First, I do what I can to be the kind of person that makes predators and abusers incredibly uncomfortable. I hope they will steer far clear of me, events I host, and people I love.
I also own a discord server for a local hosts and organizers group, where we share information, warnings, and reports about bad actors in the community.
In my personal life, I have five “levels” of ick that I use in decision making:
Personal level, no obvious reason.
This is a “gut” thing. I don’t like them. I feel squicky around them. I don’t trust them. Whatever. No reason. Usually this is pretty instantaneous for me.
I just try to avoid these people as much as possible.
Personal level, definite reason.
These are the people I have a good reason for, but I have no reason to believe that the reason I have for avoiding them is universally applicable to others. Usually these are personality conflicts, differences of opinion, or whatever. Things I don’t think will harm others.
I avoid these people, and if I’m asked to vet them, I will share my experiences as a personal issue.
One mild to tempestuous (but not actively criminal or physically harmful) report from a trusted source.
This is when someone I trust tells me something bad about a person, and I consider that it could affect others who come into contact with them. Sometimes I simply make a check in my mind. Sometimes I think more is required.
I avoid these people, and if I’m asked to vet them, I will share the contact information of the other party, with consent. I may encourage a report to be made to our group, or bring it up if a host or organizer asks about that person. Labeled “mistake 1” in my head.
Pattern of behavior, like the previous level, but with two or more people in unrelated incidents.
This is when there are multiple unrelated sources for behavior that is more than just a relationship issue, and I believe that the behavior not only could affect others, but is likely to affect or overflow onto others that they might meet at events or online.
I avoid these people personally, share my information with other organizers (encourage reporting by the original people), and ban from spaces I have control over. I require a fairly long “rebound period,” in which they must show active growth and positive work for me to consider them possibly rehabilitated.
This is the really bad stuff. Major consent violations, physical altercations, verbal abuse (including hate speech). Multiple reports, or one bad enough to piss me the fuck off.
I avoid these people personally, share my information with other organizers (encourage reporting by the original people), and ban from spaces I have control over. I will also avoid other events/spaces that do not ban, and I will be clear why if people ask. I require a VERY LONG “rebound period.”
There are a lot of challenges in these determinations, though.
For example, rumors.
What do I do when there are a ton of rumors, but no one I can connect with is actually coming forward, no formal reports are being made, and there is no way to either confirm or disprove?
I don’t fucking know. I wish I did. Because I’ve dealt with similar things over the years, and it tears me up.
Another example: Who can be trusted?
I try to be a trustworthy person. I try to put myself out there for people to connect with, and know that I will keep their secrets, if that’s what they want and need. I will be a mediator. I will give advice, if asked, or just offer support.
But, of course, I can’t reach them all. And I’d guess that many people will see me with someone who they may otherwise report, and choose to keep their mouths shut because they assume I will protect them.
And there is nothing I can do about that. Especially if I have no idea.
I’m only human.
I know I am not the kink police. I don’t want to be, either. I can’t handle that sort of responsibility.
I can only do whatever I think is right at any given moment.
Which is why I am so very glad that there are others out there also fighting to make our community as safe as possible, who will hopefully catch people I miss, or bring to my attention people who I thought were cool. And who will hopefully shield those I don’t know and can’t protect in different circles and communities.
How do I deal with abuse in the lifestyle?
As best I can. No more and no less.
What are your thoughts?
How do you deal with abuse in the lifestyle? Are you a community host/organizer, and feel responsible for others, or are you really only tasked with keeping yourself safe?
What steps do you take?