It starts with a strange buzzing and a creeping sense of dread.
Unable to move, unable to speak, all you can do is watch as the being approaches you, its energy seeping into your body.
For Debbie Starborn, it feels like death.
It’s what’s known as an “experience” or “encounter.” And for those who claim to have had them, they are life-changing.
In Wareham, Massachusetts, on the edge of a remote bay, members of Starborn Support come together to find comfort in each other. Each member of the group says they have experienced an extraterrestrial alien encounter or, in some cases, abduction.
“I've always had a twin sister to go through, to be there together, to go through this together,” Debbie told InsideEdition.com at the gathering over Labor Day weekend. “When we were looking out, reaching for help when stuff really started happening, we couldn't find any groups or anybody to help.”
So they created Starborn Support.
Many say they feel alone after undergoing an experience.
You think “you’re completely insane,” said Debbie. “Not being able to speak to somebody [is hard], that's why we do what we do.”
“You don't come up to somebody, ‘Hey. I'm an abductee,’” added Matthew Moniz, Starborn Support’s scientific adviser.
Moniz knows this firsthand. Years ago, a girlfriend moved in with him. He hadn’t mentioned his penchant for receiving midnight visitors, so the first time they showed up after she moved in, he said, his girlfriend awoke to find him levitating above the bed they shared.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, I forgot to tell you. I'm an abductee,’” he said with a laugh.
His girlfriend couldn’t cope with it. “A couple of weeks later, she's like ... ‘I'm outta here.’”
He points to the incident when people say he’s just making up stories for attention.
“The attention you get isn't the type of attention you want when you're talking about this. It's not good attention,” he said.
As a little girl, Debbie pleaded with her parents to protect her from the “bald men.”
“When I lived in Ohio when I was little, I used to beg my parents, ‘Don't put me to bed, the bald men are gonna get me!’” she recalled. “I called them the bald men, 'cause I was dealing with the typical movie aliens, the grays."
But unlike the extraterrestrials you see in Hollywood, these beings can shapeshift, appearing as giant lizards, or small beings with silver, swirling skin, like mercury. Sometimes they even look like humans, Debbie said.
She’d try to stay awake for as long as she could, but she couldn’t fight the pull of sleep forever. She said she’d be awoken by her parents’ voices and a blue light shining through her bedroom.
“They made it seem like it was my parents coming ... I don't know if it calmed or whatever to know that you think it's your parents," she said.
Then, "you get hit with this energy,” Debbie continued. “Your whole body starts vibrating and you get paralyzed, but if you're sitting up and they want you to be laying down, your body will automatically lay down.”
It’s terrifying, she said. “Your mind is working, your eyes are working, you can see what's going on, you're aware of what's going on, but you cannot move.”
Dealing With Skeptics
Post-traumatic stress disorder is “rampant” among the community, according to Debbie.
“Some people decide to check out,” said Moniz. “I've been to enough gravesides over this, so some people can handle it. Some people can't.
“That’s why we have these things,” he added, referring to the gathering on the bay. “[It’s] something to look forward to. ... They know that there are others out there who are going through this and there's a place where they can go and be accepted.”
It’s a tight-knit group, Moniz said. “We have that special bond, similar to combat vets. ... Our combat is just on a different battlefield.”
Members of Starborn Support know many people out there doubt them.
“I'm sure I appear rational and lucid to other people, but if I talk about this … ‘Wait a minute, he's got to be crazy,’” Moniz said.
He wishes those who haven’t had experiences would be a little more “open and accepting” of the possibility that aliens exist.
“The people experiencing it believe it's happening, OK? You may not necessarily want to, but accept that they do,” he added.
Debbie asks that non-believers treat experiencers with more respect. “A lot of people, what they don't understand, they attack,” she said.
Part of what Starborn Support offers is assistance to family members of experiencers as well, helping them learn to deal with what an experiencer may be going through.
“A lot of the families start feeling out of control when something is happening to a loved one,” Debbie said.
They may witness their spouse being taken in the night, or wake up and find them missing with no explanation. “That's traumatic right there,” added Debbie.
A Higher Purpose
Debbie suspects experiencers have been chosen for a specific reason.
“I don't know the purpose or what is gonna happen, but it's gonna be something big,” she said. “... I think people like me are chosen to be speakers for the truth.”
For Debbie, there’s nothing better than helping a newbie experiencer.
“I love working with these people, and a lot of people don't know what's going on. People like us who have more experience are able to help them and say, ‘Look, you're not alone, and this happened to me.’”
She thinks there are “thousands if not millions” of experiencers out there, and she urges them to speak up.
“The more people come out and share their story, and the more of us that open up and tell the story, they're only gonna ... you know, you can only deny so much. You know? We're not all, you know, crazy. This is really happening.”
She added: “We cannot all be, you know, having this mass delusion.”
It’s a lot of pressure, however.
“Sometimes I say, "I wish I could just forget about everything and wake up one day and have a normal life,’” Debbie said.
“But then I'm like, 'This is normal life for me.'"