Responding to Sexual Relations between NVC Trainers and Students/Clients

Sally Marie's picture

Submitted by the ORNCC Board of Directors for the sake of all concerned parties.

Writen by Peggy Smith, Martha Lasley, Sura Hart, Miki Kashtan, Sarah Peyton & Roberta Wall


We have become aware of current situations where certified and non-certified trainers have engaged in sexual relations with participants/clients. We mourn deeply that such situations exist, and see them as part of larger societal patterns of misuse of power that results in serious impacts to others. We are committed to finding solutions that address such issues at the systemic level within our entire community. The only systemic component that exists, at present, is an agreement that certified trainers sign on an annual basis and that contains the following language:

“We support a relationship between CNVC Certified Trainers and participants based on mutual trust, safety, and respect. We are aware that in the course of an NVC training, participants may feel an unexpected level of emotional intensity or a deep sense of intimacy, and may become vulnerable, especially in regard to the possibility of a sexual relationship. We would like Trainers to realize they are stewards of the trust that workshop participants place in them. We ask that CNVC Certified Trainers agree to abstain from sexual contact with training participants, private students, or clients during the training or coaching period.

While no such agreements exist with non-certified trainers, we call on all NVC trainers (certified or not) to adhere to this agreement, and to go even further and agree that no sexual contact as above be taken for at least three months after the training or coaching period.

Definitions to better understand this document:

  • “those impacted” refers to students/clients who trusted a trainer enough to have sexual relationships with them and then experience harm.
  • “those whose actions resulted in harmful impact” refers to NVC trainers/providers who have sexual relationships with their student/client that result in experiences of harm.

Requests of those who share our concerns:

As no collective or systemic response is present in the NVC network as a whole (though organizational level responses are being considered by various bodies within CNVC), we want to invite collective responsibility to care for those impacted, those whose actions resulted in harmful impact, and the larger community.

We ask that you engage in the following when you become aware of a situation in which NVC trainers engage in such sexual behavior with students/clients:

With regards to yourself:

  • do all you can to build support around you, so you are not caring for all on your own
  • specifically, check in regularly with others to sense if you are still capable of holding a needs-based perspective on the situation

With regards to the person directly impacted:

  • believe their experience without in any way implying that there was anything they could have done differently
  • respect their desires and follow their lead regarding their willingness to come forward
  • offer or arrange for empathic support and holding of impact as requested or willingly accepted

With regard to the person whose actions resulted in impact:

  • see their full humanity and believe what they say about their intention (as separate from impact)
  • understand their action to be embedded in and resulting from societal patterns
  • immediately find strategies to protect anyone else from further impact, including protective use of force
  • support them in receiving empathic support to integrate the reality of impact they clearly didn't intend
  • explore with the person whether any additional support outside the NVC community (e.g. therapist) would be helpful

With regards to the immediate community surrounding the incident:

  • remain closely attentive to how information travels to care for all
  • as needed, offer needs-based, systemic framing for what happened
  • connect with others to consider together what support might be needed at the community level
  • where you have the willingness of the person being impacted, consider offering restorative circle processes to the community

With regards to the NVC community as a whole:

  • consider what steps to take to prevent further impact (e.g. if and when an ombudsperson exists, communicate the incident; consider if there is any team or regional groups that attend to such incidents, and speak with them)
  • contact immediate supporters of the trainer in question to assist in developing a strategy for protection that attends to dignity
  • if the person whose actions resulted in impact is a non-certified trainer who is pursuing assessment, contact the assessor to identify strategies to engage with to prevent further impact
  • Post this announcement on any website you are aware of that is related to NVC, and, regularly, on facebook groups
  • Encourage the CNVC board and other regional NVC bodies to align itself with this document and adopt future protocols that support the fulfillment of CNVC’s mission.

We are endeavoring to create a response protocol that involves CNVC, which we will post as soon as possible.


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