And now…for the climactic confrontation between Adara and her manipulator and the dramatic conclusion to the story of the spiritual teacher turned predator…
There is no dramatic conclusion.
There is no sense of finality, of karmic justice, of a guy getting what was coming to him.
Because this is real life. Because this is happening everywhere, in varying degrees of damage, and most of these women won’t get dramatic conclusions. They won’t get the closure that we all want them to. Many of them will keep what happened to them as a secret shame that festers in their heart until they’ve completely isolated themselves from any potential support system.
Because when women have been victimized, it takes a lot of courage for them to come forward with their stories. And if they do, telling their truth is their way to claim back their power. It’s their way to admit what happened to them, it’s their way to state that they are survivors, not victims. We tell our stories to heal, to connect, to grow.
And more often than not, these acts of vulnerability and courage are met with raised eyebrows and questions, not compassion.
“They should have known better.”
“What did she expect? She got drunk with him.”
“What did they think would happen? He’s obviously a creep.”
“I hate that they have such a victim mentality.”
"But he seems so kind and helpful, he has a good reputation!"
“Man-hating won’t solve this problem.”
“Well, she should have listened to her instincts. It’s her own fault she didn’t.”
This is the problem. This is where we are failing women everywhere. We fail to listen to them. We fail to support them exactly where they are.
Adara, how did the confrontation really go?
Adara: It actually wasn’t very eventful. After I’d met with Lydia, I was furious. I was so angry, I wanted revenge, I wanted justice. I wanted to fight for every single woman this has ever happened to. I decided I’d pretend that I wanted to be in a relationship with him to see how he would spin it. I hid my lividness just below my words in the conversation and pretended things were okay. When I brought up that I’d seen Lydia to him, he remained perfectly calm and started working her into the conversation as if she had always been there. As he began weaving his tales, avoiding eye contact with me, lying to my face, I suddenly lost my taste for revenge. I lost my taste for all of it.
I put all my cards on the table, telling him I thought he was being predatory to young women. I told him that even though I saw that he'd done some good healing work with certain people in certain situations, I thought it was inappropriate for him to teach intimacy to young women. I told him that I had Facebook friends messaging me, telling me of how he’d tried the same lines on them and how they felt a slimy energy from him. Women who were local, and women who weren’t. I told him he was playing a dangerous game, that he could really hurt people.
How did he respond?
Adara: There were parts that he seemed open to talk about, and parts that he didn’t want to touch. He never apologized for anything, and actually, he didn’t even seem surprised that I would accuse him of being a predator. He chalked it up to us having different versions of reality, saying that neither of them were wrong, just different.
I realized that he was operating out of his own wounding. That the hyper-adrenalized part of him that wanted to be intimate with young women to the point of manipulation, was just a little boy, clamoring for the nourishment of the Great Mother. He was still reaching for the tits of life, where he’d been separated from as a boy. We were able to talk about his wounded inner child a bit, and honestly, I felt a lot of compassion for that wounded child. After that conversation, I had mixed feelings, and I wasn’t sure it would make any difference, but I knew I was done with him. I may have felt compassion, but that still didn't make it okay or excusable.
There has been some demonization of your character over your actions in part 1. What do you think about that?
Adara: At first, I was angry and spent all my energy obsessing over the handful of comments and being hurt and defensive. And that’s when I realized I was falling into the problem. The problem of women coming forward with their stories only to expend all their energy on defending themselves. Once I realized that, I stepped back and saw everything in a really interesting light.
I think it’s important for complex, contradictory women to speak their truth.
Not all women who are preyed upon are simple innocent lambs. In fact, most of them aren’t. And that’s why so few women choose to speak. Because society expects victims of abuse (of any kind) to be childlike, naive, modest, foolish. And when smart, confident women are victimized, suddenly it must have been their own fault, it must have been their own shortcomings that got them into that situation.
And really, the small amount of negative comments paled in comparison to the amount of women who resonated with what happened and rose up to share their own similar stories. It was mindblowing to find out how NOT alone we are.
So how do you both feel about what happened now? Also, I think it’s interesting how the ‘victim mentality’ has been talked about. Do you consider yourselves victims?
Adara: I don’t think either of us see ourselves as victims in the way people talk about. Telling the truth about being victimized doesn’t automatically put us in victim mentality. We’re just telling you what happened. That’s why we’re here talking to you about it. Because what happened sucked. I did feel preyed upon and manipulated. Last I heard, he was still teaching intimacy classes, and there’s ultimately nothing I can do about that. But mostly, I want to increase awareness so this happens less.
Jewels: Exactly. I feel violated and preyed upon. I feel as though he thought I was stupid or weak. I feel gross for the other women who might be falling for it. But I feel like I still have some work to do when it comes to who I let in and how I handle uncomfortable situations...especially with men. Where's the balance? I don't want to be an angry bitch or a pushover. There's a line where truth lies. It's honest, liberating and compassionate. It's true though.
Adara: Me too. There’s still obvious wounding in me, deep patterns I’m healing layer by layer, that still need a lot of work. And I own that. That’s mine. Do I put myself into risky situations sometimes, to dig for the truth and to find the lesson? I do, I always have. Do I willingly walk into the flames sometimes, knowing that I’m going to burn a little bit? I do. I really do. I have such a yearning for the truth. I own that, and I am aware of where my work is. I’m okay with people not understanding that, or even demonizing it a little bit. But what happened is still not okay. And while I think it’s powerful to call out the people who are manipulating others, I think it’s even more powerful to give women everywhere the weapons to protect themselves from people who would do that to them. Your biggest weapons are knowing yourself and your boundaries, and speaking your truth.
Jewels: Yes. Know what you're comfortable with. Identify what's okay with you and be okay with that being your boundary. Then when someone starts to cross it, it's nothing personal to practice your truth. It's just like when you want to manifest a relationship or job. You sit and visualize what you need out of that experience and what's important to you. You have left and right bounds on your path. These keep you in alignment with your higher purpose. Same goes for interactions with folks.
Listen to your intuition. If something even feels a little off, don't feel the need to make a decision right away. Sit with it and let clarity come to you. There's no need to placate someone else's emotions by sacrificing your peace. One of the Four Agreements is: "Don't Take Anything Personally." Remember this for yourself as well. What you do with yourself, your body, your time is part of your business here. Don't disrespect yourself in that way. You have a purpose and mission here. Part of that is managing your energy and what you invest in energetically.
Jewels and Adara went on to talk about how they could come together to create a forum in their community where women who had been victimized could feel supported and build healthy boundaries in a safe space. Once both of them had opened up about all the things that happened with him, once they had told eachother their stories of how they were manipulated, the conversation completely shifted. Both women were grateful for their unconventional way of connecting with one another. They were grateful for the lessons they learned about themselves. But mostly, they were determined to create space for women who hadn’t had the opportunity to speak openly about it like they did.
They both told me how they wished the best for the man this was all inspired by. Even after everything that happened, what remained in their hearts was compassion and conviction fueled by divine rage. Compassion for the wounded inner children of the men who manipulate, compassion for their own healing processes, and conviction to build the strength in a community of women that would fill the holes that this type of manipulation can creep into. Conviction to sever these unhealthy ties, and to keep that compassion in their hearts while also standing up for injustice.
When women are truly heard and validated in their experiences, the world shifts. When we allow women to speak their truth, when we allow them to freely respond to what happens in their lives without immediately questioning their character, they find their paths to healing. They grow, they create, they thrive.
Women are intuitive creatures. We are gentle and fierce storytellers, weaving the threads of change in this world. Our stories lay out the manifestations of the ancient archetypes. Predator and prey. Darkness and light. Madonna and whore. Sisters. Lovers. Enemies. Friends. Our stories commemorate the many roles we’ve played, and subsequently act as stepping stones to growth and healing.
So don’t take away our stories. Listen. Please. Just listen.
I received so many messages from other women who have experienced similar situations of being manipulated or abused by spiritual teachers that it would take an entire library of books to tell them all. Here are just a few experiences from others:
One woman I talked with had an experience with a married spiritual predator that spanned over a few years. He took her on as a student, teaching her meditation, breathwork, psychic readings, etc, and that turned into a sexual relationship. She also had a past of sexual abuse that he was able to tap into and manipulate. Within months, he had her doing work for him, advertising his events, paying rental spaces, and training with him. He made her believe that he was eventually going to be leaving his wife for her, and his intense connection with her confused her to the point where she considered doing the impossible: leaving her family and kids behind for him. She eventually became friends with other healers/mediums who encouraged her to do Angel card readings with people at an event, and when he found out, he berated her and patronized her for not being ready. He was always telling her she wasn’t ready to step into her own power. She found out he had been doing this with many other women over a span of 20 years. She claimed her power, got out of the relationship, called him out on it, and is now a powerful teacher and healer in her community.
“On three different occasions and three different men, all at varying degrees of spirituality, I felt myself manipulated. I guess you could say that I was early into my spiritual journey and these men all seemed more "advanced" than me. Like the ladies wrote in the article, their version of reality seemed easy to fall into, even though the warning bells were ringing in my head.
The second, and most horrible, involved being at a campground where I connected with the so-called separated husband of the couple that ran the campground. The "connection" was expressed by him as your ladies have mentioned and it was easy to get caught up in the moment. The twisted part was that I had my then 8 year old autistic son with me. He took an immediate interest in him and quickly took on a "fatherly" role. He too spouted future dreams and plans for us and convinced me that his ex was definitely his ex. He even slept in one of the cabins. He even convinced me to go skinny-dipping while out on his boat...with my son there. I have more shame over that than I can possibly share. He even convinced me to have him and his ex do some energy healing on my son. I felt sick. The next day, even though I was having grave misgivings by this point, I still went out on another boat ride with him and my son. While coming back to the campground and him talking even more about how we were meant to be together and how the three of us could sail the world, his wife pulled up beside the boat, followed us back to the campground and that night kicked me out of the campground. I drove six hours back home feeling the most intense shame that I've ever experienced. I never really realized just how much I was manipulated until I read your blog. I take full responsibility for my part but until I read your blog I just didn't put a name or context to these events. It is too easy to be manipulated and sexualized in the name of spirituality. “
“I had been part of a circle for nearly half a year and we had been doing ritual with braided hair and thin clothing, even in winter. I am shy about my body and react most like Artemis when Acteon discovered her bathing. One night, we were doing ritual, and I had been told by our High Priestess to couple with her mate, the high priest, for Beltane! And this was told to me under the guise of Isis being present and manifested in the circle. A) I am no fan of Isis, nor she of me. We don't talk. B) I am not chattel and will not be forced into any encounter, Goddess blessed or not! I broke circle, came into my own, and they said my black wings unfurled as I swept out of the room where it was being held. Every woman should remember that we have a piece of divinity in us, and no one can make us do anything we don't see as right.”
“This parallels an experience that I am having. I rely on my intuition...it never steers me in the wrong direction. I even try to talk myself out of doubt and suspicion...I tried to give the other person a "fair chance." But nope...my intuition was right...as much as I wanted to believe the man "helping" me is pure of heart with good intentions....it just isn't so.”
“I’ve seen entire covens doing this. Abuse masked as sexual liberation and learning.”
“…we started watching videos on a man who claimed to have extraordinary psychic powers and he thought that was something he and I could master so we could have psychic powers too. These videos involved drawn out exercises that I couldn't hold for longer than a minute. At the first sign of weakness he pounced on my sensitive nature and hurled all sorts of negativity my way. I wanted to cry, but I knew that would make him even more mad so I internalized my pain which eventually turned into shame and self hatred.”
“I just read your piece and HOLY SHIT...it's like I was involved with the exact same man. And funny enough, your piece was forwarded to me from a woman who had also been involved with the same guy as I was…
…I was more than happy to organize this gathering, run that errand, prepare this event literature, make that phone call, etc, etc…because although I may not have realized it at the time, I was looking for validation that what I was trying to create with him was okay because it was “different”. The woman who sent me your blog piece could not believe the similarities between the woman you wrote about and our own experiences with the same guy we were with. That validation piece seems to be a fucking clincher across the board.”
“These types of males have crossed my path more than a few times, and one was an ongoing situation I repeatedly immersed myself into in my late 20's early 30's for the sake of prayer and ceremony. (Medicine Man/Spiritual community setting) My early story was one of sexual assault and rape like the women in your article. That seems to be a huge precedent of energy-speak to set us up for this particular interaction. The predator/victim scenario..."
I was blown away by how much resonance there has been to this story, and even more blown away by how little support many of these women have gotten over their experiences. There are many common threads, many shared experiences. I’ve had my fair share of experience with this predator/victim pattern of abuse myself. One experience that came up for me while writing this blog was one that I’d completely pushed out of my mind for years. I was 21 (7 years ago), and it was shortly after I’d had my spontaneous Kundalini awakening. It was very overwhelming, I didn’t know how to handle the energy, and I had no community. I found a “Kundalini healer” in the Twin Cities named Larry. I was also coming out of an intense phase of suicidal tendencies, trauma-induced sex addiction and self-destruction, and he knew about this. He was older, maybe late 50s, and the session was centered around massage and lots of probing questions. His questions, his touch, were incredibly triggering, and I told him so. He told me it was a good thing and that I needed to see it through for my healing. I went into complete trauma panic mode, guided by him, and ended up having sex with him. I remember when I went out to my car afterwards, I broke down and sobbed. The shame, the guilt, the shock, was unbearable. I never told anyone because of the crippling shame I felt at the time. I know now how wrong and unethical it was, but at the time, all I could do was blame myself. And that's how these types of people keep abusing.
Common traits of the spiritual abuser to watch for in your own relationships and your community:
- They are often very charismatic and socially charming
- They constantly proclaim how they are honest and noble, though their actions say otherwise
- They often encourage you to confess your vulnerabilities and fears with them so you will become emotionally dependent on them early on
- They leave a trail of breadcrumbs among acquaintances and on social media to reinforce their public image of being good, honest, trustworthy, and spiritually advanced.
- Shifting the blame of abuse to the abused. (“This is happening because of your issues with intimacy.” etc)
- They hold some sort of key to your healing that you can only access through them. (only with their help can you overcome)
- A tendency to separate you from your friends and family. Whether that’s building up a relationship that’s so rare no one could possibly understand it, or fighting with you because they question your motives and truth in relation to your friends and family. ("That sounds like your family/friend/ex talking, not you.")
- Conversely, pushing you into a part of a sanctioned community that he leads or is involved in, and reeling you in with sentiments that you are special and this community is the only one that could possibly understand you.
- Overwhelming you with a contradicting reality that’s too intense and fantastical to be real
- Using sex as a tool for your healing (“Your lower chakras are blocked. I can help you with that through sensual touch.”) This is a big one when Kundalini is involved.
Angela Jeffreys-Geuzinge is a Reiki Master and the president of the Atlantic Association of Energetic Healing Modalities. She was kind enough to send me this info on spotting a spiritual predator and what to look for, and it's great information to keep in mind anytime you are looking for healing work:
A therapist or teacher that dismisses or does not provide information about their training.
Many sexual predators have a sense of entitlement about themselves in that they are better than their training. Many of these "spiritual gurus" have never had any training at all. Ask for credentials, certificates and references. Avoid any teachers that are offended by your questions or will not provide them. (This last statement applies to female therapists and teachers as well.)
A sexual predator will seek those that lack confidence or self-esteem.
Look for a healer or teacher that makes a client or student feel very special. In a group setting a teacher or healer will seek out the less confident ones and put them in the center of attention, give them all their attention, or make them feel very special with words, actions and/or gifts. In one-on-one sessions, a sexual predator will give that certain look of attraction or make you feel attractive and special.
In a class, the teacher states you have special gifts and offers to meet with you one-on-one privately.
This may be completely legit, however make certain it is. Ask if you can include a friend or another student for extra practice. If this is met with immediate positive reception, then this is most likely legitimate. If there is any hesitancy or it is suggested that friends be worked on afterwards, then refuse the private training.
Usually in these situations no additional money is charged, giving you a sense of indebtedness to the teacher.
If the healer asks "Do you trust me?”
Look for a healer that asks "Do you trust me?" and then proceeds to suggest doing something that is outside of the scope of the healing modality (i.e. working within the breast or reproduction areas). If this is suggested ask for exact details; what is to happen and how that is supposed to help. If you are to remove your clothing (if this is a modality requires you to stay dressed) then immediately leave. If this is a modality where you are already undressed (i.e. massage therapy), clearly state that the session is over. Demand that he leave the room so you can get dressed and leave.
When you say the words "I trust you," these words mean "I trust you will do what is best for me in my healing and you will not harm or violate me." Predators will turn this around and use this as a way to engage you in sexual activities or other inappropriate behavior.
There are two types of predators. There is the predator that will engage in physical activities that are unethical. Then there is the passive aggressive predator who does not touch you or harm you physically but leaves you feeling very uncomfortable about your thoughts and your actions. Both are equally destructive. If at any time you feel uncomfortable with anything that has been said or suggested to you, know that you always have the right to end the session and leave.
Those are the signs to look for. Make sure to take them in full context. Many sexual predators have huge egos, which can be confused with confidence. They are two completely different things. A man who is confident does not necessarily have any ego. For example, my hypnotherapist is very confident in his work, but he does not have an ego whatsoever. Someone could misconstrue that confidence for ego and then prevent themselves from experiencing great healing.
Many women are hesitant to look for a male therapist, teacher or healer, whereas there is no need to fear - if you are aware of what to look out for. For some women, working with a male is best. Many women have had a bad experience with a female figure in their life so a male healer would feel safer for them. Additionally, working with a male can help balance energy, giving space for a deeper healing. Do not allow a few bad apples to deter you from seeing the rest of the good ones that are out there.
Be aware, be vigilant, and never ever feel bad in saying "No" and leaving. It is your right to do so.