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M.5. Handling Oppressor Patterns, Including Sexual Misconduct and Addressing Mistakes, Disagreements, and Criticism

This Guideline has two parts. The first part [A] describes how we handle oppressor patterns, mistakes, disagreements, and criticism in RC. The second part [B] addresses our commitment to keep the RC Community free of sexual misconduct and states the actions we will take if it occurs. The principles in Part A apply to Part B.

Click here for resources addressing M.5.B.

Part B. Addressing Sexual Misconduct in the RC Community[158] [159]


Addressing sexual misconduct is part of our commitment to end all forms of mistreatment, including all oppression. Within the RC Community, we are committed to creating and maintaining an environment free of sexual misconduct and harassment. We address the systemic roots of sexual misconduct through our work on sexism, male domination, and other oppressions. Sexual misconduct[160] includes sexual advances or stalking, sexual requests, sexual harassment,[161] and other unwelcome behaviors and communications of a sexual nature. We define sexual harassment in RC as conduct of a sexual nature—verbal, written, physical, visual, or electronic—that is serious[162], or unwelcome and repeated. All these behaviors, intentional or not, are wholly inconsistent with the intentions, goals, and policies of the RC Community.

Young People

The RC Community is committed to creating and maintaining an environment for young people of all ages that is safe from sexual misconduct and exploitation, works to end oppression, and empowers young people to share their thinking and express their emotions. Any young person who feels they may be experiencing sexual misconduct in the RC Community is encouraged to confide in any adult Co-Counselor, parent or not, whom they trust. That Co-Counselor should then act as their ally and follow the steps in this Guideline. This action does not preclude taking additional action outside the RC Community if the adult or young person deems it necessary.

How to Raise a Concern of Sexual Misconduct[163]

If a Co-Counselor experiences sexual misconduct in the RC Community, they can choose to do any or all of the following to resolve the situation within RC:

  1. Resolve their concern informally, with or without the assistance of an RC leader (It is always fine to involve a leader, or consult with a leader.)
  2. Take some or all of the steps suggested in Part A to resolve the concern[164]
  3. Use the processes outlined in this Part B (from here on, this process will be called “the Complaint Resolution Process.”)

The Ad Hoc[165] Complaint Review Committee

The Complaint Resolution Process requires the establishment of an ad hoc Complaint Review Committee (“CRC”). The ad hoc Complaint Review Committee works together with the RRP(s) to address the complaint. The CRC consists of the International Liberation Reference Person (ILRP) for Women (or her designee), an ILRP or RRP chosen by the person raising the concern, and a diverse committee of up to four others chosen by the IRP and the ILRP for Women. The composition of the CRC for any specific situation, apart from the ILRP for Women or her designee, will vary depending on the Co-Counselors and issues involved.

The Complaint Resolution Process

a.   Inform the Appropriate People and Prevent Ongoing Harm: A Co-Counselor who believes that they have experienced sexual misconduct from another Co-Counselor, and chooses to use this Complaint Resolution Process, should initiate it by contacting, or asking someone else to contact, one of the following:

  1. Their RC teacher or Area Reference Person (ARP)[166], who will notify the RRP and the CRC
  2. Their RRP, who will notify the CRC
  3. The CRC (by direct email to the CRC at

This Complaint Resolution Process is not intended to replace any other process (for example, a legal process or mediation).

If the ARP (in consultation with the RRP), RRP or CRC thinks sexual misconduct may be happening or is about to happen, they will immediately intercede to prevent the possibility of misconduct, inform the Co-Counselors that they are not to have contact with one another, and take other measures necessary to prevent harm. The RRP and CRC may restrict the person who is complained about from RC Community activities pending final resolution or take other measures they deem necessary.

When the Co-Counselors involved are from different Regions, their RRPs will work together to carry out this Guideline. They will determine which RRP takes the lead.

b.   Gather Information: An RRP and/or a member of the CRC will meet with each person involved separately. They will gather information, assess the situation, and ensure that all concerned have the opportunity to tell what happened. Co-Counseling is usually incorporated into this process and each person is welcome to bring a Co-Counselor in a supportive role.

c.   Take Action to Determine and Address the Harm: Once the information gathering is complete, the CRC and the RRP(s) discuss whether sexual misconduct (as defined in this Guideline) has occurred. If they conclude that it has occurred, then the CRC and the RRP(s)[167] will decide what should be done[168]. They will first meet with the person found to have been harmed to discuss how the RC Community can help address the harm. Such assistance may include counseling and referrals to organizations that assist individuals who have experienced sexual misconduct.

The RRP and the CRC will also decide on

  1. steps to correct the behavior;
  2. when appropriate and if both parties agree, steps that the persons involved can take to resolve and restore their RC relationship; and
  3. steps to prevent future occurrences, including applying what has been learned on a Community-wide basis.

d.   Potential Consequences: Depending on the nature of the misconduct, the Co-Counselor who failed to follow this Guideline may be required by the RRP(s) and the CRC (in consultation with the IRP) to step down from any RC leadership roles. They may be required to leave the RC Community temporarily or permanently. In appropriate circumstances, the Co-Counselor who failed to follow this Guideline may be offered the opportunity to remain in the Community under specific conditions, which could include some or all of the following:

  1. The Co-Counselor refrains from the harmful conduct and agrees to act and discharge on their commitment to refrain from such conduct.
  2. The Co-Counselor follows a plan set forth by the RRP(s) and the CRC that may include some or all of the following:
    1. The Co-Counselor not Co-Counseling with or contacting the individual(s) affected
    2. The Co-Counselor not attending RC events that the individual(s) affected are attending
    3. The Co-Counselor only Co-Counseling with persons approved by their RRP
    4. The Co-Counselor not attending RC classes or workshops without their RRP’s permission, until
      • they have done extensive counseling and taken any other actions directed by their RRP to address the situation;
      • they have demonstrated that they have re-evaluated their behavior; that they have a clear understanding of the misconduct; and that they have developed the awareness, commitment, judgment, and capacity to no longer engage in the behavior; and
      • any arrangements to rejoin Community activities have been approved by their RRP (in consultation with the CRC).

The RRP(s) will oversee the implementation of these and any other steps and will monitor the situation to prevent future occurrences.

The RRP(s) and the CRC will inform the IRP of their findings. Any of the persons involved may appeal the result of this process to the IRP for intervention, and the IRP (in consultation with the RRP(s) and CRC) will have the final say regarding actions to be taken in the RC Community.[169]

The RC Community is not obligated to apply this process to adult Co-Counselors who have formed a mutually agreed upon sexual relationship in breach of Guideline M.1. The No-Socializing Policy, or who are no longer actively participating in the RC Community.

Intervening in Sexual Misconduct

When a Co-Counselor has knowledge that indicates to them that sexual misconduct may be occurring within the RC Community, they should talk to the person they think is the target of the misconduct. If that person does not pursue the issue, and the Co-Counselor believes ongoing sexual misconduct is occurring or the targeted person is involved in a sexual relationship between Co-Counselors without mutual consent, the Co-Counselor will report their concerns to their Reference Person (informing the person that they are doing so). If their Reference Person’s action does not lead to resolution of the issue, the Co-Counselor with knowledge shall inform the CRC and their RRP, who will determine what further actions should be taken.


In our experience, situations involving mistreatment, oppressor patterns, and sexual misconduct are most effectively resolved when confidentiality is maintained to the extent practical. We want to protect the privacy of the Co-Counselors involved as much as possible. Any Co-Counselor involved in this complaint process is not to share information with Co-Counselors not involved in this process, except as client in their Co-Counseling sessions.[171]

No Retaliation

The RC Community does not tolerate retaliation against a Co-Counselor who has reported mistreatment or misconduct. If a Co-Counselor believes they have experienced retaliation, they should immediately inform the leader to whom they reported the misconduct or inform the CRC directly. That leader shall address it in consultation with the CRC.

Effective Use of this Guideline

The RC Community welcomes Co-Counselors to come forward with concerns as they arise or as the Co-Counselor is able to come forward so that constructive action can be taken.

All Co-Counselors are expected to act responsibly and with integrity in raising concerns, responding to concerns, and participating in the information gathering process.

The RC Community will inform Co-Counselors, including young people, about the existence of this Guideline and its use.


We are determined to promptly address concerns of sexual misconduct and stop ongoing misconduct. We want to limit the harm and confusion it causes. We will offer those who were harmed the opportunity to recover from the harm. Those who acted in hurtful ways will be given the opportunity to take responsibility for the harm created and address the underlying causes of their behavior. This process can make lasting change possible.

Sexual misconduct is rooted in systemic oppression and exploitation. It is pervasive at all levels of our societies and greatly harms those who are targeted. We are committed[172] to preventing and stopping any sexual misconduct in the RC Community and addressing its systemic roots. We do this through our work on sexism, male domination, and other oppressions.

Our work to stop the acting out of all behaviors caused by sexual distress also includes counseling on sexual distresses and the sexual abuse and exploitation common in our societies. We do not want undischarged distresses connected with sex to negatively impact relationships between Co-Counselors. RC Teachers and Reference Persons can assist Co-Counselors who are counseling on sexual distresses and when these distresses impact a Co-Counseling relationship.

For more thinking on sexual misconduct and RC see: Sexual Misconduct Guideline M.5. Resource Document at

For resources for raising a concern of sexual misconduct, see "Information on Guideline M.5. (Sexual Misconduct) for the RC Communities" at


[158] The processes laid out in Part B, at the discretion of the IRP or RRP, may also be used for any situation in which a Co-Counselor feels endangered by the behavior of another Co-Counselor.

[159] See Sexual Misconduct Guideline Resource Document: This resource document provides an RC context for much of this Guideline.

[160] Sexual misconduct could include a client working on sexual distresses without their Co-Counselor’s agreement. It could also include a client repeatedly bringing up sexual material, inside or outside of a session, without considering how oppression and domination have affected both the client’s and the counselor’s distress recordings connected to sex. (This concern especially applies to adults with young people.) People are encouraged to use their reference people to help resolve any confusions or issues.

[161] In RC we have workshops, classes, and sessions on the topic of sex in which sex may be explicitly talked about. Co-Counselors voluntarily participate in these events, and in these activities we create the conditions in which participants can discharge on early hurts and the feelings connected with the early hurts in order to have a relaxed, rational relationship to sex. Participants may experience uncomfortable feelings about sex in these events, but that is not the same as sexual harassment.

[162] Not all conduct of a sexual nature is “serious.”  If such conduct is repeated and unwelcome, even if not serious, it could become sexual harassment.

[163] Concerns about sexual misconduct at a workshop should be immediately communicated to the workshop leader. If it is about the workshop leader’s conduct, it should be immediately communicated to a Regional Reference Person. A report should also be made to the Complaint Review Committee (see below) by email.

[164] A Co-Counselor raising a concern about sexual misconduct may choose, but is never required, to bring their concern directly to the person who they believe caused them harm, to try to resolve the situation. We recommend that this meeting also include an RC leader.

[165] Ad hoc means created for a specific purpose when necessary.

[166] If the Co-Counselor believes that they have experienced sexual misconduct from the ARP, they should directly contact their RRP, who will involve the CRC. If they believe they have experienced it from their RRP, they should contact their ARP, who will involve the CRC. If they believe they have experienced it from the IRP or Alternate IRP, they should contact their RRP, who should involve at least one other RRP and the CRC. In such a case, the IRP should not be involved in the process. If the complaint is about a member of the CRC (an ILRP, ICRP, or RRP), that member should not participate on the CRC in this case. This principle applies throughout this Guideline.

[167] If the complaint is against the RRP, the IRP, or the Alternate IRP, the appropriate leaders (identified in the previous footnote) should work with the CRC to fulfill these responsibilities.

[168] If the CRC is unable to reach a conclusion or concludes there was no sexual misconduct, then the RRP will meet with the Co-Counselor who raised the concern to communicate the CRC’s decision.

[169] See footnote 166.

[170] In RC, we expect confidentiality to be respected. Co-Counselors should be aware that most legal systems are unlikely to honor our principles of confidentiality. This section would not apply in a legal proceeding.

[171] Clients are asked to counsel in ways that don’t spread the upset, as addressed in Part A.

[172] We also do this in the following ways: by requiring certification of RC teachers, screening for classes, being clear that the Co-Counseling relationship is not a social one, regular “checks” in RC classes on members’ Co-Counseling sessions, and developing liberation policy statements for women, men, and LGBTQ+ people, as well as many other groups.

Last modified: 2023-04-15 09:24:12+00