Trust Me…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps especially not then.

Caveat emptor to the max.

What To Do About a Dangerous Top? What If They Are a Community Leader?

Recently I bottomed to a well-known, fairly high-profile member of the Bay Area’s leather community, and I was very upset to find that in real play this person did not live up to the high standards of safety and consensuality I had been led to believe would be all but automatic by the person’s public statements. I am unhappy and disappointed for myself, but I am also worried for the fates of less resilient bottoms than I am. Under the guise of being my Top this individual tried to play in a way I said I didn’t want to, and pushed very hard to persuade me to change my mind even though I stated clearly that I felt doing so could jeopardize both my physical and my psychological safety. Apart from my anger and frustration, which I know how to handle, I wonder what to do with my information about this person in terms of community safety: do I accuse? do I hide what I know? How can I behave most responsibly? [italics added]

In an article entitled “Ask the Therapist: What Do I Do About a Dangerous Top?” that starts off with the above query, distinguished therapist William Henkin, PhD very ably and comprehensively addresses the question of what to do after the fact.

What I want to talk about here is the fact that such people exist, whether or not they are leaders of the community, and the trap that “saying all the right things” can lead to in general, but also particularly when they are well-known, or otherwise part of the leadership of a community – and how to avoid getting into exactly the kinds of situations described in the above quote in the first place.

It is an unfortunate fact that tops not walking their talk is not an isolated occurrence.  It is even more unfortunate when they hold positions of leadership because newbies in particular have a tendency to view such people as being the arbiters of what is right and good, and make all kinds of dangerous assumptions about how safe these people are to play with that may or may not have anything to do with reality.

What you must understand is that there is nothing about the structure of the BDSM subculture or any of our organizations that in any way vets presenters, owners of community spaces, members of the elected board of organizations or its appointees, or anyone else as safe players. No one is responsible to check any of these people out.  No one makes any guarantees about anything.  There are no tests of competence, no checklists to ensure they actually comply with what they say, no one watching over their shoulders to be sure they do it right before they are turned loose on the public.

Nothing.  Zip. Nada.

You are 100% on your own to sort how who is safe and who isn’t, exactly the same as in the vanilla world, although we do have some accepted conventions in this one that can help, if used judiciously.

People who become the community leaders have one or two qualities in common, often only that they are simply the only ones willing to step up to do the volunteer tasks involved.  When an organization is run by volunteers, they take anyone they can get to do the tasks involved, to the point that often even known problem people are allowed to participate, simply because there is no one else to do the job.  

(This is by no means true in all cases, and there are a lot of very dedicated, very safe people involved at all levels, but it comes into play often enough that you really need to not assume anything about anyone involved in the leadership of the community just because they’re there, and to check out each individual yourself, as your personal needs arise.) Continue reading

Protected: Everybody Loves Him

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I Miss… I Don’t Miss

12/22/09

Every morning I still awaken with the thought of how much I miss you, how much I want to be with you again, how much I miss being in your arms.

And then my mind changes course, and I correct it with the new thought what I miss is the good parts, not the bad. And I try to remember what they all were… Continue reading

Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser

Someone on Fetlife posted a link to an article entitled “Warning Signs That You’re Dating a Loser”, which is a great primer on abusive relationships.  The name is unfortunate, but t’s an excellent overview of the problem of abusive partners, how to identify them, and how to get out.

I actually found the one that follows it entitled “Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser” even more revealing, at least at the stage that I’m at in understanding why I get involved with these abusers myself – and why I stay with them even once I realize what’s going on, or why anyone does, particularly those of us who are well-educated, experienced in life, professionally successful, and have good self-esteem overall.  I’ve never heard this paradigm before, but it makes perfect sense.  The basic idea is that the bond that happens between an abuser and his victim is much the same as what happens in hostage situations and the like, where the victim begins to identify with the abuser and even to defend him.  Patty Hearst’s situation when she was kidnapped was the classic example of our times where a victim actually started to sympathize with and bond with her abuser.  This was the case that brought the Stockholm Syndrome into common awareness.  It’s a fascinating paradigm that also really explains why people who are stuck in more “run of the mill” abusive relationships stay, often no matter what.  It’s the same thing.

This model also explains why the most typical responses of family and friends only seem to drive the abused person away and more firmly into the clutches of the abuser, and what the best (and safest) way to assist us is.

Someone said: “Weird thing is these guys show up usually during period when I am feeling bit more confident about myself, I am more active, less reclusive and soon as they enter my life begin tear all that a part [sic]”.

There’s something of that for me also, but not as much any more – at least not until the breakup happens and I’m torn apart.  I’ve gotten a lot better at spotting them in advance and Continue reading

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Dominants Coming Through on Their Word

@Xinergy said on Fetlife:

The Dominant failing to come through with what they say they are going to do is devastating to the submissive. The submissive is in this lifestyle because they need that comfort and safety. They need to believe that if the Dominant says something, it will happen. Without that certainty and trust, how can he or she sink into subspace while chained to something being beaten?

It is indeed completely devastating, particularly when the promises broken are as fundamental as repeatedly violating limits, not respecting her health and safety above his own needs and desires, etc.

It doesn’t matter what else the dominant does in the rest of life, how good he is about his word in other matters both in the relationship and elsewhere, no matter how many other wonderful qualities he has. If he does not scrupulously respect his sub’s limits and boundaries, and remember and honor both the letter and the spirit of relationship-level agreements, he will lose both the trust and the respect of his submissive.

While I don’t think that “need [for] that comfort and safety” is necessarily the reason we are in this (certainly not for everyone), we do in fact absolutely need it to be present, or there’s no possibility of being able to submit to the dominant at any level, whether in play or every day life. Continue reading

Broken Promises and Agreements

What do you do if a dominant breaks a promise? Do you accept an apology, forget about it and go on? Watch to see if it becomes a consistent pattern? Does it matter to you whether the promise was made to you or to someone else? The circumstances and details? Does it matter if it’s a sin of commission or omission?

What I do depends upon exactly what was promised, how and why the promise was not made good on, and indeed, whether or not there is a pattern present.

Does he just tend to forget to pick up the milk on the way home from work when he’s said he would? Did he promise to take me out to dinner and forget his wallet so I ended up having to pay one time? Or are we talking about repeated violations of limits and boundaries? Is it a similar broken promise to one that you know he’s done with others before? Involving you nonconsensually in a promise he breaks to someone else, or just breaking a promise to someone else at all? Decides to take the scene somewhere other than flogging, even if he’s promised you that (assuming your agreements allow that)?

*Very* different responses would be warranted to each of these sorts of broken promises.

The stage of the relationship matters to some of these decisions for me, but not to others.

Some broken promises, lies, or other transgressions don’t get a second chance – or at least never will again from me. Either they are too damaging in and of themselves, or they are far too likely to be harbingers of things to come.

Watch what he’s done with his exes, too, particularly the ones he spent the longest periods of time with, because that will become what he does with you eventually. Even if it’s not the exact same broken agreements, the fact that he broke important ones with them should be a major red flag that he’ll eventually break something major with you as well.