Survivor Support Pod for Reid Mihalko’s Accountability Process: History & Functioning
Edited to add: As of 2/22/19 this process has formally wrapped and a final post has been posted here.
Why This Process:
Once the story broke that Kelly Shibari publicly named Reid Mihalko as having been sexually harassing and coercive (during not just a specific incident, but also over the span of multiple years) many members of the broad sexuality professional community began discussing what happened, what needed to happen now, and how things could change. (If this story and situation is unfamiliar to you, you can follow along with some of the public statements and conversations as compiled here: bit.ly/reidlinks.)
Out of a desire to see action centering healing, accountability, and transparency rather than secrecy, punishment, and erasure, some people moved up to address these issues. Rather than sweeping this under the rug, ignoring it, and/or hoping it would “sort itself out,” an accountability process began, incorporating the creation of an accountability pod to work directly with Reid on his transformation and obligations plus a survivor support pod (initially centered on Kelly) to advocate for those who were harmed and the perspective of survivorship.
The guiding values for this overall process include but are not limited to: transparency, healing, compassion, restoration, transformation, community participation, and collaboration.
More Resources for Process Context:
For a primer on what community accountability (CA) is/can be, please read this primer and further recommended readings by INCITE!.
For more resources on restorative justice (RJ) and transformative justice (TJ), you can read these primers by AORTA, Generation Five, and the FAQ by the Third Eye Collective, as well as a thoughtful article by adrienne maree brown. Please note that while some resources name differences between RJ and TJ, many places practice both in the same ways — namely with attention to systemic issues, not just the individual harms addressed in a process.
For a primer on what pods are/can be, please read this.
Survivor Support Pod Core Composition and Leadership:
- First official email communication to round up interested people was sent February 6th by Kelly Shibari, asking for support and including people who had reached out to her or made themselves available for such a process.
- Original group was comprised of Sarah Sloane, Tristan Taormino, Aida Manduley, Shanna Katz, Erin Kennedy, AV Flox, and a community member (referred to as X in these documents) who does not wish to be publicly identified.
- As of 2/26 Erin Kennedy stepped back from the pod-process (she was in the role of liaison with Reid’s pod) and Tristan stepped into liaison with Reid’s pod. Aida and Sarah worked on story collection and infrastructure, while X worked to support Kelly emotionally and help with identifying asks.
- Once the story collection process began and Kelly’s asks were shared, the pod shifted focus to support a wider range of survivors affected by this issue.
- As of 4/16/18 Tristan stepped back due to health reasons and Aida formally moved into the lead role and primary liaison with Reid’s accountability pod.
- As of the release of this document, Aida is the liaison with Reid’s accountability pod, and the core pod is comprised of Aida, Sarah, and X, while Shanna and AV remain as backup support when/if needed. Kelly herself — based on her own wishes — has not been participating directly with the survivor pod process and day-to-day logistics, but is instead being kept updated by X on an as-needed-basis (who, in turn, is being updated by Sarah and Aida).
The Core Work Components:
- Harnessing relevant links and organizing public ones on a spreadsheet timeline here through end of February.
- Story collection via a Google Form (only accessible to Aida and Sarah), analysis, and follow up with responders who request it.
- Liaising with Reid’s accountability pod (emails, pod2pod meetings, etc.)
- Direct emotional support for Kelly and assistance in developing asks for Reid, plus taking those through a restorative justice lens during pod2pod meetings.
- Creation of supporting documents and web presence to chart this accountability process.
More Details on Pod 2 Pod Meetings:
- As of the release of this document, the 2 pods have met via Zoom on 5/3/18, 5/17/18, and 6/3/18, with at least one more meeting in the works.
- The purpose of these meetings has been varied, and has included the pods updating each other on progress on work at large, discussing the story collection process from both sides and patterns found therein, noting other survivors’ asks as compiled via the story collection form, running actions through a restorative lens, Reid’s accountability pod giving updates on some details of the process and their meetings with Reid, discussing Kelly’s asks of Reid, debriefing community feedback about the process, and so on.
More Details on Story Collection Process:
- The soft deadline for submitting personal accounts was March 6th. Round 1 of analysis was completed and disseminated within the survivor pod by March 11. Subsequent additions and modifications, as well as story submissions, have occurred on a rolling, as-needed basis. Unless any new stories come in that fall outside of the established patterns and require different actions or require modifications to a plan of healing, there will be no further content analyses done or released.
- The two people who have full access to the story collection form and its contents are Aida Manduley (reachable at aida.manduley AT gmail dot com) and Sarah Sloane (sarah.sloane AT gmail dot com). No one else will be reading these materials unless permission is explicitly granted by each individual who submits a story.
- Some survivors requested direct contact with one or both pods, and those contact requests have been addressed. Some people have requested direct apologies from Reid and those requests were also addressed and completed.
- The original messaging around this process was as follows (and please note some things have changed since then):
As members of Kelly’s support pod (read: a group of people dedicated to helping Kelly — and other people impacted by Reid’s behaviors — along this process of healing and demanding accountability), we have created this form so people can share personal stories of Reid Mihalko’s misconduct. We have already received stories about sexual manipulation, gaslighting, and problematic behaviors around business and branding, so feel free to be candid and share whatever feels relevant as far as highlighting incidents and behavioral patterns that are abusive, unhealthy, uncomfortable, and/or problematic if analyzed through a lens of power/privilege.
We believe that if Reid is to change, and that our community is to heal and transform overall, silence is not a helpful tool. We must come together in transparency and a spirit of sharing to ensure that true accountability, not performative accountability, takes place.
Thus, we see this for as a tool to do the following:
1. help people share their stories and be witnessed, knowing they’ve broken their silence
2. inform the accountability processes from the survivor/impacted parties end of things
3. (if stories are shared publicly in some fashion) help other people come forward and see that they’re not alone
We have created this Google Form as a method of collecting stories in an INDEPENDENT and COMPLEMENTARY way to the methods Reid’s accountability pod is using. Submitting a story here does not mean you are sharing it with Reid’s pod and vice-versa.
Our core plan is to analyze the stories shared for patterns and behaviors as we make a list of healing actions and accountability requests, and there is also the possibility of creating a public space where some of the stories can be shared (with people’s consent).
If you have any concerns or comments related to this process, you can email email@example.com. Please be aware that this account is only checked every few days and is accessible by both Aida and Sarah. This means that responses will be on varied timeframes and are not necessarily guaranteed.