In this issue
You CAN go to law enforcement to report assault even if you're kinky. I get so mad when I hear people say, "You can't go to the cops," or "They'll treat you badly because you're kinky." Really? You tell your friend to crawl in a hole after they're assaulted? Why don't you offer to go with them to report it to law enforcement or to a hospital? Or call NCSF so I can work with the local victim services and help them report it.
Since I took over NCSF's Incident Reporting & Response program, I've made a lot of phone calls to professionals around the country in order to find good people who won't discriminate against us. And you know what? Our advocacy efforts are working. Even in the most conservative areas, there are judges, lawyers and social service workers who are already educated about kink and nonmonogamy. They know that what we do is consensual, and that assault is assault regardless of the way we have sex.
In January, I was contacted by several victims of a perpetrator in Maryland. These victims ended up reporting their assaults in two different counties in Maryland. The State's Attorney in one county moved forward with the case. The trial only took half a day. The victim testified, but she wasn't outed in the media, even though the incident in question was fairly sensational and took place at a camp event in front of other kinky people. The event where it happened wasn't harassed by law enforcement, and neither was the kinky club where the perpetrator then worked. The State's Attorney was only interested in the assault, not in harming the victims or the BDSM community. In fact, the victims were treated very well by everyone they dealt with.
Today the perpetrator was convicted of 2nd Degree Assault and was sentenced to a year in jail with two years probation and ordered by the court to attend an intervention program for intimate partner abuse.
If someone assaults you or your friend, then this is what can result if you go to the police. NCSF can help you. You don't have to stay quiet. Prosecutors will typically take on cases where there are witnesses, so assaults that happen at events are actually more prosecutable in their eyes than something that happens in private at home. Prosecutors also look at the physical evidence - if you were hurt in an assault ALWAYS go to the hospital or to your doctor or a community assistance center so they can take photographs of the damage that was done to you. Even if you don't know if you'll report it, you'll have the evidence if you do decide to report it later.
Also, prosecutors take it more seriously if there is more than one victim. When you report an assault and you don't have any physical evidence or witnesses, prosecutors may decide to wait to see if another victim comes forward. Multiple accusations carry more weight. But that can only happen if you report it.
You can quote all the stats you want to about the small percentage of assaults - especially sexual assaults - that go to trial. But when we don't even try to get justice, then zero convictions will take place. If we don't try to stop someone who is a serial predator, then they will go on to commit more crimes.
Our community can't keep people safe. We can't give out all the names of everyone who violates consent or somehow protect everyone at risk. That's why yelling names from the rooftops doesn't work. But reporting it to the police does work. That's why in this case, many of the group and event organizers quietly banned this person and pulled their events from the club while the perpetrator still worked there. They had to keep things quiet so the victim could pursue their case through the judicial system - remember that witness tampering is a serious charge.
I'm so proud of the victims for standing up for themselves and stopping the cycle of repeated assaults. I'm proud of the Mid-Atlantic community of organizers for how they handled this difficult situation. It's been a learning experience for a lot of us, and I think that reporting assault to the police was the way to properly deal with this.
By Bjorn Paulee
Accepting this assignment for NCSF has been a difficult time, but not for reasons you may assume. One of the members of our poly family has been ill and in and out of the hospitals locally, and time has been precious more so than normally.
I've known that I was poly before the word existed while I was going through puberty. During my dating years, I was at one point going "steady" with four different girls at four different high schools. So what does it mean to be poly in a vanilla world? If I were to bring it down to the most concise phrase I could, it would be "emotional juggling," and if you think you desire it, you'd better be ready for it. Only those to whom it comes naturally seem to be able to do it consistently.
Our poly family right now is four and growing, with one under consideration and a number of others who may be asked if they want to be under consideration. The problem is whether they are ready for it and are poly by nature or have another agenda.
But let me go back to the topic of living in a vanilla world. At best, it is difficult. The national culture is not ready to accept polyamorous or polygamous relationships in the open. The result is that most alternate lifestylers are forced to lie in order to live the life they feel they need. Psychologically, that is not healthy. It also means that only the best liars are the ones that can survive without being outed.
I was a very good liar for many years, something I am not proud of. I was able to maintain vanilla relationships, while letting the needs I have play out. But it hurt others in the process. I have good relationships with my kids for the most part, but they were raised in such a manner that they knew who I was and why I had to live as I did. I have a close group of lifelong friends and most of them know about me, but some live very conservative lives and this is not something to wear on your sleeve and throw it in the faces of others.
A few years ago, I made the decision not to lie any more. For the most part, I've been able to hold true, but there are still times that cannot be helped. For instance, one of the members of our poly family was in the hospital and in order to get information about her condition and make good with the nursing staff and doctors, we needed to say we were part of her family, so she instantly became a sister-in-law to me. Sigh. As a result, we have now put an Advance Directive (Living Will) together and are working on more legal documents that long-term will allow us some legal rights. Again, it is difficult at best.
For me, there has been lots of conflict throughout my life for having to use personal skills and talents to be in the closet about swinging early on and polyamory in the later years when swinging was no longer providing satisfaction. I yearn to have multiple relationships and the variety it brings and I make a good partner, one who enables my partners and friends to be the best people they can be without being intimidating physically or emotionally. But for now, I am living a reasonable relaxed life, something I was never sure would happen.
Meet Your Board!
Winner of the most recent NCSF Volunteer of the Year award, Keira!
Do you have a history of activism and community involvement?
I try to be involved in my community, offering aid to the leaders and support to anyone who needs it, but I have never been much of an activist. NCSF is my only true activist endeavor.
The Red Chair
What is the mission of your group?
The Red Chair is a 501c non-profit corporation dedicated to providing education and support for adults that practice alternative lifestyles, particularly the BDSM lifestyle. TRC provides this via educational seminars, lectures, group discussions, and free form meetings. The group welcomes all sexual orientations, consensual relationships, and safe/sane/consensual BDSM practices without discrimination.
NCSF Media Updates are a sampling of recent stories printed in US newspapers, magazines, and selected websites containing significant mention of BDSM-leather-fetish, polyamory, or swing issues and topics. These stories may be positive, negative, accurate, inaccurate or anywhere in between.
Here's a sample of three of our recent featured stories:
NCSF publishes the Updates to provide readers with a comprehensive look at what media outlets are writing about these topics and to urge everyone to make comments that dispute stereotypes about alternative sexuality. NCSF permits and encourages readers to forward these Updates where appropriate.
Representatives from the NCSF are Out and About!
Here's a short sample:
NCSF Sponsors Atlanta Poly Weekend
Workshop and tabling at The Floating World! Board members Keira and Julian Wolf will be discussing Consent Counts in New Jersey at the end of July, as well as hosting a table.