How We Can Help


The Safety Team is here for you: if someone or something is bothering you, we want to help. Here's what we can do:

We recognize that Safety Team members and Safety Reps are community members, and are friends with dancers throughout the contra dance community. If you find yourself discussing a safety issue informally with any of us, please make it clear whether or not you expect us to address the issue formally. That way, we can make sure your concerns stay confidential, are handled in ways you feel comfortable with, and are communicated to the rest of Safety Team when appropriate.

If you have an issue where support from a trained mental health professional would be helpful, we recommend contacting The Network / La Red, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, the Rape Abuse Incest National Network, or Casa Myrna.

Example Situations

When we might be helpful

Here are some examples of situations where our Safety Team might be able to help: In any of these situations it would be reasonable to either bring it up with the dancer yourself or come talk to us. People may not be aware that what they're doing is harmful, and getting feedback from other dancers can help, but if you don't feel ok talking to them, or you've tried and they haven't listened, that's what we're here for.

How we might be helpful

Here are some hypothetical scenarios, along with how Safety Team might respond in an effort to resolve the issue:

Real situations, however, are more nuanced than can be conveyed in short paragraphs. These examples are intended as just that, examples, and we approach each situation individually.

While we hope situations like the ones above don't come up at our dances, we want you to know that we're here for you if they do.

Our Approach

When you bring a report to us, we have two main goals:

Supporting you

We'll start by listening to what you want to tell us. This can be over text, a call, or in person. You're welcome to include a friend for support, as long as they're not a BIDA board member, Safety Team member, or Safety Rep.

Our default assumption with anything you tell us is that it's confidential and for our information only. The exception to this is if you tell us about plans to harm yourself or someone else, in which case we may need to bring in others.

If we think that it would be helpful for us to get more context by talking to other people, we'll ask your permission first.

We'll ask what you're looking for from us, and can describe some things that have been useful to others in the past. Often people who come to us are looking for a way to avoid a person who hurt them. Some sort of splitting dances can be helpful, which could mean splitting by:

If what you're looking for is something we're able to do, we'll work with you on the details of any proposal before going further with it.

Protecting the community

When you bring a concern to us, we'll also consider whether this person might be a danger to others. We'll want to speak to them and hear their perspective. We'll also look for evidence of serious misconduct or long-running patterns of harmful behavior at BIDA or elsewhere. Your safety still comes first, however, and we won't do anything that might risk your confidentiality without checking with you.

If we find this sort of behavior, there are a range of actions we could take, up to and including banning someone from BIDA. A number of these potential actions are described in the examples above. In the case of people in organizational roles, such as board members, callers, musicians, sound people, Safety Team members, etc, we may ask someone to step down even if their behavior wouldn't warrant a ban.

Protecting the community, however, doesn't happen only through removing people who harm others. Part of our role is helping community members learn how to act in ways that support the community and help everyone feel comfortable. A major way we do this is by giving people feedback and holding them accountable.

Interpreting our actions

When we propose a split, ban someone, or take another action, this is not a punishment. We're trying to find ways to avoid future harm, not making up for past harm.

Similarly, if a dancer is affected by a split, it does not necessarily mean they've done anything wrong.

We make decisions based on the best information we have, and when new information comes to light we may revisit past decisions. As humans, especially as part-time volunteer humans, we may make mistakes. If you feel that we have made a mistake, please let us know so we can reconsider.

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