Psychedelic Sisters In Arms is an ongoing series inspired by women who have recently come forward to speak their truths about the sexual violence they’ve experienced in psychedelic communities, and is indebted to the whisper network that continues to ensure the safety of the outspoken survivors to this day.

This series is a collection of personal stories on violence against women and marginalized people, dealing with issues of consent, gender, and sexual violence. It’s been led by women, and each writer is a member of the broader ‘psychedelic community’. If you have any interest in sharing your story, please reach out to oriana@psymposia.com

He said to me “all women secretly want to be raped”

By Patty Mayo

I met Jay (named changed for anonymity) at my first ayahuasca ceremony during the summer of 2015. About two years later, after a ceremony, Jay said to me “all women secretly want to be raped”, when describing how a former partner of his (and mutual friend) blushed, when he told her while they were dating “she can do whatever she wants.”

Jay is one of a kind, and it is generally expected and excused for him to say outlandish stuff.

Once while walking outside, Jay brought up the Me Too Movement and called it “hysteria” – I asked him if he has ever been raped. After a wordy explanation, he acknowledged he had not. I told him a rape story of mine and his first reply was “you should have called the cops.” I explained why, to me, that was futile.

Jay is twenty years older than me. I had always seen him as a friend and medicine brother. In early spring 2018 ceremony season had begun, and we had been seeing each other in ceremony every few weekends again. Jay suggested we “hang out”, so we did. On a beach, he explained to me our “card science,” and the opportunity to pursue love and “share a higher third” value. He spoke of marriage and making a baby together. He told me “you need a husband.”

 

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Jay said, “we can be primary partners, free to explore our hearts.” This was agreeable to me. Him, 20 years older than me, and us living hours away, in different states. We had been friends for three years at this point. He told me, “you don’t have to immediately call and report to me if you have an interaction with someone else, but I should know before our next interaction.” I agreed, and set the same expectation. He defined these hopes and expectations, I agreed to these expectations we set together and opened myself to explore opportunity.

The first time we were intimate he came inside without asking first. When he was done, he reclined and closed his eyes – that’s all. It was not until later that I brought myself to verbalize the expectation that he cannot do that, without asking me first, considering the potential consequences it can bring to my body. He agreed.

Relationships are “all about expectations,” in my perspective. I see value and pros and cons to both closed and open relationships. Expectations in relationships influence the decisions you make.

The day after an unexpected and stressful experience on my birthday in July 2018, I consented to advances from a long-time friend and partner. Jay had other plans that week and chose to go camping with friends in New York, including on my 30th birthday. When I saw Jay the next week, I was transparent and let him know everything that happened. He paused, and told me, “I want to think with my head, but I can only think with my cock.” He stepped out to think. When he returned, he told me, “this was all a mistake, this is why I don’t get involved with medicine sisters, I hope we can still be friends,” and proceeded to collect his belongings.

I cried and was upset and confused. I genuinely did not expect this reaction, or outcome. I did not expect him to be particularly thrilled, but with our mutual understanding, I thought it was something we could certainly work through. He replied to me and told me, “I’m free to change my mind.”

Of course, this is true.

I told him, “I would have behaved differently had I known you would throw our dreams and visions (that he persuaded me to share with him) away.” So abruptly, and insensitive. Seemingly so fickle and disingenuous.

Despite this context, this was not Jay’s major violation of my respect within our shared medicine community.

Jay and I share over 100 mutual friends on Facebook, including our shared medicine people from South America, and their families and friends. A week after he “changed his mind,” he posted a misguided jab at me on Facebook: “Chronic and casual drug consumption leads to deep seated mental illness”

(In comments he said, “your patterns of casual drug use are exactly what I’m addressing.”)

I commented to Jay early in the thread and said, “I don’t disagree, though, to offer perspective, this statement is both privileged, and judgmental. <3”

Jay posted a lengthy reply:

“Yes, and what is your point? Not only am I white, male and entitled, I had the privilege of presiding over nearly a decade of conspicuous substance abuse while captaining the helm (of a group) from 2008 – 2016.

If you took before and after pictures of most of the folks who failed to get a handle on the issues I am addressing here, you would see that the results are not very sexy.

Don’t believe, continue down the path of unconscious drinking and drugs for another 10 + years, look in the mirror… then see if you still want to troll about the topic.”

I replied:

“Ah I said I don’t disagree though. I don’t think troll is an apt description either – to my point of offering perspective – important perspective, that we both have the privilege of *access* to medicines and modalities that we know first-hand can effectively break the deep-seated habits of regular ingestion of these –readily available in stores- substances our fellow human beings use because… it is what is most available to them. To both cope with their consciousness, and to explore their consciousness.

If we had not the money, and time, and opportunity, to access the medicines and modalities we have, on the regular, chronic basis we have, we v well could be in the same boat. Blessed are we.

I think what is more constructive to state and ask is, how can we help our brothers and sisters? How do you suggest people who are drinkin and druggin on the reg change their ways, and avoid this resultant deep-seated mental illness, you identify and diagnose? Are you sure everyone who casually and chronically uses alcohol and drugs develops deep-seated mental illness? Do you have experience in patient pain management or addiction? This is why I say the post is judgmental, this is my point.

Human behavior, particularly substance (ab)use is so multifaceted and complex, from DNA, to childhood and upbringing, to social network and community, etc.

I think speaking in absolutes and generalizations about this kind of thing, is imprecise, and not really helpful to the people affected, because it does not offer solutions. And the solutions are most helpful when individualized to the person affected, since the behavior is so multifaceted.

It’s a ~million dollar question~ for our society, how to curtail substance abuse. If we have solutions, let’s implement them. Rather than shame and fear people living it, while sitting on a high horse.

My point is constructive criticism, constructive perspective.”

Jay replied:

“Judging toxic behavior and avoiding poison is necessary for survival. In Jyana Yoga, it is called discernment. Instead of picking fights with me over my direct criticism of casual drug consumption, why don’t you make your bed, clean your room, cook yourself a healthy meal… I think that would be a much more productive use of your time, and when you’re done you’ll feel so much better about yourself.”

I replied:

“That comes off super patriarchal”

Jay replied:

“Saying you don’t disagree is a double negative, very wishy washy…

As for the rest, you can re-read what you wrote and see if it adds any value to the discussion.

I am not sure which Patriarchy you are referring to. I have no children nor am I a member of any such organization.

If you are hating on me and the things I say simply because I am a man, well that speaks for itself.

You only hear what you want to hear. No self-respecting man would ever put up with the promiscuous behavior you demonstrated at the end of our tipsy dating experiment. So gross.”

I replied, “Wow. You create your own reality. How immature and disrespectful for you to say.”

Then he blocked me. I had taken screenshots.

In the days and weeks ahead, mutual friends reached out to let me know that they saw the correspondence on Facebook, and to ask me what happened. I felt as though I had to relive all of my feelings, and defend myself, each time. Reminiscent of how I feel while recounting now, as I write.

This was all at the end of July 2018. Jay knew I planned to attend my first women’s retreat over Labor Day weekend, with mutual women friends of ours in the medicine community. Arrival time for the retreat was 3 p.m. on Friday. My friend and I arrived around 5 p.m., set up camp, and started relaxing around 7 p.m. outdoors, entirely in the company of women’s retreat participants.

Then, very unexpectedly and to my disappointment, Jay walked up to the porch. We made eye contact briefly, and I looked away. He explained to the other women that he had been helping to prepare the space for the retreat, and would leave shortly. He went inside, and I saw him talking with women there, for what felt like way too long. After about twenty minutes, I asked my friend if he had left, so I could go inside.

Not the way I wanted to start my first women’s retreat. I do not know why he would still be there, four hours after the scheduled retreat arrival time.

During the spring of 2018, within the context of shared ceremonies and community, I had introduced Jay to my newer friends. In the weeks following the Labor Day women’s retreat, Jay recruited only my newer male friends to help plan and organize the ceremony, and greet our medicine people upon arrival. Jay and I have sat with these medicine people together since 2015, including while we were together in South America. My friends had not sat with them yet. From what I heard, Jay told our medicine people, and mutual friends, that we “had a falling out.” As a result of my patriarchal experiences with Jay, I was ostracized within our shared medicine community.

Before this ceremony, Jay saw me outside walking past him, and greeted me saying, “Hi honey.” Stunned, I replied “Hi,” and kept walking. Had I not been stunned, I would have corrected him and told him to call me by my name.

Being ostracized, and greeted with, “Hi honey,” evoked a variety of feelings, in addition to my other experiences with Jay. Patriarchy, sexism, and mistreatment of women within psychedelic communities is unfortunately not news or surprising to me. As such, I did not take the time to share my feelings of being ostracized to anyone. This is my first time sharing my awareness and feelings of being ostracized.

I was mislead and manipulated. I was blatantly disrespected.

There is a silver lining, however. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my own recent experiences with the sexism and misconduct that women are subjected to within psychedelic communities – for the purposes of clearly defining it, thoroughly understanding it, and continuously working with integrity to eliminate this disparity and perpetual harm.

Unfortunately, the stories I have shared are not my only experiences with sexism and misconduct that men have subjected me to within these communities. I have other recent experiences, and experiences from years ago.

Psychedelic communities can do much better at acknowledging and resolving interpersonal issues, and learning and developing from them. We can do much better at holding ourselves accountable to living with respect and integrity. We can do much better at treating each other with respect and integrity.

These recurring and prevalent patterns of how women are treated unfairly within our communities demand a form of justice, and sustainable change, so we may actualize the merits and healing we purport to value.

Change is now. Change requires talking openly and authentically. Change requires being heard, and understood.

I find myself contemplating, “What could I have done differently?” In sharing my experiences, I have tried to present evidence, so everyone reading can think for themselves. To think for ourselves, to shift perspective, to learn, to grow, to heal – cornerstones to much of the value of psychedelics.

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