On Thursday, 21 June, KNOTbound’s Executive Director, Rena’ Leigh, met with Victoria Police to start collaboration on ways to better support those within our community who are involved in domestic violence or criminal violence situations. This has always been a difficult area for our BDSM communities as many victims refuse to contact police or other support services for fear of being outed to friends, family and work colleagues.
The result of this fear has meant that perpetrators of non-consensual violence and abuse have often gone unreported and unidentified in our communities. With the massive influx of newcomers to the practices of BDSM, most with little or no education, the risk has increased tremendously.
The two representatives for VicPol, a GLLO from the Priority Communities Division and the head of the Centre for Family Violence, were very positive about working with us both to understand how people work to mitigate non-consensual violence and abuse in our communities and how to sort out what is and is not legitimate and acceptable forms of SM and power exchange activities when engaging with BDSM practitioners. This is a long-term initiative we are undertaking with VicPol and through it we expect it to lay the groundwork for the same collaboration in other states and territories.
VicPol have asked us to develop case studies to use in educating police officers. We will also be involved in further discussions with the Centre for Family Violence, in particular around power exchange relationships and their relationship to some domestic violence situations. The hope is to be able to educate officers on healthy and unhealthy dynamics as well as finding out how we can keep anonymity for victims while ensuring they have access to the support and services they need.
We also discussed the need to have a voice in regards to domestic violence laws, to help ensure that the people within our communities are not unfairly targeted as society rightly works to provide better protection to vulnerable people.
This initiative has been three years in the planning and several months in active work to get to this stage. We are currently studying BDSM case law to understand the current framework within the legal system around these issues and will begin work on case studies shortly. We’d like to thank everyone involved so far and invite community members to open up the conversation with us to help us give the best representation of our community possible.