FAQ

Who?

Who is Safer Sex-Positive and Spiritual Communities (3SC)?

We are a small volunteer group of survivors, allies, and activists who are concerned about the many reports of harm we have seen and heard over the years within sacred sexuality, sex-positive, and neo-tantra schools and communities. Most of us have been involved in these communities as students and/or teachers for 10+ years.

In June of 2022, we launched a Facebook group specifically to support those who had alleged being harmed at an ISTA (International School of Temple Arts) or Highden events. We also created an anonymous report form to help survivors get help if they wished, and collect data to illuminate the types and scope or harm that was occurring, so we could make informed-choices on how to help the community repair and evolve in a safer direction.

Please visit the About page for our bios, mission, and vision.

Who are ISTA and Highden?

ISTA (International School of Temple Arts) and Highden are both organizations that provide learning experiences that include spirituality and sexuality. ISTA and Highden are separate organizations, but share some teachers and leaders. ISTA provides workshops worldwide, and Highden Temple trainings take place in New Zealand.

Bruce Lyon, who started Highden, was and is very involved with ISTA. He is an ISTA lead teacher and created much of the ISTA curriculum.

Our intention is not to equate ISTA and Highden, nor is it to exclude other adjacent organizations or teachers who we feel may be perpetuating harm.

What qualifies you to lead this movement/process?

We have been involved in the sexuality community for years and are invested in making it a safer place for all participants. Some of us have taken ISTA workshops, and many of us are neo-tantra teachers, play party organizers, erotic workshop leaders, coaches, and the like. Some of us have been harmed directly by ISTA, and some of us have had those close to us harmed. Many of us have been speaking up about these issues for years and are frustrated that the problem persists, so we decided to take more formalized action. Along the way, we have been educating ourselves via in depth contact with survivors, as well as from experts in high-demand (cult-like) groups, and the transformative justice movement.

What ties do you have to people in ISTA and Highden?

Some of us have long term friendships with a handful of the faculty of ISTA. Or, we’ve been in workshops or community events with them over the years. We consider our connection to these people to be an asset. It helps us understand the issues at hand from many perspectives and influence change within their organizations through a foundation of mutual respect. We have no problem calling-in our friends and colleagues to account for the harms they have perpetuated with their actions and inactions. Our highest priority is advocating for the survivors who bravely shared their reports of harm with us.

What types of harm are occurring at ISTA and Highden?

In the 60 reports we have collected thus far, (the majority of which are about ISTA and a handful of which are about Highden), many types of harm are represented. While there are cases of sexual harassment and abuse and problems that arise from teacher/student sexual interaction, the more common themes of the complaints involve: manipulative and suppressive communication norms, lack of trauma-informed facilitators and practices, problems with informed consent in their intake processes, insufficient post-event integration support, and/or follow-through with reports of participant harm.

Who is in the Accountability Process at ISTA?

As of the publication of this website in January 2024, the following facilitators are in ISTA’s accountability process: Ohad Pele Ezrahi; Buddhi Dana; Eugene Heglund.

While we deeply applaud this progress, we will continue to advocate for:

  • Public statements from those in an accountability process.
  • A means for the community at large to participate, submit concerns and influence the repair process.
  • More transparency and increased frequency of communication.
  • And for ISTA to take a firm stance on those in accountability teaching outside of ISTA while in the process.

For more information see ISTA’s Accountability Page.

See a list of changes ISTA implemented in 2023 here.

When?

How long have these abuses and complaints against ISTA been happening?

We formally began collecting reports in June of 2022 after many of us had been hearing stories about harm for 10+ years

When did your group start?

May 2022

Is there a timeline of events?

Yes, here.

Where?

Where is your group based?

We are based mostly in the USA (mostly in California). We have consulted with survivors and activists worldwide, especially in New Zealand.

Where are ISTA and Highden based?

ISTA hosts trainings worldwide, and according to Wikipedia, it has no physical base. Highden Temple is located in New Zealand near Palmerston North.

Where are the survivors based?

There are survivors worldwide.

How?

How do you plan to achieve your goal?

Some of the strategies we have implemented, are implementing, or plan to implement are: 

  • Create and manage our Facebook group as safer space for survivors to share experiences, and get support, and discuss relevant topics without fear of abusive comments.
  • Create and disseminate “Incidents of Harm” report form.
  • Create and share statistical summaries of collected reports with relevant parties.
  • Ignite conversation and community participation in developing most appropriate transformative justice structures and best practices in these fields.
  • Engage ISTA in mediated dialogue around our accountability and reform suggestions.

What happens to the forms submitted to 3SC?

3SC launched its initial report form in June 2022, and reports received from then until Oct 24, 2022 were processed by three members of the 3SC team in order to analyze trends and create a report highlighting the most common patterns and perpetrators of alleged harms at ISTA. We updated the initial form in October 2022 to make this process more efficient. We provided our analysis report to ISTA on Oct 30, 2022 along with this Open letter

During this phase, at least two members of the 3SC team read each report, and took action based on the desires indicated by the reporter. Actions ranged from only reading the report and keeping it confidential, to forwarding the report to Safe Mediation and/or ISTA or Highden, with or without contact information as selected by the reporter. Individuals opting for us to share their report with any of the above parties WITH their contact info were likely to be directly contacted by ISTA or Safe Mediation, but we could not guarantee it.

We have asked ISTA and Safe Mediation for an accounting of reports received through 3SC and their handling and outcomes. As a result, It is our understanding that all reporters who submitted forms with their contact info via 3SC to Safe Mediation were contacted. Unfortunately, forms that we had consent to share with ISTA only, may not have been processed because at that time ISTA had doubts about 3SC’s motives and data collection process.

Since then, things have shifted substantially, and the ISTA mediation team has thanked us repeatedly for our data collection efforts and the insight they provided. We have advocated and assisted ISTA to recreate their incident of harm report form (and the processes that support the management of these reports) to be more trauma-informed. Because of this, if you were someone who wanted to be contacted by ISTA or Safe Mediation, but did not hear back from them, we HIGHLY encourage you to resubmit a report through their improved form:

Incident Report Form for International School of Temple Arts

If you need assistance or support filling out this form, or are more comfortable reporting verbally, please contact Safe Mediation, a neutral third party, at https://Safe-Mediation.com/ISTA.

It is also important to note that because of the legal risks in publishing allegations of harm without a robust fact-checking system, we have decided not to publish reports on our website (even of those who gave us consent to do so).

As of January 2024, 3SC is no longer collecting incidents of harm reports, however we will collect community safety reports. While we do not have the capacity to be the watchdog of the entire community or respond to individual cases of harm, we recognize there is a need for some type of ongoing data collection until harm reduction and transformational justice practices are widespread in our community.

We commit to collecting and reviewing data from this form quarterly, and sharing the trends we are observing in a public forum to influence and inspire community action that supports a deep and sustainable culture shift.

The goal of collecting, analyzing and sharing the data gleaned from these reports is to determine any notable trends in types of harm or who is being harmed. When we share that overview data analysis, privately or publicly, it is done so completely confidentially in the service of reducing harm in our community.

Please submit our Community Safety Form if:

  • You are experiencing a problem with a mediation or accountability process at any sacred sexuality school or community.
  • You have experienced harm with a teacher or organization that has no incident report form, accountability process, or trauma-informed method of responding to critical feedback.
  • You have observed an organization or teacher that does not currently have any of these best practices in place.

For the clarity of our data collection, please DO NOT report on another’s behalf. Please only report your direct experiences and observations.

3SC Community Safety Report

What was the format of the mediated talks between 3SC & ISTA?

In January 2023, ISTA agreed to engage Alexis Dixon as mediator in meeting with 3SC. Each individual participating and each team met with Alexis prior to our first group Zoom in February. We met for 2 to 3 hours via Zoom every 4 to 8 weeks, totaling 8 mediated group sessions and 30+ hrs throughout 2023.

Between sessions, we met individually and as our teams with Alexis, and on our own to produce the research, questions and support documents to articulate and advance our recommended changes to support those harmed and minimize future harms.

3SC’s mediation team included: Cara Cordoni, Dave Booda, and Lalita Diaz. Michael Author was also present for the first few sessions.

ISTA’s mediation team included: KamalaDevi McClure, Raffaello Manacorda, Rich Priddis and Crystal Dawn Morris.

See a list of changes that ISTA implemented in 2023 here.

How can I help to support this movement?

By listening to survivors without judgment, by speaking up when a violation has occurred or been witnessed, by submitting or sharing our community safety form far and wide, staying current with our community updates, expressing interest in attending a recovery group or 3SC Quarterly Community Forum, or volunteering.

What else?

Did you fact check all the information in the survivor reports?

In October 2022, The 3SC provided ISTA and Highden with a 43-page summary, overview, and analysis of all 54 reports we collected between 6/10/22 and 10/24/22, which included: all public reports with names redacted and the full reports of survivors who consented to sharing privately or anonymously with them.

As a small volunteer team, we did not have the resources to fact check each survivor report, but we provided detailed information about our methodology and have collaborated with Safe Mediation and ISTA to correct any inaccuracies in the reports.

We have decided not to share the reports publicly for a variety of reasons.

We requested an accounting from ISTA and Safe Mediation regarding their follow-through with any survivors who requested support. Safe Mediation provided some information on their follow-through for reports we sent directly to them. ISTA has not yet provided us an accounting of the reports which we only had permission to send to them.

Because of this, if you were someone who wanted to be contacted by ISTA or Safe Mediation, but did not hear back from them, we HIGHLY encourage you to resubmit a report through their improved form:

Incident Report Form for International School of Temple Arts

If you need assistance or support filling out this form, or are more comfortable reporting verbally, please contact Safe Mediation, a neutral third party, at https://Safe-Mediation.com/ISTA.

Is this a fair approach? Shouldn’t you have approached ISTA and Highden privately?

Over the years, many people have approached ISTA and Highden privately. Most were met with the DARVO response over and over. DARVO stands for “deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender.” In other words, those we approached did not want to take responsibility for what was being shared with them. It got tiring after a while, hence why we created this organization instead.

Why are incident report forms and processes crucial for community safety?

One of 3SC’s missions is to ensure all sex-positive and spiritual schools and communities have meaningful harm reporting and accountability processes. Many still do not and some are just beginning to do so. We believe continued community feedback, support, and accountability are still needed to ensure these organizations learn how best to meet the evolving needs of their communities.

We are encouraged by many of the steps ISTA has taken in response to our campaign, including creating a new incident report form. To our knowledge, Highden has not created their own harm reporting process as of yet. And we are aware of several other organizations who still do not have any reporting or accountability processes in place.

We believe it is important for all sex-positive spiritual organizations to provide separate forms for general feedback and reports of incidents of harm. The incidents of harm report form, should include the option to remain anonymous. The links to these forms should be displayed prominently on an organization’s website, and more importantly, on each event page, and on each event email before and after every event.

Each form should include an outline of how these reports will be processed, so participants have informed consent before submitting a report. If a reporter of harm does not want to be involved in mediation or a restorative process, that is their right, and they should not be pressured to do so. The information the reporter provides should still be processed as helpful feedback for any organization interested in keeping all its participants safe.

We believe these best practices are crucial to maintaining healthy feedback loops within communities. They make it more likely that patterns of harm will not persist via spiritual bypassing or unchecked power dynamics. They require the leaders in our community to take responsibility for the power they hold and prioritize the needs of their communities’ most vulnerable members by acknowledging and preparing for the inherent risks of spiritual and sexual practices.

Why is the IWI Facebook Group no longer active?

We made the “Issues with ISTA and Highden Temple Trainings” Facebook group in 2022 in an attempt to create a safer space for those who had been harmed by these organizations to find strength and support in community. We are immensely grateful for the bravery and compassion that our 600 members contributed to the momentum of this movement. We faced many challenges in the group (more details here), including our bandwidth to ensure ongoing moderation.


At this time we consider the IWI Facebook group a sacred space that is frozen in time for those who were participants, therefore it is not open to new members. We are currently reconceptualizing the future of a group and the possibility of a new type of group. We would love your support in doing so! Please share your vision through our form.

What does it look like to use a transformative justice approach? Why isn’t 3SC taking legal actions?

Many of the incidents that happen are not explainable with the legal system. The world of sacred sexuality is in many ways already outside the legal system, so we don’t believe bringing that in would do anything but complicate the situation.

The same goes for media involvement. While we think it is important to spread the word about the risks participants at ISTA and Highden face, many media outlets are inherently sex-negative and tend to over-sensationalize or demonize aspects of these trainings that we actually support as leaders in sex-positive communities.

Furthermore, we believe a transformational justice approach that encourages the community at large to participate in the complex process of developing solutions (rather than just calling out problems) is far more effective and healing than the “cancel culture” or other traditionally punitive approaches. That being said, we support survivors who feel compelled to instigate civil or criminal legal action on their own if that is what they need for their personal justice and healing process.

Do you think that ISTA and Highden are capable of accountability and reform?

Yes, we are cautiously optimistic that ISTA is taking the issues we have presented them seriously and can take meaningful action to account for past harms and reduce future harm. We hope ISTA’s ability to embrace a culture shift and upgrade their policies with inspire Highden to begin a similar process.

ISTA and Highden are mystery schools, won’t your suggested reforms make them boring and un-mysterious? Can healing or transformation even happen without that level of intensity?

​​Nothing involving sacred sexuality is ever too safe, boring and un-mysterious. The nature of it alone keeps it from going there. We simply don’t want people to be violated by unprofessional facilitators who are under informed about trauma and how they themselves are causing it to happen to paying participants. We believe there are many ways ISTA, Highden, and all sacred sexuality organizations can make their programs safer and more supportive without sacrificing their ability to enhance people’s lives.

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