Consent Policy and Procedures for Dragon’s Tail ALC
Introduction and Purpose
Dragon’s Tail Alternative Lifestyle Community strives to create an environment where people of all backgrounds and orientations have a community of like-minded individuals to share their interest, journey, and exploration of consensual non-monogamy. It is paramount to the health of our group that all activities which take place between individuals do so with enthusiastic and ongoing consent.
We endeavor to create a safer community and event space. However, much like safer sex practices do not guarantee that a sexual activity is without risk, we acknowledge that no play or activity between attendees can be completely without physical or emotional risks.
The purpose of this document is to outline options and set expectations for attendees who experience issues regarding consent both inside and outside of our events. We recognize that every consent incident is unique. While this policy sets the standards for our process for handling such incidents, there may be times where circumstances of a consent incident require a deviation from this standard. This policy will be updated as we continue to evolve in our efforts to better serve the interests of our community.
Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent should be clearly and freely communicated. A verbal and affirmative expression of consent can help both you and your partner to understand and respect each other’s boundaries.
1. Do not touch anyone without their permission, and don’t base consent on what you’ve seen someone do with other people.
2. All activities must receive prior consent explicitly by verbal or written agreement rather than through gestures, body language or past behavior.
3. Informed consent requires a discussion of the risks involved in the activity and the steps that are needed to reduce those risks including: study, training, technique and practice.
4. Don’t re-negotiate in the middle of your scene unless it is to reject activities that were previously agreed to. A person who is in an altered state of mind of any kind including scene induced headspace may not be able to give informed consent.
5. The universal safewords are “RED” and “SAFEWORD”. Everyone is free to withdraw consent at any time during the activity. At the use of either of those words, the scene must end immediately.
6. Do not attempt to participate in an ongoing scene, unless specifically invited by the current participants.
7. If you plan to engage in play that appears non-consensual, inform the DMs prior to the beginning of the scene.
8. If any participant in a scene appears to the DM to be intoxicated or impaired, the scene will be stopped.
9. Do not do anything that results in serious bodily injury or that goes beyond the expectations of one of the participants, even where consent was given.
10. Do not “out” anyone as kinky, non-monogamous, or otherwise any form of alt-sex, to their family, friends or co-workers, and don’t use someone’s first/last name in person or online with others, unless they give you specific permission to do so. Do not provide details about anyone’s place of employment, location, or other identifying information to anyone else.
11. If you would like someone to cease contact with you, please tell them either verbally or by DM: “Please don’t contact me anymore.” If you request no-contact with an organizer, then you must designate another organizer who may contact you about group business.
Reporting a Consent Incident
We only take first person reports and cannot act on hearsay or third-party reports. To ensure a timely response, please use the following methods to report:
• At events and demos, you can ask any event volunteer to connect you to the designated Consent Response Team (CRT) member who is present. Staff are identifiable by the yellow safety vest they wear while on duty. Although we will not be able to go through our full process in the middle of an event, we may take immediate action in order to provide short-term resolution until we can gather more information and reach a final decision.
• Outside of events you can also contact our Consent Response Team via email. You will receive an acknowledgement within 72 hours, which will be followed by contact from a member of the CRT team.
Please send your email here: email@example.com
The reporter can provide a written report or verbal report to a member of the CRT during a private conversation about the incident in question. During a verbal report, please anticipate that we will ask questions and take notes in order to create the most accurate record possible for dissemination to the people that need to know. Please understand that our staff are unpaid volunteers with responsibilities outside of our community, so it may take some time before we can facilitate a meeting that works for everyone’s personal schedules.
While this is not an exhaustive list, the following details are recommended to be included in any reports:
• What is the best way for the CRT to contact you?
• What name and pronouns do you prefer we use?
• What would you like to tell us about this consent incident?
• Do you remember what you discussed prior to the incident about what you wanted to do and your limits?
• What do you recall saying or doing when this incident happened?
• Were there any injuries?
• Has this person done anything like this to you before or violated your consent?
• Can you tell me about any people who might have seen what happened?
• What would you like to happen next?
The CRT may ask additional questions regarding the specifics of the incident in order to gain a more complete understanding. Additional information such as any documents related to the incident, or conversations in written form, screenshots or images of injury may be provided.
Using an Advocate
We recognize that repeatedly detailing a potentially traumatic experience to leaders of every group can be emotionally draining, and we seek to provide alternatives for those who wish to delegate this process to a trusted party.
If you wish to work with an advocate or outside organization in order to make your consent incident report, we will work with them directly to take your report in the same methods outlined above. However, we must still confirm with you directly that you have authorized this person to act as your advocate and create a consent incident report on your behalf. From that point forward, the reporting of the consent incident and information gathering process will funnel through your advocate to every extent that it’s possible.
Consent Response Team
The CRT members will receive training in trauma reactions, crisis response and how to take a report in a sensitive manner. The CRT will sign confidentiality agreements and won’t discuss anything that is reported to them with anyone other than the organizers. The CRT will not be making decisions about the reports and will remain neutral throughout the process.
The CRT process is as follows:
· After we are notified of an incident, the CRT lead will assign a member to take the reports.
· The reporter can request that any member of the CRT or organizers recuse themselves due to their relationship with the reported person.
· If the reporter is in crisis, the CRT may refer them to a kink-aware crisis hotline or advocacy organization for immediate care. At an event, if an attendee needs to call 911 or ambulance, the CRT will encourage them to do so and will wait until help arrives.
· The CRT is only empowered to talk to the reporter, the reported person and anyone who witnessed the consent incident. The CRT is not empowered to talk to partners, metamours or friends of the reporter or reported person about the incident. If the reporter would like a friend/partner present, they are there for support purposes only.
· The CRT will not try to bring the reporter and reported person together to discuss the incident or to perform a mediation or facilitate an apology. However, if it’s a minor incident, if the reported wants to apologize and the reporter wants to hear an apology, and then that is up to those involved.
· The CRT will reach out to those involved in the consent incident to individually hear their experiences. The CRT will limit their report gathering to a two-week period to ensure a timely response.
· Reports can be taken in writing or a face-to-face meeting.
· The CRT may request additional materials from any involved parties as we continue to collect information and attempt to resolve discrepancies. We believe in performing due diligence to ensure that everyone involved in a consent incident has the opportunity to have their voice heard before a decision is made.
· The CRT will provide a summary of the facts to the organizers from everyone involved in the consent incident, without putting their own inference in the reports.
· The CRT will include what the reporter would like to happen, without making any guarantees to the reporter.
Temporary Steps During Information Gathering
The organizers will be informed by the CRT as soon as a report of a consent incident is received, including a summary of who is involved and what happened. Depending on the nature of the initial report, individuals may be temporarily asked to refrain from attending in-person events and online while the information gathering process takes place. We recognize that this situation may be undesirable to individuals involved with a consent incident, but may need to take this measure until a final decision can be reached.
Confidentiality During Consent Incident Reporting
We will not share your report with parties not directly involved with the consent incident unless explicitly given both permission and a clear reason to do so. We also will not share the full contents of the report with reported individuals or witnesses, but may use details of your consent incident report to formulate specific questions to the involved parties in regards to the incident. The CRT will attempt to share as few personal details as is reasonably possible while still having a clear and specific conversation surrounding the incident.
The CRT will honor requests from individuals to not be named during the information gathering process or follow-up with the reported individual. If you wish to have your name left out of a report, please make this clear to the CRT member taking the consent incident report and it will only be shared with the organizers.
Evaluating Consent Incidents
After the information has been gathered by the CRT, the organizers will be given a summary of the facts from the consent incident reports they received. The organizers primarily makes decisions about:
- Reports of violations of rules and Consent Policy at our events and our online entities
- Reports of behavior outside of our group that could be in violation of the law
- Reports of outing or threats of outing, which therefore may present a risk to attendees
- Reports of sanctions/bans by other groups with similar consent culture as our group
We aim to treat every individual involved in a consent incident with fairness and compassion. While consent incidents are unique and varied, there is a common set of factors that we consistently evaluate in every case when determining the most appropriate response as a group. While this is not a complete list, it covers many important considerations:
· The severity and nature of the nonconsensual activity (e.g., unwanted hug, sexual assault, assault with injury)
· The nature of the consent incident (e.g., accident, manipulation, coercion)
· The response of the individual who crossed a boundary (e.g., accepting responsibility for their behavior, showing empathy for the other party, desire to apologize)
· Power differentials between involved individuals (e.g., leadership position within the community, levels of experience)
· Multiple reports of consent incidents from unrelated people reporting the same person
· Public documents like orders of protection, police reports and sex offender registry
· Admissions of wrong-doing
· Bans by other groups/events that have similar consent cultures to our group
Once the CRT submits the factual summary, the organizers will make a decision within a week. Nearly all decisions regarding consent incidents are made unanimously or by strong consensus of the organizers, and all are ultimately authorized by the group owner. Based on the decision of the organizers, one or more of the following actions may be taken. An individual who knowingly and intentionally creates a false report may also be subject to these actions.
In some instances, individuals can violate consent or boundaries through inexperience, poor communication skills, or misunderstanding of expectations. In these cases, Leadership or staff will provide education about our Consent Policy and refer the individual to educational materials which cover these topics. We expect members of our community who receive formal warnings to take them seriously and adjust their behavior moving forward. Repeated warnings will result in more serious consequences.
If an individual violates any of our rules or Consent Policy, or has repeated warnings, Leadership may request that a community member refrain from attending our events or a subset of our events for a set amount of time.
We reserve the right to ban any individual if they are not a good fit for our group. While this is not a decision that we make lightly, we recognize that this is the appropriate response in dealing with malicious consent incidents, incidents where an individual could be a danger to others in our community, or situations where an individual has proven unwilling or unable to adjust their behavior following repeated instances of less severe consent incidents that have previously resulted in a more lenient response. If an individual is barred from attending our events, they will also not be permitted to participate in our online groups and discussions, and vice versa.
Consent Incidents Involving Volunteers
We hold our volunteers, presenters, and organizers to a higher standard of conduct, and as such encourage the community to feel comfortable reporting any problematic behavior with such individuals to the CRT or advocate. In addition to the normal actions outlined in this document, issues involving those in positions of trust may require additional immediate steps:
· Volunteers (registration, dungeon monitor, etc.) involved in a consent incident may be removed from their role at events or barred from further volunteering until the incident is evaluated by the organizers and a decision is made.
· Upcoming presenters and other educators involved in a consent incident may have their classes canceled or postponed until such a time as the consent incident can be evaluated by the organizers and a decision is made.
· If a member of the CRT or organizers is involved in an incident, they will be temporarily removed from the team while other members of the CRT will take the report, until such time as the consent incident can be evaluated by the rest of the organizers and a decision is made.
Notification of a Decision
When the organizers have reached a decision in response to a consent incident report, parties will be notified in the following order:
- The Consent Response Team will be notified about the decision of the organizers.
- The individual who placed the original consent incident report will be contacted by a member of the organizers with our decision. While it’s important to take into account the wishes of the reporter, the organizers must also consider our responsibility to our attendees and the group. The reporter will be made aware that the reported individual will also be informed of the decision by the organizers. If they would like to engage further with the person they reported to get mediation or an apology, they will be referred to a professional so they can do so. If it was a minor consent incident, the reporter can say how they would like to make contact with the reported person. Inform the reporter that a verbal apology is recommended rather than written because a written apology can be used in court.
- The reported individual will be contacted by a member of the organizers to be told of our decision in regards to the report. If the reporter allows their name to be used, the reported person will be instructed to not reach out to the reporter or initiate contact at events or online (unless otherwise specified by the reporter), or additional sanctions may be applied. It’s up to the reporter to initiate any contact.
· If it is a Warning or Restricted Attendance, and that individual has maintained an amicable relationship with the CRT and organizers during the process, we will also communicate at this time what behavior is problematic (as per confidentiality requests by the reporter) and changes that need to be made for that individual to be able to continue to attend our events. With minor consent incidents, if an apology is requested by the reporter, the leader will pass on that request along with how they can make contact, and inform the reported person that verbal apology is better than a written apology for liability reasons.
· If the person is Banned, they are told they are not a good fit for the group. No other information will be provided in order to protect the reporter, the group and the membership from retaliation and liability.
4. Any witnesses who reported to the CRT will be told of the organizers’ action in regards to the consent incident by a member of the organizers. We will request that the witness maintain confidentiality unless the reporter gives them permission to speak about what they witnessed.
5. In the event of an individual being banned, the organizers may communicate our decision to leaders of other area groups or organizations running events. If this takes place, the disclosure will be limited to the general nature of the consent incident (e.g. sexual assault, outing). We will not disclose the identity of the individual who reported the consent incident or the personal details of the incident unless explicitly given permission to do so by the reporter.
6. In the event of a widely discussed or witnessed consent incident that results in a ban, we may acknowledge the ban and say this person is not a good fit for the group. If the person is a volunteer or part of the organizers, a brief statement about them stepping back from their volunteer responsibilities may be made.
7. The organizers and CRT will not discuss our decision with partners, friends, metamours, or other parties uninvolved with the consent incident. We don’t allow public discussions that name names and the specifics of consent incidents at our events or online entities due to the risk of additional harm and liability to the group, reporter and any witnesses.
Closing and Summary
In publishing this Consent Policy and Procedures, we hope that everyone involved with our group understands what happens when someone reports a consent incident to our group. We strive to foster improvement of consent education with the goal of making instances where this policy must be relied upon few and far between, and we take consent incidents seriously in order to serve our goal of creating a safer community for everyone.