Numerous people expressed concern at my traveling to the USA, fearing I would be bumped off. Well, they did try. This was one of three attempts on my life in the USA.
I think one year is sufficient time for a health board to finalise an investigation. I’ve lost patience; so, here is the complaint I’ve sat on for 11 months.
To the Alaskan Board of Social Work Examiners,
- I am writing to lodge a formal complaint regarding Kimber Olson, a board certified licensed clinical social worker. Ms Olson’s work address is 2600 Denali, Suite 606, Anchorage, 907-903-7880.
- On 9th October, 2016, I was attending a Seattle conference as an international guest presenter. A social worker who works for Tacoma police, Beth Cook Adams, approached my associate Nicky Davis and asked to speak privately with me. Ms Cook spoke with Nicky and I, and told me she was impressed with my conference presentation.
- Beth told Nicky and I that she was due to travel to Anchorage, Alaska the following weekend to assist with a two-week intensive intervention with an alleged DID client named Sarah, which had been organised by Kimber Olson. Beth indicated that there was a severe shortage of volunteers to assist with ‘baby-sitting’ the client of a night time at her accommodation in hotels and a remote cottage in Eagle River Valley. Beth also indicated that she was nervous about assisting with a DID client.
- Nicky and I offered to travel to Anchorage at our own expense and volunteer, if the organisers were interested.
- Beth said that Kimber was desperate for volunteers as there were gaps in the roster.
- I made it clear that Nicky and I were not licensed health professionals.
- Beth made a call to Kimber who immediately agreed to our assisting.
- Nicky and I flew to Alaska on Monday 10th October.
- We were collected from the airport by Kimber Olson who had the client in the car. We drove to Kimber’s office. Kimber then loaned us her car while she had a lengthy therapy session with the client. After this, Kimber drove Nicky, the client and I to a shopping centre where Nicky and I purchased groceries that the client requested. Kimber then drove us to the remote cottage in Eagle River Valley.
- Nicky and I were not briefed prior to being left at the cottage with the client. We were never given a chance to speak alone with Kimber prior to being left with the client at the cottage. In fact, we never got to speak with Kimber in person about the client at all.
- Kimber told us in front of the client that the client had complaints about a therapist (also named Sarah) who previously stayed over with the client. The complaint was that the therapist wore pyjamas in front of the client, invited other people to stay over at the accommodation, and took the client to a movie.
- Kimber informed us, in front of the client, that the client was a victim of ritual abuse and was diagnosed DID. She said the client’s perpetrators were called the ‘Group’, and that the client had provided a list of perpetrators. These perpetrators included the managers of Alyska Hotel. (Nicky and I were subsequently advised to cancel our booking at that very hotel, which we had made within earshot of the client).
- Kimber told Nicky and I that the purpose of the intervention was to prevent contact between the client and her perpetrators while the client was provided with regular therapy sessions that lasted up to 5-6 hours.
- At the cottage, Kimber told Nicky and I (in front of the client) that the client was prone to self-harming by cutting. Kimber placed 4 rolls of cloth bandages on the table and instructed us, if the client cut herself we were to bandage her wounds but not contact the hospital or the police because both contained members of the offending ‘Group.’
- The cottage contained a large collection of kitchen knives. A hunting knife sat in one of the bedrooms. These knives were not removed by Kimber in preparation for the client’s stay, nor did she suggest they be removed. Nicky later removed and hid them of her own volition.
- The cottage had no cell phone reception. It did have a landline.
- Nicky and I did not have a car. Kimber suggested we hire a car so that we could transport the client back and forth to her therapy sessions in Anchorage and wherever else the client wanted to go. She wrote down the name of a preferred car hire service. Nicky and I did not want to hire a car because (a) it was a large expense, and (b) I was apprehensive about driving a client on the opposite side of the road to what I am used to in Australia, under a set of different road rules that I did not know. I had just had a trial drive in Kimber’s car and we decided it was too stressful and risky.
- The cottage had wifi access. Kimber said she would phone us with the wifi password. She instructed me to provide the wifi password to the client so she could email Kimber. This seemed counterproductive since the point of the isolated location was to severe the client’s contact with her alleged perpetrators. Nicky and I were told the client worked in IT at a local University and was proficient with computers.
- On the Wednesday, Kimber allowed the client to go out with friend (her former therapist) for the evening. This seemed counterproductive to the expressed goal of isolating the client from external contacts.
- The Eagle River cottage was situated in bear and moose territory. Nicky and I were not warned of the potential danger from wildlife. I specifically asked the client whether it was safe for Nicky and I to hike, and whether there were bears, and whether I needed bear mace. The client told us we were safe and there were no bears. So, Nicky and I went for a walk on a nearby trail on the Tuesday. Then on the Wednesday I hiked for 4 hours alone to the top of a nearby mountain. Later, locals told me I was at great risk hiking in that area, especially alone. I recall seeing fresh bear scat on the walk.
- Kimber told Nicky and I that the client tended to rise at midnight and try to leave the cottage. She told us the objective was to stop the client leaving the cottage. This was difficult since the client was large and aggressive.
- Kimber told Nicky and I that the client typically manifested 2 personalities, one child alter and an aggressive alter that tended to swear. She told us to manage both by suggesting they return to bed.
- I noted every significant event in email to Kimber, as they occurred. I followed protocol best I could, and this is documented in email.
- On the 2nd day, Kimber emailed Nicky and I a vague set of instructions. These included a list of hand signals and physical touches to use should the client act in certain ways. I found the instructions bizarre, confusing and intimidating. I did not feel comfortable touching a client. Some of the instructions were things we should have known at the start.
- Kimber’s emailed instructions said that Canadian psychologist Alison Miller was the expert supervisor in this case.
- The first two nights, Monday and Tuesday, were uneventful. Nicky and I found the client’s company pleasant and enjoyable. The client seemed relaxed in our company.
- At one point, I mentioned to the client that I was due to deliver a presentation to the 18 therapists in Kimber’s class on the Friday. The client asked if she could attend this. I said she would likely find the content upsetting, and that it may be preferable for Kimber to relay the content at her discretion over time during therapy sessions. Later, Kimber invited the client to attend the therapy class, after I had told her it was probably inappropriate. I left it to Kimber to decide.
- A critical incident occurred in the early morning of Thursday 13th October. Kimber and the client both warned Nicky and I that something would likely occur on that date because it was ‘reverse Halloween.’
- The client told Nicky and I that the 13th was the anniversary of when Kimber had abandoned her the previous year, and that she wanted Kimber to stay at the cottage that night so that they could have some ‘fun’ together and so make up for the bad experience of the previous year. Out of the blue, the client said that ‘nothing bad would happen to Kimber.’ I found this information disturbing and creepy. It left me thinking Kimber was at risk in the client’s company.
- Just after midnight, the client descended the stairs to the lounge room, opened the front door and started exiting the house. The client acted like child and so I told her it was cold outside and to return to bed. The client did this.
- At 1am, the client came downstairs again and tried to leave the house. As advised, Nicky and I had placed a piece of furniture in the doorway so that we would awake if the client had tried to leave. By this time, Nicky and I were up to our third sleepless night. We shared shifts to ensure at least one of us was awake at all times. The client became aggressive, called me a ‘cunt’ and verbally abused me. I remained calm, told the client we cared about her, and that we were worried about her going out into the night alone.
- The client then turned off all the lights. She changed to a different type of alter that she later admitted had never manifested previously. She acted like a problem solver, took a pen and paper and started writing in binary. The client previously told us she saw physical objects in binary. Her behaviour became increasingly erratic and disturbing.
- The client then began chanting, ‘The shedding of blood for the atonement of sins.’ She then went to the kitchen, pulled a large 40cm knife with a black handle from a drawer. She pointed the knife at me and then Nicky, and waved it between the two of us. The client had pre-planted this knife in the drawer. She found it in the dishwasher that Nicky had stacked. Nicky had left out one knife for cooking, and hid it in the dishwasher.
- I told the client she was placing everyone at risk and to drop the knife immediately. .
- The client dropped the knife as I switched on the light. The client then claimed to have no memory for what had just occurred.
- I went into negotiation mode with the client, and stayed up for the rest of the night.
- I immediately emailed Kimber and detailed what had just occurred.
- The following morning, I phoned Kimber. During our conversation, Kimber told me she expected something like the knife incident to occur, and that she wasn’t surprised that it happened. Kimber told me that Alison Miller advised her not to spend Thursday night with the client as planned, due to boundary issues. Yet Kimber expected Nicky and I to stay another night with the client.
- I asked Kimber for Alison Miller’s phone number so I could talk directly with her about the situation. I phoned Alison who played down the knife incident, saying the client would likely have used the knife on herself instead of us. Nicky and I do not agree. The knife was pointed at us, not the client. Alison also indicated that she expected Nicky and I to continue with the client.
- We have since consulted and debriefed with former USA police officers experienced in homicide and ritual abuse murders. They all agreed Nicky and I were at risk of being stabbed by the client. One former police officer who also pioneered and ran the USA’s leading training college for therapists, concluded the client was a ‘sociopath.’
- Alison Miller indicated she was unaware that the client had wifi access and had spent time with a friend. She said this was ‘counterproductive’ since the objective of the two-week intervention was to sever the client’s contact with her usual acquaintances and perpetrators. Alison advised me to be open and honest with the client about the content of my phone conversation with Alison, and that it did not matter if the client was eavesdropping on our conversation – which she was.
- After my conversation with Alison, I emailed Kimber and told her that I had ascertained Nicky and I were at risk and would be leaving when she came to collect the client for her afternoon therapy session.
- Kimber emailed me and said that she would be collecting the client and that Nicky and I may as well stay at the cottage another night. I replied no, as I felt we were at risk regardless of whether the client was present. We were beginning to become concerned about who the client might be in contact with. Kimber kept asking me whether I was going to inform the client that we were leaving. I certainly was not, as I was now in risk management and negotiation mode. I perceived that the client could snap on us and harm someone if she realised Kimber had pulled the plug on her slumber party and ‘fun.’
- Kimber did not collect Nicky and I any earlier than had been planned prior to the critical incident. This was disturbing because during the day, the client became increasingly agitated and aggressive toward us, especially at the notion that Kimber might have cancelled her sleepover with the client that night. She berated me for speaking with Alison Miller about her. I answered that pulling a knife on us was a game changer and that it was my responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone present.
- When Kimber arrived, I asked to speak with her alone outside. Kimber pulled a face and acted as though this was a strange, even amusing, request. During this conversation, Kimber stated that she had a bad gut feeling about staying overnight with the client. Then she stopped and said she would first drop the client home, then drive Nicky and I to a hotel of our choosing and have a talk about what occurred.
- During the drive back to Anchorage, the client started complaining about me and Kimber. Kimber then announced that she would drop Nicky and I off at a hotel, with the client in the car, and then take the client back to her office for therapy. I was uncomfortable with the client knowing my whereabouts, so I asked if we could instead use the wifi at Kimber’s office block to locate a hotel.
- Upon reaching the office block, Kimber dumped Nicky and I in the carpark outside her office block and made it clear we were not welcome inside to use her wifi. It was dusk, very cold, and we had no means of finding a hotel before sunset, save walking and asking people.
- The following day, I delivered my presentation to Kimber’s DID training class. It was well received. Beth later told Nicky and I that Kimber emailed Beth in Seattle midway and described my presentation as amazing.
- Kimber left the presentation early, saying she had to do something with her kids. So, Nicky and I missed another opportunity to debrief with Kimber following the knife incident.
- Nicky and I text Kimber and said we were available to meet with her all Saturday until 2pm. Kimber text us back at about 3pm to say she only just saw our text. She asked us when we were available. We said we were available Monday morning until 12 noon when we were due to fly. Kimber said that time did not suit her. So, Kimber avoided debriefing with us, or finding out what happened.
- Two therapists went out of their way to look after Nicky and I over the next few days. Every time they met with us they asked whether we had debriefed with Kimber yet. Nicky and I eventually debriefed with them regarding the critical incident. Nicky was starting to show signs of a trauma response.
- I thought perhaps things were done differently in Alaska compared to Australia in terms of protocol, ethical standards for therapists, etc. However, the two therapists informed me that Kimber had indeed breached their standards in a big way. Notably, they said she certainly should have made time for a debrief, and that telling us to not seek medical attention for the client if she cuts herself was absurd.
- The client told Kimber, who told Beth, Alison Miller and others, that the client thought Nicky and I were ‘plants’. The client said that the knife was a pocket knife that she accidentally left in her backpack for cutting up apples. Beth told me that she and Alison Miller assured Kimber that I was not a plant.
- Nicky and I returned to Seattle and arranged for Beth to accompany us to Canada to debrief with Alison Miller. Alison agreed to this but then cancelled citing an unconvincing reason. Alison Miller never contacted me or Nicky.
- During a subsequent phone call, one of the Alaskan therapists Nicky and I debriefed with told me she had not wanted to become involved but that she was becoming increasingly disturbed at Kimber’s behaviour and attitude. She said she herself had been approached by Kimber to volunteer on the client’s baby-sitting roster but declined because the client was described by Kimber as being ‘active.’ She said that when she declined, Kimber acted bitchy toward her for doing so. The therapist considered Kimber had placed multiple therapists at risk, and that they should be warned not to take on that client.
- The client told Nicky and I that she had only one friend, her previous therapist who was soon moving away.
- Beth told Nicky and I that, at the client’s request, potential volunteers made short videos of themselves for the client, describing who they were and why they wanted to volunteer on the baby-sitting roster. I found this disturbing. It seemed like an opportunity for the client to gather information regarding therapists for no good reason.
- In conclusion, I believe that Kimber placed Nicky Davis and I in a potentially lethal situation. Yes, we agreed to volunteer, but we expected the operation to be better organised and more professional than the debacle we experienced, considering Kimber advertises herself as an expert and teacher in the field of DID. I am not a registered health professional. However, I’ve had relevant forensic training and experience, sufficient to recognise that the client was extremely manipulative and posed a danger to every therapist and volunteer on that roster, and that Kimber appeared out of her depths and terrified of the client – such that she was willing to throw Nicky and I to the wolves.
- I will forward separately the relevant emails to and from Kimber.
BVA, BSc, PG Dip (Psychology)
31 October 2016