Building a Community of the Future

20120729-122558.jpgPlease read the linked post is from Opinions @ The author brings up some great questions regarding building a community that addresses abuse and assault within its ranks.

Building a Community of the Future.



I’m a member of a polyamorous community in Victoria (Australia).  There has been a lot of discussion recently about how to ensure that the community remains safe and what (if any) role the committee of the incorporated organisation play in that.  There is clearly a desire for clarity around the committee’s role and what the community can expect – but this isn’t the discussion I want here, this discussion is for my idea of creating a safer community.

If the leaders of a community (whether elected official leaders or other identified leaders) expressed clear opposition to unsafe behaviours and encouraged the community to openly and safely discuss how those unsafe behaviours have affected them personally (with no mention of perpetrators) in their lives, would that create a community were those who engaged in those behaviours would not feel welcome?

Read the rest of the article on the author’s blog.

~ by omgrey on July 27, 2012.

20 Responses to “Building a Community of the Future”

  1. i personally think it could work better than you have imagined. the hard part is breaking through that barrier of silence that so many victims have. it may be even harder if that community has generation gaps in it. you would have to have victims who want to share the things that happened to them on board first. you also would want those in the community who are ashamed or just too scared to discuss it feel like the community is trustworthy and be assured of a “gossip” free enviroment. if you can do that i think you’d be surprised how many would embrace your idea. not to mention bringing the community even closer together and raising awareness to those who may have overlooked it in the past or thought it wasn’t their place to say anything. i say go for it.

    • I’ve seen the opposite, actually. The reason so many victims stay silent is because of the community reaction and tendency to blame the victim, protect the abuser. Or, just ignore it all. After all, it’s far too much drama to deal with!

      See the comments below my Poly vs. Amory site for examples of what people have experienced in my own community. I’ve read countless throughout the US in poly & BDSM communities speaking about the same thing. Same reactions.

      We live in a rape culture. Sex positive communities can help change that if they gave voice to the voiceless and, instead of just trumpeting how it’s all about boundaries and consent, started teaching what that means and how that looks to both men and women.

      One thing I’ve been utterly astounded by…since I’ve went public with my survivor status, the number of people I already know that have told me their survivor story, too.

      It’s staggering the amount of people that have been victims of sexual assault. Utterly staggering.

      • very staggering plus just think how many that don’t realize or see it as sexual assult because they think it’s their duty or obligation in the relationship to please their partner when or how they are told to. i loved your post on rape the other day. very powerful.

      • Thank you, Jason, for saying so. When everyone is silent, I’m not sure how it’s taken.

        And, you’re right. I didn’t consider mine “rape” until a sexual assault recovery therapist told me it was rape. Although I felt violated after each of the two instances, especially the first one because of its aggression and anger, but I just referred to it as borderline sexual assault.

        Several sexual assault professionals have confirmed that there was nothing borderline about it.

        The amount of women and men supporting women who have come out to share their experiences and support me since I’ve become public about my assault is truly staggering. And their stories include how the community shunned them. How the community turned their backs on them, because they just didn’t want to believe it.

  2. This is very often a topic of discussion & awkwardness in the BDSM community, particularly for newcomers. In most BDSM communities who encourage openness as is considering, a well-organized community/dungeon has clear guidelines of behavior, much like a vanilla-community has laws, by-laws, & consequences for its citizens. Really, in the case of ANY non-consentual behavior anywhere in the U.S. (and I’d imagine in Australia too), it is simply illegal to force someone against their will — consequences to the perpetrator must follow for a community to survive. There’s very few differences in the management of a healthy BDSM or polyamorous community & illegal behavior, than with normal vanilla society’s interpretation of illegal behavior. The MAJOR difference between vanilla & poly or BDSM groups is (or should be) the raw openness, proactive communication, acceptance, and support the community gives freely. This environment of safe comfort is what sometimes lacks in “less healthy” or “less established” poly or BDSM communities, but that doesn’t mean they are not progressing in that direction! For all ‘infant/adolescent’ groups engaging in neo-societal behaviors, there must be allowances given to “growing pains”.

    But let me reiterate: Non-consentual behaviors, particularly those that are violent or borderline violent & cause harm to the individual(s) and ultimately the group, MUST have clear laws & consequences established & understood by all members. And before newcomers join, THEY too must agree to & honor appropriate group-accepted behaviors before they are allowed to join. Therefore, when illegal non-consentual behavior occurs, it must be thriftly dealt with by the leaders/committee & in due-process. The otherside of that action/consequence must be the care, support, & healing of the victim too…turning a negative (in due time) into a positive for the individual and group.

    • I think it happens far more often than you realize, Professor. I will have a post on this in the coming weeks as I do more research, but the bulk of the accounts I’ve read are subs keeping quiet for years about men not respecting safe words, about sadistic actions, and about flat out, no-question sexual assault, because they thought it was just part of the BDSM territory.

      I even read one account in the BDSM community where they had I known, resident rapist, and although they thought they warned all newcomers, a few “fell through the cracks.”

      Do you think those victims would consider that acceptable “growing pains?”

      Sexual assault and rape goes further than just forced and violent action. These so-called “gray areas” need to be taught to both men and women that those too are sexual assault.

      See my post on “A Fate Worse Than Death” for some examples.

      • Grey, I am pleased that you have brought up this topic; this type of forum encourages the anti-silence that you are pin-pointing. The wonderful aspects, as well as the unattractive or even deplorable aspects, need to be transparent in both communities, even more so in the polyamorous & BDSM communities. Both sides of the discussions have their value.

        During my 23-years in the BDSM lifestyle & the particular communities I’ve had the fortune of being actively involved, there were ample meetings & education from those with much more experience than I from male, female, Dom, Top, Switch, Bottom, and submissive roles/personalities. The support, behavior guidelines, consequences of unacceptable behaviors, AND certainly illegal behaviors according to local, municipal, and county laws, were sufficiently documented, understood, and accepted in signature. With regard to this post, I simply want to convey that like in well-organized poly communities, there are indeed well-organized healthy BDSM communities. Is there a fool-proof system or community…in any groups or vanilla-traditional societies? No, there will always be those evil deviants inside any group. However, illegal evilness can indeed be minimized, even eliminated at times, and IS minimized within those “transparent” healthy groups. In many BDSM communities, any group or individual that does not abide by its laws & guidelines do indeed have their consequences based on the “illegal action”. It is those groups that are NOT well-organized & not transparent that are clearly huge red-flags. And as I’ve explained to you personally, those Doms, Tops, or Switches that DO NOT play/participate publically/transparently are BIG red-flags; at the very least huge yellow-flags! I cannot emphasize that ever enough to newbies or novices to BDSM. There are some emotional crossovers between the poly-lifestyle and the BDSM lifestyle, obviously; which is why I mentioned it & thought it appropriate to mention here.

        I believe the specific behaviors you & are pinpointing are the clearly non-consensual, illegal behaviors that are not addressed beforehand, during, and sadly in some cases not even after-the-fact that are bad. Naturally, I want that environment eliminated, always. Silence toward those evil-deviant behaviors will always destroy the fabric of a healthy society/group, whether it’s vanilla, poly, or BDSM. What is great & beneficial is that we have here one forum to make that predatory, evil-deviant behavior be revealed for what it is! 🙂

      • Yes. The Austin poly community is not well organized. I guess that’s a huge red flag in and of itself. It’s pretty much every wo/man for himself. And many communities across the nation, from what I’ve read, are similar.

        I think you’ve brought up an important point here. In these ethical nonmonogamous societies and communities, they will have to take much more responsibility of ethical problems both that cross the line of the law and those that don’t. Because even cut-and-dry violent rape inside an alternative sex-positive community will likely never go to trial. And if it did, the survivor’s lifestyle is what would be on trial, not the rape.

        So we in alternative communities must look out for our own. For sexual safety regarding STDs and unethical, predatory behavior, as well as sexual abuse and assault.

        It is up to the community, because the law is decades behind us.

        This topic needs to be brought up throughout sex-positive communities. And I am going to keep talking. I hope you’re with me.

      • Oh my Grey, I am SO behind you, with you, & when necessary ahead of you! We absolutely have to support, encourage, keep vigilant-eye for each other; especially since for now we are usually a “minority” in a very conservative, silent (closet-inhabitant?) society/nation!

        Well-organized should always be the underlying mission of any newly-formed or advanced community — civilizations progress that way — because there will always be those predatory individuals/evil-deviants everywhere looking to feast, or subtly nibble. I think that evil actions & intentions must always be guarded against anywhere within society; our poly & BDSM lifestyles are no different.

        Therefore, I am most definitely on the same team, with the same hopes & dreams as you Beautiful!

  3. “Yes. The Austin poly community is not well organized. I guess that’s a huge red flag in and of itself. It’s pretty much every wo/man for himself.”

    You came to, what, 2 poly dinners? And you say you’re NEVER coming back. And yet you want to keep making broad, general, NEGATIVE statements about my friends.

    If you think you have a better way to run a group, bring it. “Be the change you want to see” Otherwise, please stop badmouthing us. Your ex abuser is as much of the group as you are, or were. We are not at fault. HE IS.

    • And yet you’re still reading my blog.

      Yes. He is at fault, not the community, as I’ve said multiple times. As I’ve also said multiple times, neither of us were a part of the community when this happened, so I know the community isn’t at fault.

      They do know who he is now.
      They do know what he’s done now.
      And I hope they keep him at bay now.

      The reason I stayed away was because they allowed him to enter, knowing what he did. And he will do it again.

      Others have said the same with their abusers and why they’re no longer in the community…basically because their abusers were the ones embraced, or at least, not shunned.

      If you haven’t been a victim of sexual assault, I’m thrilled for you, E! But if you haven’t, then you can’t understand the deep fear of being in the same room with one’s attacker, or the anxiety of even the possibility of them being there.

      I hope you never have to know that fear.

      So, keep making your defensive statements against a rape survivor, a woman who is struggling to be heard, to open the conversation, and to create positive change in sex-positive communities everywhere instead of actually stepping up and being a part of the solution.

      It’s much safer that way.

      At least, keep telling yourself that.

      What I find unendingly interesting is how you keep zoning in on one sentence instead of seeing the point of the entire post. The first one (Poly vs. Amory) being the benefit of investing and solidifying one relationship before starting a second, and this post being about building better communities everywhere. And each time you’ve honed in on one sentence that didn’t really have much to do with the point. Then proceeded to defend a community which I said up front I hadn’t been involved with much before isolating myself because of the circumstances. Huh. Defensive. Yes. Perhaps take a closer look at why you feel the need to be so defensive.

      And, as I’ve also told you before, I’m leaving Austin. I will “bring it” somewhere else.

      I am being the change I want to see. I’m talking about sexual assault and inviting others in on the conversation.

  4. Defensive? Hm. Probably. Let me just lay a couple of thoughts on ya and then I will try to butt out.

    1) how is continuing to badmouth and trash talk a group of people you don’t even know helping you? Is it making you look good? is it winning you friends and influencing people? is it serving the best ‘you’ that I am sure you are striving to become? Is it helping you to heal? Is it making you a better person? If for no other reason that pure self interest, it might be best for you to stop spewing hate against a group of people you didn’t even bother to get to know.

    2) if that doesn’t work to slow your roll, let me put the shoe on the other foot. A few months ago, I attended a steampunk meetup in which my SO and I met a couple who was apparently new to the steampunk scene. One spouse very obviously did NOT want to be there, and at some point their emotions boiled over from passive-agressive ignoring of spouse, friendly greetings, and pretty much the entirety of their surroundings to a spew of verbal abuse that left everyone around them horribly uncomfortable, embarassed, and at a complete loss for how to respond or react. Now, how would it be if I was some sort of well known figure in an overlapping subculture or fandom and I started making blog posts about how unsafe and terrible the Austin Steampunk group is, because they allow spousal abuse at their gatherings and harbor abusers in their ranks? Would I be saying a true thing? Would I be saying a kind thing? Would I be saying something that was an accurate reflection of the steampunk group as a whole? Would I be behaving as the best, kindest, most compassionate, highest version of myself?

    3) I’ve been raped. I don’t think it’s any of anyone’s business, and I get sick of people telling me how or what to feel about the experience. I suppose I could spend the rest of my life whining about what a sad little victim I am and getting a lot of sob sister support, but what the fuck. Instead I kicked the bastard out of my house and rid him from my life. Honestly, the non consensual drunken sex at 4 am was the least of his violations, but that’s neither here nor there. I choose not to waste my life identifying as a victim, demanding special treatment because I’m such a wilted flower, or whatever. Oh, and he was never a member of the poly group, just so ya know.

    Take care. Feel better. Take the opportunity to be a better person. I guarantee you’ll like yourself better if you can rise above this experience instead of wallowing in it.

    • I’m so sorry to hear of your attack, and I totally understand when you say that was the least of his violations. Truly. As was the case in mine.

      You state that he was not a part of the Austin Poly Community as if to insinuate that every predator in Austin is in the community, which I never said. As I can’t believe I’m repeating again for at least the fourth time, my attacker wasn’t in the community at the time either. Predators are everywhere, as I’ve learned, and they seem to be attracted to sex-positive communities, so it would be beneficial that those communities recognize that reality and have something in place to protect themselves and their loved ones.

      I feel rather hurt by your continuous allegations of me bad mouthing an entire group. My previous post and several comments beneath were praising the Austin Poly Community for their rallying support around me shortly after this all happened. It was only after he showed up and seemed to stay around that I distanced myself, and it pained me to do so. Because I love that community. I had found a home there. I had found friends there.

      It’s inspiring to know that you got past this, and I have no doubt I will too. It happened very recently, and I’m still coping. However, I don’t see this as “whining” as much as speaking out on a subject that needs to be voiced, not only for me but for you and the other 20-33% of women who are survivors. This is a cultural issue that runs very deep within our society. Women need to feel safe to speak out, and your repeated attack on me for speaking out as part of my healing, and thereby experiencing secondary trauma and retriggering, is why so few women feel safe speaking out.

      As for your questions, I won’t answer each one, but this is helping me heal, yes. This is helping me find strength, yes. I’m not sure what else I can say except that I regret you have been so personally affronted by a few sentences. My only intention ever was to help protect the members of the Austin Poly Community from what I had to go through at the hands of this man and others like him. That if as a community they banded together and discussed this, creating a safe environment for survivors to speak out without the fear of being chastised and victim-blamed.

      The difference between what you so unfortunately witnessed at the Austin Steampunk gathering and my situation was that it wasn’t you being abused, feeling that you had to leave because your abuser stayed. Still, spousal abuse is never okay, and although I don’t know much about the group, I hope that the abusive spouse will not be welcomed back.

      You won’t have to worry about me tainting your community any more, E! I’m moving to CA on Thursday, two weeks earlier than expected. You sound as if you’ve reached a higher state of consciousness than I have, and I applaud you for it. It pains me to see just how little compassion you have for a fellow survivor who is just at the beginning of her recovery.

      And, truly, all because of two sentences.

      • anyone that has had the strength in them to rise above attacks brought on to them by monsters deserves to feel empowered and should feel proud that they did so. however, those who are not strong enough should never be degraded or looked down upon by anyone. every situation is different and not everyone can cope with what’s happened to them alone. it disgusts me when a woman is expected to be strong enough to just be as strong as someone else. i’ve actually heard people say, “she could get out of that situation if she wanted to.” meaning since she’s not than she wants to stay there. not every woman is Xena warrior princess. everyone copes with things differently. some may have to be that withering flower and need the sympathy of others. just because you were strong enough to kick you monster out and move on doesn’t mean you should be so quick to look down on those that can’t. love you grey. stay strong.

      • Agreed!!! It’s a terrifying thing to survive such insidious psychological, emotional, spiritual, and sexual abuse/assault. It takes a long time just to function again.

        Then there’s the betrayal bond many targets just can’t get away because of that alone.

        Well said, Jason. I’ve about had it with the keep your chin up platitudes, too.

  5. […] private issue, it’s a cultural one. Help me put the shame on the rapist, not on the survivor. Help me out rapists in our community, starting with mine and the other survivors who have come forward in the comments on this […]

  6. if you’re bored one night and need to kill some time, you can see my little twisted world…well, somewhat at it’s kinda my therapy i guess.

    • Very nice, Jason! I read several posts and shared the one on recognizing abuse. I didn’t see how to comment.

      Keep up the good work! It is very cathartic, indeed!

      • thank you. sorry, i had to remove the comments option because of her husband and in-laws making threats awhile back. i’ll probably put comments back up soon. i don’t get intimidated. really it just shows their ignorance. i had to start writing again. it really does help. i’m dying to start painting again but the anxiety i’m still having is still making my hands shake a little. but for now expressing myself with words will do.

  7. […] and new friend invited me to talk with other survivors on a FB group discussing how to have the conversation about sexual assault and policing predators in our communities, as I’ve been talking about on this blog. She said my input could be really powerful, and she […]

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