Peter Sandhill did everything wrong in both waves of therapy. In the first and second wave he failed to ask a single contextual question that might allow me to reveal or him to diagnose or observe obvious symptoms of trauma. Nor did he show concern for the many dangers out culture loads an American man's psyche for someone like myself around breaking the law, having a homosexual experience, having secrets, participating in an open relationship or losing control in a psychedelic journey - something that is particularly terrifying for people with repressed childhood trauma they have not been educated to deal with biologically in the body or psychologically. In both cases he used the considerable influence of his roles and my need for male support and affection to steer me directly and insensitively towards the most tender areas of my wounds, without allowing that they might exist. Peter, in short, has been incredibly disrespectful of his roles, his marriage, his client and his colleagues, blithely dispensing with agreements, ethical responsibilities and requests that I made to keep myself safe in a new and very vulnerable journey of discovery and healing. In doing so he abused my trust and the trust of every other person involved with his life.
So why the defense?
The first thing I've observed around cultural blind-spots and abuse is the willingness to throw almost anyone to the slaughter-house as a scape-goat, in the effort to protect the power-structures that produce, foster and enable the people being scape-goated. I would tend to place more emphasis on Peter, were it not for the many experiences with the entire HAI organization and every facilitator, board-member and community member that participated in a variety of ways to make the impacts of Peter's many mistakes worse, to protect him, and insure that the ignorance and incompetence around the entire proceedings remain protected at all cost to protect a variety of less than noble agendas and conveniences.
Let's start with Sarah. When she learned that her husband was attracted to me and wanted me to pay him to take MDMA with him in his house along with Peter taking the drug herself, she did not go to the other facilitators with concern for her former client and current participant. She did not approach me. She did not insist that Peter apologize and stop or in any way secure me any help at all for the roiling emotions this had stirred up in my psyche. Instead she stayed silent until the present day, leaving me to fend for myself against the abuses a man she had recommended to me was making in a profoundly significant role as paid guide in my efforts to learn about healthy relationships and grow.
Then there is Peter's migration from participant to being a facilitator and wife of Sarah, his facilitator. I do not know the details of how that transition took place. But based on the careless and seemingly sincere interest Peter had in me being his homosexual lover, it is doubtful that people intervened to insure that he was safe from his own curiosity, attraction and transference to Sarah who became his wife. Since that violated typical therapeutic guidelines and he was pleased with the results, he may have thought that setting me on the same path was just as normal and acceptable.
In the period in which Peter was trying to learn if he had done anything wrong, and if so what it was, he did some work with Peter Rengel, in which, according to Peter Sandhill, Peter Rengel told Peter S. that he had "sloppy boundaries." Not "you have do do everything possible to put things right, refund all money to an abused client and..." Peter relied on the peers around him who had trained him, chosen him, told him that he was ready to be a facilitator and recommended him. Peter is like most people offered a position of power they are not fully fit to occupy. They can either argue with the people giving them that power and say "I don't feel fully qualified," or they can feel the rush of authority and, emphasizing great intentions, do what they consider to be great work. Peter told me that one of his toxins was "charm." I would have to agree. Peter is warm, affectionate, present to what he wants to be present for, and exudes confidence - all the qualities I wanted to develop. I've watched Peter stare right in the face of a wall of evidence sky high that he is doing everything wrong and assure me, with complete sincerity that he is doing absolutely nothing wrong and has nothing to apologize for. In our culture we reward people like this. They get much more T.V. air time than someone who says: "Reality is complex. I'm probably wrong. Let's look at the data. I don't know anything for sure so let's wait in see." Going head-to-head with that confidence also brings up Peter's defenses, the first one is a cheerful denial, followed by withdrawal of time/affection. People bathed in his affection want more and so he doles it out in proportion to whether or not anyone confronts him, perhaps training Sarah that if she wanted any of his time at all amongst his many amorous adventures (Sarah confided to me at a HAI single's event that she would like much more of his time if she could have it, but at best got an hour a day.). I found myself playing the same game, as he withdrew and claimed to be incredibly busy so that he could not possibly clarify the romantic relationship he had escalated while I was high and then said "let's talk about that later," as he became increasingly hostile, avoidant and unavailable for the most basic communication for six entire months. In short, Peter uses withdrawal of affection after need is established (I could not possibly integrate a session about falling in love with him with anyone else and I could not talk to anyone at HAI about it (my entire support network) without endangering the reputation of the man I now was more in love with than I had ever felt, courtesy not of his hard-work, ethics or trust-building, but of the exploitation of his client when his guard was completely down in a suicidal state on two drugs, one of which impairs critical judgment.
Peter claimed to have told Sarah about the experience, despite being on a 10 hour audio recording stating, out of the blue, that he did not tell Sarah. So perhaps he told her after the session when he got scared or got cold feet due to the intensity of my response. If so, then Sarah is again complicit, putting her need for Peter's affection above her participant's safety. Given the stalling, silent and dishonoring response by the entire facilitator body to a more than eight page letter I wrote to the entire facilitator body after the first wave of abuse about team-safety, shame and ethical questions, it was also clear that Peter took his cue from all of the facilitator's response. Not one facilitator thanked me for the letter. No one called to find out which team-member I had seen in distressed. The protocol was clear: silence and do nothing and it will blow over. That is the very protocol Peter used as my symptoms deteriorated slowly and consistently, building to a point where I could no longer contain the pattern of violation bubbling up from a session he had escalated to a point that needed support by insisting on a much higher dose of a new drug than I wanted to take.
The entire facilitator body for decades has been doing therapy without a license - another snub of convention, or the importance of observing legal and ethical boundaries. HAI facilitators touch, hold, talk about sexual attraction and present themselves as ready and able to help just about anything presented to them - in short doing more than licensed therapists will do (I've never met a therapist outside of HAI who is comfortable with touch and they have more training). Stan Dale apparently told them "you are good to go," and that's the way it was.
Then there is the fact that the entire facilitator body, in a much more severe situation, did exactly what Peter had done to me. I asked for help. Not one called or showed up in a timely manner. I was initially disbelieved by Anne Watts, whom I had never seen so circumspect after working with her in more than four couple's relationships with HAI participants. Then there was the lack of an intake form by Sarah, Anne, Barbara Musser that every facilitator and Stan had endorsed. So Peter would not have found it odd to ask zero background questions before suggesting I take MDMA with him in his house and pay him. Then there was the communication controls and denials that "This was nat a HAI issue," and so HAI would not deal with it. How many times has Peter watched all of the facilitators ducking obvious ethical responsibilities in order to "protect the reputation of HAI." Then there was the secrecy, with Anne Watts telling me that they had not even told the staff in the office and that they wanted to keep this quiet. And Peter watches his facilitators invite him to a meeting and systematically avoid all contact with me in any such meeting.
So while Peter may have caused a minor trauma and left me blind and incapable of responding to the obvious symptoms of complex PTSD and ongoing trauma with HAI participants and in the workshops, he did not do so alone. He did so with the full backing of the entire organization, which extended to the board, which elected to keep Peter on as a facilitator without a single board-member calling me or coming to meet me, despite the fact that my primary request was to be heard and to be held - something no facilitator or board-member has ever effectively done or offered to do to the present day. In fact, as Peter began to understand how he had hurt me my sense was that he was more receptive to change than many in the facilitator body. He did make a full apology, something I asked each HAI facilitator to do after my symptoms went up exponential in direct response to the systematized dis-owning of the issue, the refusal to give me adequate help or honor their responsibility as teachers who had taken my money, and as business people who had trained and recommended an incompetent practitioner who was a long-time client and financial donor.
Scape-goating first the client and then Peter Sandhill is not the answer to a systemic abuse of power and an unwillingness to put the life and safety of a client, student and participant first in a therapeutic crisis endangering lives. Yet that is the Human Awareness Institute's response. I wrote privately to a board-member I know and she would not even give me the e-mails of the other board-members, seeming to think that by doing so she would be betraying the protocol of secrecy and communication she was being taught by the entire facilitator body. In fact it is precisely this behavior that leaves licensed trauma specialists aware that HAI represents a severe danger to the well-being of it's clients by putting facilitator shadow cover-up ahead of the safety of the community.
Nor is Peter's self-absorption his trait alone. Jason Weston and Anne Watts broke container. Facilitators told me they would not read the e-mails I sent them, consistent with their assessment that this had nothing to do with HAI - a position that is bound to destroy the trust of every therapeutic client in every facilitator's relationship, when it becomes obvious that HAI cares more about the logo than the actual mission of teaching love, when the two are in conflict. It is of course great fun and easy to be paid to teach love when there is no sacrifice. But when there is gross and systematic negligence, both legally and morally, which endangers a client's life and well-being, every doctor, every organization, every business and every healer must ask themselves: Am I willing to do what it takes to insure the well-being of the client I harmed? I have never met that conviction from a single board-member or facilitator. It was rationalization, control, exclusion, denial, delay and whining from day one, though they have plenty of time to meet and prepare HAI's defense, including as we speak, hiring a European court to try and take down a perfectly legal website that speaks the truths they do not want any human being to be aware of, and certainly don't want to apologize of make amends. Peter Sandhill was trained, recommended, supported and led to his doom and apparently was not perceptive enough, given his own defenses, to take a moral and ethical stand that would save his organization, any more than his teachers were. And it is the awareness that this cycle will go on indefinitely that has left me clear that a court, however irksome and miserable to have to participate in, is the only way to protect everyone involved from a deep series of blind-spots that harm the mission of HAI more than it harms anyone else but myself. As a sensitive with a direct repetition of childhood abuses and the energy further amplified by psychedelics, I have been shot at point blank range with the entire shadow matrix of the people I have paid to help me at more than 100 events.
I would add that it is not the facilitators who are the threat, but the blind-spots they are committed to maintaining. As soon as that breaks, as it must under the detailed interrogations and evidence in court, I do not believe Peter or a single facilitator will be anything but horrified by the impact they have had on all by harboring the cultural diseases so many of us contract as a child before we have language. It takes great love and caring to heal such wounds. That begins by knowing what they are and owning that while we may not have given them to ourselves, we have hurt others by infecting them. The burden is much higher for a professional claiming to be able to heal and taking trust, time and money to "help" than it is for the average person. But these wounds and blind spots are thick within the community, many of which labor under the equally unfortunate delusions that by "speaking up for HAI," they are being responsible. When a professional has a contagious disease, be it mental, emotional or physical, and they are in a professional position capable of hurting others, they must be healed or taken out of role or they are part of the very problem they are supposedly their to solve. And in case it is not completely obvious, you cannot heal ignorance and fear by excluding the only people who are fully conscious of the disease and making sure no one else get's the message.