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Can a Member be Removed from a Meeting Per a Restraining Order?

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The comments below were given by various members of the Conference Steps, Traditions, and Concepts Committee and do not represent a group conscience of the entire committee. The opinions expressed here are solely that of the person giving them. Take what you like and leave the rest.

The Question

I’m struggling with a situation in the SLAA I attend on Zoom and would like to present a motion for consideration. I want to do this at the next intergroup.

Here is the proposed motion:

“If a person whom a of S.L.A.A. has a restraining order against attends a Zoom meeting where that member is, the secretary or host of the Zoom meeting is responsible for removing that person from the Zoom room with the support of proper documentation (i.e.: a copy of the restraining order).”

This motion is very important to me and if passed I hope would set a precedent that could ensure the safety of members in the rooms going forward.

What are your thoughts on this?

Response #1:

Each Group should be autonomous (Tradition 4) and there is but one authority, a loving God as expressed through group conscience (Tradition 2) so I have confidence a well-informed business meeting can prayerfully consider this difficult situation and reach a decision that puts the group’s common welfare first (Tradition 1).  Safety within meetings is an important element of our common welfare.

However, the primary purpose of the Group is to carry the message to the sex and love addict who still suffers (Tradition 5) and the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop living out a pattern of sex and love (Tradition 3).

In my experience, it is the sex and love addict who is the subject of the restraining order most in need of the supportive fellowship within SLAA (Resource 2, Preamble).  They have been so powerless to stop , another has sought orders.  Indeed, in our local Fellowship, some women have been so desperate to achieve that they have asked their Qualifiers to please take out a restraining order and/or renew the order before expiry.

The gender identity of the parties in question is not relevant (preamble).  SLAA has no opinion on such as the necessity of the restraining order (Tradition 10).   That is a matter for the local courts.

Each of us is responsible for our own safety.  We learn to avoid situations that put us at risk (Sign of Recovery).

We are very fortunate that in Zoom Meetings it is possible to mute our microphones and switch off video.  We can join under an alias if more anonymity is required for safety reasons.  It is also possible to decline to share and to turn off audio or leave the room while someone triggering shares.  It can also be helpful to and read the SLAA Booklet  as a Resource with your and other supportive members.

If that is not enough, there are more alternative meetings than ever accessible by Zoom due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  It is also possible to start a new men’s only or women’s only meeting if that would successfully exclude the other Member the subject of the restraining order.  There are excellent resources on the SLAA FWS how to start a new meeting in your area.

Finally, it is also possible to return to Court asking that the restraining order be extended to include your online communities.  Compliance with legal requirements under the local law will always override the suggested Traditions.  However, you would most likely have to persuade the Court that you not only must attend SLAA Meetings, but also that you cannot attend any of the other 1000+ SLAA online meetings.

Response #2:

First, I believe it is important to clarify the relationship between an intergroup and individual meetings.  Per Concept One, it is the intergroup that takes direction from the meetings.  This is referred to in the AA illustrated Twelve Concepts booklet as the “inverted pyramid”.   It means that the intergroup does not have the authority to direct meetings how to conduct their affairs.  Attempting to have intergroup pass a motion directing individual meetings on this issue would be in conflict with this Concept.

Tradition Four also states that each meeting is autonomous, unless affecting other meetings or the fellowship as a whole.  A meeting level decision on this issue would not appear to affect any other meetings or the fellowship.  Each meeting is free to address this issue as they feel best for their members.

I have been in meetings where very similar issues came up.  In each case, meeting members discussed the issue and attempted to reach a resolution that created a safe space for all members.  Barring an individual was always a last resort, but there have been two times that groups I am in made that decision.   In each case we were clear to the individual being banned that it was specific to that meeting only, and that they were free to attend other ones.

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The CSTCC is a group of volunteers, some of whom were ABM delegates, and others who volunteered out of interest. We do not represent a group conscience of S.L.A.A., but are committed to bringing thoughtful discussion and study of 12 Step Fellowship literature and experience to the questions that are brought to us. We offer this summary as the results of our discussions. We present the major points of concern in the hopes that wider discussion in the Fellowship will help us evolve our customs and practice of the S.L.A.A. program of recovery to better represent the loving guidance of a Higher Power. Always, we affirm the autonomy of each group and the need for each individual to follow her/his own conscience. No decision of this group, or any other, is ever forced upon another, even when we believe a practice is clearly in conflict with the Steps, Traditions, or Concepts.

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