Survivor Experiences with Accountability and Alternative Justice
"Abuse." "Consent violations." "Accountability." "Transformative justice." As communities grapple with how to address interpersonal harm, phrases like these are everywhere. But within polyamorous, kinky and sex-positive circles, where many people tend to lack deep roots in the traditions and communities these ideas came out of, processes are often led by well-intentioned people without the needed experience or training, which can lead to even more harm to both survivors and perpetrators. It is especially rare to hear of a process where a survivor ultimately felt heard or experienced healing, but all to common to hear of processes where survivors experienced more harm—often from the people who were supposed to be helping them. Why is this? What is going wrong? What lessons can we learn from it? What capacity building needs to happen in our communities to change this pattern? People who have participated as a survivor in an alternative justice process, or who have attempted to have a community address a consent violation or other harm, are invited to this forum to share our experiences—what went well and what went not so well, what we wish had been different, what would have helped us more, how we were affected, and how we imagine our communities doing better. This is not a training in alternative justice processes, but is an opportunity for people who are involved in them (or want to be) to listen to those who have been most affected by them, and for us all to learn from each other's lived experiences.
Eve Rickert is the co-author of the book More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory and the co-founder of Thorntree Press. She has recently been part of a high-profile #metoo case involving a prominent community member that sought to use a transformative justice framework, and she is currently enrolled in a certificate program in restorative justice.