Organized Abuse: Criminology, Traumatic Impact and Implications for Treatment


This workshop will provide cutting-edge training on the organized abuse of children and adults from two international leaders in the study of extreme abuse.

Professionals in a range of sectors continue to encounter children and adults with dissociative disorders who disclose early traumatization and severe exploitation within abusive families and criminal networks, including sadism, ritual and torture.

Accumulating forensic and legal evidence from child abuse investigations indicate that these disclosures should be taken seriously. Clinicians, law enforcement and policy-makers around the world are grappling with the sexual exploitation of victims with deliberately induced dissociation within black markets and violent subcultures.

Drawing on original research, Dr Salter will explain the criminological dimensions of organized abuse, including the most common victimization scenarios and the experiences of victims and survivors. He will outline the existing gaps in policy and law that enable organized abuse to flourish, and point to areas of emerging and promising practice. Dr Sachs will discuss the specific significance of the abuse being organized on the process of creating and maintaining the more severe forms of DID, and outline her treatment approach with adults enmeshed in organized abuse and the intersecting role of dissociation and attachment. She will also discuss severe and unusual self-harm as an additional symptom of DID in children,

Attendees at the workshop can expect to leave with further insights and renewed confidence in treating very complex dissociative clients, and with expanded understanding of the broader criminal and social contexts in which organized abuse takes place.

This session was originally presented as a live conference session in March 2019.

Target Audience


Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this session participants will be able to:

  • Describe the most common victimisation scenarios in organised abuse
  • Identify the impacts and consequences of organised abuse for the mental health, wellbeing and safety of victims and survivors
  • Address with clients the role of dissociation and attachment in enmeshment in organised abuse
  • Apply effective strategies to improve the safety and wellbeing of clients enmeshed in ongoing victimisation
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 6.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 6.00 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
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Presenter: Michael Salter

Presenter Bio: Michael Salter is an Associate Professor in Criminology at the University of Western Sydney, where he leads the violence team of the Sexualities and Genders Research initiative. A/Prof Salter is the author of two books, "Organised Sexual Abuse" (Routledge 2013) and "Crime, Justice and Social Media" (Routledge 2017), and numerous papers on violence against children and women. Current research projects includes a national study of service provision for women with complex trauma, an evaluation of a treatment program for sibling incest, and a survey of gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer men's experiences of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Dr Salter is a Board member of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). He currently Chairs the Society's Ritual Abuse, Mind Control and Organised Abuse (RAMCOA) Special Interest Group (SIG). He is a member of the ISSTD Scientific Committee and he was the recipient of the 2018 ISSTD Morton Prince Award for Scientific Achievement.

Presenter: Adah Sachs
Presenter Bio: Dr. Adah Sachs is an attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist and a member of the Bowlby Centre. She has worked for decades with adults and adolescents in psychiatric care, headed the NHS Psychotherapy Service for the London borough of Redbridge, and was a consultant psychotherapist at the CDS. Her theoretical contribution is outlining sub-categories of disorganized attachment, as linked with trauma-based mental disorders. Adah lectures and supervises worldwide on attachment and dissociation. She is the author of over 150 training days, conference papers, book chapters and journal articles, including two co-edited books: Forensic Aspects of DID (2008) and The Abused and the Abuser: Victim-Perpetrator Dynamics (2018). She is a fellow of the ISSTD.

Available Credit

  • 6.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 6.00 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.


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"Your Price" above reflects your final price based on your membership status and career level. 

  • ISSTD defines a student as those enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certification in the mental health field and who have an interest in trauma and dissociation. 
  • ISSTD defines an emerging professional as mental health professionals who have completed an advanced degree and are in the first three years of their career (or first three years after graduation for researchers).
  • If you do not fall into one of the above categories please register as Professional/Retired. 

These prices are for Tier I countries. For a list of countries by Tier click here. If you are located in a country that falls into Tier II-VI please contact ISSTD at to receive the appropriate discount code.