A quick thought, for people wondering if any of their friends, acquaintances, or community members are abusers:
Where are their exes?
It’s always possible that a particular break-up was too painful for continued contact – that happens a lot. We switch social circles and communities often, to optimize comfort and support. But a red flag that I notice sometimes is that a community member’s exes have *all* disappeared from the social circle.
This is an especially clear red flag in the polyamorous and kink communities – there are often so many partners and play partners in intersecting and overlapping places that it would be really unusual for someone’s ex partners to *all* just decide to stay home from every meet-up and play party.
I’m not saying that’s a clear sign of abuse. Someone may have a particularly volitile dating style, and all of their break-ups are messy (though that’s something to keep an eye on as well). But a good ex (1) won’t chase their partners out of a shared social circle, and a non-abusive relationship shouldn’t always end with one person vanishing from the community. And if one person’s partners *always* vanish from the community? Well, that’s a worrying sign.
Note, when this happens in poly and kink communities, sometimes we try to reassure ourselves by looking at that person’s long-term partner. “His wife has been part of the scene for years, and they’re so happy together! His girlfriends must have all just… decided to go to different events!” So please remember that a) often abusers act differently around different people, and their long-term partner may never have seen their abusive behavior, and b) their long-term partners may be aware of it.
So keep that in mind when you meet someone new. Keep that in mind when you hear shady reports of someone in your community, and you’re looking for evidence. Remember that (especially in poly and kink scenes) you can ask for date/play references! You get to ask around, to see what this person is like from someone they are no longer dating.
If you can find them.
(1) I’ll talk more about what a “good ex” looks like in some future post!
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