call the top five predatory tactics.
The first one is what we call the smile that hides.
Body can come into your world unless you invite them in.
And these predators know that. And from the time we're little,
when somebody smiles at us, it means what that they

like you, they're approachable, Yeah, And so in that way
they start to build the trust with you, and it
seems like a welcoming environment, and so they use that.
And there's something that we hall charm that they use,
and charm is not something that we're born with. It
is a mechanism we use in order to get what

we want. And so when we look at what Spence did,
there was a point in there when Jen, your friend said,
I wanted to come to you, but he was just
so charming, And I think that's a clear indicator right
there of just how charming he was. And part of
the reason he was such a beloved and decorated teacher

was because he was charming to not only her, but
to students and faculty and staff, so that he could
be perceived as trustworthy and somebody that you would want
to be around, and embedding himself in the community.

Speaker 4 (09:11):
That's something we see over and over again.

Speaker 5 (09:14):
So the second thing that happens is something called forced teaming.
So it's a way to build a camaraderie and to
kind of gain some trust, and in order to do
the things that he wanted to do, he had to
gain trust. We listened to your former friend talk about
how he would talk to her about soccer.

Speaker 2 (09:36):
It happened so slowly, finding things that were similarities between us,
like I played soccer, you know, he played soccer.

Speaker 6 (09:46):
I coached, he coached.

Speaker 2 (09:47):
So early conversations would be, you know, when we run
into each other, like oh, how's the game, or how's coaching,
or hey, coach. You know, certain things that were not
necessarily flirtingacious, but getting to know me and my family
and you know, making me feel comfortable with him.

Speaker 5 (10:05):
Over time, they turn what would be a normal conversation
of I like to do this to a we like
to do this because you want to form that bond
between the two of you to further build trust. It
killed me in his letter when he said, dear villagers,

that's a we. We're all in this together. This is
our village. Then he said thanks for being such good
friends to Jin, and that was another way for him
to create the wei where none existed.

Speaker 3 (10:40):
I never thought about it like that.

Speaker 5 (10:51):
Then we go into number three, which is too many details.
So perpetrators often give too many details when they're covering
their tracks, and the reason they do that is because
they know that what they're saying is a lie, but
they have to convince you that what they're saying is
not a lie. So they go on and on giving
you so many details to where it sounds convincing, and

unless they see on your face that you believe them,
they'll keep going on and on and on. When we
go into the fourth one, we've got typecasting and judgment
that pops up. I remember in one specific instance when
the student was talking about meeting with Spencer and she said,
at some point in that conversation, I quote, you are

a woman, are you not.

Speaker 1 (11:41):
In twenty fifteen, Spencer made a hard play for at
least one other student at hel high school, and yes
she was a teenager. Here are some of the messages
he sent to that student.

Speaker 5 (11:56):
What about hanging after school one day, We'd get away
from this place.

Speaker 1 (12:02):
And when he didn't get the result he wanted, he
tried a different tactic her adulthood. You are a woman,
are you not?

Speaker 5 (12:13):
That is a judgment, That is him saying, are you
not going to act like a woman? And it type
cast her into a role that she didn't sign up for.

Speaker 1 (12:22):
You mentioned earlier the need to please, trying to be friendly,
be a good friend. Do you feel like the need
to please comes from a place of fear, fear of
losing your boyfriend, the fear of losing a friend.

Speaker 4 (12:38):
One of the things we teach in classes is really
flipping that script. We talk about the fact that we
have all walked into a room or a relationship and thought, oh,
I hope they like me, but instead thinking I hope
I like them, I hope they live up to my standard.
I hope that this is somebody that I want to
show off to the whole world. And if I don't,

something is wrong. It's not something wrong with me, something
is wrong with them. And looking at it that way
and giving ourselves permission to hurt their feelings. You're allowed
to say no, and they will survive it, even if
they're unhappy about it. No is a full sentence. It
doesn't have to be explained. It doesn't have to be
excused like it is no period and teaching women and girls.

You can do that and that's okay and still be
a good person and happy with yourself because if you
need to say no, they're not living up to your standard,
and you can walk out with no explanation.

Speaker 1 (13:33):
Was there anything else that you heard in gen story
that stayed with you?

Speaker 4 (13:36):
I think about the woman in the band because I
remember she said I wasn't as good as everybody else,
and I didn't know why I was there that hook
of where there was a certain amount of really low
self esteem and not trusting herself to be enough, which
is not her fault, and he took advantage of that.

Speaker 6 (13:53):
I wasn't nearly as talented as any of the rest
of them in the group. I don't really know how
I got approve, but I felt like he made it
a point to push for me to be in the band.
Here I'm having this awesome opportunity, and I knew like
God shouldn't be going, So I guess I felt like

I owed him something.

Speaker 1 (14:21):
I have so much gratitude for Hope for being that
radically honest about her self worth and self esteem, because
that really showed the dynamics at play.

Speaker 5 (14:32):
Throughout the history of the podcast. It was so incredible
to watch the different dynamics play out and the different
people and jen it's so eye opening to people like
us who've been doing this for a long time to
hear the different patterns and to see the way that
he moved through all of these people and the way
he selected his victims. But it was also interesting to

see that he chose you, and I think, you know,
there was a Hartspense that really did look up to
you and really thought you were this incredible woman who
had all these gifts and all these talents, and you
were confident and in a way when you look at
it strategically, I guess we'll say it also was another

plaque on the wall. I'm married, I have this great wife,
she's smart. I'm not the guy that's doing these.

Speaker 7 (15:24):
Things, Jennifer. Ever since I saw you walk into that
hotel lobby last year, I've known what I'm supposed to
do with the rest of my life. I feel beyond
honored to know you, to love you, and to accept
the most privilege of all things being your husband.

Speaker 5 (15:41):
It was the Hollywood movie said that he was portraying
with all of his accolades and his wife, that is
this amazing human.

Speaker 4 (15:50):
The other thing that stood out to me was your
kindness in hearing the truth and being honest about all
the hard parts, but offering a soft place to land
for these women who, while you have been through so much,
you know they've been through. Something also that stood out

to me over and over and over again, because part
of the conversation that we have, particularly with families or schools,
is understanding what grace looks like and how to wrap
your arms around somebody in an almost impossible situation. I
think it sets an example and opens up a safe space,
like you said, for more people to come forward and

to talk about it and to feel free doing that.

Speaker 1 (16:34):
What were some of the questions that a lot of
survivors are bringing to the table when they're looking for help.

Speaker 4 (16:39):
More so than their general questions, is that they felt alone.
And it wasn't until somebody stood up in front of
a group of people and acknowledged that these things do happen,
that we are not alone, and the more we talk
about it, the stronger we get together, and that we
can look at what's going on and recognize in every

incident of violence or assault or abuse, there's really only
one person to blame, and so how can we take
freedom from that and then move forward looking at the
world with a slightly different lens. Watching so many women
recognize that there is a sisterhood in that room and yeah,

that they're not alone. You genuinely can see people get
taller and start to recognize that they did everything they
could with what they had and collectively will build from here.

Speaker 5 (17:36):
When we look at natural disasters and different things that
happen in the world, let's say a hurricane, there's this
collective community response where everybody shows up and says, we're
all here to support you and help. The problem with
sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, any kind of interpersonal violence

is behind closed. It's private, and so you do feel alone.
But once you collectively come together as a group, and
podcasts like yours are so helpful because you're saying no, no,
you're not alone.

Speaker 1 (18:12):
You're not alone. Never forget that. You guys are doing
incredible work. For more information on sasa's educational and self
defense programs, go to sasco dot org. Thank you for
joining us today, Yes, thank you, and thanks to you
guys our Betrayal community, and get ready, we'll be back
with season two of Betrayals starting May eighteenth. It's about

a new betrayal that rarely ever is spoken about, but
will confront it head on. Here's a sneak peek.

Speaker 8 (18:49):
My husband and I were opening a business. His first
job was that very next day, one of the clients
had asked if they could bend moo. Him called me
that morning September twenty ninth, twenty twenty one. He was like,
I need you to set up my business Venmo, and
I was like, all right, use your name and password

for whatever email is connected to your venmo. So he
sent me the log in for his eCloud and as
I'm signing in, he frantically calls me back. He was like, Oh,
don't worry about it, we'll do it together when we
get home. Like, I'm sorry, it's gonna be too much, Like,
don't do it. I knew by the tenor of his

voice that he was trying to hide something. I thought
maybe he bought something that he didn't want me to
know about. There was nothing in his photos, and then
I scrolled down and that's when I saw a hidden
folder and I opened it. You know, when you open

your photos, it's going to show you like a whole
bunch of them at once. I slammed my computer shut.
What the hell did I just see
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