Dear ISSTD Members,
We, as members of the ISSTD, operate in a world that is filled with the knowledge that infant and childhood torture is a fairly common experience. Our days are filled with the most horrific stories and from the most symptomatic human beings. Often, we do this in isolation; and this includes emotional, clinical and academic arenas. We tend to be alone in our work and alone with the knowledge we have amassed. There are days when I know that I have used every ounce of my clinical and interpersonal skills to help a fellow human being work through a level of brutality that is unfathomably cruel in its assault on a vulnerable person and their dignity. I have seen the polar opposite of love that cannot even be described as hate. I am not sure we have a word that describes the awfulness of what I regularly witness. On these days I have thought to myself, “I feel like I just did the most intricate, delicate and sophisticated process that very well could be comparable to neurosurgery, and no one will ever know exactly what occurred”. I think the word Aulasy, “the sadness that there’s no way to convey a powerful memory to people who weren’t there at the time” is a constant for the survivors we help and for ourselves, the professionals who work in this area of human suffering. To be part of another’s healing, on these levels and within these depths, is often beyond challenging. When you hear time and again what some people do to infants and children and then you learn, time and again, who is doing these heinous acts, and then add in the absolute lack of support in the legal, and grander clinical and research fields, it is sometimes beyond hard to sit in this knowledge.
For me there are two main foundational, necessary aspects to doing this type of work. The first is simply, how can you not. We work with humans who are remarkable. They are dedicated to helping themselves, even if they have no idea what that even means. They work harder than any group of humans I have ever had the privilege of knowing. I know Iron athletes who train up to 30 hours a week with swimming, cycling, running and weightlifting and they don’t even come close to the amount of effort, grit and dedication that I have witnessed. For every ounce of mercilessness I have been a witness of, I have also seen pounds of benevolence within every single survivor I have ever met. I truly feel privileged to be able to do this work, especially now that I have learned how best to do it.
The second and equally important aspect of this work is the level of dedication that the volunteers contribute to this field and to the ISSTD. DID and all of the iterations of traumatic reactions are the most well understood areas of humanity. DID has aetiology. We know where it comes from, more than any other area of human behaviour and this knowledge comes from the survivors and the mindboggling significant amount of work that our volunteers have done. This is not a field you get into to make a lot of money. Our volunteers do this work out of love and this love fuels me as, it fuels the ISSTD. The volunteers of the ISSTD should all get Nobel Peace Prizes, their contribution to the whole of humanity should be headlining every media outlet. The contribution that our volunteers do is beyond significant, and it makes this work possible. On those days when the weight of what is happening is extremely heavy, I am reminded of those who have done the work to make this field and this organization possible. It is a standard of care that should be modeled as a base-line and this dedication should and could be an example of what is possible.
I cannot thank each and every one of you enough. There is not enough appreciation in the universe for all that you have done and all that you do. Know that when you are valued beyond measure. You are a gift. You are needed and wanted, and you are seen. Thank you everything you do.
Christine C. Forner
2019 ISSTD Past President
Thank you to all of our Current Volunteers
D Michael Coy
AAT Simone Reinders
Rochelle Sharpe Lohrasbe
Maggy Tai Rakena
Patti van Eys