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content warning: harm, sexual assault, and repair

  1. What does the word accountability mean to you in the context of harming others?
  2. What does the words restorative justice mean to you in the context of alternative sexual communities?
  3. What advice would you have for folks who get accused of harming others?

Intimacy can become interrupted in relationships for a lot of different reasons. One reason that is hard to deal with is Intimate Partner Abuse. It’s heavy, and often a situation where one party tries to control the narrative and exercise information control, often through repetition of one narrative or other insistence on a One True Story sense of what happened. Erasure and minimization happen. While these things tend to happen along gender lines, that’s not always the case. Accordingly, I try to stay as neutral as possible in these matters and my focus is typically two questions, “what’s going to be different moving forward?” and “how do we want to get there?”

These situations are very complicated and teasing apart what harmful behaviours we choose to call abuse is hard. It’s also even harder when in out-of-balance relationships, it’s rare any one person is completely innocent. 

Deciding on focus and priority in a multitude of narratives is challenging and often our “gut feeling” in influenced by traditional power dynamics and in-group bias. That means we tend to favour people who look like us and we internalize society’s view of who “us” is meaning we disproportionately favour dominant culture individuals (read White folks, straight people, men, and/or cisgendered people).

I’ve often said it’s not what someone has done so much as what they are doing with it. When there are allegations of some event in the past, as a third party it’s hard for me to staunchly throw myself in any direction and I’ve found in the past many communities fall into the same place of indecision that looks like apathy – yet many care about their communities and whether or not folks are harmed.

If you can’t just believe survivors as being very likely honest about their personal narrative or their experience of events, ask yourself if the other person is behaving like a traditional abuser who has just been called out. It’s not that we expect people to be harmless in community; but we do expect them to be improving themselves.

Someone caught in the trap of minimizing, denying, or erasing others’ – someone caught up in informational warfare, blaming the other party, or centering themselves as the truly harmed party, rather than acknowledging when we stub our own toes we can be at fault and be hurting – someone like that probably doesn’t need or deserve your support. Just my two cents.

Please note I’m sick again in this episode so I might cough my way through it. Content warning if it isn’t clear already, we’re going to be talking about intimate partner harm including things like gaslighting. I think the content is useful for healing, but it’s my opinion that should be an informed personal choice. Let’s go to the session with Chelsey and hear her perspective on Accounting for Intimate Partner Harm.