What to look out for when seeking sexual healing- Red Flags for Abusive Sacred Sexuality practitionersSep 06, 2022
What to look out for if you're thinking of hiring a sexuality practitioner for personal healing and/or exploration
In light of the recent issues that have come to light with the abusive shibari practitioner Bodhi Zapha ( who runs the site 'shibari healing' (x, x and x), and many more similar cases of abuse through practices like 'Yoni massage' and other types of Sacred Sexuality bodywork over the last years, it's really important that we educate folks and address what is actually trauma-aware, healing and professional practice- and what is a sign to run!
Both therapeutic bondage and yoni/lingam massage have the potential to be very healing and empowering practices that can release trauma and be a beautiful healing experience- when it's done with integrity, clear practices and trauma-awareness. When it is not done with integrity, unfortunately, it can be incredibly traumatic and abusive, using the one seeking healing for the 'healers' own personal gain.
While there may not be ways to stop abusive practitioners from ever entering the field and taking advantage of the unregulated industry, we can raise awareness over what to look out for if you're ever considering getting a session like this to prevent more people being harmed.
For people who have histories of abuse and trauma, often it's hard to spot 'Red Flags' and signs of an abusive practitioner, so I've put together some notes here that I hope can guide people to spot the warning signs that someone is not a safe person to do this work with.
This is hard for some people to notice, especially if you have a history of being in abusive relationships, but often red flags will already be showing in their messages before the session where they're pressuring you, invalidating your concerns, expecting unwavering trust even when you don't know them and other such signals.
Also beware if they want you to pay in a way that you have no protection (family and friends on paypal for example)
If you're not sure, check in with a friend who has good discernment
A NO CAN'T BECOME A YES
When someone is in a BDSM scene or an erotic massage, they are entering an altered state of consciousness akin to being on drugs. One of the baseline rules in the kink community is that consent negotiations happen before you become altered by the experience and a no can not change to a yes, but a yes can become a no. Abusers take advantage of the altered state of consciousness the same way that other abusers take advantage of drunk/drugged people. Practitioners with integrity will never push you further than agreed and will always check-in. Part of healing from sexual trauma is having the sovereignty and power to decide what your yes is and to feel respected and that your no is valid.
People who are actually trauma-informed and trained know that you can never promise healing, and that calling yourself a 'sexual trauma healer' is inaccurate and disempowering. A practitioner holds space for YOU TO HEAL YOURSELF and offers tools for integration. Claiming they are the healer is already disempowering you and getting into a dynamic that is not beneficial, inviting someone to give up their inner authority to the 'expert'. If they also want to claim to be a certified trauma healer they should mention where they got this qualification, and be regulated by some governing body with best practices and the ability to hold them accountable. Look for verifiable links to trainings and ask for them if they're not listed. Ask who they're accountable to if you need to! In this space in particular it is so important that people are not just doing whatever they feel like, because as we've seen, abusers take advantage of the unregulated industry to find new victims.
PRESSURE TO GO ALL IN
Genuine trauma-integration specialists know that it is a gradual process and healing takes time, if there is pressure and expectation to pay a huge sum of money and have a big healing experience in a single session, that puts pressure on the receiver to want to get the 'full experience' and their money's worth. Especially in the case of Bodhi, he is charging THOUSANDS of euros for a single session. Of course, then when there are red flags and warning signs, but someone has invested so much money into this session, they're going to have some dissonance and have a harder time saying no and stopping when it's not right.
Someone charging huge sums of money does NOT mean they are a better healer than others, as we've seen with many fake coaches who charge huge amounts of money and have no training and basically scam people. They work with the psychology of people where they think expensive=automatically 'better' and high quality, and this just isn't true.
THE FOCUS IS ON THEM
Narcissistic types make everything about them, and even when you are the client and the one paying the money, they'll still centre a lot of the experience around them, what they want to do etc. Legit healers are in service and a vessel for your experience.
THOUGHT TERMINATING CLICHES
'It's what the universe wanted'
'In divine timing'
'That's your shadow speaking'
'That's just your projection'
'Your level of consciousness can't understand because you're not there yet'
... these kinds of spiritual cliches are used to shut down your discernment and valid questions. Practitioners should be willing to engage in a dialogue to create safety and clarity. Your questions and concerns are valid, and if you feel like these cliche terms are being used to overnight your questions then this is not a good sign!
DRAMATIC SPIRITUAL LINGO, VAGUENESS AND NEGGING
Excessive use of spiritual lingo to look deep and complex when they're just being vague and using the lingo to not be clear about what is going to happen and leave room for them to gaslight you and put it on you because you don't understand. This also makes them seem superior and you look less awakened or experienced when it's just a load of fluff.
CLAIMING THEIR GENITALS ARE THEIR TOOL FOR DIVINE HEALING
Saying that surrendering to their sex + penetration is 'surrending to the divine' (let alone if you didn't consent to sex before the session) and that it is ESSENTIAL to your healing.
This is a clear sign of spiritual narcissism and no one persons genitals have any specific healing quality, healing comes through compatibility, trust and integrity.
USING THE POLARITY PRINCIPLES (FEMININE/MASCULINE) TO MAKE YOU DOUBT YOUR INTUITION, AND FORCE THEMSELVES ONTO YOU SEXUALLY -
Telling you that because your feminine/masculine is wounded, you need their counter polarity to heal, often in a sexual way. People use masc/femme polarity doctrine to justify abuse, to say that females submitting and being weak is a spiritually superior way to be and is somehow more natural and right, and that your discernment is your wounding and/or being too masculine.
GIVING DISTORTED MEANING TO YOUR BOUNDARIES
"If you say no to me now, how are you going to open to love in your life?",
"If you don't let my healing power in, how are you going to let the universe heal you?",
"This is just resistance speaking, relax and let me work for your healing" etc. ,
"Can't you see I'm only trying to heal you and you're pushing me away from your unhealed trauma/inner child/hurt feminine?"
The abuser will twist your boundaries as a form of gaslighting, showing how you saying no to them is why you are broken/unhealed and that giving in to them is the path forward (while really it is causing deeper trauma and more wounding)
MAKING YOUR EXPRESSED BOUNDARIES PART OF THEIR WORK
"Good job claiming your boundaries! I was only teasing/ testing you!", "It's about time you speak up for yourself!", "Finally, you are in your power, I was pushing your boundaries so you could find them!". That's an extremely toxic, manipulative tactic because it allows them to keep on pushing you ad lib. If you have a trauma response like fawning or freezing, you won't speak your boundaries which doesn't mean they are not there, but they will use the lack of no as consent. We have seen time and time again that they will do the same behaviours to various women, some will freeze and they will continue to abuse them while others will manage to speak their boundary and they will pretend it's part of their work as if they wouldn't have continued if you didn't say stop.
NOT UNDERSTANDING TRAUMA RESPONSES AND USING THEM AGAINST YOU
Fight: "you're just resisting, let go of your anger, that rage comes from your past"
Freeze: used as silent consent
Fawn : used as expressed consent
Flight -You're in resistance/this is why you can't heal/ you're running away
Anyone claiming to be trauma-aware or trained should be able to recognise trauma responses and help you without shaming or blaming you for them.
SEXUALIZING YOUR TRAUMA STORY
"that turns me on" etc, making your experience about their arousal.
LACK OF SEXUAL RESTRAINT + USING THEIR AROUSAL AS VALIDATION OF YOUR PROGRESS
talking about their erection, pleasure, desire, lust, etc. during your session as a sign that you're doing good, going deep enough, letting go, reaching new healing, moving your energy, awakening, being ready for more, inviting them in, etc.
Professionals should be able to hold their sexual energy and contain it, not leak it into you and your session.
These are a few red flags based on the stories of women who have experienced this.
Sometimes red flags can be much more subtle
Trust your no if you feel it and if you have a history of being in abusive relationships, know that you might not be able to trust intuition fully just yet as abuse has felt normal to you in the past. This is why we need to talk with trusted friends and mentors if we're not sure to get feedback.
RED FLAGS IN WORKSHOPS- Check out this great resource for more red flags and signs in workshop settings
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