Chicago Rope

Incident Response Policy

Quicklinks

  • Need to file a report? Use this form.
  • Need help filing a report? Message us here or at [email protected] and a Staff Member will be in touch to assist you.
  • Need additional resources? Look here.
  • See Appendix I for definitions of key terms used in this document.

About our Policy

The primary goal of all of our guidelines and policies — including our Conduct Guidelines, Staffing Policies, and Incident Response Policy — is to maintain an inclusive educational environment that is supportive to marginalized groups. To accomplish this, we have created a set of formal policies and procedures for receiving and responding to reports about incidents in which a member of our community feels harmed or threatened.

We have focused on three primary considerations in the development of this Incident Response Policy. First, we want to remove as many barriers to reporting as possible. We offer multiple ways of submitting reports to us and our reporting procedures are designed with accessibility in mind. We are happy to provide assistance with filing reports for those who request it.

Second, we want to mitigate the potential effects of unconscious bias and prejudice in responding to reports. The steps we take in response to a report are delineated in this this publicly available document to ensure we remain accountable. We have relationships with external groups who can assist and advise us when necessary. We have established procedures whereby our response to any report can be reviewed, appealed, or reopened.

Third, and most importantly, we want to listen to those who approach us and take their concerns seriously. Our Incident Report Form offers a robust set of filing options to accommodate different levels of privacy and preferences regarding further contact with our Staff. For those who want us to follow up, we appoint a dedicated Staff Member to be their primary point of contact with us throughout the process. We solicit and respond to comments and feedback on all of our policies and have created an online feedback form specifically for both this Incident Response Policy and our corresponding Incident Response Form.

Response Process

Overview

Our response process begins by gathering information and working to understand the concerns of the Reporting Party. Our subsequent approach prioritizes acknowledging and addressing the needs of those who have been harmed, including those who have been directly impacted as well as the wider community that may also be affected.

Initial Response

If the Reporting Party has opted to continue to communicate with Chicago Rope Staff about their report, we will reach out to explain more about our process and ask what we can do to help them. In some cases, we may also establish temporary restrictions on the actions of one or more parties to a report at our events as a precautionary measure. These restrictions can involve equipment usage, interaction with other attendees, or permission to attend our events.

Depending on the preferences of the Reporting Party and other factors, we may contact other parties identified in the report to inform them of the report and any initial actions we have taken that impact them. We will also give any parties we contact an opportunity to provide us with their own statement or other information.

Further Action

Our authority to act only extends to our own events, where our available options include imposing restrictions of the kind described above. These restrictions do not address the underlying causes of problematic behavior and do not prevent those who may have caused harm at our events from attending other groups’ events or joining other communities.

When we feel maintaining such restrictions on an ongoing or permanent basis is in the best interest of our community, we prefer to include a recommendation for education, counseling, or coaching on a relevant subject. This gives those who have caused harm an opportunity to improve their behavior. In some cases, we may require a waiting period or establish specific criteria that must be met prior to reevaluating a restriction or reintegrating someone into our community. Any such organizational actions we take will always remain open to appeal as described below.

Because we believe access to education is critical to improving our community, we consider permanent removal from our events to be an option of last resort. Removing members from our community means taking away valuable educational resources and avenues for self-improvement through expanding awareness and learning better communication skills. Such actions may ultimately prove counterproductive to the health of the wider community outside of our events.

Factors We Assess

When we are considering organizational action, we will determine how to proceed based on a consensus agreement of our Organizational Staff on how we can best serve our community. We will take into account the stated needs of those who have experienced harm as well as any other input we have received that is relevant to the situation. We will also look at the nature and severity of the incident. If what happened 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. Finally, we will look at the overall conduct of the involved parties, including how they have communicated with us and others about the incident.

Limitations of Our Response

Situations may sometimes arise at or through our events that are outside the scope of our organizational expertise. We are not a law enforcement or policing organization, and our Staff Members are not formally trained or certified in mediation or therapy. We are not equipped to conduct investigations, arbitrate disputes, or administer justice. We encourage our community members to seek out professionals with the appropriate training and qualifications when necessary. We can offer assistance with that process for those who need it. A partial list of relevant outside resources can be found in Appendix V.

Filing a Report

Incident Report Form (IRF)

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 any Staff Member. They will have a tablet to complete our online IRF available and can also provide you with a paper version if you request it. They can also offer assistance with either version of the form. In cases where multiple people wish to file reports about the same incident or individual, 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
  • 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

In addition, we ask that reports contain some kind of description of the consequences the incident(s) had on you or anyone else involved. While it is not necessary to provide such information or to include any personal details that you do not wish to share with us, understanding the severity of the impact of an incident is an important element of formulating our response.

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 receive an Incident Report Number (IRN). Please include your Report Number in all correspondence about your report and with any material you wish to submit later.

Liaison Assignment

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 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 Liaison that you do not wish to work with, please contact us at [email protected].

Your 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 support and advocacy organizations, mental health professionals, and law enforcement. Your Liaison will also provide you with information about the status of our response process. Contacting your Liaison 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 be submitted later. Your 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 Liaison, via email to [email protected], or through our website contact form. Please include 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 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 person present, however this person cannot be someone who is also filing a report about the same person or incident. 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 Liaison, or via email to [email protected]. We can accept files in most common digital formats. Your 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, contact your 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 several languages. If possible, we will assign a Liaison who speaks your preferred language. Otherwise, we will employ an external translator or interpreter to facilitate communication between you and your Liaison. Please let us know on your IRF, through your Liaison, or via email at [email protected] 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 our Organizational Staff Members and, in some circumstances, with 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, our entire Organizational Staff will have access to reports filed with us. If you submit a report involving an Organizational Staff Member, or you feel that one or more Organizational Staff Members would have a potential conflict of interest in responding to your report, you can specify that your report not be shared with them. In order to file such a report, you can complete the relevant section of our IRF or email us at [email protected] from a private or anonymous email address. Please indicate which Staff Member(s) you do not wish to access your report. Another Staff Member will then reach out to you to arrange for filing your report in a way that maintains your privacy. You do not need to provide any personally identifying information when you contact us. See below for more information on how we respond to reports involving Staff Members.

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 can indicate on your IRF if there are any people that you do not wish for us to discuss your report with. This may limit our available responses. We can also work with you to create a redacted, summarized, or anonymized version of your report to use as a basis for discussion with one or more persons named in your report if you do not feel comfortable with us sharing the entirety of your report with them.

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 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, we will proceed on the basis of the information already shared. Discontinuing participation 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.

Reports Involving Chicago Rope Staff

We believe a key element of creating a supportive and inclusive community is ensuring those in positions of authority are able to be held accountable for their actions. Because we recognize that reports involving one or more of our Staff Members may present additional challenges for us, we treat such reports carefully. To help mitigate the potential effects of bias, we may request assistance from outside experts as part of our response process. We also have a slightly modified filing process for reports involving our Staff Members, described above and in our IRF, to maintain the privacy of the Reporting Party.

Recusal

If an Organizational Staff Member is involved in an incident that has been formally reported to us, that person will be recused from acting on behalf of Chicago Rope in our response to the report. Any other Staff Member may also recuse themselves from participating in our response process for any reason, including when they feel there is a potential conflict of interest or for personal reasons.

Staff Evaluation

Chicago Rope has two documents that describe how we expect those who represent our organization to conduct themselves at our events: our Conduct Guidelines, which also apply to other participants, and our Staffing Policies. If one of our Staff Members is mentioned in a report, we may conduct an additional Staff Evaluation, as described in our Staffing Policies.

Public Announcements

When we receive a report involving a Chicago Rope Staff Member or another matter of significant community interest, we reserve the right to make a public announcement about our response and any organizational actions we have chosen to take. No personally identifying information will be revealed about any other parties involved, and no private information received in a report or as part of our response process will be included.

Amendment, Review, and Appeal

We recognize that individuals, understandings, and the needs of communities are subject to change. In responding to reports, we remain open to considering new information or reconsidering our assessment of previously submitted information. Parties to an Incident Report may amend or withdraw their report, ask us to review or reopen our response, or appeal any decision we have made by contacting their Report Liaison or emailing [email protected]

Amending a Report

A Reporting Party may amend a previously submitted report by informing us what they want to add or change and the reason for the change. We 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.

Withdrawing a Report

A Reporting Party who wishes to withdraw a previously submitted report must make a written withdrawal request. In general, we will conclude our response to a report that has been withdrawn with no further action. However, we reserve the right to use any information received through the submission of a report or during our response to it at our sole discretion.

Reviewing our Response

We will review a previously concluded response at any time at the request of the Reporting Party. A review does not involve submitting new information or engaging in further discussion with the other parties involved, but it can include a specific request to reconsider previously submitted information. If our review determines that additional follow-up with other parties is required, we will reopen our response process and proceed accordingly.

Reopening our Response

There are many situations in which we may choose to reopen a previously concluded response, including when we receive new information from the Reporting Party or other individuals involved in a report. When a response is reopened, we may contact one or more of the parties involved to follow-up, unless they have requested otherwise. We can also proceed with any of the other options available to us in response to a new report.

Appealing a Decision

If Chicago Rope decides to take organizational action involving restrictions at our events in response to an Incident Report, a party who is impacted by a restriction we have enacted can appeal our decision. An appeal should include an explanation of why the appellant disagrees with our decision or feels a restriction should be re-evaluated or removed. New or additional information may also be submitted along with an appeal. Our options in responding to an appeal can include modifying or rescinding our restriction, reopening our response process so that we can collect more information or engage in further dialogue with the parties involved, or sustaining our original decision.

Questions and Assistance

Chicago Rope is happy to answer any questions about our policy or to connect those who wish to file a report with a Staff Member who can assist them. Our organizational leadership can be reached at via email at at [email protected] or via our contact form on our website. Individual Organizational Staff Members may be contacted through their email address listed on our Staff page.

Appendix I: Definitions

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

  • Staff, Staff Member

    Anyone listed on our website as a member of our Organizational, Instructional, or General Staff, or anyone else teaching or serving in any other official capacity at any of our events..

  • Organizational Staff

    Organizational Staff are responsible for staffing events and contributing to the administration and ongoing development of our organization in addition to teaching classes.

  • Instructor

    Any person teaching at a Chicago Rope event.

  • Evaluation, Staff Evaluation

    An internal review of the conduct of a current or prospective Chicago Rope Staff Member undertaken to ensure they are adhering to our policies and Conduct Guidelines and are capable of maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for our attendees.

  • 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.

  • Reporting Party

    A person who has submitted an Incident Report.

  • Report Liaison, Liaison

    A Staff Member assigned to be the primary point of contact with Chicago Rope throughout the process of responding to an Incident Report.

  • Supplemental Material

    Additional documentation, evidence, or other information that might be relevant to your Incident Report.

Appendix II: Mediation

Mediation is a process in which a trained professional works with two or more parties to facilitate communication. Mediation is different from arbitration in that a mediator has no decision-making authority. Mediation is entirely voluntary and any party may choose to end their participation at any time.

There are two ways in which mediation can play a role in our response to a report. The first is when the parties involved in a report request mediation. Chicago Rope will help arrange mediation if asked to do so, but it is not a required part of our response process. We will never suggest or recommend that any party to a report participate in mediation with any other party unless both have expressed to us that they wish to communicate with each other and would like our assistance in doing so. If we arrange mediation for parties to a report, we will ask that any written agreements reached during mediation be shared with us for internal review and consideration in determining our response to the report.

The second way mediation can be used in our response process is to facilitate communication between Chicago Rope Staff and those involved in the reporting process. Any person who has submitted a report may request mediation with us at any time. Chicago Rope may also offer mediation to any party to a report when we feel it would help us communicate better with them and more effectively respond to the concerns raised in the report.

Appendix III: Public Accounts

Chicago Rope is aware that first-hand accounts of harm experienced are sometimes shared on public and semi-public forums, including social media platforms and interest-specific mailing lists for vetting instructors or rope partners. At our discretion, we may consider such accounts as part of our response to an existing incident report or independently of any incident reports we have received. Typically, we will only take action on the basis of such reports if they directly involve our events or Staff Members.

We cannot monitor all forms of communication at all times, and even when we are aware of an account, our ability to act on it may be limited by the context in which it was shared. We may not be in a position to engage in conversation with one or more parties involved in an account, and an account may not discuss the needs of the person who has been harmed. Accounts shared in restricted-membership forums also present privacy concerns, as we do not want to disclose information about incidents to others without explicit consent.

For these reasons, we cannot treat public or semi-public accounts the same as those submitted directly to us. Those who would like us to respond as an organization are encouraged to submit their first-hand account to us through our Incident Reporting Form or by contacting a Chicago Rope Staff Member.

Appendix IV: Use of Our Material

Chicago Rope is always happy when our policies, statements, and other written materials serve as a model for other groups. We share our published written work under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license. We grant permission to use any of our written material, in whole or in part, or to paraphrase our work, on the condition that Chicago Rope is credited as the original source. We also request that a link to the relevant page(s) on our website is included when a substantial amount of our material is used. Please contact us if you have any questions about using our material for your group.

Appendix V: 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 II of this document and is Chicago Rope’s recommended provider for mediation services in Chicago.

Brave Space Alliance

Brave Space Alliance is a Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ Center located on the South Side of Chicago designed to create and provide affirming and culturally competent services for the entire LGBTQ community of Chicago and particularly to queer and trans people of color. They strive to educate, empower, and embolden each other through sharing skills, knowledge, and resources.

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 a community center dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people in the Chicagoland area.

Resilience

Resilience 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.