As aikido instructors, dojo owners and credentialing organizations, we have a responsibility to ensure that everyone has the ability to practice aikido free from abuse. The first step is to understand what forms of abuse look like and to identify when there is potential for abuse to occur. It is our responsibility to make sure that all aikido instructors, and especially those who work with youth, understand their roles in assuring safe spaces for practice and appropriate student/teacher boundaries.
Take a minute to do the following self-assessment to determine if you may want to follow up on any of the resources provided below.
DOJO SELF ASSESSMENT
Does my dojo/organization have a written sexual misconduct policy?
O Yes O No
Is the policy shared publicly with members (posted in the dojo, on the website or in written materials?)
O Yes O No
Does my dojo/organization require instructors take sexual misconduct training?
O Yes O No
Does my dojo/organization require instructors who work with children undergo a criminal background check?
O Yes O No
Does my dojo/organization have a written grievance procedure that assures victims feel safe to report abuse?
O Yes O No
If you answered NO to any of the above questions please consider following up on the resources below to proactively create a positive change in your dojo culture to assure that it is a safe space free from potential abuse.
Education and awareness are the most critical components to creating safe and respectful dojo environments. For information about trainings for aikido instructors we recommend the U.S. Center for SafeSport. They have an online training ($20) that is an educational tool for prevention of abuse in sport and required by all US Olympic sports organizations to take annually. Organization-level access can also be purchased to provide to your member dojos. We recommend this training over generic workplace harassment trainings as this directly addresses the more complex relationship and trust between a student and teacher in an athletic setting rather that just a co-worker or boss relationship which is less relevant.
Developing Policies and Procedures:
Aikido Organizations often have varying levels of protocols and trainings in place to address issues of sexual assault. We recommend doing a full assessment of your policies and reporting procedures by working with the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) which provides consulting services to help organizations that are at any point in the process—whether this is the first conversation an organization has had on the topic or there have been policies in place for years. RAINN conducts sexual violence prevention and response program assessments based on leading research, regulatory guidance, and state and federal laws to evaluate program strengths and weaknesses. The result is a set of concrete recommendations that assists organizations in providing best-in-class education and response programs.
Thanks to Yoga International for the following resources:
Learn about sexual violence.
Become familiar with legal definitions of sexual assault, which are based on the behavior of the perpetrator, rather than the perpetrator's intent or how it feels to the victim.
Familiarize yourself with the laws on sexual violence and consent. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, sexual assaults may or may not involve force, and they can include such things as grabbing or fondling.
Identify myths around sexual assault. For example, sexual violence is not about sex. It is violence that misuses sex and sexuality to exert power over others: to control, intimidate, or violate.
Understand grooming. This is the process of establishing an emotional connection or trust with victims in order to lower their inhibition to sexual abuse.
Stop publicly venerating the sex offender and profiting from association with their name. Making statements and displaying images that glorify the perpetrator can silence and harm survivors. Statements like, “No one is perfect,” “I only had wonderful experiences with him,” or “We must not forget what a great man he was and all the good he did” continue to perpetuate the abuse.
Learn about institutional betrayal: ways of responding or avoiding responding to abuse that exacerbate the impact of trauma for the victims. Studies show that institutional betrayal can cause more harm to victims than the original abuse itself.
Understand and address the culture of your organization
Sexual abuse does not happen in a vacuum. Assess systemic problems, teachings and teaching methods that allow for or even enable abuse.
Look for unhealthy or uneven distributions of power, such as a prestigious leader who cannot be challenged or who is not accountable to anyone, or an institution where reputation is prioritized over member safety and transparency.
Design clear, accessible policies for how to report abuse, how to hold perpetrators accountable, and how to offer reparations to those harmed. Make sure all teachers and students are aware of these policies.
- Encourage and honor the courage of whistleblowers who speak up about their own or others’ abuse.
Here is a short list of organizations and websites offering education to individuals or communities regarding sexual violence and institutional abuse.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center provides information, tools, and resources to prevent and respond to sexual violence. Free resources and online courses are available.
FaithTrust Institute is a national multi-faith training and education organization with a global reach and a goal of ending sexual and domestic violence.