Not really a blog

My first bit of advice - tread very carefully here!

In my line of work confidentiality breaches are taken very, very seriously. (As in instant termination and loss of professional licensing! In addition to multi-million dollar lawsuits and potentially federal investigation if the employer was found to be lax about enforcing regulations.)

That being said, not infrequently I find myself in situations similar to what you describe (with the caveat that my colleagues and I cross-cover so it is conceivable that the conversation could have happened under a "need-to-know" basis).

So, you can't tell the potential victim that you saw the potential abuser at work. If you meet the potential abuser socially you cannot publicly acknowledge that you have seen them at work (unless they acknowledge that publicly first). Now, they may very well assume that you have spoken to your friend (people often assume that other people would do what they would do) and may accidentally out themselves asking their partner what you have told them. If you see them again at work, they will "know that you know" that they work with someone there - and, again, may out themselves by their reaction. (You can acknowledge that you recognize them the next time you see them at work because you have met them socially - because there is no "expectation of privacy" relating to a social situation.)

As far as your friend goes - you can watch very carefully for "red flags" that your friend tells you (i.e. things that you learn outside of the info from your colleague) and voice your concerns with regard to those behaviors. "You say that he always wants to know exactly where you are and who you are with so that he knows that you are 'safe'. I have to tell you that I find that more concerning than thoughtful - as I often hear of such behavior as part of a pattern of control as opposed to a genuine concern for a partner's wellbeing."

You can provide relevant "general advise" without disclosing what you know about the partner as an individual. For instance, it is always a good idea for a person to have access to money and their private papers that a partner does not have access to "just in case". You can express concern about introducing children/dependents to new dating partners "too quickly", etc. (Are you a mandated reporter? Because that can come into play if you learn of any abuse of minors/dependents even if you don't learn of the abuse through work.)

My friends and family are well aware of what I do and that there is some overlap in my social and professional circles. Occasionally, I will get asked if I "know" something - my response is always "You know that I couldn't tell you even if I did." (Whether I do or not.)

(NOTE: you could also have done all of this withOUT confirming with your colleague and therefore creating a confidentiality breach)

The way the potential abuser has been recognized is through a FB profile. So at this time, the abuser likely does not know that their date's friend is somewhat known to them.

I think we will all be giving general advice as you stated. I just hope that we aren't too much with it: "WHAT?! HE ASKED YOU THE TIME?! WHAT TYPE OF ANIMAL IS HE?!"
 
We all know the issues that the US has with profit based healthcare but there are, or were, a lot of affordable and accessible family planning services. The UK has always been different in that family planning services are totally free so you can theoretically access clinics which you can get contraceptives, access to terminations all for free. This is a weird way to start this post but bear with me.

There was a time when as much as I'd argue about social inequality, I didnt really understand why the UK had such high rates of unplanned pregnancy amongst all age groups. This includes pregnancies that go full term to those that are terminated because they are unplanned and unwanted. I didn't get why someone could have four children they didn't ever want when they could have stopped themselves becoming a parent (again) at any point for free. I was relatively old when I met Titi and she explained to me exactly how privilege works to increase your access to choice. Choice and access to choice are 2 different things. We all theoretically have the same choices when we discover we are pregnant but we do not all have the same access to those choices.

This wasnt actually how we got talking about this. It was actually because me and Titi were helping her friend who was in an abusive relationship but felt she had to stay. She felt pressured by services to report the abuse and cut contact with the person but she had personal reasons as to why she could not. Cultural reasons. One being her obligation and desire to care for his mother. The only healthy mother-child relationship she had. She also didn't want to lose the money he provided which allowed her to study and eventually gain financial independence which he would if she reported him and he lost his job as a result. Which he would have done. I couldn't initially understand why she didn't take the opportunities given to her to LEAVE and why we were actually helping her stay with him. Just realizing that the likelihood of her son going to jail or dying from violent crime rose if his father went to jail was enough for me to understand that choices aren't what they seem.

Other things include cultural values. Someone who has been raised to believe that abortion is a sin and murder doesnt have the same ability to access termination as someone who has been raised to value bodily autonomy. Someone who has been raised to believe that only a useless woman leaves her husband or is left by her husband doesn't have the same ability to access support services as someone who hasn't been raised with that belief.

How does this relate to poly? Well, it's the same when people speak about how someone just has the choice to express their feelings honestly. So they make an agreement which essentially privileges the "primary" partner that they later regret and then they break the agreement instead of "coming clean". We can say they just had the choice to express that they wanted more freedom but really, do they? I mean yes, the battered woman or the pregnant person, they do, theoretically, in most developed countries, have the facilities to go to a refuge or prevent pregnancy, diagnose pregnancy early, and/or access a timely and safe termination. Equally, a poly person can theoretically approach their "primary" and say these rules aren't working for me and we'll have to relax them for me to both be content in our relationship and content in my freedom to experience intimacy with other people. But each person is influenced by mononormativity to varying degrees, and that makes access to that choice inconsistent.

I'm a middle aged, well established poly person. I have no dependents, and I am fully independent. Any entanglement I have with others, I choose and I could easily choose to disentangle without fear of losing my quality of life or relationships with my family and friends. I have healthy relationships and I am not in fear of abuse by anyone close to me at this time. There is no excuse for me, really, to fear honesty with a partner. If me and Jules agree to a rule and it doesn't work for me, I have no reason to believe that Jules would hurt me nor can she significantly influence my quality of life by breaking up with me. I have no reason to believe she would take a break up so badly that she would start unhealthy behavior I haven't witnessed so far. Furthermore, I'm strong enough in my poly identity and in polyamory from a philosophical perspective that even if she tried to invalidate the way that I love and value love because I want something different to her, it wouldn't work.

But I haven't always been that way. There was a time when I was less sure that I wasnt just selfish or that I didn't owe "more" to a partner I wanted to be with long term or live with. I wasn't obliged to give them a presence in my other relationships just because we wanted some aspects of a traditional relationship escalator. Even now, people so lazily use "exclusive/monogamous" and "serious/committed" as synonyms. It is hard for that not to leak into poly culture in some respect. That's why solo poly people often get a raw deal. They're seen as people who do not want the "burden" of a relationship so why should they get a share of the perks such as having their expectations met consistently by those who choose to be part of their lives?

So there is all this subconscious pressure going on to conform to these societal expectations and be a good person who values their partner properly and that might be reinforced by a partner who is visibly distraught or angry any time you express a need or desire that might violate this unwritten rule. Especially if somewhere they really believe that someone who values them would sacrifice what they might want with other people to preserve what they already have. That brings a sense of entitlement which feels so convincing.

Conformity is a powerful tool. You can convince people to say things they do not believe just by getting a few other people to say the wrong answer. And read, that's not you convincing them that the answer is right, just that they should say the wrong answer because they do not want to deal with confrontation or wrath or embarrassment. People want to fit in and they want to be liked. That's why they hide how they really feel.

We are humans and the best way to not be continually shocked and hurt by humans is to accept the limitations of humanity. Humans will lie to be liked or accepted, if you make them feel as if a certain answer will cause rejection, anger, punishment or revenge, they will be more likely to lie. OF COURSE one has to acknowledge the fact that telling a partner something that means your relationship is significantly changed or no longer viable will cause negative emotion but there are boundaries. Once you start on the tip where you make out they're a horrible person for wanting something that upsets you, you've started with the coercion and that ups the chances of them telling you what you want to hear.

I remember a childhood friend who would literally scream, cry and blackmail her way into consent from her parents and then speak about it as if their agreement was completely voluntary. I distinctly remember one occasion where there was a concert about an hour drive away finishing late at night and she bragged to those who were not allowed to attend that her parents trusted her. In fact she had threatened to run away and harm herself for them to agree.

This whole post is a long winded way to bring up the concept of free will. I don't believe in it. We have will, for sure. But it certainly isn't free.
 
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