OCCUPY CLEVELAND Sexual Offense Prevention and Response Team (SOPRT) PROPOSAL IMPUT
To prevent sexual assault and harassment within our OCCUPY CLEVELAND by providing consent based education and outlining community standards on behavior. In the case of sexual offenses to provide a, resources, support and a process for OCCUPY CLEVELAND based mediation and accountability.
Part I - Prevention
SOPRT will work with all members of the OCCUPY CLEVELANDch community to prevention sexual offenses. This work will include publicizing and gaining approval for the Sexual Offense Policy, including the community standards, providing consent and other educational trainings, and working to create a sense of community accountability as a deterrent.
Part II- Response
The Response Team aims to be led by the needs and wishes of survivors of sexual offenses. However, it seeks to prevent any imbalance of justice. No punitive measures can be taken although mediation processes can be undertaken. While the team strives to provide alternatives to involving law enforcement, it in no way replaces law enforcement and will support a survivor if the decision is made to go to the police.
During all major OCCUPY CLEVELAND events the Response Team will staff a, be visible and available and provide a survivor safe space in the area. Working with a Resource Bank, the response team will offer survivors, perpetrators and the community at large support, resources and options for responding to any incidents. The response team will remain in contact with each other develop their own response and prevention procedures.
The Response Team will be a group comprised of individuals that have received training on responding to sexual offenses and will be available within the OCCUPY CLEVELAND community to intervene in situations of sexual assault and to provide support to those involved. The team will be A WORKING GROUP , particularly to survivors of sexual misconduct. In order to provide the survivor with the option to meet with a response team representative that she/he/ze feels most comfortable with, the response team should include the following: people of varying race and class backgrounds; people of varying ages; queer, woman, and man, and trans-identified persons; many language abilities especially Spanish and ASL.
The Resource Bank will be a group of people who are not necessarily on the response team, but who have certain skills/knowledge that can be used to provide support to survivors and to the response team. For example: counselors, persons with medical experience, persons with relevant legal experience, the local rape crisis center, etc. Members of the resource bank will be available regionally to support survivors in their local communities outside of major SOAW events.
Local Contacts are individuals from different groups who have received training in responding to sexual offenses and will be available locally to provide support to survivors. Local contacts will maintain contact with the response team and local members of the OCCUPY CLEVELAND resource bank and will provide support to survivors/work with perpetrators outside of major OCCUPY CLEVLAND events.
Response Team Roles
Responder: A responder is the person to have initial contact with a survivor of a sexual offense who is requesting support from the response team, or with a perpetrator who has come forward and is requesting support. The responder will first inform the person coming forward of the resources available and then work with them to figure out how they wish to proceed and what roles will need to be filled.
Mediator: A mediator should serve in a non-biased capacity to facilitate a mediation process between the perpetrator and the survivor of a sexual offense. This person should be trained in mediation and should not serve simultaneously as an advocate for either the survivor or the perpetrator.
Facilitator: A facilitator should serve in a non-biased capacity to guide a group or community through the process of responding to and/or dealing with a sexual offense on a community level. This person should be trained in group facilitation and group emotional process work.
Advocate: An advocate should serve as a support person for either the perpetrator or the survivor of a sexual offense. This person should not simultaneously act in the role of a facilitator or a mediator, as this person will be acting solely as support for one party. This person should be trained in advocacy. The type of support an advocate provides will be based on the needs and wishes of the person who is being advocated for.
These roles can vary based on the situation and the role any given team member plays can vary from case to case. In any given situation, the team members involved will meet to assess who should take on what role. This process should take into account team member's areas of skill, relationship (if any) to the survivor and/or perpetrator, and the wishes of the survivor.
Joining the Team: There are no specific pre-requisites for joining the response team, however those wishing to join must commit to engaging in a certain level of training, maintaining a standard of confidentiality, respecting team decisions, and working in accordance with the team's goal and vision.
Training: Ideally response team members should have training in some of the following areas/skills: survivor advocacy/support, perpetrator support, mediation, group facilitation, responding to hotline calls, group emotional process work, dealing with/working with police, and anti-oppression. Team members will work to be trained in their local community and the team will hold annual team trainings/retreats.
Communication: During major events team members will stay in close contact with each other by cellphone and in-person meetings. The person staffing the hotline will have a back-up at all times. Between events the team will communicate over a closed listserv, conference calls and in-person meetings.
Contacting the Team: At major events the team will maintain a visible presence, staff the 24 hour hotline and provide a survivor safe space. The team will distribute palm cards with the phone number, flyers, the policy and work to get information about the team including in other literature. The team will also work on producing a resource guide that includes: a list of SOPRT members, including brief bios and individual contact information, a list of local group contacts, a list of resource bank members, including a description of the services they are offering and their contact information, and information on how to find a local rape crisis center and other local services. Between events, the team will maintain a mailing address, phone number and email address and responsibility for promptly receiving and responding to messages will rotate.
Decision-making: The response team will make decisions regarding group structure and process on a consensus basis. Resource people and local contacts should be consulted when necessary and informed of any relevant decisions made by the response team. Decisions based on individual situations may be made by the team members involved in the response. In order to respect confidentiality there will need to be a high level of trust and empowerment among team members. In situations where the survivor does not wish for the entire team to be contacted, the team members involved should communicate to the entire team that they are responding to an incident.
Confidentiality: In a community such as OCCUPY CLEVELAND where it is somewhat difficult to remain anonymous, confidentiality is of the utmost importance. Violation of confidentiality creates an unsafe environment and breaks the trust that has been placed in the team. Confidentiality is defined as respecting the privacy of all posts made to the listserv, and conversations between group members and those requesting support, in meetings, on the hotline and in informal settings. SOPRT members must always define confidentiality by the standards of the person(s) seeking support, and may not share information with the group or any other individuals without the acquiescence of the person(s) seeking support. Confidentiality will be maintained for all current and former situations in which SOPRT members have been involved. If written records are kept by SOPRT for grant-writing or historical purposes, all names and identifying information will be changed.
Accountability: Response team members will be held accountable by each other, by those who are using the team's services, and by the larger community when applicable. If a team member breaks confidentiality, creates or perpetuates an unsafe environment, or conducts her/his/hirself in a manner that is clearly contradictory to the ideals of the team, that person will be suspended from participation with the team and will be held accountable for their actions.
Stepping Back: If advice is sought by a friend or for a situation that is triggering to a SOPRT member in any way, the SOPRT member will determine case-by-case whether they are able to be involved in this situation, or if they need to step back and recommend/assist the person(s) to contact other SOPRT members. Stepping back for whatever reason is respected and will not be challenged by other SOPRT members.
In the Event that a Sexual Offense is Reported
The Response Team will maintain confidentiality based on the wishes of the survivor. The Response Team is not mandated to report the offense to legal authorities, and will not do so without explicit survivor consent.
Once a member of the SOPRT is contacted, the team member must establish what measures of support are being requested and what standards of confidentiality are being requested. Once this has been established, the responder may contact other team members or resource bank members as needed. Which members of the team are contacted should be based on the wishes and needs of the survivor, and the specifics of the situation. It should be understood, however, that one team member may not be able/willing to take on multiple roles in responding to a situation of sexual misconduct.
- When/if the survivor wishes to confront/address the perpetrator, the response team will assist in this process, acting as support for the survivor. If the survivor wishes for the perpetrator to be confronted/addressed but does not wish to be involved in this process, the response team will confront/address the perpetrator with the survivor's consent.
- The survivor has a right to place certain demands on the perpetrator. If the perpetrator is not willing to meet these demands, the survivor may decide to take further measures, such as asking the perpetrator to remove his/her/hirself from certain spaces/events/communities. The response team will assist in making sure the decisions of the survivor are respected by the perpetrator and by the community.
- The survivor may decide to report her/his/hir experience to the police or other representatives of the legal system. In this event, the response team will the support the survivor in this decision and will work with the survivor in dealing with the police.
- The survivor will decide whether/how widely to spread the information of the assault. Survivor anonymity will be maintained and respected based on the wishes of the survivor.
- The responder and advocates begin with the needs of the survivor as the number one priority and then radiates out to the needs of the immediate community, then the needs of the larger community, and so on.
-The response team will be available to work with the perpetrator if the perpetrator wishes to accept accountability for his/her/hir actions and actively engage in this process.