Chicago Rope

Incident Response Policy

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About our Policy

In the interest of maintaining an inclusive and supportive educational environment, Chicago Rope prioritizes addressing the concerns of attendees of our events. We encourage members of our community to reach out to us about anything that might make them uncomfortable. To address situations in which a member of our community feels harmed or threatened by another individual, Chicago Rope has developed a set of principles and procedures.

In addition to this policy, Chicago Rope has other policies regarding the conduct of attendees, staff, and instructors at our events. Information about these policies is available on our website. Participation in any of the educational opportunities afforded by Chicago Rope requires informed consent to all of our policies and an agreement to assume the risks associated with the activities that take place at our events.

Guiding Principles

As a group whose focus is education, our approach is different from that of many other institutions. We believe education is a process and that in order for it occur, people must be given an opportunity to learn from their actions. Our goal is to serve all of our community members as they grow in their understanding. In our actions as an organization, we want ensure that we treat people fairly and with respect and dignity. In responding to reports, we prioritize maintaining an inclusive educational environment that is supportive to marginalized groups.

We are not a law enforcement or policing organization, and our role in the community is not to conduct investigations, arbitrate disputes, or administer justice. Our staff are not formally trained in mediation or therapy, and we are not qualified to intervene in conflicts that might arise in the context of interpersonal relationships. Chicago Rope encourages community members to seek out professionals with such training when necessary and can offer assistance with that process for those who need it. A partial list of outside resources can be found in Appendix II.

Definitions

In this document, we introduce terms specific to our process. Definitions of those terms can be found below.

  • Staff Member, Staff. Any person wearing a staff badge at our events or any active staff member listed on our website.
  • Staff Email. Each Staff Member has been assigned a chicagorope.com email address for members of the public to contact them regarding official Chicago Rope business. These email addresses are listed on our website.
  • Instructor. Any person who has presented or is to scheduled to present at a Chicago Rope event. This includes all of our Staff Members and any guest presenters that we invite to teach at our events.
  • Incident Report, Report. An official statement made to Chicago Rope Staff about an incident involving a community member feeling harmed or threatened by another individual. See below for instructions on filing an Incident Report.
  • Incident Report Form (IRF). The physical or electronic form used to initiate an Incident Report.
  • Incident Report Number (IRN), Report Number. Each Incident Report will be assigned a unique identifying number that we will use to track your report. It allows us to refer to specific reports without mentioning personal details.
  • Report Liaison. A Staff Member assigned to be your primary point of contact with Chicago Rope throughout our process of responding to your Incident Report.
  • Reporting Party. A person who has submitted an Incident Report.
  • Corroborating Report(s). Related Incident Reports filed by two or more Reporting Parties about the same person(s) or incident(s).
  • Supplemental Material. Additional documentation, evidence, or other information that might be relevant to your Incident Report.

Report Filing Process

Our incident reporting process starts with the submission of an Incident Report Form (IRF). Our IRF is available as a printed document or an online form. Printed copies are available at all Chicago Rope events. If you would like to file a report at an event, please approach anyone wearing a “Staff” badge. They will have both a paper IRF and a tablet to complete our online IRF available and they can offer you assistance in completing either version of the form. In cases where multiple people wish to file Corroborating Reports about the same incident, each Reporting Party must complete a separate Incident Report Form. Anonymous reports will be accepted online, but our ability to respond to them is limited.

At a minimum, a report should contain:

  • the identity of the person(s) involved (both legal and “scene” names are acceptable)
  • the date(s) of the incident(s) – approximate dates are useful if the incident was not recent, but the more accurate you can be, the better
  • a narrative account of what happened in your own words
  • a description of the consequences the incident(s) had on you personally or anyone else

You may submit additional evidence and other forms of supplemental material along with your report or separately at a later time. We cannot consider any evidence or accounts that are not first-hand. Our reporting process provides options for submitting narrative accounts in written, verbal, and recorded formats. Narrative accounts need not be submitted at the same time an IRF is filed unless you wish to file anonymously or do not wish to be contacted about your report. In those cases, logistical constraints require that we receive the entirety of your report, including all supplemental files you wish to submit, together with your IRF.

Once your IRF has been submitted, you will be receive an Incident Report Number (IRN). Please include this Report Number in all your correspondence about your report and with any material you wish to submit later.

Assignment of a Report Liaison

Within 48 hours of submitting an IRF, a Staff Member will be assigned as your Report Liaison. Your IRF will have a section in which you can request a specific Report Liaison and indicate anyone who you do not wish to serve as your Liaison. We will attempt to honor your request if possible, but we cannot guarantee the availability of all staff members. If you are assigned a Report Liaison that you do not wish to work with, please contact us at reports@chicagorope.com.

Your Report Liaison will be your primary point of contact with Chicago Rope throughout our process of responding to your report. They can offer assistance in filing your report or with seeking external resources, including victims’ support and advocacy organizations, mental health professionals, and law enforcement. Your Report Liaison will also provide you with information about the status of our response process. Contacting this individual will be the fastest and most efficient way to communicate with us about your report, but you may also contact us through any other Staff Member.

Submission of Additional Material

Any information not included with your initial IRF filing can submitted later. Your Report Liaison can provide assistance in completing the remainder of your report. You can send us written or recorded information at any time by contacting your Report Liaison, via email to reports@chicagorope.com, or through our website contact form. Please include either the original Incident Report Form or your Incident Report Number with your message.

Your narrative account of the incident can also be provided to us in verbal form. If you wish to submit a verbal account, indicate this on your IRF and your Report Liaison will contact you to arrange a time. At least two Chicago Rope Staff Members will be present and each staff member will independently take notes. You can request the Staff Members you feel most comfortable with, subject to availability. A Staff Member selected may recuse themself for any reason. If this happens, you may request another Staff Member in their place. You may also elect to have a mediator or other support present, however this cannot be a person who is filing a Corroborating Report. If all parties agree, this meeting may be recorded.

If you wish to submit an audio or video recording, you may do so along with your online IRF, through your Report Liaison, or via email to reports@chicagorope.com. We can accept files in most common digital formats. Your Report Liaison can arrange to provide equipment or technical assistance if you need help making a recording or converting your recording to a format we can accept. If you wish to submit materials to us in any other format, please contact your Report Liaison for further instructions.

Accessibility

Incident Reports may be submitted in any language. If a report is not submitted in English, the report will be translated to English before we respond to it. Our Staff Members can communicate in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. If possible, we will assign a Report Liaison who speaks your preferred language. Otherwise, we will employ an external translator or interpreter to facilitate communication between you and your Report Liaison. Please let us know on your IRF, through your Report Liaison, or via email at reports@chicagorope.com if you require this or other accommodations in submitting your report.

Privacy and Disclosure

Any information submitted to Chicago Rope in the context of an Incident Report will be kept private and will only be shared with Staff Members and outside professionals retained to advise us. All parties who have access to a report will be required to maintain the privacy of any information shared them in the course of our response. No details of an Incident Report will be discussed with or disclosed to any other parties.

Typically, all Chicago Rope Staff Members will have access to reports filed with us. If you submit a report involving a Staff Member, or you feel that a Staff Member would have a potential conflict of interest in responding to your report, you can request your report not be shared with them, however they will know a report exists that they are not able to access.

As part of our response, we may disclose some of the contents of a report to persons identified in it in order to seek more information. You may request we not inform any person mentioned in a report of the contents or even the existence of your report. Such a request may limit our available responses.

During our process of responding to an Incident Report, we may request additional information from the Reporting Party, any persons identified in the report, or other third parties that may have relevant information. At any point, any party may opt out of this process or choose to stop providing information. If this happens, Chicago Rope may proceed on the basis of the information already shared. Note that declining to participate or requesting not to receive further information does not constitute withdrawal of a report. Please see below for information on how to amend or withdraw a report.

Our Response

We take all reports seriously, regardless of the circumstances associated with them. In order to be fair to all parties, we take a structured approach to responding to reports. Our response process can take up to six weeks, or occasionally longer if complications arise.

As an educational organization, Chicago Rope’s response to a report will be primarily focused on creating an environment where students feel comfortable learning and sharing space with other members of our community. After receiving a report, we will reach out to all involved parties to understand where they are coming from. We do not view an Incident Report as the end of a conversation but the beginning. Our goal is to prioritize understanding of where the discomfort of the Reporting Party comes from and how that can be addressed.

Factors we Assess in Our Response

We consider a number of factors in determining how to respond to a report. First and foremost, we look at the nature and severity of the incident. If an incident is disputed, we will evaluate the descriptions we receive from the parties involved and any eyewitnesses as well as any documentary evidence submitted to us.

Second, we consider how the person(s) mentioned in the report responds. As an educational group, our goal is to provide support for members of our community who wish to learn from their mistakes, improve their behavior, and work with us to maintain a supportive community and positive learning environment.

Finally, we take into account any past or ongoing patterns of behavior observed that might suggest possible issues in the future.

Actions Available to Us

In our response to a report, Chicago Rope has a number of actions available to us:

  • Establishing Restrictions at our Events
  • Facilitating Discussion
  • Education or Counselling
  • External Mediation and Facilitated Conflict Resolution
  • Removal from Our Events

This is not an exhaustive list, and we may take any other actions that we feel are appropriate. We also may decide, based on information available, that taking an action falls outside the scope of our organizational mission. Chicago Rope will determine how to proceed based on a consensus agreement of our Staff on how we can best serve our community. Our decisions always remain open to appeal and review as outlined below.

Establishing Restrictions at our Events

In the course of responding to a report, we may establish temporary restrictions as a precautionary measure. At the request of any party involved, we can communicate that the parties should not interact with each other at our events. Other restrictions can involve equipment usage, forms of interaction allowed, or permission to attend our events. In our final response, Chicago Rope may choose to maintain these or other restrictions.

Facilitating Discussion

If the parties involved in a report are open to engaging in discussion, we will attempt to work with them to establish a conversation between everyone involved. Our goal for this process is not necessarily to reach a point of universal agreement, but rather to create mutual understanding and try and find ways that all parties can comfortably coexist.

Education or Counseling

In some cases, we might encourage or even require a community member to seek additional education, counseling, or coaching on a relevant subject. This may be offered by Chicago Rope Staff or by accredited outside sources. We may ask that documentation be provided that this process has occurred or that a minimum standard of understanding be demonstrated prior to lifting a restriction.

External Mediation or Facilitated Conflict Resolution

If Chicago Rope encounters difficulties in establishing communication with or between one or more parties involved in an Incident Report, we may request outside assistance. Although it is never required, Chicago Rope encourages parties who are referred to external conflict resolution organizations to take advantage of the opportunity. If any party declines to participate, the remaining parties may choose to move forward on their own or with Chicago Rope Staff. For more information on how we use mediation and other forms of facilitated conflict resolution, please see Appendix I.

Removal from Our Events

In extreme cases where communication or education proves impossible, we reserve the right to consider temporary or permanent removal from our events.

Reports Involving Instructors

At Chicago Rope, we believe that teachers, presenters, and others in leadership positions should strive to model responsible interaction with students and community members. For this reason, we have created a Code of Conduct that outlines how we expect our Instructors and Volunteers to conduct themselves in our community. Because we have higher standards for those who assume positions of authority in our organization, we treat reports involving our Instructors differently from those involving other members of our community.

If a Staff Member is involved in an incident that has been formally reported to us, that Staff Member will be recused from acting on behalf of Chicago Rope in our response to the report. At our discretion, we may ask that Staff Member to take a leave of absence from our organization while we respond to the report. None of these steps are punitive, and they do not represent a finding of guilt or wrongdoing. Instead, they are intended to ensure the fairness of our process,  protect all parties, and maintain a safe environment for our attendees.

If one of our Instructors is mentioned in a report, we will conduct an evaluation to ensure we are not putting any of our students or members of our community at risk. If we find that an Instructor has violated our Code of Conduct or otherwise poses a risk to our community in their capacity as an educator or organizer, we reserve the right to cancel their appearance, book another presenter in their place, or temporarily or permanently remove them from our Staff.

Informing the Parties of Our Response

Once we have decided upon an organizational response, the Report Liaison will contact the Reporting Party to discuss our response with them. Chicago Rope will also inform any other parties who have provided information related to the Incident Report that we have concluded our response. Throughout this process, we will adhere to all restrictions on privacy and confidentiality requested by the Reporting Party. For privacy reasons, some kinds of information about our response may not be shared with all parties. For reports involving an Instructor or other matters of significant community interest, we reserve the right to make a public statement about our response without including any personally identifying information.

Amendment, Withdrawal, and Appeal

A Reporting Party may amend a previously submitted report by contacting their Report Liaison, who will direct them to complete a form that will ask for what they want to add or change and the reason for the change. Chicago Rope will retain both the original and amended versions of a report, although only the amended version will be used as a basis for our response.

A Reporting Party who wishes to withdraw a previously submitted report must contact their Report Liaison and make a written withdrawal request. In general, we will immediately conclude our response to a report that has been withdrawn. However, Chicago Rope reserves the right to use any information we receive in the context of a report at our sole discretion.

Any party to an Incident Report that we have concluded our response to may request a review and/or appeal of our decision by emailing reports@chicagorope.com. We recognize that individuals, understandings, and the needs of communities are subject to change, and we remain open to considering new information as it becomes available. In the case of a review or appeal of our response to an Incident Report, the individuals involved may be contacted by Staff to follow-up, unless they have requested otherwise.

Questions and Assistance

Chicago Rope is happy to answer any questions about our policy or to connect people with a Staff Member who can assist with filing a report. Our organizational leadership can be reached at via email at at reports@chicagorope.com or via our contact form on our website. Individual staff members may be contacted through their email address listed on our staff page. While we are happy to answer questions about our process, we cannot share or discuss the details of any reports received.

This policy is subject to change as our organizational needs evolve. The handling of any report taken by Chicago Rope will be governed by the policy in existence at the time the report is initiated, unless all parties agree to use the most current version of this policy.

Appendix I: Mediation and External Conflict Resolution

Mediation presents an opportunity to be heard and to hear others. A mediator facilitates communication between two or more parties to assist them in coming to a mutually satisfactory resolution. If such a resolution is not possible, mediation can help clarify the points of disagreement so that all parties can walk away with a shared understanding, even if they are not in agreement. Mediation is different from arbitration in that a mediator has no decision-making authority

Chicago Rope has an established a working relationship with Chicago’s Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR), an independent non-profit professional organization that provides pro-bono mediation services to the Chicago community. They have a tremendous amount of experience dealing with a wide variety of interpersonal conflicts and can offer all parties a neutral and unbiased perspective.

If a report referred to CCR for mediation is accepted, one of their case managers will reach out to the parties involved to explain more about the mediation process and how they can participate in it. Mediation is entirely voluntary and any party may end their participation at an any time.

If the parties choose to engage in a direct mediation with each other, there are two ways that Chicago Rope can interact with this process as an organization: one or more Staff Members can be present for all or part of the mediation, or any written agreements reached through mediation can be submitted to us for further review and action. Any such involvement of Chicago Rope in a mediation between members of our community requires unanimous consent.

Chicago Rope may also choose to work with other third-party professional groups or employ alternative forms of facilitated conflict resolution, such as restorative justice circles. Those who would like us to work with specific outside organizations in order to resolve a conflict should include that information in their report. We cannot guarantee all requests will be granted as some organizations might not be a good fit for our community. If such a request is made, it may require a significant amount of additional time for us to evaluate an organization and establish a working relationship with them.

Appendix II: External Resources

The Consent Academy

The Consent Academy is an educational collective located in Seattle. Their mission is to provide consent education across contexts. They offer workshops, consultations, and educational material to help people work on and understand the complexity surrounding consent. The Consent Academy provided input and feedback on Chicago Rope’s Incident Response Policy.

The Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR)

The Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR) is an independent, not-for-profit organization with a mission to work with individuals, communities, courts and other institutions to manage and resolve conflict. Since 1979, CCR has accomplished this mission by offering pro bono mediation services and conflict management training to Chicago area institutions, organizations and businesses. CCR contributed to Appendix I of this document and is Chicago Rope’s recommended provider for mediation services in Chicago.

Resilience

Resilience (formerly Rape Victim’s Advocates) is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the healing and empowerment of sexual assault survivors through non-judgmental crisis intervention counseling, individual and group trauma therapy, and medical and legal advocacy in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. Resilience provides public education and institutional advocacy in order to improve the treatment of sexual assault survivors and to effect positive change in policies and public attitudes toward sexual assault.

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

Howard Brown Health Center

Howard Brown Health exists to eliminate the disparities in healthcare experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through research, education and the provision of services that promote health and wellness.

The Center on Halsted

Center on Halsted is the Midwest’s most comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people of Chicagoland. More than 1,000 community members visit the Center every day, located in the heart of Chicago’s Lakeview Neighborhood.

National Center for Sexual Freedom (NCSF)

The NCSF is committed to creating a political, legal and social environment in the US that advances equal rights for consenting adults who engage in alternative sexual and relationship expressions. They aim to advance the rights of, and advocate for consenting adults in the BDSM-Leather-Fetish, Swing, and Polyamory Communities. They pursue their vision through direct services, education, advocacy, and outreach, in conjunction with their partners, to directly benefit these communities.