>>> Content warning – abuse <<<
So I don’t use instagram, I’m on facebook but I check it about once a month. Generally life is pretty intense with prison visits, organising, work and surviving that I don’t often have the headspace to interact with the world of the internet.
But something came into my inbox this week which was deeply upsetting and feels very important to share.
It was a link to a public letter of support for survivors of abuse in the herbal community. A group of people have come forward as survivors of sexual and emotional abuse inflicted by herbalist Sean Donahue.
It was gut-wrenching to read and I want to express my full-blown support for the people who have came forward to raise awareness about what they have been through so that they can warn others. (This is seriously no small feat).
Reading the letter felt shocking but also somehow disturbingly familiar. I was exposed and subjected to shitty abusive behaviour from new-age type men most of my childhood. I now sadly have an incredibly deep prejudice towards them after years of witnessing the same patterns. People who engage with ‘spirituality’ or certain new age subcultures who have not processed their shit, and tried to consciously unlearn patriarchy and power, will always be dangerous. Somehow, I think they are even more dangerous than others because of their skillful use of language, awareness of other people’s vulnerabilities and their ability to accumulate huge amounts of power with next-to-no accountability in certain communities. And when surrounded by people who are also not versed in understanding the dynamics around abuse, power and privilege, well it’s a cocktail for disaster.
I didn’t want to write this to deflect or decentre the experiences of the survivors in this case. I wanted to add my voice to this call for people to step up and sort their shit out. Believe and support survivors! Educate yourself about abuse dynamics! Put the safety of others above your own fear of loosing popularity or sales of your online courses or whatever. If you are involved in herbalism because you care about people, because you care about health and the land, then step up for people in your community and show active solidarity.
This is their call for action:
We welcome other individuals, schools, organizations, business or committees to please share this letter on their platforms to support the victims of Sean Donahue’s abuse. Please share freely in your communities to warn potential targets of this man. He targets femmes who are younger than him and who are often dealing with complex traumas/complex illnesses and/or physical disability.
In an effort to initiate harm reduction, we call on all herbal, pagan, and magical schools and conferences to stand in solidarity with his victims and bar Sean Donahue from teaching. We ask you to stand in solidarity with your own students and keep them from harm. We ask you to stand in solidarity with any person he may harm in the future through his influential position as a well known herbalist and magic teacher.
We urge schools, conferences, retreats or other gatherings to cancel classes taught by Sean Donahue, and cancel speaking engagements by him. Tell your students why the event is being cancelled, so they can avoid him in the future and convey the information among their community for their safety.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. May we all step into our higher selves and begin dismantling the power structures that uphold the abuse of peoples in our communities.