Nov 13, 2019
My intention with making this post and its content public—is to put some misleading comments made by Betty Martin, founder of the Wheel of Consent into a broader and more accurate context, as well as openly clarify my past professional relationship with her.
One year ago, on my 50th birthday, I shared a fundraiser to collect 50,000 euros to translate the Wheel of Consent and share it to a broader audience in a number of languages. I was still a director at the School of Consent at this time.
Over 100 people from around the world supported me, donating nearly 4,000 euros.
As I’d been fortunate enough to benefit from the generosity of the open source Wheel of Consent teachings, upon stepping down from The School of Consent I chose to use the donations to launch the consent work I’d created myself in an open source format—instead of purely for Wheel of Consent translations (for the School). I’ve begun this process and continue to share this work with the world with wholehearted dedication.
This new open source consent model will be available in the form of scheme maps in a handbook, both hard copies and online with linked videos, free of charge for anybody to access, use and share in whichever way they choose. I am also translating the work into German and other languages on demand.
I want to acknowledge that not everybody agrees with my choice. However, the donated money was only aligned with the School of Consent because I was a director there at the time. The contributions were never made to the School of Consent specifically, but to an idea I had to spread the teachings of consent.
Recording 1. Betty says: “I don’t know what you want to do with that (money) that’s kind of up to you”.
I will return financial contributions to those who no longer wish to support the consent model I’m producing in an open source format.
I’ll continue to offer the return of any donation made to my birthday fundraiser until the end of 2019. Simply write to me at email@example.com to request that the funds are returned. Once all the materials are produced, I will give a detailed breakdown of where and how the money was spent.
As I write this, Betty reached out to an organiser of my workshop here in Australia to undermine me. This breaks the professional agreement that Betty, Robyn and I made at the conclusion of my directorship of the School of Consent. That Betty privately contacted the producer of my professional work without seeking permission from me, or at the very least informing me of her intentions to interfere with my work—is divisive.
Recording 2. Betty says: “I think it’s true that I have some power in the situation, in that I have my reputation and you know, people trust me and all that. I think there is a certain power in my hands, if I wanted to trash you, I suppose I could, but I don’t want to and I won’t. It makes me look bad as well as it makes you look bad, so why would I do that”?
Read on for an account of the events leading up to the present day.
Previous to meeting Betty, I’d worked with hundreds of people through ISTA (International School of Temple Arts), one-on-one within client sessions, and at shamanic healing workshops.
I met Betty in 2014 at a Like a Pro workshop which she and Robert Silber had organised and co-created.
I fell in love with the concepts of the Wheel of Consent and, through my personal experience of somatic embodiment also formed a more loving relationship with myself, due to a new understanding of touch awareness when engaging with another person.
I felt this body of work added incredible foundational weight to both my personal relationships and professional work as a sexual empowerment coach and bodyworker—realizing it would both enrich what I presently offered and that it was desperately needed in the world.
I invited Betty to Europe to teach the Like A Pro workshop and shared my enthusiasm for teaching consent, as I saw it as the ‘missing piece’ of the puzzle within the realms of somatic, sexuality, tantric, trauma healing and relational work.
With excitement and passion, I began facilitating introductions and two-day workshops with Betty’s blessing and encouragement. Originally, the Wheel of Consent was open source, which Betty encouraged people to use it in their work—and only with training in the case of practitioners.
In 2015, I invited Betty on her first tour of festivals in Berlin, Stockholm and Ängsbacka in Sweden. I also actively supported and spread the Wheel of Consent model to Czech, Holland, Denmark, Belgium, Bulgaria, Poland and Estonia.
At this time, I also began teaching a two-day workshop on the Wheel of Consent. Everything learned and passed on was generously shared open source information, given by Betty with no pre-requisite or criteria.
In 2016, I met Robyn Dalzen in Bali and we become lovers. Robyn was enthusiastic about consent work and we created our own personal relationship container agreements based on the Wheel of Consent. Robyn, a qualified coach with her own established business, was fully capable in her own right, having supported hundreds of people over many years.
Our whole relationship was a wild experiment based on agreements we made honouring our individual truth of how we desire to be in relationship with others.
I invited Robyn to travel and teach with me as lovers and colleagues. We created our mutual business, Liberated Love, and began facilitating relating workshops around the world.
I introduced Robyn to Betty and the Wheel of Consent in the summer of 2016. They immediately clicked and Betty suggested that both Robyn and I assist her in teaching Like A Pro workshops in 2017. At this time, Betty invited us to found the School of Consent as three equal directors of a limited liability company (LLC).
Unfortunately, probably due to our enthusiasm and optimism, we failed to establish, agree upon or apply the foundational premise of consent work to our shared company!
During this time, I was still very actively working and facilitating with ISTA. Betty was uncomfortable with this and made the pre-requisite for me as a co-founder the School of Consent, to no longer be aligned to or teach with ISTA.
I accepted and stepped away from ISTA, though Betty didn’t want me to sever all ties due to her interest in the possibility of teaching all their facilitators the Wheel of Consent model. This suggestion was however rejected by ISTA. Meanwhile, Robyn and I put our own plans to offer intimate relating work on hold, wishing to incorporate it later into the School of Consent.
Together we all created the School of Consent’s structure, and a curriculum for facilitators based on the Foundation of Facilitation course I took twice with Betty—as well as my own experience of teaching the Wheel of Consent over the previous three years. We all organised and co-facilitated a year-long training for practitioners as well as managing and co-teaching two online training courses on the Wheel of Consent for facilitators.
Betty then suggested that Robyn and I teach Like a Pro because she wanted to turn away from teaching and focus on finishing the book she’d been writing for the last decade. Both Robyn and I assisted Betty with the development of her book, inviting her into our house in Bali and investing several months of our time, giving input based on our experience and learning over the years and helping her with corrections.
Due to the great demand for this knowledge and work, Robyn and I agreed to focus on creating facilitator trainings for people wanting to teach the Wheel of Consent to the public and eventually on trainings for those wanting to become Like a Pro facilitators.
In total I have attended around 25 Like a Pro workshops, assisting and co-teaching with Betty, both before and after Robyn joined us.
At some point, Robyn and I started experiencing tension in our relationship due to all the travelling and teaching commitments without a solid base to call home. We spent most of our time together without others or a fresh perspective, and as a result some of our relating dynamics got stuck in a loop. We began to question our original relationship agreements—about what was working and not.
There are times of challenges, beauty and pain in all relationships that need exploration and communication. Robyn and I travelled to Greece and America, studying twice with Brad Blanton in his Radical Honesty work. We then began to incorporate these new learned premises of communication into our relating with each another—while being supported and coached by the Radical Honesty community.
At some stage, without discussing it with me first, Robyn chose to share details of our personal relationship with Betty. All three of us had been travelling for almost a year, working, co-living, and building the School of Consent together. For the majority of this time, Betty and I never had any disputes and we got along smoothly, with consideration and care.
When my relationship with Robyn came up against more challenges, we started regular Radical Honesty coaching calls with Brad Blanton’s community. Whilst working through our relationship dynamics and challenges, we continued to travel and facilitate consent and relationship work, being as transparent as we could, whilst honouring our right to privacy.
Robyn created most of the administrative structure of the School and its courses, spending much time with Betty, without my input (as English is not my first language). During this time, I believe Robyn shared more and more with Betty about her challenges in relating with me. Around this time Betty began having issues with me regarding how I handled some of the situations in my relationship with Robyn.
A triangulation dynamic in the relationship with Betty, Robyn and myself emerged, and though we all agreed to continue teaching four more Like a Pro workshops together, Robyn began withdrawing from being available and present with me in the professional setting.
We all continued to actively contribute, build and establish new trainings and ideas for the School of Consent throughout the dynamics taking place personally. All three of us agreed, that Robyn and I would take over Like A Pro trainings after the last four together, which would free Betty up to complete her book.
During the second module of the year-long training co-facilitated by all three of us, Betty announced that she had changed her mind with me teaching like a pro. Her reasoning was vague, saying there were “problems”—the details of which she never revealed to me.
As we were all familiar and open to the Polyvagal Theory and consent work, (which creates safety for open communication), Betty shared she experienced me as “defensive” when I perceived I was being “attacked”— (a common response for most when the nervous system is over strained and on high alert).
I offered to work on my defensiveness and asked her to look at her own issues too. We agreed to continue working on our professional commitments and pre-planned workshops.
Betty then changed her mind about having three equal directors for the School of Consent, suggesting instead a “committee of supporters” or advisors to her sole responsibility of making final decisions.
Betty, Robyn and I had several Radical Honesty coaching calls online to process our feelings and our triangulated relationship. During these sessions, Betty made it very clear she wanted me to step down as a founding director and to no longer facilitate the Like a Pro trainings.
Robyn and I encountered more complications as we tried to negotiate how we could live, travel and teach together in the future, if she was teaching Like a Pro and I was no longer welcome by Betty. Robyn chose to continue to teach without me.
My relationship with Robyn and Betty grew more difficult, while their relationship deepened. I questioned how to relate to Robyn while she was teaching Like a Pro without me. In one situation while sitting together, Betty began talking about me in the third person to Robyn saying, “I’m not sure if I want you to continue with the School if you’re still in a relationship with Matt.” I became upset about Betty interfering in my private relationship with Robyn, and Betty apologised.
After this incident, I asked Robyn not to process anything about our relationship with Betty and to exclude her from our relating dynamics. Betty was upset about this as she wanted to know what was going on between us, especially if it involved the School. Betty made our directorship of the company conditional on knowing about our private relationship.
On another occasion, Betty was asked by a student if I would get the rights to the School after Betty’s retirement. Betty responded, “I’m not giving the teaching into a man’s hand”. In one of our coaching calls I asked her about this statement. She answered, “I’m not giving the teaching into your hands”. It was never my intention to have the work handed down to me. However, as an equal director of the School of Consent, I did have equal rights and responsibilities regarding content, administration, facilitation and quality of the teachings.
After every other Like a Pro workshop with Betty, we directors would have a debriefing call with the organiser and assistants. I was intentionally excluded from the June 2019 Like a Pro debriefing, even though I’d been one of the facilitators.
At the same time, my administrative rights for the School of Consent website, Trello board’s organisation and administration rights and Google Docs were deleted without a notice.
I stopped co-teaching trainings with Betty and Robyn and believe that the School of Consent Company should have been shut down at this point, however, instead, I choose to give up my directorship, leaving Betty and Robyn to continue together. I didn’t seek any financial compensation or claim ownership to any work we’d jointly created. I offered all that I’d contributed until that point as a gift to both Betty, Robyn and the School.
I informed both Betty and Robyn that I intended to found my own body of work based on my experience, learnings and insights over the more than a decade of working in the field of sexuality, trauma recovery, consent, body and relational work.
I told them I was willing to reframe some of the written content over time and that some of it would stay the same as it was created originally by me.
After our last Like a Pro facilitation in June, Robyn chose to take time out from our relationship for three months. For a short time after this, we came together with what appeared to me to be renewed connection. This however didn’t work out for either of us and so, we decided to part as lovers and colleagues.
I started developing my own body of work, amalgamating all I’d worked on and studied in the past along with over six years of learning and teaching about consent. I have given over several thousand individual sessions to clients and practitioners since 2012 and taught the Wheel of Consent at other trainings to practitioners since 2015, such as ISTA, Tantra Therapy Training and the Self:Cervix practitioner training. I’ve taught the Wheel of Consent at uncountable weekend workshops and festivals to thousands of people around the world.
While I’m willing to take full responsibility for any dysfunction I brought into the partnership with Betty and Robyn professionally, I’m not willing to take all the responsibility for the failing our company partnership. I’m also not willing to stand by while Betty shares lies and twisted truths about my character, professional rights and contributions before, during and after the inception of the School of Consent. I’m also not willing to discuss the private relationship dynamics I had with Robyn further, as I’ve shared enough here and it’s truly no-one’s business but mine and Robyn’s.
The learning in all of this is that we did not have strong container agreements and contracts between the three of us. Ironic, considering we’re consent practitioners. Applying consent agreements professionally was not our strongest area of mastery.
We all contributed generously to the work and I feel that we should all be given equal rights to our own intellectual property upon the completion of our work together. Moving forward, I will be incorporating consent agreements into all aspects of my life privately, professionally and contractually—for the benefit of all those involved.
I am very grateful for the privilege to have worked with all the amazing people I met while teaching the Wheel of Consent and Like A Pro around the world and hope we will cross paths in life again.
Onwards and upwards!
Update 31st december 2019
here is the list of the spend money from the 50th birthday fundraiser ending on October 5th, 2018 to create free accessible consent material based on the wheel of consent.
There is more work to be done and more money needed to complete this project.
As you can see below I have spent more than I collected plus the 100th of hours of work I put into this, it was and is my pleasure to share my embodiment of this delicate transformative work with the world.
There is a free online class in production and will be available in March 2020 if you like to be on the list for the launch please sign up here: https://somaticconsent.com/newsletter/
Special thanks again to all doners and to everybody who was helping in the background to make this happen.
Here are the links to the material:
For the translation graphics in 16 different languages
Somatic Consent Engagement System – Translations PDF download
Somatic Consent Engagement System Map – PDF download
Somatic Consent Map Videos.
Somatic Consent Student Handbook
Somatic Consent Masterclass – Embodied Empowerment
in progress available in March 2020
euro 600 creating different graphics
euro 350 creating translation graphics
euro 450 translation of the engagement system
euro 90 whiteboard animation external
euro 1000 whiteboard animation internal
euro 850 webpage integration
euro 800 editing and formatting text and translations
euro 2000 video editing free somatic consent masterclass.
euro 1000 handbook editing extended edition
euro -45 fundraiser refund
euro 7185 spend
euro 3994 fundraiser income
Enjoy its free.