It is important for those survivors of Sathya Sai Baba’s and his accomplices’ serial and profound wrongdoings to raise their awareness of a number of psychological and social issues, including various forms of remediation that are available.
This is one of the main things Barry Pittard, since a number of years an eloquent opposer of Sathya Sai Baba and his worldwide organisation, points out at the beginning of one of his posts called ‘Oprah Winfrey Show On Male Sexual Abuse: Sathya Sai Baba Cult Survivors Should Watch‘, dated July 21, 2011.
The links to the Oprah Show(s) on male sexual abuse on boys/men, the video fragments you get to see there, the added links to other stories, the sites on the web, each and every one of them is very worthwhile, and wisely chosen.
Whilst the information therein is in my view invaluable, I’d like to add some extra information concerning this issue of male sexual abuse, especially because it cannot but return time and again when dealing with the subject of Sathya Sai Baba and his effect on the world stage.
Even if it helps just one person to understand the psychology of abuse a little better, and by doing so, gain some compassion for what he has experienced or maybe is still subject to, I will be content.
Feelings of shame and self-loathing, often resulting in blaming oneself in stead of the perpetrator(s), are common when molested or abused. Either denial or shutting down often is the (traumatized!) end result. In both cases, the abuse remains a secret, leaving the victim utterly lonely inside, but alas, also, a frozen bystander to the continued abuse suffered by others. A recent poll among students, done at the University of Twente a few years ago, showed that, together with concerns around academic failure, students, ranging from late adolescents to young adults, are prone to intense feelings of shame and guilt about WHO they are. Keeping in mind that many of Sai Baba’s and his affiliated co-abusers’ victims are/were teens and students, it is no wonder that up til now relatively few have come forward. Intense shame, self-appointed guilt, peer pressure, issues of family loyalty, a society more geared towards collectivism and conformity than individuality, like India’s, insecurities about identity, both sexual and otherwise, and last but certainly not least, sheer fright for the (real and/or imagined) formidable power of Sri Sathya Sai Baba and his Central Trust, all contribute further to keep the veil of secrecy in place.
This is not to say that the veil of secrecy has been lifted in Europe or Australia or on other continents. We’ve only come to know the tip of the iceberg, I am afraid. Here in the Netherlands, and its surrounding countries, I know of very few people who have come forth, for instance, and we flocked to swami by the thousands upon thousands for decades.
Nonetheless, the sad truth of the matter is that many, many more boys and young men from India must have fallen prey to the self-acclaimed avatar and his eager henchmen than those from abroad, be it the United States, Australia, Europe or South America.
Below I have added, with permission, in essence three sources of information and clarification: an abstract from a recent study, and the required hyperlink to read the full article (1.); the name and details of a web-based organization that aids victims of abuse (2.); and some groundbreaking information by a Dutch organization, because precious little has been made public for Dutch victims, and we hear precious little from victims in my home country (and neighbouring ones, for that matter) (3.).
1. The following is an abstract of a recent scientific study, published in the British Journal of Social Work (2010, 1-18). It is called
'Exploring Coping Factors amongst Men Who Were Sexually Abused in Childhood'
Men who were sexually abused in childhood are overrepresented in mental health and other clinical populations. There is heterogeneity in outcomes for such men and a substantial number develop coping strategies that minimise negative consequences of abuse. However, little research has been undertaken with abused men to understand the nature of their coping. This paper reports on one arm of a major study of mental health outcomes for Australian men who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse and presents findings from thematic analysis of qualitative interviews with thirty-nine men, exploring how their coping mechanisms have developed and the nature of the advice for coping they would give to professionals or other survivors. The study found that coping strategies developed adaptively through the life course but clustered into two types: those that are concerned with forms of suppression and denial, which are associated with negative mental health outcomes, and those that involve reframing the abuse, which tend to be associated with more positive outcomes. Implications of the study for practice are consistent with the advice suggested by the men themselves, that they were helped by consistent relationships with others who could provide practical support and inspire hope.
For a download of the full article, which offers important new insights, click here:
2. There are very many, fine organizations worldwide on male sexual abuse and related matters. I picked one that I found so interesting as to highlight it here. It is a leading web based organization in Australia on male sexual abuse, called Living Well.
Living Well is headed by Dr. Gary Foster, an acknowledged expert in the field of male sexual abuse of male children and/or adults. Feel free to visit them at their website http://www.livingwell.org.au/. They offer fine help from what I can see. Their site, I find, is practical and up-to-date. It provides valuable info for victims, their families, supporters and loved ones.
One of the latest ‘Webinars’, issued by Dr. Gordon, which gives a nice overview of all possible issues and consequences surrounding this subject, can be found in his presentation here:
The accompanying YouTube film(s) can be viewed as added info alongside:
Personally and professionally I find both the Powerpoint presentation and the added audio expose on YouTube moving as well as enlightening.
3. The following presents some useful info for Dutch ex-devotees who were abused and/or molested, either by swami himself or by others within the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Organisation. It is a 24-page leaflet called ‘Voorbij het zwijgen’ (‘Beyond the silence’), published by MOVISIE.
Movisie is the leading organization and knowledge base concerning social development issues in the Netherlands. This paper was published in 2009. It was written on behalf of men whose sexual boundaries have been overstepped when they were young/younger (child, adolescent).
Voorbij het zwijgen
Voor mannen van wie seksuele grenzen in de jeugd zijn overschreden
Auteur: Serkei, B.; Brants, L.; Janssens, K.
Iedereen kan te maken krijgen met seksueel misbruik: het komt voor in alle lagen van de bevolking, onder alle geloven, bij niet-gelovigen, van blank tot zwart. Als je uit een gezin komt waar verwaarlozing en mishandeling voorkomt loop je extra risico.
Vaak zijn jongens die misbruikt worden jonger dan 16 jaar, maar het kan ook volwassen mannen overkomen. In alle gevallen gaat de dader over de grens van de jongens/mannen.
Deze flyer geeft mannen van wie seksuele grenzen in de jeugd zijn overschreden meer informatie en adviezen om hiermee om te gaan.
De brochure kan worden gedownload via deze link: Voorbij het Zwijgen.
De volgende link brengt je naar de homesite: Movisie.
For people from outside the Netherlands, who speak English, MOVISIE has a separate, international homepage, which is accessible by clicking on this link:
Let me for now finish by expressing my abiding appreciation for the incalculable work that Barry Pittard and Robert Priddy are doing and have been doing for so long. Please examine their sites carefully if you want to gain insight into and knowledge about Sathya Bai Baba from longstanding ex-devotees, who in my honest opinion have painstakingly tried their utmost to stay as unbiased as humanly possible, given the things they found out.
One thought on “On the issue of dealing with sexual abuse”