In November of 2017, Dana Liebelson and Melissa Jeltsen, reporters for the Huffington Post agreed to
look into our allegations against Colin Garland. After nearly 10 months of in-depth research,
countless interviews and diligent fact checking, the following extensive article telling our
story was released September 11, 2018. Clink the link below to view the article. Caution:
This article is graphic and has potentially triggering elements surrounding cult-abuse and sexual
Most Recent Co-Leader Comes Forward
Posted Dec. 5, 2018
My name is Sabrina. I am Colin Garland’s most recent co-leader, and I am a survivor of his abuse.
I grew up dreaming about Africa, and I shared that dream with anyone who would listen. I wanted to see wildlife in the wildest places. I started saving money to go when I was twelve years old, and by the time Raven Adventures fell into my lap, I had already been twice before. I was born in love with it.
I was handed a pamphlet for a trip to South Africa that, later on, neither Colin or his then co-leader claimed to remember sending out. I put down my deposit that same day. When weather delayed my flight to New York, I nearly missed my connection to South Africa, driving from Michigan to JFK to make it. I embraced the feeling that I was supposed to be on that trip for a reason.
It was the summer of 2014. Colin was 53. I was 20. I was stunned by the beauty of South Africa, and Colin struck me as an amazing leader who was living the life of my dreams. From the first day, I was sold on Raven Adventures.
Colin told us stories about working hard to achieve his goals, describing himself as underestimated and all the more motivated for it. He had walked with cheetahs and been chased by rhinos. He was incredibly knowledgeable. That Colin didn’t have an advanced degree encouraged me; I felt bored and trapped at school, and textbooks were not where I wanted to explore my passion for wildlife. I didn’t feel that anyone at home truly understood why Africa was so important to me, and right away I felt that I could relate to Colin.
Some of Colin’s stories were about his magical experiences in Australia, and his co-leader at the time said that our group was special to hear them. She said that he did not share those stories with just anyone.
At the end of the trip I told Colin and his co-leader that we would be traveling together again in the future, but I didn’t feel that I had made a unique impression on Colin. I was captivated by his stories, but I had no reason to think that he had noticed.
When Colin was interested in keeping in touch after the trip, I was surprised and happy to. A few months later he offered me a volunteer internship that would begin the summer of 2015, and I became even more convinced that the original trip had been serendipitous. Colin agreed that it was. He told me that depending on my performance, I might become a co-leader.
I felt like I had hit the jackpot. My peers were beginning the arduous search for entry-level positions in competitive STEM fields, and this experienced professional had picked me out as someone who could do as good of a job as he could.
Between being offered the internship in October 2014, and attending the internship in August 2015, Colin’s description of what it would consist of evolved. Raven Adventures would be my first "job" out of college, and I had a limited professional frame of reference and did not recognize this as suspicious. I viewed Colin as a credible professional. I knew that fieldwork could be unpredictable and wanted to show that I could be flexible.
Colin told me, among other things, that he had a long-term wild dog project established and that I would be collaring elephants by bush plane. I later learned that by this point, Colin had already been expelled from the wild dog project and the wildlife center where it was based. We never once, throughout the approximately two-month internship, encountered anyone conducting elephant research.
Colin began to introduce the concept of "coming into your power" and using your energy to serve the world at large and accomplish your own goals. I was encouraged to agree to participate, but it sounded abstract, and I had no clue what that meant. When I asked, Colin sidestepped the question. He offered colorful but uninformative statements about energy and the power of women.
This is where the abuse began.
Many abusive relationships start out like a dream come true, as mine did. I’ve since learned that a uniquely intense and idyllic beginning is an integral part of the cycle of abuse. Colin remembered details that I felt were unlikely for a man to notice about me. If I mentioned in passing that I wanted something, weeks later he might surprise me with it as a gift. He remembered even fleeting insecurities that I might mention and asked careful questions to understand them. My words felt like they carried a weight and importance that I had never imagined they would to him.
Colin’s victims, and any young women who meet him in the future, should be aware of red flags that are indicative of the start of the cycle of abuse. I’ve outlined a few that I experienced with Colin here.
Claiming that the target is special and unique and the relationship moving quickly.
This is an integral part of grooming
, when an abuser prepares his victim to comply with future abuse by treating them with grandiose attention and affection. Colin showed an intense amount of interest in me that developed over an extremely short period of time – within weeks of getting to know me he was making declarations that he had "never met anyone like me" and that we had "already met in a past life". Colin introduced me to a friend of his who agreed that our relationship had spanned many lifetimes and encouraged me to see sexual healing as a widespread, legitimate practice.
Indicating that he would do anything for the target.
This reinforces grooming and is meant to convey to the target that they are so special that their abuser will go to any lengths for them – even if they never follow through. Colin made outlandish claims which he could not support with any clear plan, such as that he intended to pay my student loans in full. This was despite my insistence that my loans were not his responsibility, and also despite his claims that he generates no excess income
from his trips. When asked, he was unable to explain how this would actually be possible.
Developing trust while identifying vulnerability.
Colin encourages his targets to disclose their vulnerabilities to him early on. In my case, this process began through the "sharing circles" that Colin facilitates on his trips. During my internship he showed particular interest in learning everything he could about me. Colin’s victims have noticed that he pays particular attention to insecurities, past trauma, long-term illnesses, and family issues, searching even if none are immediately apparent. Throughout the internship Colin encouraged me to disclose any past sexual trauma to him – even after I told him that I had none. Under the impression that Colin and I were genuinely connecting, I divulged stories that Colin later used to manipulate me. There are likely women still out there who, like I once did, feel bound to Colin by the intimate stories they shared with him.
Alienation and isolation.
Colin invited me to move into his home and volunteer full-time with his companies. He is very good at framing this as a generous offer, and for a long time, that was how I saw it. Ultimately, Colin creates financial dependency and isolates the victim from their support networks. By the time I was having doubts about Colin, had quit volunteering for his companies and was refusing to run new trips, I still felt so isolated in my experience that I did not leave. I felt that no one could understand me like Colin did and that I could never make enough sense of my situation to explain it. Colin insisted that he never meant for me to feel this way, yet he suggested that my friends were unlikely to relate to me anymore and was unhappy when I visited home. As part of a larger pattern, these behaviors are alarming.
Throughout my internship, Colin coerced me into sexual "ceremonies" that were designed to wear away and violate my boundaries. Colin assessed my resistance to his behavior as "very unusual" and claimed this indicated a larger, hidden problem within me that had nothing to do with him. He claimed that many
people facilitated sexual healing privately, in workshops, at healing centers, and cited online sources, media, and people within his own circle to reassure me that he had not made up the concept himself. He assured me that our relationship, mainly his involving a former student in his sexual ceremonies, was not typical for him.
Colin contrasted his sexual pressure with shows of generosity, treating me to fancy hotels and weeks in expensive national parks. I oscillated between feeling intensely grateful and intensely uncomfortable, even afraid. I had never experienced anything like my trip with Colin and rapidly felt close to him.
I shared the emotional details of my life with Colin, including managing a chronic illness that deeply affected my quality of life. I had seen dozens of doctors, all of whom had sent me away without answers. Colin claimed that he understood me, sharing with me his struggle against cancer. He told me that my cooperation in his ceremonies could alleviate my suffering, and that ceremony had cured his cancer. Colin rewarded me with infatuation when I was cooperative and was cold and unresponsive when I resisted him sexually or was not enthusiastic enough.
Colin theorized that my illness was psychosomatic and claimed that the fastest way to heal would be by "pushing my edge", which he explained as exposing myself to situations I did not want to be in and things I did not want to do. In the instances when I confronted him about ignoring my boundaries or pressuring me, he insisted that I was "sabotaging" my own healing. He suggested that I was throwing away an amazing opportunity, that he was just trying to help me, and I was pushing it away. My resistance, he said, demonstrated a psychological and spiritual shortcoming that would hold me back in life if I continued to refuse to address it.
Colin encouraged me to think of ceremony as something totally separate not just from the rest of our life, but even from the feelings that he claimed to be developing for me. Publicly he referred to me as his student. In private, he told me that he had come to see me differently.
Colin seemed amazed by me – except when I questioned his ceremonies. Dispersed within the abuse were emotional discussions about my potential in the world. I had never experienced anything like Colin’s totally unwavering belief in me. It felt so unconditional that I hardly noticed as Colin introduced conditions, one by one.
Yet I became frustrated that none of what Colin had suggested was possible through ceremony seemed to be happening. I grew increasingly skeptical. Colin called this proof of my "demons" and warned me that doubt could kill magic. Still, I didn’t seek any outside perspectives. I was embarrassed and thought no one would understand. I was also afraid of what their understanding might suggest.
I was told that I was the "most hateful person" who Colin had ever attempted to heal. He told me that he was here to help me process my experience, but only if I agreed to do it "productively" – naturally, he would be deciding what constituted a "productive" train of thought and what did not.
I made no connection between how Colin treated me and how he managed his trips. From my perspective, he appeared to be a genuine and competent leader. The sharing circles seemed to add legitimate meaning to his programs, rarely reaching the level of depth that had drawn me in as a student. I believed him when he said that his ceremonies were part of our personal life that in no way involved the trips.
Over time, the nature of Colin’s battle against cancer began to evolve. Initially, he had been unwavering in his claims that ceremony had cured his cancer. Now, he began to emphasize that healing was actually gradual. His miraculous recovery had taken years, apparently, before he had even noticed a change. He insisted that I should be patient.
Victims are often asked to explain why they stayed with their abuser and are usually unable to in a way that makes any rational sense. I couldn’t either. I believed that Colin was genuinely trying to help me, and that he had poured time, energy, and resources into me.
Despite telling me initially that I could "cut cords," i.e., end my ongoing sexual healing at any time, Colin was resistant to the idea in practice and unhappy when I decided that was what I wanted. I noticed a change in Colin’s behavior immediately afterward. He became aloof, as if he couldn’t remember who had invited me on his trips and wasn’t sure why I was still around. He seemed bored of me but denied it when I asked. I sensed that Colin no longer felt "connected" to me. I suspect that if nothing had changed, maybe I would have left then. But it was at that point that Colin finally offered for me to co-lead my first trip.
My struggles felt validated. I loved leading the trips. I felt that I was making a positive difference, and participants who followed up afterward told me that I was. From my perspective, Colin treated participants on the trips that I was co-leading appropriately and with respect. My relationship with participants ended once the trips were over, at most exchanging a few emails. Several got in touch with Colin for letters of recommendation, but he seemed to maintain a professional distance. I never knew him to keep in touch with the participants of my trips, and he never seemed excessively interested in any of them.
The trips were the part of my life that made absolute, unshakable sense, even when – especially
when – I could not make sense of Colin.
I began cultivating a "normal" relationship with Colin, one that didn’t involve his ceremonies. He stopped calling me his student. Colin told me that he could not imagine having a relationship like we had with anyone else my age – I was especially mature, he said. I viewed the way Colin had followed up with me and pursued me on my internship as unique, something that neither of us had been expecting.
It was only a few short months after "cutting cords" that Laura Quinn published her original open letter
, and Colin immediately began to minimize the importance of what he had previously claimed were life-changing ceremonies. He insisted now that what he had always wanted was a strictly normal, romantic relationship with me. I panicked at Laura’s letter and what it meant for my experience with ceremony.
The Exposing Colin Garland
Facebook page was published, and in private, Colin countered their claims that his ceremonies were fake. He began to stress the high regard in which he claimed to hold my thoughts, values and contributions. Colin told me that if I stayed, he would do everything possible to "protect" me from the humiliation that would follow a group of strangers exposing my involvement in his ceremonies. He encouraged my fear that Laura Quinn and her supporters would not respect my story or my privacy, and that I should not risk any communication with them.
I couldn’t read Laura’s letter without shaking, but my distress was punctured with the relief that Colin seemed to be back to his "old" self – he was attentive and charismatic again, the same man who had promised me a dazzling internship in Africa and had been so deeply interested in me. Colin said that he was concerned for my mental health regarding Laura’s letter, and wanted to help me process my experiences with him safely. Laura Quinn was confused, he said, but he knew that I was tough and open-minded.
On some level, I felt that Colin was finally realizing my worth. But I didn’t think of it in those terms back then. All that I was completely sure of was that Colin and I were connecting again.
Colin showered me with affection. He shared with me stories of how misunderstood he had been in the past. He emphasized what a good fit we were for each other. I was no longer the most hateful person he had ever attempted to heal, but a valued equal, a critical thinker, a scientist with a rich career ahead of her. Colin seemed to regret the sexual pressure that he had subjected me to. In writing, he named specific incidents and spoke as if they had been innocent mistakes that he felt "horrible" about now. I assumed they were out of character for Colin and looked past them.
Inevitably, I began to get uncomfortable with the idea that I had somehow proved myself. I noticed that Colin’s actions even months before totally contradicted what he was telling me now. His previous claims that he and I had a greater purpose, that we were creating some kind of magic, seemed to have died out. I was still totally desensitized to what had happened but for bouts of panic, where I would demand explanations from Colin. But ceremonies were now "small beans" and Colin told me that I needed to move on.
I wanted to believe him. Yet I recognized Laura’s feelings as outlined in her letter not only as valid, but in some ways similar to how I remembered feeling not all that long ago. These now unimportant ceremonies had supposedly been deeply meaningful to Colin – conveniently, only when he was coercing me into participating.
I led several more trips and saw no reflection of our personal conflicts in how he led them. I still trusted him and never doubted that his programs were safe. I believed that any harm he had done to me had not been intentional, and though I was not convinced anymore that Colin’s ceremonies actually worked, I was wholeheartedly convinced that he believed they did.
Though some members of the community seemed outraged online, this was not reflected in the way I saw Colin received in person. Most people, he told me, clearly knew the allegations against him were bogus. He told me about how much he had tried to help Laura Quinn and how he had cared about her. He said that he regretted how Laura felt, but that she should leave his businesses out of it.
I heard nothing more about Laura Quinn or the accusations for months. In the meantime, Colin had made me an offer to sit on his Board of Directors for his nonprofit, The Global Classroom, in an interim position while he searched for someone permanent. He needed someone, he said, who he knew he could trust with the care of the property in Costa Rica, Aula Global Biological Reserve. I was someone he knew would do the right thing, he said, and act in the best interest of the rainforest no matter what, and I agreed to take the position.
I wondered if more would come from Laura Quinn, but nothing did until November 2017, when the Facebook page updated with the accounts of fourteen anonymous women.
Our relationship quickly began to unravel. I found the update disturbing and alarming, and Colin turned to devaluing traits that he had once praised in me. He spun blatant lies about his past victims to discredit them to me. He said that these women were angry about other things and they were trying to make his ceremonies look bad on purpose. He was misunderstood, and now, he said, I was starting to misunderstand him too.
We became unable to discuss our own history. Colin often insisted that I was misrepresenting his ideas, even if I repeated them back verbatim, and suggested that I had "manifested" Laura Quinn’s change of heart by being so difficult throughout his ceremonies. I tried to approach the situation logically, but Colin rarely offered a straight answer to any question. I did not recognize this as intentional deflection.
The Facebook page was claiming that Colin’s co-leaders were brainwashed, and reading this, I believed that the page had already discredited me. Colin discouraged me from reaching out and I believed that anything I said would be disregarded by the community. Though Colin and his victims were diametrically opposed, I felt that they both agreed that I couldn’t understand my own experience. From both Colin and his accusers, I heard the same message: You are crazy, you do not remember what happened to you, and we do not believe you. I felt like the only person on the planet who knew that I was sane.
Colin insisted that by holding him accountable for his behavior towards me, I was making him feel just as bad as he had made me feel and was therefore just as guilty as he was. Colin seemed to think that describing ceremony as abusive was an overreaction, and I finally sought an outside perspective through an abuse hotline chat. I was told that my situation did not constitute an emergency and took this to mean that Colin was right – without having been threatened with physical violence, our relationship did not count as abusive. I was overreacting.
Though in my experience co-leading with Colin he had appeared to treat participants respectfully, with the update I no longer felt that I could guarantee that this had always been the case or always would be. Fifteen days after the updated allegations were published, I quit volunteering for Raven Adventures and refused to co-lead any further trips. Colin refused to run them without my cooperation, and so they simply stopped.
Colin berated me throughout my time on his Board, but I made excuses for him, telling myself that he didn’t realize how he was treating me. Eventually I realized that Colin had chosen me for the position not for my potential, but because he had wanted to maintain control without being listed as a member.
I resigned from The Global Classroom’s Board after just over four months but had already been issued a legally binding permit that required me to be present on Colin’s property in Costa Rica from March until May. I knew that our relationship was fast falling apart but was still certain that it had been meaningful to him. I was embarrassed at how bad things had gotten and obsessed over coming across as though nothing was wrong.
Throughout the season, Colin’s emotional abuse worsened. He told me that if I broke up with him he would abandon the project we were in the midst of entirely, throwing away the work myself and other volunteers had put into it over the course of several years. Colin threatened to professionally slander me if I did not conduct our research using methods he preferred, telling me that only he was invested enough to deserve an opinion.
He began to change the content of stories he had already told. Previously Colin had bragged about my memory, which he had claimed to be impressed by. Now that I was keeping track of his evolving stories, he called my memory into question.
This is known as gaslighting
– which is the act of using lies, denial, and contradictions to disorient the victim and create an environment where victim doubts their own perceptions and memories. I began journaling to keep track of Colin’s claims and our arguments. Colin belittled my journaling, telling me that any therapist would think it was "so sad" that I had used my time this way. He told me that I was not as "innocent" as I "pretended" to be and that he knew that I "had a past" but refused to elaborate on these claims when asked what he meant.
With his permission, I even recorded several of our arguments on my phone, thinking that this would help us communicate more clearly. He went on to deny what was said on one such recording literally while
it was being played back to him.
With hours to myself in the rainforest, I asked what Colin was bringing to my life. I couldn’t think of a single good thing except "love", which I could no longer actually define. I recognized that I still felt bound to Colin but had no respect for his behavior and was no longer impressed by him. Other people seemed to be engaged in healthy, supportive relationships and I couldn’t come up with any reasons why that wasn’t possible for me, too. I had to ask myself what I honestly deserved. The answer was definitely better than this
At the end of the season, I told Colin that I would be flying home to Michigan. He told me that he did not know why I thought that I needed to go home and that I actually would not be leaving the country at all. Instead, he would be taking me on a vacation. I told him that I would not be going. He said that I was "ruining" things and offered to drive me into town, only
if I would promise that I would not use the internet to communicate with anyone while we were there. I refused, so he refused to take me into town. The argument came to a head when Colin told me that even if he did choose to drive me, I still had no money, and couldn’t afford a ticket without his credit card anyway.
Colin left on a hike. I walked an hour and a half before being picked up by the reserve caretaker and driven the rest of the way to town, where I bought my ticket.
I went home to Michigan. I drove back to Massachusetts to collect my things and move out. Colin and I broke up. I left, rationalized my time with Colin as purely emotionally abusive, and largely ignored any memories of ceremony. I rejected the idea, though their stories echoed mine, that I could be anything like Laura Quinn or the anonymous women who supported her. I bought a journal and wrote quotes about forgiveness in it. I saw a therapist and left out all the important things (P.S. – this is not how effective therapy works).
I told myself that Colin had really loved me and that we had both tried our best. I felt that I had no claim to the word "survivor" without bruises, and admitting to being a victim would mean accepting that after years of hard work and emotional investment, Colin had accrued zero respect for me as a worker or a person. I convinced myself not only that I was healing, but simultaneously that I really had nothing to heal from. I hadn’t yet learned that denial sometimes pretends to be strength.
Everyone felt like a threat to me. I didn’t want to meet new people, but I didn’t want to be alone. I needed to be with my
people, make them laugh, annoy them, watch bad TV, offer stupid one-liners, and tell the same tired stories and laugh like we’d never heard that one before. I needed everyone to treat me exactly how they always had. If that changed, what would be left? Where would I pretend to still be me? What would happen if I realized that I was just pretending?
I saw strangers with their friends or their partners. They all seemed so connected, and I knew I would never be like them again. I had fleeting thoughts of going back to Massachusetts, just so I could feel known by someone. I lived with the fear that Colin was right – that no one would ever understand me like he did. I feared that people would truly see me just as much as I feared never being truly seen again.
Meanwhile, Colin and I stayed in touch. As the summer wore on, our emails became less frequent. At first Colin seemed committed to winning me back. But so much had transpired that it was nearly impossible for us to have a lighthearted conversation for long. In writing, we argued about ceremony.
When the HuffPost article
was published, I felt both validated and beyond devastated. The article included women that I had asked about directly, who Colin had outright claimed he had never spoken to outside of the context of a trip. For me, the article was pivotal not because it was proof that Colin’s ceremonies, companies, and stories were bogus – but because it was proof that he had always known they were. All the time I had spent "fixing" things he had spent breaking them on purpose.
I wrote to Colin last on September 24th, 2018, in regard to the publication of the HuffPost article. I have not heard from him since.
Until that point, I had never understood how anyone could fear Colin. But I learned. For me it wasn’t a physical fear. It was visceral. It was almost like a fear of the unknown, except worse, because everything had already happened, and I still didn’t know what any of it was. It was the memory of Colin and I pigging out on junk food, watching some police drama on TV. The criminal in question was a man who had been happily married for years, with two kids who he treated well. The twist was that he had a secret apartment where he had been holding women hostage. I looked at Colin in awe and said: "How can you live with someone for years and not even know them?"
It was less a fear of Colin and more like one of all the cruel possibilities in the world that I had never even suspected. Anyone, I thought, could be capable of anything, no matter who you thought they were. It was the deepest, darkest sense of betrayal.
I now believe that Colin’s transformation after Laura’s letter had nothing to do with me. I believe that Colin chose to break his pattern of pursuing female students intentionally to keep me in the dark, convince me that I was special, and provide me with "proof" that Laura Quinn was making unfounded assumptions about his intentions. Colin’s pattern depends on his victims never learning any more than he intends for them to learn, and – if they do – that they feel so embarrassed they don’t dare admit it. Maybe not even to themselves.
I didn’t leave Colin until June of 2018. He won’t read my letter, but this letter is not for him. It’s for you. It’s for survivors of Colin’s abuse, potential future victims, and for any women who have gone through similar experiences. Maybe you’re reading it now the same way I once read other women’s stories, trying to put together a puzzle I didn't know I was in.
From my experience, I may be able to share with you some of what I learned, and some of what Colin shared with me.
Colin wants you to believe that Q is your secret, too. It isn’t.
I was told of Colin’s magical time at a healing center, the women who "just got it" and how I should have more faith in him, like they did. But one of these women turned out to be Laura Quinn, who doesn’t remember "getting it". If you have been victimized by Colin, there is a high probability he has co-opted your experience to encourage other women to trust him. I choose to come forward so that Colin can never use my story in support of his behavior.
Colin suggested that he is willing to slut-shame his victims into silence when he told me that any woman who might think they have a story about him should "think carefully" about what they want their parents to know about them. It’s 2018 and this bullshit is cancelled. I would say that being a sexual predator is far more shameful than being intimate with someone you love and trust.
Colin wants you to believe that if you dare to think of yourself as a victim of his ceremonies, you hold an equal blame for not immediately reporting him. Colin is afraid of you. He knows that if he can shame you into fearing the same things he does, you will speak less, or not at all.
Colin is good at convincing his victims that his "professional life" is in no way tied to his ceremonies. For those involved, the work itself can easily become the only positive outcome of their experience with Colin, making it even harder to understand that his trips are in fact part of his abusive pattern.
Colin wants you to believe that you are alone, and it does not matter how. Believing that you are special to him or that no one could ever understand you both serve him the same way: You’re not breaking his rules. The feeling of isolation you may be experiencing is a myth. I know this because I believed it too.
At the supposed height of his devotion, Colin continued to lie and minimize while "apologizing" to me. In his written response to Laura Quinn, he stated that ceremony was "so far from my life right now and has been for a long time…" while they were only a few short months in our past. He claimed that that he had "walked away from that time and way" and had "never wanted to look back" despite expressing great displeasure with me only weeks before for not being more cooperative.
Colin told Laura: "I don’t know what I believe in" – and yet, he had seemed pretty confident in his beliefs until someone had the nerve to call him out on them in public.
To heal, I had to let ago of the hope that Colin hadn’t lied to me and that he hadn’t meant to hurt me. I had to let go of Colin’s insisting that I shared an equal responsibility for what had happened to me. It is not possible to be equally responsible for a decision you made while the other person was lying to and manipulating you in order to get the answer they wanted to hear.
Colin is not going to offer a genuine apology. Colin does not think he has done anything that he cannot justify. He is going to continue playing the victim, telling anyone who will listen that he is misunderstood. The truth is that Colin cannot allow
you to understand him. He must
rely on gaslighting, obfuscation, circular arguments and blatant lies because he knows that if you did begin to understand him, you would never put up with his behavior.
Colin knows that he is peddling bullshit. This is why he targets people in vulnerable transitions – like a trip abroad, at the end of a college career – and why he paid such attention to my fears, hopes, and dreams. This is why he pretended to support me. This is why he sold me half a story.
I know this because I asked him. We were still together, and I was in the early stages of processing my experience. I felt tricked but didn’t know why, or how to put it into words. I asked him why he had not been more upfront about his intentions when we had first met, why in retrospect it looked like he had made simple things confusing on purpose. He said: "If I had told you everything, you would have said no."
Colin knows that you have the right to say no. But he feels entitled to your yes.
It is impossible to consent to sexual activity under coercive circumstances.
Colin likes to think of himself as someone with a gift. He’s actually telling the truth: Colin is an incredibly gifted liar. Colin’s magic is that he can be so convincing. He even does his research when it's called for – the version I was given of his battle against cancer was backed up with facts that check out in real life. He claimed to have been diagnosed with parathyroid
cancer and his referenced symptoms lined up with the literature. He even went so far as to point out the hospital where he said he was diagnosed, but never received any treatment, as we drove past it.
Later, I learned that Colin’s battle with cancer, which he compared to my own chronic illness and used to manipulate me, is largely if not entirely fictional.
Colin has told other victims that he had oropharyngeal cancer; that doctors couldn’t determine what kind of cancer he had at all; that a mass had been removed from his neck; that he had undergone chemotherapy; and that he had undergone radiation.
In 2016, while volunteering on one of Colin’s trips, I became upset over the chronic pain and worsening condition of my illness. By then, Colin seemed to have largely abandoned the idea that his ceremonies should have alleviated my condition and was instead just kind of irritated that I was still bringing it up. Colin – who has been documented claiming to women that he will die of cancer
if they do not have sex with him – responded by saying: "The world doesn’t revolve around you being sick, Sabrina."
I asked Colin to show me his copy of the medical record where he was diagnosed with parathyroid cancer. He told me that he didn’t have it, and that he couldn’t remember what hospital he had gone to. I reminded him that not even weeks before he had pointed out BayState as we drove by it, offering me that detail of his diagnosis completely unprompted. Colin insisted that his diagnosis was "so long ago" that BayState would no longer have those records, and that he just did not have the time to look into it.
Colin is right when he says he is an amazing storyteller. He's also telling everyone a different amazing story.
I was afraid of this letter. Though I looked, I found no other way that I could provide truth to the community, validation to other victims, and a warning to other women. My fear is not more important than equipping women, who might not otherwise have it, with the wisdom to recognize a potential predator and the awareness that Colin Garland without question is one. He is not going to stop or change.
Part of the success of Colin’s pattern is that women have left believing that they can somehow martyr themselves, and with their silence protect others from the pain of truth. But no one can protect anyone. My story is the most powerful thing I can offer anyone who might encounter him, or men like him, in the future.
Lying may be Colin’s gift, but speaking is mine. I refuse to be part of a cycle of silence that keeps predators like him safe.
Colin has conned good, genuine people into endorsing his companies, donating money, volunteering time, investing energy, loving and supporting him, and trusting him with their children. Raven Adventures and The Global Classroom were never Colin’s career. They are his stage.
They are what he uses to surround himself with young women, part of how he dazzles them, and how he creates excuses to keep in touch with them that seem professional or innocent. With them, Colin is a con artist. Without them, he is just an old man who fixes cars.
I can’t stress enough what a dream come true Raven Adventures looked like to me. Colin saw that and used it to manipulate and use me. I now believe that Colin used his female co-leaders, including me, to create an image of trustworthiness. He wears the credibility of the women in his life like a costume. Colin is a coward, who hid behind my character to protect himself from scrutiny. For him, it was never about the trips. Raven Adventures is to my knowledge no longer Colin’s focus, but I have no doubt that Colin uses The Global Classroom to this day to attract future victims.
I once believed that The Global Classroom would ensure the safety of Aula Global. I now believe that Colin has no intention of protecting the rainforest and is happy to use it to further manipulate victims like me, who fell in love with it, and discourage us from pursuing justice.
You were right about me, Colin, when you said that I am someone who will do the right thing for the rainforest, no matter what. I believe that it is in the best interest of the public and Aula Global Biological Reserve that The Global Classroom be formally dissolved.
Until then, Colin Garland will continue to hide behind it and abuse the image of professional authority that it provides to attract future victims.
For all the preaching he does against living in fear, that is exactly
how Colin wants his victims to live. Colin wants me to fear for my career and for my reputation, fear that I cannot remember what happened, fear that I am overreacting, fear that no one will care. Colin spent an astounding amount of time and energy trying to train me to doubt myself and forget who I am – and it didn’t even work. The survivors of Colin’s abuse are creating change. Every single story is a crack in his foundation of bullshit.
My letter is for every woman who is quiet, unheard, or has chosen self-preservation instead of speaking out. I understand that choice and I respect it – I almost chose it for myself.
I do not care if you are not a "good enough" victim. Maybe you’re "too" loud; you swear "too much"; you have a mental illness; you were "too" quiet; you feel you should have "known better"; you are "too" sexual; you were "naïve"; you wanted to be his girlfriend; you wanted a job; you wanted a mentor; you didn’t protest enough; you were vulnerable and human. There is no level of perfection you must attain before your experience matters "enough". It already does.
Like anyone, I have human vulnerabilities, and Colin is an experienced predator who is looking for these. Colin’s abuse is not proof that you are somehow damaged or weak.
He is an expert at using anything you care about against you – I care deeply for the reserve and the birds we studied together on that property. Colin used my dedication and love for the wildlife as manipulative tools. Africa was my childhood dream, and for Colin to exploit that is the purest form of cruelty.
Yet the very things Colin used to take advantage of me are some of my greatest strengths. My passion, heart, and dreams all carried me to Colin, and maybe they even gave him the tools to hurt me. But they also carried me all the way home, and if I could give them up for the promise of never meeting anyone like Colin again, I wouldn’t do it. I’ll take the risk. I love who I am too much.
To Colin: You’re not reading this letter. If you tried, I know you didn’t make it this far. You can lie about me, threaten me, and try and discredit me all you want, Colin. Throw your fit. You know you can’t change that Sabrina Storm wrote this letter, and that you know I’m not afraid of you.
Colin may choose to never read my letter. But you did. And it’s going to make a difference.
To everyone abused by Colin: I believe you. Your voice is powerful.
Colin knows that, and he’s hoping that you don’t.
Victims of Colin Garland of Raven Adventures & The Global Classroom
Posted Nov. 10, 2017
On September 2, 2016, I published a public letter on
Facebook addressed to Colin Garland, founder of Raven
and Global Classroom. My therapist
recommended I do it, and I felt strong enough to face such a
public display of my deepest and darkest trauma. The support
and love I received left me speechless and endlessly
grateful. One unexpected consequence of posting my letter
was the sheer number of women who contacted me, having
experienced virtually the same type of abuse that I did. No
less than six women have contacted me with accounts almost
exactly the same as mine. Aside from that, countless past
students of Colin’s trips reached out stating that Colin was
quite inappropriate with them. With that in mind, I decided
it was time to post a second letter encompassing this
additional information. If you have not read my first
, I would advise reading it before continuing.
It has become clear to me that over at least the past two
decades Colin Garland has meticulously targeted many female
students who attend his Raven Adventures and Global
Classroom trips and has ultimately sexually abused many of
them. This writing aims to illustrate Colin’s phases of
abuse, which include: the Trip
, Email Grooming
, Energetic Cord-Cutting
phases. His victims other than myself are
represented by "Woman
" and a number
allows them to remain anonymous.
Before the reader is asked to forge ahead, I must state that
there has been and will likely continue to be obfuscation
and confusion sown by Colin Garland and perhaps by his
allies as well. This account is intended to tell the truth.
No doubt Colin Garland will protest as to the validity of
"his truth," however, many women have bravely spoken up in
hopes that his probable refutation will be dropped in favor
of the stark, unvarnished truth, a truth that any
reasonable, fair-minded person would find compelling.
A week after I posted my first letter on Facebook, I was
contacted by a distant friend who had no direct involvement
in my situation with Colin Garland, but had been contacted
by him in response to my letter. This friend, with whom I
talk very infrequently, had also attended Colin’s trips to
Mexico, Costa Rica and Russia between 2004-2006. In my
opinion, Colin inappropriately involved a third party to
relay information to me, saying that he had "no way of
contacting me." He could have sent me the messages directly
before deleting his Facebook account. I think that his
actions, though cowardly and evasive, are nevertheless
carefully and studiously calculated to maintain his "teflon"
armor against accountability for what he has done.
When she (my distant friend, the third party) asked if I
wanted to read the messages Colin Garland sent her to relay
to me, curiosity got the best of me, and I said yes. I have
to assume that Colin sent her the messages in hopes that she
would have me read them. I was actually surprised at how
quickly Colin responded to me through her--roughly 3 hours
after I publicly posted my letter on September 2, 2016.
Colin Garland wrote three responses to my September 2, 2016
letter, all within a few hours of each other. In the first
message he cautioned my distant friend:
"this is pretty serious stuff she is saying [that] will have
far reaching consequences for many people. If that is what
she wishes there is nothing I can do about that and will
respect her need to do as she feels necessary. I will speak
only truth. Truth is always the best way forward."
After receiving no response from me, through my friend,
Colin wrote a second message:
"if Laura is really angry with me and wants to take me down,
I understand that…She is making some very strong accusations
and only partial truths. It is important that the whole
story be told if any is told at all."
the whole story? I beseech Colin Garland to tell me:
what did I omit?
In his second message, Colin started off somewhat
"I fucked up bad and I know it and
knew it for some time now. I was so sure my teachings could
help Laura and sincerely with all my heart had the best of
I even felt somewhat relieved when Colin admitted:
"all of that stuff is so far from my
life now and has been for a long time…I walked away from
that time and way and never wanted to look back. I made many
mistakes…I was caught up in the belief that I could help her
and I was so stupid for that. No more. I don’t know what I
believe in…ceremony and medicine wheels is so far from my
And if it wasn’t for the other women who trickled into my
life over the past year, I would have been okay believing
that Colin abused only me, that he didn’t repeat his
brainwashing and sexual manipulation with other women. I
would have had relative closure and although his messages
were less than apologetic and rather threatening (more on
this below) toward the end, I was moving on.
Unfortunately, on September 9, 2016, Woman1
"I know we don’t know each other but
I just stumbled on your website about Colin. I was also
victimized by him. Reading your letter was like reading
about my own experience, word for word. I just wanted you to
know you’re not alone."
Was her reaching out to me one of the "far reaching
consequences," of which Colin Garland warned me?
On September 12, 2016, Woman2
"This is such a part of deep past
for me. I met Colin in 1997 or 1998 and was volunteering for
him sometime around 1999 in Petersham, Massachusetts, Baja,
Mexico and Costa Rica. I think my stories echo many women’s
And almost a year later, on August 19, 2017, Woman3
contacted me, saying:
"I first met Colin in 2010 and your
letter to him is so similar to my experience and the posts
of the other women. When I saw your letter it touched me
deeply because I recognized how I fell into a complete trap
and it has affected my life in a huge way."
If Colin Garland has truly stopped abusing women, why did he
subject Woman3 to his sexual "ceremonies" in 2010?
The Trip Phase
Colin Garland seems hesitant thus far to speak the truth, so
the other women and I will speak it for him, as embarrassing
and invasive as it is to do so. I will start by illustrating
what I call the Trip Phase. Since 1986, as an agent of Raven
Adventures and Global Classroom, Colin has led student trips
all over the world. It has become clear to me now that these
trips are Colin Garland’s primary platform for finding his
Most of his students have been high school age
although more recently it appears that they are primarily
I remember on a high school trip to Costa Rica through
Global Classroom, we all participated in two of his "sharing
circles." As we sat in a circle, Colin burned sage and
fanned us with an eagle feather to "cleanse" us. Colin told
us that when we held the "talking stick" the floor was ours
on which to feel safe and share deeply. I recall that the
sharing circles went on for hours. I shared very deeply
about my father being sick with cancer and I sobbed like I
hadn’t in a long time. In the second sharing circle, one of
the students’ watches stopped working and I remember Colin
telling us that the magic of our powerful sharing was likely
what caused that watch to stop. Colin told us that time
would bend and warp during these sharing circles. He
started to seem less human and more mystical as the trip
went on; we were all incredibly vulnerable after our sharing
and we all trusted Colin. In fact, I would go as far as to
say that we idolized Colin Garland.
On September 23, 2016, Woman4
, who attended Colin’s trips to
Costa Rica and Russia circa late 1990’s, reached out
"I would say that he was
inappropriate with me as well on trips, although he did not
sexually assault me, I maintained email contact with him for
quite a while…I saw that he was inappropriate with others
too. I was in high school at the time."
On September 27, 2016, Woman5 contacted me saying,
"No genuine person would single out
students by showering them with intense spiritual attention,
while leaving others in quiet confusion."
This struck me as interesting because I too remember how
Colin doted on a couple of the girls on my trip. I thought
that he did not see in me whatever it was that he saw in
them. Therefore, when he contacted me via email after the
trip, I was surprised and felt special.
"I was yet another woman who was on Colin’s ‘radar.’ I met
Colin on a school trip to Baja, Mexico. He and I had an
instant connection; he called me "sunshine" and told me I
was special, beautiful and that he loved me deeply."
On April 16, 2017, Woman6
, who attended a trip in 2013 to
Africa, messaged me:
"I happened to be his ‘favorite’ of the group. He definitely
showed favoritism towards me and we kept in contact after
the trip through email…I too was going through some things
at the time of my trip and was very vulnerable and he so
easily picked up on that. I also have a friend who went Baja
with him and she also happened to be his ‘favorite’."
On September 10, 2016, Woman7
wrote to me:
"I’ve known Colin since I was a junior in high school and
witnessed him groom some of my friends after the trip. I
remember feeling uncomfortable right off the bat about the
way he gave special attention to my best friend at the time.
I remember hearing he had told her that she had special
spiritual powers, and I remember feeling confused and
envious that I was not recognized for being a special person
as well. I also met up with him a few years ago after he
messaged me out of the blue, saying that I was on his
‘radar’…We went to his house in Shelburne, MA."
The Email Grooming Phase
It is my impression that these "sharing circles," are one of
Colin Garland’s main tools for teasing out which of his
students are most vulnerable, learning intimate details
about their fears and insecurities. After the trips, he
reaches out to certain students, thus beginning the Email
Grooming Phase. Most students are under 18 and Colin spends
a lot of time gaining their trust via email before
transitioning the email content to a sexual nature.
There was about a year after my trip with Colin Garland
wherein we emailed daily. He craftily and carefully
‘enlightened’ me about his knowledge of ancient sexual
healing, telling me that I had old energy and a deep
energetic power that could be used to heal. He told me
specifically that the power of my orgasm, if harnessed and
intentional, would unlock insurmountable strength in me,
that I could fully step into my power. Through these
"ceremonies," Colin could be the bridge from me to my
ancient powers. After the magical foreign trip and the
sharing circles, Colin stories didn’t seem so
far-fetched—they were coming from a man I now trusted
wanted to believe I was special.
, who attended trips to Baja, Costa Rica, and Russia
between 2004 and 2006 stated:
"I was under 18 at the time. I had
been emailing with Colin for some time. His emails would
always end up talking about sex. We discussed masturbation
and he told me he could feel me energetically when I
In Colin’s response message to my first letter he
"I have always drawn a strict line in the sand between my
trips and me as a person."
My first question would be: "Why would Colin need to draw a
line? Who is he as a person that has to be restrained on
trips? How can there be a line, when months after my trip to
Costa Rica through Global Classroom, he sent me an email
telling me that I was energetically calling to him?" It
turns out I was not the only girl with whom he failed to
"draw a strict line in the sand."
felt she had "dodged a bullet" when she told me:
"After my 2 week trip to South Africa for The Kruger
National Park, I received a weird, uncomfortable email from
Colin. I feel as though he sent this to me anticipating my
response so he could lure me in and invite me over to his
’s message to me included this "weird, uncomfortable"
email, sent to her by Colin in 2015, when she was 21 and
Colin was 54:
I wanted to say hi and send you something that has been on
my mind for a while but I did not say it on the trip. I want
you to know that I think you are one of the sweetest people
I have ever had on a trip. I also want to say I think you
are so beautiful. Inside and out. I don't want this to sound
disrespectful…..or worse…. creepy…I mean this in a deep and
sincere way. We all deserve to go through life feeling (and
knowing) we are beautiful humans but we rarely give
ourselves permission to feel it…and rarely tell others.
Well, I am telling you. You are such a beautiful young
woman… I know you have and will have challenges in this
life…but you have…and will continue to rise above them. Use
your powers wisely and with confidence Woman9. You are a
Perhaps Colin does not recall sending me a very similar
message 8 years earlier?
Over the past year, multiple women contacted me, women who,
as girls, have been on Colin’s trips during at least the
years 1993-2015. Colin was emailing high school girls after
meeting them on his trips.
It was startling to find out that Colin also reaches out to
young women whom he has neither met nor taken on his trips.
"Colin reached out to me having
never met me, through an email. A friend who attended his
trip put us in touch. He ultimately convinced me that school
was a terrible place for me and that I’m much better than my
drug and alcohol using friends."
Over time, she ended up a victim of his sexual abuse.
, in my opinion the most vulnerable, reached out,
"I met Colin because my sisters had
attended his trips. He knew about me, my family history and
my struggles through the sharing circles my sisters
participated in on his trips. We ended up engaging in a
lengthy email correspondence. He called me the ‘Golden and
Chosen One’. He began to speak more and more of my divine
feminine power harnessed within my sacred sexual energy. He
called himself the ‘Wise Owl’.
Colin explained that he could help me tap into this sacred
energy through ceremony, and I could experience the true
power I possess, and a feeling of freedom, happiness and
bliss that I had never known. He said everything could be
healed through these ceremonies, even cancer, which he had
healed himself from years before. He told me he learned how
to perform these ceremonies through his time with the
Aboriginals. He said these sacred ceremonies were not easily
understood by most people today; that it took a very special
and spiritual person to understand how these ceremonies
work, and he knew that I was that person. As his emails
became more and more sexual in nature, I began to feel fear
because of my past sexual trauma. I tried asking him to be
explicit, and tell me exactly what these ceremonies
consisted of, but he told me we needed to meet in person,
and he would explain everything to me then."
The email process to which Colin Garland subjects these
girls is incredibly dangerous and the only bridge I can see
is that these emails can potentially lead to sexual abuse.
Colin casts a wide net, and fortunately for many young woman
the Email Grooming Phase is the last. However, in other
cases (my own, Woman1
and multiple others not
mentioned), the connection continues and Colin edges toward
"sacred sexual healing." Of course, he is careful to always
wait until the girl is of age
before these ceremonies take
place, as he mentioned in his response to my first letter by
"my understanding is if an adult
(anyone over 18) makes a consensual decision to be intimate
with someone and they were sober and not under any duress,
threats etc that is not a crime. We can regret our decisions
and wish we never did them, but we all have to own that
fact. Including Laura. Calling our interactions between us
rape is too far."
No. What was too far was Colin Garland waiting until I was
, utterly brainwashed by his emails and lies, Colin’s
requesting utter and stringent sobriety
during our time
together, and then luring me into a summer of sexual abuse.
Colin grooms underage girls on trips and through emails,
waits until they are of age, requests sobriety, and then
performs "sacred sexual ceremonies" on them. How is that
consensual? How was that intimacy? How was I a consenting
adult at 19 when he had masterfully brainwashed me?
The Sexual Ceremony Phase
The next phase of Colin’s predatory pattern is the email
grooming-to-ceremony transition that I call the Sexual
Ceremony Phase. Again, so many women have come forward
expressing similar email grooming experiences with Colin,
but I still doubted any of these women were like me, naive
enough to actually participate in these sexual ceremonies
that he had written so frequently about in emails. I was
wrong. I now know I was not naive, I was young and Colin is
a master manipulator.
He has been doing it for over two
It is extremely painful to talk about the sexual ceremonies,
but I will share despite feeling overwhelming shame and
embarrassment. Without gaining some understanding into the
nature of these ceremonies, I feel it could be easy to
assume the abuse was minimal. One woman, who had read my
first letter told me:
"when you said ‘sexual ceremony’ I
just sort of thought he masturbated while you meditated, I
had no idea how calculated and traumatic they were."
The details of these ceremonies illustrate how the Email
Grooming Phase leaves Colin’s victims deeply brainwashed and
extremely vulnerable targets for sexual abuse.
It was summer 2007 and I was in the palm of Colin’s hand. It
was impressive that he had:
"smuggled monks out of Tibet, lived
and learned from indigenous clans in the outback of
Australia, on the coasts of New Zealand, and the
impenetrable jungles of Indonesia…taught in universities in
India, Indonesia and Nepal…tracked tigers, explored wild
Through many emails, Colin told me that he had taken part in
a very ancient coming of age ceremony with the Aboriginal
women in Australia. When a woman came of age, which he
informed me was age 16 for this tribe, her grandmother
facilitated a ceremony in which the girl was placed on an
altar and other women gathered around her as she had her
first orgasm through masturbation. Colin said it was
beautiful and powerful and if women everywhere could do
this, we would be so much more in our power.
Colin said he could help me find my power through ceremony.
When I arrived at the healing center to meet him in person
for the first time (since being a student on his trip), I
didn’t really know what that meant, but I was brainwashed by
his stories and cunning ability to win my trust.
Just hours after I arrived, he led me to his bedroom and
told me I could sleep in his bed. I fell asleep alone but
woke up to him next to me, pressing against me. He told
"…the Aboriginals are calling to me, the doorway is opening,
your energy is so strong."
Before I could really understand what was happening, Colin
had pushed me toward his pants and told me that if I
swallowed, I would receive ancient and powerful energy
necessary to help me come into my power. After it was over,
I fell asleep. Did I feel magical or powerful? No, but I had
to believe Colin Garland. It all happened so fast.
For the next ceremony, of which there were three, Colin
created a sort of altar, had me lay on it, gave me a
vibrator and burned some sage. He told me to make myself
orgasm and that he would call in the healing energy from his
past with the Aboriginals. I was so uncomfortable, it took
hours. But he was patient and waited and watched. Finally, I
did. The next time (ceremony 3) Colin didn’t just watch, he
waited until I got close to orgasm, then pulled his pants
down to deliver me the "ancient medicine" through his
Colin convinced many of his victims that they had energetic
blocks in their "throat chakras," and that he could help us
"release the blockage." I remember one "ceremony" during
which Colin had another young woman perform oral on him. She
could suppress her gag reflex and I could not. Colin made me
watch and then take my turn to show what I had learned.
Gagging and fighting back the urge to vomit was incredibly
My description of some of the "ceremonies" I was subjected to is currently hidden because it is potentially triggering and disturbing.
Reading it could be traumatic to other victims of Colin Garland, victim's family's and loved ones, or
anyone who has ever been psychologically or sexually abused. If you still wish to show the paragraph,
, otherwise keep reading.
There were many more ceremonies, and it has become clear
from other accounts that Colin has a pattern of including
multiple women at one time. Woman3
, involved in 2010,
"I have at least 30 emails from Colin’s correspondence with
me…I know email is his preferred method of first contact,
followed by a phone call conversation and then further
emails before connecting physically. I spent a night with
him and then lived with him for a few months, it was totally
It was hard to hear Woman3
"Colin told us that the ceremony would be more powerful with
both of us, that he needed two."
said of Colin’s emails:
"…he said he could feel my energy with him very strongly
every night and that I could do so much with my
Unfortunately for this woman, she was like me. After
intensive email grooming, she too ended up victim of Colin’s
sexual ceremonies. It was clear these ceremonies were less
than healing for her when she told me:
"his coming into my life basically delayed my education for
a whole two years and left me feeling hurt and used
emotionally, physically and financially."
wrote to me saying:
"I first met him in 2006 when I was 17. He came into my
[high school] class to get students interested in his trips.
The grooming began after the trip. Later I was assaulted
during a ‘healing’ session in 2012 I believe…I didn’t
recognize it as assault because I believed he was a healer.
Then again in 2013 when I was 24, through 2014 and turned
25. The sexual ceremonies did happen at his current
residence in Shelburne, MA as well as in Baja and Africa…the
whole thing has left me close to non-functional with
depression and dissociative issues."
contacted me on October 30, 2017 saying:
"I was involved with Colin in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s,
and I was a co-leader for several of his trips over the
years. He was emotionally abusive with me on multiple
occasions. He said he was dying due to a spiritual crisis
connected with aboriginal teachings and needed specific
sexual ceremonies in order to heal. He said that I didn’t
have the qualities needed to make the ceremony work for him
so he had to do it with other women. He did several sexual
healing ceremonies with other (at least 3) women during
those years. I took part in them twice; both times were
extremely difficult for me, emotionally."
"It’s just the idea of him ‘healing’ young women by
receiving oral and having sex with them as they ‘leave their
body’ that is so f’ed up and he shouldn’t be anywhere near
youth and high schoolers."
All victims have agreed that their sexual ceremonies were
similar to my own experience (detailed above).
The Energetic Cord-Cutting Ceremony Phase
When I started to have shadows of doubt about the
ceremonies, Colin Garland told me that he was incredibly
sick and that it was through and because of me and the work
I was doing in these ceremonies that he was still alive. I
was surprised to learn that Colin used this manipulative
tactic with his other victims as well. Apparently he has
been on the verge of dying since the 1990’s, and the only
way for him to heal was to have sexual ceremonies with young
women. Colin told Woman1
and myself between the years of 1997-2014, that if it
weren’t for us, he would be dead. How could we stop doing
these awful ceremonies with him, if it meant he would
"as a high school student on his 2004 trip to Baja, Colin
told me that the doctors didn’t know how long he had to
Even in the late 1990’s Colin told Woman11
that it was
because he was so sick that he needed to do these sexual
ceremonies with her and other young women. It was keeping
To be clear, Colin has been critically ill for going on
Eventually however, his victims pull away from him as I did
and he requests one final ceremony that I call the Energetic
Cord-Cutting Ceremony Phase.
At the end of the summer of 2006, I cut ties with Colin
Garland. Things were feeling strange and it all felt very
murky. Despite all of the ceremonies, I didn’t feel like I
had achieved the things that Colin promised. When I
expressed this, he reassured me it would take time for all
of the work I had done to grow inside me. Colin had wanted
me to drop out of college and begin traveling with him as
his co-leader. When I said my parents wouldn’t let me, Colin
requested I return from college one last time to meet him
and another woman for an energetic cord-cutting ceremony.
Colin told me that because of all the "drug energy" with
which I was surrounded in college, it left his soul open for
illness and darkness, so we had to cut our energetic ties so
he wouldn't get sick. This was also sexual abuse and it was
possibly the most traumatic of all the ceremonies. I felt no
closure as Colin made me masturbate while he had intercourse
next to me. I left the next morning and didn’t speak to
Colin again until March 2013.
told me that in 2014 Colin warned:
"He said if I did not do a ‘closing
ceremony’ with him that he and I both would likely become
sick and possibly die. He said that in the past, other women
who participated in ceremony with him had become gravely ill
by opting out of the ‘closing ceremony," however, they had
ultimately reached out to him and he was able to heal them
through more ceremony. This manipulation tactic made me feel
like I would be killing him if I did not do a ‘closing
ceremony.’ Additionally, it took me a long time to not be
afraid I was going to get sick from cutting ties with
The Keeping Silent Phase
Through Facebook I sent a message to Colin Garland in
2013--six years after he abused me. I was beginning to
gently question our time together and reached out to him for
consultation and answers because I still trusted him. Our
conversation went as follows:
Laura: "I still value our lessons, but some have become
harder to understand than others."
Colin: "Hmm, I can see how it has expanded you. It’s still
so clear to see."
Laura: "It’s hard because I still have so many
Colin: "L. You saved my life, you know that…best not to even
try to [understand]. Hell we cant even explain why simple
things happen in life. How could we ever come up with
anything solid dealing with that stuff? Best to just see the
beauty and power in it. I know for you it is harder. I lived
with the Aboriginals and everything made sense and still
Laura: "That’s not quite what I’m talking about. It’s more
about your illness."
Colin: "Hmm, well…again, I was there when it happened. The
Aboriginals were too."
Laura: "Do you still feel sick?"
Colin: "For me it all makes sense. No. I am so so fucking
grateful to you all. I mean that. I feel good, strong,
well…best I can get. I lost a decade of the prime of my
life. You gave me back some of it. I am for even inlove
] with you all for that. It means so much."
Laura: "You know, a lot of what we went through made sense
only two years ago…it was pretty intense."
Colin: "I know you may not be able to see it and feel it cuz
now it is [an] integral part of you. But I look at pics of
you and I see something so strong and special. One day L,
you will see the value in it all and never need to question
Laura: "I’m not really questioning anything."
Colin: "I am so glad to hear that. To have the Aboriginals
in your life takes certain work and such…I have not one
shadow of a doubt that my issue with the soul split/illness
has been healed or at least held at bay and I can find my
Laura: "Seeing you in pain hurt so much."
Colin Garland had convinced me. The ceremonies had to mean
something and according to him, I saved his life. My doubts
were simply doubts and everything was fine; it was far less
painful to think that way and my silence continued for
another three years.
After I published my first letter a year ago, Colin Garland
tried again to persuade me into silence when he stated:
"Sadly now, the rest of Raven
[Adventures] are going around me and will take a lawyer to
solve this. I worry for Laura. I hate the way the justice
system works in USA [sic]. Lawyers will try to make her look
weak and dig into her past, drugs, sex, violence etc..Thats
horrible and sick and I will not stand for that. I will
sacrifice myself first. For fuck sake… Please send this to
her. Please tell her I would crawl to the ends of the earth
over broken glass if it helped her heal. Tell me what she
wants me to do… I will do everything I can to block this
threatening lawsuit. I swear I will try my best. I do not
want it to come to that. Laura did nothing wrong.
If she feels I should go to jail for wanting to help her
then I will ask the judge to make sure that happens. If she
wants me to end my life….if she hurts that bad that she can
look me in the eye and say thats what she would honestly
need to heal.. I would do that. I dont have much time on
this planet and she has a whole a life a head of her. She
deserves to find healing and find closure.. I will give her
what she wants.. But she has to tell me."
I was just one voice at the time and it was terrifying to
make my experience public, to face my deepest fear, which
was Colin Garland.
Who are the "rest of Raven Adventures" that are "going
around you for an alleged lawsuit"? Colin founded Raven
Adventures, therefore wouldn’t it be him taking "a lawyer to
solve this"? When Colin said:
"I have no way to contact Laura to let her know where I
stand but my attorney will be asking people she is
connect(ed) to asking for contact information so he can
contact her attorney so we can get started with this,"
I awaited a phone call but to date, none of us have heard
from your attorney, and I will no longer be manipulated or
scared into silence by Colin Garland.
The aftermath of these sacred sexual ceremonies has
devastated me and many other women. As I mentioned in my
first letter, Colin Garland’s attempts to heal me have left
me with dissociative issues, panic attacks, PTSD, flashbacks
and incredible difficulty feeling comfortable with intimacy.
Not to mention feeling utterly spiritually manipulated and
brainwashed, which has left me feeling depths of shame and
confusion I cannot adequately explain. As Colin’s victims
are masterfully brainwashed, recovering from the things he
manipulates them to do is incredibly traumatizing, even
impossible. The level of calculated deception this man
subjects his victims to leaves them with extensive issues
with trust and complicated sexual dysfunction. It took me 10
years to call what Colin did to me abuse, to find enough
courage to speak out against him and to realize that I
was/am not his only victim.
I know for a fact that many of Colin Garland’s victims are
dealing with the same fear with which I have struggled. They
do not want to come forward because they are terrified of
Colin, and I do not blame them. Coming to terms with such
complicated abuse takes much time and processing, and
getting to a point where one can speak out and take a stand
can feel unobtainable and inconceivable. I still have
moments where I collapse and want to give up, pretend I
never publicly outed Colin, pretend I was his only victim.
However, Colin’s threats of a lawsuit do not scare me
encourage other victims to find strength through me and the
other women who are speaking out and taking a stand. We have
done nothing wrong. We have nothing to fear. It has been a
long time coming that Colin begin processing the enormity of
his actions; they have finally caught up to him.
To date, Colin Garland has put his
back up. He is currently
taking applications for internships and students to attend
his Umbrellabird Project and Volunteer Research
Assistantship trips in Costa Rica, as well as in Africa for
the Big Cat Research Project and finally in Baja, Mexico for
the Mangrove Monitoring and Marine Conservation trips.
According to ravenadventures.com
, Colin is also currently
enrolling students on the African Safari trip, scheduled to
occur between June and early September.
My purpose in writing this article was not solely to
illustrate that Colin Garland has done these terrible things
in the past but to highlight that he is still doing it. He
is still leading groups of young women to remote areas of
the world where he will have great influence over them. As I
reflect on the past couple of decades, I have no doubt in my
mind that Colin Garland’s patterns and abusive behaviors
continue at present. He told me I was different, that I was
special. But if all of his students who he emails are
special and different, I have to wonder just how many
victims he truly has.
In the early 2000's, 6 years before my abuse, Colin was
informed by an intentional educational community that his
work and involvement of over ten years was to end because
selected residents and guests reported he had displayed
inappropriate behavior and they did not feel safe around
him. Colin's pattern of inappropriate behavior, particularly
with younger women, was recognized at this point in time and
was the ultimate reason he was asked to leave. In addition,
Colin was informed that the non-profit educational arm of
the community would no longer sponsor his international
Global Classroom program.
A Facebook page has been created for the victims of Colin
Garland’s abuse: Exposing Colin Garland of Raven Adventures/
The Global Classroom
More Women Come Forward
Posted Nov. 28, 2017
"I had met Colin through a co-leader of his who I attended a dance class
with. I was probably 25 years old. I told her about my interest
in travel and she told me she would introduce me to Colin and
the Global Classroom idea etc. I went over to his property in
Shelburne to meet him and her for dinner. I felt comfortable because the
co-leader was a woman in my dance community that I
Colin wanted to go on walks alone with me to discuss the trips he does.
I wanted to go to Baja with them and wanted to know some
details. Colin was always very vague about the cost and the volunteer
work he needed. I'm a woman who likes to know what it takes
to get where I want to go in the world, so this frustrated me. He asked
me a lot about my boyfriend and my life at home. I was pretty honest about
some of my relationship issues and what I was going through. He
definitely prayed on all my insecurities. He told me I
was special and made me feel important, which, was
something I needed and wanted to hear from a mentor.
He asked me one day to come over and he told me he would give me a ‘healing
session’. I was open but nervous, men have always been a trigger for me
because I was sexually abused as a young girl by my father. I agreed
though because I felt sort of bullied by him. He really wanted me
to receive a healing from him. He asked me to go to his bedroom and I
did. He told me to take my clothes off and I told him I wasn't
comfortable with that. He said that's okay but I wouldn't be as susceptible
to the healing if I was clothed. I laid face down on the bed while
he breathed and touched my back. Eventually he lifted up my
shirt to massage my breasts. I was numb. Paralyzed by fear. I let
him touch my whole body without stopping him. I lay there in fear and
disgust for myself.
He told me I had so much trauma and he felt it would be best if I stay the
night in his bed. I did. Fortunately, I didn't have sexual intercourse
with him, despite feeling incredibly numb, which put
me in a very vulnerable state. A few days later he sent me "poems" that he
wrote, they were all sexual and pushy. Poems about me to turn me on.
He was trying to court me. I had no doubt he wanted me to be his sex doll.
I told my boyfriend about that night and he broke up with me. He
thought I cheated. I don't think I cheated. I believe I was
cheated. Colin was supposed to help me travel and discover the worlds
mysteries! Instead he gave me grief and discomfort and terminated my
relationship with my partner. He gave me a taste of what it feels like to be
a woman in the year 2000.
However, I called him out on it just a few days after my boyfriend broke up
with me. I told him it was extremely inappropriate. I even contacted the
co-leader, who put me in contact with Colin. She denied the
fact that Colin was a pervert and a manipulator. She was there
the day he touched me so I was hoping she would understand.
It became clear to me after speaking to Colin by email and phone about his
actions and how they hurt me, that he had(has) no intention of making
honest/loving connections with any of the young women
attending his trips. He wants only their bodies and (more
terrifying) their minds."
This woman also wanted to share an illustrative manipulative tactic that
Colin uses to ‘sort-out’ his victims:
"There was one particular time that stands out to me. Colin asked me and
two other young women if we trusted him. He held to our
mouths, wild berries he picked from the woods. He said
"whoever is trusting enough will be rewarded". He held a berry in his
hand and went to each of our mouths. One girl said, "No!" She didn't want
the berry and both me and another girl took it. He said how trust
is the key to success. I know now how smart that girl was, by not falling
for that bullshit.
Now I see Colin as a cult leader as well as a predator. He primarily
uses his co-leaders to lure other women in who oftentimes fall
victim to his brainwashing and ‘healing sessions’. It's
truly disturbing. Pinning women against each other to in order to have
more manipulative influence over his victims."
The following account by another of Colin’s victims illustrates how his
initial ‘healing sessions,’ can lead to further abuse. Fortunately, many
women were able to terminate their involvement with Colin after a few
healing sessions, but many more than that, were not. Please read on:
"I first met Colin when I was 17 years old, at Mohawk Trail Regional High
School. He had been leading trips through the school for many years through
his company Raven Adventures/The Global Classroom, and was
well respected and intensely admired by nearly everyone in
the school including my favorite teachers, as well as the community
at large. Nobody had a bad thing to say about him at the time. Everyone was
awe-struck by his stories of travel and mysticism.
I ended up going on a trip to Baja, California with him and female
trip leader at 17 y/o. He had an air of mystery and magic that was
very captivating. He had us engage in prolonged "sharing circles"
in which we were asked to share vulnerable things about
ourselves in a "safe space". The last day of the trip a few of the girls,
including myself, walked to the airplane sobbing. It was such
an emotionally raw and vulnerable experience for us
kids. We didn't know how to handle it.
I stayed in touch with Colin off and on for a few years, but we were
not close. A number of years later, I noticed a post on Facebook
saying he was looking for people to come stay at his reserve
in Costa Rica for free in exchange for help in fixing the place up. This
sounded like an amazing opportunity and I jumped at the chance. At 20, I
went on this trip. Again, it was that same mysterious,
captivating experience he was so good at creating. He spoke
of deep soul healing, his experiences traveling around the world and
living with indigenous tribes. My admiration for him grew even stronger
during this trip.
I had been struggling with depression and anxiety and later that
year I reached out to him, as he had made it known that he was a
spiritual healer. I was very open with him about some of the
most vulnerable aspects of my life and he invited me over to his
house to do an "energy healing session". I arrived at his house in the
evening. It was dark out and I had never been there before.
I walked through the door and was surprised that he immediately embraced
me in an awkward hug, which made me a uncomfortable. I was caught
off guard by it. He took me into his bedroom and we did a sort of guided
meditation for a while. Then he said he wanted to work on my chakras and
asked me to lay down, which I did. He started moving his hands
around in the air above my body for a while, making comments
about me having bad energy. Then out of nowhere, he wedged his
hand between my legs, which were tightly closed, talking about how my root
chakra had stuck energy. I felt so confused and uncomfortable that my only
reaction to this was helpless laughter.
I left in my car and kind of thought, "that was weird"...but I
didn't fully recognize the fact that I had just been
assaulted, because I still saw him as a healer and somebody I
More time passed and I decided to reach out to Colin again, out of
desperation for healing and relief from my personal
problems. I told him everything that had been going on with me,
about my severe depression and heartbreak, and he again invited me to
come to his house for more healing sessions, which I agreed to. It felt nice
at the time just to have someone, anyone who cared about what I
was going through, especially someone so admired by myself and my
The next part is the most difficult for me to talk about. I went
over to his house a handful of times in an extremely vulnerable
state. Again he brought me to his room, but this time he directed
me to undress. At first I rationalized this by recalling times that I had
gotten massages, and you undress for that. I felt uncomfortable
though, and kept on a tank top and my bra and underwear, and got
underneath the sheet he had left. He came back to the room and
asked me why I had not fully undressed, and said that if I wanted to heal I
needed to be brave (something he said often) and courageous, and he coerced
me into removing my clothing. He started the "energy
healing" session by giving me a back massage, speaking about
visions he had of my spirit guides, and working on my
chakras. He would encourage me to imagine myself as a dolphin, and said that
if I got good enough at visualizing it I would be able to
This was always at night time in a mostly dark room. He started to
use a large personal massager/vibrator on my body, and put it
between my legs to "heal my root chakra". This was entirely coercive and
without my consent. I had no sense of personal boundaries at the
time and naively continued to believe that he was benevolent and was truly a
spiritual healer. I had never used a vibrator in my life. This continued and
each time as I was leaving he spoke about how my grandmother spirit
guide was pleased to see my bravery and healing, and that he was
so proud of my for being brave. He began to take on a
fatherly role in my life.
I believe I went to one more evening "healing session" at his home,
and this time, while he was kneeling over me as I lay there with
my eyes closed, he grabbed my hand and held it to his private area.
I gasped out loud, and he said the words, "It's ok, it's over my
pants." It's difficult for me to recall what happened next, but he ended up
pulling out his penis essentially in my face and
masturbating over me. I was frozen. He ended up forcing me
to give him oral, while I lay there naked and he knelt over me, fully
Unfortunately he convinced me to co-lead a college trip with him to
Baja, Mexico. We had several email exchanges where I believe
he coerced me into agreeing to having sex with him once we arrived in
Mexico. He continued to speak a lot about how healing it was
for me, how any sexual contact with him would be so healing for me, since he
was initiated as a shaman and in Native American medicine, and
that he carried an old energy, etc etc. I was pretty down and out
at the time and wanted to keep what I considered to be my
While co-leading the trip in Mexico, I was subjected to extensive
psychological and spiritual abuse, brainwashing, and what I
consider cult-like indoctrination continuously. I was in a
remote location in Mexico with no running water, no phones, no internet. I
had no money and no ability to have personal agency over my
life. Colin effectively isolated me."
The similarities between this and the other woman’s initial "healing
sessions" are striking. It is important to share these two stories because
they represent countless other women who have reached out to the Facebook
page since Victims of Colin Garland was published on November 10, 2017.
Women who had similar experiences to the first account are now expressing
feelings of having extreme anxiety, even panic attacks just in realizing
just how dangerous of a position they were in. The victims represented by
the second account are dealing with almost irreversible physical, mental and
It is our opinion that Colin’s victims who make it to his "co-leader phase"
suffer the most abuse. They are incredibly brainwashed, and oftentimes do
not realize that he uses them to make other young woman feel safer around
him, adding an element of trust. Because Colin makes his co-leaders reliant
on him for a job, a place to live, etc, we believe that the isolation and
dependency results in a rather long term involvement with him (anywhere from
An Open Letter to Colin Garland
Posted Sep. 2, 2016
Hi Colin Garland,
You were right. You were right when you told me ten years
ago that I should be very careful who I shared our
experience with. That friends and family would probably not
understand what we were doing. That they would judge me and
it could really get us into trouble because no matter how I
explained it, they just wouldn't understand. Well, you were
so right, that I never told anyone. I tried a few times
throughout the years to touch lightly on that time at
the "Healing Center" with trusted friends and even
family. And to your validation, they would instantly become
concerned and fearful, and ask prying questions into the
details of my experience. I felt attacked and scared and
would change the subject, falling deeper and deeper into
silence. You were so right, Colin, that eventually, I even
stopped telling myself about that time. You see, I was 19
when we spent a summer at the healing center, those blips of memories,
started to feel bad, dark and cloudy. Rather than
reflecting on that time with positivity, it became
riddled with problems and pain. Luckily, there is something
the brain does to help people cope with tough times. Abusive
times. And my brain did it for me.
This will probably surprise you, but I am 29 years old now,
Colin. I’m an adult. I am in a supportive and healthy
relationship. You and I shared so much when I was 19.
Doesn’t it make you happy to know that I'm doing well now?
Well, I will remind you that I wasn’t doing great at 18. In
fact, I was a total teenage mess. And after I attended your
trip to Costa Rica through Global
Classroom (Site was taken offline a week after publishing this website)
, we stayed in
touch via email. You were an adult who had won my trust. You
were fun, mysterious, you listened to me and even wanted to
stay in touch after the trip. I don’t think I had ever
gotten so much attention, especially not from a male. You
were also more than twice my age. We emailed for about a
year, extensively. Remember writing to me almost every day?
I was in Vermont, attending my first year of college. I
would tell you issues I was having, insecurities, etc… and
you took the time to write me long, oftentimes multi-page
responses. You could fix me, you were a shaman.
Are you still a ‘shaman,’ Colin?
I’ve finally found the right word to express what that year
long email correspondence was. Are you familiar with the
’? It’s easy enough to google. Unfortunately,
I am very familiar with that word, that concept, and I have
you to thank for it. By the end of my first year in college,
you not only had my trust, but you had carefully, oh so
carefully and deliberately, brainwashed and manipulated me.
You had filled my head with tales from your travels, your
spiritual conquests and above all, your ability to help me,
if I would be bold, courageous and trust you. You told me
you saw me in your ‘vision quests and meditations,’ that you
had been visited by my ancestors and knew I came from a long
line of powerful women. And now it was my turn to step into
my power. But there was a catch - you see, you held all keys
to the doors I needed to unlock. You had studied with
indigenous tribes across the world. I lived in Hubbardston,
MA and barely knew who I was. I just needed you in order to
step into my power as a woman. You would teach me the ways
of ‘the old, the ancient. the magical, the forgotten.’
Interesting that I needed a man to become a powerful woman.
Do you remember this, Colin? Because, at 28, I started
remembering this too.
Isn’t it strange that the summer at the healing center,
studying under you, was one of the most healing times of my
life? Wait, why would that be strange you ask? Well, ask 20
year old Laura, and she would tell you that it had changed
her life for the better. But she couldn't tell you any
details because she was scared people might not understand.
Ask 23 year old Laura and she wouldn’t really know what to
say, even if she could. Ask 26 year old Laura and she might
say "I learned how to meditate and stayed in a cool
multi-million dollar healing center for a summer." What is
strange is that I had eventually forgotten
one of the most pivotal experiences of my
life? Well Colin, here is another term I am intimately
familiar with: repression
. Have you heard of it? A person
does not simply ‘forget’ big moments in their life.
However, a person does, usually unconsciously, repress big
moments in their life. We repress them because they are too
painful and abusive to process, not because they are happy
and healthy. But like a thorn in your god damn skin, those
repressed memories work their way out when you are ready and
safe enough to confront them.
Ask 27 year old Laura about how old she was that summer and
she would tell you she was 25. Ask 29 year old
Laura, wait… thats me now! Well, I will tell you everything.
With a little bit of digging, I found out that I was
actually 19 during that summer. That made me 18 when you and
I were routinely emailing. This was shocking, because
that was over 10 years ago. How was I so off? You’d think I’d
remember how old I was.
Well I should back up. 28 year old me started to get flashes
of that summer. Like a dark room and someone flickers the
lights. One flicker was of a dark basement room. One tiny
window for light. But there wasn’t much light coming in
because it was nighttime. In fact - ‘it’ always happened at
night because, the staff left every night and we
had the healing center to ourselves. You were on top of me,
and I was floating in the top corner of the room, watching
my body, and your body on the bed. I didn’t feel anything,
I just watched.
Well, Colin…here is another term I am dreadfully familiar
with now. It’s called dissociation
. Again, this is all very
googleable. You encouraged me to dissociate, you praised me
every time I "left my body." You told me that it was a sign
that I would soon be shapeshifting and coming more into my
power as a spiritual woman. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a woman
(I was a girl) and I wasn’t gaining spiritual enlightenment
through your ‘sacred sexual ceremonies’ (I was dissociating,
and got real good at it due to the frequencies of these
‘ceremonies’). Colin, you promised you would help me! I
trusted you. My family trusted you. I remember you telling me that ceremonious sex
wasn’t about love or attraction, it was about healing. Good
thing! Because I was never attracted to you, which made the
sex absolutely terrifying and repulsive. But you encouraged
me, praised me, told me I was becoming so strong. I was in
so far over my head at this point, how could I stop now?
Well that blip of a memory faded pretty quickly, which was
okay with me because it was overwhelmingly awful.
But they just kept coming. One, after the next, after the
next. These repressed memories flooded into my
consciousness, and finally…like 10 years later finally, I
couldn’t repress them any longer. Are you familiar with
panic attacks? Well at the ripe age of 29, I had never had
one. In fact, I had a rather emotionally numb 20’s which
I’ve since learned isn’t a good thing. But these damn
repressed memories were uncontrollable. I attended a play
last summer called The King and I. I didn’t make it more
than 20 minutes because this old man was on stage surrounded
by his many subservient wives and children and suddenly I
couldn't breathe. I couldn't move. Luckily my sister and
friend escorted me out of the theater, where I collapsed on
the grass, and gasped for air and choked on my violent sobs.
Well how is that even related to that summer with you? A
story of a man, in control of his women. It’s called a
, which leads to a
. I always thought a
flashback was for trauma victims. So it took me a few more
months to truly realize that 18, 19, 23, 26, 28 and 29 year old
Laura - well, we were all victims.
Last summer was one of the hardest. During the early stages
of coming to terms with just how abusive my time with you
was, I couldn't even look at men. I was beyond terrified of
them. One day, I went to the grocery store and a man walked
by my car. Suddenly I was paralyzed and couldn’t get out of
the car. I literally had to call my sister and thankfully
she was able to talk me down, bring me back to reality,
remind me that you were far away and that I was safe. I
turned the car on, drove home and spent the next couple of
months never going into public without my boyfriend or best
friend by my side.
Recalling a repressed memory is quite different than
recalling something you have forgotten. It doesn’t seem
real, it’s so hard to believe. Especially because I thought
that I was being helped, that I was healing, that I was
becoming strong. But as these memories flooded my
consciousness, as my tale slowly and painfully came out of
silence, I was left feeling taken advantage of, tricked,
brainwashed, manipulated, demoralized, scared, ashamed, sad,
helpless. Talk about flipping the script. My brain and I
tried for 10 long, hard years to justify, deny and repress
that time with you. Even the smallest inkling that that time
was somehow bad, was straight terrifying. I remember you
telling me that there would come a time in my life where I
would question our ceremonies at the healing center. That my
brain would try and ‘make sense’ of everything, and you
encouraged me not to try and rationalize the magic we had
experienced, that the ‘rational' brain could not understand
However, you see Colin, the awful thing about grooming,
manipulating, brainwashing and excuse my bluntness, but
repeatedly raping a girl who is dissociated,
is that she will remember someday. She will remember when
she is a woman, mature enough to understand what she
couldn’t when she was 19.
The fact that you are currently leading trips through Raven Adventures (this site was also taken down but has since but put back up)
is rather unsettling. Groups of teenagers attend
these trips, oftentimes in remote areas where you can be
extremely influential on them. If I had never been on one of
your trips, where we established our first strong base of trust,
I doubt I would be confronting you now. In my opinion, you
should not be trying to heal anyone. Stop trying to use sex
to heal people, especially teenagers. If you were such a
healer, such a shaman, why have I been seeing a therapist
for the last 5 months, (a real therapist) undergoing EMDR
therapy for my flashbacks and having to rewire how I view
sex, love, relationships and trust?
When you lured me into a summer of healing in that awful
basement bedroom, I was in need of a hug, some advice, maybe
a hiking partner who could help me understand that I was a good,
lovable and beautiful person. Instead, you sexually,
spiritually and emotionally abused me in ways that are too
dark to divulge the details of. However, there is beauty in
this world, and there is a silver lining.
I thought I was a healthy woman this last decade. But it was
false. The dissociation didn’t stop when that summer ended.
And since I have been dealing with the abuse from that
summer for the last year and a half, I am feeling, for the
first time, that I am strong, beautiful, and in control of
my life. Isn’t it just a little bit ironic, that in order
to heal and understand who I have been for the last decade,
I had to confront the abuse I fell victim to at a healing
center under your guidance?