We would like to pass this text into the hands of people who have been affected by and/or are concerned with the acts of sexualised violence that occurred at Monis Rache Festival. You can also find more information about the incident at Monis Rache Festival at www.monisrache.wtf.
We are currently seven out of ten people of the so-called Erst-Kenntis-Gruppe (EKG; term that translates to First Knowledge Group and refers to the group of people that first knew about the incidents). The other three persons are reprocessing the events independently of us. We would personally rather discard this group name, but for the sake of simplicity we use it here. Throughout the text, the "we" always refers to only a part of the so-called EKG.
In November 2020, we met up with the publicist and activist Rehzi Malzahn who had agreed to support us in our process. In this workshop we reflected on our need for more openness and active communication in dealing with those affected by the incident and our critics.
This text is a result of our work with Rehzi and with other people in the months before and after the meeting with her in November.
With this text we would like to share more about ourselves and express our desire to find out more about your views & thoughts. For communication, reflection, understanding and processing to thrive, respecting each others needs is necessary. We don't yet know how this could be done in the most meaningful way for everyone involved.
This text might sound slightly bumpy at times. This is because individuals or small groups have worked independently on the chapters at different times, from different places.
In Chapter 1 (Report), we report on some of the steps we have taken since January 2020, with the aspiration of making our experiences and actions transparent.
In Chapter 2 (Learning and Responsibility), we reflect on our learning process until now and the responsibility we have drawn from our actions, the incident itself, and the public and non-public reactions and impacts that resulted from those.
Chapter 3 (What are your needs and (how) do you want to communicate with us?) is about us learning about your wishes, preferences and needs, and signalling our willingness to hear them.
In Chapter 4 (Our Needs and Boundaries) we write about our feelings and that we want to share our needs for a conflict culture of conversation and respect.
In the Conclusion we summarise the essentials and try to find appropriate closing words.
BEFORE YOU START READING...
We would like to share with you that we have seen and continue to see you and your suffering as affected by the whole incident. We are sorry for this suffering and wish for you to find the healing and attention that you desire. We sincerely apologise that you have suffered from our behaviour. That it is our behaviour that made you suffer is what we would like to beg your pardon for.
How the EKG came into being
The so-called "Erst-Kenntnis-Gruppe" is a grouping of individuals who were informed of the deeds by different persons and at different times. Some individuals were contacted by the perpetrator himself and were informed by him about his deeds. This happened after an email by Patrizia Schlosser (reporter at Strg_f) was discussed within the crew of Monis Rache in September 2019. The statements the perpetrator made to P. Schlosser and those individuals chosen by him were only partially true. Those informed by the perpetrator then met up with him at irregular intervals. Some of those individuals were emotionally very close to the perpetrator or had been close friends with him for several years. Some of them lived with him in a house project. The meetings were about confronting the perpetrator with his deeds and getting him to take on responsibility for them.
Other people were informed about the perpetrators deeds by the reporter P. Schlosser at the beginning of October 2019, but without knowing about the perpetrators identity. Over the course of the next few weeks, they could only make assumptions about his identity based on the information provided by P. Schlosser. After consulting individuals close to the perpetrator, a conjecture was then confirmed. After this, they did not have any conversations with the perpetrator and they knew him mainly through encounters in the context of the set-up and dismantling of Monis Rache Festivals infrastructure.
Still others were let in on the matter to support and advise those who were struggling emotionally from the knowledge that was imposed on themselves. These others have thus to a certain extent backed-up or even indirectly influenced the decisions made .
The so-called EKG can be understood as a heterogeneous grouping of individuals who did not become part of this grouping neither voluntarily, nor self-determinedly and were not actively involved in the work with the perpetrator at all times. Some had no prior personal connection to each other.
Chapter 1: Report
this paragraph we would like to report to you what course our
reflection process has taken since January 2020, which meetings we
have attended and which issues we have dealt with.
Events that happened before January 2020 and might be relevant for you to understand this very text can be found here on this blog and at www.monisrache.wtf.
We start the report with the first plenary assemblies of Monis Rache in 2020, because for us this is where some feelings and processes arose, that were crucial for the further events and the subsequent reprocessing and which we will try to describe in the following. The report is therefore a mixture of rather little emotional descriptions of what happened on the one hand, and more emotional passages in which we have a look into our own perception of these situations.
January 4, 2020: Monis Rache Plenary Assembly (Berlin)
In preparation for this meeting with the crew of Monis Rache, we met with two mediators. In late December 2019, we had brought this particular assembly topic to the attention of the entire crew. Some of us had vehemently expressed their need to take this step as soon as possible back in October 2019. In the end, other voices, such as those who wanted to seek counselling first, prevailed.
Accompanied by mediators of the collective Zwischen*räume, five people of the EKG informed a circle of about 30 people of Monis crew (those present at the plenary assembly) about H.'s deed, the planned report by Strg_f, and our actions over the past months. Together the assembly agreed
(1.) to inform as many Monis Rache crew members as possible,
(2.) to work out a statement about the current situation and the incident, in order not to leave this responsibility to Patrizia Schlosser and her report and
(3.) to inform initiatives for those affected by sexualised violence and support groups, to allow the help for and with those affected to be well prepared.
Schlosser (reporter at Strg_f) had announced her reportage to be
published in late January or early February.
We had not revealed the name of the perpetrator to those present.*
From our point of view, the meeting was surprisingly calm. Of course, many long-time friends, acquaintances and colleagues were shocked and hurt. This was specifically hard to bear for the five people of the EKG, additionally to the responsibility they had taken on themselves when taking this step. But most of the people present were understanding and grateful for our actions. This gave us confidence and hope for a good further process.
* We had agreed on this in advance because we feared that we would lose contact with the perpetrator for a later reprocessing with those affected. We also feared we could endanger his process of realisation and comprehension. Through some information brochures we came across the concept of "Transformative Justice", which somehow seemed convincing. At a first glance, it matched the political position of some of us towards the social and societal effects of the state’s practice of criminal prosecution on the accountability of individuals and communities. It also came very close to our sentiments on a process of reflection and evaluation, which was what in our opinion should have taken place between the perpetrator and those affected. Unfortunately, at that time we had not extensively explored this concept and possible alternatives such as the concept of Restorative Justice that many eventually called for. In retrospect, we overestimated our abilities to judge and act, which were influenced by conflicts of loyalty and various social/emotional ties not only to the perpetrator, but also to those affected and people from Moni’s crew. In addition, there was indeed a certain fear of vigilante justice from left-wing structures.
January 7th, 2020: Publication of the reportage "Spannervideos" (The title translates to “voyeur videos”)
Patrizia Schlosser’s reportage was uploaded onto the YouTube channel of Strg_f. all of a sudden and much earlier than what was announced. One hour before, she informed the so-called EKG via e-mail.
Many Moni crew members had not yet been informed about the status quo, nor about the contents of the plenary meeting of January 4th. In this surprising and overwhelming situation, a statement was spontaneously written and shared on the communication platform of Monis Rache’s crew. Without any significant feedback, the text written by several people of the so-called EKG was published.
conversations with individuals and groups followed – among them
with people from Monis Rache’s crew, the working context or the
residential environment, such as in the Leipzig housing project, in
which, among others, the perpetrator and four people of the so-called
The events and conversations were unfolding rapidly – we were met with anger and indignation and we had the feeling that we had done everything wrong, that we had to explain, defend and justify ourselves. Completely overwhelmed, we tried to share as much information as possible, to explain our actions and to look for mistakes. We signalled our willingness to talk and our need to work through things conjointly.
January 11th, 2020: Monis Rache Plenary Assembly (Leipzig)
The essential part of this meeting took place without us, in order to be able to talk about the situation and the next steps without our influence and our proximity to the perpetrator. We were furthermore met with mistrust by a part of the group. The mediators of January 4th were again present.
While about 20-30 people discussed and drafted a statement, we walked around the city and racked our brains with our questions about how the others would react to us, what they would do next and how things would go on for us.
At the end of the assembly, we met outside with the other crew members and then participated in a closing session in which we all shared our needs and feelings. Then, at the request of the assembly, we left the remaining crew to continue working on the statement. The mood was emotionally tense. Some people turned away from us decisively, others lay in each other's arms crying. There was a sense of chaos, but also still a certain closeness between us and the other crew members.
From here on, we were the "Erst-Kenntnis-Gruppe", the "first to know" group. Someone had come up with that name at the end of the meeting and the necessity for this grouping to have a name was apparent.
Following the publication of the next statement of the so-called EKG on Monis Rache’s website, which was immediately torn apart, the public outrage about our and the crew members’ behaviour grew. The process took on a life of its own and feelings of helplessness, overwhelmedness and distance arose within us.
Did we talk much to each other during those days? No idea, some of us certainly did, others rather retreated. The whole thing began to spread – newspaper articles, conversations in the working context, the clicks on YouTube continued to rise. We expected a public debate about the incident and about the topic in general to arise, and we deem this good. This is what we wanted from the beginning. But the speed and severity of the discussion and judgement was overwhelming.
January 18th, 2020: Monis Rache Plenary Assembly (Berlin)
As we were meanwhile seen as a threat for the work with and for affected people, and felt this way ourselves, we categorically did not participate in the plenary meetings nor the festival crew’s reflection and evaluation of the incident anymore. For this plenary meeting, however, it had been planned to interview the EKG in order to collect the information relevant for a new long statement and the work with those affected. After some waiting in a café somewhere in Neukölln, we (4 people) were asked to join the assembly.
About 30-40 crew members sat opposite us and questioned us about our actions and the decisions we had made in the process up until early January. It was emphasised and attempted to lead the questioning as considerately as possible. In the attempt to remain as factual as possible, question after question was read out.
Tensely we tried to answer as comprehensively and clearly as possible - every now and then some in the meeting burst into tears. That was the only emotionality we shared with each other within that meeting. After the questioning ended, some people were still holding each other. After that, the meeting continued without us.
No further official conversation between the Monis Rache crew and us took place after that up to the present time.
End of January until May 2020
Social relations, cultural spaces, housing projects, work and leisure groups and left-wing political projects issued exclusions and house bans. Five people lost their homes, some of which had to leave in the face of hostility and exclusions.
In the meantime, we were able to comprehend large parts of the many-sided agitation about our actions. The acceptance of and defence against the accusations and the criticism varied in each and every one of us. At the same time, we felt the need of reflecting and evaluating the situation further, but were mostly cut off from contact with those affected and the crew members. Therefore, we decided to make statements for our part and to start a public blog, through which we would be able to make our processing procedure, needs, mistakes and acceptance of responsibility transparent.
Still in January and early February we met twice for several days to work intensively on the texts we published on our blog https://oeffentlichkeitsarbeit-ekg.blogspot.com/. We had discussed which would be the suitable medium for a long time. As by that time only few individuals and even fewer groups wanted to communicate with us at all, the blog was the appropriate medium for us.
The discontent and shock in view of our new situations and exclusions and of course the Corona pandemic forced a break in our further common dealing with the events for the time being.
We initiated a Telegram group with almost all members, from which, however, at times people left again and again due to personal overburdening. By now we only use this Telegram group to arrange meetings or share important information. It's not a good medium for a detailed exchange, in which emotions always play a role.
In a few video conferences we agreed to seek professional support and stay on the ball. Some of us had private conversations with individuals, wrote statements or retreated into the exchange with remaining close friends.
Late May 2020: Supervision (Leipzig)
The entire so-called EKG met up for a two-day supervision in Leipzig with Ursula Schmieg, a psychotherapist with a focus on supervision, mediation and counselling, who particularly offers help in difficult group dynamics. This meeting was the first time that all of "us"(of the so called EKG) were involved. The goal of the supervision was to get more clarity about our reactions and our actions and to stabilise us in our positions.
On the first day we mainly dealt with the reconstruction of the events since September 2019, with the consequences and our respective feelings about them. It was mostly about our personal situations at that time, which were characterised by relationship breakdowns, exclusions, accusations and insecurities.
Furthermore, we addressed our desire for rehabilitation, especially in left-wing groups and spaces in Leipzig and Berlin, that have since excluded us from various locales and associations.
The result of the supervision was disillusioning in this respect and can be depicted as follows: The doors for an exchange about needs and feelings were closed to us. If these doors are not re-opened to us by our counterpart, our attempted rapprochement is in vain. We only keep running against the closed doors. This led to pain again and again. An exchange at eye level is only possible when the people who exclude and condemn us show their willingness to do so. We were advised at that time to accept this situation and focus on care and grief work about lost relationships.
to November 2020
All individuals engaged in their processing work individually and/or in small groups and had conversations in their respective social environments. We researched professional support and dealt with publications as well as texts in the press and left channels. No further supervision took place during this period.
2020: Workshop on further joint action
With Rehzi Malzahn, of who we became aware through the article "Eine andere Konfliktkultur aufbauen" ("Building a different culture of conflict", Jungle World 29, July 16, 2020, p. 18), we (7 people) discussed and worked out how to communicate our findings publicly. In the course of two days, we collected our respective approaches of processing and considered what a conjoint reprocessing of the events with critics and possibly those affected could look like.
In preparation for the meeting, Rehzi Malzahn established contact with groups of affected people in order to inform them about our cooperation. From these groups we wished to receive suggestions for our two-day workshop and for our further process of reflecting and evaluating the incident. With regard to re-establishing an exchange, we asked for a communication of their wishes, interests, concerns and needs, but also reproaches, criticism and questions about our actions.
On the first day we once more reported about the whole course of events, about our feelings and findings. We compiled all accusations that are being made against us along with the wish for responsibility that we want to take for our actions and towards those affected. This first day was enormously exhausting, because we had to bring up everything that was hurtful and wrong again. But it was a necessary basis for the second day.
Rehzi told us some basics about Restorative Justice in comparison to Transformative Justice and we discussed about the conflict and processing cultures in left-wing structures.
The second day was mainly about possible formats of reflection and text work, which currently is our only effective means of conjointly communicating to the outside world. We did text exercises and, looking at the results of the previous day, collected the essential points for a new text. We also for longer talked about the issue of power dynamics and how our respective roles and assumptions of responsibility might have affected what was going on.
One of the workshop’s outcomes is this text.
Chapter 2: Learning and Responsibility
this chapter we would like to tell you about our learning process and
efforts to take responsibility for our behaviour.
We would like to tell you about the insights we gained from our behaviour, from the incident itself, from the public and non-public reactions resulting from it, and from the bearing it had on our personal biographies and life circumstances.
Some sentences are written in the first person. This helped us to keep personal and group experiences apart while still being able to convey more personal impressions. Behind this lies the fact that some individuals among us had a special, others only a marginal relation to the perpetrator, resulting in differing senses of responsibility within the group.
What did we learn?
The focus in dealing with sexualised assault must be on those aggrieved (and those affected), while also taking into account the closer and wider environment of the perpetrator.
We took responsibility for the information about the acts themselves, not for its dissemination. In doing so, we were additionally not very attentive to the possible significance for and needs of those affected. In addition, there were conflicts of loyalty, manipulations and lies on the part of the perpetrator, as well as insufficient consideration for the personal environment of the perpetrator. These mixtures harbour the danger that the protective spaces of those affected and involved as well as their personal life situations are disregarded and, in the worst case, destroyed.
Concepts quickly seem promising in excessively demanding situations as they contain instructions for action and can import a way out of helplessness. However, a lack of discussion about it can just as quickly lead to misapplication and thus quickly to failure. Lack of knowledge and experience in their application, especially with concepts concerning the work with perpetrators and affected persons, is irresponsible and dangerous. The consultation of people with specific education or relevant experience is essential when applying unfamiliar, complex concepts - especially when it is centrally a matter of people's feelings.
We had believed we would be able to somehow handle this situation to our best knowledge and belief. We learned that actually only very few people have practical experience in the ("correct") dealing with sexual assaults within in their circle of friends, work and acquaintances.
In case of knowledge about acts of sexualised violence, it is very important to quickly pass on information to the environment and the potentially affected persons. It is (pretty much) the only thing that close friends should do in their conflict of loyalty in order not to run risk of being manipulated by the perpetrator for his purposes.
Anyone can be manipulated, so people close to the perpetrator should be careful when offering him assistance. They should neither spare the offender any work nor take responsibility for his actions off him. Instead, experienced people should accompany or take over the communication and work with the offender.
Today we realise that the plenary meeting on January 4th, in which we shared information about the crime with the crew members, was partially so calm because none of us had yet realised neither the full scope of the acts nor the extent of the consequences. Today we are aware that people's anger and defensiveness only really came up when they felt they had all the information relevant to them and then realised the extent of the situation themselves. We should have handled this situation more critically. In retrospect we understand this better. We should not have put our feeling of relief ahead of our ability to view this process critically.
What else would we like to learn and question further?
For a self-critical reflection and evaluation we have identified several things: We want to continue/increase enlisting professional support to help us recognise and question our individual mistakes and our group dynamics. It also helps to better incorporate our limits and needs as well as those of the people affected, especially in potential conflict situations. We wish to have direct or indirect contact with those affected and our critics in order to better recognise and understand their needs. In this way, we try to enter into processes of reflection and analysis as constructively as possible, as individuals as well as in connection with others.
We want to continue talking about power dynamics that have unconsciously arisen within our group. We work in smaller groups in order to recognise them and to reduce unwanted imbalances.
We want to understand how communication has to change in order to prevent individuals not daring to critically question proposals of others. Avoiding a possible discussion or argument is not the right approach.
We want to learn more about the perspectives of those affected and, if possible, support reflection and healing processes.
What do I feel personally responsible for?
I feel responsible for my insufficient empathy and reflection on the situations of the potentially affected persons (I later even perpetuated this behaviour, in a similar form, towards my own friends within the EKG). I feel responsible for my non-action, my non-support, my will-all-be-good-belief, my naïve thinking of you'll-get-through-this-like-you've-always-gotten-through-this towards my own friends. I feel responsible for me pushing away reality and facts; for the powerlessness and the disgust I felt for the deeds. I feel responsible for my passivity and for just not wanting to accept all of it to be true; for the overburdening in me and all of us resulting from this, for my lack of realistic assessment of the situation or a more accurate prognosis of what this maelstrom of events could do to our life situations.
I feel personally responsible for thinking it was a problem that could be solved by my help. That I believed the personal shock H. suffered would be great enough for him to want to change. I also feel responsible for not realising that this shock and willingness to change did not exist (in H.). I feel responsible for having believed him and for having carried this conviction into the group again and again. This certainly influenced the others in their decisions.
I feel responsible for the (ultimately failed) cooperation with Patritzia Schlosser, for letting myself be harnessed and manipulated.
I feel responsible for not having talked to those people surrounding me that have been dealing with the topic for a longer time, and for not having sought help there.
I feel responsible for having misjudged this situation for far too long as I failed to obtain the opinions and perspectives of outsiders. As a result, I have acted completely inappropriately and in no way justified towards those affected, their needs and their protection.
I feel responsible for not having protected the perpetrator's flat mates at the time, who were also my flat mates, for example by making him leave the house immediately.
I feel responsible for not having prevented the perpetrator from continuing to work in a public institution.
I feel responsible for having considered a concept suitable and implementing this concept, that without professional guidance was neither appropriate nor particularly useful at that point and in this situation.
I feel responsible for having made it difficult for others to react to H.'s act and, for example, to report him; for not having informed my friends, confidants, outsiders and those affected immediately; for having looked for blame and solutions instead of taking responsibility for the dissemination of the information; for having felt pity and not compassion for H.'s ("privy") friends; for having rested on the work of others; for not having had the courage to do many things.
What have I learned?
I have learned that me being overwhelmed does not lead to positive changes in a situation but to continued powerlessness. It is extremely difficult or impossible for me to get out of it on my own and to reactive myself. This is a process still on-going.
I have learned to listen to feelings of insecurity and to say them out loud. In addition, it makes sense to pause every once in a while during decision-making processes within a group in order to critically analyse whether the chosen approach is the right one and to correctly assess one's own condition. It may well be that one is no longer able to distinguish between right and wrong because other things, such as overwhelmedness and helplessness and fears, have an unnoticed influence in the background. Recognising and naming these feelings requires a degree of self-knowledge and emotional intelligence that I was not able to bring into the group, and which within the EKG seems to have been a scarce feature anyway. We all had to learn a lot about ourselves in the first place.
Regarding the reproaches of us not having expressed ourselves sufficiently, or the demands for us to make public all steps of the group (immediately), led to renewed feelings of powerlessness.
I have learned that perpetrators usually do not want to stop being perpetrators, but only want to maintain the status quo. That as a befriended person you can only offer support, but must be careful not to become a supportive part of it yourself.
I have learned that with information of this nature, it is relieving and helpful to confide in several people. In a larger group, the versatility of ideas and experiences is so very valuable. Even though it is usually not easier to make decisions in large groups, the responsibility rests on many shoulders and mutual support is possible.
What do I still want to learn and continue to question
I have learned to increase questioning my privileges that I receive through my heteronormative masculinity and thereby to increase reflecting on my role as a person read as male. However, this can only be seen as the start of a process that I want to continue.
I want to learn to be a strong woman without overlooking other people and their needs. I also want to learn to let go of tasks and not always wanting to control everything.
What do we feel responsible for?
We feel responsible for the wrong handling of the information about H.'s deeds (keyword: passing on information). We feel responsible for having over a period of several months deprived the people affected of the decision to deal with the perpetrator and the crime themselves.
In our actions, we have focused too much on the perpetrator, which can be explained in particular by the personal attachment some of us felt towards him. In doing so, we pushed along our actual responsibility, which was to pass on information about his deeds. We aimed to create a protected framework for this, which we were able to do on January 4th 2020 at the plenary meeting. However, this was much too late. The responsibility towards the residents of the house project, in which the perpetrator lived, was meanwhile largely ignored. Once again, too much attention was paid to the good of the perpetrator.
We are very sorry that we published such a reckless and short-sighted text on the website on January 7th after the report was published.
How do we take responsibility as a group?
We take on an increased responsibility for transparency by informing on this platform. In the future we will be sharing the steps of our processing and the communication among us and with others here. The fact that our blog has not been fed since the beginning of the year has several reasons. It has taken us a long time to get back into conversation as a group in the first place and to agree and become clear about our needs and plans. The uncertainty caused by the whole incident and the way we were treated plays a central role in this. Nevertheless, we would like to emphasise that we have been intensively dealing with the incidents, the consequences and reactions as well as with ourselves throughout the year. It is much more difficult for us to inform about this in a text than it is to talk about it. But we continue to try to do so – also in consideration of people who do not want to talk to us directly.
May, the whole group participated in a supervision under the guidance
of an experienced psychotherapist. In the course of the conversation
we realised that we had unconsciously constructed two changes of
perspective regarding our process of acting and thinking:
- The deed transformed to H., i.e., a shift from deed to perpetrator.
- The responsibility of the dissemination of information turned into a responsibility FOR the information (i.e. the deed itself).
These shifts in taking perspective for us resulted in wanting to protect affected persons from the information, the deed and the perpetrator. Out of consideration, we did not want to leave these people alone with the information, or simply put the information out there. We did not see the contradiction in this at that time.
Apart from professional support or counselling, some individuals are in intensive discussions and processes of reflection and evaluation with friends and acquaintances. A reflection work with groups and collectives has so far only taken place to little extent, if at all.
In early November, we organised a two-day workshop with a professional counsellor (see Chapter 1: Report). A more intensive engagement with the concept of Restorative Justice in contrast to Transformative Justice could spur an approach to reflection work with affected persons and initiate a restoration of exchange and understanding. In addition, we can use it to take further steps in our respective individual engagement of reflection and evaluation.
In the run-up to the workshop, Rehzi Malzahn sent emails to various affected groups and interested parties to inform them about us coming together and to give them the opportunity to join our reflection process. It is an attempt to open a new way for indirect or direct contact and communication.
Among other things, it was important for us to find out what needs the affected persons would like to report back to us, how and whether people want to get in touch with us at all, what they want to get off their chests for their own reflection work, what advice they want to give us for our process and what we should rather do or not do in the future.
After this intense weekend, Rehzi Malzahn wrote another email saying that the numerous feedbacks have been received and that we want to provide more information about our own reflection process by publishing a new text on our blog as a first step
We have initiated a reflection with various interlocutors and professional mediators or supervisors, through which we have come to better understand individual and group-specific processes and impulses for action. We have tried to look at what happened from different perspectives in order to better understand the disappointment and hurt we have caused in many of those affected; what were the reasons and mistakes of our actions and inactions; how we judge (and misjudge) the actions and the incident itself in retrospect; how we can accept the surprising publication of the Strg_f report and the associated effects and consequences for us as a group and above all for us as individuals.
How will we take responsibility in the future?
With the work we have done so far, we had and still have the aspiration to provide a basis for taking responsibility that incorporates the needs, wishes and demands of those affected.
For us, taking responsibility also means responding openly and honestly to questions we are asked, and not colouring or changing anything just to look better. We want to clearly name the mistakes we have made and be open to having further mistakes pointed out to us.
Through this process, we also hope that others can learn from these mistakes with us and act more considerately than we did in future similar situations.
This text is meant as an offer for communication and the start of a recovery and reflection process. We hope for on-going dialogues in which we can – by dint of our insights from the steps we have taken so far – meet new and old interlocutors at eye level.
Power dynamics - Who is to blame?
For some, debating our power dynamics is the requirement for wanting to or even being able to continue working with people from the so-called EKG. We have gotten the impression in various conversations with others that their aim of analysing the power dynamics was to define a sort of hirarchy of blame. In doing this, some individuals are given more responsibility for the course of our (non)actions. These different responsibilities have resulted from the fact that some have dealt with the situation much more intensively, while others have rather tried to suppress it. Everyone was fundamentally overwhelmed and acted for different motivations, which also resulted from the different levels of emotional attachment to H. To publish these here in detail, however, contradicts our need for integrity. We also consider ourselves to be jointly responsible (see Chapter 3: Learning and Responsibility).
In various (individual) conversations we had in different constellations, obviously, mutual influence did occur. Some of us had the impulse to cut the cord in order to find a fundamentally different way of dealing with things. This would have meant immediately informing those potentially affected, publicising the deeds, informing those around us and distancing ourselves from the perpetrator. These impulses were not pursued.
Under no circumstances should we have kept the information about the acts of sexualised violence to ourselves for so long. However, we also had no intention of permanently constructing a cover-up.
In some conversations and texts, we are accused of complicity. We reject this guilt, because we were only informed about it a long time after the acts happened at Monis Rache Festival in 2016 and 2018. For us, complicity implies that we would have supported the acts, tolerated them through ignorance, or at the least could have prevented them. This does not apply to any of us. On the other hand, some of us deem ourselves responsible for the behaviour of the perpetrator during the period in which we were already aware of his deeds. We should have been more active in preventing him from having further sexual contacts. There was only an agreement made with H., who agreed to pause his sexual contacts until further notice. However, as we learned later, he did not adhere to this at all. We are sorry that we did not manage to warn these persons. In this point we failed and it would have been possible to prevent these possibly hurtful contacts. For this we would like to sincerely apologise.
Chapter 3: What are your needs and (how) do you want to communicate with us?
It is very difficult for us to assess whether we should contact those affected and, if so, in what way. Your opinions and experiences are important for our reflection and learning process and we hope you can consider possible ways to get in communication with us.
It is very important to treat people with respect, and we have realised that we have not been sufficiently respectful.
Your various demands that have reached us range from "leave us alone" to "when will we hear from you again". This has put us in a dilemma: We don't want to repeat mistakes that we have made. We don't unaskedly want to confront other people with our role, our actions and the topic. At the same time, we notice that some individuals would like to cooperate with the aim of coming to terms with the situation, or of coming to terms with it conjointly.
It is not easy to find a "right" way to deal with this and to enter into a dialogue with us, but that’s okay. It's just as okay if people feel emotions like hate and the need for revenge.
We know today that we focused too much on the perpetrator and what he did, and thereby paid too little attention to those affected. That was never our intention and we are sincerely sorry. It is important for us to understand how and why it happened to us anyway – so that others can learn from it and perhaps recognise our mistakes in their own actions when they are in similar situations.
This text is intended to be our suggestion for considerate communication at eye level.
would like to suggest the following communication channels:
- email us at email@example.com to share feedback and suggestions for our own reflection work and process and for the initiations of conversations.
We can receive your suggestions and feedback by email, a more detailed dialogue by email is deemed difficult by some of us though. For more extensive exchanges, please feel free to contact us with further suggestions, e.g. for:
2. a personal conversation with people from our group
3. a moderated conversation with people from our group (at this point we and you would have to think about how such a conversation could be conducted)
4. a conversation with a mediator (or friends who speak for you), if you don’t want to meet directly.
would like to show those concerned the attention they wish to
receive. If there is anything we can do now or in the future to help
them get what they need in this moment, or if you know of anyone
anywhere that could use our support, please contact us.
Chapter 4: Our needs and limits
For a potential exchange it is important that the needs and limits of all interlocutors are heard and considered.
We have communicated our needs and wishes in several occasions throughout this text. At this point we would like to summarise them once more and add our own boundaries for a possible exchange with other people.
We avoid stating names or mentioning personal details. An exchange on eye level is important to us and we hope for a fair and direct communication without insulting and degrading elements.
We would like to try to initiate and keep up the exchange with you. We are therefore pleased about and grateful for answers and feedback from you.
Some of us can imagine going into conversation with affected persons or involved persons and groups individually. However, it may be that this is overwhelming and ultimately not conducive to learning from and understanding each other. Therefore, it would be important for us to have the opportunity to participate in a conversation with several people of us. In addition, we share most messages, demands or intentions among ourselves in order to be able to offer each other feedback or support.
We want to try to be responsive to the requests and demands of others, but at the same time we need to be mindful of our own boundaries. It is important to us not to repeatedly be confronted with demands or accusations that hurt or condemn us.
We do not want to be held responsible for the deeds themselves or for assisting the perpetrator in his deeds. We deliberately do not use the term "complicity" in this context, because it is repeatedly interpreted in different ways.
The accusation that we have never thought of those affected or that we continue to disregard protective spaces is very hurtful to us and condemns us in principle.
We know that we have made mistakes. You are welcome to point out mistakes that we have not yet seen. But please avoid making condemning statements without having communicated with us. Feel free to tell us what you think we did wrong. We ask that you perceive us primarily as human beings that have made mistakes.
For many people, being constructive and focusing on reflection and learning proved difficult at times this year (2020). Instead, powerlessness and a renewed sense of being overwhelmed by the situation often prevailed. Our lives have changed fundamentally since January in terms of where we live, our friends, our work and our free time. This was and still is often difficult to bear and to accept. In the meantime, some of us have been able to stabilise to such an extent that we want to take further steps, ideally together with you. Some of us have only managed to stabilise in part, so that dealing with the issue continues to be a heavy burden.
Some of us have for a very long time felt the need to find a way to a communicative new beginning. However, we felt very insecure about this, so we tried to talk to many outsiders about the incident in order to better understand what had happened exactly and what it had done to those affected and to us. We are not interested in apportioning blame, but rather in starting and continuing a dialogue.
This text here now is a result of our process of learning and reflecting. But that does not mean that we have reached the end of the process. It was not easy to accommodate the different perspectives and positions of the co-writers into a joint text.
Thank you to all the people who have supported us regarding this text and over the last few months; who have been open and present for us to reflect and talk. Thanks to all those who left their doors open or re-opened them and thus helped us to move forward and not give up.
Thanks for the many friendly ears, and thanks to all those who concern themselves with our texts. Thanks also to all who critically deal with sexualised violence and patriarchal structures and power dynamics in our society and oppose them.
We regret the suffering we have caused by our (non-)actions and would like to ask for forgiveness. To all of those affected we give our fullest compassion.
We hope for a joint healing and reflective learning process to be possible. Therefore, we write to you here in all our honesty and vulnerability.
you for your time and thank you for reading.
Felix, Julian, Laurens, Paul, Tina, Vicky and one other person