A chapter has closed

Dear friends and community members,

 

As many of you already know quite well, Consent Culture Initiative has been a labor of love for a few of my closest friends and me for several years now. CCI formed to offer the community a new mechanism by which survivors of sexual consent violation incidents and other forms of abusive treatment could be supported. In many ways, I strongly believe that we succeeded to a significant extent at this mission. I am very proud of much of what we accomplished together during the few short years of CCI’s existence as an organization.

Unfortunately, I cannot be proud of every aspect of that history. For roughly CCI’s entire history, I have been personally responsible for processing and responding to these reports. There have been several points at which I have represented myself, and by extension CCI, as being willing to offer forms of assistance or support to survivors, that I now recognize were, and still are, completely beyond my competency. In each of these scenarios, I proceeded to fail quite comprehensively at fulfilling any of the expectations I created. This was a severe breach of the professional ethical standards I was obligated to abide by in my role as a member of CCI’s core staff.

As a result of my attempt to act beyond my capacity, the vulnerable people who came to CCI for help have not always been supported in the ways they needed. At times, months have gone by during which they have waited patiently for me to make good on commitments I never kept, or hoped for outcomes I optimistically claimed to be working towards, but could never actually have brought about on their behalf. When I was asked by my fellow staff members within the organization how the processes I was responsible for managing were going, I downplayed the extent to which I was overextending myself and making promises I couldn’t keep. As a result of my behavior, the organization itself has been very rightfully and appropriately questioned and criticized by members of the community we serve. For much of my tenure, I was in a state of denial regarding my own capacity, bandwidth, and core competencies, and that is what has led to the ongoing public skepticism regarding CCI’s ability to fulfill its stated mission.

It is clear to me now that I am not well-suited to the position I held within CCI, and that I have proven myself incapable of abiding by the stringent ethical standards to which anyone in that position must be held, due to a pattern of being willing to overstate my competency and a tendency not to be reliable in the context of assisting the population CCI exists to serve. For this reason, I am stepping down from my position on CCI’s board of directors, effective immediately. The position I occupied must be held by someone who better understands their own limitations, and can more sensitively engage the needs and vulnerabilities of those with sexual/relational traumas. I feel confident that CCI’s current leadership will ensure that my position will be filled by such a candidate in short order.

The people I worked with in CCI will remain some of my closest and most highly valued friends. I will maintain an informal presence in the flow arts community, just as I did before CCI existed. Since so many of my mistakes revolved around my willingness to overstate my skill in facilitating restorative justice interventions, I will commit to undergoing formal training in this practice, and I will not represent myself as a facilitator until I am properly certified to do so. I am deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to do some amount of the work of making our community safe. I am also deeply remorseful for the ways in which I did not do a better job. To anyone who has been directly affected by my mismanagement of the role I held, I apologize. You deserved better.

I have the utmost trust in CCI’s current staff and the directions they are taking together towards a stronger and more functional organization in the wake of my departure.

 

With gratitude and humility,

Joe Graff

 

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