Translations of articles on Bodhi Zapha by NOS on August 28, 2022
Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) is the main Dutch broadcasting foundation. On August 28, journalist Anna Mees published two articles about alleged abuser Bodhi Zapha / Christopher Bold.
The articles are published in Dutch. Here are the English translations.
Article 1, August 28, 15:02h
Action group warns against controversial ‘healer’: ‘Preventing more victims’
A man who binds clients all over the world in ropes and hangs them horizontally from a construction to, in hos words, heal them, is in the Netherlands this week. Women who previously came to him for a paid session accuse him of sexual abuse. An action group wants to prevent Bodhi Zapha, as he calls himself, from making more victims.
According to his website, “shibari healing” is for radical souls who want to become whole and vibrant beings.
There is mentioning of emotional liberation from energetic blockages. The sessions would also help to be freed from fear, anger, guilt, shame and self-limiting judgments.
Zapha, whose real name is Christopher Bold or Chris Bold for short, calls himself an expert sexual trauma healer and trauma counselor.
And especially there, where he focuses on traumatized people, things go wrong, say five women who have joined forces.
They say they have 15 reports of women worldwide complaining about their experiences with Zapha in recent years. From transgressive behavior to oral rape, which the Israeli newspaper Haaretz recently published. With their action group, the women, including a Dutch woman, want to prevent more women from being harmed.
Bodhi Zapha did not want to specifically answer questions from the NOS. “It is not in my interest that there is another publication,” he says by telephone. About the woman who claims to have been raped orally by him, he says that she was not his client. Asked if his real name is Christopher James Bold, the name associated with the account number where he gets paid, he replies, “Now I feel harassed. Please don’t call me anymore.”
“Women with trauma seek help for this. Then they become even more traumatized,” says Luna, who does not want to use her last name in the article. She herself practices shibari, a Japanese form of bondage. “We don’t want women to fall into his trap and become even more traumatized. We want to stop the danger.”
Currently, the man who according to victims is from the United Kingdom and lives part of the year in Bali, is on a European tour.
In Amsterdam he had planned sessions in a house rented through Airbnb. When the owner of that building found out what was about to happen through questions from the NOS, he asked Zapha to leave. Berlin and London are also on the program. The sessions last five hours and cost more than 2000 euros. “This is not sadomasochism,” reads a video on his website about the shibari sessions. “This is the evolution of a 16th-century Japanese art form”.
‘In particular therapists themselves get their needs met’
Professor of Asian religions Paul van der Velde of Radboud University Nijmegen: “This reminds me very much of the way in which tantra is often practiced in the West. It has little to do with Asia, but there is an Asian jacket around it. That gives the impression that it is ancient and traditional, but if you look closely, it turns out not to be the case at all.”
“They are often very charismatic figures, guru-like types too,” says Van der Velde. “They know how to gain the trust of people who are already in a vulnerable position and to create a kind of ‘I can heal you’ atmosphere. If it becomes body-oriented in combination with erotic, it is very questionable anyway.”
In therapy sessions in which physicality and eroticism play a major role, there must be a stop sign, says Van der Velde. “You have to be able to make it clear that something is going too far. What I gather from these stories is that women did, but it didn’t matter.”
In the bondage community, the alarm goes off when more than one accusation has been made about someone, Luna says. “People can make mistakes, an experience can be less good or there are misunderstandings. But multiple issues with one person, that should not happen. Especially not if that person claims to be a healer and to work with trauma.”
Possibly punishable because of dependence
Zapha’s website lists all kinds of positive experiences. According to Luna, Zapha feels with whom he can go far. “With people without trauma who set their limits, he behaves professionally. That’s why he gets such positive testimonials from famous women. But as soon as it is someone with trauma, he pushes them. It is like he feels who is an ideal victim.”
According to Sven Brinkhoff, professor of Criminal Procedure Law at the University of Amsterdam, it can be punishable by law if sexual acts are performed in such a session. For example, under Article 249 of the Criminal Code. This concerns people who work in health care or social care and who force themselves onto someone “who, as client or patient, have entrusted themselves to his help or care”.
“It is important for a possible criminal prosecution that there is sufficient evidence for committing the sexual acts and, specifically for Article 249, that it can be said that there is some form of dependence,” says Brinkhoff. “A dependency that is usually present in such a counselor-client relationship.”
Do you have more information about this ‘healer’ or about others who pretend to be and are accused of abuse? Then you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any publication of anything will only be done with your explicit permission.
Article 2, August 28 19:30h
Women on ‘healer’ Bodhi Zapha: ‘He abused my vulnerable position’
Women from different countries accuse a ‘shibari healer’ who is now in the Netherlands of sexual abuse. During the paid sessions, Bodhi Zapha, as he calls himself, allegedly abused their vulnerable and dependent position. Three of them, including a Dutch woman, tell their story here.
In the shibari sessions, a Japanese form of bondage, Zapha ties clients in ropes and hangs them horizontally from a construction. This article explains what he thinks this is good for and how experts look at it.
Hagar Ben Israel did a session with him in Israel in 2016. She previously told her story in the newspaper Haaretz: “I always felt that there was something unresolved in me, that my body was a prison. I hoped that if I did something extreme like shibari, I could let myself go completely and that it would leave my body.”
She continues: “At first he promised that there would be no sexuality in any form. When I was tied up later, he passed the rope over my nipple in a very painful way. Then he put his penis deep in my mouth and pushed my head against him. It was so forceful that I could not breathe. But he did not stop. When I nearly choked, he said ‘Excellent, this is your cleansing’. It encouraged him to continue aggressively, about five more times. Each time he said, ‘My penis is sacred, this is my temple, this is how I serve my clients’.”
Bodhi Zapha, whose real name is Christopher Bold (abbreviated Chris Bold), did not want to comment specifically on questions from the NOS. “It is not in my interest for another publication to come,” he says by telephone (the Israeli newspaper Haaretz previously wrote about him). About Hagar Ben Israel he says that she was not his client. He says about Kaitlin that she has not accused him of “anything sexual”. As far as is known, Bold is not under criminal investigation and has not been convicted.
‘It hurt so much, but he left me hanging’
Canadian Kaitlin did a session in Portland, Oregon (USA) last year. “I have been abused many times in my life. Bodhi Zapha had said that when the rope is loosened, it can help release trauma.
I said beforehand that I wanted to work on my confidence. He soon asked if it was okay if there was penetration. I told him I didn’t want that, that my body panicked inside. But if it was a profound healing point, I’d say yes, I wanted to keep an open mind.”
She describes what happened next: “First he had me very tightly tied up and I was in a fetal position. For the first time in my life I felt safe. Then he said, “This symbolizes who you are inside, so disturbed and injured.” He sat on me and took off my bra.
We sat next to the bed. My whole body was tense and I didn’t want to have sex with him. He asked, ‘If you can’t let me in, how are you going to let someone else or love in? My inner healer just wants to heal you and you won’t let me do that.” Then he started to cry.
The last part I call the ‘punishment part’. He tied me in with my hands behind my back. I said I didn’t want any more. Then he said I was finally setting my limits. There was one more part, in the air. I still wanted value for money, I had paid 1200 dollars. He hung me in the ropes and I screamed loudly. It hurt so bad, but he left me hanging. I got mad and told him to take me down. He panicked and eventually he did.”
“Still struggling to really trust men”
The Dutch ‘Emma’ (actual name known to the editors) did a session with Bodhi Zapha ‘a while ago’ that would evolve into much more. “It lasted at least eight hours. He asked me to give him a blowjob. After the session I was in a completely different state, very vulnerable and I couldn’t think clearly. He took me to his house and we had sex. It felt like I was completely disconnected from reality.
After that we started seeing each other more often. He immediately said that he knew my limits better than I did. If I liked something, he would lose interest and want to do things that I really didn’t want to do. It had many negative consequences. For a long time I was unable to open up to anything subtly sexual. I’ve done a lot of healings, but I still struggle to really trust men.”
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