Invitation to Participate in a “Needs Assessment Survey on Intimate Partner Abuse Among Practitioners of BDSM/Leather/Kink Lifestyles”

All interested individuals who are involved in BDSM/Leather/Kink lifestyles are invited to participate in a survey about intimate partner abuse. The purpose of this survey is to gather information regarding the quality of experiences had by those who sought help from domestic violence service providers, or those who wanted to seek help, but did not do so. The overall goal is to help service providers and outreach educators improve the quality of information, responses and interventions regarding the unique needs and experiences of individuals who live a BDSM, Leather or kinky lifestyle.

You are invited to take the survey whether or not you have been involved in an abusive relationship because the survey will collect basic demographic information about those who engage in BDSM, Leather and/or kink, as well.

The survey link is available here: https://www.psychdata.com/s.asp?SID=155554

The survey will take approximately 25-35 minutes to complete.

Please respond no later than January 31, 2014.

Your participation is voluntary. All responses are anonymous. However, there is potential risk of loss of confidentiality in all email, downloading and internet transactions. The final results of this study will be used for research and may also be published in a summary format in a peer-reviewed journal.

If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Elizabeth Fawcett, Ph.D., M.P.H., at efawcett@mail.twu.edu. This study has been reviewed according to accepted Institutional Review Board (IRB) procedures for research involving human subjects, and approved. If you have questions about the rights of research participants or the way this study is being conducted, you may contact Texas Woman’s University Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at 940-898-3378 or via email at IRB@twu.edu.

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?

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

© 2013 kinkylittlegirl.  All rights reserved.  No part of this post or any other on this site may be reproduced by any means whatsoever, whether written or electronic, manual or automated, either in part or in whole, without express written permission of the author.

 

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.

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

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

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.

 

Rape, Sexual Assault, and Coercion

Wow, what a great resource on Aphrodite Wounded that explains what sexual assault and rape are, and defines brilliantly the difference between consent and nonconsent, and addresses the issue of sex by coercive pressure as rape, as well as discussing a number of other behaviors that are considered sexually abusive.

Here are some choice bits:

“It is important that you realize you do not have to have physically fought or even said “no” for an act to be regarded as sexual assault. Tears or other expression of discomfort are more than reasonable indicators that you do not want the sexual activity. Often, sexually violent partners do not actually seek consent, or if you do say no, it is not taken any notice of.
 “Remember that submission is not the same as consent.
================================================================================
“Is sex by coercive pressure rape?
“Yes. Sexual activity using emotionally distressing tactics of coercion such as sulking, becoming angry with you, withdrawing affection, withholding household money or blackmail i.e. I’ll leave you; I’ll go and sleep with somebody else; I’ll spread rumours about you”. Finkelhor and Yllo call this type of rape ‘interpersonal coercion’ and state that it has devaluing and traumatic effect on women (3). Furthermore, research has found that a higher proportion of women are upset by threats to leave them, than women subjected to physical force.(4).
(colored emphasis added to both above quotes)
==============================================================================
“At the time of writing, similar reforms have been passed in the US, and most recently the UK. Such reform recognizes that submission does not equate consent and that women may be coerced in a number of non-violent but distressing ways. It addresses at least in part, the old and common assumption that men are entitled to use any means necessary to persuade or “seduce” a woman into sexual activity (5)”

Consent, and Effect of Current or Previous Relationship (California)

Note that this definition requires “positive cooperation” and the “exercise of free will”,  as well as knowledge of the nature of the event that is going to happen, among other parameters.  It’s clearly not enough to just not object.  This statute speaks to the requirement that consent be informed – something that is all too often inadequate or missing altogether from the way in which the notion of “consent” is actually practiced by many in the BDSM world.

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

California Penal Code § 261.6 (2011)
§ 261.6.  “Consent”; Effect of current or previous relationship

In prosecutions under Section 261, 262, 286, 288a, or 289, in which consent is at issue, “consent” shall be defined to mean positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will. The person must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved.

A current or previous dating or marital relationship shall not be sufficient to constitute consent where consent is at issue in a prosecution under Section 261, 262, 286, 288a, or 289.

Nothing in this section shall affect the admissibility of evidence or the burden of proof on the issue of consent.

Cal. Pen. Code § 261.6 (2011)

Sexual Battery – California

Note that all that is required for a charge of battery is to literally touch another person’s “intimate part” against their will, etc. – even through their clothing.  It need not be hitting, cutting, or any other kind of more violent contact.  Merely laying a finger on them without their consent with any sexual intent is sufficient.  Also note that the victim need *not* be “[s]eriously disabled or medically incapacitated”.

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

Cal Pen Code § 243.4 (2011)
§ 243.4.  Sexual battery; Seriously disabled or medically incapacitated victims

(a) Any person who touches an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and if the touching is against the will of the person touched and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery. A violation of this subdivision is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, and by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000); or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, and by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

(b) Any person who touches an intimate part of another person who is institutionalized for medical treatment and who is seriously disabled or medically incapacitated, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and if the touching is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery. A violation of this subdivision is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, and by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000); or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, and by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

(c) Any person who touches an intimate part of another person for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, and the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act because the perpetrator fraudulently represented that the touching served a professional purpose, is guilty of sexual battery. A violation of this subdivision is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, and by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000); or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, and by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

(d) Any person who, for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, causes another, against that person’s will while that person is unlawfully restrained either by the accused or an accomplice, or is institutionalized for medical treatment and is seriously disabled or medically incapacitated, to masturbate or touch an intimate part of either of those persons or a third person, is guilty of sexual battery. A violation of this subdivision is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, and by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000); or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, and by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

(e)

(1) Any person who touches an intimate part of another person, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and is for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery, punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment. Continue reading

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.)

Rape Definition – Rape, “Duress”, “Menace” (California)

California Penal Code § 261 (2011)
§ 261.  Rape; “Duress”; “Menace”

(a) Rape is an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person not the spouse of the perpetrator, under any of the following circumstances:

(1) Where a person is incapable, because of a mental disorder or developmental or physical disability, of giving legal consent, and this is known or reasonably should be known to the person committing the act. Notwithstanding the existence of a conservatorship pursuant to the provisions of the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (Part 1 (commencing with Section 5000) of Division 5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code), the prosecuting attorney shall prove, as an element of the crime, that a mental disorder or developmental or physical disability rendered the alleged victim incapable of giving consent.

(2) Where it is accomplished against a person’s will by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the person or another.

(3) Where a person is prevented from resisting by any intoxicating or anesthetic substance, or any controlled substance, and this condition was known, or reasonably should have been known by the accused.

(4) Where a person is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act, and this is known to the accused. As used in this paragraph, “unconscious of the nature of the act” means incapable of resisting because the victim meets one of the following conditions: Continue reading