Volunteer community safety team

redpepper

New member
HI there... it's been so long that I've written here. I can't believe I remembered my password.

So the community members where I live may benefit from having some support when there are issues with it's members. It's come up over the years that when someone does something unsavoury and the people involved attempt to address it, that the one accused is pushed out of the community or the people involved don't feel supported and listened to.

There is a group of us that are attempting to start a group that confidentially agrees to do its best to address situations and circumstances. It's not meant to police or out anyone but will be a sounding board for complaints. In extreme cases it may be necessary to publicly share stories and names. We are looking into the legalities of that.

I'm looking for people in other communities who may be attempting something similar and have some ideas/thoughts/tried and true facts/beliefs and opions.

I'll leave it there for now as there may be questions.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Hi redpepper, glad you're still with us.

Just double-checking, it sounds like you are speaking of a local poly organization, rather than of this forum. Cause sometimes I think this forum could use a safety team, but obviously things IRL can get worse than they can online. I'm thinking the most common job your safety team will do is conflict resolution. You may be called upon to mediate disputes. Do you intend to shoulder such a job, or do you mostly want to limit it to lending a listening ear (to someone who was hurt)? Just curious.

It sounds like a very worthy endeavor, in any case.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 

redpepper

New member
Thanks Galagirl. I'll check out your link.

Hi kdt26417, we have a mutual friend on social media. Did you know that? :) Nice to chat with you here for a change.

We don't intend to be mediators as that is a job for professionals and we are volunteer amateurs. It's not a paid position that we have qualifications for. We would be really limited as to what we could actually do to help really. Some conflict resolution in terms of making people aware that their actions are hurtful and sending links and info on why. We would communicate between people who want to resolve an issue and encourage a change of perspective and point out facts... it's super limited. Mostly we'd listen and at least be a safe haven of compassion and support in terms of being a place to talk.
 

Evie

Well-known member
Hey redpepper, good to see you again.
That sounds like you're being proactive about something that is clearly an issue (and a major one on other social media I use). I'd be interested to hear how it goes.
 

vinsanity0

Active member
I was in a Seattle community and that was a disaster. Too many people in the community, mostly young people, felt that the accuser should always be right. It might work better with an older crowd, or at least people around the same age.
 

redpepper

New member
I was in a Seattle community and that was a disaster. Too many people in the community, mostly young people, felt that the accuser should always be right. It might work better with an older crowd, or at least people around the same age.

This.

We want to get away from anyone believing that anyone is right and anyone is wrong. We are focusing on process and meeting people where they are at.

I think I need to clarify for a sec...

This is a lay out of the possible process

1. Something happens and someone has feelings and experience's that lead them to believe they have been wronged.

2. They write to us via email/fb messenger or the like because we have publicly announced as a team who the "point people" are for accessing what we can offer.

3. The point person listens to the story after reminding the person that anything the person says that indicates a criminal intent or is what we believe to be beyond our scope will be something that we encourage to take to the police or other authorities and professionals.

4. The complaint person will be given relavant links to articles etc. that pertain to their issue and a conversation will continue until they are satisfied and have done what ever they need to do on their own. This could mean that part of their process will be to ask us to approach people involved that they are complaining about.

5. If we are asked to approach the person(s) complained about we will discuss with the complainer what they would like said and what can be divulged about their experiences. We will keep in mind that no one will be at fault or proven guilty. We are to keep a nonjudgmental stance and simply pass on facts and arguments without taking a side.

6. The person who is complained about will then be approached by the point person. We will have links to give them also but will allow them a chance to speak and tell their story first. They will be reminded that the conversation is confidential and that we are a vehicle for their words, not taking a side. We will suggest possible courses of action if necessary and keep in check that we are not there to mediate beyond that. Everything we say back and forth to the complainer and the person complained about will be because they allowed us to say it.

And so it may go, back and forth until hopefully some resolution occurs or at the very least both parties become aware of the others reality and how they have effected one another.

It's obvious to me that this will be a very difficult task to undergo. There are so many possibilities of it going wrong. We are looking into the legalities of this approach and welcome any feedback in terms of that... mostly I'm wondering if anyone had tried this approach or any other to addressing community issues.

My fear is that I or another point person will be unable to back away before becoming too involved and being dragged into something that is harmful to us and our lives. We've already agreed that if the pepole involved are close to us then we will pass the process on to another point person but we will all be involved. There is a team of us for support and to do the work of finding relevant links to articles etc. The team will be behind the point people so we'll all be accountable for what we say and do and how each situation is handled. That team will also be made public.

I'd be interested to know what happened in Seattle... I know many people there and have an idea of some disturbance because of that but would love to know how it was handled. In my city we have had people accuse other's of unconsentual touching and sexual assault. There had been accusations of harassment and stalking too. Historically there's been attempts to 'out' those accused before the person knew they were the focus of a misconduct complaint. When someone is accused it can mean their reputation and possible ousting from the community before anyone has a chance to investigate and attempt to help the accused and accuser make amends.

Mostly the confusion, fear, feeling silenced or that things have become silenced and feeling of wanting to separate from having anything to do with any community activities and a it's members is what becomes the issue for the community at large. We are hoping to be a container for some of what goes on so that all of the above yucky stuff isn't as prevalent or better yet, isn't there.
 

Emm

Stealth Mod
As an ancilliary role, I used to be an Equity Advisor (EA) in the Australian military. Our role wasn't to mediate or investigate; it was to provide advice to either the Complainant, the Respondent, or Command on resolution options for (non-criminal) harassment/discrimination/bullying, etc.

What would generally happen was that a complaint would be made and—if it hadn't been made directly to an EA who was able to take it on—an EA would be assigned to work with the Complainant. They would go over the resolution options available to the Complainant (ranging from "do nothing" all the way up to up to formally complaining to the Human Rights Commission). Another EA would be assigned to the Respondent, to provide basically the same advice but from the other perspective. Command would be informed so that they could take any steps needed to keep the unit running smoothly while resolution was sought, ensure that all the correct reporting was carried out, and to offer access to medical or psychological resources to anyone in need of them.

The EA provided support and advice to whichever party they were working with, no more. If the Complainant chose to try supported self-resolution (talk it out with someone else present) the EA could sit in on a meeting between the Complainant and Respondent to offer moral support, but was not to get involved in the conversation. If the involved parties agreed to mediation, then they would go to a trained mediator; not to their EAs.

The main things I think might be useful to you are:
  • Maintain confidentiality. Nobody needs to know a complaint has been made unless they have made it, are the one it's been made against, or are directly involved in resolving it.
  • Separate advisors for everyone who needs one - the same person can't advise both the Complainant and Respondent.
  • Ask the Complainant what they want from the process. They are the one who needs to feel that their complaint has been resolved. If their complaint is frivolous then they are the ones who need to be convinced of that.
  • Make sure the Respondent is aware that a complaint has been made, and provide them with advice about what to expect from the process.
  • Let the Complainant and Respondent each choose the person they want to advise them, preferably from a list of people familiar with the process, and definitely not the same person for both.
  • Avoid any appearance of conflict of interest - Advisors shouldn't advise anyone they have a personal relationship with.
  • Clear policy on resolution options - Have a clearly set out and well researched list of options which advisors can talk through with whoever they're advising. Don't scattergun links at people and expect them to pick out what's best for them with no background in conflict resolution.
  • Don't get personally involved in the process (eg as a mediator) unless you have the training to do it properly. If you do have the training, either avoid providing advice to either side so that you aren't seen to be playing favourites or stay out of the mediator role and let someone else do that part.
  • Know what external resources (counsellors, mediators, etc) are available, how to access them, and how much they're likely to cost.
  • Start at the lowest level where possible; for example don't jump straight to mediation if an apology is all that's needed. Alternately, don't insist on a private conversation if one or more of the people involved feels unsafe about the idea and wants to take it higher.
 
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redpepper

New member
Emm that's super amazing stuff. Very helpful. Some of what we do you have on your list but some we hadn't thought of and can use! Thank you so much for taking the time to write.
 

Emm

Stealth Mod
If you feel like wading through Defence policy looking for bits to borrow, you can find it here. Most of it is ADF-specific, but you may find sections in Part 2 (page 6-7), the second half of Annex D (page 32), and most of Annex E (page 35-36) that could be wrangled to apply elsewhere.
 

Vicki82

Member
I don't know... to me this really doesn't sound like a necessary thing, so maybe I am misunderstanding the purpose.

What could be going on, that isn't a criminal/legal issue, that requires people not involved in a relationship to suddenly feel the need to be involved?

I don't see why people's relationships need to be policed in any way whatsoever (or complained about in any kind of formal fashion, whatever you want to call it), and even the potential idea of outing someone makes me cringe.

Also FYI, in the BDSM community someone named a person as a consent violator, and he sued her because he lost income as a presenter, as a result of her allegations. Naming someone in conjunction with this sort of thing is not only squicky, but definitely not a great choice legally.

But I generally just don't understand why people would want to get involved with other people's relationships.
 
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redpepper

New member
I don't know... to me this really doesn't sound like a necessary thing, so maybe I am misunderstanding the purpose.

What could be going on, that isn't a criminal/legal issue, that requires people not involved in a relationship to suddenly feel the need to be involved?

I don't see why people's relationships need to be policed in any way whatsoever (or complained about in any kind of formal fashion, whatever you want to call it), and even the potential idea of outing someone makes me cringe.

Also FYI, in the BDSM community someone named a person as a consent violator, and he sued her because he lost income as a presenter, as a result of her allegations. Naming someone in conjunction with this sort of thing is not only squicky, but definitely not a great choice legally.

But I generally just don't understand why people would want to get involved with other people's relationships.

I can see how some people would avoid being involved. Thing is when someone is hurt for whatever reason they can and do pull in the community to complain about that person. It can put fear into people's beliefs about others or events that something is going to happen or has happened and that gossip will be rampent and public. Also, sometimes people need to know where to go if they are being abused and need support. We would offer that support in any way needed, if we can and don't find ourselves overly involved. It would be great to think that everyone is having a fantastic time in everything they do in the community but that just isn't true for everyone.

We had a similar issue where someone touched someone else without consent and it cost someone their living. The "leaders" got together and discussed what to do about it. There were emails back and forth and responses were made public. The person who complained was eventually seen as being somewhat of an alarmist. There were other less formal complaints about the person that lead to them also feeling as if their concern's were made light of. Sometimes the loudest person gets to be right... and that isn't right. In this case the accused was well liked and very confident. I have no idea what was learned or all the details but I do know there are still some icky vibes going around and it was made far too public for just about everyone's comfort level.

We intend to lesson the publicity and increase the learning curve by standing by people who have an accusation or are being accused. Not in judgement or (as I mentioned before) to polive their activity but to be a shoulder and show that people aren't just going to be bailed on because they have stuff going on for them. Does that make more sense?
 

Vicki82

Member
I can see how some people would avoid being involved. Thing is when someone is hurt for whatever reason they can and do pull in the community to complain about that person. It can put fear into people's beliefs about others or events that something is going to happen or has happened and that gossip will be rampent and public. Also, sometimes people need to know where to go if they are being abused and need support. We would offer that support in any way needed, if we can and don't find ourselves overly involved. It would be great to think that everyone is having a fantastic time in everything they do in the community but that just isn't true for everyone.

We had a similar issue where someone touched someone else without consent and it cost someone their living. The "leaders" got together and discussed what to do about it. There were emails back and forth and responses were made public. The person who complained was eventually seen as being somewhat of an alarmist. There were other less formal complaints about the person that lead to them also feeling as if their concern's were made light of. Sometimes the loudest person gets to be right... and that isn't right. In this case the accused was well liked and very confident. I have no idea what was learned or all the details but I do know there are still some icky vibes going around and it was made far too public for just about everyone's comfort level.

We intend to lesson the publicity and increase the learning curve by standing by people who have an accusation or are being accused. Not in judgement or (as I mentioned before) to polive their activity but to be a shoulder and show that people aren't just going to be bailed on because they have stuff going on for them. Does that make more sense?

Actually, it sounds even scarier to me.

So someone gets hurt, which often happens in relationships- now they're going to pull in the community to shame/ostracize their partner? Realistically, everyone has a story to tell. I suspect it's very, very rare where one partner is entirely at fault. I believe it's generally true that we are all the demon in someone else's story at some point.

Breakups can be messy; that's life. I've heard someone in the BDSM community actually have the audacity to claim that someone ending a relationship was a consent violation because they didn't consent to ending it. Do you honestly, truly believe that it's helpful to get people to air their dirty laundry? Because that sounds like something far more divisive than helpful in any way, to me. Many relationships are toxic by the end and I suspect that more often than not- both partners are at fault. Creating a culture where one person can "air their grievances" seems like a great way to throw all the blame on one person and not take any personal responsibility.

I don't think the community should be involved in relationships. I would not want to be part of a community that wanted something like this, honestly. It seems far too entwined. People's personal business should be their personal business.

So I repeat, how do you think this would actually be helpful versus destructive? There are loads of resources out there for people who are actually being abused, and I suspect that the number of people in situations that extreme are very small comparatively to the number of drama queens/kings who just want to vindictively destroy the reputations of their ex partners.

I suspect very few people end relationships where there is no pain. If someone is being physically abused, there's always law enforcement if the victim wishes to pursue that option. In the case of emotional pain- I think that's part and parcel of being in a relationship and would shelve that under Drama with a capital D.

Sorry, but I cannot see spreading gossip as anything but destructive to community coherence.
 

Emm

Stealth Mod
As I understand it, the idea is to prevent the spread of gossip, not to encourage it. Where are you getting the opposite idea from, Vicki82?
 

Vicki82

Member
Right from Redpepper’s own post, the one between mine. That gossip would be rampant and public as a deterrent for hurting people.
 

Emm

Stealth Mod
The gossip described is the current state of things, not what the safety team is trying to produce.
 

FallenAngelina

Active member
I don't think the community should be involved in relationships. I would not want to be part of a community that wanted something like this, honestly. It seems far too entwined. People's personal business should be their personal business.

I imagine such a group as RedPepper proposes would serve a similar function as LGBTQ centers and orgs: the usual channels of support are not (or have not been) open to people who are not hetero-gender norm. Most crisis hotlines are manned by volunteers that likely have no idea how to respond to a poly situation. Forget crises, even appropriate therapy is difficult to find for some people in poly relationships. Seems like Red Pepper's intention is to create a poly community response of relationship support that would actually be familiar with and supportive of poly relationships.
 
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