It wasn’t that I had no compassion for the DID individual on the stage at the local grassroots mental health support presentation. He was incoherent and dissociating, true. He was no spokesman for healing or for integration, true. In fact, at his phase in his process he claimed integration was impossible and undesirable, maybe even a hoax. It was disturbing enough that I found myself identifying with his DID, and that I saw his incoherence in myself. My compassion overflowed.

The truly disturbing thing about the presentation was his partner. I felt I was witnessing abuse as I watched his partner dominate him, talk over him, answer personal questions for him and even infer his sexual enjoyment of the little boy alters. It was ghastly and I was nauseated. Why would this mental health organization allow such a presentation in their name? The DID individual appeared to be paired with a partner who re-victimized him, who chose him for his alters, for his particular fragility and vulnerability. I still shudder as I think this thought. I am thankful many times over for my husband, for it having never occurred to him to re-victimize my alters when we were going through our journey of Dissociation Disorder and integration. Deep gratitude.

The professional moderator interrupted a few times to offer correct information about DID. In addition, she quietly approached the few people scattered about the audience to whisper, “please come back, it’s not always like this.” Then she took the stage to announce the difference between “brain disorders” and “personality disorders.” The grassroots mental health organization dealt much more comfortably in brain disorders, in the neuropsychiatry and neuropharmacology relating to brain disorders, and she seemed ill at ease with the personality disorder of DID. Of course, she didn’t mention the abuse happening in front of us. She did want everyone to see the difference, with no knowledge of who we were, between brain and personality disorders. Most people in the grassroots organization are involved because of brain disorders. It was apparent that I should have had the good sense, too, to have had a brain disorder, not a personality disorder of dissociation.

Who are any of us if we’re still silent when we see people re-victimized by their partners and spouses? Especially in public forums? What kept any of us, and particularly the grassroots sponsor from asking the overbearing partner to back off, to make it a safe place? And where do we find our people, our support, our family-to-family peers if not in grassroots groups like these?