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Buddhadharma : Summer 2018
48 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY not feel strong enough to help others through a process of recovery, thrivers are often motivated to do so. In reality, these phases are not strictly sequential but rather mirror a human fluctuation between victimization and resilience. We might move into the phase of thriver and then backslide into the phase of victim. We finally settled on referring to ourselves as survivors. The term kept all of us squarely in the middle of the recovery process, a place that seemed to be sufficiently empowering. As the date of the formal disclosure meeting approached, I witnessed the reactions to this language of professional ethics in that sangha. Some felt the dyad of survivor and perpetrator was impersonal, dehumanizing, or polarizing. Some were concerned that it might perpetuate a disempowering narrative for the victims. Language has its limitations, and it can feel reductive. But the language of professional ethics also has the power to liberate by making the invisible visible. In my own case, I had a hard time being objective about my situation for many years. It was entirely too personal. I had woven a narrative about my culpability and why I could not extract myself from an ultimately disempower- ing situation, a story fed by isolation, fear of losing connection, my self-beliefs, and even by Buddhist doctrine. When I encountered this fresh terminology, it allowed me to step back and see myself as part of a larger matrix of power dynamics present in many religions. It helped me feel connected to a global community of women and men who have been through the same experience. The language allowed me to claim a truth I already knew deep down—that the web I was caught in was a subtle form of vio- lence that was bigger than me, and ultimately unstable. Sometimes we need to see a pattern in order to become free of it. seCreCy is toxiC My dharma teacher, at first implicitly and later explicitly, told me to keep our relationship a secret. This troubled me a great deal from the beginning. One evening I challenged him, asking, “Why can’t we be open about this?”