Human Awareness Institute (HAI) is destructive to relationships
Date: June 13, 2008 11:20PM
First, let me disclose that I first took HAI workshops in 1990 and took them off and on for many years. HAI was suggested to me by a therapist that I was seeing as a result of a marriage where my husband raped me on a regular basis. During the marriage, I discovered that he had sexually molested two of his children from a previous marriage for six years. Needless to say, I was a wreck.
Looking back, I believe that those first few workshops were good for me in dealing with the distress in my life, but in looking back, I can also see how the sexual exploitation of women was present and how I fell into it thinking that it was "healing." Whether HAI believes it or not, and whether they admit to it in their training program, they strongly suggest that we can heal ourselves by being nude in a mixed company surrounding; that we can be healed by making ourselves available for others (men and women) to touch sexually and otherwise; and that participating in group sex "exercises" would make us whole again. Women are asked to spread their legs and let everyone look at their vaginas. Women who are desperate for sex find men who are willing to accommodate them. This is not sexual healing....nothing could be farther from the truth.
I've seen situations at HAI when men who admit to being sexual predators and molesters are paired with women who have been abused and molested in an effort to "heal and forgive."
I always felt the peer pressure and the gentle hypnotic encouragement of the facilitators and interns to participate, and I was regularly approached by men, usually married men, to become involved in a "poly" relationship. This really means that the man gets to have as many girlfriends as he can handle, while the wife gently and cheerfully agrees to it. A woman should not have to be the one who regularly and insistently says "no" and becomes ostracized if she does not participate, but that was my experience. If I wanted to be part of the group experience, I was expected to participate in the group experience of free and casual sex.
So, fast forward, I continued to be involved in HAI when I moved from San Francisco to the east coast. In my second workshop in Massachusetts, I was approached by a married intern who encouraged me to become one of his "many women" so that I could be part of the inner circle. After participating once, I decided that I had too much self-respect, and dropped out of everything.
So then, I met someone and became romantically involved. I thought my boyfriend would benefit from the workshops, so I reconnected and we took several workshops together. I thought I would be safe from the harassment with a man at my side. Yes, the BF benefited, we worked on our relationship, and eventually got married.
Lo and behold, my husband (Dennis Jimmink) became mesmerized by the sexual side of HAI and wanted to have an "open marriage" like so many of the other people that we knew there. He has admitted that he was like a "kid in a candy store." Even though I never agreed, he started telling everyone that we had an open marriage and that he was available, like most of the other men, for all the fun and casual sex that he could get. Coming home from the honymoon, he tried to schedule us to go to swinging groups, and finally lobbied very hard for us to become a "polyamous" marriage. When I said no thanks, he told me that I did not meet his needs, and he had a right to gets his needs met elsewhere. That is the lesson that he learned at HAI.
He became the wonderful "comforter" that the women turned to for long private conversations and flirting. He became an assistant, and applied to become an intern. He championed the cause of women who were being sexually exploited by the men, while he was doing it himself. He would go to workshops by himself, and spend nights with the assorted women who offered him their beds.
Finally, one woman caught his eye...Carolyn Bell. She was cute and sexy. I was with him the day he met her at the workshop and saw his face light up with love. He became her guardian angel, and she started calling the house regularly, and then they started keeping their conversations secret through late night cell phone calls. Each time, his face glowed and he would go into another room for a private conversation. He became her "friend" because she needed him for support. When I saw this, I pulled out of the organization, and asked him to do the same. I asked him to become my friend again and to become involved with me in our marriage, and not spend most of his time flirting with the women of HAI. He made a big show of dropping out....except that he secretly kept in touch with his favorites....including Carolyn. Dropping out to work on our marriage didn't last long...a year later he started signing up for workshops again. He says he needs this...it is a cult-like obession for him. It's all the sex he wants...whenever, where ever, and with whomever.
So, fast foward again, last November I found two years of romantic emails between Dennis and Carolyn, including plans for them to sleep together at a workshop. Even though HAI teaches honesty and communication skills, and Dennis is now one of their leaders, he couldn't tell me the truth, but he told someone else that he had been involved with Carolyn and others, and she told me. I have emails to confirm all of this.
Perhaps it is needless to say, but we are now in a messy divorce. Dennis continues to be in love with Carolyn because, after all, she needs him.
This is what HAI means to me....it is a cult where sex is taught....it is a mecca for men looking for free and easy casual sex. It is a place where women are expected to be available when a man beckons...and where men can discard their commitments and responsibilities at a whim when their dicks are hard. It is a place where there is no commitment to improving a relationship (as they advertise) but in improving the sex lives of the leaders of the organization and creating a place where there are plenty of vulnerable women available for the men who are looking for free and easy casual sex at their expense. It is a place where women go looking for love, and where men go looking for sex.