Rape Accusations – Real or False?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My friend continues:

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

The Guardian article bears this out as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And my friend goes on:

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

Indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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…

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.

BDSM Abuse Survivors’ Network

Are you in an abusive BDSM relationship?  Or think you may be, but aren’t sure?  Had a scene go terribly wrong?

Been raped or otherwise injured nonconsensually in a BDSM context?

Do you feel alone, as if you are the only person dealing with these issues?  Maybe your local community is opposing you because of what you’ve been through, or you’re afraid to speak up at all because perhaps the person who abused you is a community “leader“?

Do you need some support, perhaps someone else to talk to who has been through this?   Help getting out?  Staying safe?  Just knowing that you are indeed not the only one to be dealing with these issues in our circles?  Not a therapist, cop, or attorney, but just another person who’s been there who is willing to help?  Just need to know others who have been in the same boat so that you don’t feel so alone?

Are you angry about your experiences?  And determined to do something about them so that your pain will help others avoid the same thing?

Help explode the horribly damaging myth that we kinksters are somehow immune to abuse because of SSC, negotiation, and all that?  Tired of watching this shit go on endlessly in the “community” and the perpetrators not only not called out for their behavior but often actually glorified and put into positions of leadership?

Some of us who have been through this in one way or another are starting to put together a list of people who have been abused in a BDSM context who are willing to put themselves out there in a very public way in order to reach out to others who are still struggling with these issues as points of contact for anyone who needs help, or even just needs to know that they are not alone.

You’ve likely heard of the Safecall Network.  This is a similar idea, only for dealing with the aftermath of a scene – or whole relationship – gone horribly wrong.

If you’re willing to out yourself publicly as having survived a BDSM-related abusive relationship – or rape or other similar individual encounter in any way related to WIITWD – and are willing to have others contact you and to share your experiences with them, to help out, in whatever ways work for you, let me know if you’d like to be part of this via the Contact section on this blog, or by replying below. (Let me know if you do reply below if you’d like me to keep the reply private.)

The format and details are still pretty hazy, but I’m starting with just a list that will initially include names and preferred contact information.  It will likely evolve into something more extensive as I have time and energy to deal with the technical details.

Edited August 9, 2011

Due to some concerns mentioned on Fetlife and in private communications, let me clarify that “out yourself” in this context only means that you are willing to share your name and contact information for dissemination within the kink community, and specifically here on this blog and elsewhere targetted at our people, expressly for the purpose of allowing other kinksters who are or have been involved in abusive (or possibly abusive) relationships to contact you.  The blog is public, but it’s not like I’m asking anyone to go on TV or out yourself otherwise in the vanilla world.  Scene names are fine – and encouraged.

Email addresses are preferred to links to Fetlife profiles or other sites because many people who find this blog are not Fetlife members, and may not want to take that extra step, but I will certainly add those links if you prefer.

 

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