Abuse in Polyamory

For a lot of people, polyamory is a pretty awesome relationship style. But there’s this thing about humans—not matter how awesome something is, we can always find a way to screw it up. Most of the time, we aren’t screwing things up on purpose. We’re just doing our best and making mistakes. Or, as one of my favorite authors put it “just [people], fucking up in a fucked up world.”

But sometimes the shit that happens in relationships isn’t a mistake. Isn’t a result of honestly trying our best and screwing up because, hey, we’re human. Sometimes the shit that happens is because someone in the relationship is a manipulator. A control freak. An emotionally immature idiot.

An abuser.

Abuse is a very real issue in polyamorous relationships and one that is not discussed nearly enough.

For the next few weeks, we’re going to take a break from exploring mental illness in polyamory, and talk about abuse. What abuse is, different types of abuse, recognizing abuse, ways to respond to abuse, and more.

A great deal of what I cover here will be relevant in any relationship—gas lighting is gas lighting, whether monogamous, polyamorous, platonic or between relatives. Other topics, like the use of rules and agreements as tools of an abuser, will be more specific to polyamorous relationships.

For obvious reasons this entire blog series comes with a fairly large trigger warning.

If you have experience with abuse in polyamory and would be willing to share your story or what you learned, please leave a comment or contact me about writing a guest post.

Posts so far:

(Updated February 8, 2016)

  1. Abuse in Polyamory
  2. What is Abuse?
  3. Types of Abuse
  4. Vectors of Control in Abusive Relationships
  5. “There’s no right way to do polyamory!” (But there’re lots of wrong ways)
  6. Abuse, Boundaries, and Incompatibilities in Mono/Poly Relationships
  7. Roots of Abuse: Intent, Insecurity, and Shitty Boundaries
  8. Living with an Abusive Metamour (Guest Post by Liz Gentry)
  9. Abuse and Mental Illness
  10. Abuse Isn’t the Only Wrong Way to do Polyamory
  11. When Your Partner Is in an Abusive Relationship
  12. When Polyamory Triggers Abuse
  13. When polyamory is a tool for abuse
  14. Am I Abusing my Polyamorous Partners?
  15. Salvaging an Abusive Relationship
  16. Surviving an Abusive Relationship
  17. Abuse in Polyamory Wrap Up

2 responses to “Abuse in Polyamory

  1. Hi Jess,

    Thank you for writing this. This post was extremely useful to me personally in researching abuse and confronting it in my own relationship.

    I just published a long piece about abusive dynamics specific to polyamory on Medium. If you are interested in reading it, here it is.


    If you are interested in sharing it, please do.

    • You’re welcome. I’m glad I was able to help.

      I don’t have time to read your piece today, but I bookmarked and look forward to checking it out later.

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