Corrective Methods

Intro

  • Our communities involve a mixture of people from a range of backgrounds and experiences.
  • People will have misunderstandings, make mistakes, hurt each other.
  • Calling out these incidents is critical so they can be corrected.
  • A feedback loop must exist and function effectively so healthy communications relating to correcting behavior can be normalized.
  • First we’ll define some essential terms, then review a series of key concepts, and then define the responsibilities of the key roles of host or organizer, the one who did harm, and the one harmed, then review a specific remediation process.
  • The corrective methods we’ll talk about are focused on promoting healing of trauma and preventing future harm within the community.

Define Terms

  • We will focus on the roles of hosts and organizers as they are most immediately in a position to mediate this process. (Noting that anyone who wishes to organize an event may step forward as an organizer. We’ll use the terms interchangeably)
  • Using “someone who has been harmed” and “someone who has done harm” today. We acknowledge they are imperfect terms and may be provocative for some and ask that you translate these into whatever version of these terms you find pleasing, to remain focused on the substance of this presentation.

Key Concepts

  • When someone feel they have been harmed, no one else gets to tell they they haven’t been.
  • It is entirely possible to harm someone else unintentionally, and we suspect quite commonly.
  • Identify and address minor issues promptly to establish and reinforce a healthy and safe culture within these communities and promote safety.
  • When infractions are small, key steps must still be taken, but the scale of expected response and engagement on all parties is smaller.
  • As the severity of the incident increased, the time and involvement of the hosts and community increase.
  • Promoting healing for the the one harmed is the first priority; then educating and involving those who have done harm; then the community as a whole.
  • Protecting the privacy of the one harmed is critical, but do be mindful that a report of having harmed someone without sufficient specifics has limited potential for remediation. Without calling out what went poorly, the one who harmed has little opportunity to grow.

Roles – Host or organizer

  • Have great power within the community simply because defines who gains access to events and can use them for social interaction.
  • WIth that power comes a responsibility far greater than that of any participant or guest.
  • Being an organizer or host is a great deal of work, and that work doesn’t end when the party succeeds and is enjoyable for all of your guests.
  • Throughout your events you are responsible for the safety and minimizing harm of your guests,
  • Responsible to leading the remediation process for incidents that took place at your events.

Roles – Someone who has done harm

  • When someone calls you out, your most important role is to listen.
  • Next thank the the person for coming forward and sharing their experience with you, not matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel.
  • Respect how hard it is to raise concerns and share. Be gracious.

Roles – Someone who has been harmed

  • Responsibility is primarily to yourself and your own healing.
  • Not obliged to come forward but greatly appreciated when one can.

Remediation Process

If a host, guardian, or other responsible person receives information (be it from the survivor or another participant) regarding harm at an event, we recommend:

  1. A message to the person who experienced harm asking how they wish to be involved and process the incident
  • Do they wish any action be taken.
  • If yes, do they wish to remain anonymous through the process.
  • We feel that in writing is best so that they have time to think and process, though in person on by other means may be preferable in individual circumstances.
  • In addition to the host, have at least one other person review and be involved in the process internally, ideally someone with sufficient authority and autonomy that missteps or poor language choices can be debated and corrected internally.

 

  1. Send corrective email to the person who did harm requesting a commitment to address.
  • If a meeting or follow-up is warranted by severity or communication challenges, schedule promptly.
  • Incorporate the preferences for privacy and specifics of the one harmed, into the request.
  • Noting that the corrective effort is more effective if it can as specific as is permitted by the one harmed.
  • Request appropriate response, from apology, to avoidance of substances, to improved permission requests.
  1. An update and follow-up to the one harmed in necessary to share the outcome and current status.
  1. Discretely monitor at subsequent events and make note of any potential incidents. The role of the host is to de-escalate and promote individual and community healing, not punishment.

 

Details on Corrective Methods

Overview

When someone has harmed another within a community or specific event, methods for addressing the incident or pattern of behavior are critical to enabling healing, preventing future harm, and providing a safer space.

Poor handling of incidents in which an individual is harmed damage our communities. When someone harmed seeks acknowledgement and remediation but is met with disbelief, minimization, and isolation this impairs their healing process and harms the community through discouraging a sharing of experiences. When hosts and organizers respond to incidents in ways that prevent reform, through denying actions or shaming and ostracizing the individuals, our communities and individuals are harmed.

As such, we are in a conscious, communal, and methodical pursuit of a better way. The Safer Spaces working group considers the Restorative Justice model best practice for remediating consent violations, addressing past harm, and minimizing future damage.

We also believe that everyone makes mistakes and that those of us who have harmed others can learn, change, and grow when they and their community are invested in a restorative outcome. Though the process of restorative justice is hard work, we are firm believers that such a group effort not only helps keep our community healthy and intact, but can also reduce the impact of future consent violations by fostering a culture in which individuals are held accountable and are supported in the making of amends.

Core concepts behind this approach

  • When someone has been harmed, no one else gets to tell they they haven’t been.
  • It is possible to harm someone else unintentionally.
  • Promoting healing for the one harmed is the first priority and they are under no obligation to the community to come forward.
  • The next priority is educating and involving those who have done harm to minimize future failures and incorporate them into the growing and healing process.
  • The third priority is the community as a whole.
  • It is critical to the health of communities that a feedback loop exists for healthy communications relating to correcting behavior.
  • Identify and address minor issues promptly to establish and reinforce a healthy and safe culture within these communities and promote safety.
  • When infractions are small, key steps must still be taken, but the scale of expected response and engagement on all parties is smaller.
  • As the severity of the incident increased, the time and involvement of the hosts and community increase.
  • In this document we will focus on the roles of hosts and organizers as they are most immediately in a position to mediate this process. (Noting that anyone who wishes to organize an event may step forward as an organizer.)

Notes on terms:

We will use “someone who has been harmed” in place of “survivor” and “someone who has done harm” in place of “consent violator” below even though we acknowledge they are imperfect and provocative terms. We ask that you translate these into whatever version of these terms you find pleasing, in order to remain focused on the substance of this document.

Roles

Host or organizer

You have great power within the community simply because you define who gains access to events and can connect and utilize them for social interaction. With the power comes a responsibility far greater than that of participant. Being an organizer or host is a great deal of work, and that work doesn’t end when the party succeeds and is enjoyable for all of your guests. Throughout your events you are responsible for the safety and minimizing harm of your guests,

  • The hosts and safety leads have a responsibility to de-escalate rumors and keep conversations on track and focused on actionable outcomes.
  • Minimize what is shared with third parties.
  • Minimize hearsey, and prioritize communication directly with those involved.
  • Avoid contributing to incidents being treated as rumors.
  • When speaking in public during an incident, recommend limiting specifics and acknowledge that the matter is being handled, and, if true, that both parties are participating in the process.

Notes on terms:

We will use the terms “hosts” and “organizers” for those who facilitate gatherings of sexual or social spaces among members of these communities. They are who this document is primarily directed at, as they are most immediately in a position to mediate this process, noting though that anyone who organizes, or wishes to organize, an event may step forward as an organizer. (The scale or fame of the event is not relevant.)

Someone who has done harm

If you are approached with word that you have done someone harm, your ideal reaction is to thank that person for bringing this information to you and trusting you with it. They have pushed through their feelings of discomfort, fear, and shame, and by coming to you directly they have shown that they believe you will listen, learn, grow, and make amends. They have demonstrated trust enough in you to share their pain with you.

One of the most important critical of your role, as someone who has been approached, is to be gracious and listen. All of us who aspire to be upstanding and ethical member of this community have a responsibility to let those who come forward find their words.

If you suspect, hear, or fear that you have caused harm to another:

  • Recognize but push through your own feelings of discomfort and shame, and understand that working through a mistake and toward resolution is far more important than avoiding embarrassment.
  • Gently reach out to the person you may have harmed (While being prepared for the possibility that they may not wish to interact with you.)
  • Be open and willing to listen, learn, grow, and make amends in order to do better in the future

When someone calls you out, your most important role is to listen. Next thank the the person for coming forward and sharing their experience with you, not matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel.

  • Say thank you, whatever your feelings, to encourage people to come to you. Respect how hard it is to raise concerns and share.
  • Be gracious.

Someone who has been harmed

Your responsibility is primarily to yourself and your own healing. You are not obliged to sacrifice yourself for the community and your choices should guide the restorative process.

Normalizing Corrections

We believe that by calling out and making corrections earlier, and on more minor matters, the community can both normalize the act of noticing issues, practice calling them out, and practice hearing them constructively. Additionally, it is much less strain and suffering for all involved to review and discuss matters of small harm than it is of larger harm, and by repeatedly applying this processes even for smaller matters that might seem unimportant in isolation, we can begin to normalize the acts of calling out bad behavior and of graciously accepting critique.

  • The majority of those who harm others begin with small infractions.
  • Enforcing the rules and customs of a given gathering or event by addressing small infractions promptly is critical.
  • Addressing small issues early and clearly sets and maintains clear standards.
  • Additionally, and critically, it is much easier for all involved to engage with and address small infractions than larger ones.
  • Properly and consistently handling small infractions provide opportunities for event organizers to practice an effective approach.

Additionally, those who prove themselves repeatedly unable to take critique on small matters ought to be treated cautiously when they considered for more involved and intimate events.

If someone who has done harm refuses to participate: Involvement in any community requires participation and support of the ethics and customs of the community. If individuals who have done harm refuse to participate in the process, then they cannot participate in the community.

Remediation Process

Because each consent violation and the individuals involved are different and unique, we’ll offer a general outline of recommended steps, including variables based on timing and individuals’ willingness to participate. We have also provided several examples of remediation, though we stress that the wishes of those harmed, and desired outcome, should be respected and at the fore.

Someone is being actively harmed at the moment

If a host, guardian, or other responsible person is notified of or witnesses a consent violation (e.g. at an event, during play), refer to processes described in the documents relating to Safety during an Event Party, involving Dungeon Monitors or Guardians.

It is quite challenging to interrupt and active interaction or ongoing scene but it is important for safety that hosts and those who oversee safety at events be supported in interrupting and checking in with participants who raise concerns.

Addressing an Incident that has already happened

If a host, guardian, or other responsible person receives information (be it from the survivor or another participant) regarding harm at an event, we recommend:

  • A message to the person who experienced harm asking how they wish to be involved and process the incident (in writing is best so that they have time to think and process)
  • Have at least two people review internally
  • Send corrective email to person who harmed
  • Review response with second pair of eyes
  • Request commitment to address at risk of exclusion from future events.
  • Discretely monitor at subsequent events and make note of any potential incidents.

Key points in the contact to those who were harmed:

  • Ask questions/collect information (see: tips/resources)
  • Do they wish any action be taken?
  • If yes, do they wish to remain anonymous through the process?

Specifically, hold conversations with the one harmed first (by correspondence, phone, email, etc as appropriate for the circumstances). In that conversation

  • Ensure agreement that consent was violated and how
  • Review specifics of the incident in sufficient detail to understand.
  • Discuss desired outcomes that would help heal.
  • Explore and agree to a timeline
  • Discuss what degree of anonymity is needed in terms of specifics of the incident (noting that details of that may unambiguously identify both parties to each other), the identify of the one harmed, and others potentially involved.
  • A discussion of what information should be shared publicly and by who is helpful, when possible. It may be damaging at this stage to even discuss this aspect.

Discuss internally, with at least two people involved:

  • How to approach one who did harm
  • Refine language and ensure privacy is being addressed.

Engage with the one who did harm second:

  • Ensure understanding that consent was violated and how
  • Propose desired outcomes and ensure in agreement how to proceed.
  • Based on these conversations, evaluate holding a meeting with both parties
  • If this is deemed appropriate and both parties are willing to engage in the process, facilitate establishing a safe space to hold a discussion that is centered in the healing of the one harmed.
  • Discuss desired outcomes and a timeline

Template for an Initial Letter to Person who expressed concerns

Dear XXX,

In a review of XXX evening, XXX shared with me that another individual at the event acted inappropriately and directed unwelcome physical attention towards you.

In order to to correct inappropriate behavior promptly, and ensure all our current and future guests feel safe in our spaces, we have a series of questions that we would appreciate you reviewing below.

Please answer in as great, or minimal, detail as you feel comfortable.

 

  • Do you require anything to be physically ok?
  • Do you require anything to be emotionally ok?
  • Can you describe the person who acted inappropriately, especially a name, if you know it, or whatever distinguishing characteristics you can recall.
  • Can you describe the transgression?
  • We would like your permission to address this issue with the person who acted inappropriately. If you would prefer not to be mentioned, or your identify to be hidden, please do let us know.
  • Is there anything else you would like to share that we have not asked?

Either or both of us are available to you if you would like to talk in more detail.

Thank you for speaking up. We very much appreciate any additional effort you may go through on our behalf.

XXX

 

Template for contacting one who did harm, short version

Dear XXX,

It was a pleasure to have your company at such a lovely evening this past XXX.

There is a small matter, though, I wished to raise while that evening is still fresh in our minds. In our review of the evening XXX mentioned a few moments in which you touched XXX or another guest without expressly ensuring agreement — one interaction in particular while XXX. Please do note that while XXX is not upset, I do feel it is prudent to take this moment to remind you to expressly discuss and ensure agreement before touching another guest.

If you have any questions, please do let me know.

We all look forward to having you with us again next time.

XXX

Template for contacting one who did harm, short version

Dear XXX

It was a pleasure to see you the weekend before last. Unfortunately I must ask you to take a moment to look back and revisit a number of interactions you had on XXX at the XXXX.

XXX individuals have shared with us that you XXX without asking and clearly receiving their permission. They described incidents in which you did not respect clear verbal requests and continued to interact physically with them in ways they had made clear were not welcome. A XXX member raised concerns about another interaction in which you did not request or get enthusiastic permission prior to touching another guest.

I do appreciate that these events may be some of your first interactions with these types of environments and so I must review a number of requirements.

We require all guests to demonstrate good manners, and that includes:

– Asking for permission before touching another. (This includes even non-sexual contact.)

– Awaiting clear permission before engaging in contact or escalating to more sexual contact.

– Checking in during play and intimate interactions and stopping immediately and without protest when asked.

– Graciously and happily respecting whenever another declines your advances or wishes to stop.

We all must keep in mind that wonderful enthusiasm and passion can simply become ugly aggression if it is unwanted — and good manners do not allow us to make assumptions about what others find exciting.

Knowing that you take the comfort of others, and this topic, quite seriously, is rather important to me.

We believe that by making you aware of your lapse of judgment we can provide you with an opportunity to take responsibility for your behavior and ensure you are able to make corrections.  In an effort to follow through with corrections like these in a consistent way with all members, I ask that you write a brief note letting us know that you have received this within the next 48 hours and that you intend graciously to take the correction.

Do note that those who have spoken up do not wish to be contacted about what they shared and we will need to ask for you to respect that should you encounter them again.

If you would like to learn more about how to negotiate in these types of settings I would be happy to chat, or point you in the direction of others well versed in such things.

Sincerely,

XXX

Examples of Remediation for those who have done harm

At an absolutely minimum, someone called out for poor behavior is expected to demonstrate a graceful and polite acknowledgement that they have heard the concerns expressed and will take them to heart. Additionally:

  • A contrite apology that illustrates knowledge or understanding of the damage or violation done. Providing examples of how to they can prevent future incidents, through practice more effective consent communication going forward.
  • In some cases, a written apology to those affected, a group of attendees, and/or a larger community may be expected.
  • Modifications to type of play to address issues.
  • Modifications to type of event attended

 

For an agreed upon period of time, the harmer and one harmed may be expected to coordinate, perhaps with the involvement of a host, their arriving and departing of  events parties so not to be in the same space at the same time.

In cases of multiple/repeated consent violations and rejection to participate in restorative justice, event organizers and individuals within the community must consider collectively agreeing to disallow such individual from attending events, and discussing how to communicate these concerns.

Follow-up actions

  • Once a plan has been discussed and agreed upon, the community as represented by a host or safety leads must check in periodically.
  • Actionable milestones and specific tasks are helpful to gauge success or unambiguously identify failure,
  • Continuing the education of and remediation working with the one who harmed may be needed.
  • With permission of the one harmed, a discussion of what kinds of follow-up and check-ins are help and appropriate. (Individual needs have a large effect on what’s appropriate; for some, repeated check ins may be triggering and unpleasant; for others, being .)
  • Providing information to other hosts or community organizers on events, process, and outcome may be needed.

Additional Resources and Notes

Supporting a Survivor

Anti-Prison Brochure

http://restorativejustice.org/

Let’s Talk Feminist Communication for Radicalizing Sex, Consent & Interpersonal Dynamics

Why We Need Restorative Justice as an Option for Dealing with Abuse

Why Our Punitive Justice System Doesn’t Work–And 3 Alternatives to Prison

How to Help a Friend Who Has Been Sexually Assaulted

I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault