The ISSTD Webinar committee was very excited to host our first ever all day Webinar. The Ritual Abuse, Mind Control and Organized Abuse (RAMCOA) special interest group (SIG) was initially asking to do a series of Webinars because they had so many topics that they wanted to talk about and there was such a demand for basic information on RAMCOA. Therese and Mary Pat suggested we do it in a day long format. It was a huge success with over 40 people registered and lively questions and discussions. As chair of the Webinar committee, Marilyn Korzekwa moderated the day.
Our first speaker was Dr. Valerie Sinason, a leading British child, adolescent and adult psychotherapist, psychoanalyst and writer, on An Introduction to Ritual Abuse. Starting with Greek mythology, she led us through some eye opening insights on the history of child abuse, explicit definitions of ritual abuse, grim survey study results, and the emotional impact of this therapeutic work for both the patient and the therapist. She concluded with quotes from John Bowlby and Anna Freud that recognized that DID and abuse exist. Her detailed answers to the questions that follow made clear her bravery in writing outspokenly about ritual abuse.
This was followed by Dr. Alison Miller, a Canadian Clinical Psychologist and writer of two ground breaking clinical books on treating ritual abuse, who spoke on Internal and External Safety. She discussed the unique safety issues associated with victims of organized abuse as they disclose abuse. She provided clear suggestions for preventing and avoiding ongoing access by perpetrators. A particularly interesting slide was the one entitled “the perpetrator’s big lie”, which detailed lies that young victims are made to believe by a variety of tricks and programming. Unfortunately, Dr. Miller didn’t have time to talk about external safety because the power went out in her neighbourhood. However, in the recorded version, her entire presentation will be available.
Eileen Aveni, an American clinical social worker and advocate, started off the afternoon sessions with The Complexities of Identifying Ritual Abuse and Mind Control in Your Client. She provided an overview of the clinical features and clues that ritual abuse and mind control may be present in the background of a client. She defined and discussed in detail “Deliberately-created Internal Personality Systems” via mind control. The intended goals of some of these programs are chilling. She concluded by reading an extremely moving statement from a patient.
ISSTD Past President, therapist and educator, Dr. Lynette Danylchuk, followed with a session on Patterns and Challenges: Common Themes in working with survivors of ritualized abuse. She described 15 psychodynamic patterns and behaviors that she has observed in treating survivors of ritualized abuse. The most astonishing pattern for me was the observation that what the abuser said and did frequently didn’t match. Clients often hold onto the abuser’s words rather than the betrayal and pain of the behavior. Other patterns were the illusion of choice, the illusion of omniscience and conditioned paranoia. This was a brilliant presentation on the thorny psychodynamic issues with these severely abused clients.
The final speaker was Dr. Michael Salter, and Australian criminologist, lecturer and author, presenting on Organized Abuse in Adulthood: Towards a Cooperative Interagency Response. He presented the findings of an Australian study of women disclosing organized abuse in adulthood and the mental health professionals who support them. The study made clear how both parties struggled with the reactions of other professionals, agencies and services. These reactions often had serious impacts on the physical and psychological safety of the survivor, and the dismissal, stigmatization and retraumatizing of victims. Dr. Salter illustrated his findings with a heartfelt personal story. Dr. Salter has made it his mission to open the eyes of the public, the therapeutic community and social services to organized abuse.
This all day Webinar offered fantastic training in this complex field. While it may be tempting to see this as a specialist area, in fact, many trauma therapists will be presented with clients with a background of some form of organized abuse. Registration for the Series includes not just the recordings, but 2 articles, 4 power points and 4 handouts.
Recordings of the day are now available by logging into the Member’s Corner and selecting Webinar Library from the left menu bar. Each presentation is sold separately for those who did not purchase the webinar in advance. Each presentation is $25 for members.
Marilyn Korzekwa MD, FPCPC