More on Rape and Abuse in the BDSM Community

More great thoughts from Kitty Stryker, and a whole host of commentary from other community members about the topic of rape, (sexual) assault, victim blaming, and tolerating abuse in the kink community, and what we should do about it.  If you haven’t seen her prior posts, you can find links to them hereSimone Webb of Blogwasred has some other interesting commentary about comparing rape to a car crash, and in a repeat of prior linkages, Mollena Williams has also spoken eloquently on the problem in her blog, and in her duplicate post on Fetlife that so far has garnered 415 comments in addition to the 92 on her blog.  There are many more, and I’ve linked to many of them in prior posts and in the links section of this blog.

Maymay is right: “If speaking up means breaking the rules, let’s fucking break them”.

The system is broken, and is thankfully starting to come apart at the scenes (oops, typo, but I’ll let it stand as the Freudian slip/double entendre it apparently is), er, uh, seams, thanks to fearless bloggers like these who are well enough known in the community to be able to reach a lot of eyeballs.   Awareness is growing; we need to keep the pressure on and continue working to interconnect those of us who are speaking out.

These posts are pretty dense in cross links, and the threads long, but I urge you to read as much of them as possible – and join Fetlife to do so for the ones that are posted there, if you aren’t already a member.  You can do so for free, and anonymously, and need not participate in anything else other than to read if you don’t want to.

It’s not just rape that’s a problem, though.  It’s assault and battery as well – the violations of limits during play of other types.  It’s pushing past hard limits, or even repeatedly exceeding softer ones when the bottom protests.  All of it gets a victim demonized in the community for speaking up.  We need to quit pussy-footing around these issues and start calling them what they are. And what they are are violations of consent – and rape, etc.

If someone hits you without your consent, or does anything else to you that you did not freely agree to, and you object to it, you have been assaulted and battered, if not also raped.  If it’s fully negotiated and mutually agreed to, all well and good – except that consent can still quite legally be withdrawn at any point.  If the top continues on the same path after being told to stop, by any means you choose to use to do so, then he’s well over the line of nonconsent and into assault and/or battery.

Watch this space for definitions of the various terms used in the context of rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, domestic violence, etc.  I’ll be posting the actual statutes as well.

(I am not a lawyer and nothing in these posts should be construed as legal advice, consult your own attorney, yadda, yadda, yadda.)

Emotional Damage

It is coming home for me more and more just how bad the emotional fallout has been for me thanks to X-man. I mean, I’ve known the damage that happened in the course of the relationship and its aftermath, but realizing just how bad it *still* is, and the ways in which it is affecting me, is turning out to be increasingly upsetting.

I haven’t played since the breakup, by choice, mostly because I’ve known I wasn’t ready and wouldn’t be able to handle it, but I didn’t know by how much. For much of this time, I wasn’t even able to visualize a flogger hitting my back. I could visualize it flying through the air and getting halfway down to my back, then something would kind of jerk it back upwards and away, halfway down, then jerked back away, over and over again, half strokes that never connected, as if some kind of invisible barrier existed halfway between the top of the swing and my body. Eventually, I was able to force the visuals to bring the flogger into actual contact with my back, a fully completely strike – and then, upon impact, I saw myself fly up from the bondage table I’d been visualizing myself lying on, screaming in panic and rage, grabbing the flogger out of the top’s hand – and wrapping it around his head and neck.

That mental scenario has gradually started to give way to just flying off the table screaming, but no longer trying to kill the top all the time, although that unwelcome visual still plagues such attempts to envision myself being flogged more than I’d like. In my mind’s eye, I’m gaining more control over that reaction, and just barely starting to be able to envision the possibility of *maybe* being able to play again someday.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at a party talking to some friends, when all of a sudden, something that felt for all the world like a singletail caught me on the left shoulder, in exactly the same spot X-man had once injured me. I turned around in shock, expecting to find some moron cracking a singletail too close to the people sitting there, but it turned out to just be a stray rope end from another friend taking down some rigging he’d been using earlier, and clearly a totally innocent accident. (We were in close quarters because of the way the venue was set up for that event, not because I’m stupid enough to get in the way of someone else’s scene.) I was not injured, but the moment it happened, I just started having terrible flashbacks to everything that had happened with X-man, all the fear, all the emotional trauma, all the injuries, all the panic.

I was able to catch my breath and start to calm down, doing some deep breathing to get a grip, and the guy whose rope it was was extremely apologetic and understanding, especially when I filled him in on the basics of what had just happened and why. After a couple of minutes of chatting, he offered to tie me to the chair I was in, and after a moment or two of thought, I agreed, thinking that since good bondage had always previously been like a safe, calming cocoon, it would be helpful to help me get recentered – and a good, low-key way to test out light play again. So he took a few fairly loose wraps around me, securing my torso and arms to the back of the chair. I don’t think he even tied the ends off, or if he did, it was one loose wrap. It was secure enough to feel and create that enveloping, holding feeling that I’ve always found so soothing about bondage, but in no way completely immobilized me, and I knew I could easily get out of it if I had wanted to, with minimal effort.

As I continued my deep breathing to try to calm myself, and to try settle into the headspace of security in bondage that it used to bring years ago when I’d last been with partners who were good at it and able to tie me securely, I *almost* started to get there – and then all of a sudden, it was like the sky lit up with fireworks, and the flashbacks started bombarding me from every direction, and the relationship flashbacks were mixed with some from the car accident I’d been in a few months before The End. It was like an incoming stream of attacks and light flashes coming at me, like being in the middle of a Star Trek battle scene. I flew into a panic and started screaming to get it off, get it off, so freaked that I stood up, still attached to the chair, and fighting the rope, trying to shake the whole assemblage off, starting to try to run to try to shake it off me. Thankfully my friends were within arms reach, and were able to calm me down enough to sit me back down and hold me still enough to get the rope off. The top in question was at my side instantly, too, and I just flew into his arms, sobbing my eyes out in panic, and sheer upset. I calmed down within a few minutes and was then OK, but still pretty shaken up for the rest of the evening.

This afternoon, following the fundraising auction for the Tour de Cure team sponsored by our local dungeon, I was standing around chatting with the same friends, who had won a marvelous soft, sweet red leather paddle that I’d also bid on. Its handle is very flexible, and one side of the paddle is a cushy leather pillow. I’d tried it on myself earlier, and was absolutely unable to elicit anything remotely resembling pain. It doesn’t even have enough impact to really create any real sensation at all.

J started whacking a bit on some other friends, and then I started wagging my tail at him, thinking that this thing was *sooo* soft and cushy that there was no way it would be a problem, so after verbal verification that I was game for a few swats, he started to pound lightly on my upper back, then started to work over more of my back and butt. For the first half minute (I would estimate), I was doing great. It was lovely, just like a massage.

And then all of a sudden, the panic started to come up again.

The instant it started, I cut things off, and J stopped instantly, and both he and A were checking in with me to be sure I was OK. I must have looked *really* freaked out because of the depth of concern I saw on A’s face.

The freakout was not as intense as it had been with the bondage, but what was so upsetting was that not only did it happen again, it happened with a toy that is really no more of a physical challenge to take than it would be to be hit with an average pillow.

=====================

Response to Fetlife query about how to have sex again after rape or sexual abuse:

I’m still pretty much in the “Anyone who touches me is a dead son of a bitch” stage myself. I panic at the mere *thought* of anything much beyond a massage or light, decidedly nonsexual carress. A stray rope end from someone else’s scene hitting me sent me into flashbacks, a couple of loose turns of rope around me for probably less than a minute triggered a fighting panic, and a few smacks while fully clothed with a paddle about as hard as a pillow brought the panic up also. The very *thought* of trying to have sex with anyone again is enough to send me screaming into the night.

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Keeping Things From Past Relationships

Letters, photos, emails, gifts – do you keep these things once a relationship ends, or are you more the type to destroy and get rid of it all?  Why do you do what you do?

I keep everything, and still have every letter that even my very first boyfriend sent me. I do put emails and the like away in folders I can’t see or even find easily, and much of the physical stuff ends up in boxes or the backs of drawers or closets, but it’s all still here, just part of the history of my own life just like everything else I have, particularly the antiques and family heirlooms. Eventually the gifts and the stuff just become other things I own and enjoy for their own inherent qualities that have their own stories behind them, but that recedes from prominence in my mind unless something happens to bring it forward again.

One of the reasons I do this is not just because I’m very sentimental, but because no matter how a relationship may have ended and how I may feel in the short term, I prefer in the long run to be sure I remember what was good – because there was always at least some good, at least at the beginning, or I would never have been with that person to start with.

I also find that oftentimes reading through the whole history is both cathartic and instructive on many levels. Sometimes it’s easy to start missing someone and seeing them through rose-colored glasses indeed, and it’s equally important to remember the bad so that I don’t get caught in the same traps again, and so that I can better learn whatever I need to learn. Yes, it can be very painful – but no one ever said that growth was fun.

But when I start missing someone, and thinking that maybe things weren’t so bad after all, and gee, why did we break up and maybe we could get back together or wow, in comparison to others before or since maybe he wasn’t so bad after all, or any of a number of other fairy tales my brain has been known to create over the decades I’ve been on the planet, there’s nothing like reading old communications, various posts, etc. to remind myself of just exactly what happened to bring me screaming back into the present and reality, out of fantasyland and moving forward again, fully regrounded in reality. Eventually most of the pain fades and I can enjoy the good memories without getting destroyed again by the bad.

The old correspondence and writings can also serve as reminders of how far I’ve come in my own life and growth. I’ve had times when I’ve looked at these things and remembered who I was then, and can see how much I’ve grown and learned since that time.

It helps that I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to remain friends with almost all of my most significant others, and am at least on speaking terms with all but one even if we’ve lost touch. With some, it took a few years to get there; with others, it was automatic. I’m friendly with their wives and girlfriends, have been invited to weddings, and more. A couple of them are still among my closest friends. They all still have the same good qualities that drew me to them in the first place, and I do not easily give people up out of my life, so why would I destroy or get rid of the things that were part of our lives together?

Exes are indeed always exes for a reason – and it’s important that we remember that – but it’s equally important to remember what good they did bring to our lives for a lot of reasons.

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Fibromyalgia, Overexertion, and Pissed Dominants

Like many others with fibromyalgia, I’ve started routinely using the wheelchairs in airports, because having to stand in line at security just destroys me, but I feel hellaciously guilty about doing so.  Part of me really gets that it’s just a tool to help me manage my energy and strength, but the other part feels like such a failure.

Another sub on Fetlife spoke about how her master deals with her fibro.  I actually envy her her master giving her “holy hell” for overexerting herself when she has had to say no to him.

I wish my ex had had the balls to recognize that my saying no to him because I was just in too much pain or too tired had nothing to do with him *or* my submissiveness.  All that was to him was obviously something that took away from what *he* wanted from me, when he wanted it <sigh>.

There were times I’d arrive at his house so wiped I could barely make it in the door from the car, and he’d actually get pissed that I needed to lie down and put my feet up for a bit before dinner *and* that I hadn’t shown up dressed to kill.  On the occasions when I collapsed after dinner and fell asleep, he really lost it.  He so rarely ever seemed to really get how badly I was feeling, and almost always seemed to take it as a personal affront when it interfered with his pleasures <sigh>.

I got holy hell all right – but it was because somehow I’d committed some kind of capital crime and deprived him of what he wanted, not because of any concern he may have had for me.

I don’t think he ever got just how much work even dressing up is, particularly when you have to pack and load a car, complete with luggage and dog and dog’s gear, and then drive an hour or more.  It’s not easily done in stockings and heels anyways, but especially when already hammered with fibro.  And after the battle of the trip in rush hour traffic, it wouldn’t have been much easier.

But you know, I had to get through the rest of my day, with work, packing, the travel, and everything else.  I could *not* skip working or quit early just to reserve the energy and time to dress up on top of being the one who had to do the travelling.  I just couldn’t.  It wasn’t like he was supporting me or planning to.  I had to still take care of my own life first.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough energy left to play dress up doll for him on demand, much as I wished I could have.

He, however, is the fucking Energizer Bunny, pretty much no matter what is going on in his life.  That has its advantages, but the ability to understand what a person with fibro is going through does not appear to be among them.

I have no doubt he will tell my successors and anyone else who will listen how much I objected to dressing up, and how much I resisted playing, but without any of this context – and the context in this case was everything.

I know he told me things like this about his wife that I later learned *had* to have been equally out of context because they made no sense with only the information he had given me, so I have no reason to believe he’ll do anything different now.

And I have no doubt he’ll be telling people what a bad submissive I was because I wouldn’t obey his orders to do this – which again is a matter of context.  I kept telling him I physically could not do it – and he kept demanding and getting angry when I couldn’t, and then accusing me of “not [being] submissive enough”.

But when a dominant continues to insist that the sub do something that is physically harmful to herself, and that she disregard her own well-being to do so, that is an untenable situation, and anyone with even a modicum of self-esteem will – and *should* – refuse such orders.

That is not a dominant.  That is someone who is abusing (or attempting to abuse) his power.  To continue to insist when told it’s not possible, and is physically damaging, is a definite form of violating limits.

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Myself Without You

“Myself Without You”
sung by Reba McEntire

When you walked out that door
I was so sure my world had ended
So sure I’d never get over you

On that first night alone
I cried so many tears it scared me
So many dreams that I had to let go
But now I know

That the world still turns and the sun still burns
And that’s what I’ve learned without you
And the days roll on and my heart gets stronger too
Don’t think I didn’t love you
Just because I made it through
But I learned to love myself
Without you

I take myself to dinner
And I go to the movies solo
That’s something I never did before

You may not understand this
But I don’t wait on invitations
I’m not afraid of the great unknown
Of being alone cause

The world still turns and the sun still burns
And that’s what I’ve learned without you
And the days roll on and my heart gets stronger too
Don’t think I didn’t love you
Just because I made it through
But I learned to love myself
Without you

I can even see myself
Falling in love with somebody else
Ready to take that chance again
Cause I know now
What I didn’t know then

That the world still turns and the sun still burns
And that’s what I’ve learned without you
And the days roll on and my heart gets stronger too
Don’t think I didn’t love you
Just because I made it through
But I learned to love myself
Without you

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Protected: Further Revelations – and Freedom In Sight

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