Zabie’s Story: Using Yoga to Heal After Sexual Violence

Link to "How Yoga Helped Me Transcend Sexual Violence"

Link to “How Yoga Helped Me Transcend Sexual Violence”

I facilitate an 8 week yoga as healing program for survivors of sexual trauma at the local rape crisis center in Orange County, CA and I am the founder of Transcending Sexual Violence through Yoga. For this class in particular, the art facilitator through the organization Art & Creativity for Healing, Inc., created custom canvas yoga mats so the survivors could paint within the comfort and support of their yoga mat.

There is nothing more powerful than the holistic benefits of painting abstractly the emotions that reside within you that sometimes you just do not have the words for. Now add the the component of painting within the four corners of a yoga mat that has provided unconditional support through the heart-wrenching process of healing from sexual trauma…

The survivors who participated in this series are the strongest, most amazingly resilient individuals I have ever come across. How I have been so blessed to be apart of their lives and healing process, I will never understand. – Zabie Khorakiwala, from Healing is an Art


For someone to heal from PTSD, one must learn how to control bodily reflexes. PTSD causes memory to be stored at a sensory level—in the body. Yoga offers a way to reprogram automatic physical responses…What is beautiful about Yoga is that it teaches us—and this is a critical point for those who feel trapped in their memory sensations—that things come to an end. -Bessel van der Kolk, MD, Trauma Specialist from WCSAP

Link to "Healing Life's Traumas"

Link to “Healing Life’s Traumas”

For yoga instructors, Zabie offers 10 things to consider while teaching trauma-informed yoga.

Related Post: Working with Survivors of Abuse

Lauren Wolfe: Sexual Violence Perpetrated by Teachers

Link to "Abuse of Power"

Link to “Abuse of Power”

For related posts, view the Child Abuse and Child Sexual Abuse archives.

Rwanda, 20 Years Later

Link to "How Rwandans Cope with the Horror of 1994" by Lauren Wolfe

Link to “How Rwandans Cope with the Horror of 1994″ by Lauren Wolfe

On this day 20 years ago, only the 3rd day of the conflict, hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children were already dead in a slaughter the world has come to know as the Rwandan Genocide. Within a mere 100 days, 800,000 people were killed.

Lauren Wolfe writes (linked above):

…what Rwandans endured is so extraordinarily horrifying—in terms of how many people experienced or witnessed brutal acts, and the sheer scale and speed of the killing—that the more time I spent in the country and talking to Nishimwe and others, the more I wondered how such a place could possibly go on after what happened in those horrible 100 days from April to July. How did each person survive? How does a whole country thrust into a hideous nightmare of people hacked to death and raped and tortured survive? What is it like to live in a society in which nearly everyone over the age of 20 has memories of such inhumane deeds?

Timothy McGrath observes (linked below):

For those who lived through the genocide in Rwanda, the mass killings were an indescribable horror. For those who watched from afar, it was an international shame.

The world stood idle as an estimated 800,000 men, women, and children were slaughtered in the course of 100 days in 1994. After, hanging its collective head, the world promised that “never again” would it allow such a horrifying conflict to unfold.

But even while making that promise, the world watched as people in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo killed and displaced each other by the millions. Conflicts in Darfur and Syria would also later test the world’s “never again” resolve. The US invasion of Iraq and Mexico’s drug war created new armed conflicts that also failed to live up to the lofty promise.

“Never again,” it seems, was an empty promise. The world of international actors capable of preventing or intervening in such conflicts has over and over again avoided doing so, even when there was the political and public will to do so.

Link to "Seven Armed Conflicts the World Failed to Stop, Proving We Learned Little from the Rwandan Genocide"

Link to “Seven Armed Conflicts the World Failed to Stop, Proving We Learned Little from the Rwandan Genocide”

Brutality is not a new concept in war. Since ancient times, whole people groups have undergone extreme deprivation, torture, rape, and mass murder in the face of conflict. Only within recent history, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust of WWII and the rape of Nanking, the Guatemalan genocide, and numerous conflicts in Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East just begin to capture the scope of horror faced by humankind during war. Entire generations of children have been left violating and homeless in the wake of violent disputes.

For those who have grown up in nations that have not seen such depravity within the past 100 years, apart from television news reports and front page headlines, it is easy to allow abuse during conflict to fade into someone else’s problem. But for those who have survived the atrocities like those which took place in Rwanda during the spring and early summer of 1994, abuse during conflict is far from a faint memory.

It is everyone’s responsibility to work together so that future generations do not suffer as present generations have. There has always been and always will be conflict. War can take any country at any time; no society or people group is immune to the threat of violence. The challenge is to raise up a generation that understands how to help each other – and respect each other – during times of conflict. As McGrath noted, the phrase “never again” is only as strong as the actions behind it.

Link to "Sexual Violence in Conflict"

Link to “Sexual Violence in Conflict”

Related Posts:

Survivor Stories: Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict

Refugee Children of Syria Share Their Stories

Refugees: the Most Vulnerable Group of Women

Stories of Sexual Violence from Congo

Survivor Stories of Sexual Violence in Tahrir Square

“Beauty from Ashes”: Help for Women Traumatized by Sexual Violence in the DRC

Measuring and Answering the Problem of Global Gender-Based Violence

Three Survivors in Congo

Also, visit the Conflict archive from Girls’ Globe and the Women Under Siege Project, for more information and survivor stories from abuses suffered during conflict.

Link to "Remembering Rwanda"

Link to “Remembering Rwanda”

Countless organizations work tirelessly to provide aid for men, women, and children who have been brutalized and displaced during conflict – or are at high risk of exploitation and violence: Compassion International, UNICEF, World Vision, and World Help are just a few.

International Anti-Street Harassment Week 2014

Link to "Celebrate International Anti-Street Harassment Week!"

Link to “Celebrate International Anti-Street Harassment Week!”

Harassment, whether it is acted out verbally or physically, is a form of abuse that nearly all women (and some men) have experienced. Many face harassment on a regular basis; whether from strangers on the street or public transit, strangers or friends online, or co-workers in the office, harassment is unwelcome, degrading attention that dehumanizing another person. Harassment can turn into outright sexual assault and may precede other forms of violence.

Non-profit movements combating street harassment include Stop Street Harassment, Meet Us On The Street, and Hollaback!

For more posts related to this topic, view the Harassment archive.

Resource Highlight: Love Gives Way

Link to Love Gives Way homepage

Link to Love Gives Way homepage

Are you planning a wedding in the U.S.? Are you part of the vast wedding community of photographers, bakeries, florists, venues, and coordinators?

Love Gives Way is working with brides, grooms, and the wedding community throughout the States to raise funds and awareness to abolish slavery.

Love Gives Way is rallying the wedding community around organizations who fight sex trafficking. This happens when engaged couples book/hire Love Gives Way vendors for their wedding who then give back a portion of their profits to non-profit organizations that are based in their very own cities. Launched in 2011 by wedding photographer Andy Brophy, Love Gives Way currently supports 13 non-profit organizations in ten different US cities through the combined efforts of wedding industry vendors and brides and grooms.

Wedding vendors can offer packages that donate a portion of the funds to the restoration of sexually exploited people through the organization Love Gives Way…After explosive growth in ten cities including many of our NotWedding cities (Atlanta, Birmingham, New York, Nashville, Boston and Charleston), Love Gives Way founder Andy Brophy restructured the organization to create even more generous, transparent donations between wedding vendors and partner causes in each city.

“We desire to be as transparent as possible in our intentions with Love Gives Way and want as many vendors as possible participating and partnering with local non-profits fighting sex trafficking,” explains Brophy. Love Gives Way vendors now have the option of three different generosity plans, allowing 5-10% donations from select packages to organizations combating human trafficking (excerpt from The Not Wedding blog).

Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2014

Link to NSVRC: "Sexual Assault Awareness Month"

Link to NSVRC: “Sexual Assault Awareness Month”

The 2014 Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) campaign focuses on healthy sexuality and young people. This April, use your voice to impact our future. This campaign provides tools on healthy adolescent sexuality and engaging youth. Learn how you can play a role in promoting a healthy foundation for relationships, health and sexual violence prevention (from NSVRC). Are you a pre-teen or teen? This year’s SAAM is all about YOU! You have the power to change how your culture views sexual violence. Promoting healthy sexuality is a simple way to prevent sexual violence. When young (and older) people understand what good, healthy sexual relationships look like, they are better able to treat one another with respect. They are informed and better prepared to spot the signs of abuse. They have a defense against the lies of rape culture.

Healthy sexuality is a vision to end sexual violence. Learning about healthy sexuality and finding the information, resources, and support you need is the first step in creating positive change for the future. It might be helpful to think about healthy sexuality as the opposite of sexual violence. Healthy sexuality is a vision for what sex, relationships, and growth can look like when positive skills, helpful information, and open communication are the standard. Healthy sexuality means having the knowledge and power to express sexuality in ways that enrich our lives. It’s about every person being able to make consensual, respectful, and informed choices. There is no room for pressure, violence, or control. For some people, the idea of healthy sexuality matches the information and values that have been shared with them from an early age. For others, this description of sexuality is a new idea, and it can be helpful to get more information before sharing this topic with others (from NSVRC, linked below).

Link to "An Overview of Adolescent Sexual Development"

Link to “An Overview of Adolescent Sexual Development”

One way to engage youth is to enable them. The NSVRC provides a helpful guide for youth-adult partnerships for sexual assault prevention:
1. Focus on assets, not problems
2. Address the real needs of young people
3. Engage young people in developing programs
4. Involve knowledgeable and committed adults
5. Recognize the influences of a young person’s environment
Whether you work directly with youth or not, you can have an impact on sexual assault awareness and prevention.
Link to "Becoming an Agent of Social Change: a Guide for Youth Activists"

Link to “Becoming an Agent of Social Change: a Guide for Youth Activists”

1. Read about it.

There are innumerable resources available to educate people on issues related to sexual violence: blogs like this one, books, journal articles, websites, etc. The first book I always recommend for people to read – whether you are a survivor of sexual abuse, a secondary victim, or someone wanting to become better informed – is Rid of My Disgrace by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb. If you’ve read enough of my blog posts, you know that their book and articles on the topic of sexual abuse and sex trafficking appear routinely. The Holcombs are experienced in counseling survivors of abuse and their insight into the healing process is invaluable.

2. Write about it.

Do you have a blog? Facebook? Twitter? Is there a current events column in your school newspaper? Do you have a newsletter? Do you write for a magazine? Could you write a letter to a government official, asking them to use their power to better protect victims of rape? There are now so many ways to communicate to a broad audience. Spreading the word about sexual assault has never been simpler.

Talk to your own kids about safety concerns. Educate yourself so that you can educate others!

Link to "Tips for Partnering with Youth-Serving Organizations"

Link to “Tips for Partnering with Youth-Serving Organizations”

3. Start Local.

Look for ways to encourage survivors and raise awareness within your own community! Find a crisis prevention center or rape response program, contact the YMCA/YWCA or Red Cross, look for a sexual violence prevention program on campus, host a benefit, or bring a national or international campaign to your city. This month in particular, many support groups and crisis centers will be having open houses or similar events to raise awareness and support the survivors in their community.

4. Speak out and support survivors.

You may have suffered from sexual violence. If the time feels right, share your story. Use your voice, even anonymously, to dispel rape myths and battle rape culture. Personal testimonies are powerful because they remind each of us that we are not alone, that the pain of abuse is not limited to just one person.

If you are a survivor and feel you lack a support system, seek one out. Confide in a counselor or close family member. Look for a local support group where you can meet and heal alongside other people who have been through similar trauma. Start a journal to get your thoughts out on paper. Add something to your daily routine that will improve your overall health.

Maybe you have a close relative or friend who has been victimized through sexual violence. Let them know how much you love them, admire their courage, and value their friendship. If a painful anniversary is coming up, send a brief note to let them know that you’re thinking of them; remind them they have a support system.

Finally, if you have a family member or friend whom you believe to be in an abusive situation or who has been a victim of a sexual crime such as rape, consider finding a safe, appropriate opportunity to graciously ask them about it, as a way to help them find help. If you yourself are in danger of any type of abuse or have been victimized through sexual violence, talk to someone you trust or contact a helpline (list available under Global Contacts). If you are in immediate danger, call emergency services.

Link to "Safe Sex(uality): Talking About What You Need and Want"

Link to “Safe Sex(uality): Talking About What You Need and Want”

Related Posts:

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Reporting the Crime

Sexual Assault and Teen Pregnancy

Who Are You? – Bystander Intervention

Resources for Bystander Intervention

Adulthood Health Risks from Teen Dating Violence

9 Myths of Teen Dating Violence

Alcohol Education and Sexual Assault

Should You Break Up?

Get the Facts About Teen Dating Violence

How Common is Teen Dating Abuse?

Teaching Kids About Consent, Ages 1-21

Preventing Sexual Violence: Helping Boys Learn How to See Women

Related Resources:

Understanding Sexual Violence: Tips for Parents and Caregivers

Strategies for Becoming an Adult Ally

Prevention Tips for Medical Professionals

Student Survivors: Sexual Harassment in Nightclubs

Link to "Stalked and Beaten Up: Student Stories of Sexual Violence in Clubs"

Link to “Stalked and Beaten Up: Student Stories of Sexual Violence in Clubs”

In her November 2013 article on sexual harassment for the Guardian, Abby Young-Powell defines sexual harassment: “from nasty comments, to groping and grabbing…behaviour that is unwanted, intimidating or humiliating for the victim. Touching another person in a sexual way when they haven’t consented is defined by the police as sexual assault.”

One young woman spoke of the harassment she regularly experiences when she goes out:

“My friends and I experience harassment every time we go out. From having my bum pinched, to being pushed against a wall by a stranger. I’ve even had my crotch grabbed while on the dance floor. Recently on a night out my friends and I were encircled by a gang of ‘lads’ who were all grabbing us wherever they could. The sad thing is that it’s seen as par for the course when you go out if you’re female with a nice dress on.”

Hollaback! London is partnering with pubs and clubs London-wide to combat sexual harassment and provide training for staff to recognize the signs of harassment and assault. Learn more about the Good Night Out campaign.

Related Post:

Survivor Stories: Sexual Violence at University

Harassment and the “Occupational Hazard of Being Female”

Alcohol Education and Sexual Assault

Related Article: Sexual Harassment is “Normal” in Clubs, But Are Things About to Change?

Good Night Out is the first coordinated London-wide campaign that tackles harassment in venues, pubs, bars and clubs. – See more at: http://ldn.ihollaback.org/clubs-and-pubs-campaign/#sthash.XWaAOQRL.dpuf