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Over de Grens - Maastricht 2016

Organizing a response to sexual assault

Workshop on how to respond to a sexual assault with concepts of restorative justice and community accountability.

Unfortunately, sexual violence, constant occurrence of crossed boundaries and physical and mental assaults are quite common even in the sub-cultural scenes which we are part of. Just with saying ‘even’ we commit the first mistake with a presumption. So many times we tend to assume that just because we are a part of a community that opposes main-stream culture, we can’t possibly do harm to each other. And if we do, we refuse to realise it because we are scared to admit our own mistakes or are afraid of incapability to face the problem and deal with consequences.

SOLI group from Nijmegen came to existence as a response to confusion and ‘heated up passions’ within our community while trying, for the first time, to go through something called ‘community accountability process’. Something that so rarely happens – survivor of a sexual assault came up front asking for help and support. Something that almost never happens – community responded and didn’t decide to ‘shove it under the carpet’. Of course, as it is bound to happen due to a lack of experience, a lot of things were ‘trial and error’. This is why it is important not to leave the whole issue and discussion about how to deal with sexual violence on one and only time, one and only process, but to try to inform and educate ourselves and our acquaintances. And that is precisely one of our main goals with the SOLI group.

Beside all best wishes to support people who experienced harm, we must know how to do it. Care, compassion, caution, but self-criticism as well are one of the most important conditions which must exist in order to try and help someone who has been through a traumatic experience. From there on, it can get just more complicated, but with every extra effort we are closer to a healthier social environment. We want to share our experience with all of you, all our lessons learned, notes on how and what not to and positive conclusions. In order to reflect more on how we interact with each other, in order to feel safe enough to ask for help, in order to trust in that we are all ready to take responsibility for our actions when needed… We need to talk and start destructing the taboo around the topic of sexual behavior patterns and sexual violence. With this workshop we would like to scratch the surface and hopefully inspire more similar groups into existence.