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Guest Blog: Your Best Friend Tells You They Are Kinky

on Thursday, 23 February 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, NCSF News

by Carrie Jameson, LCPC

So, your best friend tells you they are kinky and/or they practice BDSM (Bondage and Discipline [BD], Dominance and Submission [Ds], Sadism and Masochism [SM]). Whether it is your best friend, a sibling, parent, or child, you may want to be an ally, but simply don’t know what to do or say.

Before you go further, it might be helpful for you to try the following thought exercise.

THOUGHT EXERCISE

Think back in your life to something that was special or precious. Remember how you felt. You may have wanted to tell someone close or trusted about this precious thing, experience or person, but maybe you were nervous too. Ask yourself the following questions and make a note of your answers:

  • What did you feel in anticipation of telling them?
  • What kinds of thoughts did you have before you told that person?
  • How did you prepare for the conversation?
  • What were your concerns? What was at risk for you?
  • How did you hope that person would react?
  • How did they react and respond?
  • What did you feel afterward?

In the exercise above, you might have felt concerned, anxious, afraid, ashamed, or embarrassed about what you had to say. In the same way, it is often difficult for people to disclose their interest in kink or BDSM to friends, family, and loved ones. They may have many concerns and fears about how you will react and worries about how this new information will impact your relationship. In your role as a confidant, your response to your friend or loved one may add to feelings of fear and shame or may help to alleviate them. In part, it’s up to you.

Remember, it very likely took a lot of thought and courage for your friend or loved one to come out to you. It is still uncommon for our society to talk about sexual topics openly. BDSM is often judged and labeled as “not normal” or “wrong” by mainstream culture. Your friend or loved one is sharing a part of their life that is likely very important to them—how will you respond?

ABOUT BDSM

For some people, BDSM or being “kinky” is an identity. For some, it is an orientation. And, for others, it is both orientation and identity. Still others may consider it more of a leisure activity or serious interest (in academic research, also referred to as serious leisure) but not necessarily an orientation.  People may practice BDSM for fun, as a spiritual practice, to explore relationship dynamics, as an aspect of their sexuality, and for many other reasons. For many, it is a deep and profound experience. The person disclosing to you likely has their own way of thinking about kink or BDSM and how it fits for them, their interests, lifestyle, and identity.

HOW TO BE AN ALLY

Here are some suggestions for providing support and responding to a loved one, if they share their kink or BDSM interests with you:

  • Be curious. Ask questions if you want to understand something. You may even want to ask your friend or family member what it was like to disclose this information to you and how you can support them.
  • Trust that your friend or family member knows what they are doing, from a psychological and physical safety perspective. If you have concerns about their safety or well-being, you can share your concerns—but ask first to determine whether they are open to discussing them with you.
  • Don’t assume you know what BDSM or kink is for your friend or loved one. BDSM and kink are broad umbrellas terms that encompass many different practices and activities.  Many people have interests in some but not all of these.  It is especially risky to base your opinions, reactions, or impressions on popular media or pornography (books or movies like 50 Shades of Grey or Secretary, for example).  Instead, ask your friend or loved one how you can learn more.
  • It’s okay to feel uncomfortable. Honor your feelings (and recognize that your friend or loved one may have different feelings). Go slowly in conversation if that helps; or talk a bit and then agree to return to the conversation at a later date, if that feels right. Set limits on the type or extent of detail you want to hear about someone’s kink or BDSM activities. Be direct and state your preferences—for example: “I would like to know about the club you attend but please don’t share graphic details of scenes with me just yet.”
  • Don’t assume an interest in BDSM or kink is related to past traumastudies have shown that people who participate in BDSM show lower levels of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and other psychological concerns.
  • Resist blaming kink or BDSM for other issues. Don’t assume your friend’s relationship challenges or psychological difficulties are automatically related to their kink practices.
  • Honor the trust shown to you. Remember this person trusted you with a confidence. Don’t out them (i.e., disclose this information) to others without their consent. They may have told you, but may not want their participation in BDSM more broadly known.
  • If you want more information, you can also do some research on kink and BDSM. Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy’s When Someone you Love is Kinky may be a good place to start. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom

Established in 2014, Kink and Poly Aware Chicago Therapists (KPACT) is an online discussion group open to psychotherapists, healthcare professionals and graduates students of these disciplines who value gender, sexual and erotic diversity and seek to connect with like-minded colleagues in the greater Chicago metropolitan area for the purpose of learning and better serving our clients.

Therapist Sheffa Ariens offers a “Sanctuary of Sanity in the South”

on Thursday, 23 February 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, NCSF News

Kink Aware Professionals Featured Member

By Inara de Luna, Guest Blogger

sheffa ariens headshot

By Inara de Luna, Guest Blogger

Sheffa Ariens

Today, we’d like to introduce you to another Kink Aware Professional from our directory. Sheffa Ariens is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Raleigh-Durham, NC, who works with individuals, families, and those in all sorts of relationships. She welcomes the non-conformists, especially kinksters and polyamorous and other non-monogamous folk in her practice. She says, “My work is infused with mindfulness, playfulness, embodiment, and a deep respect for the many ways we each construct satisfying relationships.”

We asked Ms. Ariens to tell us more about her work and how she can be of service to our audience.

NCSF: What made you register on the Kink Aware Professionals Directory?

Sheffa Ariens (SA): KAP allows our community to pool our expertise and provide support for each other. In times of uncertainty, it’s crucially important to know who we can turn to, who we can entrust with our vulnerability, and who will meet us with integrity and compassion and direction as we deal with situations that are complex and challenging.

It’s important that the people we seek out for help won’t imagine problems where there are none. That is why I’m grateful to the organizers and admins of KAP, and that is why I registered.

NCSF: Why do you think it’s important for members of alternative communities to have a therapist knowledgeable about their lifestyle?

SA: Graduate schools don’t teach about kink, they don’t teach about polyamory or non-monogamy. In fact, many of the teachings are so exclusively geared towards normative and monogamous models of relationship that they pathologize any other form of relationship.

Therapists who are normative in their own personal lives often enter private practice armed with a sense that anything outside of the vanilla or monogamous world is harmful, and their ignorance leads them to cause much harm to their clients under the guise of helping them.

Therapy is vulnerable - you are baring your soul to someone you don’t know, who is revealing little of themselves, and the therapist holds power. If that therapist turns around and begins enforcing their personal beliefs onto you, telling you that the things that turn you on and light you up are inherently wrong, that is an abuse of power, whether well-meaning or not.

We also have a lot of therapists who are non-judgmental but have very little actual experience or knowledge about the kink/alt world. It’s great that we have people who are willing to learn and listen, especially with therapists that hold specific expertise or specialties, in remote areas, or who take insurance where others may not.

I appreciate that KAP lets therapists self identify as kink friendly, kink aware, or kink knowledgeable, so clients can anticipate how much experience the therapist actually has. Some people may feel safer with someone who is not simply friendly, but actually understands the language, roles, altered states, and practices, without needing terms explained, and who has a real sense of community wisdom to draw upon.

NCSF: Can you talk a bit about the most common services you offer?

SA: My practice is focused on individual therapy and relationship counseling for adults, specializing in non-monogamy, polyamory, kink, and other non-traditional relationship styles. I also have expertise in working with trans and queer clients.

In addition to the traditional approaches to talk therapy, I include mindfulness and body awareness in my work, and welcome inclusion of the spiritual and political as well.

NCSF: What’s the most important thing people in alternative relationships should know or do in regards to relationships in general?

SA: Communication is key in any relationship, and it becomes exponentially more important when you have multiple people in connection or when you push boundaries for play. Find the thing that is hardest to talk about and learn to talk about it.

Cultivate a part of you that can observe your thoughts and feelings and send messages out when you feel stuck or frozen.

Practice how to give words to the fleeting emotions and reactions inside of you, even if you think they’re not that important and maybe you should ignore them. Rank things on a scale of 1 to 10 so you can let people know about the smaller concerns rising in you before they become big.

Stop telling yourself how you should feel about something and just tell your partner(s) all the ways you actually do feel.

Learn to say “Yes, and” instead of saying “yes, but…”

Listen; if neither of you is listening, then no one is getting heard.  Take turns, repeat back what you hear, imagine what your partner actually is feeling when you listen to their experiences.

NCSF: That’s a lot of great advice. Thank you!

Next question…Child custody is a big topic for alternative families. Do you have any advice for kinky or poly families who are dealing with that issue?

SA: This is a complex topic. For me, the most heartbreaking situation happens when one parent decides to villainize their former partner and accuse them of sexual perversion, dragging their private life through public court and pulling their children away, despite attempts while married for both partners to be consensual, involved, and transparent.

Because this does happen and the courts can be discriminatory, I advise everyone to be even more conscientious about honesty, mutual care, and erring on the side of caution when you have kids.

I especially advise caution if a Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell policy is put in place in order for one parent to engage in a kinky or non-monogamous outlet while the other does not. DADT often indicates that the other person can’t actually accept the reality of what is happening, so they’re asking their partner to edit out large parts of reality to support the other person’s efforts at denial.

In every case I’ve personally seen, the denial eventually comes crashing down, and the rage of all that was avoided comes out in a torrent of demonization of the partner and their life choices. This is a set-up for a court case where the kids are pulled away because the parent feels betrayed and manipulated, despite having agreed to the exact situation, or even having asked explicitly for that arrangement.

Nothing hurts more than being denied access to your children. Exercise caution and make sure everyone is truly, deeply agreeable.

* * * * *

Sheffa Ariens is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, specializing in counseling for non-conformists, especially in the realms of ethical non-monogamy, polyamory, and kink, and growing expertise with queer, trans, and non-binary issues. Sheffa's goal is to be a sanctuary of sanity in the south, reminding folks that they are normal and healthy and awesome, whether or not the people around them understand that. She helps her clients uncover their own wisdom and learn new tools for navigating life. She works with individuals, couples, and poly families, as well as others who identify outside of the traditional paradigm. For more information, see her website at www.trianglepoly.com.

* * * * *

The NCSF Kink Aware Professionals Directory is THE resource for people who are seeking psychotherapeutic, medical, and legal professionals who are informed about the diversity of consensual, adult sexuality.

If you are a professional who would like to be listed in the Directory, please create a free account and then click HERE to enter your directory listing.

If you’d like to participate in our KAP Featured Member series, please contact the author at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Inara de Luna is a sex and relationship expert, a consent activist, and a professional writer and editor in these fields. She founded the Sex Positive Loving Facebook page and the Council for Consensual Intimacy Facebook page. Feel free to Like both of those pages for more information on those topics and to join the national conversation about sex positivity and consent culture.

Guest Blog: Georgia voters are deciding on a ballot measure this election, and the kink community needs to be ready for it.

on Friday, 28 October 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, NCSF News

By Liz Harrison

This November, beyond voting for president, it appears that the residents of Georgia will be deciding whether or not they want to add a new tax. Normally, this sort of thing wouldn’t be mentioned around here, but this one is directly related to kinky sex. Some politicians have decided that they have a problem with strip clubs, and other forms of adult entertainment, so they have pushed a ballot measure called “Amendment 2” that will allow the state to collect fines from individuals found guilty of certain sex crimes, and “assessments” from adult entertainment establishments.

The wording of this measure is extremely vague, so it is likely that this could expand to include any BDSM groups that have a regular meeting place for lifestyle activities.

(o) The General Assembly may provide by general law for additional penalties in any case in any court in this state in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and may impose assessments on adult entertainment establishments as defined by law; and such appropriated amount shall not lapse as required by Article III, Section IX, Paragraph IV(c) and shall not be subject to the limitations of subparagraph (a) of this Paragraph, Article III, Section V, Paragraph II, Article VII, Section III, Paragraph II(a), or Article VII, Section III, Paragraph IV. The General Assembly may provide by general law for the allocation of such assessments and additional penalties to the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund for the specified purpose of meeting any and all costs, or any portion of the costs, of providing care and rehabilitative and social services to individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited. The General Assembly may provide by general law for the administration of such fund by such authority as the General Assembly shall determine.

Of course, this ballot measure is enjoying a great deal of support, because it’s “for the children.” But, that means that the people of Georgia are being sold on giving an extreme amount of power to the state, including the creation of an entirely new government bureaucracy. Those powers also include the ability of law enforcement to seize private property from citizens before they are convicted of any crime.

As for the implications for people in “kink world,” the vague terminology of this amendment could be used in multiple ways against them. The first is the yearly “assessment” on adult entertainment establishments, which could theoretically be enforced on organizations that happen to lease or own non-residential property specifically for the purpose of hosting lifestyle events. Otherwise, with the exception of acts involving children, depending on the circumstances and what is said to law enforcement personnel if they were called to lifestyle event, just about every other crime listed in this amendment could be placed in the list of charges against anyone taken into custody. That’s not taking into account what officers “assume” is going on in that situation, which of course, could just as easily cause a lifestyler to end up with a laundry list of charges.

The primary purpose of this amendment really isn’t about helping children, but it is about shutting down adult entertainment facilities in Georgia. It amounts to a sin tax, with strip clubs as the primary target. Of course, if this ballot measure passes (which it looks like it will), it will almost immediately face challenges in court, just like a law forbidding women between the ages 18 and 21 from stripping in Louisiana. And there will be unintended consequences, probably at least a little similar to those seen in the Pelican State. Georgia could see increases in the activities that this law theoretically is meant to prevent or at least alleviate – exploitation of children and sex trafficking. Putting additional legal limitations on sex work usually does lead to a larger underground economy in that sector, and there are no rules followed in that world. The government may force some clubs to close, but the workers who lose their jobs will possibly end up turning to prostitution instead, as girls in Louisiana said they were doing.

While it’s probably too late to gain enough to traction in Georgia to prevent Amendment 2 from being passed, it is important for the kink community to be aware of what is happening there. Laws of this kind are getting more common, and it is important to either prevent them from getting passed in the first place, or be ready to battle against them in the courts. It should go without saying, it also means that it’s time for members of the kink community in Georgia to more careful than usual, and try to avoid getting mired in penalties from this law.

Guest Blog: What Do Professionals Need to Know About Porn?

on Friday, 28 October 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, NCSF News

by Dr. Marty Klein

"What do you suppose would happen if the whole country were flooded with free porn?”

What sounded like a crazy idea in the 1980s became a reality just a few years later. We now know exactly what would happen.

In the year 2000, broadband internet brought free, high-definition pornography into virtually every home in America. Still reeling from the world-changing invention of the internet, America was unprepared for 24/7 porn.

This led to a predictable cascade of problems, which are still with us: consumers having trouble regulating their use. Couples arguing about it. People misunderstanding its fundamental fictions. Parents worried about what their kids are learning from it.

Of course, professionals are expected to pick up the pieces: Marriage counselors, child psychologists, mediators, clergy, physicians. Sometimes, unfortunately, law enforcement. And all are trying to do so without the training, models, tools, or support they need.

In a country deeply conflicted about sexuality, the new supersized version of porn triggered another one of America’s periodic moral panics. Remember comic books, early rock ‘n’ roll, satanic ritual abuse, snuff films? All were the focus of intense public concern, none were ultimately dangerous, and some didn’t even exist. Nevertheless, moral entrepreneurs and anti-sex activists saw 24/7 porn as an opportunity to frighten and anger people—while enriching and empowering themselves.

Predictably, there are now many popular myths about porn that are simply not true—but which are incredibly sticky, difficult to dislodge or even discuss honestly. Here are some common myths, along with some helpful facts.

* Myth: Most porn is violent or misogynist.

There’s no lack of people claiming that most or all porn is violent, deviant, and woman-hating.

And it’s not hard to find such imagery. But it’s a tiny fraction of the universe of porn out there. True, a tiny fraction of a huge number is a big number. But let’s remember that most porn isn’t violent, and that most people don’t want to watch violent porn.

What most porn consumers watch is friendly, smiling people doing friendly, sexy things together. This is the porn that is most readily available. Much of it follows a familiar formula: undress, oral sex, intercourse. Gladly undress, delighted to have oral sex, satisfied with intercourse. Realistic? Not especially. Violent? Definitely not.

And yet moral entrepreneurs like Concerned Women of America, anti-sex-work activists like Melissa Farley, and academic bullies like Gail Dines deliberately spread lies every week about the content of porn. They’re saying that 50 million American husbands, brothers, and sons are consuming images of sexual savagery every week. Does that sound like the guy you know?

* Myth: Fantasy is a reflection of desire, and predicts behavior

Everyone knows that fantasy has very little predictive value in life—except when the subject is sexuality. We all fantasize about strangling our boss, yet no one fears they’ll actually do it. We all fantasize about selling all our stuff and moving to Tahiti, yet no one fears doing it. But when someone enjoys fantasizing about threesomes, or sex in public, or being sexually coerced by a regiment of Marines, too many people are frightened that this could somehow “lead” to the real activity.

Pornography is a compendium of human fantasy. Not desire—fantasy. Not behavior—fantasy. Humans like consuming sexual images of the forbidden, the risky, the scary, the chaotic, the dirty, the glamorous.

When activists criticize the content of porn as perverse or deviant, their surprise is disingenuous. Exactly what would anyone expect to be the content of porn—the wholesome, the clean, the safe, the predictable? That’s what fantasy is designed to escape from. That’s what most people already have in their sex lives. And if the scary and risky is too, well, scary and risky, fantasy is a perfect place to vicariously “experience” it.

That’s why it’s short-sighted to refer to “gay porn” and “straight porn”—there’s just porn. True, there’s porn depicting same-gender sex and porn depicting other-gender sex (although there’s a lot of porn featuring both). But it’s all just imagery that people find exciting.

Every week someone comes into my office worried that they’re watching the “wrong” kind of porn, or worried about the “meaning” of the porn they enjoy. “I’m straight, why do I enjoy watching gay sex?” “I’m a feminist woman, why do I like watching women being tied up?”

We are a kinky species, aren’t we? With all due respect to those Freudians who think dreams have meaning, fantasies have very little meaning for most people. We’re stimulated by what stimulates us. Sometimes that changes over time, sometimes not.

Even St. Augustine thanked God for not making him responsible for the content of his dreams. We don’t have a record about how he felt about his fantasies.

* Myth: Porn causes people to abandon their sexual relationships

Here’s a story I never hear: “I used to enjoy eating, then I watched a bunch of cooking shows, and now I’ve lost interest in eating.” Similarly, no one leaves a vibrant sexual relationship with an actual person for the pleasures of masturbating to images. That would make no sense.

What does exist is many, many people struggling with sexual dissatisfaction. Maybe the problem involves boredom and routine. Maybe it’s the accumulation of years of hurt and resentment. Maybe it’s a dramatic gap in sexual preferences, or levels of desire. Maybe it’s alcohol or one person being really selfish.

And did I mention boredom and routine?

Many, many people experience the collapse of their sexual relationship. And especially in long-term relationships where both are committed to staying, very few people want to discuss this collapse. Most people would much rather argue about porn than talk honestly about sex.

People rarely complain about their mate’s porn watching when they’re enjoying a healthy sexual relationship. Very few people in rich sexual relationships fear that porn will steal their mate away—because they know exactly what their real-life sexual relationship offers.

But when the sex has collapsed, it’s easy for someone to point to Demon Porn as the “reason” things have gone bad—that porn “stole” their mate.

No real sexual relationship offers the perfection, the total control, the infinite variety, or the level of fantasy that masturbation to porn does. But that’s all pretty weak stuff compared to the touch of another human, the anticipation of a kiss, the look in someone’s eyes while we’re climaxing. When real sex lacks those, masturbation to porn looks like a reasonable second choice. But it’s rarely someone’s first choice if other things are available.

All professionals who deal with porn-related complaints need to look beyond the porn component and explore what else is going on in the situation. The porn use can be distracting to us—but we need the self-discipline to look for the context of the porn use, and the wider sexual ecology of the person or couple in front of us. Only then can we be truly helpful in this age of PornPanic.

* * *

For more about pornography, PornPanic, and Porn Literacy, see Dr. Klein’s new book, His Porn, Her Pain: Confronting America’s PornPanic With Honest Talk About Sex.

marty klein porn panic 3

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Dr. Marty Klein is a Certified Sex Therapist, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, and Policy Analyst. The award-winning author of 7 books, he is named by Wikipedia as a key figure in America’s controversy about sex addiction.

Guest Blog: Four Reasons Why it is so Difficult to Identify & Address Abuse in Kink & AltSex Communities

on Friday, 28 October 2016. Posted in Consent Counts, Front Page Headline, NCSF News

by Elisabeth Sheff

Recently I wrote a couple of blogs on Psychology Today about factors that can either discourage (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-polyamorists-next-door/201609/protective-features-curb-abuse-in-polyamorous-relationships ) or encourage (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-polyamorists-next-door/201609/adverse-features-contribute-abuse-in-polyamory ) abuse in polyamorous relationships. Before I published them I considered mentioning the link between polyamory and kink, and including a caveat about consensual power exchange possibly involving behaviors that might look like abuse but could be OK if the people had negotiated consensual power exchange. Eventually I decided that it was too complex for a caveat, and wrote the blogs with no reference to BDSM.

  1. Fear of Stigma

Like many sex and gender minorities, kinksters are afraid of being misunderstood or misinterpreted. This is especially true of the potential to mistake intimate partner violence (IPV) with consensual kinky sex – and they are not the same thing at all. IPV is not negotiated, there is no way for the person on the receiving end to stop it if they do not like it, and its intent is to terrorize and control. BDSM, in contrast, is (generally) negotiated, consensual, includes safety mechanisms for stopping a scene gone wrong, and intended to titillate and please. If the line between kink and abuse gets blurred, the person feeling abused may not feel safe to bring it to the attention of authorities or even friends if they fear being accused of complicity in their own abuse. People may also be reluctant to draw negative attention to a sensitive group that is already under attack from law enforcement and bigots.

  1. Abuse is Complex

Identifying abuse and distinguishing it from less egregious mistreatment or even callousness can be difficult. Abuse – especially psychological and emotional abuse – can be hidden, hard to spot, and delivered in such a manipulative way that the person on the receiving end sometimes does not recognize or label it as abuse. Because isolation is a hallmark of abuse, people who are being subjected to abuse often do not have emotional and/or practical resources to leave the situation, and community members might not notice an abusive situation that is kept hidden and isolated from community interactions. This difficulty in identifying and recognizing abuse makes it challenging for communities to address.

  1. Power Exchange is Complex

Each person’s kinky relationship is unique, and what would be horrible and abusive in one relationship is sexy and fun in another. Because there is no one size fits all for what is acceptable within a kinky context, it can be incredibly difficult to tell when it has crossed the line from consensual power exchange to become abusive. This can be especially challenging to untangle when people initially negotiated consent and then interactions devolve over time into abuse. Throw in dominance and submission, and what is erotic versus abusive can become extremely muddy.

  1. Lack of Centralized Community Authority

Even if someone is identified as an abuser, getting everyone to agree on that definition and take action within the decentralized and amorphous AltSex communities is much like herding cats. Who is authorized to label others as abusers, create, and enforce community sanctions? What if members of a community disagree about whether or not the relationship or incident in question was abusive? The notably individualistic and freedom loving AltSex communities do not lend themselves to developing a centralized authority structure with recognized officials, making it difficult to make and enforce rules community wide.

In my next blog in this series I examine what AltSex communities and organizations are doing to address abuse in their midst.

Election Action Alert!

on Thursday, 27 October 2016. Posted in NCSF News

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom would like your help in this important election year. Specifically, we would like you to take a few moments to send a short questionnaire on sexual freedom issues to candidates running for office in your State or locality.

NCSF has sent a questionnaire this year to each candidate for the Presidency of the United States - Secretary Hillary Clinton (Democrat), Donald Trump (Republican), Governor Gary Johnson (Libertarian) and Dr. Jill Stein (Green) - asking for their positions on sexual freedom issues that are important to those of us who engage in BDSM, swinging, polyamory and other alternative sexual practices. Their responses (or failure to respond) will be posted on the NCSF website and made available to the media.

 

NCSF's Letter to the Presidential Candidates

 

This election is an especially important one. Sexual consent has become a "front burner" issue. Trafficking laws and other statutes are being misused against our constituencies, and new anti-sex laws are being pushed by sexual bigots. The courts' interpretations of Lawrence v. Texas continue to narrow this important sexual freedom decision by the U.S. Supreme Court made in 2003. And, the appointment of judges across the country, including as many as three Supreme Court justices, will have a profound effect on our right to practice sex with other consenting adults.

For this reason, NCSF wants to extend the scope of our sexual freedom questionnaires to elective offices in your localities, including candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, for governor and for State legislatures. This is where you can help us. We would like you to send copies of the letter and the questionnaire to candidates running for office in your State, in elections where you think the outcome could have an impact on sexual freedom issues-legislation, judicial appointments and law enforcement practices.

Here is what we would like you to do:

1. Download our sample letter and edit it to your liking.

2. Download the questionnaire and send it with your letter to your local and state candidates for office.

3. Please cc NCSF!

Download the Sample Letter

Download the Questionnaire

Responses will be posted on our website!

Get NCSF's pamphlet on Trauma

on Tuesday, 09 August 2016. Posted in Consent Counts, Front Page Headline, NCSF News

NCSF’s Trauma pamphlet is intended to help both survivors of traumatic experiences and the people around them. Community organizers have been asking NCSF for more information on how people react when they’re traumatized so they can better help their members when they are in need.

We worked with over a dozen Kink Aware Professionals to create this pamphlet:

www.ncsfreedom.org/trauma

• Learn about short-term reactions such as shock, denial and fear of judgment or retaliation. Also possible ongoing challenges like anxiety, engaging in high risk behaviors or feelings of detachment or isolation.

• Find out what you can do (and friends and loved ones can say) to help you ease the pain and transition to healing.

• Get information on PTSD and trauma bonds, which form in the presence of danger, shame or exploitation.

Help is available for people who have been injured and their loved ones. This includes free mental health counseling, emergency medical care, possible recouping of lost wages, and a safe and confidential shelter that removes you from imminent harm or danger if you need to get out of your house.

You don’t have to go it alone. NCSF trains local victim services on BDSM vs. abuse. Call your local rape crisis hotline or contact NCSF’s Incident Reporting & Response for help for you or a friend at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Guest Blog: Top Three Considerations when Coming Out as Polyamorous

on Tuesday, 09 August 2016. Posted in Front Page Headline, NCSF News

by Elisabeth Sheff, PhD, CASA, CSE

CEO, Sheff Consulting

Why?

A few reasons people choose to come out are:

· Increased intimacy – Hiding important relationships means closing off parts of your life, and being honest about significant things allows greater authenticity and emotional connection.

· Explanation for person in social environment – Sometimes people in poly relationships that have become serious and entail more involvement in their lives decide to come out to both explain the presence of the person/people and acknowledge the importance of the relationship(s).

· Being outed by an event or person – When someone else threatens to out a poly person, sometimes taking control of the situation and outing themselves

· Political belief – As amply demonstrated by LGBT activists, it is difficult to take political space and organize for rights without a visible and recognizable presence in society. The more poly people who come out, the more visible polyamory is, and the more likely it is that poly communities will be able to gain rights for their constituents.

· Not – If there is no real reason to come out, reconsider doing so if you are vulnerable. That vulnerability might be to losing custody of your children, losing your job, losing connections with your family and friends, or losing your housing. These things can happen when people come out as poly, so think carefully before deciding if the risks of coming out are worth the benefits.

How?

Although the idea of coming out is politically important and some people feel compelled to be scrupulously honest with the others in their lives, most people should use caution when coming out because be identified as a sex or gender minority can be dangerous and should be done cautiously. A few of the ways to do so cautiously include:

· Selective disclosure – Tell the people who are important and need to know that you have a poly relationship, but let them know this is sensitive information that they should not share with others until you are ready. If you are not sure if someone is safe to tell, then consider using a “litmus” question such as how that person feels about same-sex marriage or something like that. Their reaction could give you information about how they might react to the news of polyamory.

· Matter of fact, not dramatic – If you present the information as a matter of daily life and not a cataclysmic announcement, others will be more likely to take it as a regular piece of news. Presenting it as normal part of your life can help others accept it as normal for you as well.

· Private setting – In case you or the person you tell has a strong reaction to your coming out news, consider a setting that allows some conversational privacy.

Preparation

Once you have decided to come out, prepare yourself. Think about what you are going to say, and plan ahead with your partners. Use the resources below to educate yourself and those to whom you are coming out.

· NCSF has a resource library filled with information for activists, lawyers, people concerned with consent, mental health, and professionals knowledgeable about polyamory and BDSM.

· Other websites such as Loving More, Opening Up, and More Than Two

· I have written three books that would be very helpful to people coming out as polyamorous. The first one, The Polyamorists Next Door (2014), reports on my 15 year study of poly families with children and is best suited for using when coming out to social workers, lawyers, school counselors, doctors, and other professionals. Stories from the Polycule (2015), my second book, is an edited volume of stories written by poly people themselves and is best suited for coming out to younger family members, friends, and open minded people or people with shorter spans of attention. My most recent book, When Someone You Love is Polyamorous (2016), is a short introduction to polyamory and best suited for dear friends and family members who are older, more conservative, or might be afraid that polyamory might be a bad thing for their loved ones.

Dr. Elisabeth Sheff is an expert witness, relationship coach, writer, and academic consultant. She is touring the East and West coasts for the release of her third book this fall, you can find her schedule here. There is still some room in the tour for more engagements, so if you want to book Dr. Sheff to speak to your group, contact her directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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