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 abuse.

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 Adventures 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 letter, 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, Sexual "Ceremonies", Energetic Cord-Cutting "Ceremonies", and Keeping Silent phases. His victims other than myself are represented by "Woman" and a number, (e.g., Woman1). This 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."
What is the whole story? I beseech Colin Garland to tell me: what did I omit?
In his second message, Colin started off somewhat apologetically, stating:
"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 intentions."
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 reality now."
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 contacted me saying:
"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 stated:
"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 stories."
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 victims. Most of his students have been high school age although more recently it appears that they are primarily college students.
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 saying:
"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.
Woman5 also stated:
"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. I wanted to believe I was special.
Woman8, 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 orgasmed."
In Colin’s response message to my first letter he stated:
"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."
Woman9 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 house."
Woman9’s message to me included this "weird, uncomfortable" email, sent to her by Colin in 2015, when she was 21 and Colin was 54:
"Hi Woman9,
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 gift."
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. Woman3 told me:
"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.
Woman10, in my opinion the most vulnerable, reached out, explaining:
"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, Woman3 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 saying:
"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 of age, 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 decades now.
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 rivers…" [].
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 me:
"…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 ejaculate.
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 traumatic.
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, click here, 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, expressed:
"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 f’ed up."
It was hard to hear Woman3 state:
"Colin told us that the ceremony would be more powerful with both of us, that he needed two."
Woman3 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 power."
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."
Woman1 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."
Woman11 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."
Woman3 mentioned:
"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, Woman3, Woman11, Woman12, Woman13 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 die?
Woman8 stated that:
"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 live."
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 him alive.
To be clear, Colin has been critically ill for going on three decades?
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.
Woman1 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 him."

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 questions."
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 does."
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 [sic] 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 anything."
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 way now."
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

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 and I 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 website 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, 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 trusted.
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 should trust.
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 community.
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 shape shift.
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 clothed.
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 new job.
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 emotional trauma.
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 3-8 years).

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 word ‘grooming’? 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 trigger, which leads to a flashback. 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 our ceremonies.
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?
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