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June 22, 2011

The Unraveling: DID and Me

Olga at Age 5

When I first found out I had Dissociative Identity Disorder I was devastated. I was afraid of people finding out, thought perhaps I would lose my job. I was afraid my husband would leave me. I thought the diagnosis meant I was truly 'crazy'. I suddenly wanted my old life back—the one I had before I started having panic attacks and memories of being sexually abused as a child, adolescent and young adult.


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June 09, 2010

Trauma Training for Multidisciplinary Audiences

 In Idaho 300 plus participants attended their annual 2 Days in June training Sponsored and Organized by the Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Services. The audience included law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, medical professionals, sexual assault advocates, domestic violence advocates, child abuse professionals, court personnel, mental health clinicians and probation. It was the most diverse audience I've presented to in the past 6 months. 

It was an amazing day. The afternoon sessions brought up some interesting questions around the ability to successfully prosecute cases when victims have coped through dissociation. We explored the balance of moving a case forward while not traumatizing the victim. We discussed how to work with people with Dissociative Disorders in a mental health setting, a domestic violence shelter, a rape crisis program and child welfare.

We talked about how prosecutors around the country are becoming more successful in convicting sex crimes cases when they introduce trauma experts who know about trauma, dissociation and sexual assault/abuse. These experts can normalize the behavior of victims for judges and juries. One common challenge is when the victim presents with flat affect and no emotion at all. Credibility becomes a problem in those cases and knowing that this is a normal sign of trauma is important for the success of the case. We discussed that inconsistent statements about sexual violence is a norm and needs to be normalized for judges and juries as well.

It was a great day in Idaho.

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June 09, 2010

Immigration Training for Advocates

 I was in Reno, NV on the 27th of May conducting an all day training on immigration and human trafficking. The audience varied in experience and came from all professions. We abandoned the power point and based the day on a case study and worked in small groups around how they would reach immigrant families, communicate with them, figure out what they wanted and then refer them to the best resources. We also explored in these case studies which form of immigration relief would be best. We analyzed the benefits and eligibility requirements of the Violence Against Women Act Battered Immigrant Women Provisions (commonly referred to as VAWA). We examined the benefits and eligibility requirements of the U visa, which covers victims of most violent crimes. And we discussed the T visa which falls under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

The participants really made the training. They fully engaged in their discussions. Actively participated in the interactive format of the larger group. It was really a fun training to do. How often does that happen.

The training was sponsored and organized by the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence. I'll be following up with Judy Henderson the Training Director there on how to respond to requests from the participants for additional training on these and other issues.

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April 29, 2010

Child Abuse Training

Children's Advocacy Center Training

 At the end of April I traveled to Niceville, Florida to be part of a training for a multidisciplinary audience of professionals that respond to and assist with child abuse cases. The group was very sophisticated and one of the most knowledgeable groups I've had the pleasure to work with. The presentation I did focused on the impact of child abuse based on my experience and then moved to what trauma and dissociation can look and feel like. My goal in doing the training was to validate what they are already doing to make a difference in the lives of Children and their non-offending parents. I also wanted to give people who work with trauma an inside-out perspective of how it feels. We also explored Dissociative Identity Disorder, what it can look like and feel like.  

There were a number of mental health clinicians there that asked some great questions about the healing process. One came up to me afterwards and let me know that it was reassuring to know that kids can overcome abuse and survive.

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