by Susan Wright
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 when 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 problem.