On Sexual Assault
Adopted Oct 19, 2019
Our Guiding Principles Relating to Sexual assault and Domestic Violence
The Denver Communists are committed revolutionaries, dedicated to fighting for a world without oppression in its myriad of intersecting forms under capitalism. We recognize that this fight begins inside our own organization and that our politics do not exempt us from the influences of capitalist oppression.
As a former branch of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), we especially feel the gravity of building an organization that takes the painful lessons from our past and applies them, firmly and radically. We have failed survivors on the left. The Denver Communists seek to correct that by creating a culture in which women, trans, queer, and nonbinary people are safe from gender-based violence in our activist organizing spaces. We want to build an organization where any survivor could come forward about their experiences without having to fear being shamed and blamed, ostracized, not believed, harassed, or re-traumatized.
The Denver Communists believe survivors — not as a symbolic slogan, but as a principle that we must put in practice every step of the way. Therefore, we choose to expel any member who is accused of sexual assault or domestic violence immediately, and without investigation, until direct and overwhelming substantive evidence to the contrary is supplied.
We believe survivors, so their account is all we need to expel the perpetrator.
In cases of sexual assault and domestic violence, the Denver Communists do not find that restorative, or transformative justice processes prioritize justice and the wellbeing of the survivor.
We choose not to attempt to facilitate a perpetrator’s recovery and reintegration as we are not mental health professionals capable of determining the genuine desire of an abusive person to heal. Often, narcissistic abusers are extremely capable of using charm and interpersonal intuition to manipulate others in their self-interest. We’ve seen cases on the left where the perpetrator will purposefully lengthen and muddy investigations, make performative efforts then continue their violent behaviors in other organizations, and win the support of apologists through popularity and charisma. Through all of this, the survivor is left with little support from the community and no justice.
We are not willing to perform a prefigurative process intended to “restore” peace and unity in the community at the expense of justice for the survivor
We also acknowledge the heavy toll investigations and restorative or transformative justice processes take on our membership, some of which are survivors themselves. We won’t ask our membership or survivors to potentially experience re-traumatization and emotional exhaustion that often goes hand-in-hand with participation in sexual assault and domestic violence cases.
While we will encourage perpetrators to seek professional help, our priority will be to utilize our limited resources in assisting the survivor in gaining counseling, restoring lost wages or housing, and offering other support as they determine.
We also recognize that simply having revolutionary feminist politics isn’t enough. We dedicate ourselves to the study of gender-based violence and to train ourselves to be capable of responding to the experience of survivors in an affirmative, compassionate way.
The Denver Communists are dedicated to the project of building a revolutionary organization that is worthy of us.
The Rights of the Survivor
We are deeply committed to the survivor’s safety and health, and finding justice for the survivor. The immediate needs of the survivor will always be taken up as the highest priority and our response will be determined with the survivor in the driver’s seat. In this spirit, we stand by the following rights for any survivor who comes forward with a complaint against a member:
- To be believed, unequivocally, as a central guiding post. Our belief is absolute and immediate.
- To be treated with dignity and respect, instead of victim-blaming attitudes, in a trauma-informed and survivor-centered process.
- To complete confidentiality of their identity.
- To determine their level of participation, directly and indirectly.
Procedures In Cases of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
- Any member, at any time, can receive a complaint of sexual assault and domestic violence made against another member. The complaint must be acted upon and the Coordinating Committee informed immediately, regardless of how the complaint is received or who brings it forward.
- There is no statute of limitations – the incident could have occurred at any time. It is irrelevant whether or not the perpetrator or the survivor was a member of the Denver Communists at the time of the incident.
- A member who has an allegation of sexual assault or domestic violence brought against them will be immediately expelled from the organization and is no longer welcome to attend meetings and events hosted by the Denver Communists.
- The Coordinating Committee will notify the membership of the identity of the perpetrator and the harm they have caused with as much transparency as possible without revealing the identity of the survivor. Further disclosure of the perpetrator’s identity to the community-at-large may be necessary in order to ensure the safety of others. We will seek permission of the survivor prior to disclosing any and all details.
- Re-entry into the organization is only possible when direct evidence that the incident did not occur is supplied by the perpetrator to the Coordinating Committee and the Coordinating Committee finds that the evidence is overwhelming in its substantiveness that the incident did not occur.