Dominant vs Domineering – Relationship Red Flag List

A while back, I found a great post on Fetlife by Twysted about red flags and dating tips for kinky people, and reposted it here on my blog with his/her permission.  Fast forward a few years, and I got a message from Robert Rubel the other day that the post was actually originally by Epiphany, citing a list that was written in turn by Saikiji Kitalpha on Second Life.

Upon looking at Epiphany’s post (which was actually posted after mine, I confess to being a bit confused about the actual origin of the list – and realized that the version that she has is actually a lot more extensive.

So, in the interest of completeness, and revisiting a topic that I don’t think we can ever overemphasize, I am here reposting the entire thing as seen on Epiphany’s blog.  Please do feel free to copy and repost the comments and list found below – but please make sure to include the correct attributions to Saikiji Kitalpha, and do not pass it off as your own work.  That’s plagiarism – which is not only dishonest but actually illegal.

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The term “Red Flag” is used to describe a personal trait or behaviour that is common in people who are harmful to others. When getting to know someone new it is very important to look for these warning signs, as they may mean something is very wrong, even horribly wrong. Red flags can apply to any gender, or any role or relationship. Dom, sub, male, female, trans, switch, hetero, homo, bi, pan, friendships, d/s relationships, marriages, relatives, work relationships, etc. They are not specific to any gender, orientation, or relationship.

It is also important to understand that none of these red flags on their own are a sign of an abusive or dangerous situation or person, especially in isolated incidents. Anyone can make a mistake, have a bad day or simply misunderstand or misinterpret. Some red flags merely indicate a need for discussion, or discovery. Others indicate that it is time to get out of the relationship immediately.

What you are looking for are groups of repeating, negative behaviors. It is important to take your time in establishing new relationships as it may take time for these behaviors or patterns to emerge. When you see these red flags, slow down or even stop the relationship to assess your situation. Generally, the more red flag behaviors you observe in a person, the more often you see them and the quicker they emerge in a new relationship, the more at risk you are from being emotionally and/or physically harmed by this person.

CATEGORIES

Isolating

• Tries to limit your access to others in your life friends, family, BDSM community.
• Forbids contact with others or undermines relationships or activities with others.
• Is negative and un-supportive of other relationships you have.
• Monitors your communications (emails, phone calls, chats) with others.
• Controls finances, the car, and the activities you partake in.
• May want you to quit your job, give up your car or telephone.
• Always asks where you’ve been and with whom in an accusatory manner.
• Calls and visits unexpectedly on a regular basis.
• Refuses to allow you a safe call.
• Becomes angry if you show signs of independence or strength.

Deceptive

• Is reluctant to give you personal and factual information about themselves.
• Refuses to give their marital status before a meeting.
• Gives inconsistent or conflicting information or details about themselves or past events.
• When you ask personal questions, gets angry, changes the topic, ends the conversation or answers questions with questions.
• Gets mad if you ask for references or want ask others about them.
• Has very limited times/places/methods where you are able to contact them and gets angry if you try to contact them outside of those conditions.
• Does not give you their home and work phone number at the appropriate time.
• Has multiple online identities for interacting with the same communities.
• Cheats on you.
• Gives the impression of being very successful without any evidence of real success.
• Disappears from communication for days or weeks at a time without explanation.
• Are evasive about their activities, especialy unexplained absences.
• Only interacts with you in a kinky or sexual manner as if role-playing.
• Will not have normal everyday vanilla conversations.

Socialization

• Critical of the BDSM community.
• Critical of multiple respected members of the BDSM community.
• Has multiple interpersonal conflicts within the BDSM community.
• Refuses to participate in the BDSM community.
• Has bad relationships with most or all of their family members.
• Has no BDSM references or friends you can talk to, and becomes angry if you ask for them.
• Has no friendships or refuses contact with their family.

Insecure

• Is always exaggerating.
• Always puts blame on others for things going wrong.
• They resort to extreme measures to prove that they are not at fault.
• Does not take personal responsibility, or acknowledge their own mistakes.
• Their apologies feels insincere, phony, or is insulting in nature.
• Puts you down in front of other people.
• Is constantly comparing themselves to others.
• Brags excessively about their experience, scene credentials, mastery, training, scene name dropping.
• Will not discuss what your possible future relationship could be like, Tries to keep you in the dark about what might happen next in the relationship.
• Never shows you their human side. Hides their vulnerabilities or behave in an emotionless manner.
• Hides behind their D/s authority, says that their authority should not be questioned.

Disrespectful

• Does not respect your feelings, rights, or opinions.
• Is rude to public servants such as waitresses, cashiers and janitors.
• Displays little concern or awareness of the feelings or needs of others.
• Never says thank you, excuse me or I am sorry to anyone.
• Obvious and excessive displays of impatience.
• Believe that they are deserving of some particular reward or benefit even at the expense of others.

Manipulative

• Tries to make you feel guilty for not being “good enough”.
• Says that you are not a true sub/slave/dom.
• Belittles your ideas.
• Blames you for your hurt feelings.
• Tries to make you think that relationship problems are your fault.
• Yells or by threatens to withdraw their love/leave you if you do not do as he/she wishes

Inconsistent

• Consistently breaks promises.
• Makes plans then makes excuses for not meeting.
• Treats you lovingly and respectfully one day and then harshly and accusingly the next.
• Goes through extreme highs (behaving with great kindness) and pronounced lows (behaving with cruelty), almost as though they are two distinctly different people.

Domineering

• Pressures you into doing things you do not want to do.
• Does not respect your limits, negotiations or contracts.
• Pushes you into a D/s relationship too fast.
• Pushes you into a sexual relationship too fast.
• Pushes you into a poly relationship too fast.
• Overly demanding of your time and must be the center of your attention.
• Insists a safe word is not necessary.

Intemperate

• Conspicuous consumption: spending largely and inappropriately on luxury items.
• Abuses alcohol or other drugs.
• Gambles excessively.
• Is constantly asking for money or material goods from you or others.
• Falls in love with you way too fast and swears undying love before even meeting you.
• Begins saying things like, “I can’t live without you.”
• Deliberately saying or doing things that result in getting themselves seriously hurt.

Tempermental

• Loses control of their emotions in arguments. Raises their voice, yelling, name-calling and blame.
• Uses force or violence to solve problems
• Punch walls or throw things when they’re upset.
• Turns on their peers, going quickly from “best friend” to “arch enemy”, often for trivial or imagined reasons.
• Displays a disproportionately negative reaction to being told “no”.
• Holds excessive grudges against others and goes to great lengths to get revenge on people.
• Threatens suicide or other forms of self-harm.
• Hypersensitive and easily upset by annoyances that are part of daily life.

Conditioned

• Were an abuse victim themselves, and may be abusive as a learned behavior.
• May exhibit cruel behavior towards animals.
• Might admit to hitting a partner in the past, but claims the partner “made” him/her do it.

How to Know If You’re In a Toxic Relationship

From Dr. Taku on RelationshipSurgery.com:

This article is for those who can’t really seem to get it down that something is very off about their relationship…

Are you losing yourself to an odd, and ultimately destructive, relationship? Do you find your old friends falling away, while family members remark on how you don’t seem like yourself? Before you can regain your individuality and strength, you’ll need to determine whether the relationship is taking something away, and, if so, you must put an end to the destructive cycle.

And here’s how.

Step 1.  Evaluate Honesty [sic?]: Is this relationship healthy, or is it unhealthy? Try to be objective as you analyze how things have changed since this relationship began.

Step 2. Ask yourself if you’re in an abusive relationship.  Now the following questions are simply Yes or No. There is no in between with these questions.

Does your partner…      (Continue reading the questions Dr. Taku asks and the 11 steps he advises for evaluating your situation, and his sage advice here.)

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay?

Is your partner too good to leave in some way, but also too bad to stay with?  Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirschenbaum can help you make this decision with clarity, and find peace of mind with your choice.

If you have ever found yourself trying to decide whether to remain in a problematic (or even just boring) relationship and continue to try to work things out, or to just get out, you have probably really struggled with making that decision, and probably all the more so if abuse has been involved.

Few relationships (or people) are entirely bad with absolutely zero redeeming qualities, and even some of the very most abusive often still have plenty of good left in them – or at least the abused partner may still have a number of entirely valid reasons for staying.

It can be crazy-making for anyone in any relationship to try to make this decision with all of the conflicting information, needs, and priorities that must often be considered, but people who have been abused are often even more confused than the average bear as a result of the mind-games that abusers tend to play.  Too often, we make lists of pros and cons to try to help us decide, and find them equal in length, or a particular advantage appears to vastly outweigh a long list of real problems, thereby perpetuating the whole dilemma.  Add in the issues inherent in kinky relationships, and it can be particularly difficult to decide what to do in all too many cases – or to actually do it even if you already know.

A couple of years ago, I came across this really superb book that can help you make more sense of this decision, and to make it in a rational and reasoned manner, although I’m only now getting around to writing about it.  If you’re still in the relationship, this book can help you decide whether or not to stay in it.  If you are already out, you may find that reading it will help validate why you are better off without the jerk, especially if you still have any remaining doubts.  It will help you cut through all of the mental ping pong of “yes, buts” and “if onlys” and get right to the bottom line.

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay is unquestionably the very best book I’ve ever found about how to make the decision to leave or stay and try to work things out when a relationship is troubled in some way but may still have good in it, there is still love, etc. It’s an absolute gem for those who are on the fence regardless of the reasons you may be straddling it.

Through exploration of a number of specific questions, and analysis of the long-term happiness of many people she has studied or counseled who chose to either stay or go under the particular circumstances of each section, Kirschenbaum helps walk the reader through essentially a decision tree, starting with the parameters she has found to be most predictive of long term success or failure of trying to salvage things and working her way down to the smaller issues. Even if you find your answer in the early sections, I encourage reading the whole thing, as some of the later ones may provide additional validation.

She also makes some incredibly important and surprising points about the value of love in a relationship, including why that actually should not be the primary determinant of a decision like this in many cases – and indeed examines what love actually is and how various behaviors do or do not demonstrate it.

Even if, like me, you don’t find this while you’re still trying to make a decision but only after the fact, it will likely help you better understand why things didn’t work out if you do make the split, or help confirm why you may be better off having made the decision to stay together.

As I worked my way through the book, the points against staying kept adding up more and more.  It really helped put any final doubts I may have still harbored at that point to rest for good, helped completely end the cycle of “If only…” that had continued to torture me for a good while after the end.  “If only” is a pipe dream.  It wasn’t, and never actually could have been, given so many things about the person I was with.  “If only” is probably *always* a pipe dream, for everyone.

One note – Kirschenbaum talks about hitting you as perhaps the most important predictor of failure of trying to reconcile, the one real absolute she lays out as an imperative for leaving. Obviously most of us can’t take that at full face value in the kink world. Just mentally add in the word “consensual” where she mentions physical violence of any sort, and that will help separate things out in a relevant-to-kink way.  If your partner has ever hit you in a nonconsensual way, violated limits, etc., I think this section will apply.

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Thanks to @freewine on FetLife for the prodding that got me to sit down and finally write about this book.

Rape Accusations – Real or False?

In the past year or so, we’ve seen an explosion of discussions on both Fetlife and in the blogosphere about the problem of rape and abuse in the BDSM community, many of which I’ve commented on and linked to in other posts both here on this blog and elsewhere.  There is unfortunately a widespread belief that the majority of these accusations are false, and often motivated by a desire for revenge on the part of a jilted lover.

Well, let me tell you right now that not only is this patently untrue, but according to a recent article in The Guardian, even the widespread belief that most such accusations are bogus is actually undermining the investigation of them all.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that it follows from this that far fewer real rapists and abusers will be brought to justice when even the police mistakenly believe that most reports are false and don’t even bother to investigate them all diligently as a result.

Think about this for a moment.  Even the most heinous cases of rape or assault may suffer from a preexisting prejudice against even the claim that it happened, and official tendency to blow off all such claims as false.  Real victims of real crimes have a hard enough time obtaining justice without the entire system being prejudiced against them from the start like this.

This goes well beyond the old blame-the-victim mentality that has unfortunately already been around for eons to actually saying that people are lying about even being a victim to start with.  Allegedly as a matter of course.

I grow very tired of hearing the cries of “they are lying cause I dumped them” excuse…

So said a friend of mine in a discussion about the question of false accusations in a group called Critical Curmudgeons of Kink, an outpost of sanity in a crazy BDSM world, where such sacred community cows are routinely slaughtered, and where fools are not suffered gladly.

I get really tired of this too, my friend.  And even more tired of having been accused of the same myself.

I am tired of knowing that my ex is likely telling any new women he might decide to take up with that if they encounter me talking about what he did to me that I’m lying, and then regaling them with the same range of stories about how awful I am that he fed me about his then-wife when we first met, the one I later found out he’d lied to me then about being separated from.  Stories that I know will prevent them from even contacting me for a reference, or believing what I have to say, even though it’s information they really ought to have in order to keep themselves safe, because leopards don’t change their spots…

So, I’m particularly glad that there is information surfacing showing how low the rate of false accusations really is – and the distorted way of compiling the data.

It can’t come too soon, in my opinion.  The “blame the victim” culture in this country (and especially in kink circles) has simply got to stop.

My friend continues:

I will also point out that often charges being dropped are counted as false accusations when the reality is there was not enough evidence to take to trial not that it was actually a false accusation.

The Guardian article bears this out as well.

Which is part of why I am so vehemently opposed to the whole disgraceful “conviction or it didn’t happen” attitude we see so much of in our circles.

Most of these cases, even the most legitimate ones, never even get to trial, but not because it didn’t happen.

What’s more (and even more outrageous), when these cases that get dropped get counted as false accusations when they are in fact anything but, even the data that does exist about false accusations is distorted, showing a higher rate than is justified in reality.

Anyone with a brain intuitively rejects the idiotic notion that most (or even a lot of) accusations are false, especially since we all know perfectly well how badly the system itself routinely batters victims attempting to get justice.

As my friend (who has publicly mentioned personal experience with the matter) continues:

However it is still a huge gap between false accusations and convicted rapes, and I can tell you that a decent prosecutor will inform the victim of the you did it to yourself shit they will have to go through and many opt out at that point to save their sanity.

Very true.  We are all perfectly well aware of how this “blame the victim” business works, and how it is the victim herself who essentially ends up on trial in such cases when they do get to that point.

To which I’d only add that this is so if it even gets anywhere near a prosecutor to start with.  Which it often doesn’t.

By the time I finally reported the multiple rapes and nonconsensual battery (and resulting injuries) to which I had been subjected myself by a former dominant, for example, still well within the statute of limitations, the cop didn’t even want to take the report, and refused to even investigate it, telling me to my face that he thought it was a case of sour grapes by that point, or would at least be seen that way.  No way did he even go near the DA with the case.

And frankly, I was too afraid of the dominant in question to even try to insist he do so, among other things.

If anyone else gets hurt by this now-prominently placed jagoff, however, I will go to my grave regretting that I never reported it sooner.  Regretting that I suffered for months (and now years) in silence (from a legal point of view) and in physical agony without even going to the doctor or emergency room when I knew I should have to address some of the injuries, because you always think it will be better by morning…

Which was the main reason I finally stepped forward when I did – to at least *try* to protect anyone else from being victimized by him, since nothing in the world can ever repair the damage he did to me, both physical and emotional.  To at least try to ensure there’s a trail, for the next person…

I have spent tens of thousands of dollars since then coping with the injuries and fallout from them, however.  One of them has played a large role in costing me my ability to even function physically on a daily basis.  As such, it’s a never-ending daily reminder of what he did to me – which also always circles back around to the rapes and other violations of limits.

Interestingly, his last (or maybe it’s now the next-to-last?) submissive has actually moved halfway across the country now, following on the heels of comments that she suffered a “breakdown” after her relationship with him.  I can’t help but wonder what he might have put her through…  You really have to wonder about a dominant who’s collared more women than the years he’s been involved with them all collectively.

And my friend goes on:

While I do think there is a certain type of person with issues who does this in BDSM/Kink I think it is more about repeat offenses with the same people type ATTRACTED to BDSM/Kink that that it happens overall more in all society.

Indeed.

I’ve written a lot here in this blog and elsewhere about why I believe that BDSM is often used as a haven and shield to hide behind for many rapists and abusers.

No doubt there are some who are likewise into false accusations, but there is no reason to believe they constitute even a large percentage of such accusations anywhere, even in our circles, never mind “most”.

Bottom line, we are back to the point I always make – please BELIEVE people when they accuse others of rape or assault or abuse.  Do NOT blame the victim, do NOT try to minimize their experience.

You weren’t there, you weren’t in their shoes or their skin, and no matter what the perpetrator tells you to try to put his accuser in a bad light, you were not the one experiencing what he actually did to her, so you have no damn business judging.  (Fill in gender pronouns of your choice if others apply.)

Above all, please do NOT elevate those who are accused to positions of power and visibility where they can continue to harm others with the apparent blessings of the entire community.

Just because someone is an apparent leader in the community, or puts himself out there as an experienced mentor or assigner of mentors to mentees, or is well-liked, or a popular presenter, does not mean he’s necessarily a safe bet for anything at all. Check references carefully, insisting on talking to his earliest partners, and the ones with whom he is not on good terms, not just his current fan club.  Dig deep, don’t rely on surface appearances, no matter how nice he may seem, no matter how attractive or sexy or persuasive, no matter what fun toys he may have.  Talk to others to find out what they know about him and his current and former partners – and even who they disdain with respect to him, and then go talk to those people as well.  Don’t fall for that seductive domly come-on until you’ve really done your homework to establish that you are most likely actually in safe hands.

Just because someone who is accused of rape or other types of abuse may still do nice things upon occasion for his victim, either privately or publicly, whether within the ongoing relationship or long after the breakup, also doesn’t change the fact of the harm he did inflict upon her and the repercussions it has and might continue to have.  Some stains simply cannot be removed.

It is not the responsibility of the BDSM community or individuals within it to investigate allegations of rape, assault, abuse, etc. or to pass judgment about them much less establish penalties.

It is, however, the responsibility of every single one of us as human beings to extend compassion to the victims, and to honor them with at least believing them and helping them. To let them know that they are not alone, that they will not be blamed for coming forward, no matter how little others may believe what they say, or how hard their abusers may work to discredit them.

If you listen to tales of woe and claims of being falsely accused from someone who has been accused of rape or assault without also having an in-depth and open-minded and unblaming discussion about the matter with the victim, then you are judging with often much less than half the story, and with absolutely zero perspective about how that person was actually harmed.

(I myself have suffered at the hands of one who blamed another ex for all his woes, and made the mistake of believing it all at face value, only to ultimately find out exactly how he set everything up so that it might look, to him (and of course to anyone else he might describe the situation to), like it was actually she who was to blame, with nary a hint of insight into his own behavior or contribution to the problem.  I’ve often wished since then that I could talk to her, but believe she would not be receptive.  Let me state quite clearly here that I *am* receptive to talking to anyone else he might be involved with, or become involved with, present, future, or past, who would like to better understand what may have hit them, or just to commiserate, and I am likewise more than happy to share objective, specific, factually detailed, and documentable information about exactly what he did to me.  But I digress…)

The alternative to ensuring that we both believe and extend compassion to victims is what we’ve got now, a society in which the guilty know quite well that not only will they get away with their crimes, but that they will even be pitied themselves as the alleged victims of disgruntled exes with an axe to grind, or even be cast in the light of poor innocents like the two boys in Steubenville recently convicted of raping a classmate despite an actual conviction.

When we blame victims for their own assaults, and/or heap pity on their attackers, we lose a lot of our humanity both as individuals and as a community and a nation.

To all of you who have done this to me or to anyone else, while I don’t actually wish harm on any of you, I do hope that one day you will live to experience the pain of being blamed yourself for something that was done TO you by someone else, and watching your attacker go free and even be applauded and treated as a victim himself because you spoke out against him, left in peace to harm someone else who makes the mistake of trusting him inappropriately.  Or worse still, watch him be elevated into a position of trust where the chances of someone else being badly harmed are increased beyond the norm.

God forbid it should be your own daughter or niece who should suffer such indignities.  And God forbid they should be afraid to come to you for help for fear that you will blame them as well.

But if you are walking around talking about the compassion you feel for perpetrators, or how the victim had it coming to her for how she dressed or whatever, or accusing others of making false accusations just to get back at someone who dumped them when they speak up about mistreatment suffered at someone else’s hands, then this is exactly the message you will be sending, not just to your friends and acquaintances, but to your own loved ones, who very well may one day need your support to cope with the rape or assault that all women are statistically very likely to suffer at some point in time themselves.

If you’re not ready to pay that price in your own life, then for God’s sake, why would you engage in and encourage such behavior on the part of others otherwise?

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Fifty Shades of Abuse Romanticized

 

Yeah, at it’s core, Fifty Shades of Gray has a very strong vein of pure abuse running right through it.  And I’ve been trying really hard to ignore that.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but haven’t gotten around to it, but finding this image on a Facebook group called “The Reality of Domestic Violence” gives me a perfect launching pad.

I know, I know; a while back, I wrote about all the good things in the Fifty Shades series as far as kink is concerned in a post called Fifty Shades of Consent.  Most of what I wrote does apply, but the part where I talked about Christian being in control of himself and a  model of eliciting consent?  Eh, not so much.

In fact, I found myself thinking, “Who the hell do you think you’re kidding?” not long after I wrote it upon rereading it.  Heck, I was thinking that even as I wrote the post, and kept telling myself to shut up and look at the positives.

The fact of the matter is that Christian is one controlling mofo, exactly as detailed in the image above that lists the hallmark signs of an abusive partner.  The fact that things turn out OK in the end really doesn’t excuse any of this.

He’s also a stalker, which the image leaves out.  I mean, honestly, following Anna around, showing up at her workplace in another town, following her out on the town at night with her friends, etc.?  Running a formal background check on her down to what she’s got in her checking account before even doing that?  Scary shit…

I was looking for the good parts, and trying to minimize the bad.

Then it hit me – this is just like we so often do when we find ourselves in abusive relationships.

Exactly what I did as I fell down the rabbit hole with his Ex-ness. I knew it was a bad idea to get back together when he begged me, and I even told him why, which he blew off – and then I bought his own reasons, which I even knew made no sense.  I knew that he wasn’t seeing it clearly and that I ought to be the one to walk away.  But, man, I had so many good reasons to move ahead despite knowing I shouldn’t, so many reasons I so wanted it to work and to be shown that my instincts were wrong, so very many reasons to believe that maybe I was entirely wrong, and not wanting to miss out on all the good stuff I knew was there also…  I was hope, hope, hoping…

And I wrote an entire post that exactly mirrors this process that we who end up in abusive relationships go through of seeing what we need to see and then pushing it aside, out of sight, out of mind.  A post that is full of denial and ignoring the bad parts in our desperate reach for the good, our strong desire that people actually be good and interested in our best interests, just as our heads in the clouds and our eyes blinded when we are in the throes of new romances.  A post that reflected the thought process of denying our own instincts in the glow of attraction, flattering attention – and super hot sex.

So often we see the red flags clearly but we ignore them, or something niggles that we can’t quite identify and so we push it out of our consciousness.

Like Anna, we find it flattering that this hot guy (or gal) finds us appealing, and our pink parts get all tingly, so we ignore the real danger signals that we see coming at us like how annoying it is to have this guy just show up on our doorstep without asking and interfere in our plans.  We don’t want to be alone, or we maybe we don’t even know how to be on our own to start with.  Our self esteem isn’t at its peak for any number of possible reasons, so we’re especially vulnerable even if we aren’t as young and innocent as Anna was.

So often we see the train wreck coming and watch in helpless, frozen fascination as it careens down the track right at us and derails in our front rooms in a screaming, smoking, twisted heap of shorn and molten metal, running over everything and everyone in its path, leaving a trail of bloody bodies and broken hearts, destroying us as well in the process, not having the sense to get off the damn tracks while there’s still time to avoid the disaster, or knowing we should, but then engaging in magical thinking that somehow we will be saved at the last minute even if we stay firmly rooted to the spot directly in front of the oncoming locomotive and its load.

Christian does indeed do all the right things as far as the BDSM is concerned – requiring consent, not violating limits, etc.  His play actions are well within the bounds of consensuality, and are criticized in the kink world as “BDSM lite”, so because this is a kink-related site, I’m not going to get into healthy-BDSM-as-sexual-violence, although of course we know that it can be used in an abusive, nonconsensually violent manner.

But then in the rest of their every day life, he keeps stalking Anna, ignores her pleas to do as she wishes vs what he mandates.  He dictates her wardrobe, brings in a doctor to insert the type of birth control that he wants her to be on without so much as consulting her, and even goes so far as to purchase the company she works for so he can fire her even more predatorial boss ostensibly in order to protect her – but also clearly to keep an eye on her every move.  He is mercurial, spinning from high spirits to rage in an instant. All kinds of fancy gifts follow on his less than stellar moments – the apology and honeymoon phase of a classic abusive cycle.

Oh, he’s got good reasons for wanting to protect her, it eventually turns out, but he does it with a very heavy hand, without fully informing her of his reasoning, and utterly denying her a say in the matter.  Which fortunately turns out OK in the end – but then again, this is fiction, not real life, and the whole series takes place over a matter of just a few months, so we never see how Anna ends up feeling as she gets older and undoubtedly eventually grows tired of all this controlling behavior and begins to see it for the sickness it really is.  And to find out that all the love in the world isn’t going to change it, because the sickness is in his core.

As the series progresses, Christian does tone some of this down as they both kind of grow up together – but in real life, these kinds of negative behaviors usually do not go away so easily, even if the person wants to change.

 

So what’s the lesson for people facing abusive partners, or potentially getting involved with someone who is showing signs of being an abuser?

At the core, it’s about trusting your instincts – and acting on them even if it brings short term pain of loss.

If you don’t like some of the things your date or play partner is doing early on, like Anna didn’t like being followed and made to give up her friends, etc., pay attention.

Don’t try to minimize the lies you find out about or the evidence of broken agreements with past partners.  Don’t let the bad behavior slide.  Don’t ignore and try to pacify the early hissy fits, thinking they’ll subside, because they won’t.  Don’t try to make excuses for why he did this or that, even with previous partners.

Remember that what you see at the outset of a relationship is the very best things will ever be because they are on their best behavior trying to win you; it’s all downhill from there.

In a good relationship with a reasonably healthy partner, everyone will have their ups and downs, and certainly everyone relaxes as they get to know their partner and lets out their less stellar traits, but on balance, you’ll still be dealing with the same basically kind, decent human being you started out with.

Not so with an abuser; that good stuff is an illusion, or a veneer over the real core, the public side, not the private one.  They can’t keep up the facade for long, which is why you’ll catch them in early lies, find yourself feeling uncomfortable in the pit of your stomach (one writer said this is what the “butterflies” in the stomach we feel are really about), etc.  It’s like trying to keep all the steam inside a pressure cooker once you’ve started to loosen the lid.  Hints will sneak out until the whole top finally blows.

And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if the dominant is good about consent and limits when playing if he’s still an abusive asshole in enough other ways in the rest of day-to-day life.  Not only does the one not make up for the absence of the other, in the end, a dominant (or indeed any other person) who will violate your consent in one arena in life and be abusive will end up violating it and being abusive in others as well.  Yes, there are occasional exceptions – but it is deluding ourselves to believe that we might be the ones lucky enough to find them.  The odds just don’t favor it.

The danger of this story is it romanticizes these abusive aspects – and then shows things working out fine in the end, which perpetuates the myths that abusers (or kinky people in general) just need the right partner to set them straight, and then somehow they will live happily ever after.  It feeds the fear we all have at the beginning when the doubts begin to surface of what we might lose out on if we pay attention to those instincts and run instead of shoving the concerns down and staying.

If you do read Fifty Shades, by all means enjoy the escapism fantasy and hot (if repetitive) sex scenes, but for heaven’s sake, don’t base a real relationship – or your own persona – on this trainwreck of a man’s portrayal.

 

 

A Letter to The New Girlfriend of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

I didn’t write this letter, and a few of the specifics are different from some of my experiences (as they will be for all relationships), but yes, this.

This is exactly what it’s like, and what you’re in for when you end up with a person like this.  Been there, done that, got that t-shirt.  Beware that whirlwind and feeling of having hit the jackpot indeed – especially when it comes very rapidly on the heels of his last relationship (which should be a major red flag by itself)…

Whirlwinds like this do sometimes work out, but if you’re all caught up with someone and the description below even remotely matches your ga-ga state, please do at least consider the possibility that things are not quite what they appear at first.

The letter below is taken from Caught in the Cogs (who adds a lot of interesting commentary that a person might want to be aware of), who in turn got it from the About Relationships blog.  The post doesn’t seem to actually be on the original site any more, but there are a lot of good links about dealing with these types, how to identify cheating, etc., so I’m leaving the link in (also for clear attribution purposes, too, of course).  It’s long, but please do read through to the end; it’s well worth it.

Interestingly, a psychiatrist of my acquaintance, alarmed when I mentioned a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in my own life, told me that this pattern is the single most common presentation of bipolar disorder.  I can now totally believe it.

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A Letter to The New Girlfriend of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
by Dr. M. Analise Torelli, PhD.,MA,MSW,BS.

Dear New Girlfriend,

Let me preface this letter to you by acknowledging that you will not believe a word of it…just yet. Not for months, or even a year or two…or three…In fact, you may read it and go running to your amazing new man, your special King and newly found ‘soulmate’ for some reassurance that none of this is true. And he WILL tell you it is all a lie. He WILL deny everything. And I also expect that he will tell you it’s all the imaginings of his bitter ex-psycho GF. Oh yes, he will say, you are SO much better, his Princess, his One and Only Truest Love. And he will warn you not to ever believe a word of anything ANYONE ever says about him…unless it is all GOOD, of course! If you find out my real name, he will convince you most of all that you must never listen to a word I say or write, and that you should never EVER try to talk to me. You will believe everything he tells you. You will. I know. Because I did too. Once Upon a Time.

Right about now YOU, as the next one in line, are feeling like you hit the jackpot and won the lottery all at once. You could not be happier! You are happy, just deleriously HAPPY! You are dancing on cloud nine and ten and counting all your lucky stars. Continue reading

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Reblogged from buckwheatsrisk-surviving abuse:

Yesterday a thought crossed my mind (yes another thought ).  Why is it that those of us who have been abused and escaped are the ones that have to change everything?

It’s been liberating for me to cut ties but frustrating in another way.  I am the one who has been abused and I’m the one that basically  has to go into hiding like a criminal and that really sucks.

Read more… 384 more words

Why do those of us who are abused have to change everything, why are our abusers believed and not us? Why are the victims of abuse so often revictimized repeatedly by the courts and everyone else? An important quote from this post: “Narcissistic/sociopaths are just as wickedly abusive as those that physically abuse and yet no one sees the scars and unhealed wounds they leave. They are not visible to the naked eye but they are visible if one looks closely. These people are dangerous people and often they will physically abuse, they even have the potential to kill, yet they are cowards so more often, they will beat, whip and abuse with their tongues. They will manipulate, guilt and lie to control you. They will use mind games to convince you that you are the one that is bad, wrong, messed up and needs fixing…Well ya, now I need fixing because of you, I wouldn’t have otherwise!Add your thoughts here… (optional)

Blaming the Victim of Lying About Harm Done to Her

I read a post in a certain person’s Fetlife writings putting forth a Zen parable that spoke of a woman who lied to her parents about who had fathered her out-of-wedlock child, blaming it on a “Zen teacher”, to whom the parents then brought the infant, telling him he must raise it.  He accepted the child with equanimity as they cursed him out for his hypocricy, just commenting, “Is that so?” (Another poster said the parable was originally a Buddhist monk, and the comment was “We shall see”, which is more how I remember hearing it originally.)

A year later, the daughter recanted, reportedly “distraught”, and Mom and Dad came back to the master, begging him to return the child, profusely apologizing for besmirching his good name, and received exactly the same serene response from the master as the year before, of “Is that so?”/ “We shall see”.

The moral, of course, is that women (or at least certain women) may lie (!) about what well-known masters have done, claiming harm that never actually happened, so one should not believe them when they issue accusations against the high-and-mighty, who often believe themselves to be invincible (at least in the BDSM world), particularly when they are better known.  It is likely to turn out that the complaints are what was untrue.

(Of course, it often turns out that the “master” isn’t that much of one to start with, except in his own imagination, and comparisons to Zen masters are thus absurd to the point of ridiculousness, but I digress…)

Another poster responded with a quote from the I Ching, which I quoted partially and responded to.  I am reproducing my response here because I fully expect that the OP will delete my posts, and this is an incredibly important issue – and there’s a reason it’s been raised at this point.

Because *my* moral to the story, with some known additional history (which could in fact also be played out in many ways by many people), is “Be careful, those of you who proclaim that your victims are lying about you when they tell the world what you have done to harm them, because we shall indeed eventually see…”


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Second, a compromise with evil is not possible; and must under all circumstances be openly discredited.

Very well said.

Nor must our own passions and shortcomings be glossed over.

True, but if they are unrelated to the evil situation in question, they are irrelevant to the resolution of it and the discrediting of the perpetrator, and may only confuse an oftentimes far more clear issue.

IOW, pointing a finger inwards certainly may be necessary at times – but should never distract from when the fingers definitely ought to be pointed outwards. Even more importantly, it is essential that others not distract from the issue by doing this.

There is a time and a place to look at them together – and a time and a place to hold them separate.

If a person is grievously physically injured, for example, there is simply no excusing the perpetrator who has caused this injury by his deliberate actions, and it is irrelevant what the injured party may have done because inflicting a nonaccidental injury is entirely under the control of the perpetrator. It’s like no one makes anyone rape someone else, no matter what they may have been doing before it happens. No one makes another perform any other manner of evil or harmful deed. That responsibility lies entirely with the person who causes the harm.

If one is himself the perpetrator of a harm, of course, then not glossing over it (and not blaming the victim for it or accusing him of lying about it) it is certainly the only appropriate course of action.

Indeed, it is incumbent upon said perpetrator, if he is an honest person and wishes to be so perceived, to own up to what he has done without excuses.

Amazingly, sometimes all it takes is an honest apology to rectify even some of the most grievous of situations, even when vast amounts of documentation as to the cause of the problem exist.

Therefore it is important to begin at home, to be on guard in our own persons against the faults we have branded.

Just so.

It is also important to recognize, if an outsider to the situation, that these “faults we have branded” (and here we are, of course, discussing lying about a harm done) may lie (so to speak) far more in the home of the party doing the open branding than that of the one so accused.

Sometimes, large amounts of documentation exist that prove who is actually doing the branding and who ought to be the one justly discredited, if one but consults the blamed party who is so branded a liar. Not all accusations of lies are themselves the truth as in the parable told in the OP – and many such accusations can be readily so proven to be the actual falsehoods.

And indeed, in the end, the real truth will tend to out eventually…

Breaking the cycle of abuse

This is an extreme case that demonstrates one of the main reasons women don’t leave abusive relationships even once we realize we are in them. It also shows that there is hope to escape from them, no matter how bad they are, and to reclaim your life.

Note: Clicking the “more” button will take you to an external site. Click on the post title above to view the post separately and be able to comment on it here on this site, if you wish to do so.

20 Traits of the Malignant Narcissist

Oh, how much of this rings true!  I don’t know the original source of this, but it’s brilliant.  
Learning about malignant narcissism helped me probably more than anything other than what I learned about sex addiction to understand what happened and how I got caught in the snare of an abuser again after so long successfully spotting and avoiding them.  When you realize how much the deck was stacked against you from the start, you can stop blaming yourself for the things that were never your responsibility to start with, and wouldn’t have made a difference anyways even if you had done them differently.
Interesting that it starts out with lying and ends with penitence,  since whopping and verifiable lies bracketed both the beginning and end of the relationship, the starter one being something he tearfully confessed as having been done to try to protect me, one of the most back-assward things I’ve ever heard in my life.   Sadly, I ignored my gut about this and a number of other screaming red flags, many of which are highlighted  in concept below, and absolutely every single one of which turned out to be exactly what they looked like or worse.  The only reason I didn’t suffer worse damage than I did was because I already understood abuse well, and had long ago learned that when someone is making me feel like I’m crazy and losing my mind, it’s unquestionably him twisting things, and nothing to do with me.
And to the person I had considered a confidante at the time who “informed” me that if things had really been that bad that I wouldn’t have stayed so long, yes, they were indeed every bit as bad as I said at the time, and then some.
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1. THE PATHOLOGICAL LIAR is skillfully deceptive and very convincing. Avoids accountability by diverting topics, dodging questions, and making up new lies, bluffs or threats when questioned. His memory is self serving as he denies past statements. Constant chaos and diverting from reality is their chosen environment.Defense Strategy: Verify his words. Do not reveal anything about yourself – he’ll use it against you. Head for the door when things don’t add up. Don’t ask him questions – you’ll only be inviting more lies.2. THE CONTRACT BREAKER agrees to anything then turns around and does the opposite. Marriage, Legal, Custody agreements, normal social/personal protocol are meaningless. This con artist will accuse you of being the contract breaker. Enjoys orchestrating legal action and playing the role of the ‘poor me’ victim. Defense Strategy: Expect him to disregard any agreement. Have Plan B in place. Protect yourself financially and emotionally.

3. THE HIGH ROLLER Successfully plows and backstabs his way to the top. His family a disposable prop in his success facade. Is charismatic, eloquent and intelligent in his field, but often fakes abilities and credentials. Needs to have iron-fisted control, relying on his manipulation skills. Will ruthlessly support, exploit or target others in pursuit of his ever-changing agenda. Mercilessly abuses the power of his position. Uses treachery or terrorism to rule or govern. Potential problem or failure situations are delegated to others. A vindictive bully in the office with no social or personal conscience. Often suspicious and paranoid. Others may support him to further their own Mephistophelian objectives, but this wheeler-dealer leaves them holding the bag. Disappears quickly when consequences loom.Defense Strategy: Keep your references and resume up to date. Don’t get involved in anything illegal. Document thoroughly to protect yourself. Thwarting them may backlash with a cascade of retaliation. Be on the lookout and spot them running for office and vote them out. Educate yourself about corporate bullies 

4. THE SEXUAL NARCISSIST is often hypersexual (male or female). Pornography, masturbation, incest are reported by his targets. Anything, anyone, young, old, male/female, are there for his gratification. This predator takes what is available. Can have a preference for ‘sado-maso’ sexuality. Often easily bored, he demands increasingly deviant stimulation. However, another behaviour exists, the one who withholds sex or emotional support.Defense Strategy: Expect this type to try to degrade you. Get away from him. Expect him to tell lies about your sexuality to evade exposure of his own.

5. THE BLAME-GAME NARCISSIST never accepts responsibility. Blames others for his failures and circumstances. A master at projection.Defense Strategy: Learn about projection. Don’t take the bait when he blames you. He made the mess let him clean it up.

6. THE VIOLENT NARCISSIST is a wife-Beater, Murderer, Serial Killer, Stalker, Terrorist. Has a ‘chip-on-his-shoulder’ attitude. He lashes out and destroys or uses others (particularly women and children) as scapegoats for his aggression or revenge. He has poor impulse control. Fearless and guiltless, he shows bad judgement. He anticipates betrayal, humiliation or punishment, imagines rejection and will reject first to ‘get it over with’. He will harass and push to make you pay attention to him and get a reaction. He will try to make you look out of control. Can become dangerous and unpredictable. Has no remorse or regard for the rights of others. Defense Strategy: Don’t antagonize or tip your hand you’re leaving. Ask for help from the police and shelters.

7. THE CONTROLLER/MANIPULATOR pits people against each other. Keeps his allies and targets separated. Is verbally skillful at twisting words and actions. Is charismatic and usually gets his way. Often undermines our support network and discourages us from seeing our family and friends. Money is often his objective. Other people’s money is even better. He is ruthless, demanding and cruel. This control-freak bully wants you pregnant, isolated and financially dependent on him. Appears pitiful, confused and in need of help. We rush in to help him with our finances, assets, and talents. We may be used as his proxy interacting with others on his behalf as he sets us up to take the fall or enjoys the performance he is directing.Defense Strategy: Know the ‘nature of the beast’. Facing his failure and consequences will be his best lesson. Be suspicious of his motives, and avoid involvement. Don’t bail him out.

8. THE SUBSTANCE ABUSER Alcohol, drugs, you name it, this N does it. We see his over-indulgence in food, exercise or sex and his need for instant gratification. Will want you to do likewise.Defense Strategy: Don’t sink to his level. Say No.

9. OUR “SOUL MATE” is cunning and knows who to select and who to avoid. He will come on strong, sweep us off our feet. He seems to have the same values, interests, goals, philosophies, tastes, habits. He admires our intellect, ambition, honesty and sincerity. He wants to marry us quickly. He fakes integrity, appears helpful, comforting, generous in his ‘idealization’ of us phase. It never lasts. Eventually Jekyll turns into Hyde. His discarded victims suffer emotional and financial devastation. He will very much enjoy the double-dipping attention he gets by cheating. We end the relationship and salvage what we can, or we are discarded quickly as he attaches to a “new perfect soul mate”. He is an opportunistic parasite. Our “Knight in Shining Armor” has become our nightmare. Our healing is lengthy. Defense Strategy: Seek therapy. Learn about this disorder. Know the red flags of their behaviour, and “If he seems too good to be true…” Hide the hurt you feel. Never let him see it. Be watchful for the internet predator.

10. THE QUIET NARCISSIST is socially withdrawn, often dirty, unkempt. Odd thinking is observed. Used as a disguise to appear pitiful to obtain whatever he can,

11. THE SADIST is now the fully-unmasked malignant narcissist. His objective is watching us dangle as he inflicts emotional, financial, physical and verbal cruelty. His enjoyment is all too obvious. He’ll be back for more. His pleasure is in getting away with taking other people’s assets. His target: women, children, the elderly, anyone vulnerabie. Defense Strategy: Accept the Jekyll/Hyde reality. Make a “No Contact’ rule. Avoid him altogether. End any avenue of vulnerability. Don’t allow thoughts of his past ‘good guy’ image to lessen the reality of his disorder.

12. THE RAGER flies off the handle for little or no provocation. Has a severely disproportionate overreaction. Childish tantrums. His rage can be intimidating. He wants control, attention and compliance. In our hurt and confusion we struggle to make things right. Any reaction is his payoff. He seeks both good or bad attention. Even our fear, crying, yelling, screaming, name calling, hatred are his objectives. If he can get attention by cruelty he will do so. Defense Strategy: Manage your responses. Be fully independent. Don’t take the bait of his verbal abuse. Expect emotional hurt. Volence is possible.

13. THE BRAINWASHER is very charismatic. He is able to manipulate others to obtain status, control, compliance, money, attention. Often found in religion and politics. He masterfully targets the naive, vulnerable, uneducated or mentally weak.Defense Strategy. Learn about brainwashing techniques. Listen to your gut instinct. Avoid them.

14. THE RISK-TAKING THRILL-SEEKER never learns from his past follies and bad judgment. Poor impulse control is a hallmark. Defense Strategy: Don’t get involved. Use your own good judgement. Say No.

15. THE PARANOID NARCISSIST is suspicious of everything usually for no reason. Terrified of exposure and may be dangerous if threatened. Suddenly ends relationships if he anticipates exposure or abandonment. Defense Strategy: Give him no reason to be suspicious of you. Let some things slide. Protect yourself if you anticipate violence.

16. THE IMAGE MAKER will flaunt his ‘toys’, his children, his wife, his credentials and accomplishments. Admiration, attention, even glances from others, our envy or our fear are his objective. He is never satisfied. We see his arrogance and haughty strut as he demands center stage. He will alter his mask at will to appear pitiful, inept, solicitous, concerned, or haughty and superior. Appears the the perfect father, husband, friend – to those outside his home. Defense Strategy: Ignore his childlike behaviours. Know his payoff is getting attention, deceiving or abusing others. Provide him with ‘supply’ to avert problems.

17. THE EMOTIONAL VACUUM is the cruellest blow of all. We learn his lack of empathy. He has deceived us by his cunning ability to mimic human emotions. We are left numbed by the realization. It is incomprehensible and painful. We now remember times we saw his cold vacant eyes and when he showed odd reactions. Those closest to him become objectified and expendable. Defense Strategy: Face the reality. They can deceive trained professionals.

18. THE SAINTLY NARCISSIST proclaims high moral standing. Accuses others of immorality. “Hang ’em high” he says about the murderer on the 6:00 news. This hypocrite lies, cheats, schemes, corrupts, abuses, deceives, controls, manipulates and torments while portraying himself of high morals. Defense Strategy: Learn the red flags of behaviour. Be suspicious of people claiming high morals. Can be spotted at a church near you.

19. THE CALLING-CARD NARCISSIST forewarns his targets. Early in the relationship he may ‘slip up’ revealing his nature saying “You need to protect yourself around me” or “Watch out, you never know what I’m up to.” We laugh along with him and misinterpret his words. Years later, coping with the devastation left behind, his victims recall the chilling warning. Defense Strategy: Know the red flags and be suspicious of the intentions of others.

20. THE PENITENT NARCISSIST says “I’ve behaved horribly, I’ll change, I love you, I’ll go for therapy.” Appears to ‘come clean’ admitting past abuse and asking forgiveness. Claims we are at fault and need to change too. The sincerity of his words and actions appear convincing. We learn his words are verbal hooks. He knows our vulnerabilities and what buttons to push. We question our judgement about his disorder. We can disregard “Fool me once…” We hope for change and minimize past abuse. With a successful retargeting attempt, this N will enjoy his second reign of terror even more if we allow him back in our lives.