On Sexual Assault
(Adopted Nov 3, 2019)
The Revolutionary Socialist Network will expel any affiliated member, without investigation, should anyone allege they committed sexual assault or domestic violence. Re-entry into the network is only possible if the perpetrator provides direct proof that the incident did not occur. Upon expulsion, the Coordinating Committee will inform the network of the details of the expulsion while protecting the identity of and other sensitive information about the survivor. Previously known accused ISO members will also be barred from entering the network.
The Revolutionary Socialist Network is comprised of 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 many of us are former members of the International Socialist Organization, 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 RSN seeks 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.
We 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 RSN does not find that restorative or transformative justice processes prioritize justice and the well-being 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 RSN is 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.