IF YOU’VE BEEN VIC­TIM­IZED, TRIG­GERED, OR WANT TO HELP

Yoga Journal - - Travel Guide -

» Go with your gut about what feels wrong—and speak up.

If you can, tell stu­dio or or­ga­ni­za­tion lead­ers and law en­force­ment im­me­di­ately. If you don't feel com­fort­able do­ing so, or have ques­tions about what may have just hap­pened to you, there are anony­mous, free re­sources that can help, such as the Rape, Abuse, & Incest Na­tional Net­work (RAINN). “RAINN’s hot­line (800656-HOPE) and on­line chat ser­vice ( rainn.org) are not just for peo­ple who are sure they have been vic­tim­ized,” says Kati Lake, vice pres­i­dent of con­sult­ing ser­vices at RAINN. “They’re also for peo­ple who are un­sure if they’ve ex­pe­ri­enced un­wanted sex­ual con­tact, and for friends and fam­i­lies of those af­fected.” RAINN can also help you un­der­stand the laws that gov­ern sex­ual abuse (they are dif­fer­ent for each state). The or­ga­ni­za­tion main­tains a com­pre­hen­sive le­gal data­base at apps.rainn.org/pol­icy. And, if it feels safe, speak up the mo­ment some­thing hap­pens. “It may be scary, but it may also be an ef­fec­tive tac­tic to stop the of­fend­ers out there,” says David Lip­sius. “If just one per­son stood up in class and said, ‘Please don’t touch me with­out ask­ing per­mis­sion,’ the sys­tem would change.”

» Give your­self per­mis­sion to be trig­gered right now.

Hear­ing the news of oth­ers who’ve been through some­thing sim­i­lar to what you have can take you right back to your own trauma from pre­vi­ous abuse—and prompt you to re­live it, says El­iz­a­beth Jeglic, PhD. “I think a lot of vic­tims have felt help­less in these sit­u­a­tions in the past,” she says. “Now, many are re­port­ing feel­ing guilt and shame that they didn’t come for­ward be­fore, or they feel like they′re still not in a place where they can come for­ward with de­tails of what hap­pened to them.” No mat­ter what you’re feel­ing, Jeglic says, it’s im­por­tant to be gen­tle with your­self. And if you feel rocked by re­cent events to the point of feel­ing like it’s af­fect­ing your well-be­ing, it may be a sign that you need pro­fes­sional help, such as talk­ing to a ther­a­pist, says An­nie Car­pen­ter, MS. “If there’s a part of you that feels shut down or un­com­fort­able, you may have some re­pressed emo­tions,” she says. “If you don’t talk about those, they have a chance of caus­ing more harm.”

» Sup­port those who have been vic­tims and want to talk.

While it may seem ob­vi­ous to lis­ten to some­one’s story, Peg Ship­pert, MA, LPC, says that lis­ten­ing well is one of the most im­por­tant things you can do—and it may be harder than you think. “A lot of peo­ple have a lot to say about this phe­nom­e­non go­ing on right now, but a vic­tim doesn’t need to hear your thoughts on the topic—what they need is to be heard and ac­knowl­edged,” she says. Try not to ask a lot of ques­tions; in­stead, sim­ply lis­ten, and con­vey to them that you be­lieve what they’re say­ing. “Al­most ev­ery vic­tim of sex­ual ha­rass­ment or as­sault has had ex­pe­ri­ences where they tell some­one what hap­pened, and that per­son ques­tions parts of her story,” adds Ship­pert. “That is so hurt­ful and po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing.”

» Dou­ble down on go-to self-care tac­tics, and use your yoga.

Now is the time to do what­ever you usu­ally do to feel good. “For most of us, that of­ten in­cludes con­nect­ing with the net­work of peo­ple who’ve been a re­li­able, safe sup­port sys­tem for you in the past. If it feels right, let them know this is a tough time for you,” says Ship­pert. If yoga has be­come some­thing that re-opens old wounds, lis­ten to that, too. “This might mean not go­ing to your fa­vorite class, find­ing an­other teacher, or try­ing pri­vate classes,” she says. “You might also ask a friend to go with you—some­one you feel safe with.” Right now, we all need a prac­tice that helps us feel em­pow­ered, says Car­pen­ter. If not asana, maybe work with a de­ity, such as Durga, that helps you tap into your re­silience. Or if let­ting your voice come out through chant­ing works, do that, she says. “Use your yoga to feel strong and clear; it’s from that place that you’ll be able to han­dle it all.”

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