Battling sexual assault through yoga



Photo courtesy of Liliana Vallejo. Kinesiology instructor Wendy Ansley with two of her students posing in the COD yoga classroom.

The battle against sexual assault is a constant conversation that should never stop until that one day men and women live in a world where sexual, verbal or physical assault is gone for good. Everyone should take the initiative to learn more about the importance of how to be safe against this violence and how to help those who have been affected by it.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and College of the Desert kinesiology instructors are teaming up with the Coachella Valley Sexual Assault Services to hold a yoga event. Nellie Carrillo and Wendy Ansley are using this opportunity to teach young women and men to be more aware of sexual assault here in the U.S. and around the world.

The event will be hosted by the students in the yoga teacher training certificate program on April 26, 2019, from 10 – 11:30 a.m. in the COD gymnasium. Students will be exhibiting posters and quotes about sexual assault. They will also be handing out free water bottles (shakers) for the first 50 people who show up. All participants are encouraged to bring their yoga mat. The session will teach basic yoga for beginners, and everyone is welcome to come.

Carrillo said that the benefits of this event are to create a campus of culture and respect. “We need to let people know that this is happening while also showing support for each other.” She also emphasized the importance of how seeing bystander intervention can be a way to help fight sexual assault. “If we see something happening on campus, it’s important for us to be bystanders, even though we might not change the outcome of a situation that you might be witnessing, you are still changing the way people see bystander intervention. So if you see something and someone is not sure they can stand up for something, then maybe now you are encouraging them to do the same if they ever see it.”

Ansley wants her students who are in the yoga teacher program to teach to help them earn their 200-hour certificate. Both Carrillo and Ansley like to incorporate some awareness either for domestic violence month or sexual assault month within their classes in yoga and women’s self-defense classes. They thought it would be a great idea to combine both subjects. “Our goal is to take a little bit of a platform in honor of SAAM, and we wanted to do something; people like yoga, so we planned a peaceful event while also adding a culture of respect and education through yoga,” said Ansley.

COD junior Chelsea Bronco is a registered yoga instructor, she said that this is not her first time teaching, but it would be the first time they would participate in an actual event for the school. She also mentioned that yoga could help sexual assault survivors as a coping mechanism.

COD junior Myra French who is also a certified yoga instructor said, “We are hoping to bring awareness for sexual assault, and when people come through, we allow others to come together and share support for each other.”

Yazmin Ternided, a sophomore instructor said yoga had changed her life. “I started a year ago, and I came into the yoga teacher training just for the knowledge, and I discovered that it was a huge passion of mine and it has many open doors for me, ever since I got my certificate.”

Ansley is excited about her students teaching, “Part of our mission at College of the Desert is to provide knowledge and skills that translate into career opportunities, and to give back through yoga.”

Students around campus seem to be supportive of this type of event. Freshman, Rian Granger, said, “I think that hosting an event for sexual assault awareness is awesome. It’s a good way to spread awareness as well as relaxing yourself from your stress.”

Senior, Alexis Jacobson said that she was glad that these types of events happen in COD, “I’m glad Carrillo is hosting the event. I think it’s important to spread awareness about sexual assault and I hope more people at COD take part.”

According to the National sexual violence resource center, one in five women and one in seven men will be raped at some point in their lives. Also, 20%- 25% of college women and 15% of college men are victims of forced sex during their time in college. Rape is the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month helps create a conversation about consent, respect, building healthy relationships and educating everyone about the harsh reality of sexual assault. It can also teach people how to help or change the outcome of these cases by speaking up or through bystander intervention. Sexual assault comes in many different shapes or forms. Forms of aggression can be verbal abuse, physical, or sexual intercourse abuse where one person does not give consent. Knowing more about how to prevent sexual assault and helping others is very important as adults.

If you or someone you know is suffering from sexual abuse or any other type of violence, there are places to turn for help.

Valley Sexual Assault Services

78370 Highway 111, Suite 130

La Quinta, 92253

Phone: (760)568-9071

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)

Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

National Domestic Violence

Hotline 1-800-799-7233

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