Letter From The President

A Holiday Message from Our Presidents

Christa Krüger – 2020 ISSTD President
This year brought heavy challenges, some of which will still be with us through 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit us hard, in our personal lives and as an organization. Our 2020 Annual Conference was cancelled at the last minute, which threw us into a potential financial crisis.

And yet, despite the challenges, ISSTD’s membership has grown beyond 1600 members and most of our educational programs brought in record amounts of revenue this year. We transitioned and expanded successfully to virtual conferences, thanks to the expertise of our staff. The structural changes that were made to committees and groups during 2020, and the new policies that were developed this year, will hopefully enable ISSTD to keep growing and fulfilling our mission.

We remain dedicated to foster inclusivity in ISSTD and hope that ISSTD’s leadership will increasingly reflect the diversity within ISSTD, in all respects.

It was a privilege to serve as the president this year – thank you so much for all the support! I look forward to 2021 with Rosita Cortizo as our next president.

With best wishes to every ISSTD member!

Rosita Cortizo, 2020 President-Elect
What a great opportunity to be able to wish every one of you around the world, a healthy and peaceful 2020 conclusion. This is a year to remember and like many others in the past it was filled with creative project opportunities, specifically the unique prospect to assist our communities in all 5 continents remotely. The ‘new normal’ opened the door to new paths of communication and interactions that were both surprising and unexpected. More importantly we were able to navigate the difficult and often secluded periods in the company of this, our educational and congenial ISSTD community.

As the seasons change and we embrace novel events and challenges, it is with renewed hope and determined intention that I invite you all to continue to grow together in our academic village.

May we all continue to integrate all shades of life as we embrace the new year and throughout 2021!

Christine Forner, 2020 Past President
My last three years as President-Elect, President and Immediate Past President, and the 6 years prior as Treasurer have been some of the best experiences of my professional life. I have learned a great deal about myself as a person and as a leader within an organization filled with intelligent, passionate, and highly human people. I feel such an honor to have been selected as a leader. I will value and treasure what this organization has taught me and what I have helped accomplish, forever. I have seen a struggling organization begin to heal and find a voice. I see the pride in what we do and this hard-won pride gives me hope for the future. Hope that the voiceless victims of child abuse have validity in the clinical and scientific world so that they. Our growth is evidence that what we are doing is working. We currently are in one of the largest growth periods, for at least the last 15 or more years, that the ISSTD has had. 

When I was asked to serve as a Board member in 2010 the financial concerns were literally debilitating. We were still reeling from the attacks in the 1990s and the backlash of those who do not want the voice of the abused to be seen or heard was still ringing in many of my fellow colleague’s ears. It was hard to fill in the proverbial holes in the wall. When I first started in leadership it felt like trauma was not only what we focused on, but what we had experienced. Many of my fellow Board members were on the front lines of these battles, for the betterment of humanity, in a world that did not seem to want to know. We, in the last 10 years have not only survived these baseless accusations but have grown exponentially. We learned how to fill the holes, we increased our research, further validating what we knew was there, we continued to ethically teach others how to work with others who have experienced the worst forms of human brutality, based on our scientific findings. 

Abuse is everywhere, we have the evidence, the science, and now the support from many other areas of scientific study substantiating what we were discussing some 35 pulse years ago. Every area of the ISSTD is developing, from the internal organization of the organization to more collaborative relationships between our committees and members to external organizations who comprehend the value of what we offer to the clinical and scientific world. What we have learned time and again, is that, yes, indeed dissociation is a normal reaction to human-to-human harm and neglect, and that these injuries are real. We have found a resilience that is as beautiful to me as every single survivor’s story of self-discovery and movement into safety. Somehow, the themes I received time and again, from my fellow ISSTD members, is that humanity is magnificent if it is nurtured, protected, cared for, respected, given dignity, and the worst and most extreme behaviors are a result of not only not being taken care of but also being tortured by a fellow human being.  This real inalienable truth gives further evidence that the ISSTD has a great deal of value in the grander world, and that maybe one day, the information we have learned, what we teach, our mission and vision statements will be known far and wide.  

We are often attacked, accused of the most ridiculous untruths, and this makes sense to me, DARVO is real. We have a tradition of looking at areas of humanity that many, a great many, will not see, even though it is right before everyone’s eyes. However, these attackers and accusations have not stopped us, they really did make us better. We have had to prove ourselves, adjust, and readjust to the information our scientists and researchers have found. We have validated that best practices include a bounded, healthy, secure therapeutic relationship. We move forward as best as we can in the most ethical ways that we know. Many of us are outside the box thinkers, many of us are truth seekers and follow a code of conduct that is based on what we witness in our offices, humans can be brutal to each other, and that if we do not check and recheck ourselves we can lose sight of the goal. The collective we that we are, have the courage, heart, and compassion to not look away, but to also learn as much as we can, so something can be done about it. Not only are we witnesses, but we also take action. We, collectively, are doing what we can to change the abhorrent effect that abuse, misogyny, patriarchy, and racism have on the human body, mind, and spirit. We, collectively, are some of the hardest working people I know. It is our hearts and our minds that are helping change the world. I feel this with every interaction I have with the ISSTD.

At first, I did not want to leave this important position out of attachment, but as I write these words I really do not want to leave because I am excited about the next three years. I want to be a firsthand witness to all of the wonderful and groundbreaking places that the ISSTD will surely go to. For me, I volunteer out of not only a passion and as a moral compass, but a duty to do what I can to make this world a better place for those who come after me. This is work is for our collective young. Humanity is not meant to be cruel and we know this to our bones, and hopefully, sooner rather than later, our work helps the rest of the world understand this too. 

With all my love, gratitude, honoring, and nurturing, Thank you one and all for this amazing opportunity and life-fulfilling experiences.