(a Licensed Professional Counselor, and National Certified Counselor who has worked with victims of sexual assault.)




Date: 11-14-03


By: Elena A. Hartgering


I would like to comment on the talk Mrs. Yaani Drucker gave about her rape experience to an audience of devotees of Sathya Sai Baba, Mrs. Drucker’s own guru, at Lord Wandsworth College, Long Sutton, Hants, in the UK over the weekend of April 14/16, 2000 which was edited and published in a Newsletter found on the Internet:


As a mental health professional I am concerned that Mrs. Drucker’s public statements about her unconventional reaction to her rape may encourage other victims to engage in denial mechanisms which can be self-defeating. Mrs. Drucker’s apparent denial, dissociation, cult-speak and detachment are not healthy measures to be undertaken by rape victims. In the final analysis each victim deals with this trauma in her own way. We always have choices. As a rule, rape victims are vulnerable and fragile. Initially they are terrorized and ashamed. In an attempt to avoid reporting the rape, some may explore the Internet for information. Mrs. Drucker’s newsletter and her talk may encourage victims to take the blame, to deny the rape, and to dissociate themselves from reality. My response is given to encourage rape victims to seek immediate medical attention and to consult a rape counselor. The course of the rest of their lives and their mental and emotional health depends on the action taken following rape and sexual assault. 


 Mrs. Drucker describes her brutal rape as a “spiritual turning point.” According to her narrative, she was awakened at 3:00am on an occasion when she was sleeping at one of the California centers dedicated to her guru. She was there on the eve of Mahashivaratri (a Hindu holy day) which she and other devotees would be celebrating later that day. The rapist threatened her with a knife to the throat, then pummeled her face with his fist, drenching her in blood. He gagged her, ripped off her bedclothes and brutally raped her while she pleaded with her guru to physically appear to rescue her from the rapist. Sathya Sai Baba claims, and his devotees believe, that he does appear in physical form to rescue then from danger. Sathya Sai Baba did not appear. Yet during this brutal rape she claimed to become very calm and to discover incredible compassion welling up in her heart. As the rapist left, she said to him, “God bless you.” Although “badly beaten and bruised” she claims to remember “absolutely no pain.” 

In her attempt to make sense of this ordeal she said,” My confusion centered entirely on (Sathya) Sai Baba. In my mind, (Sathya) Sai Baba, in whom I had put complete trust and whom I regarded as my saviour, had not helped me, though I had desperately called out to him. Why hadn’t he? I kept praying to (Sathya) Sai Baba imploring him “Why did you let this happen to me? Please help me to understand.” She went on to say, “I distinctly heard (Sathya) Sai Baba’s voice,” and in these conversations recalled him to say, “You are not the perishable body. You cannot be destroyed by weapons…You are the indestructible, eternal atma, the one Self.” “My bewilderment, my fears and feelings of abandonment, all dissolved in the light of that incredible realisation.” 

Mrs. Drucker goes on speaking of the spiritual insights she has been accumulating over the fourteen years between the assault and the time of this talk. These are some of her comments: 

“There is no rapist outside of my mind… Everything that happens to me is because I want the purpose that it serves.” 

“I am all-powerful because I am not separate or different from God. Can we imagine God being victimised? No. Well then neither can I be victimised, unless I want to be, because He created me just like Himself. I am not a helpless victim of circumstances beyond my control.” 

“I can speak to you freely about my rape experience, because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that in reality it never happened. It has no charge, no juice, no power over me.” 

“When I am willing to fully expose to myself my willingness to hurt myself in order to keep my belief in separation alive, and see that I no longer want that, the truth reveals itself and shows me that none of what I think has happened was real. In truth, there could never be anything but God and God’s love.” 

“As long as my underlying purpose is to maintain my separate identity it will not be real and I will not be real. All suffering is self-inflicted, and is over when I no longer see any value in it. Once I see no value in my separation thoughts they will simply fade away.” 

 Rape: A few comments about rape are essential because there are many misconceptions as to the cause and effect of rape. Even in this enlightened new century many people still believe rape is the result of sexual desire and passion and that women attract rapist to themselves by their manner of dress, speech and conduct. Often when a rape occurs, the victim is said to be “asking for it.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.  

In his book, Men who Rape, The Psychology of the Offender, Dr. Nicholas A Groth characterizes rape thusly: “Rape is not motivated by passion or sexual desire. Rather, rape is motivated by hostility, anger, control, dominance, and power. Rape is a ‘pseudosexual act’ using the genitals and sexuality as weapons of power to degrade the victim…“to regard rape as an expression of sexual desire is not only an inaccurate notion but also an insidious assumption, for it results in shifting responsibility for the offense in large part from the offender onto the victim.” (emphasis added)  

According to Mrs. Drucker, she was brutalized, degraded, dominated, terrorized, and forced to endure the brutality of rape in a location that to her was holy. Yet she does not speak of a sense of outrage or even anger which would be the expected emotional responses following rape. Rather her response was “God bless you.” I find that odd because even though the mind may not initially accept the assault, the body and emotions are on overload. The “fight/flight” response is activated, adrenalin is pouring into the system and the victim is overcome by such fear that the only thought is to escape the source of such brutality. I would also think that, at least initially, there would be a sense of betrayal because Sathya Sai Baba, whom she believes to be God, did not come to the rescue of a devotee who lives her life in the service of this God form.  

Dissociation: The human organism has a built in defense system that literally keeps us sane in the face of abject terror. We have the ability to ‘dissociate’ ourselves from the trauma at hand. In technical terms, dissociation consists “of the separation of one or more components of the personality system from the rest. This separation begins as an ego defense as an attempt to isolate something that arouses anxiety, to gain distance from it. But the psychological separation ends up as an ego defect, a disturbance in object relations.” (Cameron-Rychlak, 1985).  

I recall a case of incest where a father had regular sexual intercourse with a very young child around age 6. As an adult she described how she would separate her mind from the emotional and excruciating physical pain of these assaults by pretending she was one of the flowers in the wallpaper that was adjacent to the bed where these assaults took place. She was able to separate herself from the brutal assault on her personhood. This is an example of ‘dissociation.’ There is a temporary pretense here that “it” isn’t really happening. But “it” (the rape) is happening and the body and emotions respond even though the mind has “dissociated” itself. To continue in this dissociative technique  long after the trauma has occurred can lead to serious mental disorders.  

When victims work through the pain of this type of assault layer by layer, over time, the personality, the ego is once again integrated so that the individual is whole and healthy again. On the other hand, remaining in the dissociative state  continues the fragmentation and mental/emotional health are affected in the long term. Along these lines, Sathya Sai Baba teaches his devotees that the ego is unhealthy and must be denied and surrendered to God. From a psychological perspective, an individual must have a healthy sense of self, requiring a healthy ego, to truly experience the spiritual. Destroying the ego as demanded by Sathya Sai Baba is the same as demanding the devotee to sever his arms and legs as a demonstration of devotion to the cult leader. The ego is an integral part of the self and essential to emotional, mental and spiritual health and well being.  

Denying one’s emotions is an exercise in futility because feelings cannot be denied. No matter how deeply they are repressed, they still lurk in the deep recesses of the self and squish out from time to time. These may occur in a variety of ways that would appear to the victim to be unrelated to the repressed event, in this particular discussion, rape. Some of these may appear as uncontrollable rages triggered by insignificant events, unspecified fear and anxiety, panic, exaggerated startle responses, sleep disturbance, eating disorders, and even self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol. One cannot escape the effects of trauma once it has occurred. Healing comes, not from repressing the trauma or denying it, but from confronting it and working through the feelings that are associated with it. 

Cult Thinking and Behaviors: Devotees of Sathya Sai Baba, to whom they refer as Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, believe him to be God incarnate. The devotee has been conditioned to believe that Baba is God, therefore anything that he does or doesn’t do is God’s will and for the benefit of the devotee, the greater community, and even the entire universe.  When the devotee is confronted with a character flaw, that is, when Sathya Sai Baba behaves in less than a God like manner, the devotee is hard pressed to find explanations for the un-God like behavior. In this particular case, Mrs. Drucker prayed earnestly for him to appear in physical form to cast out the rapist and rescue her from the horrible experience. He didn’t show up.  

To a non-devotee who has not undergone years of indoctrination and cult-speak, the answer is simple. ‘Sathya Sai Baba didn’t show up because he is not God.’ That thought is not acceptable to the devotee. If devotees were to accept the concept that Sathya Sai Baba is not God, and many have incidentally, they must then totally reconstruct their reality. The devotee becomes fully dependent on Sathya Sai Baba’s actions and even inaction. When one’s basic premise is ‘Sathya Sai Baba is God’ then one must engage in all manner of convoluted thinking to explain away his betrayal or ungodly response and behaviors. Sadly, Mrs. Drucker took the blame not only for the rape, but also her God’s betrayal of her trust.  The reader will recall her comment above – “There is no rapist outside of my mind… Everything that happens to me is because I want the purpose that it serves.” 

In these statements she has taken the blame. She has not only exonerated the rapist, she has let Sathya Sai Baba off the hook. Since she believes he is God and he did not rescue her, then it must be her fault. She brought the rape upon herself. And then, in order to live with this, she has created one more psychological split. She has followed the guru’s teaching of “detachment” the rule against acknowledging the realities of life. 

In Sathya Sai Baba’s own words, “I want devotees to improve their behavior and character. When the devotee feels that God is not coming near to him, the fault lies with the devotee. Obviously the heart of the devotee is not pure enough and is sullied by hatred or contempt. Repent for the errors that you commit and resolve never to repeat them. Pray to the Lord to be able to carry out your duties and resolutions and to be able to improve your conduct. … The birth of detachment in man assures him of the birth of bliss in him.” (A Compendium of the Teachings of Sathya Sai Baba, 1996, pp 124-125). 

This is one of the ways Sathya Sai Baba, like other cult leaders, maintains control over the minds, thoughts, actions and lives of his followers. Throughout her discussion Mrs. Drucker appears to have detached herself from the rapist, the rape, and the failure of Sathya Sai Baba to rescue her and then blamed herself for the rape. Yet she claims to live a life of pure bliss. Such is the nature of cult thinking and behavior.  


Cameron-Rychlak: Personality Development and Psychopathology, 2nd ed. (1985) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Chaden, C.L. Comp: A Compendium of the Teachings of Sathya Sai Baba (1997) Prasanthi Nilayam: Sri Sathya Sai Towers Hotels Pvt. Ltd.

Groth, Nicholas A.: Men who Rape, The Psychology of the Offender (1979) New York: Plenum Press

See THE WAYS OF THE MIND Some reflections on this article by Åsa Samsioe, Sweden (psychologist and practicing therapist) in this site.