Activists, campaigners and communities working towards social justice often share accommodation, and having a safer spaces policy for your home is an important part of creating inclusive and welcoming places.The Coalition for Safer Spaces has outlined an excellent model for implementing a safer spaces policy within the home, which we’ve included below.
And we would also recommend the amazing zine, The Revolution Begins at Home, which addresses domestic violence and abuse within activists and social justice communities. Download the .pdf here.
Safer Spaces Policy: House Model
Safer spaces are welcoming, engaging and supportive. We want this house to be a space where people support each other and can feel free to be themselves. We want this house to be a place where abuse and discrimination are not tolerated. We hope that everyone at this house is made aware of the idea of ‘safer spaces’ and that you are proactive in helping make this a safer space too.
People who live, participate, visit or come to crash, party, debate, etc. are asked to be aware of their language and behavior, and to think about whether it might be offensive to others. This is no space for violence, for touching people without their consent, for being intolerant of someone’s religious beliefs or lack thereof, for being creepy, sleazy, racist, ageist, sexist, hetero-sexist, trans-phobic, able-bodiest, classist, sizist or any other behavior or language that may perpetuate oppression.
We strive to keep this place safe not through a list of rules but by following simple guidelines of consent. Consent is not the absence of a no, but the presence of a yes. It’s based on clear communication in an environment where people feel comfortable saying no and yes, and with full trust that their boundaries will be respected. Consent is not only important in sexual situations but in our daily lives. These are just a few examples of respecting consent:
- Ask before entering someone’s room, borrowing their stuff, getting close to them, or initiating any other form of intimate interaction.
- Respect the pronouns and names of all in the space. Do not assume anyone’s gender identity, sexual preference, survivor status, economic status, background, health, etc.
- Respect everyone’s physical and emotional boundaries – their personal “bubble.”
- Get explicit consent on sleeping arrangements. A crowded house or limited blankets is no excuse to put the moves on someone. An invitation to sleep somewhere is not an invitation for sex.
- Respect people’s opinions, beliefs, experiences and differing points of view.
- Be aware of your prejudices and privileges. Notice if only men are doing the talking, women are doing the dishes, or you’re falling into any other fucked-up standard.
- Be responsible for your own action. Be aware that your actions do have an effect on others despite what your intentions may be.
Because of our commitment to consent and safer spaces, we will ask anyone to leave who violates our safer spaces policy. We may also exclude individuals who have been called out for assault or violating consent unless those individuals are in positive process. Please don’t take offense. You can be right and still make someone uncomfortable. Leaving when asked is a positive step and vital for consent.
We also have a strong commitment to not call the police and to handle conflict within the house and with neighbors and others outside of the house without state/law enforcement involvement whenever possible. Do not let them in without a warrant period. If any type of law enforcement comes, talk to them outside, or if you do not feel comfortable talking to them yourself, tell them you will get someone who does, close the door with them outside, lock it and find someone who can speak to them.
If you experience or witness any behavior that crosses your boundaries or makes you feel uncomfortable please feel free to talk to any house member.