The Dark Side Of Psychedelics: How Women Are Being Sexually Abused in Our Psychedelic Communities
Content warning: this article contains descriptions of sexual assault and exploitation.
It is important to acknowledge the darker side of the psychedelic community, particularly in regards to the exploitation and abuse of women. In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of women being raped or sexually exploited by individuals claiming to be spiritual leaders or shamans at ayahuasca retreats.
The psychedelic industry is a rapidly growing market, with the potential to transform mental health treatment and spirituality. However, as with any burgeoning industry, there are risks and challenges that must be addressed to ensure that all individuals are treated fairly and equitably. In particular, women are at risk of being exploited and marginalized within the psychedelic industry, and it is crucial to understand and address these issues to create a safe and just space for all individuals.
One of the primary concerns is the exploitation of women as subjects in psychedelic research. Women may be more vulnerable to the risks associated with psychedelic use, such as acute anxiety and psychosis, due to hormonal differences and socialization. Women are also more likely to experience sexual harassment and assault in research settings, particularly if they are in vulnerable or dependent positions. It is crucial that researchers and institutions take steps to ensure the safety and well-being of women participants in psychedelic research, including informed consent and clear lines of communication and support.
Another concern is the exploitation of women in the production and marketing of psychedelic products. The commodification of psychedelics has the potential to reinforce harmful gender stereotypes and objectify women’s bodies. For example, psychedelic products may be marketed to women using sexualized imagery or language, which reinforces the idea that women’s bodies are objects to be consumed. Additionally, women who work in the industry may face discrimination and harassment, particularly in positions of leadership or authority.
There is also a risk of the psychedelic industry perpetuating racial and economic inequality, which can disproportionately impact women of color. Access to psychedelic therapy and education may be limited for individuals who cannot afford it, and this can create a situation where only a certain demographic has access to these transformative experiences. Women of color may also face marginalization within the industry, due to the intersection of gender and racial discrimination.
To address these concerns, it is crucial to have a comprehensive and intersectional approach to the psychedelic industry. This includes promoting diversity and inclusion in research and development, as well as creating systems of accountability for companies and institutions. Additionally, it is important to acknowledge the potential for exploitation and marginalization, and to actively work to prevent these outcomes. This can include the implementation of ethical guidelines for research and marketing, as well as support and resources for women who experience discrimination or harassment within the industry.
Fake Shamans Are a Plague in Our Communities
Even though the use of psychedelics in spiritual and healing practices has a long history, particularly in indigenous cultures, the growing popularity of these substances in the West has led to a rise in exploitation and abuse by individuals posing as shamans or spiritual leaders. Women, in particular, are at risk of sexual assault and exploitation by these fake shamans.
One woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, describes her experience with a self-proclaimed shaman in Peru. “I went to him seeking healing and spiritual guidance, but instead, he took advantage of my vulnerability and assaulted me. I felt violated and powerless. He used the guise of spirituality to manipulate and abuse me.”
This woman’s experience is not unique. The exploitation and abuse of women by fake shamans is a growing concern in the psychedelic community. These individuals often use their perceived spiritual authority to gain access to vulnerable women and take advantage of them. In many cases, women are coerced or manipulated into sexual acts, with the perpetrators using psychedelics to further their control.
Another woman, who also wishes to remain anonymous, shared her experience with a fake shaman in Costa Rica. “He claimed to be a healer, but instead he exploited me for his own sexual pleasure. He used ayahuasca to manipulate me and make me more vulnerable. I felt violated and ashamed, like I had been taken advantage of in the name of spirituality.”
The use of psychedelics in these cases is particularly insidious, as it can further the power dynamic between the fake shaman and the victim. The perpetrator may claim that the psychedelic experience is necessary for healing or spiritual growth, furthering their control over the individual. In some cases, victims may be reluctant to come forward due to shame or fear of being disbelieved or ostracized by the community.
It is crucial that the psychedelic community addresses these issues and takes steps to prevent the exploitation and abuse of women. This includes promoting safe and ethical practices in psychedelic therapy and spiritual work, as well as creating systems of accountability for individuals who claim to be spiritual leaders or shamans. It is also important to support and believe survivors of sexual assault and exploitation, and to work towards creating a culture of safety and respect in the psychedelic community.
As the popularity of psychedelics continues to grow, it is crucial that we remain vigilant and aware of the potential risks and dangers. Women, in particular, must be protected from exploitation and abuse by individuals posing as spiritual leaders or shamans. We must work towards creating a safe and just space for all individuals to explore the transformative potential of psychedelics, free from fear and exploitation.
In 2015, a woman reported being raped by a shaman during an ayahuasca ceremony in Peru. The perpetrator was later arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison. This case highlighted the dangers of unregulated ayahuasca ceremonies and the need for greater oversight and accountability.
In 2016, a woman was sexually assaulted by a shaman during an ayahuasca ceremony in Costa Rica. The perpetrator was arrested and charged with sexual assault, but later fled the country. This case highlights the need for greater regulation and oversight of ayahuasca retreats, particularly in countries where there is little to no regulation of psychedelic substances.
In 2018, a woman reported being sexually assaulted by a shaman during an ayahuasca ceremony in Brazil. The perpetrator was later arrested and charged with sexual assault, but the case is still ongoing. This case highlights the need for greater accountability and regulation of ayahuasca retreats in countries where there is little to no regulation of psychedelic substances.
In 2019, a woman was sexually assaulted by a shaman during an ayahuasca ceremony in Colombia. The perpetrator was arrested and charged with sexual assault, but the case is still ongoing. This case highlights the dangers of unregulated ayahuasca ceremonies and the need for greater oversight and regulation.
In 2020, a woman was sexually assaulted by a shaman during an ayahuasca ceremony in Peru. The perpetrator was arrested and charged with sexual assault, but the case is still ongoing. This case highlights the need for greater awareness and education around the risks and dangers of unregulated ayahuasca ceremonies.
These cases are just a few examples of the exploitation and abuse that can occur within the psychedelic community. They highlight the need for greater regulation and oversight of ayahuasca retreats and the importance of creating a culture of safety and accountability within the psychedelic community. It is crucial that individuals claiming to be spiritual leaders or shamans are held accountable for their actions and that survivors of sexual assault and exploitation are supported and believed. Only through greater awareness and education can we prevent these tragic incidents from occurring in the future.
In conclusion, it is clear that fake shamans and gurus pose a significant threat to the safety and well-being of their followers. The emotional manipulation, financial exploitation, and sexual abuse that they perpetrate can have lifelong consequences for their victims. As Terence McKenna wisely observed, “The shaman is not a guru, but someone who has been to the other side and returned with something to say and the power to say it.” It is important for individuals to be discerning in their search for spiritual guidance, and to hold those who abuse their power accountable for their actions.