Why the Reasons for Consent Violations Matter, and What We Should Do About Them

A post I just made the other day on a thread about whether or not a particular top should be banned for consent violations, and how long that should last. The reason that a person violates consent matters, as I outline below, with some additions to the original post.

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Yes, I think we should hold people like this accountable, but no, I don’t think they should be banned forever just based on one or two reported issues – IF they are obviously and documentably actually getting help and honestly working on themselves. AND it is obvious that they are making progress.

It takes guts to stand up and admit to what one has done, as X did, and to take responsibility in public. Even if he did the same thing before and then fucked up again, as plenty of people pointed out to him.

It also usually takes time to change what might be long-ingrained behaviors even once one recognizes a need to do so, sometimes a very long time.

But once that need is in fact recognized and the issue squarely and honestly faced, a person has to start somewhere. It takes establishing a new track record, and that cannot happen (at least that we can see) if the person is totally banned.

Anyone who isn’t willing to face the whole community once called out and to not only seek and accept help, but to obviously welcome it and work really hard at it, is the person we should be fully banning, not the ones who are at least trying to take full responsibility publicly, and sort themselves out honestly and visibly.

There are plenty of assholes out there who try to shift the blame for what they did onto their victims, or at least completely deny they did any wrong or harm at all. Or they try to minimize the harm done, and enlist minions to agree with them that oh-it-really-couldn’t-POSSIBLY-have-been that-bad-now-could-it-and-while-we’re-at-it-we-should-ban-and-ostracize-the-VICTIMS-for-DARING-to-speak-up.

These are the types we should be banning, not the ones who are honestly trying to accept responsibility for their own fuck-ups and demonstrably trying to do get help and do something about them.

So maybe we warn people we see these people playing with about their history, and suggest that they be extra-careful in their negotiations with this person.

Or maybe we just keep an overall extra close eye on the known and accused perpetrators as a community as a whole. And if evidence surfaces that despite whatever claims they’ve made to seeking help and trying to change that the same shit keeps happening, then perhaps we ban them.

But if we are going to still penalize and endlessly demonize people who are actually honestly trying to take responsibility for their actions and any harm they have caused, what does that say about us?

We must also be cognizant that if we ban these people altogether, that will just drive them underground and out of sight, where we have NO hope of being able to keep an eye on them (and rehabilitate them) or warn their potential victims.

All this said, I think a “break” should certainly be more than a week or three. I would not expect someone who is claiming to be stepping back and seeking help to be showing his face for a minimum of 3-6 months, any more than I’d expect to actually see any meaningful, visible progress in less time than that. Taking just a couple of weeks off from attending events or volunteering is simply not a remotely meaningful “break” in this sort of situation, IMO, and would cause me to at least question the sincerity.

So for me, the question is, exactly what are they doing to get help? And how will we know when they have been successful? How will they know? Why has the inappropriate behavior surfaced? Is it reasonable to believe that in a given case it will be resolved in a reasonable period of time, or is it due to something like a lifelong character disorder that means that this particular person is never going to be able to learn his lesson?

The reality is that many perfectly decent people come into the scene and turn into assholes thanks to a lot of programming/community mores that somehow they interpret to mean that is what they are supposed to be doing now that they’ve assumed the mantle of DOMLY DOM. This “top’s disease” affects different people differently, and for varying periods of time. Some never do drop it, but many more (I think) actually do eventually outgrow it or at least learn better, and go back to being the decent people with reasonable boundaries they were before they came into the scene.

Others may have social issues like Aspergers that render them unable to easily manage normal social cues. Or they are some personality-disordered flavor of sociopath, psychopath, narcissist, etc. who may also not be able to respect normal boundaries, or may be completely unwilling to.

The reason that people violate consent matters because a) it speaks to intent, b) it affects whether or not we can have a reasonable expectation of change, c) it affects what sort of time frame is reasonable to expect a change in, if such is likely to even be possible, and d) it impacts the sort of response a victim might expect once the perpetrator is made aware of the problem.

In short, it affects whether or not a given person is “trainable” to behave himself better in the future or not, and what might actually be involved in accomplishing that.

The harm inflicted by a consent violation happens regardless of why that behavior happens, and I would be the last person to minimize that –
but why it happens directly impacts the likelihood of it happening again, and may also have a big impact on how the victim eventually processes the event.

People who have difficulty with social cues are always going to have some difficulties with them, but they are not bad people as a result, especially if they know they have these problems and actively work on finding solutions and workarounds as many do. They usually know they have such issues, and can help manage damage control by being up front with their play partners. You can tell they are trying, and that they mean well. They may make repeated and varying mistakes over time, but they can learn – and usually want very much to do so. You often see them doing things like actually asking earnestly how to interpret a given cue and discussing the implications of this or that behavior, quite obviously trying to understand.

Someone who is suffering from “top’s disease” is also usually trainable, and a good heavy clue-by-four to the head with one or two major fuck-ups may be all they need to straighten up and fly right. If it takes them more than two or three, then maybe they are in a different category, but intelligent people who actually mean well will usually get it pretty fast even if they’ve fallen into this trap initially. “Fast” being a relative term, though, since these types may still leave a trail of destruction several years long with repeated failed relationships that often leave their now-former submissives quite angry, bitter, and disillusioned.

The personality-disordered are likely completely hopeless, however. They are perfectly capable of putting on the right front when they need to, and of blithely continuing on with doing whatever they want when out of the public eye, and even twisting things ad infinitum to get out from under the mantle of blame while pinning it instead on their victims. Some of them know they have these issues and seek help to control them, but others either don’t know, or don’t care, and in many cases, actually fully enjoy their disorders and totally get off on the harm they cause.

This last group are the true abusers we really don’t want in our midst. Ever. Unfortunately, I think they are disproportionately represented in our circles. They also leave a trail of destruction – but they don’t change.

Some of them will be willing – and able – to make at least enough changes to render themselves at least reasonably socially-acceptable, but most others won’t, and will represent the majority of the long-term treatment failures for both regular therapy, anger management, etc. – if they even start those things at all.

Equally unfortunately, these types are also quite frequently considered very charming and personable, and are often extremely popular, which allows them to operate under the radar for a very long time, and in fact, to enjoy protections they definitely do not deserve.

I suggest that a dialogue around all of these sorts of things may be more constructive than screaming for absolute, forever bans or allowing anyone who violates consent unlimited access early on in the resolution process.

We cannot – and should not – actually try to diagnose anyone, but certainly we can all spend some time learning about these various types of issues and how they present so that we can have at least some hope of spotting and avoiding the truly problematic, for our own protection – and for trying to form some reasonable thoughts about how a specific situation should be handled.

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Please also see the marvelous post about why we should carefully choose who we are kind to by @TheFerrett

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.

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.

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

Can You Face Her In the Morning (How to Assault People Less)

This is a terrific post put up on Fetlife by SadisticLark on how to avoid being an abuser and assaulting your partner, reposted with permission.  Please read the original as well, as he is planning some changes and additions, and there are some great comments there that cannot be reproduced here.

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This is a rambling collection of thoughts based my own mistakes and ideas I’ve pulled out of my ass. It’s written mostly from the perspective of male top / female bottom engaging in casual/public play. Feel free to disagree, substitute your preferred gender pronouns, and/or go back to looking at nude pics. I’ll hopefully be adding to and changing this as time goes on.

I honestly don’t know much about rape culture and my only experience with unwanted touching was having my ass grabbed by a cougar at a bar (which I thought was funny at the time). It seems like many tops are worried about being ‘falsely accused’ or having a bad scene get blown out of proportion and turn into some kind of witch hunt. I’m not going to say that doesn’t happen but I personally think it’s a pretty rare occurrence (for exceptions see the How to Avoid Problem People link below ). It’s a risk you take by playing with people but if both parties are acting in good faith there are a few things you can do to lower the chances of things going south.

1. Choose your play partners carefully.

There are people you probably don’t want to play with. These people can usually be divided into two groups: People with no fucking clue about what’s going on and people who need professional help.

The first group is dangerous because their expectations can be anywhere from non-existent to complete fantasy and you can easily end up way outside their Goldilocks zone.

Risk of things going bad with group 1 = moderate

The second group I personally try to avoid. I’m not a psychologist, therapist, or doctor (although I play one in the bedroom). Even if I was any of those things, I’m pretty sure hitting them with a stick or sticking my dick in them wouldn’t be approved methods of treatment. I really recommend How to Avoid Problem People. [klg – Ed. note – also found in its entirety on the author Libida’s blog, where it’s easier to read and print out, but the Fetlife version and its sequel have entirely different lists of fabulous comments.  All of it on both sites is worth reading.]

Risk of things going bad with group 2 = RED FUCKING ALERT!

Pitfall: Your partner has “consented” to an activity they know nothing about.

You’re up big guy! This probably isn’t going to be terribly “Risk Aware” (RACK) and it’s debatable if they can “Consent” (RACK & SSC) to something they know nothing about. They are effectively washing their hands of any personal responsibility and leaving everything up to you. If this thing goes south you are probably going to be wearing this one around your neck.

Pro Tip: If you want to play with the hot newbie then tailor your scene to the person you are playing with.

A light laboratory/education style scene with lots of communication may help them get familiar with the reality of this type of play. Once they know what they are getting into you can talk about a heavier scene. If they still don’t seem to ‘get it’ then you may be dealing with someone who belongs in the group number 2.

2. Negotiate what you want to do before, not during the scene.

If you enjoy a good rape-and-pillage just ask during negotiations. If you want sexual touching ask. While you are at it you might want to ask what exactly “sexual touching” means to them.

Example: If I’m round house kicking you in the ass and I accidentally stick my foot in your box is that sexual?

Pro Tip: Rape play works best with people who both agree to have sex with you and enjoy consensual non-consent.

If you are missing one or both of these elements your partner will probably get the strange idea you are actually raping them.

Pitfall: Re-negotiating while your partner is at your mercy (or “physically incapacitated”).

Top: – “Wow she is looking awfully cute all tied up like that. I think I’ll ask if I can stick my penis in her.”
Bottom: – “My god I’m helpless! I had better do what he wants and maybe he will let me live!”

Pitfall: Re-negotiating while your partner is in subspace.

Surprisingly, they may agree to things in the heat of the moment that they wouldn’t normally. This has been known to leave them feeling like they were taken advantage of in a vulnerable state.

Pitfall: Turning into a legal bagel (Yes I know it’s beagle) mid-scene.

People often make the crazy assumption that you are negotiating in good faith. Avoid “omitting” things or your partner might start thinking you are a piece of shit.

Examples:

  • “You didn’t negotiate me not sticking my penis in your nose!”
  • “When you agreed to needle play you didn’t say the needles had to be clean!”

Good luck playing with this person or any of their friends ever again.

3. Don’t assume.

Remember that old saying ‘Assuming makes an ass of u and me’ well it can also end up making an ‘assault of you by me’. We all enter a scene with expectations of what’s going to take place. It’s important to talk about what’s going to happen so we don’t end up with what I like to call ‘a serious fucking mismatch of expectations’.

Pro Tip: The less you have played with someone the more detail you should provide about how you think the scene is going to progress.

Anticipation is the best marinade.

Pitfall: “Everyone knows who I am and that I’m the edgiest of edge players.”

No they don’t. If I had a dollar for every time someone said “Wow, you’re really mean” I’d have enough for a happy meal. Assuming that someone magically knows your play style and what type of scene you have in mind is setting one or both of you up for some disappointment.

Pitfall: “Negotiations are Borings-ville and I’d rather be exciting and spontaneous.”

Top: I think I’ll surprise her and brand ‘SL’s Cum Dumpster’ on her chest.
Bottom: OH MY GOD WHAT IS ON MY CHEST!

It’s a common misconception that girls like surprises. In fact rigorous scientific study has show that that girls only like expected surprises. This tricky sub genre of the surprise can often be achieved by negotiating the hard limits around the ‘surprise’ ahead of time.

Example: “How would you feel about me permanently branding something on you that is both degrading and shows my ownership over you?”

4. Don’t fuck around with colours (safe words).

When you cram a bunch of unrelated people together it helps to have some common language to maintain some semblance of order. Colors (safe words) are one of the ways we communicate ‘consent’. Specifically we can use the absence of colours to indicate that our partner is most likely continuing to consent to the scene.

I say most likely because this system isn’t perfect. Our partner(s) are only human and there may be times where they can’t safe word or even communicate their feelings. If this isn’t scaring you, it should be! Just because your partner can’t indicate that you are well out of their comfort zone doesn’t mean they aren’t going to hold you responsible when they come back to reality. This is a whole other topic that I won’t get into but just be aware that colours are one of those necessary but not sufficient things.

Pitfall: Having a meltdown when your partner gives you a yellow/red.

Nothing says experienced master in full control of themselves like a good old fashioned hissy fit. To really pull this off it helps to blame your partner for whatever is wrong and berate them for not being good enough to play with you.

Example: DON’T YOU KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE TO BE PLAYING WITH ME?! RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!

Side note: S-types please run-don’t-walk when the above happens and tell everyone and their dogs about it. You could be saving someone from injury or worse.

Pro Tip: When starting a scene reassure your partner that colours are available to be used.

You want them commit to using colours if something is wrong. If they can’t do that then your risk level just increased a few defcon levels.

Example: “I need you to use your colours if something is up and don’t be afraid to give me a yellow. I promise not to throw a dom temper tantrum and I’d rather know so I can fix whatever is wrong instead of finding out later.”

Actively and continually procure consent.

Why? We already negotiated and they consented to this! I’m the the one in control now and they need to stop topping from the bottom and let me work my Dom-ly magic.

Some reasons off the top of my head:

  • Negotiations are not perfect. Without prior experience people are often either guessing what they like or trying to extrapolate from tangentially related experiences.This can lead to an awkward situation where someone is engaged in an activity they thought they would enjoy but learn they hate with a fiery passion.
  • They know what they like but there is some stupid little thing easy to fix thing preventing them from enjoying it tonight. Maybe a cuff is too tight, a creeper is staring at their titties, it’s freezing cold, etc.
  • They have done this a million times before but today it just isn’t fucking working. It could be a bad day, a lack of chemistry (I know hard to believe right?), injuries from prior play, etc. etc.

Now you can wait until they say something or you can check occasionally and see how they are doing. The problem with waiting (as mentioned above) is that some people won’t say anything unless prodded and some people can’t say anything. This can mean the difference between “The scene was fucking horrible and I regret ever playing with him” and “The scene wasn’t working but I’d like to try something again some other time”.

Someone once described these check-ins in terms of risk and time:

The risk of the scene going off the rails increases in direct proportion to the time between checking in with your partner during play.

Examples:

  • Incorporate some evil witty banter into your scene. If the last shock had her calling your mother a crack whore she is probably alright.
  • Arrange for them to squeeze your hand if you squeeze theirs and all is well.
  • Take a break. Are they a thirsty kitty?
  • Agree on some body language that indicates things are going well. If she is wiggling her bum in time with the music things are probably good.

Personally, I find colours can be a bit ‘jarring’ and it seems much easier to feel in control of the scene if I’m the one asking how they are feeling and fixing things on on my schedule instead of waiting for them to colour.

Pro Tip: The less experienced your partner is with the activity the more important it is to actively get their consent as play gets heavier.

If you’re lucky you will get a chance to do a scene with someone who finally wants to try out that scary hard limit activity. Do your warmup but before you dive into the unknown it’s a good idea to get consent one last time before starting.

Pro Tip: The scene just isn’t working for them, you’ve tried fixing some things with no success, and you need to end it.

It’s time to attempt the art of the graceful crash landing. The idea is to change the direction this scene is heading so you both ‘win’. This isn’t as easy as it sounds but often changing the pace, modifying the negotiated activity, and winding it down is a good place to start. Avoid the emotional equivalent of dropping your partner by making this a ‘failure’.

5. Check in a day or so later and actually listen to what they say.

Besides being the polite thing to do it’s also your last chance to work things out semi-privately before things blow up. At this point they’ve had some time to think about things and decide how they feel about the scene.

Bang! They feel uncomfortable/’off’/unhappy about something. The first thing is to realize that you aren’t ‘going to make this better’ by arguing. People feel how they feel and trying to rationalize someone’s feelings generally just pisses them off. Instead, try listening and try working backwards to the ‘mismatch of expectations’ that led to this point.

This isn’t a risk free activity, mistakes and miscommunications happen. If you followed my earlier advice you have hopefully shared the responsibility for the failure with your partner by:

  • Making them aware of what they are getting into.
  • Sharing the responsibility for planning and executing the scene.
  • Repeatedly seeking and obtaining their consent (without duress) as the scene progressed.

Talk about it. Own it. Figure out how not to repeat it.

6. Relax and have fun.

BDSM is serious business. No fun allowed! 😛

TL:DR?

Actively involve your partner in all the phases of the scene so they share the responsibility for how things turn out. Periodically get their consent to continue so you are ‘playing together’ instead of you just ‘doing things’ to them.

I wrote this like a guide but it’s more of an opinion piece. People have different ‘styles’ and I can only talk about what has worked for me so far.

If you have any neat stories (anonymous please) of pitfalls I’d be interested in hearing them.

Have You Experienced Abuse in a BDSM Setting?

Leatherati has a survey on its website whose results unfortunately don’t particularly surprise me.  Asking “Have you experienced nonconsensual abuse during BDSM activities?), as of the moment, the totals are running as follows:

Yes – 57.5%

No – 37.7%

Maybe – 4.7%

This means that as many as 62.2% of the respondents may have indeed experienced abuse in a kink setting.

More than sixty two percent!

That’s almost 2/3 of the respondents.

Even if we leave off those “maybes”, that’s still more than 50% of the respondents having this kind of problem.

I spoke in a prior post about how awareness of the issue of abuse in the BDSM community is growing, and how then-IMsL titleholder Mollena Williams had asked, during one of her presentations, how many people were survivors of sexual abuse. Three quarters of the room stood or raised a hand.  That’s 75% of the people there.  Then she asked how many others knew a survivor – and the entire rest of the room was in.

That’s 100% of our population who has either experienced kink-related abuse – the vast majority at 75% – or at least knows someone who has.

These are obviously not scientifically valid samplings, but the numbers are damning, regardless of how specifically accurate they are.  Until such time as someone comes up with the funds to do a larger scale, properly constructed study, they will have to serve as representative.

The numbers will vary with such informal surveys, but the fact that we are even anywhere remotely near even half of our people being so affected, never mind forming a majority, is absolutely untenable.

 

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…”


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

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…

Sociopaths in the Scene

“What is a sociopath?

“Someone without conscience, empathy, or remorse for having harmed someone by their words or deeds. They live to suit themselves and use people in the power games that form the core of their lives. These people are often diagnosed as having Antisocial Personality Disorder (Stout, 2005).”   -Ponygroom

Ponygroom has written a very nice piece about sociopaths in the scene, complete with a very good list of books about the subject.  You can read his post and the subsequent comments in a thread in the group of the same name on Fetlife at https://fetlife.com/groups/45394/group_posts/2350167.

As I pointed out in a comment there, this is only one way in which abuse can manifest itself, and the article is not complete in terms of what constitutes a sociopath, nor do the examples provide a particularly complete picture, but between the article itself and some of the other comments, it’s a good start on one of the more common patterns that underlie abusive behavior.  At some point, I may go into more detail, but I don’t have the energy right now.

Bottom line – sociopaths don’t care about you, no matter what they say, even if they are the type who will at least apologize for harming you when they see that it is in their better interest to do so. Most simply won’t apologize at times you’d expect a normal person to do so – and they won’t apologize for not apologizing if you call them on it, either.  If they do, it will be obviously insincere.

Get out once you identify this kind of pattern going on, because nothing is ever going to change.

These people are snakes of the first water, and you will absolutely never win trying to negotiate with them.  They will twist and distort everything you say, and change their own stories time and time again, and even go out of their way to make you think that you are the crazy one (gaslighting), to the point that you will end up apologizing to them when they have hurt you!

Another little trick they often play is warning others about how you may be lying about them and their behavior – another little device to undermine you and pull the support over to their side.

If you know someone (A) who has been abused, and the person they accuse (B) starts telling you things like you are going to start hearing lies from (A) about (B), think twice before believing (B).

This is an absolutely classic technique for undermining a victim and turning people against her.  Chances are extremely good that this person is in fact the abuser they are accused of being, mounting an offensive in advance, in an attempt to discredit his victim, before he can be busted, which he knows darn well is coming.  He knows he will end up looking really bad (and rightfully so) unless he can discredit her first, before she gets to their friends.

I’m not talking about people who, in the course of a normal conversation about the subject, may disclose that their ex has been spreading lies about them, but particularly about the ones who actually go out of their way to make this kind of announcement, possibly even in public, often in the absence of any reasonable context.

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.

I Hurt…

Yes, I hurt.  I still hurt.

I’m not talking here about the emotional pain and damage that lingers, although that is certainly still there, but about the physical.

Yes, lingering physical pain.  From what he did to me.  Pain that just simply will not go the fuck away no matter what I do.

Every single god damn morning of my life, as soon as I get out of bed and set foot on the ground, and sometimes even before I stand, the pain comes screaming back and I am thrown back to every bad thing that ever happened in that relationship.  Almost every day, intermittently throughout the day, the nightmares return in this form.  It’s gotten better, but it still just won’t go away.  Thank God the actual nightmare nightmares have mostly stopped, but the days still bring the haze…

I have enough fucking pain in my life already, thank you very much, but since X-man, walking has become much more of a torture than it ever was.  Hell, even standing.

Why?

Because of shoes.  Fetish shoes.  And him forcing me to wear them, and the screaming temper tantrums he threw when I would kick them off in agony, unable to tolerate the pain any more, even flat on my back.

Now putting one’s sub in these shoes in and of itself is certainly far from a crime, and I’m a lifelong shoe whore, so I actually loved the shoes he bought for me even though I seriously doubt that he ever actually heard that.

My personal shoe collection continues to expand rapidly to fill the available space in my bedroom, not just the closet, which it overran years before he came into my life.  It has now spilled out into the hallway, and long ago took over the space under the bed, dresser, and night table.  I don’t remember life without being a shoe whore, and reveling in the sight, sound, and feel of beautiful shoes.  I remember sleeping with the first pair of heels I ever owned in my teen wrapped in my arms.  I remember the smell and feel on my cheek and in my hands of many shoes even before that, even brushing my lips over them.

The problem is I’ve had bunions for many years, along with fibromyalgia.  On doctor’s orders (and because of simple inability to tolerate them since my late 20s), I’ve rarely worn heels for some years now, and when I do, there are only a few pairs I can tolerate, and then only for so long before they simply have to come off.  And that “only so long” isn’t so long, often measured only in minutes on my feet at this point, even in the most comfortable heels I own.

I’m only able to tolerate what I can because my shoes are all extremely high quality – soft, supple, very precisely and meticulously designed and handmade, angles and details all just exactly so, no rough edges, no pressure points, etc.  Translation – expensive as hell.  Translation of the translation – I can’t afford to risk screwing them up by playing in most of them, either, or to buy ones just for play.  I just don’t have that kind of money to throw away.  So I was basically perfectly happy that he enjoyed buying me the fetish shoes.  I loved them, and that he liked buying them – I just didn’t love what they did to my feet.

One of the problems with fibromyalgia is that not only does it take vastly less stimulus to cause a really noxious bad pain than it does for normal people, but then that pain just lasts and lasts and lasts, no matter what its source…  Imagine the lingering sting of even a minor burn that just keeps on going and going and going, day after week after month and sometimes even years on, exponentially longer than it would for anyone else, vastly out of proportion to the degree of actual injury.

This is what people with fibromyalgia have to deal with – and the pain-causing stimulus for many can be as light as a gentle touch from a friend, or the feel of a soft shirt or socks on the skin.  I’m not usually quite that sensitive, but with things like bondage, for example, if the ropes are even a hair’s breadth tighter than I can take (loose enough for a couple of fingers underneath), I experience it as agony, and things have to be adjusted.  If it goes on or too long, I will sometimes have trouble for weeks or months before things start to settle back down.  It’s a pain, but it’s doable, as long as the top knows what he’s doing and is patient enough.

Much of this sort of every day pain is unavoidable for people with fibro – but we sure as hell can take steps to mitigate the stimuli that are unessential and avoidable.   And I sure as hell expect that anyone I’m playing with and in a relationship with will actually listen to me when I tell them what isn’t working and is causing me a problem like this, and then stop fucking doing that!  That is just not an unreasonable request or expectation, even in a 24/7 D/s relationship.

Once limits of this sort are violated, especially repeatedly, it becomes a question of self-preservation, and protecting the property, to refuse to go along with more of it.  It ceases to be a question of submission or lack thereof, no matter how much you want that, because all bets are then off.  And a so-called dominant that would continue to try to force his sub to do things that are clearly harmful to her is by definition an abusive asshole.

The biggest problems with fetish shoes is that despite the fun factor of them, the reality is that they are cheaply made crap, and most of them hurt my feet like all fuck.  The ones he always liked to put me in cut like knives into my feet, and several pairs bent my feet at a such a sharp angle that they were absolutely intolerable even lying down.

And the biggest problem of all was that he simply refused to listen to me, and would fly into screaming rages when I could not tolerate some of these things and refuse to keep them on.  The net result was that I’d try and try to keep them on as long as I could, just to keep the peace, which certainly didn’t help.

He refused to take me shopping with him to find the clothes and shoes he wanted to buy me so that I could try them on to be sure they’d fit, or to even consult me while shopping online.  Oh, he’d get soooo angry about my not being able to wear most of it, particularly when it was too tight and I couldn’t breathe in in it even if I did manage to get into it.  Surprises are great, but honestly, he was buying so much and spending a bloody fortune, and the psychic damage from the fallout was just so not worth it, and took away all of the fun of it.  And I can’t afford the kinds of things he liked because the way I’m built simply requires that it be custom made because so incredibly little fits off the rack – and he hated what I did find that fit me off the rack (it was too pretty and wasn’t slutty enough, dontcha know) so the beat dragged on and on.

But I digress…

So there I was on my back with the nicest (and most tormenting) fuck-me heels on once again one night, screaming in agony because of the knives of the edges of the openings of the poorly-made shoes were cutting into my feet, and feeling like my feet were being bent to the breaking point.  He’d been particularly pissy that night, so I had decided to try to tough it out for longer than usual just to try to keep the peace.  And I really did want to please him, which I also think he never got.

It was impossible to manage, of course, and I had to kick them off.

The pain was so bad there was simply no leeway to ask to remove them any more than there’s time to ask permission to remove your hand from a scalding hot object you encounter.  It simply had to happen in the instant I did it; I couldn’t take even a split second more.  He had already refused me the permission anyways and ordered me to keep them on until he told me I could take them off, after I’d already kicked them off once, so there was simply no alternative than to just outright disobey regardless of the consequences.

It is just not possible to play when being caused bad pain that hits a 12 on a 1-10 scale, when the pain of your shoes causes you to literally need to safeword or otherwise end the scene.  It just isn’t.  Even the best sex on the planet isn’t enough to distract from something this agony-inducing.

He erupted on cue, yelling and screaming at me at the top of his lungs about how he hadn’t given me permission to take them off, and then said that he wanted me to be in bad pain at that point when I phrased it that way, and not able to find my headspace.

Yes, he actually said he wanted me to be in bad pain – the damaging sort, not the erotic sort we play with in kink.

He was so mad I swear you would have thought I’d tried to kill him.  I really wondered if he was going to try to kill me.

What the fuck?

I mean, yeah, sometimes doms do things like that at times, deliberately trying to keep you out of your headspace and in discomfort you don’t enjoy, which again isn’t in and of itself necessarily a bad thing, as long as it’s consensual – but I am a person with serious chronic pain problems, and he knew what a major problem this is for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which was endless discussions on the subject of what bad pain does to me including how it drags on and on.  He’d also had decades of experience with other people who also have fibro before I ever even met him, so you would think he would have understood the issues even without my explanations.  He certainly had initially seemed to.

Bad pain is a hard fucking limit, basically, and he knew it well.

Bad pain bad, god damn it, and he did not have permission to do that to me.  Ever.  We had already been over this so many times I had long ago lost count.  (Yeah, I know, what the fuck was I still doing with him.  I am still trying to find a fully satisfactory answer to that question…)

So, that episode eventually ended, or so I thought, and we went off to sleep.  You would think that getting out of the shoes would have allowed me to eventually recover, right, even if it took a few weeks?  So did I.

Oh, how very wrong I was!

That night, I woke up to go to the bathroom as usual in the middle of the night, and upon stepping out of bed in bare feet, the foot pain was so bad I literally fell to the floor, crying out and waking him up in the process.

I cannot describe the agony.

It was like walking across sharp rocks and broken glass at the same time while someone was gripping my feet in a vice grip and twisting my foot bones, you know how kids and other tricksters will sometimes grab your hand, squeeze really hard, and then wiggle their hands like they’re wringing out a wet towel, so that your hand bones kind of all crunch together and bump and grind over one another, a maneuver that usually brings people to the floor screaming.  Only no one was touching me; my feet were doing this all by themselves.

It was like knives stabbing through my feet, through every part of my feet, from the soles straight through to the tops and back the other direction.  It was like I was somehow walking on broken glass and rocks with the tops of my feet as well, not just the bottoms.  It felt like my foot bones were fractured and sticking up through my skin.

And then they were cramping up on top of it all.

I was lying on the floor literally crying – and trying to keep quiet and minimize the noise while I tried to let the pain go down and work out the cramping so that he could sleep and wouldn’t get even more upset.  I was so very afraid of what his reaction would be…  He always took great care of me when I was sick or hurt when he seemed to be able to identify the source of the problem, but it was never the case when he himself inflicted the injury.

I ended up crawling to the bathroom and back to bed.  I don’t know to this day exactly how I got on and off the toilet or back on the bed.  The pain of trying to stand was excruciating.

And that was far, far from the last time I had to do that crawling number, which by itself causes me other problems.

He never got it.  I told him about it, of course, but I really don’t think it ever connected.

And I never fully got over the problem.

It’s never been quite as bad as it was in those initial weeks and months, but still it’s always there at some level, several years after the fact, almost always agonizing to take at least the first few steps after I’ve been off my feet for a bit, especially after sleeping, always a nightmare to walk any more than short distances.  This goes so far beyond the problems with bunions I used to have that it’s not even funny.

Now I am mostly left with cramping that has progressed into my toes as well as still in the forefoot and arches, and I am unable to ever work those cramps out for myself.  My feet sometimes start arching and twisting inwards almost by themselves and head into contractures into the ankles and lower legs from which there is no escape and I am screaming in agony and terror trying to stop it.

Even my most comfortable shoes have become torture chambers much of the time and I have finally been reduced to living mostly in tennis shoe-like shoes and ugly old lady shoes and sandals, unable to wear even most of my beautiful flats for long any more.  There is absolutely nowhere to hide.

Try scrunching up your toes and curling your feet and walking that way and you’ll have only the barest start of an idea of what it feels like to be me trying to walk much of the time, but even that doesn’t even come close.  Try to bend your feet in half lengthwise bind them tightly with duct tape, and then in half again across the width and bind again and then walk.

I often still wake up with my feet hurting as badly after a good nights’ sleep as if I’d just been on a ten mile hike in shoes not designed for walking.  Massive cramps sometimes wake me up in the middle of the night, screaming in agony, unable to work it out, leaving me to writhe and cry in terror until it passes.  And every time it happens, I am thrown back, back, back…

On top of it, I’ve got plenty of other chronic pain problems which get me down for sure.  They have caused me even more mobility and other problems, and are also mostly ever present, but they are clearly from other sources.  They certainly don’t help my mood, though.

I also still have occasional twinges of pain from some other outright injuries he inflicted on me.

But it’s the feet and how they got this way and everything that they represent that are the ever-present problem that keeps the nightmare of the hellish parts of this relationship alive and wagging its taunting fingers in my face every waking day of my life.

Somebody please, make it all fucking stop…

Please…

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