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Resources on abuse in polyamorous relationships

February 21, 2015
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Franklin and I have just wrapped up a very well-attended session on abuse in polyamorous relationships at the Poly Living 2015 conference in Philadelphia, which was a follow-up to Franklin’s keynote last night on “Telling Our Stories, Changing the World.” I’m very grateful that so many people came to the session, especially the numerous mental health professionals who contributed their expertise to the discussion. I wanted to make the resources mentioned at the session available here for easy access.

Here are some books:

  • Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft. (Powells | Indiebound | Amazon)
  • The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life by Robin Stern. (Powells | Indiebound | Amazon)
  • Terror, Love and Brainwashing: Attachment in Cults and Totalitarian Systems by Alexandra Stein (great for understanding the kind of trauma that can happen in abusive polyamorous networks). (Powells | Indiebound |Amazon)
  • The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence by Gavin de Becker. (Powells | Indiebound | Amazon)
  • The Verbally Abusive Man – Can He Change? A Woman’s Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go by Patricia Evans.(Powells | Indiebound | Amazon)
  • Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You by Susan Forward. (Powells | Indiebound | Amazon)
  • Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal with People Who Try to Control You by Patricia Evans. (Powells | Indiebound | Amazon)

If you need immediate help, or just need to talk to someone, you can call the National Abuse Hotline at (800) 799-7233.

 

 

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2015 1:05 pm

    These look like valuable resources, but looking through your slides a bit, I’d like to make a recommendation – would it be possible to find some sources where men talk about being abused? One of the harder things about my (male) partner being abused by my (female) metamour is that the stigma against abused men is still large and prevalent. When sending him resources about abuse, I think it does cause an added level of shame, distress and discomfort when the vast majority of examples are of men abusing women.

    In the research I’ve done the past few weeks about abuse (in order to help my partner and my metamour), I’ve seen that the evidence is mixed about which gender is the aggressor more often and if one gender abuses more often than the other. I tentatively posit that it seems that men and women abuse in roughly equal amounts, but it appears that violence perpetuated by men is usually greater and more severe, as men are stronger and more willing and able to choke or hit a partner (it appears that women are more likely to slap or scratch).

    However, emotional abuse seems to go both ways more easily (and in this case, all the abuse so far with my partner and metamour is emotional), and also (as has been mentioned on this site before), a lot of abusive/coercive behaviors still aren’t acknowledged as such (like a woman telling her male partner that he isn’t allowed to communicate with ex-girlfriends anymore).

    Everybody should be able to get support for abuse, regardless of gender. I know that it would be wrong (on many levels) to change the names and genders of people who are sharing stories of their abuse, but I think it would be hugely helpful to see if there are men out there who are willing to talk about abuse, and to also use more gender-neutral pronouns when talking about abuse (for instance, slide #8 entirely uses female pronouns and doesn’t get into any of the male-oriented forms of abuse, like taunting an abused man as being “unmanly” if he spoke up about his abuse). This would be helpful not just to men, but also to all the other genders that don’t fall into the male/female binary on the gender spectrum – especially given that people who don’t fall into the gender binary are more likely to have been abused.

    Thank you, as always, for starting such excellent conversations.

    • Anon permalink
      April 11, 2015 11:09 pm

      I’m going through nearly the same exact thing.

      Gender neutral wording is incredibly important in education on abuse.

      Thank you for all you do and for this resource, it’s been incredibly helpful and reassuring and gives me hope. Not necessarily for an outcome that’s what we want but an outcome that is positive.

  2. eben permalink
    March 8, 2015 2:52 pm

    I just wanted to recommend The Network/La Red as another resource.

    “The Network/La Red is a survivor-led, social justice organization that works to end partner abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, BDSM, polyamorous, and queer communities. Rooted in anti-oppression principles, our work aims to create a world where all people are free from oppression. We strengthen our communities through organizing, education, and the provision of support services.”

    tnlr.org

  3. kay permalink
    October 21, 2015 10:22 am

    I have just broken up with a polyamorous male. I did not know there was a name for men like this. I was in a polyamorous relationship for almost two years. I knew he had other women he saw. I did not understand the depth of this type of relationship, although I feel being abusive to another partner is not acceptable. You do not compare your other relationships with others. I was told I was stupid, not pretty, my text were not answered, I was not included in his other partners, he did not take me to places that he took other women and for a weekend I would be wonderful in bed, that was the way he thought of me. I was very kind to him but hrere were times when he would compare me with his other relationships. I remember he met this one woman and he was bragging about her to me saying she was a scientist and so smart and that she left her sick husband because she wanted to live her life. I voiced my opinion to him about a relationship like this “how could a woman leave her sick husband after forty years of marriage”? He seemed ok with it but I think there should be limitations in Polyamorous relationships. Leave another mans woman alone especially when illness is involved. I am going through the breakup as best as I can, it hurts really bad. I believe hurt sometimes helps you to continue my road to getting over this guy. In these kinds of relationships people do get hurt by ones who are only in it for their own gain, and do not care about the feelings of others they bring into their lifestyle. Emotional abuse is not forgiven it leaves you feeling so unworthy.

    • Hacienda permalink
      November 16, 2016 4:29 pm

      I’m so sorry. I feel you. I just found out my partner of nine years has been cheating on me with a swinger from his workplace. Even worse, I see he is online and on every dating website. WHO IS THIS GUY? David P would never do that to me! I guess he did. I thought he had helped renew my faith in men in general when he was clearly not doing that. I feel destroyed. I don’t know if I will be okay. He refuses to admit what is clear and apparent… Everyday that cuts like a knife. We have a house together but I’m nit independent enough to move on and find a real man who will just love me, not lie and focus on family not vagina … 😦 😦 help 😦

  4. April 2, 2018 1:32 am

    Thank you for addressing this. I’ve been trying to figure out how to give my partner the polyamory he says he needs, while trying to reconcile it with his emotionally abusive behaviors. The most difficult for poly is that he verbally threatens the security of our relationship whenever he cannot manage his anger. It’s one of those cases where I almost have no choice but to feel jealous and threatened, because he can’t stop himself from lashing out and making threats.

    I hope I can find more help in the links here. I’m just really grateful this is a topic.

    • Eve Rickert permalink
      June 7, 2018 3:20 pm

      I’m sorry to hear that. If you’re committed to staying in your relationship, you might try this book:

      The author proposes a solution she calls “the Agreement,” which refers to things each partner agrees not to say and not to do, and conversely, what they agree *to* do. It also covers how to handle breaches of the Agreement. Because the Agreement is mutual and covers both partners’ behaviour, it doesn’t vilify either partner or place blame—but your partner’s reaction to the Agreement provides extremely important information to help you discern whether he is able to change and willing to do so.

      She also puts forward a much, much more nuanced definition of verbal abuse than I have ever seen before.

      I really wish I had found this book years ago.

      Good luck. I hope you figure things out.

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