April is Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month! #SAAPM
“Every 73 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every 9 minutes, that victim is a child.” – RAINN
In the face of such depressing statistics, we need to stay positive and proactive: DANCE & DONATE this month to RAINN, the nation’s largest sexual non-violence organization!
Can we envision a culture that truly values non-violence? A real yoga culture?
In yoga studies, non-violence is called ahimsa, and it is described first and foremost among all the values in the great vow of yoga that transcends time, place, and class or caste (yoga sūtra of Patañjali II.31).
The yoga sūtras of Patañjali also explain that when we are not practicing ahimsa, violence can occur in our actions and thoughts in a three-fold way: 1) krta, 2) kārita, and 3) anumodita.
Violent actions and thoughts are: “those one performs oneself, krta; those that one has others perform on one’s behalf, kārita; and those that one approves of or authorizes in some way, anumodita.” – The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali translated by Edwin F. Bryant (II.34).
Thus, according to the yoga sūtras: we can be violent directly (krta), indirectly (kārita), and passively (anumodita). Accepting, approving, and authorizing the violence of others in any form, even if we are not the “actors” in the violence, is also a form of violence!
What happens when we don’t speak out and disapprove of violence in our community? Consciously or unconsciously, we end up accepting, approving, and authorizing that violence because we pose no challenge nor alternative to its continuation.
As yogis and yoginis today, in order to really practice non-violence, ahimsa: it seems we need to be proactive. We need to speak out against violence when it arises if we do not wish to consciously or unconsciously authorize such violence to continue. And, in our current culture, we need to be proactive to help prevent such violence from arising at all.
Last month took a violent turn in my town of Boulder, Colorado as we experienced a tragic mass shooting that took 10 human lives to senseless gun violence at my King Soopers grocery store. Until a mass shooting happened so close to home, I didn’t think as deeply about this pervasive violence in our country. You might not either if you’re not in a city or town that has had a mass shooting. However, we do need to let the experience of others be a wake up call! Wherever you are, please don’t wait until another horrific mass shooting happens in your town to speak out for gun law reforms. We’ve had over 50 mass shootings in the USA since Boulder’s tragedy less than one month ago! It’s absurdly tragic, especially when other countries where citizens bear arms are not suffering in this way. If other countries can successfully reduce the frequency of mass shootings with common-sense gun regulation legislation, so can the USA. Please contact your elected officials wherever you are and let them know you want to see real gun law reforms now. You can find further information and contact information on my engage page for: Gun Law Reforms Now.
What might a non-violent community and culture look like? In what ways would it look different from American society today?
As mentioned, April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month #SAAPM, and it calls for more conversation about another pervasive form of violence in the USA: Sexual Violence.
Sexual violence has been a part of human history for so long it almost seems like an eternal condition of the human species. However, as a yogini, I don’t believe in the eternity of any particular conditions. I can’t accept fatalist apathy. From a Buddhist and Tantric understanding: we are all continually co-creating the conditions of our experience. Nothing conditional is permanent! We can change our conditions and influence the direction of experience through our choices. Culture is the social fabric we weave with our choices. To choose yoga is to choose a non-violent culture!
I’ve written more about the paradox of yoga, non-violence, and rape culture on my engage page for: Me Too मैं भी .
Meanwhile, let’s look again at the scope of Sexual Violence in the USA according to RAINN:
Everyone Is Affected by Sexual Violence
- Every 73 seconds another American is sexually assaulted.
- 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted).
- About 3% of American men—or 1 in 33—have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
- From 2009-2013, Child Protective Services agencies substantiated, or found strong evidence to indicate that, 63,000 children a year were victims of sexual abuse.
- A majority of child victims are 12-17. Of victims under the age of 18: 34% of victims of sexual assault and rape are under age 12, and 66% of victims of sexual assault and rape are age 12-17.
And yet, it doesn’t have to be like this.
We can choose to change the very quality of our social fabric. We can choose to end rape culture and make the shift from violent culture to consent culture, to compassionate culture.
If we are ready to shift from painful patterns of violence to more compassionate patterns of non-violence, we need to first recognize and communicate about the current causes and conditions of violence. Sexual violence perpetuates itself through stigma. Stigma is the covering of a wound with silence. When people are afraid to talk about their pain it doesn’t get the recognition, the fresh air, it needs to process naturally and heal. We need to air our wounds and trust the natural power of healing.
Recognition is a critical step to healing and to making real shifts and long-lasting changes.
Organizations like RAINN bring forward this kind of recognition, conversation, resources, skills, and support. For these reasons, they are so important in our society today.
I’m very happy to be dancing on April 25th in support of RAINN, and to be doing so with my fellow BOLLYX Rockstars, David from Texas and Priyanka from New Jersey! BollyX is a progressive dance fitness community with really positive people, creativity, and drive for personal and social transformation. I’m grateful to be a part of it. Don’t miss this special fundraiser dance fitness event, especially since your donations to RAINN count 2X during #SAAPM!
DONATE @ fundraise.rainn.org/bollyxrainn
DANCE @ Zoom ID: 880 3365 3579
Also, if you and/or someone you know needs support, the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline gives confidential, anonymous help to survivors and loved ones. 800.656.HOPE & online.RAINN.org.
#BOLLYX #RAINN #METOO #TIMESUP #BOLLYXRAINN #BOLLYXSAAPM #BOLLYXBOULDER