Hi everyone. The following entry is just a brief recap of the day I spent at the 2019 ATSA conference last week, slightly modified from a post I left about it on Virped…
Although I haven’t been around here much of late, I do still keep in touch with a few other MAPs and also a MAP advocate who lives relatively near by. There is one particular MAP that lives here in Atlanta who is a fairly prominent MAP figure but I can’t say who he is because I don’t think he wants the world to know where he lives. The MAP advocate I’m speaking of is Rusty, who some of you may be familiar with from Twitter.
So earlier this year I heard that the 2019 ATSA (The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers) conference was going to be here in November. When I got wind of that, I was immediately excited about who it might give me the opportunity to meet. I let my MAP friend and also Rusty know about it and we all agreed that we should make plans to try to attend in some capacity if we could.
Over the last few weeks, this other MAP and I arranged to meet up with Dr Elizabeth Letourneau and also Candice Christiansen from the Global Prevention Project on Friday 11/8. I got approved to take the day off work and everything was set. We were to meet with Dr Letourneau in the morning at 10:00 AM and then Candice later in the afternoon. I figured we’d have several hours of downtime in between and would just have to find things to do in Downtown Atlanta or maybe wind up coming back to my apartment for a while. That’s not how it worked out.
We did meet up with Dr Letourneau at 10:00 and talked with her for about an hour. She is an amazing lady and she’s done and is still doing some very important work that can and I think will both prevent sexual abuse and also improve the lives of MAPs in general. The sad and frustrating thing is that she told us they have trouble securing funding for a lot of the work they’re trying to do, but it was exciting to hear about none the less. Dr Letourneau had to leave town that afternoon, so we had to end our conversation after about an hour so that she could go check out of the hotel.
A short while after we said goodbye to Dr. Letourneau, I got a message from Candice saying she wanted to go ahead and meet up with us. So, we met her in the hotel lobby and she led us downstairs to where the conference was being held. I didn’t think we’d be allowed in not having paid for passes but be we were. There were areas of the conference we couldn’t go into and workshops we could not attend but the main conference floor was open to just anyone. We wound up spending most of the day with Candice and got to be introduced to a number of very important people in the field. Dr Craig Harper, Dr Gilian Tenbergen, Dr Theresa Robertson, Mike from NARSOL/The Registry Report, Jeremy from Prostasia (who we went to lunch with), and a few more I’m probably forgetting or who’s name’s I may not have gotten.
I can’t tell you guys how liberating it was to just walk around in a public place and introduce myself as an open MAP. The whole day was like an overwhelming whirl-wind, but in a very good way. We didn’t wind up having to find things to do to kill time at all, because we pretty much spent the whole day at the conference meeting people, shaking hands, etc, usually with Candice at our side. I had already been excited about meeting Dr. Letourneau and Candice but if I’d know how the day was going to turn out, I would have been way more excited about it. I mean, I thought we were going to meet a couple of people for maybe an hour at a time and spend the interim hours at the Aquarium or something. I had no idea I was going to wind up spending the whole day at the conference, more or less repping the MAP community to so many important folks. It was fucking amazing. Oh, and Candice is also an awesome human being in case I haven’t made that clear enough. I hope more of you get the chance to meet her some day and I hope I will get to see her at some point in the future as well.
Anyway, I’d have been remiss if I didn’t come here and at least tell everyone about it. I only wish more of you could have experienced it. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to call it one of the most memorable days of my life. I wish I could attend more of these but they move around every year, and if it isn’t close enough to catch an Uber to, it probably isn’t happening. So, that was probably my one chance. I’m glad I made the most of it.