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-   -   polyamory and abuse issues. (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6019)

redpepper 01-28-2011 05:08 AM

polyamory and abuse issues.
Recently I had a meet up for coffee with a person in the poly community. She is very involved in poly, young, has always had a poly dating life. I have known her and her one partner (she has several) for about two years. She meet with me because she has just ended her relationship with the man I know because he has been verbally and emotionally abusive towards her...

He has spent three years widdling down her sense of self worth by making fun of her, scolding her way of thinking about topics he doesn't have the same opinion about and really encouraging her and giving her love and affection when she agrees with him...If she did as she was told he would be giving and tender.. if she didn't he withheld approval and love. He has forced sex on her when HE is horny and she has witnessed him crawling into bed with women that have not invited him and encouraged them to have sex with them against there will.

She is still under his thumb and reaching out to her other lovers and friends to help her be strong enough to walk away and look after herself.

This resonates with my early years of dating and the activist, commune life I once had. I was furious, but compassionate for him. I supported her with as much information and personal stories as I could and left her with a hug and a promise to check in.

The benefits to poly she has said are that she has other men in her life that don't treat her this way. She is reminded that all men are not like this because of them... she is getting the support she needs as they gather around her and help out.

Has anyone ever experienced abuse of any kind in this way from a lover? Were you poly then? How did being poly help and what kind of advice can I give this woman?

thanks in advance for responses.

LovingRadiance 01-28-2011 06:42 AM

Weird, I was researching emotional abuse online today.

I have been in relationships like that. It's horrible. It eats away at your ability to have faith in your own judgment. I don't know how to break that. Honestly for me, it was GG and my ex-girlfriend who got me through. But I'm not really sure how. He just loved(s) me through everything-always having faith in me. She told me I was beautiful like water-then explained what that meant to her. But-how to reach your friend? Support her?
I don't know her. Remind her of what it is you see in her that is beautiful, strong, resilient, worthy as often as possible. Because these are the things we lose when treated with such abuses.

bella123456 01-28-2011 07:30 AM

That's a very disturbing recount....and one that I'm very familiar with (ex-husband, mono relationship).

A book that helped me understand the dynamics was called "the verbally abusive relationship" by patricia evans.

It's a power dynamic of course...and the abuser steps up a notch once he/she belittles the other. Generally the person being abused tries to defend himself/herself on the specific topic or incident...

Abuser - "Wow, I can't believe you don't know anything about that issue - it's been in the paper for days, what's wrong with you?" (read: implication of inadequacy in the abused person)

Abused- "oh, well...yes I do know about that, I just didn't get to read the whole article, as the kids were sick, and then I got a call from work etc". (read: he/she doesn't know how busy I've been, so perhaps I'll explain and then he/she will understand and show compassion)

And none of this is at all about the article or the event in question, it's about the abuser getting a bit a power. But it is often the case that the abused just keeps trying to defend herself/himself regarding the issue at the table.

A first step startegy can't start with rationalising with what is clearly abusive. It needs to be rejected from the starting point;

Abuser - "Wow, I can't believe you don't know anything about that issue - it's been in the paper for days, what's wrong with you?" (read: implication of inadequacy in the abused person)

Abused "oh right. You can't believe that I haven't read about it"

Full stop. conversation ends. walk away.
And he/she has pushed the point back to the abused and what he/she can't believe. (read: it's not about if I've read the paper...it's about you, and what you're playing with believing).

I had professional help in recognising and dealing with the situation I was in. The experts I spoke to said to me it is very rare that someone who abuses like this will/can change. I firmly believe people can change, but it must be a hard path for people who have had that pattern in theirs lives for so long.

I'd recommend the book to her, and also suggest that it's not her job to make him a nice person. I think she's in a very dangerous position in honestly. It really messes with your head. The reason she is still under the thumb is because people like this are very manipulative. Oh, I so understand !
I'd be happy to assist in anyway if you think first hand accounts would help..

Fidelia 01-28-2011 07:31 AM

I have experienced this sort of abuse. I was not poly then, so I can't say how being poly might have impacted the situation, but surely having more people to love and offer emotional and moral support could not have hurt.

Unless this young woman is in physical danger, she will ultimately have to rescue herself. No one else can really do it for her. You can however, help her arm herself with information, and offer assistance as needed once she makes the decision to leave.

For instance, the Warning Signs of Abusive Relationships (from http://www.recovery-man.com/abusive/abusive_signs.htm)

You may be in an abusive relationship if he or she:
Is jealous or possessive toward you.
(Jealousy is the primary symptom of abusive relationships; it is also a core component of Sexual Addictions and Love Addiction.)
Tries to control you by being very bossy or demanding.
Tries to isolate you by demanding you cut off social contacts and friendships.
Is violent and / or loses his or her temper quickly.
Pressures you sexually, demands sexual activities you are not comfortable with.
Abuses drugs or alcohol.
Claims you are responsible for his or her emotional state. (This is a core diagnostic criteria for Codependency.)
Blames you when he or she mistreats you.
Has a history of bad relationships.
Your family and friends have warned you about the person or told you that they are concerned for your safety or emotional well being.
You frequently worry about how he or she will react to things you say or do.
Makes "jokes" that shame, humiliate, demean or embarrass you, weather privately or around family and friends.
Your partner grew up witnessing an abusive parental relationship, and/or was abused as a child.
Your partner "rages" when they feel hurt, shame, fear or loss of control.
Both parties in abusive relationships may develop or progress in drug or alcohol dependence in a (dysfunctional) attempt to cope with the pain.
You leave and then return to your partner repeatedly, against the advice of your friends, family and loved ones.
You have trouble ending the relationship, even though you know inside it's the right thing to do.
If you are in an abusive relationship:
Abusive relationships do not change without sustained therapy specifically targeted toward the abusive relationship patterns. These relationships cannot be changed from one side, it takes mutual honesty, openness and willingness from both parties to work through these issues. Group therapy is highly recommended for abusers, as it helps them to break through the denial that is generally a part of the abusive patterns. (People in denial generally recognize their own dysfunctional behavior in others more easily than in themselves.) This applies to the partners of abusers as well - group helps them to break through the denial by seeing the relationship patterns from a wider view. Certain personality types are more prone to abusive relationships.

If the abuser is unwilling to own their behavior and seek help the prudent course of action is to remove yourself totally from the situation. This is painful, but is generally safer and ultimately better for both parties than allowing the cycle of abuse to continue. Be prepared for the abuse to increase after you leave - stepping out of the cycle enrages the abuser, as it shatters their illusion of control. (75% of women killed by their abusive partners are murdered after they leave.) Learn how to protect and care for yourself. Detachment with love is difficult, but the best solution if your partner is unwilling to work though the issues.

Help is readily available for both parties in abusive relationships. These relationships cannot be changed from one side. Remember that by staying you are condoning and enabling the abuse - and helping your partner to stay sick. If your partner is unwilling to get help the only safe course of action is to totally remove yourself from the situation and seek help on your own.

bella123456 01-28-2011 07:51 AM

I agree with Fidelia - She does have to save herself. But what will help her is people around her saying "no, that is not ok"..

But I originally picked up on the emotional stuff...as that is linked to my past.

But am I reading correctly - She has watched him crawl into bed and try and have sex with someone against their will ?
She has watched him try to rape a woman ?

What ?
He has forced sex upon her ?
What ?

I may have read incorrectly....but this seems just bad news. BAD.
I don't think there can be any grey lines here. It's black and white, if I'm reading correctly

Sexual coercion or forcing is never ok. She's voicing her concerns about this aspect and rightly so...

Have I misunderstood ?

redpepper 01-28-2011 08:34 AM

thanks so much for the replies Fidelia and Bella. Ya, she has watched him hit on women so fiercely that they have had little voice in saying no... that and just crawling into their bed/space and expecting sex... then he would wonder why they would never talk to them again... most of them are young too. He is in his late 20's and they are 16 to 19... total manipulation.

He gets high on weed when ever he manages to get it... has girlfriends just to have a roof over his head and talks about how privileged others are for having a place to live and money. He is a musician. She was paying his rent from her disability cheque and he lived there for free. If she asked him to pay he threatened to leave as she was privileged and she should use her money for everyone to share. She spent her savings on him.

I will pass on all the info so far to her. Thanks again. She has a ways to go... she is concerned that he is using young women as usual and can't seem to break away because she thinks she can do something about it... I told her that all she can do is be her out spoken old self and keep telling people her story... educate, educate, educate! She has a blog that she writes on. I don't know the site, but I will see if she will give it to me. She is really wanting to use his name there to warn the community, but I told her that just talking about it means that others will benefit. Her talking to me and others means that the word will get out and that she needs to just trust that people are on their own path and that she needs to be on hers and look after her best primary... herself.

bella123456 01-28-2011 09:08 AM

I've just written loads...which didn't save for some reason, so forgive me if it does turn up. It means I would have spoken twice - which I would be fine with in this situation.

A young woman has raised emotional and sexual abuse,
She is doing that as she needs firm voices around her to echo what she knows - that this behaviour is unacceptable.

RP - She has turned to you for a reason. You are an impressive person, compassionate and intelligent. She is turning to you because she wants you to say this is not ok. She needs your echo..

RP - In the original post you said you were furious with him but had compassion. This is not the time to show him compassion.

It is always good to remain open, tolerate and ready to listen. But don't show tolerance for this.

I think it's really important to not have ambiguity around this behaviour. And whilst being respectful of what others are going through...RP - You need to tell her this is not on. Ever. That's why she's talking to you - she wants to hear that from you.

The voices around emotional and sexual abuse need to be loud. Like written in a bigger font size.

There's very little room for discussion and mutual understanding and negotiation and understanding and maybe if he didn't smoke pot, or improved communication or better education, or perhaps if he slept a bit more, or maybe if his music took off, or if he chatted with his mum more often, or if that dole cheque came through, or if things were ok with his secondary, or perhaps if the sex were better, or if I were a bit clearer, or perhaps if blah blah....

No. None of that matters.

redpepper 01-28-2011 03:20 PM

Understood bella, thank you. :)

yoxi 01-28-2011 03:52 PM

Just to add, I think compassion's not the same thing as tolerance (and it's not the same thing as pity or sentimentality or indifference either) - it's compassionate not to tolerate someone's behaviour if it's causing suffering for them and/or others. So being compassionate doesn't rule out giving someone a kick up the arse when they need it (without the need for hatred) - to my mind it's a very active and unsentimental quality, as it's a response to suffering.

Magdlyn 01-28-2011 04:28 PM

Gah. My gf has a friend, only ever met her online (but they both did date the same guy at one point, not concurrently...)

this young woman is in a relationship w a horrible abuser. He is also "poly" which means he fucks other women, refuses to use condoms, has knocked up several... But this woman can't have other lovers.

And this poor girl (shes 26) is his "slave." In a supposedly consensual BDSM relationship. Ha! He's just a dom-ass.

This girl has lost all her friends and family, except my gf. They've all given up on her b/c she just won't listen to them and leave this ass. She is fearful of everything tho. She has left him several times, but she always goes running back.

He doesnt beat her, but he is terribly emotionally abusive. And she just takes it, and takes it, and as we speak, is giving birth to her second child with him. It's horrible. And she just refuses to leave him...

So, beware of trying to help an abused woman. You can talk til youre blue in the face, but its very hard for them to break the pattern.

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