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Psychoeducation for people affected by abuse in Buddhist groups

Psychoeducation for people affected by abuse in Buddhist groups


This section provides psychoeducational material for those affected by abuse or indoctrination in buddhist groups. It will be gradually enlarged and expanded.

Network for people concerned

If required, networks will be developed for those affected. This information will be provided after the interviews.

The importance of contacts and a network of contacts


If you have withdrawn from a group, it has shown to be valuable not to be left alone. Social contacts can have preventive effects against the onset of mental illness.
Friendships: You could reconnect with previous contacts important before your participation in Buddhist groups based on vital relationships. Due to many people having been persuaded into accepting hostile stereotypes or the idea that it would be necessary to distance oneself from people who were not part of the group or from other teachers, they often have lost their friendships or even working relationships outside the group.
There are also affected people who have been burdened with a lot of work leaving no time for outside contacts or friendships.
As you rebuild contacts, it might be useful to address some aspects which were important to each other. This can help to take up shared interests for you. Over time, that will help review your own values and identify what is important to you personally. Social and legal care: Benevolent contacts may also help to find a safe place to live, work, develop resources and ensure legal support.
Recovery and convalescence: for the processing of difficult, stressful experiences and for your recovery please consult a psychotherapist.
Contacting other people affected: It depends on individual needs and processes whether it makes sense to engage in contact with other people affected. You may sometimes find it helpful to share topics that have remained unaddressed and unevaluated or to initiate joint legal action.

Actively addressing insecurity, devaluation and internalised dependency structures

Self-responsibility brings freedom of choice. On the basis of months or years of devaluation and irritation for the sake of reinforcing dependency and wearing down, you may experience various reactions. The sense of openness and freedom of choice might emerge. Sometimes, there is a deep sense of insecurity and the effects of devaluation and dependency. Such changing feelings are normal reactions to experiences of manipulation and abuse.
Since many individuals have internalized concepts aimed at increased devaluation and the development of dependency, framing the dignity of every human being repeatedly, for example by reading the Human Rights Convention, can be a useful tool.
The experiences of devaluation and humiliating practices, however, will not simply disappear. In listening to one's own needs and paying attention to them the ability to reconnect to one´s own inner resources will grow steadily. So, the challenge is to take these needs seriously, even if you have just learned to silence them for a long time or you might still consider them to be selfish, which they are not. They are the key to your own strength. Here is an example: If you are exhausted, probably because you have worked too many hours in the organisation, because you are trying to handle the parting or similar, then it is necessary to ensure recovery. And this may vary slightly for each person . One could think about enough sleep, appropriate nutrition and exercise or contacts. Training awareness of your own particular needs will bring you back to yourself. And in the course of time, superimposed images and concepts gradually dissolve.
If you have practiced merging with someone who has inflicted violence or any form of abuse on you for a long time, or who has exploited you thoroughly and then exchanged you for others, in the sense of being constantly connected to that person and placing solely his wishes first, for example through a technique that is decontextualized and marketed as Guru Yoga, then it will take some time for this to release.

To be with benevolent people who show the respect and appreciation each human being deserves and to listen to your own needs and body language instead of ignoring them and even sacrificing it to others' needs is a worthwhile approach.
Even dropping some of the techniques used daily might be important to avoid the recurrence of stressful memories. In the case of traumatisation, it is also advisable to refrain from contact with the offender.

Stabilisation through activating resources

Consider your strengths and begin to embrace and nurture them. Staying with focus on your own resources and strength helps you during change processes as well as for the first period of stabilisation after trauma.
Returning briefly to decontextualized concepts that are currently used in many groups and have already caused a lot of damage to people. The term " karma-purification " is a neologism.
It is used to push people into dependence and to force arbitrariness upon them. No one has the right to denigrate or slander you. Cults are using such methods for the purpose of intimidation and to attack individuals who have gone their ways. Therefore, these are just one of the many indications of what has been developed using personality cult and seemingly buddhist terminology to render people more dependent and victimised. By focusing on your own human strengths and resources, you are able to counteract the damage you have suffered. This may even lead to increased compassion towards others affected as well.

© Anne Iris Miriam Anders, research project TransTibMed 17.6.2019