Nibana Guidelines for intimate interactions between team members and participants
Version 1.2. Last updated: 19 Feb 2020
Purpose of this document
During the event anyone can take on extra responsibilities. When you take on a role, such as being on the emotional support team, facilitating a workshop or being a space holder, it’s important for your interactions with other participants to be safe. We ask you to actively consider the mental and physical well-being of other participants you’re interacting with. This section provides a framework for doing so in the context of intimate interactions.
Defining intimate interactions
For the purpose of this guide we define intimate interactions as moments where arousal is brought into contact or where the intentions are of a romantic or sexual nature. Examples of this are: flirting, sensual touch, sensual hugging, sexual energy or sexual acts, (French) kissing or any form of fluid exchange between people. When you’re in doubt if something falls under our definition of an intimate interaction, it probably does. You can always ask the opinion of someone else, such as a coordinator or a member of the emotional support team.
Things to consider
The influence of your role
Consider your role. If you’re currently facilitating or spaceholding a workshop/activity or just finished doing so, intimate intentions are not appropriate. Also consider if you carry seniority over the participant. This is the case when you have established a teacher/student relationship or a therapeutic connection, for example because you guided someone through a process or provided emotional support. Seniority can also be the case when the participant has made you an object of projection. This can happen easily, for example when someone previously attended one of your workshops or otherwise looks up to you. If you’re currently facilitating a workshop, stay out of intimate interactions even with people that you have previously shared intimacy with.
It’s never OK to use your seniority to persuade someone into certain interactions. Check if they have attended your workshops before. Check if their perception of you is influenced by your role at Nibana. If seniority plays a part in this interaction, this raises a flag.
Meeting as equals
It is your responsibility to actively ensure you’re meeting as equal adults and that the other person can fully ‘carry’ this interaction. Ask yourself if your intentions are genuine and if they’re in the best interest of the other person. Make sure the desire for intimacy is truly coming from both sides. Consider their mental state and any other vulnerabilities. Make sure you’re on a similar emotional ground and check if they are able to voice their boundaries. If you have any doubt about any of this, it raises a flag.
Be a role model
Ask yourself a few extra questions. Is this really the person that has your interest or do you simply want to be with ‘someone’? Can you distinguish your desire from your need to act upon it? Are you living up to the Nibana Consent Guidelines? Are you sure they won’t feel (emotionally) abused afterwards? Would you still want this tomorrow? Is there anyone in your/their life that you wouldn’t tell about this interaction? Why not? If this interaction and your intentions were fully known by your peers or by participants, do you still live up to your idea of being a role model at Nibana? Consider if the answers to any of these questions raise a flag.
Communicate with the other person. Don’t assume anything you haven’t verbally verified. Openly share your intentions. Talk about the considerations in this guideline and learn about their perception of the situation. Carefully listen to the answers and also read between the lines. Sometimes body language signals a “no” even when people say “yes”. If you’re absolutely sure that an intimate interaction would be OK with them, make sure to talk about consent and boundaries.
Use clear and direct communication, such as:
- Have you been in any of my workshops?
- I saw you in my workshop and was just curious how the workshop relates to us possibly wanting to share an intimate interaction.
- I've been facilitating workshops here and power imbalances play up easily. I wouldn't want either of us to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, so I'm wondering how you experience this.
- How good are you at identifying and respecting your own boundaries?
- What are your intentions? What do you want?
- What I'm looking for in this interaction is...
When a flag is raised
When a flag is raised, or when you’re not sure if an intimate interaction is OK, your best bet is not to pursue intimacy. You can change your intentions or take yourself out of the situation. If your desire is stronger than you, take some distance. A waiting period is a great way to determine how much both parties want this.
If you think it’s probably OK, but some doubt in you exists, we ask you to check in with two fellow participants to discuss the situation. Make sure you choose people that aren’t too close to you and can be objective. Explain the situation, your intentions, your doubts and what you’ve done so far to check if this is OK. Be open to sharp questions from their end and consider their input in your judgement of the situation.
Support during or after the festival
Had an experience you want to reflect on or need help with? Have questions about consent? At Nibana there are various ways to reach out for support. Please use them if you feel you could benefit from it. There’s an emotional support team that always offers a listening ear without judgement (fully confidential) and you can always reach out to a coordinator.
You may adapt and share this document
Spreading awareness about consent is important to us. We hope that these guidelines help more people than just those that are attending the festival. Therefore, you have permission to adapt and share this document to use in your own community, under the Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Creative Commons licence:
Attribution: You must give appropriate credit to Nibana Festival, provide a link to the version of this document on the Nibana Festival website and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
ShareAlike: If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.
We want to constantly improve these guidelines and very much welcome your feedback. So don't hesitate to get in touch with us and send us your suggestions.