Rivera-Azad Sexual Healing Integration Model (RASHIM)

RASHIM is a demystifier of the world of sex and sexual relations. It contains more than three decades of combined experiences of Mx. Rivera and Mx. Azad, two intersectional sexuality educators who have dedicated their work to healing sexual trauma through sexual liberation. This is why Power sits at the heart of RASHIM to represent that every element of sexuality must be understood within the existing power relations, and that redistribution of power is essential to the work of sexual healing and liberation. 

The programs offered at The HEAL Project are based on RASHIM and explore different aspects of this model. A comprehensive training called, Just Healing Training, focusing on RASHIM is offered here. 

A graphic of the Rivera-Azad Sexual Healing Integration Model or RASHIM. Going from the outside of the model to the inside. The outermost layer of RASHIM is the cycle of healing. This is a blue circle with white arrows pointing counterclockwise to represent the cyclical nature of healing. There are three steps in the cycle of healing that reads, “Safety, Exploration, Acceptance.” Inside the cycle of healing, there is a black and yellow circle called, the orbit of connection. At the top of the orbit, there is a text that reads, "Connection". Within the orbit, four words appear, “Self, Kinfolk, Community, and State.” In the center of the model, there are nine pink and white diamond shapes representing the Pillars. The Pillars are arranged to form a larger diamond, with one pillar at the base and one at the top. There is a blue outline cupping the bottom of each pillar to represent the healing that is needed for each pillar. From the bottom to the top the pillars are as follows: Curiosity & Inquiry, Fantasy & Desire, Masturbation & Body Exploration, Health & Reproduction, Sex & Pleasure, Identity & Behavior, Roles & Power Dynamics, Kink & Fetish, Spirituality & Transcendence. The pillars in order are categorized into stages called, rooting, growing, and yielding. The pillars are marked to indicate that as we move up to the top of the diamond, there is progress through the stages.

The Rivera-Azad Sexual Healing Integration Model (RASHIM) offers a roadmap for sexual healing that captures the past, present, and future of our sexual relations. RASHIM locates nine areas of sexuality navigation, referred to as Pillars. Each Pillar represents a unique step in human sexual evolution and contains experiences, ideas, feelings, and actions. While the pillars are interconnected and relevant throughout our lives, they are categorized into three stages: rooting, growing, and yielding. In Just Healing Training, we focus on healing each stage as well as developing their corresponding connection skills.

The Orbit of Connection transforms the information discussed within Pillars and the Foundation into life skills. Relationships are what make us human. This includes our relationship with ourselves, our family, our community, and the state. Information alone cannot heal our individual and collective sexual wounds. It is through good connections and community involvement that we can apply our knowledge to heal and create change. These connection skills include empathy, accountability, compassion, boundary-setting, and the like.

The outermost layer of RASHIM is the Cycle of Healing. This is where the ongoing and cyclical work of healing takes place. Trauma not only disturbs our connections, but it threatens our survival and takes away our sense of safety. Healing must begin with providing conditions of safety so that we can explore different possibilities for integrating with ourselves and others. In the process of exploration, we may be disappointed, heartbroken, triggered, or even re-traumatized. This is when acceptance is needed to facilitate a path back to safety.

Our current relationship to human sexuality is built upon historic realities of reproduction, gender, and sex, especially as they pertain to marginalized communities (e.g. people with disabilities, people of color, poor people, labor migrants, and refugees). Understanding systems of marginalization throughout history as well as their current manifestation in our culture is required in any discussion of who we are and how we relate to sex and relationships. Culture itself is an integral piece of how we shape our ideas and the kind of information we believe to be true. Lastly, without a vision, we are bound to repeat past mistakes. Active visioning is necessary for productive engagement and for creating a world without sexual violence.

Sexual healing is not a one-dimensional or an individual journey. As a society, we have a responsibility to collectively heal our sexual relations across our communities, institutions, and governing bodies. We must heal the fear-based and shame-based approaches to sex. Expanding our idea of sex beyond its heteronormative and reproductive aspects, we must focus on navigating sexual relations safely, intentionally, and powerfully.

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