Seek Out Help, Not Control

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

1 minute

Victims and survivors of sexually abusive Buddhist teachers seek out various forms of help. Some end up in ad hoc groups on social media—’secret’ or not—and in ad hoc comments sections on dedicated blogs run by (ex-)Buddhists.

Victims and survivors would do well to realise that such groups and blogs tend to be high risk environments. The (ex-)Buddhists running them are rarely qualified to deal with trauma. They are not subject to any form of oversight, so that confidentiality is not guaranteed.

The populations of these groups and blogs have very mixed structures. I’ve seen (former) enablers of abuse turn themselves into ‘victims’ overnight, and freely mix and commiserate with actual victims and survivors, whitewashing themselves in the process.

I’ve seen former enablers in Buddhist cults turn themselves into cult or abuse ‘experts’ overnight, grooming their new-found audiences into restoring them to all their former glory, once again telling others what to think.

I’ve seen actual victims and survivors who pathologically avoid professional help, turn themselves into ‘professional’ victims, milking the attention they get, literally for decades, without purpose or direction.

As a matter of course, such online environments constitute a real paradise for itinerant ‘performers’ with narcissistic, borderline, and even antisocial personality disorders, who act out their pathology at will. And yes, they draw disaster tourists too.

One of the hallmarks of Buddhism in the West is rampant dilettantism. As a rule, being—or having been—a Buddhist ‘monk,’ ‘nun,’ or ‘teacher’ amounts to no professional competence or qualification whatsoever outside the highly marginal Western Buddhist bubble.

And so, Western Buddhists who want to become recognised professionals in any field at all, need to go back to (non-Buddhist) school.

For victims and survivors who aim to address and redress abuse by Buddhist teachers to bring about meaningful change, I see clear contraindications to participating in these social media groups and blogs.

Such platforms tend to monopolise the discourse on certain abusive Buddhist teachers and communities in particular—and have their ‘expert’ moderators thereby control the narrative.

Since these online environments tend to devolve into anonymous rumour-mongering and pseudo-authoritative analyses, they shy away journalists and academics whose work might make an actual difference. It’s just too much to ask to take obvious dilettantes seriously.

Ultimately, this may be what some dedicated social media groups and blogs are about: control.

Quite naturally, people seek solace in exchanging experiences with fellow sufferers. Online, however, such participation may well prove to be counterproductive.

So, be cautious.

Originally posted as a long-Tweet on September 25, 2022 [with slight edits for clarity]

About the author

Rob Hogendoorn

Investigative reporter and academic researcher Rob Hogendoorn (b. 1964) began researching the reception of Buddhism in Western society and culture in the early 1990s. His modus operandi remained the same ever since: independent, inquisitive and provocative.