NCSF’s Trauma pamphlet is intended to help both survivors of traumatic experiences and the people around them. Community organizers have been asking NCSF for more information on how people react when they’re traumatized so they can better help their members when they are in need.
We worked with over a dozen Kink Aware Professionals to create this pamphlet:
•Learn about short-term reactions such as shock, denial and fear of judgment or retaliation. Also possible ongoing challenges like anxiety, engaging in high risk behaviors or feelings of detachment or isolation.
•Find out what you can do (and friends and loved ones can say) to help you ease the pain and transition to healing.
•Get information on PTSD and trauma bonds, which form in the presence of danger, shame or exploitation.
Help is available for people who have been injured and their loved ones. This includes free mental health counseling, emergency medical care, possible recouping of lost wages, and a safe and confidential shelter that removes you from imminent harm or danger if you need to get out of your house.
You don’t have to go it alone. NCSF trains local victim services on BDSM vs. abuse. Call your local rape crisis hotline or contact NCSF’s Incident Reporting & Response for help for you or a friend at
·Increased intimacy – Hiding important relationships means closing off parts of your life, and being honest about significant things allows greater authenticity and emotional connection.
·Explanation for person in social environment – Sometimes people in poly relationships that have become serious and entail more involvement in their lives decide to come out to both explain the presence of the person/people and acknowledge the importance of the relationship(s).
·Being outed by an event or person – When someone else threatens to out a poly person, sometimes taking control of the situation and outing themselves
·Political belief – As amply demonstrated by LGBT activists, it is difficult to take political space and organize for rights without a visible and recognizable presence in society. The more poly people who come out, the more visible polyamory is, and the more likely it is that poly communities will be able to gain rights for their constituents.
·Not – If there is no real reason to come out, reconsider doing so if you are vulnerable. That vulnerability might be to losing custody of your children, losing your job, losing connections with your family and friends, or losing your housing. These things can happen when people come out as poly, so think carefully before deciding if the risks of coming out are worth the benefits.
Although the idea of coming out is politically important and some people feel compelled to be scrupulously honest with the others in their lives, most people should use caution when coming out because be identified as a sex or gender minority can be dangerous and should be done cautiously. A few of the ways to do so cautiously include:
·Selective disclosure – Tell the people who are important and need to know that you have a poly relationship, but let them know this is sensitive information that they should not share with others until you are ready. If you are not sure if someone is safe to tell, then consider using a “litmus” question such as how that person feels about same-sex marriage or something like that. Their reaction could give you information about how they might react to the news of polyamory.
·Matter of fact, not dramatic – If you present the information as a matter of daily life and not a cataclysmic announcement, others will be more likely to take it as a regular piece of news. Presenting it as normal part of your life can help others accept it as normal for you as well.
·Private setting – In case you or the person you tell has a strong reaction to your coming out news, consider a setting that allows some conversational privacy.
Once you have decided to come out, prepare yourself. Think about what you are going to say, and plan ahead with your partners. Use the resources below to educate yourself and those to whom you are coming out.
·NCSF has a resource library filled with information for activists, lawyers, people concerned with consent, mental health, and professionals knowledgeable about polyamory and BDSM.
·I have written three books that would be very helpful to people coming out as polyamorous. The first one, The Polyamorists Next Door(2014), reports on my 15 year study of poly families with children and is best suited for using when coming out to social workers, lawyers, school counselors, doctors, and other professionals. Stories from the Polycule (2015), my second book, is an edited volume of stories written by poly people themselves and is best suited for coming out to younger family members, friends, and open minded people or people with shorter spans of attention. My most recent book, When Someone You Love is Polyamorous (2016), is a short introduction to polyamory and best suited for dear friends and family members who are older, more conservative, or might be afraid that polyamory might be a bad thing for their loved ones.
Please consider submitting your unpublished work. Our amazing Editorial Board is waiting to see new, innovative, interesting, sex positive research. The next publication date is November and will be featuring a few longer (15+ pages) articles. Please have longer manuscripts submitted for review no later than August 1.
Read our Submission Guidelines and submit your work! Submissions are taken year-round with no specific deadlines, unless specified for particular issues.
“Inviting others in is the practice of accepting the discomfort of fear.”
What does “good at poly” mean? I hear this statement often. The scenario that typically precedes this self-judging statement is the person criticizing their own feelings of “jealousy, envy, or fear.”
My question is this – Who set the standard of “good at poly”? What does that look like? From my experience both personally, professionally, and from reading other’s experiences, it appears that if a person deviates from the expected outcome of absolute enthusiastic compersion (the positive feelings one gets when a lover is enjoying another relationship) or the appearance of enthusiastic compersion, they are not good at poly. There are a few words that pop into my mind when I read these words from lovers, wives, husbands, or partners who are emotionally and mentally shackled by the shame jealousy, envy, or fear and others judging, condemning, or making these statements of “how to do it better?” Some say, “you need to simply read this workbook or go to this website”…what happens if that workbook does not alleviate and erase those feelings?
I get a call or an email. I listen or read, “I read all the books and did everything they told me. Something is wrong with me that I still feel this way.”
“Not good at poly” means “I am bad at poly.” This is:
Over-identifying with The Myth
Folks berate themselves for feeling jealousy, envy, and anxiety; in turn, folks judge themselves for not being joyous and ecstatic for their partner’s prospective lover. This is compounded by the fear of sharing with their partner that this new situation is uncomfortable for them. So, the anxiety of a partner’s prospective partner; the self-imposed expectation of this is not “what a poly person is supposed to feel?;” and, possibly, the social media representation of the perfect poly couple creates an incongruence of what is and what it’s supposed to be. The self-doubt “is there something wrong with me? Am I doing this wrong?” The result of measuring and comparing others Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat posts to the how “poly people” are supposed to look is a trap. The trap is the jealousy - compersion dichotomy.
The Danger of the False Dichotomy
A dichotomy is the contrast between two opposing elements, concepts, or states. There is a false dichotomy that has been created or perpetuated in many communities - jealousy or compersion. This is the dilemma. It's the same conundrum that society has placed on intimate relationships in general – monogamous (the gold standard) or unfaithful (cheater, slut, or sociopath) or “you are just unable to commit.” The either/or, more than/less than/, and better/worse are the extremes that trap one in discontent, resentment, and gut wrenching insecurity.
Where is the humanity of those extremes?
Mindful and Present
Grounding oneself to BE in the relationship rather than DO the relationship can be more advantageous for some. This is the shift in my therapeutic approach with working with couples who are questioning, starting, and living in consensual nonmonogamous relationships. In the last few years, I have read several books on polyamory and open relationships. There is much about naming the concepts, defining the concepts, and putting into action those concepts within their relationships. It seems logistical. These books identified themselves as guides or frameworks for consensual nonmonogamous relationships.
As a result of my experience, I have created questionnaires for couples and, recently, for prospective partners, relationship dynamic genograms, conversational exercises, and the educational components for the intersectionality of power, consent, and honesty in being in a polyamorous relationship. This allows for the practice and empowerment for getting out of the dichotomy and into “holding the space for the middle.” Savoring the moments of change and staying present with “what you know to be true.” The difference is that there is no value placed on that what is within the space. The space is – what it is – in that moment.
The Sexual Freedom Resolution is a stand against discrimination by professionals in the field of sexuality and sexual health. This Resolution can be submitted to civil, criminal and family courts by people who are stigmatized because of their sexual expression in order to help them get a fair trial on the merits of their case. We encourage organizations that serve mental and health professionals to sign onto this resolution, as well as educational groups and Kink Aware Professionals.
To sign on, email
Sexual Freedom Resolution Working within the framework of social justice and human rights, we support the right of freedom of sexual expression among consenting adults. We affirm that sexual expression is central to the human experience, that this right is central to overall health and well-being, and that this right must be honored. We support the right to be free from discrimination, oppression, exploitation and violence due to one’s sexual expression. The best contemporary scientific evidence finds that consenting adults who practice BDSM, fetishes, cross-dressing and non-monogamy can be presumed healthy as a group. We believe that any sexuality education or therapies that treat sexual problems must avoid stigmatizing or pathologizing these forms of sexual expressions between fully informed consenting adults. As professionals in the field of sexuality and sexual health, we actively seek to destigmatize consensual sexual expression and sexual practices among consenting adults, as well as to help create and maintain safe space for those who have been traditionally marginalized.
See the Panels and Plenary on NCSF's YouTube Channel
NCSF Consent Summit
The goal of the NCSF Consent Summit was to bring people together across cultural lines to discuss consent in order to help promote consent in our own communities. Now you can watch the Plenary and Panel discussions online!
Susan Wright gave the State of Consent Plenary for a sold out crowd of over 100 people at the NCSF Consent Summit on April 23rd at the Center for Sex Positive Culture. The State of Consent Plenary explores consent and the movements for social change that have fought against sexual violence.
Legal and policy experts discussed issues related to Federal and state laws involving consent to sexual activities, including those used to criminally prosecute consensual BDSM. Presenters (from left): Robyn Friedman, Rudy Serra, Judy Guerin, Riddhi Mukhopadhyay and Dick Cunningham.
Consent activists who are making a difference in their own communities discuss their current projects, what's in the works, and how you can get involved. Presenters (clockwise from top left): Tobi Hill-Meyer, Tristan Taormino, Susan Wright, Mercy Stackhouse, Doris O'Neal, Kitty Stryker and Ashley Haymond.
"Yes means Yes" is replacing the old paradigm of "No means No" on college campuses and in state assault laws. What does that mean for you? Presenters (from left): Rudy Serra, Ruby B. Johnson, Robyn Friedman, Cassie Lawrence, Dick Cunningham and Judy Guerin.
The NCSF Consent Summit was an all-day event of workshops and discussions on consent on April 23rd that was sponsored by the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival and the Foundation and Center for Sex Positive Culture.
The NCSF Consent Summit was held in April to help further the goals of Sexual Assault Awareness Month to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities on how to prevent it.
See Tristan Taormino's Keynote Speech on NCSF's YouTube Channel
Sold Out Crowd at the NCSF Consent Summit!
The NCSF Consent Summit™ on April 23rd welcomed over 100 people for an all-day discussion about consent at the Center for Sex Positive Culture. The live broadcast of the event drew nearly 50 people who attended throughout the day.
Tristan Taormino's Keynote Speech is posted on the NCSF YouTube channel for everyone to see. The State of Consent Plenary and all three Panel Discussions will be posted over the next week, so tune back in to see what's new.
Our vision begins with our desires. - Audre Lorde.
What vision do you have for your intimate relationship future?
What if you had a choice to structure, quantify, and love without another’s manufactured design?
With generous intention, this symposium celebrates the unique way that we love and relate. With enthusiasm, we express our relational intimacy, emotional capacity, and sexual fluidity with tenacity and fervor. The consequence of inhibition and oppression is to be held captive by socially constructed parameters. Our symposium aims to educate, expose, and disseminate the knowledge and expertise of the authors of Designer Relationships, national speakers, community organizers, mental health practitioners, and creative spirited individuals who have lived and advocated for surpassing those parameters.
Your celebratory experiences occur on July 22-23, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. Our Saturday Night Keynote Speaker is innovator and educator Tristan Taormino. Our Friday Night Opening Speaker is very talented speaker and galvanizing force Joe Kort PhD and our Saturday Afternoon Jazz Brunch Speaker is the brilliant and very powerful force within black sexologist and sex therapy community, James Wadley PhD. Our symposium’s name “Designer Relationships” is inspired by the book of the same name, Designer Relationships: A Guide to Happy Monogamy, Positive Polyamory, and Optimistic Open Relationships, which was written by multi-award winning authors, Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson. The author’s approved our symposium using the name and both of the authors agreed to attend our symposium as our Banquet Q&A panelists! Our Friday Night Entertainment is Dem Damn Dames Burlesque Troupe with featured sensual, fluid, and gender bending performers: Tifa Tittlywinks, Onyx Fury, and Chess Shires.