Reporting Incidents in Kink and Play Party Communities
Many people experience play party communities as spaces where they can experiment with kink and sex in a boundaried environment. Guests report to us that the Summer House is one of the safer and most friendly spaces on the scene, and we hope that this continues.
But from time to time, even in safer spaces, transgressions of venue/party agreements, consent violations, power abuses, and even assaults (sexual & otherwise) do happen. They also happen outside event spaces, involving people who you may have met through these communities.
If you have been subject to any kind of consent violation or power abuse, remember that there are multiple routes for support, and the choice on how to proceed is always yours. Assaults (sexual or otherwise) are assaults wherever they happen, especially in kink spaces. If you want support whatever your identity or gender (including help going to the police), you can go to a referral centre such as The Havens. If you would like legal advice, Backlash can recommend routes to lawyers who are kink-aware and friendly.
Any of us are capable of transgressing community agreements or violating consent, so if you feel you might have done so, you could seek support from one of the kink-trained coaches at Pink Therapy. As difficult as it might be to receive a report, we usually find that they can be tremendous opportunities for learning and growth.
How to make a report at The Summer House
1. If you experience something that makes you uncomfortable, or if you see other people doing anything that you’re concerned about, please alert someone on the organising team. Organisers want to address and prevent issues so it can be very valuable when a responsible onlooker alerts them. Various members of the team will make themselves known at the morning gathering each day. You can also alert an organiser by speaking to anyone at reception/any bar, speaking to anyone with a walkie-talkie, or speaking to security. They will believe you and take your report seriously. Feel free to bring in your friend(s) / PALs / any onlookers for support.
2. Of course you may still speak directly to the other guest(s) in the moment to let them know what went wrong, using direct feedback such as “This made me feel uncomfortable”. If you see someone else breaching community values and wish to step in please do so – but don’t ever intervene with physical force. Even if you feel you have personally resolved the issue or you don’t want to progress the issue further, please still tell the organisers so they are aware something happened.
3. Should you wish to make a report, please do so as soon as possible. Of course some things take a while to sink in, and that’s absolutely fine. But the more quickly an incident is brought to the attention of the event organisers, the more quickly they can offer support, try to bring about resolution, or make changes to prevent the situation happening again.
4. You can report something involving another guest to an event organiser in person or by email. If the report is about a workshop facilitator / event organiser, you are welcome to take the report to the organiser of another event, to another facilitator, or to a volunteer. This includes if the incident has taken place outside of The Summer House itself. No organiser or facilitator is exempt from their own community’s values, and several facilitators / organisers have been through these accountability processes.
5. When you make a report, your identity will remain anonymous and whoever you are dealing with (organisers / volunteers) will avoid revealing specific information that might reveal your identity. They will only name you if you give explicit permission.
6. If you need someone with you for moral support, or to help write your report, that’s absolutely fine. If you witnessed something that broke the community’s agreements and want to report it even you weren’t directly involved, that’s fine too. But the person(s) most directly affected will be the ones who get to choose how things progress. Where there is a D/S relationship, it is not appropriate for the dominant to talk instead of the submissive. Please exit your D/S roles and talk as individuals.
7. If it’s a simple report, the organiser/consent volunteer might simply thank you for bringing it to their attention. If it’s a more complex situation they might ask for further details or clarification. In some cases they might offer you the option of mediation or a referral to a trained coach for support. They might ask what steps might make you feel that the matter is resolved. If you wish to go to the police they will support you.
8. After the report the organiser/volunteer will let you know once they have talked to the person and, if you wish, will give an indication of outcome. In some cases the person you reported might be referred to a trained coach or they might be asked to attend a workshop. They might be asked to consider whatever steps you had proposed would make you feel safe. In more serious cases they (and their PAL) might be given a yellow card warning or a red card ban. The majority of bans are temporary across a fixed number of events. Permanent exclusion is rare. If the incident is serious enough to attract a red card, the event organisers can give you the ability to check in before each event to know whether you are likely to see the other person at a future event.
9. If you wish to make a report about the Summer House founder Tobias, or one of the other lead organisers/facilitators, or if for any other reason you do not feel safe making a report to the Summer House team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Nick is a professional kink-aware coach who is completely independent of the Summer House and has no connection to the event. Your report will be completely anonymous and your details will not be shared with Tobias or any other Summer House team member. If you desire, Nick can help you escalate the issue to Pink Therapy members including the professional supervisors who oversee the work done by Tobias and other facilitators from the community. Please be assured that your name / details will never be shared.
What to expect if a report is made about you at The Summer House
1. If a report is made about you during an event, you can expect a conversation with an organiser on the spot. For events held under the PAL system, the organiser will make sure your PAL is present for this conversation. In the case of lower-level transgressions of community values the main aim is to check that you’re conscious of the situation and won’t repeat it. The chat is friendly but can feel surprising for someone new to our community.
2. Things like non-consensual unsafe sex or non-consensual sexual touch are classed as serious incidents. These are thankfully extremely rare in the Summer House community but when they do occur, it is usually the case that multiple people have seen the incident in question take place. The default would be to support anyone who wishes to go to the police in the case of such an incident. There are some other circumstances, including extreme intoxication, which would cause organisers to ask you and your PAL to leave. They would then check in with you after the event to recommend routes for support.
3. In the case of reports made about you after an event, you will receive an email, or sometimes a request for a phone call/Skype, explaining that a report has been made about you. The first step will be to check in with you about whether you remember any incident and if so to hear anything you remember, and how you are feeling about the situation. Your PAL will be CCd on any correspondence.
4. Your identity will by default remain hidden from the person making the report. In some cases organisers may check in with them about identifying factors such as what you were wearing. This is to ensure that that the right people are participating in the process. You are asked not to do anything to identify the person who has made the report, whether by asking for clues, getting other people to investigate, trying to contact the person or posting in social media.
5. Organisers will describe to you the report that has been made. The aim here is so that you are clear on how the other person recalls things. You will have the opportunity to describe your side of things privately in as much depth as necessary. It is usually the case that there isn’t a great amount of discrepancy between what each person remembers of a given report. Organisers do not take the place of detectives/police/the court system: the focus is on mediating between the different parties involved and discussing how everyone feels.
6. Depending on the situation, and if the person(s) making the report is willing, organisers might offer mediation between you. They might discuss with you ideas on what would help the other person see the situation as resolved. Alternatively you (and your PAL if applicable) might be asked attend a consent workshop and/or coaching with a trained coach before allowing you to return to the event. In more serious cases you may receive either a “Yellow Card” warning or a “Red Card” ban. A Yellow Card is usually a written warning, with the note that any further infractions may lead to a ban. A Red Card usually starts with a ban of one event or more. Permanent exclusion is rare but can happen after two or more serious incidents. Once you have been given a red card, the person who made the report will be given the chance to check in ahead of future events as to whether or not you are attending.
5. Throughout this process we strongly encourage you to seek confidential support: a starting point is Pink Therapy which offers a number of professionals who are kink-aware and trained in issues relating to our community including non-monogamy and gender diversity.
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