Trust Me…

Of course you can trust me. I’m a skilled top. I mean, you saw me swinging a whip around some and it looked good, didn’t it? You can surely tell I’ve been practicing for a long time, and that I was taught by the best. Safety protocols? Yeah, of course I follow those…

OMG, you have got to run, don’t walk, to read the Sex Geek’s latest post entitled “trust me” [sic], which is an hilarious rant about various ways that some of the so-called more experienced tops, particularly those who are leaders of some sort or another in the scene, get over on the naive and unsuspecting – read “newbies”.

It’s funny, all right, because it’s seriously well-written – but also because she actually nails a number of behaviors and attitudes that are virtually pathognomonic of abusers in the scene right on the head.

Other things to check, although by no means an exhaustive list – what is the ratio of sweet young submissive thangs he’s got on his profile to other friends? Watch it over time, too. Why did some of those seem to drop off and out of sight all of a sudden at some point? And maybe not just one but a handful? Who were his first submissives and longest term partners, and why are they not on his friends list if they’re not?

Make sure to ask people he refers to publicly as his “good friend” if he really is – and watch the reactions of those people very carefully. I’ll tell you right now that there’s at least one such dominant running around in my neck of the woods who is quite extraordinarily deluded as to the actual nature of his relationship with a person whom he routinely publicly addresses and refers to this way. Every arrogant prick is a name dropper, especially when he wants to get into your pants, especially if he’s not as big a name himself.

And oh, yeah, just because they’re quiet doesn’t mean they’re safe, either. Many times those are the ones with the absolute most to hide.

They are certainly highly unlikely to let it slip where the bodies are buried, and boy will they get seriously steamed if any of their previous vict^H^H^partners mention what was done to them. They may have even threatened those exes in the past behind the scenes, well out of the public eye, to try to keep them quiet, or had others do their threatening for them. If you look at a pair where one is quiet and is being accused of behaviors by the other that don’t seem to match his public persona, maintain a very high index of suspicion.

And don’t think that what reactions you see from him are the whole story. Some of these people are extraordinarily good at showing the absolute face of innocence publicly while going as far as threatening other people and even ending longstanding friendships of their own behind the scenes in an attempt to manipulate those people into disclosing private conversations with the victim.

I’ll repeat – you cannot, cannot, CANNOT, as in absolutely positively CAN NOT, be sure that someone is safe to play with just because they are highly visible or hold some kind of leadership position in the scene, or even if they say all the right things and look hot as hell.

Perhaps especially not then.

Caveat emptor to the max.

Tolerating Criminal Behavior in the Scene, and Judging Others

Several things have happened over the years that have had me really starting to look at what happens in our circles when clearly and unambiguously illegal behavior comes to light.

My first encounter with this sort of thing was finding out that a former play partner of mine was a convicted pedophile. There are also numerous other reports (usually kept under wraps, but sometimes boasted of publicly) of other acts of pedophilia, bestiality, and much more, up to and including murder.

After much soul-searching on the pedophilia question, trying to sort out whether or not such people should be outted or not, I decided that I would only do so in that particular case if I were to observe this person speaking with people whom I knew had children, especially young girls, and then only to the parents involved. As for my personal encounters with him, I spent a long time trying to decide whether or not to continue to associate with the other members of his leather family, how to handle running into him in public, etc. It was much easier to decide to cut him out entirely than to decide what was appropriate with the others.

Ultimately, I decided that I had to back away from them all, because I didn’t want to be painted with the same brush by others – and because, as my ex once put it when I told him about what had happened, anyone who would stay with someone who was abusive to children or animals knowing that was happening (or had happened) is just as guilty of the crime as the person who actually committed it.

That isn’t true in a legal sense, obviously, but certainly is in a moral sense. Birds of a feather and all that. You hang with pedophiles and bestialists, or thieves and murderers, and you are implicitly condoning their behaviors. You hang with people who have numerous friends who are into these things, and you’d better also consider why they associate with such people even if they deny those proclivities themselves…

The sex with children and animals debate has been going on for a long time in the community. Generally speaking, both are widely condemned, as they should be, since both involve abuse of beings that are unable to consent, and unable to even understand what is happening enough to give informed consent – or indeed any kind of consent at all. These subjects are verboten on virtually every mainstream kink website, except to discuss intellectually, for very good reason. Such behaviors would never be tolerated in our playspaces, and not just because that could get the spaces closed down and send a lot of people off to jail. It’s because the majority of kinksters genuinely understand how very wrong these things are.

Many of the other types of abuse, rape, and assault that occur in our circles can be ambiguous to define and identify. We pride ourselves as a community on tolerance for what gets others off. Which, again, is largely how it should be, although there are certainly exceptions, and identifying what’s OK and what’s not is the central theme of this blog.

But what about other crimes? And how does our whole attitude of “your kink is OK” play into acceptance of criminal and abusive behavior that anywhere else would get people tossed into jail instantly?

Sometime last year, a submissive who appears to be quite popular publicly posted a tale on Fetlife about how she was house/petsitting for someone, apparently something she does as a business, and came across a bottle of 100 Vicodin tablets in her client’s medicine cabinet. These are powerful narcotic pain relievers, controlled prescription drugs with a high addictive potential. They also have major street value as a result. Apparently this young woman has had some major drug problems in the past (her public self report) and described how, despite knowing full well that she should not do so, she swallowed not just one or two of these pills – but literally swallowed the whole bottle.

This would kill the average person, or come pretty darn close, but again, our heroine was sitting there telling everyone about it, without hospitals and ambulances figuring into the story, so obviously she had some pretty major tolerance built up. The sure sign of an addict; they can take doses of controlled drugs that would even kill the average horse and just keep on going.

She talked about her upset at backsliding out of whatever clean period she’d had, and got dozens, if not hundreds of messages of support. To my shame, I was one of them. I do understand how people feel a pull like this, though. I do sympathize with that, and her obvious upset about it.

But here’s the thing.

First of all, she stole these pills. From a client. She didn’t just take one because she had a headache, which virtually no one would have an issue with, she stole the whole bottle – all 100 or so tablets, consuming them on the spot.

She is also a veterinary technician (which she has repeatedly mentioned publicly online) who should doubly have known better. Who still has ongoing access to other such drugs in her employer’s clinic, if she’s still working in this field, because that’s one of the things that vet techs do, is dispense and manage the stock of the medications the veterinarians they work for prescribe. She is putting both her job and her employer at risk doing this shit, not to mention her own freedom. Why she’s confessing to it publicly, I don’t claim to understand, but hey, it’s her life.

If she’s doing drugs again, particularly if she is going to work impaired or seriously hung over, she is also putting her clients’ pets’ lives at risk, because vet techs assist in surgery and doing numerous other hands-on tasks around the clinic that involve direct care of the creatures entrusted to that veterinary practice. You simply can’t have people who are drug impaired in positions like this, because mistakes can be fatal.

Somehow she managed to rationalize all of this away, however, by saying that because the expiration date on the bottle had passed that she believed her employer-the-client wouldn’t miss them. Wouldn’t even know. Wouldn’t notice. Wouldn’t care.

She committed a felony.

Was talking about it openly in public.

She knew it was wrong, and yet her entire focus was on the poor me of being upset that she’d started using again.

And apparently no one (sadly myself included) even took her to task for it in any way.

The only reaction she got was all these people patting her on the back and giving her all kinds of sympathy and encouragement.

Oddly enough, at least one of her friends is a veterinarian. Who still remained friends with her, at least on that site, long after this confessional was posted.

What is wrong with this whole picture?

If she’d have said she had robbed a bank or murdered someone, I like to hope that no one would encourage her and offer her sympathy for whatever feelings may have driven her to that, or might be feeling in the aftermath.

And even aside from the fact that associating with a bank robber could get one’s own self tossed in jail with various types of charges levied in certain circumstances, I like to hope and believe that the people of our “community” have enough integrity to “just say no”, and quit associating with people who commit felonies, not treat them like the victims. This goes quadruple for associating with known pedophiles and bestialists, especially those who see fit to advertise these tastes in fully public venues like anywhere on the Internet.

I also know of a number of other outright criminal acts like rape, murder, and embezzlement that scene members have committed that are known and openly talked about, and yet most people still seem to welcome these perpetrators in our midst.

I’d like to hope that such types would be unwelcome, but sadly, it doesn’t seem to be the case at all.

But how is it that a person feels free to discuss at a party how he served time for murdering his wife, and no one else in the room even bats an eye, and that person is still welcome at events? How is it that he’s invited back? How is it that his wildly improbable tale of how he was the one who was done wrong is believed and sympathized with when a judge and jury with all of the details of the whole story and probably expert witnesses on both sides obviously didn’t buy it?

How is it that sometimes they are still allowed to be in positions of responsibility that fly in the face of their known transgressions, like known thieves still allowed to handle the money at events? Confirmed embezzlers allowed to have access to an organization’s membership records? Known abusers of various stripes allowed to continue to present classes and demos and other events?

Now I’m not saying everyone should report people who commit felonies or other crimes and talk about them in public like this to the authorities. Far from it, although there certainly are times that should indeed happen.

It just seems like something in our social system has broken down beyond repair that such tales could even be told in public without repercussions, never mind such people continue to find safe haven in our midst and even serve among the leaders of the community. That people who say all the right things in public are allowed into positions of influence, particularly around newbies, when it can be well documented that they don’t walk their own talk and have caused numerous others terrible harm. That our culture continues to protect perpetrators in so many ways.

And it seems doubly twisted that anyone whose own occupation is related to such crimes, or whose other personal interests should make them steer far, far away from anyone engaging in these sorts of patently illegal, damaging, and immoral behaviors, or even talking about enjoying them, should still associate with these perpetrators.

I mean, why would anyone with children or who is a teacher still associate with known pedophiles? Or people with pets or animal-related jobs with known and self-confessed bestialists, or even with people who deny they are into such things even when confronted with hard evidence when it’s also obvious from just looking at the interests of those such abusers associate with as well as the comments of all that there are clearly shared predilections of this nature? It simply boggles the mind. And yet we see it every day.

Birds of a feather…

So, yeah, YKIOK – your kink is OK. Sure, but not when it crosses undeniable, unambiguous legal or moral borders like this and harms others who did not or cannot consent.

And no, confessing to robbing your employer because of a moment of weakness does not make it right, or entitle you to sympathy, whether you claim that your drug use or the thrill of the risk of getting caught is part of your kink or not.

Killing your wife by engaging in breath play is still murder, even if she was begging for it. You have the obligation to understand the risks and to not do things that will endanger your partner’s life.

Violating limits is still assault, battery, and/or rape or the like, depending on the details.

Not stopping what you’re doing when your partner safewords is also a major violation of trust if you couldn’t hear it because you have refused to wear your perfectly good and needed hearing aids while playing and have the music turned up too loud in your own home. And you also shouldn’t be excused from the injury you caused because you couldn’t see what you were doing because you refused to wear your glasses while wielding your dangerous implements on sensitive bodies, or to turn up the lights in the room to a level that would have actually allowed you to see.

Accidents happen with WIITWD, to be sure. But when they happen because a top refuses to take the precautions necessary to avoid them, particularly after the need for such has been discussed and agreed upon, then injuries and so on are no longer accidents but the predictable result of careless disregard for your partner’s safety.

Your kink is not allowed to extend to doing whatever the flying fuck you feel like in the heat of moment to your partner when it will endanger her, especially if she’s already made it clear that it’s not OK with her for you to do so.

Claiming it’s part of your kink does not excuse any harm done when you have not taken even the most basic appropriate precautions to prevent it. It does not excuse ongoing harm if you continue to repeat such behaviors, even if your sub hasn’t yet figured out what you’re actually doing or found the personal wherewithal to get away from you or even safeword.

Not calling people on doing shit like this that shows a callous disregard for the sub’s safety only encourages such behaviors to continue. Not naming it as the selfishness that it is, or pointing out the utter lack of self control that it shows, only serves to encourage it further.

And then taking a complaining sub to task for speaking up about nonconsensual things being done to her only serves to perpetuate the terribly damaging community myths that the dominant is God and can do no wrong, should not be questioned, etc.

Horsepucky.

And so we then end up where people can talk with impunity about committing unquestionable crimes and felonies against the obviously nonconsenting even in the vanilla world, and fully expect to get away with it, not only not even forfeiting friends because of it, but ending up with sympathy, and even glorified and more popular than ever!

I believe that the culture of confidentiality and “your kink is OK” as has existed in the scene for years has fostered an atmosphere where not only are there few if any repercussions for any of these kinds behaviors, but people actually go out of their way to defend the indefensible, all supposedly in the name of not judging others or their kinks. And then we vilify anyone who dares to speak up against any of it in any way, as if they are the problem.

A drug-stealing member of the community is less likely to significantly harm others in our midst than people who have a track record of violating limits and repeatedly raping and/or injuring their partners, or even engaging in consensual play that deliberately involves activities that clearly causes lasting physical or emotional damage, whether by design or because it’s a result that ought to be expected.

Still, I think we really need to rethink the degree to which our “community” goes to justify away the commission of crimes of all types, and to which we go to still associate with the perpetrators, never mind allow them into (or to remain in) positions of responsibility and leadership. So doing lends them an air of acceptability that is undeserved, and which can only serve to endanger others, particularly newbies.

We need to think about what our associations say to others. We should definitely think twice about what those interactions may be interpreted to mean when dealing with people who are known criminals or a users of any sort, how they could increase risks to the unwary who observe them.

I know someone, for example, who continues to associate publicly with a known abuser he absolutely despises, who significantly harmed one of his closest friends, all in the name of political expediency, and keeping an eye on the guy. His friend understands his thinking, but is not amused, except by knowing that her abuser thinks this person is actually a friend of his as well, even calling him that publicly to draw attention to the association, when nothing could actually be further from the truth.

But why is this necessary? Does this person not realize how his willingly conversing with his friend’s abuser even in public when there is no compelling reason to do so otherwise just encourages the guy – who knows this person knows full well everything he did?

I mean, sure, you can nod hello to anyone in passing in the name of civility, or chat in passing over the food table about the weather or the outfits others are wearing or the like, especially if no one else is around. But to actually get into conversation when there are others available to talk to? And to not extricate oneself at the first opportunity if cornered? This person is well known and respected, for good reasons, and so any such association lends the problem person an air of acceptability that is utterly undeserved and could, as a result, put someone else in jeopardy.

This person is not the only one to do such things by a long shot, though, sadly enough. We are a group that is full of such artifices. All it does, though, is continue to protect known abusers and criminals, at the expense of their victims.

When you have large groups of people not just seeing nothing wrong with abusive and overtly criminal behaviors, but actively defending them (and defending the supposed right of the offender to continue his harmful ways), and even continuing to go out of their way to associate with the perpetrators, it’s really no big surprise that all kinds of other abuse and violation of limits take place in our midst.

It’s also no surprise then that such behaviors not only go unpunished but are apparently both accepted and even openly glorified, and the victims themselves blamed and wronged instead of the responsibility put squarely on the heads of the perpetrators.

I’m sure that many people must have opinions about these things, and know of or are themselves victims of such transgressions, but all too often, they don’t speak up because they are afraid they will be shunned themselves. They don’t think they have the right to speak up, either to complain a out what was done to them, or to even voice concern about abusive practices observed and perpetuated in the community at large.

We tell them they have no right to judge others. But folks, that is BS.

You are fully entitled to your own opinions about what people are doing either directly to you or just around you – and you have just as much right to talk about your disapproval as you would in any other setting in life.

And you should.

If those of us who see injustice and wrongdoing don’t speak up, it will continue unabated, and more people will be harmed.

Wake up, people. Just because you’re in circles where there is a great deal of tolerance overall does not mean that you should tolerate or condone everything others do, even if they try to label it a kink.

Despite popular practice and community mythology to the contrary, there is nothing wrong with speaking up and voicing your disapproval.

You may not have a right to try to stop people from doing many things you disapprove of, or that are outright obviously illegal, especially if their partners and others directly involved are consenting to it, but you are not a bad person for having your own opinions, for feeling however you do about it – or for sharing those thoughts with others.

It may or may not be appropriate to try to actually stop known transgressive, damaging, or other criminal behavior (and usually you don’t have that right, although there are certainly exceptions), but you sure as hell have a right to your own opinion about it happening – and to voicing it – especially if it concerns something that was done to you. Don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise.

If you don’t approve of something someone else is doing, or you think they’re nuts to do it, even if it’s not legally wrong or harming anyone else, you are entitled to your own feelings about that as well. And you’re entitled to discuss it with others if you wish.

There is a big difference between saying you think that something another person is doing is wrong and trying to stop them, or outlawing the practice just because you personally don’t like it.

There’s a difference, too, between a playspace or party host disallowing high risk practices that are known to endanger people and/or property because of concerns for the safety of guests and yes, their own potential legal liabilities, and telling people they shouldn’t ever engage in such pursuits.

Don’t drop your lifelong morals at the door to the dungeon, though. Rape, murder, assault, theft, pedophilia, bestiality, other forms of animal and/or child abuse, etc. are just as wrong when committed by kinksters, either in the name of being kinks or not, as they are for everyone else.

And don’t let anyone else try to convince you otherwise, or to shut you up from openly voicing your disapproval if you want to do so.

You may receive threats for speaking out against certain behaviors or people who engage in them, as I have, but remember that one of the few tools we have to combat abuse and other criminal behavior in our circles is our voices.

Yes, I’ve been threatened and attacked for my outspokenness against abuse and what was done to me and others. In writing. On multiple occasions, by multiple people.

Document those threats if you receive any, and then speak out against them and the people who have made them as well.

Lift your voices. Stand your ground when you know you’ve been wronged, especially when you know you can fully document everything you say (as I can), but also even if you don’t think you can prove any of it. Truth is on your side, and you’d be surprised at what can actually constitute proof.

Don’t let your abusers or their friends browbeat you out of your right to speak up about what has happened to you, or about problems or other criminal behavior you observe in the scene, or try to otherwise separate you from your morals, or convince you that something you know to be wrong is somehow all right.

We are in this fix of rampant abuse, glorification of abusers and other criminals, and justification of their misdeeds precisely because scene conditions and mores have supported their being able to hide their antics without challenge.

Yes, we’re a subset of the population at large, and whether or not there is more abuse in our circles than in the vanilla population or not, we sweep it under the rug even more than the vanillas do, which is all the worse because of our stated community values of SSC, RACK, etc.

That makes us hypocrites on a colossal scale.

We have acted for years as if holding the community-wide ideals of negotiation and consent somehow mean we actually always walk our talk, are somehow automatically more caring, better communicators, etc, just because we identify as kinky and spout all the right words, but that is all patently inaccurate by any measure.

It is decidedly harder to speak out against what others have done when your pool of friends and partners is as small as ours is, no question. It takes guts to stand up and point out the problems – and the problem people.

But we are growing quickly as kink becomes more mainstream, even as our ability to effectively reach and train newbies decreases as a result, and the rot is spreading as newbies are taken in hand by and fall under the influence of those who do not walk their talk, and who no longer seem to understand that yes, Virginia, there really sometimes is right and wrong.

If those of us who see the problems, and who have been at the effect of them, do not stick to our guns and continue to try to rout out the utterly immoral rot that clearly does exist within our own midst, then we have no standing to try to preach the ideals of consensuality, etc. to others, or to put ourselves out to the vanilla world as being anything special or different, to try to portray ourselves as a group as any safer or better in any way.

The lies and myths we have perpetuated for years from within must likewise be resolved from within if we are to either help people in our midst stay safe, or have any hope of widespread acceptance for WIITWD. The vanillas are right that there’s abuse in our circles. So what? It is what it is, and no amount of denial or ostracizing people for pointing it out will solve the problem.

Naming it is the first step – owning that it is real, and likewise, looking at the many ways we continue to perpetuate it, and the additional fallout that comes from an obsessive and unhealthy focus on denying it and demonizing those who speak up about it. We must recognize that when we start letting little things slide and accepting absolutely anything that anyone wants to call a kink as inherently OK, we have opened the door to ever more severe moral and legal infringements upon others.

We simply cannot have gotten to a point as a community where people openly confess to deliberate felonious behavior and get sympathy and encouragement for their crimes without a wholesale abandonment of even the idea that some things in life are inherently wrong and should simply not be tolerated.

Everyone will have his or her own breaking point in this regard, but what we must stop doing is trying to silence anyone who speaks out about issues they see or have personally encountered.

I know from speaking to many people about the subject that there is, in fact, much more widespread discontent and concern over many things that happen than people generally talk about openly. If they aren’t willing to go on record with their concerns because of legitimate fear of censure, then the problems will be allowed to continue.

We must quit trying to tell people that they are wrong to consider behavior they consider inappropriate as wrong. We must quit trying to silence such voices, who have as much right to their points of view as anyone else.

We need to start to listen more often to complaints about people that victims of abuse have encountered, to not so often paint the squeaky wheel victim as the one in the wrong, etc. We need to find a way for it to be safer for victims to come forward without facing community-wide censure for speaking out.

We need to face the fact that just because a newbie (or anyone else) complains about a popular top or other established community figure does not inherently mean they are a problem themselves, but that in fact, quite legitimate complaints often surface about such tops – but are widely ignored or stifled until someone else who is popular finds herself negatively affected.

And we need to look at what we have created that people no longer even seem shockable when someone can openly confess to a felony on a public bulletin board and get sympathy and not even a hint of censure. Where people who express concern for the safety of others who are engaged in activities that obviously cause great bodily and/or emotional harm are vilified for even raising the issue.

What kind of monster have we created that things like this are even remotely possible? What kind of people would create such a world, where all morality seems to be chucked out the window? Where people seem to think that everyone should be allowed to do pretty much anything they want, especially if they label it a “kink”, even if it causes lasting harm to themselves and others?

Abuse and other criminal behavior are never going to go away completely, but we can certainly stop being complicit in hiding and excusing it when it happens to us or we observe it happening to others. And we can quit buying into community values that perpetuate it, and stop teaching them to newbies.

We not only can, but indeed we must.

I am very encouraged by the increase in number of strong, outspoken, articulate people like Mollena, Kitty Stryker, and others blogging about their abusive encounters and our increasing interconnectedness and reposting and interviewing and linking to us by more and more websites. I am deeply gratified by the increase in the number of classes and programs targeted at teaching people the difference between healthy BDSM and abuse. The tide seems to be starting to turn, but we still have a long ways to go.

I think we need to also tie in the issue of openly condoning other criminal and clearly immoral behavior, because we may have created a bigger monster here than we have even realized.

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See also Your Kink Is Not OK and Just because it is “your kink” does not make it OK with me

How You Can Help Combat the Abuse Problem

A newbie I met the other day told a tale of being abused or having her limits violated when playing with someone she said is well known at the Citadel, our local community playspace.  She said she’d like to get involved to help combat this problem, and asked how to go about it.  Here is my response to her.

I’d also add that it’s important to bring the issue to the attention of the dungeon owners if the problem occurs in their playspace, and frankly, even if it doesn’t.  No one will know that someone in an inner circle is a problem child if no one reports it.

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At this point, it’s pretty much a free for all.  People are writing in their blogs and getting interviewed for other publications, doing various classes, etc. I’ve got links to many of them on my blog, so you might want to take a look.

And then there’s my nascent BDSM Abuse Survivors’ Network that one day I’ll set up a separate website for, which is currently housed on the front page of my blog.  It’s purely volunteer, just allowing me to post whichever contact information you prefer that people use so that others who have been through this or are going through it now can find someone to talk to on a peer level.  I have no idea if anyone thus far has actually contacted anyone on the list, and I don’t monitor it in any way.  I get pretty good SEO rankings, though, and am getting more and more hits as time goes by, so eventually something should happen.

And then there’s just speaking out, telling others about your experiences, encouraging still others to speak up.  It very well may cost you something in terms of popularity, I can’t lie, but I’ve come to realize that the people who are ready to pooh-pooh me, particularly because they don’t see my ex doing what he did themselves, or who believe his crap, are people I don’t need in my life.  As some “friends” started dropping away, I found new ones who have a lot more sense coming into my life.

I’ll tell you this, too.  If the person you had a problem with is indeed popular at the Citadel, or in any other way a “leader” in the community, it is *highly* likely that you are far from the only one with a negative experience of him.  The same is true of many others as well, but it’s a near certainty with these most visible people.

One of the hardest things to communicate to newbies is that just because someone is well known and popular around the scene, or even a well-known presenter or group leader, or member of a board of any of the kinky groups, that in no way should serve as an endorsement.  Many such community leaders are just fine – but there is a frightening number who are quite dangerous to one extent or another.

As to what you said about blaming yourself, I do think it’s important that we all look at whatever our own contribution to a problem situation may have been, if any, and there are in fact times when we need to take that sort of responsibility for what has transpired, but when you say “Stop”, and someone doesn’t, or they just flat out violate limits you’ve already set, then hon, I’m sorry, but it is often entirely on them.

This game we play of “the dom is the boss” is a game, although many people do take it seriously.  There is nothing wrong with any level of that as long as both parties are consenting, and in agreement as to the parameters of the dynamic, but at the end of the day, no means no, no matter what, and you are entirely within your rights to object and pin the blame on them if someone violates those agreements with you.

The hard part is that it *is* hard sometimes to know how far is OK to go in any given encounter, but this is one reason we have things like safewords and promote the idea of thorough negotiation.  Pay attention to your gut.  If you don’t like what’s happening, and you do not end up feeling as good or better overall when all is said and done, and especially if the top involved responds poorly to your objections and even continues what he is doing if that is not your agreed-upon dynamic, then there’s an issue that needs attention, even if it’s just finetuning the negotiations next time.

Empathy and Trust

[W]hat good is it to be in a relationship with someone who can’t tell the difference between being really mean, and being REALLY mean. How could I trust someone like that? How good is play as a submissive if you have to keep one eye open?

Most definitely. It completely sucks to play with one eye always open.

SheIsReedS really nails it here, followed by an exceptionally good explanation of the ways in which both dominants and submissives need to be able to trust both themselves and each other – including how the dominant needs to be able to trust that the submissive is “rendering genuine responses…”

That means he needs to be both willing and able to believe that she not just actually likes what’s happening, when that is the case (which is what people are most often referring to when they speak of the dominant needing to be able to trust that it’s really what she does want), but that he is also willing to accept it as truth if she says she cannot handle something he is doing, and needs it to either stop or change.

He needs to be able to accept that the stroke he just landed was an 8 for her even if he thinks it should have only been a 3.

Unfortunately, a lot of dominants seem to think that they know better than their subs do how said subs are feeling, what they are experiencing.  It’s a dangerous notion and fantasy that the “community” has promulgated to the point that it really endangers a lot of submissives – and in turn, endangers the whole relationship.

What dominants who have gotten themselves into hot water with their submissives by failing to respect that the sub really does know what’s happening for her better than anyone else on the planet can often don’t seem to realize is that it is devastating to a submissive to have to stop play, to have to defend herself – indeed, as SheIsReedS says, to have to always keep one eye open.  Much more will be gained by taking her at her word, and patiently helping her work through whatever the difficulty is – or adjusting his own way of doing things to accommodate her needs.

There may in fact come a time in a relationship when the dominant really can read the submissive well enough – and there is a strong enough foundation – that he can then push more for her to take more than she thinks she can.  When that happens, though, it’s not a function of role name as much as it is about maturity, patience, and respect for the submissive – and a matter of having developed a track record together that allows both parties to reach that point of trust in each other.

This really does not happen overnight, or even usually in a matter of weeks or months, at least not in any informed, lasting way, and if there’s already been any breach of trust, it is likely to take a great deal longer to regain what has been lost than most people have any idea.  You can’t just expect it to happen chop-chop.

And at the end of the day, no matter how well he knows her (or thinks he does), and regardless of what D/s relationship agreements there may be, no still means no, and it needs to be respected, without question.

For a dominant to push past what his submissive says she is able to take despite her protests (or to even show displeasure that she can’t take what he wants to dish out) is likely to be the kiss of death to any trust that has already been built up, and the death knell to any further trust developing.  And with the demise of trust, so follows the end of the relationship eventually, no matter how promising it might have been otherwise, no matter how compatible the two parties overall.

Sometimes all it really does take is that empathy – the willingness to just accept the sub’s feedback without defensiveness, without taking safewords or requests to modify what is happening as a threat, to be able to recognize that it is his responsibility to help her find a way through whatever the issue is without expecting her to process on the same schedule he wants and thinks appropriate.

Training

From SlaveCraft: Roadmaps for Erotic Servitude _ Principles, Skills and Tools”, by Guy Baldwin:

Training means something more than giving orders and correcting compliance. A sadly small percentage of the Masters i know savor the often delicately balanced orchestrations by which a slave does truly develop a deeper level of surrender under Their direction. These Masters delight in devising subtle situations and conversations that challenge and guide us. They watch us closely to see how we wrestle with our inner struggles with surrender, and then determine the best way to coax, tease, kiss, lure, argue, reason, support, reinforce, hurt or love us onward past our sticking points and into doing or accepting exactly what They want from us…AND, making us love Them for it! This is the REAL craft of “slave-training,” and lucky is the slave who comes to the attention of these rare Masters.

If you are not feeling like this is what your dominant/master is doing with you, and you don’t end up loving him for whatever he is doing in the name of training or anything else, there’s a very good chance that you are in fact experiencing abuse.

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The fact of the matter, as Guy says, is that such “masters” are in fact rare.

Just because someone calls themselves a dominant, a master, or SirWhompum, or whatever, does not automatically confer any level of skill upon him – be it with toys, or relationship skills.

In fact, a shocking number of dominants are exceptionally unskilled in these ways.

Which we could then look at as being the norm – and in the sense that there are more who do not have these skills than who do, that is true – but the story doesn’t end there.

In a vanilla relationship, neither party has deliberately taken on the responsibility of owning another, controlling or directing what they do, etc.  It’s not part of the fundamental relationship paradigm.  There are good lovers and there are bad ones, and leaving aside the abusive, that’s not such a big deal in and of itself.

When a person takes on the responsibility of dominance or mastery over another, however, it becomes exponentially more important that he ensures that he has the skills, both technical and personal, with which to ensure not just the submissive’s safety, but to seduce her submission.

Even with subs for whom being pushed is a big part of their kink, there is still the need to seduce compliance – and many times, it is precisely that seduction that actually constitutes the desired pushing, or at least a big part of it.  It’s the being cajoled to take just a little bit more – for him – that does it, not heavyhanded punishment for not living up to what he wants, etc.

When people who lack these kinds of people skills take on such responsibilities for another human being and her life, it is really incumbent upon them to learn how to do this – and to do it damn well.  To make sure that, at the end of the day, she still wants to come back for more.  That she is left in better condition than he found her in.  That she feels that her life has been enhanced because of her overall experiences with him.

Not all will have equal skills in this regard, and not every one of them will be a good match for each seeking submissive, but unless there is a substantial element of ending up enhanced overall by the experiences she has with her dominant, then something is seriously wrong.

If the overall feeling is one of being torn down, denigrated, injured, etc., vs being uplifted by the whole relationship, then it’s quite likely that there is abuse happening and not dominance.

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Thanks to Mollena Williams for posting this snippet on FetLife, which got me thinking about how this definition of training and mastery relates to abuse.

Controlling Men Could Face Criminal Charges

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg of the UK wants to “…make abusive behaviour by men a criminal offence, even if it does not involve physical violence), according to the Sunday Mirror. He also wants to extend the law to include men who discipline children under the age of 18 “too strict[ly” also a criminal offense.

I don’t know what the domestic violence laws currently are in the UK, if any, but this is clearly a step in the right direction of helping ensure that men who don’t understand and respect personal boundaries and who often end up ruining the lives of partners and/or children are held responsible for their behavior. It’s a formal acknowledgement, in a country in which domestic violence accounts for 18% of all violent incidents, that domestic violence is a serious crime that should not go unpunished, that partner abuse is something that shouldn’t be tolerated in a civilized society.

The problem, of course, is determining a reasonable definition of “spousal abuse” (which I hope they will expand to the more general “domestic partner abuse), which is something they are looking at now.

It’s one thing to realize that some legal support for such victims is necessary, but quite another to pass laws which don’t unfairly target those whom they shouldn’t, and punish too many people, thereby ruining lives unnecessarily as well as contributing to prison overcrowding, and clogging the courts with both criminal and civil cases.

Another problem, as it is in this country, is actual enforcement of whatever laws do exist, and getting police to take the reports seriously enough.

Let us hope that they come up with a definition that will protect a woman’s right to say no and have her wishes respected – and ensure that violations have some real consequences – without causing an ipso facto across the board condemnation of consensual BDSM. If they follow a model similar to California law, which requires affirmative assent, rather than just implied consent, and prohibits the use of the classic “She didn’t say no or safeword” as a defense, it seems to me that this could be a very positive thing.

Did you know that in California, domestic violence is treated as even more serious than violence against those with whom one is not currently or in the past in an intimate relationship? And that the definition includes even those who have had as little contact with someone as a single date?

It is – and is something people who suffer abuse, particularly violence, should keep in mind, particularly bottoms or submissives, who seem to be disproportionately affected by abuse for by partners in the name of D/s. Report it *when it happens*, not later, for maximum police response, and to preserve your legal rights later, and leave a documentable paper trail. And keep a lot of everything that happens, with dates and details in order to keep a documented paper trail. And also don’t be afraid to seek medical help if you are injured in any way, for the same reason as well, of course, for treating any injuries when they occur. Don’t forget that emotional distress caused by abuse can also have lifelong damaging consequences, oftentimes much more so than any physical harm.

WomensLaw.org

I just discovered an absolutely fantastic legal resource targeted at women who are victims of domestic violence.  A project of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, WomensLaw.org, is probably the most comprehensive website I’ve come across dedicated to this purpose.  Need a form, or need to know the procedure for getting a restraining order in your state, or what the child custody laws are?  Want to know what the relevant statutes are where you live, as well as the federal ones?  Find someone to help you?  Sue your abuser in civil court as well as put his ass in jail, or instead of?  This is just a start to the kinds of information on this site.  You will find more at this site than anywhere else I’ve come across.  I’ve also posted links to it in several of the link sections so that it’s easy to find in the future.

 

Becoming a Master

In his post entitled “Following the Path”, The Eroticist details the steps along the way to becoming a person whom others will call “master”, to earning that title.  To self control.

It’s a wonderful outline of how so often newbie dominants get drunk on power, or at least what they perceive to be the power offered to them by their submissives, and how the good ones eventually figure out how much they really do not know, and the ludicrousness of calling their own selves “master”, at any point in time.

Or “Sir” this-or-that.  Or any of the other kinds of honorific the puffed-up self-important, unknowing or uncaring dominant demands that others address him as, just because he woke up one day and decided he’d like to hit others and tie them up.

If you read through the whole post, you’ll see a pretty common pathway towards abuse within kinky circles – done by adhering too much to one’s self-important self-definition as dominant and therefore deserving whatever he want, and less to learning his or her own craft, including the art of reading people – even in a non-kinky situation.  That’s if a person gets stuck at some of the early stages he describes.

It is precisely the fact that so few dominants ever really fully get that “…eventually you learn that you do not in actuality, have much power at all.  You may be given authority over another by that other, but that authority can be taken with a moment’s notice” that is part and parcel of why we have so much abuse in the community.

A lot of dominants don’t even seem to want to get it – at least not enough to give up the power trip in their heads that endanger their partners.

This is, however, the root of why a friend/former “mentor” of mine refers to herself as just being “in charge” in her relationship with her partner.  Precisely because we cannot ever force anyone else to do anything they don’t want to do.

 

 

 

 

 

Why People Stay in Abusive Relationships

In a thread entitled “[I]s this abuse?” in the “Submissive Women” group on Fetlife, subbiegirl9 describes a situation in which a male dominant friend of hers is trying to turn a basically vanilla woman into a slave, and is going about it by “[B]asically [doing] the things he is into doing but without her consent, prior discussion or her even liking it”. The woman keeps telling him this is abusive, and not how a relationship should be, but in the end always forgives him and somehow reportedly gives him the idea that she secretly likes what he’s doing to her.  The poster has become very worried about the situation, and wanted to know if this was out of line and abusive, and if so, how to get through to the guy.

Darlin’, yes, it absolutely is abuse.  Even if she secretly likes it, she hasn’t consented beforehand, and continues to object.

It’s also rape, sexual assault and battery, domestic violence, and probably a few other things that could be separately charged.

Bottom line, it’s nonconsensual – and that just ain’t OK.

As often happens in discussions about abuse, other posters wanted to know why she’d stay in an abusive relationship, particularly when she herself already recognizes that it is abusive.

Truthfully, why women stay with guys like this that can be quite a complicated answer.  There are many possible reasons, and often more than one is in operation.

Many of us who end up in and stay in abusive relationships get there because we’ve had a history of being abused, and at some level, it’s not only familiar, but what we’re drawn to precisely because it’s what we know best.  Hope tends to spring eternal that he’ll change, or that you’ll be able to find some way to get through to him that will make the problems stop.

Oftentimes, the victim thinks it’s somehow her fault – and indeed, frequently the abuser tells her that himself.  Denial also is a very strong element operating, because when you’re with someone you care about and have had high hopes for the relationship, you have a strong motivation to try to find some way out of the situation, or to make yourself believe that it’s really not as bad as it actually feels, that you know it actually is.

It can take a very long time for any person who is abused to work their way through to the conclusion that nothing you can try will change things, no matter how smart your abusive partner is, and so, in the meantime, you still end up staying and trying to work things out.  The rest of the world, not knowing what is actually happening (or not believing it), just sits there and passes judgment, saying she should just leave and that because she doesn’t, that must mean she isn’t actually abused, or that it just “isn’t that bad”.  That by itself is a hard judgment to face, particularly when it comes from people you care about and you believe ought to know better.  That alone might contribute further to her having difficulty leaving.

Oftentimes men who see fit to force their partners to do things they don’t want to do the way the OP’s friend is doing to his new partner threaten them if they tell or leave.  Or they threaten the victim’s children, pets, and/or other family members.  The first abusive guy I was with made death threats to me and my whole family when I left, via endless harassing phone calls, in an attempt to intimidate me into coming back.  And that was after he very nearly did kill me in a blind, incoherent rage.  It was beyond terrifying, and took years to heal from.

Or they do actually harm the children, pets, or relatives, or victim herself, or do something else that makes it really obvious that they will indeed follow through if the woman doesn’t stay.  If a woman thinks that others she loves will be harmed if she leaves her abuser (or that he’ll come after her and kill her), the incentive to stay is incredibly strong.

The injuries may even look accidental or incidental – until enough of them happen that a clear pattern of either deliberately or carelessly doing them eventually emerges, particularly despite much communications about them being a problem for that person and maybe promises to not repeat them.  Or they might be things that might not harm another, but do harm this particular woman – and yet they are still repeated anyways.

The net result is still fear that they will happen again if she resists – because they always have.

These sorts of things can still happen quite early on in a relationship.  They are not limited to longer term pairings.

The threats can also be subtle or implied, conveyed only by an attitude, temper tantrums when they don’t get their way, etc.  The effect is the same as overt threats – it creates fear, which includes the fear of leaving, and the fear of what will happen if she does not go along with the abuser’s demands, no matter the cost to herself.

Oftentimes an abused woman won’t leave because she is completely financially dependent on the abuser, and can’t leave, particularly if there are also children involved.  She may have no money of her own, no transportation, no safe place to go, etc.

Then there are possible religious reasons, especially if the couple is married.  Catholicism, of course, prohibits divorce, so many women stay in bad and abusive marriages because they don’t want to be excommunicated, and fear the wrath of the church and going to hell more than they fear the abuser in their house.

In the Jewish community, there is a huge misconception that we don’t even have abuse (or alcoholism or drug addiction) in our midst, as if we’ve got some kind of genetic protection from these problems, which is of course patently inaccurate, but the myth persists.  Mass community denial of this sort fuels an even greater inability to recognize it when it happens to us, particularly when our partners are also Jewish, so we tend to look for other explanations for what is going on because we cannot even recognize it for what it is, at least early on.  If you grow up believing that it’s not even possible for abuse to happen to you for a reason like this, or it’s not even possible for the man you’re with to do it, how would you ever recognize it, much less admit to it and leave when it does?  Even knowing better intellectually, this kind of early conditioning still keeps operating at a deep level and may contribute strongly to why the abused woman doesn’t leave.

For the extremely observant in particular, the fairy tale is even more pervasive than in the more liberal branches of the religion, and people can end up with zero community support (in a particularly tight-knit community) and losing everything at a time when they most need it if they break these kinds of religious taboos.  A frum (very orthodox) Jewish woman may never even be able to get free of her husband and able to marry again, because a) divorce in those circles requires that she obtain permission from a rabbinical court, and b) that her husband give her what is called a “get”, which is his own permission – and it is far from unheard of for husbands to be willing to give the get just to keep control of her life long after she may have left.

She can, of course, still obtain a legal divorce in secular courts, but no one in their circles (including she herself) will ever consider her actually divorced until both the rabbis decree it and the husband gives the get, so that is rarely a real option for these women.  Even if both happen, she becomes “tainted goods” in those circles and others will shun her as a potential mate, and even altogether.  At the same time, religiously, the man can divorce her by something as simple as turning around three times and telling her he’s divorcing her.  With usually a large brood of children to care for, few observant women are willing to risk this, especially if they have no other means of supporting themselves – which women with a lot of children typically do not have.  And if shunned like this, she may well actually be considered dead, which has an even greater set of repercussions to herself and the others she loves.

No doubt some other religions have their own variations on these themes.

Abusive men are often quite charming, too, to the point of being widely loved and respected by others who have no idea on the planet what they’re actually like at home, and to the point that people often don’t believe the victim’s tales of what is being done to them.

These types may then end up turning everyone who might be sympathetic to the victim against her.  Social isolation may result, which makes it harder for someone to leave, because it may leave her without an adequate support system.  This is a particular problem in small communities.  And because people tend to believe him over her (because he’s often much quieter, and apparently oh so nice, and she may be more vocal), people often don’t believe her because what she says doesn’t match what others see.

The woman often ends up with her own support system completely undermined, and even her own friends turned against her, including, weirdly enough, other women who have themselves been abused severely and managed to get out and find a way to avoid abusers, and who claim to understand the whole dynamic because they’ve been there.  The fear of not being believed and ending up without friends and a support system from a situation like this can thus be an extremely powerful incentive to stay in an abusive relationship.
She might also begin to wonder what is wrong with her that she does not see the wonderful angel that others think he is.

Appearances can be exceptionally deceiving, though – look at people like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer.  They were quiet and kept to themselves, never caused anyone any problems, were helpful to neighbors, etc., and so everyone thought they were such nice guys.  Their secret lives behind closed doors, however, told a very different story – and should serve as a cautionary tale about the extent to which abusers can go when no one else can see them doing it.

Most abusers, of course, don’t do such heinous things, and if they do, are not able to hide it as effectively for as long, but the issue is still the same – an incredibly nice, upstanding pillar of the community-type presentation to the rest of the world, but a holy terror and perhaps real potential death threat behind closed doors, where no one else can see them operating in their true colors.  And because they are nice and charming to everyone else, people have a very hard time believing the tales of abuse behind closed doors by the partners.

Also, just because they say all the right things in public, or online, that does not mean they actually practice what they preach at home.  It is infuriating and frustrating beyond words to see them promoting appropriate behaviors they themselves have never practiced at home (and maybe violate the very same day or later in the same week in which they have made these pronouncements), ranting rabidly at others for doing exactly the same negative things they themselves have done, claiming to do the “right” things they never actually did, etc.

If a woman tells you her partner has been abusive to her, and particularly if she describes specific actions like violations of limits, ignoring safewords, temper tantrums, etc., especially if there is a consistent pattern to those complaints, please, please, don’t just dismiss her claims out of hand because her partner seems to be one of these upstanding types and has been nice and never shown this side of himself to you.

The smarter they are, too, the better they tend to be at hiding their abusiveness of their partner from others outside the relationship, but also at keeping even their victims from fully registering what’s actually going on – and then pinning the responsibility on them.

And just because another partner says they aren’t abusive, doesn’t mean the guy hasn’t been abusive to the one who says he is.  Abuse is not determined by how many people the abuser abuses, but by what he does to a particular person.  They aren’t always abusive to everyone, including other partners (although such patterns do tend to repeat themselves, at least eventually).  There’s nothing to say that those other partners don’t have such deep-seated issues or depravity of their own that they themselves either don’t recognize what’s happening or aren’t themselves in denial about it.  Or maybe they just haven’t seen that side of him yet for any number of possible reasons.  Or they’ve got their own other set of reasons for not making their own abuse known to others or leaving.

In addition, few abusive relationships are 100% all bad, and are often actually quite good in many other ways.  Along with the charm they turn on to others, abusers can be extremely charming, generous, and even quite wonderful at other times within the same relationship in which they are abusing their partners, as well as to others.  It’s particularly hard when there is a lot of other good happening to decide to give that up, because when you leave someone who is toxic to you, you also leave behind whatever was good about that person and the relationship.  It can be an extraordinarily difficult decision, especially when overall compatibility is extremely high.

Then there’s gaslighting, where they make you feel like you’re the crazy one for protesting what they are doing, or they blame you for being the cause of the issues, when it’s really them, and get you to actually believe the same thing.  When that goes on for long enough, you end up seriously doubting your own perceptions, and then it becomes really hard to leave, because you’re no longer sure that the problem you thought was there really is due to them – or, in fact, is even actually real to start with!  This sort of thing tends to deeply undermine one’s self-confidence and self-esteem, which only makes it all the harder to walk away.

Life with abusers tends to go in pretty predictable cycles, where a lot of abuse will occur, then a “honeymoon” period when everything seems fine and as if things will finally work out, and the abuser may even be quite apologetic and go out of his way too woo his victim back.  For many of us, it’s easy to get sucked back into all of that lovey-dovey stuff that mirrors what they did when things were still fresh and new (and happy), and to think repeatedly (and often for very good reason) that things are finally getting better this time – and then the whole cycle starts all over again.  It can take quite a while for it to sink in exactly what’s happening, and to fully recognize the cycle.

By then, you’ve usually got enough invested in the relationship that it’s hard to walk away from because of what is still good and perhaps other reasons as well.

It’s also not uncommon for the abuser to blame his victim for her own abuse, or to pin the blame for the cycling back to it on her, telling her that she is the abusive one, or that she somehow “made” him do it.

And in fact, her reaction to whatever he is doing may well look like the precipitating factor, particularly if his abusiveness tends to be subtle and potentially plausibly deniable.

Usually no one else in such a woman’s entire life has ever told her that she’s abusive, though, and she may in fact be widely known for her compassion, caring, understanding, and supportive nature – but suddenly she’s abusive with this one person?

Oftentimes these people will leave a trail of destruction behind themselves, a life littered with lovers and others who are close to them who say he is abusive, has a nasty temper, is dismissive or belittling, are afraid of him, or he himself acknowledges in so many words that he has been abusive to.

But suddenly, she is the abusive one for objecting to what he does, trying to maintain her own boundaries and limits, and keep her own self safe?

  Sorry, it just doesn’t happen that way.

Not to mention that the vast majority of women’s abuse of men, when it happens, is actually in response to and often self-defense against abuse by her partner.

But men who pin their own abusiveness on their partners tend to just ignore their own role (or justify it as her somehow “making” him do it), and often manage to convince their victim that she herself is, for one reason or another, either the abusive party herself, or the direct cause of her own abuse. Such things can be absolutely crazymaking, and lead to such self-doubt that that that alone makes it hard to leave.

Then there are the rescuers and codependants, who tend to think they cannot or should not leave someone who is obviously hurting so much as to strike out at the ones they say they love, that somehow just because they started up with these guys that means they’ve got to stay no matter what is happening, particularly if the guy is going through a rough time.  Because you shouldn’t kick a person when he’s down, dontcha know, and friends/lovers should be loyal to each other at all costs, no questions asked, until the end of time.  Even if they’ve only known each other for a very short period of time.

When marriage vows or other promises are involved, a sense of honor and not being willing to break one’s word can be very strong and also lead to an unwillingness or inability to leave.

At one point, I left the guy I was with because of everything he was doing, then realized I’d made a mistake (or so I thought).  We did get back together – but as one of the conditions, he also made me promise I’d never leave him again, no matter what, that if either of us wanted to leave, we’d only do so if we mutually agreed to end things, even if one of us literally threatened the other’s life.  For a time after that, it appeared that we would indeed be OK.  But later, when things really got bad, there were a number of times I dropped large hints that I thought we should end things (I felt I couldn’t come right out and say it because of the promise I’d made), and even went so far as to actually suggest that maybe we should put the relationship out of its misery, but he never picked up on them or agreed, and so I remained committed to trying to work things out no matter what, at times only because that was what I’d promised to do.  I knew there would be no turning back if I did say I wanted to leave, so I’d better be absolutely, 100% certain that that was indeed the only way to end the problems, and that I was willing to live with the consequences – and for a very long time (far too long), I wasn’t, despite the problems.

I also rationalized staying by thinking that every couple had problems at times, and the only way to really deal with them was to meet them head on and to continue to deal with them and work through them.  Even though, in order to stay safe, I had to set new boundaries at times (or make others more explicit) that I told him would be dealbreakers if they happened again (which he took to be threats to leave, but weren’t, because they left the matters entirely in his own hands), I was still bound and determined to honor the promise I’d made him,and to do anything in my power to sort things out.

Long before, we’d already agreed that this relationship was going to be for life, and particularly after the promise not to leave, I took that as seriously as a marriage vow, and my commitment was to do whatever it took to work things out.   And since I consider a collar the equivalent of a wedding ring (absent only the legal status), once he collared me, it became virtually unthinkable to even consider leaving even once I finally came to the conclusion that I really needed to.

Finally, to acknowledge that one is in an abusive relationship in the first place also requires the abused party to face the fact that something is likely wrong with her own “picker”, as one of my friends once put it.  That she either missed some key red flags early on, or deliberately ignored or didn’t recognize the full significance of others she did see.  That is an extremely painful and difficult thing to face, especially if she has done a lot of work on herself and learning how to spot and avoid abusers, and come a long way in keeping herself safe from them.

Oftentimes, many or all of these factors may be operating, and contributing to why a woman would stay in an abusive relationship, especially once she herself recognizes it for what it is.

By the time you sort through all of these kinds of issues and finally realize that you really are in an abusive relationship, it can really be hard to get out because of ties that have been formed, and more.

In some cases of the nature that the OP describes, it’s even possible that the victim is actually drawn to what’s happening (as in may actually be submissively or masochistically driven), but may have a hard time admitting that even to herself.  Or she may think she deserves this kind of treatment for any number of possible reasons in addition to him managing to convince her of this.

To the people who say that it couldn’t really be that bad or she’d have left by now, all I can say is that you’ve simply got no idea how incredibly wrong you are.

To those who only believe him, realize that abusers are particularly good at pulling the wool over other people’s eyes.  If you yourself were not there, you have no right to judge, or to tell anyone else, including the victim, what actually happened – because you don’t fucking actually know.  I can just about guarantee that you’ve been fed a line of BS that’s been totally fabricated by the abuser, because that’s what they specialize in, as part of the way that they control their victims, as discussed above.

BDSM Abuse Survivors’ Network

Are you in an abusive BDSM relationship?  Or think you may be, but aren’t sure?  Had a scene go terribly wrong?

Been raped or otherwise injured nonconsensually in a BDSM context?

Do you feel alone, as if you are the only person dealing with these issues?  Maybe your local community is opposing you because of what you’ve been through, or you’re afraid to speak up at all because perhaps the person who abused you is a community “leader“?

Do you need some support, perhaps someone else to talk to who has been through this?   Help getting out?  Staying safe?  Just knowing that you are indeed not the only one to be dealing with these issues in our circles?  Not a therapist, cop, or attorney, but just another person who’s been there who is willing to help?  Just need to know others who have been in the same boat so that you don’t feel so alone?

Are you angry about your experiences?  And determined to do something about them so that your pain will help others avoid the same thing?

Help explode the horribly damaging myth that we kinksters are somehow immune to abuse because of SSC, negotiation, and all that?  Tired of watching this shit go on endlessly in the “community” and the perpetrators not only not called out for their behavior but often actually glorified and put into positions of leadership?

Some of us who have been through this in one way or another are starting to put together a list of people who have been abused in a BDSM context who are willing to put themselves out there in a very public way in order to reach out to others who are still struggling with these issues as points of contact for anyone who needs help, or even just needs to know that they are not alone.

You’ve likely heard of the Safecall Network.  This is a similar idea, only for dealing with the aftermath of a scene – or whole relationship – gone horribly wrong.

If you’re willing to out yourself publicly as having survived a BDSM-related abusive relationship – or rape or other similar individual encounter in any way related to WIITWD – and are willing to have others contact you and to share your experiences with them, to help out, in whatever ways work for you, let me know if you’d like to be part of this via the Contact section on this blog, or by replying below. (Let me know if you do reply below if you’d like me to keep the reply private.)

The format and details are still pretty hazy, but I’m starting with just a list that will initially include names and preferred contact information.  It will likely evolve into something more extensive as I have time and energy to deal with the technical details.

Edited August 9, 2011

Due to some concerns mentioned on Fetlife and in private communications, let me clarify that “out yourself” in this context only means that you are willing to share your name and contact information for dissemination within the kink community, and specifically here on this blog and elsewhere targetted at our people, expressly for the purpose of allowing other kinksters who are or have been involved in abusive (or possibly abusive) relationships to contact you.  The blog is public, but it’s not like I’m asking anyone to go on TV or out yourself otherwise in the vanilla world.  Scene names are fine – and encouraged.

Email addresses are preferred to links to Fetlife profiles or other sites because many people who find this blog are not Fetlife members, and may not want to take that extra step, but I will certainly add those links if you prefer.