Introduction


Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Celibacy lie

"A former student" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
514 unoanimo replied to a post of “former student”:

You wrote ~
“Robert did not mention in public nor may he now his sexual preferences. This does not mean it is not very important to him and to the Fellowship of Friends.”
Actually he did. Sometime during 1994-1995, at a Town Hall meeting Steven D. was the chosen ‘bomber’ that let the news drop… Yep
What I was referring to was that this was a secret in the 1970′s. I was a student from 1973-1980. I knew Robert and spent time with him and his “entourage” Peter Bishop, Thomas Easley, others. There were those who lived and traveled with him. The common belief was that Robert had these young men around him because as a celibate  straight male he needed to insulate himself from too much feminine sex energy. This was a lie. I now believe he was already being sexual with his students in the 1970′s. This is almost 20 years before he publicly acknowledged this.
...Many aspects of the decision process that impacted many lives were based on this lie. I know of many relationships in which he encouraged or commanded married couples to split up. When I went to Phoenix in 1976 he ordered a very beautiful young Solar woman to go and had her husband stay with him. 
This was one of many incidents over the years.

"SandraC" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 9, 2007:
I want to voice my appreciation for the posts by [bloggers and post numbers:] WhaleRider #262 and Joseph G #360 and #304 Dick Moron (and many others I have not noted) and share my sadness as others have done that you have had such traumatic experiences at so impressionable an age with someone you trusted and believed in. Your courage in coming forth with your stories inspires me.
As I have mentioned, I left FoF in 1992 after 20 years, 10 years of which I played a ‘leadership’ role, and I am JUST NOW actually beginning to come to terms with the personal impact of RB’s sexual behavior.
It has taken this long, I believe, to have the strength to bear it. And these heart-rending stories are helping. As I read them, I feel a heavy sadness and wonderment at the lingering power of ‘the trance’ to protect from unwanted truths.
I have been surprised also by how much has been stirred in me by the humanity coming through this exchange. I have been gripped with an achey grief about it all, something I thought I had thoroughly worked through long ago, but now it goes deeper.
I have been away awhile here, catching up, I want to share with you a few things that have happened in the past two weeks since I first encountered this site.
1) For the first time, I actually felt the kick-in-the-gut wrenching of having been lied to the first ten years. Not that I haven’t known about the lies, not that I haven’t been furious with myself and raged at Robert –in group, in therapy, to myself about so many things, especially in the early days after leaving — not that others here haven’t stated the same things I am about to say with more passion and eloquence, but after the way it has hit me this time, I just want to express my outrage to Robert here for this record:
How dare you lie to us? I believed you, I trusted you, I listened to you, I worked for you, I supported you, I influenced others on your behalf — I represented you to my shame, you, the celibate, heterosexual, loving, conscious being.
How dare you lie to me and other mere children in the name of ‘God’. Why? to have your way, to satisfy your appetites — mostly, I am afraid, to fuel your delusions. I have a 21-year old daughter now, and know how young, how green, how impressionable we are in the early 20′s.

2) With this has also come a wave of intense self-hatred: The voice goes: How could I be so blind, so naive, so susceptible to narcissistic manipulation? How could I waste my life, throw away the most productive years and misuse my talents and gifts? How could I let myself be used for a corrupt, even criminal enterprise, supporting addictive, harmful behavior and helping to keep the whole thing going with my energy, my money and my work, how could I not have noticed what was going on, how could I have unknowingly continued to procure new student victims with a smile on my face (any Portland, Paris, NY students who are still in FoF, it pains me to hear your names mentioned and to realize you are still there), all along imagining myself to be something special, evolved, turning away from whisperings of sexual misconduct, continuing to look only at the ‘work’, and never, never at Robert, allowing myself to be enthralled to the charisma, the thrill of contact and attention from ‘the teacher’.
3) I have also felt more deeply, as reconnections are made here with old familiar names and voices, the extent of the loss involved in having been ex-communicated from people I had known for 20 years of my life, how stiffling it has been to a huge part of myself to be involved in a gag-order of the first degree, to have a small army of old friends holding me as ‘fallen, moon food’. The cruelty involved hits me more fully now.
4) Meanwhile, I have recalled some things that have helped me make sense of it all along the way. Things that have helped me to forgive myself and other victims, even to experience compassion for the predator side of RB, to realize I have both predator and victim in myself, and so on.
I pulled out “Trauma and Recovery” by Judith Herman again. While published in 1992, I still find it helpful in understanding how the experience in FoF was an experience of psychological captivity (See Cpt 6 and the chapter on child/domestic abuse, the similarities to closed religious environments are striking. The sections on rape I believe could be helpful to those who were/are involved with him). Peter Levine’s “Waking the Tiger” also may be helpful in understanding and resolving the mental/ neurological/emotional aftermath of long-term FoF membership.
The explanation of symptoms concomitant with complex chronic trauma (denial, numbing/ dissociation,and intrusion of traumatic memory) have helped me understand the state of mind that allowed me and so many others to remain in this scarey environment for as long as we did and still not be able to SEE what are now the most obvious things.
5) I also have found myself asking again: what was my part? Soul-searching, asking, who in me attracted Robert Burton? And as of today here is what I come up with: an innocent, trusting, dependent, child-like part of myself, a powerless someone who is afraid of the big world, insecure in herself, someone who wants to believe somebody out there knows the answers, is powerful and can shelter me.
I don’t recall who said it, (and not that I believe in ‘evil’), but the saying makes a point that I begin to understand: Innocence attracts evil, perhaps needs evil to grow into maturity, into wisdom. The ignorance of naivite seems to me now only a part human state, for which we cannot absolve ourselves of responsibility. Apparently some of us need the RBs of the world to shake us out of this innocence into a fuller humanity. (In no way does this possibility absolve him of his responsibility, of course).

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