Due to recent events within the Ontario community, I enlisted the help of Dr Laura Coleman. I want to provide resources for dealing with allegations of abuse against people we hold in high esteem. The circumstances of this case involve children, but there are other violations that happen around us. Episode 5 of Stereo-Typed and these supporting writings are meant to be applied to any situation where our faith in humanity is shaken because of charges against people we personally know, respect and trust.
How to Help When Your BDSM Community Has an Abuse Crisis
Guest Contribution by Dr Laura Coleman (re-posted with permission.)
TPOK’s response to a community in crisis
On September 7th, at 7 PM EST, I’ll be appearing live on @AuntieSocial’s Internet radio show, Stereo-Typed. The topic is When People We Know Do Bad Things. The show is live, so people can respond via live chat with questions they might have. You can find much more information about the show here.
Two other very excellent shows have been recorded about the current situation. They are well worth listening to.
There is a crisis in the community served by Stereo-Typed. These kinds of crises are an unfortunately all too common experience for us all. In the BDSM community and in the world at large.
Sadly, predatory behavior isn’t an isolated case
As a retired Marriage and Family Therapist (now working as a Life Coach in my online private practice), I spent my life studying predatory behavior with the sole purpose of helping victims.
I saw a similar crisis in my own community with The McMartin Preschool case. I was newly licensed when that case broke and was slightly involved in meetings and treatment of a few children. The difficulties a community faces leads to a lot of what I saw that went wrong in my therapeutic community.
Let’s learn from their mistakes. Below is what went wrong and what could have been done better.
- People took on tasks and roles they were not suited for. Therapists tried to be police officers investigating the abuse. Police officers tried to be therapists treating children. Neither task is compatible with the other and both failed at their tasks because of it.
Use the skills and abilities you have to help.
Be a friend or a mentor. Do what you normally do. If you run a munch, pay attention to that munch and the atmosphere there. If you hold parties, plan your next one with an eye on cheering people up. Make people laugh, if you can. If you are a community leader or organizer already, think about how you can help organize something constructive. Be yourself and continue on.
- People indulged their ego and fought for top dog position. In a crisis, some people will start from their place of personal or character flaws. These individuals inadvertently created conflict with others by using the crisis to become more important than they could effectively handle.
Be cautious about who you follow during the months after a crisis.
Often the voice that stands out is not one you really want to follow. During a crisis, your judgment is impaired by the pain of the crisis. It’s best to keep things simple and stick to your usual values and behaviors. In a crisis, leaders can arise organically as a result of their abilities. These people are naturally helpful. Look for authenticity in your leaders.
- People didn’t know how to communicate about what was happening. Most people don’t have words to think about child molestation in the community much less express their feelings about it. Consequently, people begin to doubt themselves, their neighbors and even the validity of their community itself. They turn on themselves and each other.
Learn how others handle child abuse accusations in their community
You can read articles, listen to the radio shows on this topic. Talk and listen to each other. Seek kink friendly professional help.
- People blamed themselves, each other, the community, everything and anything they could think of to blame.
In cases in the BDSM community, people begin to think it’s kink’s fault. They question their roles, relationships and fetishes. This lead to all sorts of individual recriminations and community conflict.
Say this to yourself: The only people responsible for abuse are the people who perpetrate it.
It is not your fault. It’s not kink’s fault. BDSM values consent. Abuse is not consensual. If you value consent, then whatever happened is not your fault. Similarly, if your friends value consent, it is not their fault. Also, if most of the people you know in your community value consent, it’s not their fault either.
- People blamed everyone and everything for not knowing about the abuse including people and behaviors not at all related to the problem. Teachers and child therapists all over the community stopped hugging young children. Some assumed false allegations. Others assumed that hugging children who asked for a hug was abusive. Understand that you are in crisis and might not be able to properly assess all the factors involved.
In the BDSM community, this is where some question BDSM itself as if the lifestyle is the cause. People wonder if BDSM caused the abuse or our inability to see it when it happens. That’s not the truth. Predators hide in plain sight. They enter communities and deliberately mask their behaviors in the same way as animals use their environment to hide themselves. Know that we are not at fault or responsible for the abuse another person perpetrates.
Look for the things you love in the people you know and about your community.
There are plenty of positive constructive people in your community. Friends, events, parties, and munches. You made this your community for a reason. Remember what that reason was. Pay attention to what you focus on. Make yourself spend more time talking about the positives than the current crisis.
- People turned on each other. This happens with all tragedies. Community tragedies and family adversity. People demanded that everyone have the same feelings. Other people insisted that everyone behave according to their dictates. Families broke up. People simply picked up and moved away out of the community. Neighbors stopped speaking to one another. A tragedy is uncomfortable with a ton of painful feelings.
Remember to treat your friends and neighbors with care and concern.
You need each other. So, be cautious how you treat each other. Use respect. Remember everyone has limits and personal boundaries. Everyone is hurt, and no one is hurt any worse than anyone else. No one deserves special treatment. You all do. From each other.
- People became overly protective of their children. If you suspect your child has been molested, the very best thing you can do is work on making them feel safe and like you trust them to talk to you when they need to. Another thing that helps people, child and adult, is to work on self-care and stability. People will automatically share their feelings when they feel strong enough to do so.
Try to stabilize your family life.
Routines are good. They make people feel safe. If you have family routines, return to them. Your children AND you, yourself, will feel better keeping that routine.
- People, parents and therapists became intrusive in their questioning of the children, demanding over and over that the child tell them what happened. It’s wrong. This often becomes abusive.
Listen when they talk. Let them be when they don’t.
Just make yourself available to them. Make them safe and they’ll tell you what they need. All that is necessary for that is for you to listen.
- People took to expressing their feelings in open and sometimes violent ways. It used to be a therapeutic tool to beat a pillow or do something openly violent to help with anger. Later research showed that encouraging a person to rage like that only increased their anger in nonproductive ways.
Use safer ways to handle your emotions.
Self-talk, just telling yourself things will improve or you are not at fault is helpful. Self-comfort involves a lot of the same things you might do for drop. When you feel upset, do what you know helps you. Some tools are talking, writing, artwork, exercise, as well as hobbies that involve routine and repetitive actions.
- Community action was alternately very good and very bad. People organized some outstanding child prevention education programs. Reports came in years later of children who said ‘no’ and reported abuse before their lives became tragic. That’s great! There were other things not so great. There is this law of unintended consequences where what you do has reverberations out into the future.
Try to be mindful of what you create and why you personally want to create it.
This is easier when you also are careful who you follow. Think carefully about what might happen as a result of your actions.
A tragedy can be a painful disruption that destroys, or an opportunity to create more, better and grow as a community. I’ve always felt that I could use everything that happens to me to grow, heal, and become a better person. I hope you do too. But, that choice is up to you.
Please join us on September 7th for the live broadcast. The actual show will not appear until we go live, so you will need to refresh your screen to access the airing. During the live show, you can participate in the live chat by clicking on the messages icon on the Spreaker page for the show. Please feel free to ask questions, or be supportive of one another.
If you can’t join us live, you can access the archive on Spreaker or iTunes.
This case study is re-posted with permission of the author. The original posting can be found on FetLife.
Guest Author Bio:
Dr Laura Coleman is retired from private practice as a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist, Board Certified Counsellor and Certified Clinical Mental Health Counsellor. She now works in her secure online office as a Life Coach, Life Skills Educator and Certified Hypnotist. As a therapist, she specialized in the therapeutic treatment of adults and children who experienced abuse and/or traumatic life events. She developed an out-patient treatment program for adults who were abused as children and successfully ran this program for many years.
After retirement, Dr Coleman has become a prolific writer on topics such as trauma recovery, BDSM safety, protecting yourself from predators, personal growth, self-esteem, changing your personal patterns, and improving your relationships. You can find her writings on FetLife as well as on her website. She has presented at her local dungeon, The Mark, on topics such as identifying predators and learning to say “no”. As an educator, she led many discussions for The Mark’s Kinky Roundtable and presented at a local MAsT group meeting.
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