What Keeps Us in the Shadow: Addressing Harm, Abuse, and Bullying in Metamour Relationships
Time & Location
About the Event
Postponement of Metamour Abuse Discussion
On December 17th, the two of us (Sam Savage & Lee Harrington) were slated to lead two classes on “What Keeps Us in the Shadow: Addressing Harm, Abuse, and Bullying in Metamour Relationships.” After hard discussions, the two of us have agreed to postpone this class until when it can be run either in person, or when sourcing touch is an opportunity available to more attendees.
After our first of these discussions (this was intended to be a series of three discussions), Sam and I discussed that even for those of us whom these issues are years in the past, talking about any sort of trauma can bring feelings to the forefront. This can be especially true when pertaining to topics that an attendee may have never had a chance to talk about before, or concerning topics they have never had peers to connect with over. Niche polyamory topics thus effect both of these. Very few people who have experienced bullying, harm, or abuse between or from a partner’s partner have gotten to talk about these issues with others of such experience.
In this current time, there are many of us who cannot source touch as a tool for emotional regulation. Though there are a great many tools for seeking comfort or safety (including this fantastic way to examine Routes to Safety by Jake Ernst, MSW that we both recommend), touch can be an important one for some. Even sharing spaces to co-regulate without touch can allow for grounding and solidity when feeling emotionally activated. Not having access to a major route of regulation and safety can affect a lot of us when trying to calm or balance ourselves.
Even for those of us who have not directly experienced the types of harm discussed in our topic, these topics can be emotionally activating. This is true whether we are attendees or presenters. And these topics affect the two of us teaching, so we will honor that. This includes honoring that we are choosing to step back from these hard discussions until such a time when we can run them in person, and/or have access to a more touch-diverse/connected world.
We have deep appreciation for the attendees of our first discussion on the topic, “Naming the Shadows.” You all shared such deep and personal experiences, and we value your gift to each other and to us. For those who could not make it we would like to share a copy of the PowerPoint we used to lay out the issues at hand. You can download it at http://www.bit.ly/metamourharm
Thank you again for your understanding, and we look forward to seeing you for this discussion in 2021.
Sam Savage, MSW & Lee Harrington
She/they & he/him
In consensual non-monogamy there is a unique relationship that exists outside of classical paired relationships – the ‘metamour.’ This slang for our partner’s partner can be part of diverse non-monogamies, and each type of relationship structure has different types of connections with potential metamours. There are various circumstances that affect these issues as well, such as power imbalances (including race, gender, socio-economic), histories of trauma, and lack of exposure in our culture to healthy examples of consensual non-monogamy to pattern ourselves on.
Classical relationship abuse constructs such as ‘cycles of domestic violence,’ partner therapy, and mediation do not always work because consensual non-monogamy is not starting from intimate partner systems, but instead social systems models. Thus, it is important to frame these discussions in social dynamic theory rather than dyadic/paired models! We will break down various theories concerning bullying, power and control systems, social hierarchies, and the classical construct of the ‘drama triangle’ to see how they can help us look at and find tools for seeing where we have both experienced various forms of harm… as well as potentially being part of unhealthy systems ourselves on other fronts. Finally, having named and examined these various tools and systems, we will gather and offer some resources for self-awareness, education, restoration, and healing for each other.
This is part two of a three-part series of discussions centers individuals who have experienced or witnessed some form of harm within their metamour relationships. Beneath the drive to focus on ‘compersion’ (pleasure from our partner being happy with someone else) and the positive/rewarding aspects of metamour relationships can hide harmful patterns carried over from dominant cultures of monogamy, whether from family of origin or prior relationships. The social pressure to validate non-monogamy as a healthy alternative can create further silence and shame when this happens.
It is not necessary to have attended part 1 of this series to attend this discussion. This discussion stands on its own.
As these can be difficult or challenging topics, please plan ahead for your best forms of self-care during and after this discussion. The discussion will begin with grounding and self-awareness exercises to help all parties stay present or do self-care if they become emotionally activated. Though sharing these experiences may be therapeutic for some attendees, this discussion is not offered or built as a group therapy session. If you are a mandated reporter within your state or have other concerns about what may be disclosed and what to do with it, please contact Sam or Lee in advance as to how to best navigate your attendance of this discussion.
When: Thursday December 17th, 2020 (10am-12pm Pacific, 1pm-3pm Eastern)
Thursday December 17th, 2020 (6pm-8pm Pacific, 9pm-11pm Eastern)
The door will be “locked” to this event 10 minutes after start time.
This is a trust-based attendance fee structure. If you are more comfortable with a set fee, our suggested donation is $20, but trust yourself just as we trust you - if you are moved to contribute a different amount than listed in this event registration, feel free - no specific contribution is required for attendance.
⅓ of all funds from this series are being donated to INCITE!, a network of radical feminists of color organizing to end state violence and violence in our homes and communities. https://incite-national.org/donate/
About the facilitators:
Sam Savage, MSW, SEP
Sam Savage (she/they) is queer, nonbinary adventurer, a liminal creature who finds home in deeply anchoring friendships and traveling in the spaces between. Sam identifies strongly as a relationship hedonist, driven to find the optimal pleasure and satisfaction in every kind of connection, whether for a moment or a lifetime. For Sam, work and play intersect: as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, sex/pleasure educator, social worker, collaborative performance artist, and activist for equity in diverse settings. Sam is committed to exploring, unpacking, and when necessary working to dismantle the shadow in power-based/hierarchical systems into collaborative and joyful alternatives. This work is informed by professional experience in public health participatory action research and early work building peer to peer networks for youth in and from foster care and juvenile justice settings. Sam is supported and informed in this work by deep engagement in several communities, including Quaker and anti-racist Jungian circles, intersectional gamers, and as a volunteer in several arts communities across the country.
Sam is a co-author of “Flux: Life After Foster Care” and contributing author to “Queer Magic: Power Beyond Boundaries,” as well as a number of academic publications. You can learn more about Sam and their work at www.nerdsomatics.life
Author, Educator, and Instigator
Lee Harrington (he/him) is an internationally known sexuality, relationships, and personal authenticity educator. Having taught in all 50 states and across 6 countries since 2001, he brings a combination of playful engagement and thoughtful academic dialogue to a broad audience. A nice guy with a disarmingly down to earth approach to the fact that we are each beautifully complex ecosystems, he examines the human experience from that lens. An award-winning author and editor on human gender, sexual, and sacred experience, his books include “Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Journeys” and “Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond,” among many other titles. During his life Lee has been a passion instigator, academic, adult film actress, world class sexual adventurer, performance artist, outspoken philosopher, spirit worker, kink/bondage expert, and has been blogging about sex and spirit since 1998. You can check out Lee’s adventures, as well as his regular podcast, tour schedule, free essays, videos, and more, over at www.PassionAndSoul.com
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