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UNAVSA Harm Reporting Process & Policy

April 2021

Content Warning: violence, harm, abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, rape

View this in document form: Link

 

 

Purpose

UNAVSA is committed to an organizing environment where all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. All members of and affiliated with our organization deserve to both feel safe and be safe in all environments. Our commitment is rooted in a survivor-centric and trauma-informed approach to the reduction of violence, harm, abuse, and to their consequences.

 

Language

Harm is defined not only as deliberately and unintentionally inflicted physical injury but also as actual or potential ill effect or danger. We designate the term “harm” to refer to adverse effects experienced by survivors to expand upon our organization’s previous policies regarding community safety that have solely focused on sexual harassment and sexual assault. We recognize that there are numerous forms of interpersonal harm and violence, which includes, but is not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, rape, non-sexual harassment, non-sexual assault, and verbal abuse.

 

Survivor Instead of Victim

The person who experienced harm or violence. 

We use survivor instead of victim throughout our organization, as “victim” can be triggering. It can allude to the person no longer being alive, or a person who was killed. All victims of violence are not survivors, for example. We also know that different people prefer one term over the other. Community members may refer to those who experience harm as survivors or victims, and sometimes may simply refer to someone’s name without referring to either of those terms. All are valid.

 

Examples of Acts of Harm 

  • Sexual Harassment
  • Sexual Assault
  • Domestic Violence
  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • Rape
  • Non-Sexual Harassment 
  • Non-Sexual Assault
  • Verbal Abuse
  • Physical Abuse
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Financial Harm

 

Types of Reporting:

Reports may be submitted anonymously and information will remain confidential.

  1. Incident Reporting – Reporting on behalf of yourself or someone else based upon a direct harm committed by the person(s) who did harm to the survivor.
  2. Negligence Reporting – Reporting on behalf of yourself or someone else based upon a UNAVSA volunteer person(s) entrusted with a process and support or was given knowledge of harm, but did not take best action to ensure safety for survivors and/or the respective survivors’ community.
  3. Red Flag Reporting – Reporting on behalf of yourself or someone else based upon a person(s) who exhibited harmful or violent behavior that should be brought to the attention of the Executive Board (E-Board) and Board of Directors (BOD) of UNAVSA. 
  4. Internal Review Request – Reporting on behalf of yourself or someone else based upon new information pertaining to a previous and/or existing incident, negligence, and red flag report.

 

Reporting Process

We ask those who fill out the form, whether the survivor or a third party, to please follow the instructions on the form. UNAVSA Community Safety Reporting Form

Survivors are not a monolith. At the same time, we want to minimize the possibility of trauma and triggering negative experiences for the person submitting the report. When filling out the form, it is advised that filers name the identities of those that experienced harm and those that caused harm.

Please fill out the form with as much information you are comfortable sharing.

Please state that if you request to decline an investigation. Please note that if you decline, E-board may be limited in actions we can take. 

 

Scope of Investigation

Upon receipt of the report, the Board of Directors will take lead on the investigation procedures. The Board of Directors will promptly and thoroughly investigate the allegation in an impartial, fair and expeditious manner, while also maintaining confidentiality to the extent possible.

The investigation may include a private internal interview conducted by the Board of Directors with the survivor to help identify their safety needs within the first 2 weeks of receiving the report. Questions that may be asked include, but are not limited to: 

  • What safety concerns has the survivor or survivor’s family expressed?
  • What is the nature of the relationship between the survivor and the accused? 
  • Does the survivor express a desire for alternative resolution/restoration strategies?
  • Are these strategies likely to help the person that caused harm lead a more prosocial life and regulate harmful behaviors?
  • What are the survivor’s needs with respect to restitution? (safety, healing, medical, etc)
  • What do the risk level, risk factors, motivations, history, and behavior patterns of the person that caused harm indicate about individuals who may be particularly vulnerable or at risk?
  • What environmental factors need to be addressed in this case to decrease opportunities to inflict further harm?
  • What conditions or strategies can help address these issues?
  • What safeguards are already in place?
  • Will any conditions place a hardship on the survivor or family members, or create other collateral consequences that must be weighed?

The individual is encouraged to provide as many resources as possible to assist with the investigation including, but not limited to, additional names of individuals who should be interviewed, additional documents and information, etc. to be taken into consideration in relation to the report.

The investigation may also include a private internal interview with the accused individual(s) and witnesses. These interviews are meant to gather information from all accounts to give the Board of Directors a holistic view of the harm that occurred. All written and associated documents will be stored securely in a private Shared Drive in our Google G Suite, only accessible to the Board of Directors, and if need be, the Executive Board. 

 

Timeline of Investigation Process

The timeline of the investigation process can vary. The Board of Directors will work to complete the investigation process within a 2 month time span, but understand that more time may be needed. Any extensions and delays will be communicated with the survivor. 

While working on investigations is critical and necessary work, members juggle other organizing responsibilities, as well as the rest of their daily lives (jobs, relationships, families, friendships, etc.). Scheduling interviews with survivors, the accused, and witnesses may take some time to arrange. Our reporting and investigation processes are new, as are all our community safety efforts. Please understand that it may take some time to work through all the issues and do a thorough investigation.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the Board of Directors will relay their findings to the Executive Board to make a final decision. To the extent possible, the person filing the complaint, and the person alleged to have committed the conduct, will be informed of that decision.

If investigations have not begun, no investigation is conducted because it is not requested, or investigations are taking too long to resolve, the Executive Board can still take a variety of actions to center the safety needs of survivors and the community, and ensure safe spaces for UNAVSA operations. This can include monitoring event registrations or asking the person that harmed them to not participate in UNAVSA for an undisclosed amount of time.

 

Optional Meeting

Parties interested in filing a report/that file a report may contact an Executive Board (E-board) member to share their experience so that E-board can be informed of any immediate needs of survivors and others. Following the meeting, E-board may take any courses of actions to minimize harm or potential triggers. This meeting will be dependent on the capacity of the survivor and respective E-board members. Survivors can also use the meeting to assess if they would like to submit a report.

Regardless of the request to submit a report or forgo an investigation, the Executive Board may take action to ensure safe spaces for UNAVSA operations.

 

Process for Survivor

  1. REPORT: Survivor submits a report 
  2. INVESTIGATION: BOD investigates. This process may involve contacting the survivor, the persons who caused harm, others who may have been able to provide insight on the harm that has taken place, and other parties. Afterwards, BOD will provide E-Board with information regarding the report.
    1. Those under investigation for causing harm may be asked to not participate in UNAVSA activities until the investigation has concluded. This includes volunteering as staff, attending physical events, virtual events, donating, and mentorship programs.
  3. DECISION: Executive Board decides on what actions to take to support community safety

 

Process for Third Party/Anonymous Reporter

  1. REPORT: Individual(s) submits a report 
  2. INVESTIGATION: BOD investigates. This process may involve contacting the reporter, survivor, the persons who caused harm, others who may have been able to provide insight on the harm that has taken place, and other parties. Afterwards, BOD will provide E-Board with information regarding the report.
    1. Those under investigation for causing harm may be asked to not participate in UNAVSA activities until the investigation has concluded. This includes volunteering as staff, attending physical events, virtual events, donating, and mentorship programs.
  3. DECISION: Executive Board decides on what actions to take to support community safety
    1. Please note, for those who are third party or wish to remain anonymous, that we may not be able to best support survivors’ needs as the anonymity may negatively impact the scope of the BOD’s investigation, and therefore the Executive Board’s action steps afterwards due to limited information for time, place, and other context of the harm that occurred. 
    2. The BOD and E-board may also be unable to directly communicate and update survivors if a third party/anonymous report is filed. 
      1. Those submitting will be advised to create an email account that will hide identity so that we may stay in contact while still maintaining privacy.

 

Potential Outcomes

Following submission of a report and investigation, there may be a variety of possible outcomes. The following is a list of potential outcomes that could happen, followed by an example.

  • The person who caused harm is asked to not participate in UNAVSA activities for an indefinite amount of time. Attempts to join a physical or virtual event will result in their removal. Attempts to apply for staff will result in their application being rejected. 
  • The person who caused harm is asked to resign from staff for an indefinite amount of time. 
  • The person who caused harm is given a list of resources to learn from their harmful behavior.

Example

Community member Mariah (she/her) is a survivor, and has filed an incident report on community member Tommy (he/him) for physically assaulting her. Mariah has requested a meeting with E-Board to share her experience. Following the meeting, E-Board decides to be vigilant in case Tommy decides to participate in UNAVSA activities. BOD conducts an investigation. Findings are presented to the E-Board. E-Board asks Tommy to not participate in UNAVSA activities for an indefinite amount of time. Tommy will be given a list of resources to learn from his harmful behavior.

 

No Retaliation Policy

All UNAVSA Staff will be asked to abide by our No Retaliation Policy. Staff members will not retaliate upon those who file reports, including survivors and third-party filers. Retaliation includes attempts to silence, bully, shame a person for filing a report. Upon knowledge of retaliatory behaviors, E-Board will mediate by addressing the behaviors with the staff members who were retaliatory, and asking them to end such behaviors.

 

Public Anonymous Database of Reports

A spreadsheet will be made available on our website of ongoing and previous reports. This sheet is to help support and provide UNAVSA’s accountability to all community members that we are taking steps to ensure a fair, caring, and just process and turnaround time on reports. It will be maintained and updated bi-weekly by the UNAVSA E-Board. Those who file the report will be notified their report number [column A of the database]

To minimize the risk of deductive disclosure, where individuals can be identified through context clues or details of the report and report outcomes (date received, investigation status, actions), the names of individuals and organizations, including survivors and the persons who caused harm, will be anonymous on this sheet. Acts of harm may also be labeled as “harm.” Anonymity and confidentiality may still be hard to achieve with these precautions. Those who file reports will have the option to have E-Board remove their report from the database at any time.

Public Anonymous Database of Reports

 

Resources