Toxic Relationships in Community

Let's develop better answers together.

“What brings us together is not what we already know, but what we still want to learn. This exchange of knowledge is only possible if we approach each other with an open mind and with an attitude of mutual respect and support. We want to create an environment characterised by tolerance, respect, curiosity, fun, openness to communicate, friendliness and consideration.” – Principles of the Chaos Computer Club

I would like to bring attention to a problem in our communities. It’s not just something I’ve encountered myself, but others before me. I want to network with others who have been affected, and work together to find solutions and suggestions for improvement, so that there are better answers in the future. For those who have been through a toxic relationship, and for those who want to help. This is an uncomfortable and painful topic. That’s exactly why we should talk about it.

Late 2021. I had been in a relationship, through the highest highs and the lowest lows. I was strong enough for that. Only afterwards, mentally and physically exhausted, hell began. The hell of what is called “secondary victimization.” Through which the gaslighting within the relationship could unfold its effect in the first place. Which for me ultimately resulted in a pronounced post-traumatic stress disorder. And I was very lucky still. It could have ended much worse. (Quote from the management of the Gezeitenhaus clinic: “I admire your strength of will. Normally, after such an experience, people end up either in jail, in a psychiatric ward, or on the rope.”)

For over 20 years, I have been a member of various groups around the Chaos Computer Club and other communities. Looking back, with what I now think I’ve learned, I’ve come to the conclusion that some people could have been saved from complete meltdown and suicide, with a little more knowledge and a little more sophisticated support services. Let’s do that in the future.

For the past 10 years, I have also been professionally assisting and advising a wide variety of projects in our cosmos for a non-profit foundation; networking stakeholders, and being networked. Community building processes, community organization and conflict mediation are at the center of our work. In the future, we also want to become more involved in the areas of child protection, trauma and violence. For a healthy togetherness. Especially in times of renewed war and hatred, we stand up for peace, freedom, and respect for human rights. Especially where we are at home. If we can make it work there, it could work elsewhere.

Do you want to work together on these issues? Help carry more light into the darkness? How can we promote offers and procedures for conflict resolution in communities? Create and improve structures of support for those affected? Did you have good or bad experiences yourself, or have you heard stories that you would like to share? What was good for you? What could you have needed? Is there anything you find still missing?

I am looking forward to further discussions about this topic. Preferably in person, e.g. at 37c3. Let’s develop better answers than the ones I was given. So that in the future, hopefully no one else has to go through the experiences I had to make.

We can do something about it. The least is to talk with each other.

With an open heart

Moritz a.k.a. gamambel

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“Aversion to conflict is aversion to relationship. On a social level we don’t simply live with those we personally know. We don’t only impact those who know our names. Dialogue is a precondition for society. And painful conflict is one of it’s crucial tests.” (Dominic Barter, Restorative Circles)

“It often takes a conflict to make me aware of which community I belong to, and to what extent I am willing to bear my share of the responsibility.”

Couple arguing in the presence of a mediator; Bing Image Creator