Now we had Lisa Slater, Kyle Mallinson (Lisa's Husband) Chris Gilpin, Erich Haygun (my Wife) and I on board, we had to work out the logistics of the Slam Family meeting we were trying to hold.
The first natural thing for us to consider was safety. Mine and everyone else's. This meant we were going to have to keep our plan secret from the Perpetrator and the community at large.
I found white lies to people when they asked "what was up" with me or what was "the "safe Space" agenda item at the next meeting all about" really hard to be evasive about. I'm not much of a keep it all in type and lying to my friends was shitty, although vital.
We started to look for a facilitator who had experience in the subject matter of violence against women, but who also knew our community, but was still impartial. This seemed like an insane request and we couldn't come up with anyone who ticked all those boxes. We also knew that the wrong facilitator for the meeting could potentially make for many problems.
Serendipity showed up looking just like Tara Hardy, who was in town a few days after this discussion. My partner was great friends with her and she was already in the know as to what we were planning. Being a successful, female, queer poet in our community who everyone respected we were so stoked she was on our side when it came to the plan. The Lisa Slater, Lisa Baird, Tara Hardy and I all had breakfast the morning after her feature at VanSlam to discuss the plan. Tara graciously accepted our request for her facilitate the meeting and we were well on our way to an all star team.
Erich and I documented all our steps so far and our plan going forward, documentation is always comforting to me. Perhaps the school system got to me, perhaps I value neatness more than the mess of action or perhaps I documented this so other people can learn from my mistakes. Which ever it is, I've been documenting.
Here it is:
I. Incident/ Incidences
A. Stories from 2 other women in the community targeted by Offender
Principal woman is made aware of multiple incidences involving the same Offender and this prompts all that is to follow.
B. Continued pattern of bullying behavior by Offender.
It is common knowledge in the community that this man is a bully, using verbal and physical intimidation and minimizing other people's concerns. He has been officially warned by the Rules Committee and a temporary ban was instituted from performing at the Poetry Slam in response to his verbally abusive behaviour. He is also commonly referred to as delusional in his internal dialogue, believing himself to be self sacrificing, and using emotional manipulation to further these goals
C. Statement from principal woman
Read my statement in full.
II. Disclosure of Incident (S.E.E.K.)
Upon being triggered by hearing of other people's similar experiences of sexual assault involving Offender in our community, Survivor's Partner was told of the personal experience of assault.
B. Seeking support from small peer group (4 people)
Survivor and Partner tell four trusted members of the local community of the incidents and two members of the international poetry community are consulted.
C. Provide education on Sexual Assault/ Victim Blaming for Peer Group
Survivor has begun a series of workshops at Local Rape Crisis centre, and Peer group have shared helpful information/resources between each other to support each other through being triggered and feeling vulnerable.
D. Decide on a plan for confronting situation
Survivor felt strongly that it should be addressed at a Slam Family meeting so the community could collaborate on and present an accountability plan, and so that the community could be made aware of the Offender. Peer group agreed that this was a positive form of action and expressed concerns about Survivor's and Offender's safety.
III. Filling Police Report
Survivor does not want to file a police report
IV. Establish a Safety Plan
A. Prepare Survivor's support network for potential psychological/ physical attacks from Offender or deniers within community.
Small team of friends have offered safe spaces to stay, regular check ins by phone, email and in person. This stage involves a lot of crying and anger. FACT.
B. Obtain materials/ resources to help community deal with reactions to disclosure.
See Fact Sheet
C. Identify Offender's support network and come up with a plan to make them aware of the situation at an appropriate time.
Contact has been made with a close family friend who will speak with offender's mother once situation is announced. Members of the community who are close to the victim have been identified as possible support to the Offender once the situation disclosed. It has been noted that it is very important that the Offender does not find out the plan before the incidents are disclosed publicly. Timing is very important both for the outcome and everyone's safety.
V. Discuss Course of Action
A. Select an impartial, skilled mediator, potentially from outside the community and preferably with background in SA/ anti-violence/ intervention.
Tara Hardy agreed to be facilitator.
B. If Survivor has requests for an accountability plan they should be the foundation of whatever plan is finally created.
See Accountability plan below.
I. Meeting: After the statement is read, ask if this is something the community is willing to address. Offer attendees the opportunity to leave if the proceedings will be triggering.
A. Survivor must have as much control over every logistical aspect of meeting (setting, time, attendees, etc.) as possible.
Survivor plans meeting for a Friday night when she has no work the next day, it is held at her home, which is known widely to the community as the place touring poets stay. The Survivor feels most comfortable here. It is acknowledged that bringing the Offender and possible allies of the Offender into Survivor's home is a safety risk, but also acknowledged the Survivor’s address is very common knowledge locally. It is also discussed that then all the other attendees who are supporters will also know where the Survivor lives and this will increase safety and possibly help create a safe space for people to come and discuss the issues. The Survivor hopes the latter will occur.
B. Create a list of emails/ phone numbers for attendees in order to follow up and ensure well-being immediately following the meeting. Distribute responsibility for support across the peer group.
Not done yet
C. Select an impartial, skilled facilitator for meeting.
Not done yet
D. Disseminate materials/ resources for attendees of the meeting who might be triggered/want to educate themselves.
See Fact Sheet
II. Create Community Safety Agreement
A. Community lists expectations for healthy conduct and unacceptable behaviors.
B. This list is then integrated into official community policies.
II. Request Action from Community in creating an Accountability plan:
A. Survivor must approve any recommended actions/ policies put forth by community.
1. Mandatory leave of absence from all VPH events, pending completion of community's requirements:
a) Completion of approved behavioural therapy course/s.
b) Cessation of bullying behaviours including but not exclusive to:
Harassment, demeaning, denouncing, gossiping, spreading rumors, isolating or discrediting persons. Questioning the legitimacy of concerns to detract from the need to be accountable. Questioning the legitimacy of the accountability process to detract from the need to be accountable. Accusing others of abuse in order to call attention away from own accountability. Denying, minimizing, victim blaming, and lying about doing any of these things when called on it.
c) Demonstrate a clear understanding and acknowledgement of the incidents reported.
d) No contacting anyone in our community regarding this process and those involved unless approved by the Accountability committee.
I. Safety Plan
A. Survivor works with roommates/ co-workers/ classmates to prepare for potential backlash/ victim-blaming.
Survivor explains situation to work collegues and roommates, advising that if the Offender or his allies come to the house/workplace that they immediately ask them to leave, and call the police.
B. Have information for anger-management/ rehabiliation workshops for Offender.
Reach out to Offender's support group to minimize destructive/ self-destructive behavior.
Not done yet
C. Instigate on-going education in the community. (workshops, pamphlets, policies, etc.)
Not done yet
II. Greater Community Responsibility
A. Report back to international community with what happened, what worked, what did not work.
This is the blog you are reading (you doughnut!)
B. Offer feedback as to which materials/ resources were helpful or not helpful.
Not done yet
Read The Plan- Part 3 Self Care