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Could Loving More Mean Hurting Less?

    At GetLusty for Couples, we occasionally discuss polyamory. It can definitely be a viable alternative for couples looking to change up their relationship. You may not yet be ready for polyamory, as we aren't yet. As long as you have an amazing sexual relationship--that's what's most important! If you are polyamorous, does that mean you're less likely to be violent? How much does the act of defining your sexuality influence your life for the better? Technogeisha, our polyswinging and poly-advocate, is here to talk about how poly relationships might actually decrease domestic violence.

    Quick editorial note: Why does GetLusty care about violence (or lack of it)? Talking about sexuality, we talk about where we've come. Since many of us (at least 1 in 5) have encountered violence--sexual or physical--which we're still scarred by, violence is an issue we seriously care about.

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    Recently, in Long Beach, CA two girls decided they needed to meet after school to fight. A couple of hours later, one of the girls was rushed to the hospital and later succumbed to unknown injuries. What struck me about this story was the fact that this girl died just weeks before her 11th birthday and that they met to fight over a boy. I was trying to wrap my head around the concept that two fifth grade girls felt they had to meet in an alley to throw down over a guy like guests on an episode of The Jerry Springer Show. They only tussled for about a minute, no weapons were involved and no one fell to the ground. When others tried to intervene, some boys stopped them because they wanted to watch the girls fight. How does this kind of jealousy and rivalry start so early?

    Since reading "Sex at Dawn”, I was beginning to realize that I’ve become more sensitive to news like this. There seems to be a steady stream of these crimes of passion. Plus, the news has no problem serving up stories like the astronaut who drove across the country to kill her rival, or the Orange County woman who cut off her husband’s penis and said, “He deserved it.” There are endless reports about people who suspect infidelity and then run off to kill or maim both their spouse and the alleged lover.

    Up until recently, a man could be considered justified in a case like this and the charges dismissed. It’s the subject of books, movies, television shows and songs. The need to possess and control someone has been strong enough to make people react in ways from the extreme to the petty. It made me wonder what domestic violence and homicide crime rates would look like if people managed their jealousy and possessiveness better. Are people in open relationships less likely to let these feelings push them into hurting someone? Are there fewer instances of homicide and abuse among the non-monogamous?


    An extensive online search only provided general statistics, proving that there is very little research available on the subject. The Department of Justice Statistics state women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner or family member than by strangers. Violence resulting in homicide against women was perpetrated by someone they knew intimately 30% of the time.

    Homicide committed by a stranger was just under 9% with 28% as unknown. Conversely, only 5% of men were involved in intimate partner violence. It’s estimated that intimate partner violence claims the lives of three women and one man every day. These reports don’t get into detail other than gender, race and weapon, so there were no specific reasons behind these attacks. I had to search elsewhere to find more about what drives people to hurt their partner.

    Why Hurt?

    An interesting article on the TLC Family website by Jonathan Strickland tries to tackle the question “Why do we kill?” There is a percentage that has to do with anti-social behavior and a lack of empathy. Then, there is the emotional component that leads to the aforementioned crime of passion. Jealousy, revenge, anger and fear could provide sufficient motivation to lead someone to commit an act of violence. The desire to control someone emotionally and physically can also drive people to act before using introspection or dialogue to find a passive and proactive solution.

    The book, "Why Do They Kill: Men Who Murder Their Intimate Partners," by David Abrams, found the reasons were less a “crime of passion” and more about long-standing grievances that escalate over time. Substance abuse, distrust, and a disdain for women were also factors that Dr. Katherine Van Warner (another prolific author on domestic violence) pointed out in an online interview about domestic violence and how it is derived from a patriarchal society.

    Van Warner states, “But there are many other factors such as alcohol and other drug use which removes inhibitions, stress related to global competition as reflected in employment, and psychological factors, which may be the most crucial factor of all. The psychological portrait of the male abuser is of an insecure man, who is possessive of his wife/partner and who isolates her so he can control her. Typically, he has been abused in childhood. This man doesn’t know how to love and trust.”

    Open Relationships

    I had hoped to find a few statistics in the context of open marriages and poly relationships but came up empty-handed. I could not pin down whether people in open relationships reacted less violently than those in monogamous relationships, either. There is little desire in mainstream circles to document these statistics. Whether a couple is open or monogamous was never asked in either statistical reports or surveys. It seems easy to assume the answers lie only in jealousy and the emotions that go with it because of the information available. This makes it seem like the triggers for domestic violence and intimate partner homicide are more complicated than we might think.

    Anti-social behavior, substance abuse and mental instability are factors that can’t be dealt with by simply keeping an open mind about relationships. Domestic violence happens even in open relationships. Embracing the open lifestyle doesn’t eliminate the prospect of infidelity, the feelings of jealousy, nor does it eliminate other factors in abuse.

    The only thing open relationships may be able to provide are better tools and understanding to deal with it. More research on the subject may tell us if there is any decrease in the likelihood of violence in non-monogamous relationships. Monogamous couples can learn a lot from open and poly folk. Taking the time to rethink their reactions, taking responsibility for their own emotions and not to forcing others to change to accommodate their insecurities could help people when making life-altering decisions. It won’t save everyone but it could save a few relationships and might save a few lives in the process.

    Cross posted with permission from Life on the Swingset.

    Technogeisha loves to use her passion for writing and research to learn more about open relationships and sexuality. She looks forward to sharing her discoveries with all of you. She writes for Life on the Swing Set and contributes to Sexis Social at Eden Fantasy's and other sites. Subscribe to her Facebook feed on Miko Technogeisha and follow her on Twitter at @Technogeisha.
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