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

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

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

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

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

Please respond no later than January 31, 2014.

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

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

Rape Accusations – Real or False?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My friend continues:

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

The Guardian article bears this out as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And my friend goes on:

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

Indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Drama

Cool – the Urban Dictionary published my definition of drama!  See page 6, #36.

It’s also what bystanders call it when they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, especially because they weren’t there.  Too bad I forgot to put that part in.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming, which should resume soon.

Controlling Men Could Face Criminal Charges

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg of the UK wants to “…make abusive behaviour by men a criminal offence, even if it does not involve physical violence), according to the Sunday Mirror. He also wants to extend the law to include men who discipline children under the age of 18 “too strict[ly” also a criminal offense.

I don’t know what the domestic violence laws currently are in the UK, if any, but this is clearly a step in the right direction of helping ensure that men who don’t understand and respect personal boundaries and who often end up ruining the lives of partners and/or children are held responsible for their behavior. It’s a formal acknowledgement, in a country in which domestic violence accounts for 18% of all violent incidents, that domestic violence is a serious crime that should not go unpunished, that partner abuse is something that shouldn’t be tolerated in a civilized society.

The problem, of course, is determining a reasonable definition of “spousal abuse” (which I hope they will expand to the more general “domestic partner abuse), which is something they are looking at now.

It’s one thing to realize that some legal support for such victims is necessary, but quite another to pass laws which don’t unfairly target those whom they shouldn’t, and punish too many people, thereby ruining lives unnecessarily as well as contributing to prison overcrowding, and clogging the courts with both criminal and civil cases.

Another problem, as it is in this country, is actual enforcement of whatever laws do exist, and getting police to take the reports seriously enough.

Let us hope that they come up with a definition that will protect a woman’s right to say no and have her wishes respected – and ensure that violations have some real consequences – without causing an ipso facto across the board condemnation of consensual BDSM. If they follow a model similar to California law, which requires affirmative assent, rather than just implied consent, and prohibits the use of the classic “She didn’t say no or safeword” as a defense, it seems to me that this could be a very positive thing.

Did you know that in California, domestic violence is treated as even more serious than violence against those with whom one is not currently or in the past in an intimate relationship? And that the definition includes even those who have had as little contact with someone as a single date?

It is – and is something people who suffer abuse, particularly violence, should keep in mind, particularly bottoms or submissives, who seem to be disproportionately affected by abuse for by partners in the name of D/s. Report it *when it happens*, not later, for maximum police response, and to preserve your legal rights later, and leave a documentable paper trail. And keep a lot of everything that happens, with dates and details in order to keep a documented paper trail. And also don’t be afraid to seek medical help if you are injured in any way, for the same reason as well, of course, for treating any injuries when they occur. Don’t forget that emotional distress caused by abuse can also have lifelong damaging consequences, oftentimes much more so than any physical harm.

Awareness of BDSM Related Abuse Is Growing

Awareness of abuse in the kink community is growing, and I could not be more grateful.

Sadly, my friend Mollena Williams, who recently stepped down from her post as International Ms Leather 2010, was raped and only recently spoke up about it publicly.  The outpouring of support has been unbelievable – although really hardly surprising considering what a truly amazing and widely loved (and lovable) person she is, and how highly visible worldwide.

That decision to speak up is helping open up the floodgates that so badly need to be opened in our circles, and she continues to speak out.  In her thank you speech at the end of her IMSL tenure, Mo brought the issue up in front of hundreds of people, asking attendees how many had personally been sexually abused or known someone who had been, and had this to say about what happened:

It was a very scary decision for me to share my story and to ask for others to stand or raise a hand with me as survivors. And the remaining people I asked to show support if they knew someone who was a survivor of sexual abuse.

Over three-quarters of the room were with me on the first call. EVERYONE was in by the second.

It filled me with many emotions to see this happen. Validation. Pride in US. Rage that so many of us have lived this story. It threatened to take me out. And it was worth it. It was worth the fear and the opening of that wound because so. Many. Of. Us. Live. With. This. Pain.

Seventy five percent of a packed room full of pervs of every stripe were survivors of survivors of sexual assault, and not a single one didn’t at least know someone else who had been, even if they themselves had not had that sad experience.

Seventy five percent – 75%.

Think about this and what it means.

While there’s no way to measure the number of abusers who were involved, and given the size of our subculture and the frequency with which people share partners, either simultaneously or sequentially, we cannot have any certainty of what that number says about how many abusers are involved, that percentage still means that a huge percentage of our group are indeed abusers.  And we all know at least one or two people who are serial abusers.

I wrote earlier in this blog that some people I’ve spoken to have estimated that 80-90% of all dominants (at least male) are abusive.  Others challenged me on those numbers, and admittedly, there’s no way to prove them.

But when you’ve got a room full of people, it’s quite easy to roughly estimate the percentages involved when questions like Mo’s are asked.

I can’t give statistically accurate numbers or percentages.  They don’t exist.  It would be great if there were some high quality studies that were to quantify this problem more accurately, and hopefully someday we will indeed have them, but for now, there simply aren’t.  All we can go by is reports like this, and hearing more and more people speak up privately or publicly about their experiences – a growing general consensus that this is a far bigger problem in the kink subculture than we as a group have known – or wanted to face.  You find out about these things by talking to others, by public presentations about the issue, and people speaking out openly such as in Asher Bauer’s wonderful Field Guide to Creepy Dom, etc.

Mo, I so share your rage and pain, both what you have been through personally, and at the fact that this is such a widespread issue in the kink world, that so many others have also stood in our shoes.

I also fully understand your feeling of validation, as indeed the reaction you got and your report about it help in turn to validate everything I’ve been saying for a few years, and everything I’ve been through myself and continue to suffer from.

And that is why this blog exists, and I will continue to speak out about publicly abuse in the kink world, trying to excise it from our midst, and working to help others recognize it and learn to fight it as well, despite all of the fallout, including some very overt threats.

The time for silence and sweeping this issue under the rug is over.

We speak about power exchange in BDSM as a positive thing, but when it is used as a battering ram, as has happened to so many of us, it’s just plain abuse.  It is time for those of us who have been battered, both literally and figuratively (emotionally and sexually) to take back our own power and stand up and fight these injustices en masse.

It is never going to be possible to entirely excise abuse or abusers from our midst, either in the kink world or the vanilla world at large.  But we can work together to create an environment in which they cannot hide as easily as the current D/s culture both allows and indeed encourages.

We not only can, but we absolutely must.

Because it’s not OK that even one person has to suffer the effects of any kind of abuse, but the fact that it’s such a high percentage is absolutely intolerable and insupportable.

And it’s just as bad that the culture of silence in the scene has covered it up for so long, if not worse, because that means that we have all been complicit in perpetuating these problems.  Indeed the culture of silence and confidentiality at all costs, coupled with the “It’s all about the dom” mentality, has led to frequently victimizing the victims all over again by blaming them and letting the abusers get off scott free without consequences.

These.  Things.  Simply.  Must.  Stop.

Right.  Now.

And we have to all work together to make that happen.

Thank you for speaking up, Mo.  From the bottom of my heart.

Rape, Assault, Battery, and Police Reporting

I came across a fantastic post the other day by Saynine about the problem of rape within the BDSM context entitled “This Isn’t Play…BDSM and Rape“, following on the heels of reports by my friend, the outgoing International Ms Leather, Mollena Williams, of her rape by a prominent member of the Dublin kink community.    These are just the two latest posts I’ve encountered speaking out on this topic, and on the importance of reporting these rapes to the police, as well as publicizing them within the BDSM community.

Both posts and the ensuing comments discuss the potential implications of such reporting, both to the individual victims – and to the community as a whole.  The conclusions drawn pretty much without exception in these posts and many others I’m seeing, as well as the opinions of numerous other concerned individuals with whom I’ve been discussing the overall issues of abuse and consent for several years, the participants in San Francisco’s recent RACK panel, etc.,  is that reporting is essential – and that not only are the overall community’s needs secondary to supporting the victim and ensuring as best we can that others are not also harmed, but that doing so can only serve to help our image in the world, by conveying openly to everyone else in the most obvious way possible that we not only do not condone rape, assault, etc., and that that is not what WIITWD is about, but that we stand behind those words with actions that support them.

The question of rape and consent is important, but it’s also important to realize that rape as legally defined (basically, any kind of vaginal, anal, or oral penetration without consent) is only one part of the consent and abuse puzzle.

The other big issue that we face is the problem of either ongoing abuse of various sorts in BDSM relationships, and both in that context or in individual, one-off scenes, the issue of assault and battery if anything other than vaginal, anal, or oral penetration are involved – the questions of other types of play occurring without consent, limits being violated in the process, etc.

What happens when other limits are violated, such as beatings that go beyond the physical limits of what the bottom can take, too much force is used and the bottom is injured even in the course of something she did basically consent to but not to that level?  What about other situations such as if a knife is pulled nonconsensually, undesired cuttings, needles, or take your pick of various forms of humiliation play?  Or you tell your partner (who has been injuring you repeatedly with impact play and ignoring both feedback and ultimately safewords) that you now have a new hard limit, that he absolutely may not hit you with any kind of toy again until he gets some formal instruction and practice with it – and less than a minute later he starts right out doing it again, with a different implement than before, coming out with some lame excuse like, “I didn’t realize that was what you meant” when you protest and safeword yet again?  When even generally innocuous requests or demands happen to cause you intractable problems and yet he won’t relent and continues to demand that, throwing a fit when you object or try to stop it?  Or any number of other possibilities of hard or even soft limits being violated?

Legally, most if not all of these kinds of things are actually assault and/or, in the case that contact is actually made and not just threatened, battery. (Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.)

Different states have different laws that define each of these things (and domestic violence) differently, and laws and policies regarding arrests and prosecution vary even by jurisdiction within a given state, so it’s not possible to say what will or will not happen in each of these kinds of situations.

Another area that also seems pretty grey (although I’m sure the lawyers and police must understand it) is where the line is between domestic violence and assault and battery – and which one would apply in situations of the sort we kinksters often find ourselves in.

One thing I find particularly disconcerting is that much of what I’ve read about assault and battery seems to require that some sort of obvious and grievous injury occur in order for the concepts to apply and arrests to happen.

But what about those whose injuries never become visible?  Does that mean that they will not receive the same protections as anyone else who is assaulted by a partner or stranger?  I’ve been injured on multiple occasions where nary a bruise or mark ever showed up – but when I’m still in pain weeks and months later, I sure as hell considered myself just as injured as if some bone had been fractured or I’d been cut with a knife.

Regardless of the legal terminology, when limits are violated in any way, it sure still feels like rape.   The feeling of violation is terrible, and the violation of trust is almost as bad and sometimes even worse than the actual event.

I’ve had things done to me that in and of themselves may not have actually been that big a deal, but when they were things that because of other issues in the relationship, or other personal or medical reasons, I had set as a limit, it is precisely that breach of trust of a partner going ahead and doing it anyways, despite agreement not to, and then his negative reactions to my protests, that has often been far and away the bigger problem.

I would add to what both Saynine, Mo, and many others are saying about the importance of reporting rape (as well as other types of violations of limits) is that you need to do it right when the assault or rape happens, or very shortly thereafter.  Otherwise, the police are really unlikely to take you as seriously if you do it later.  Even if you do wait too long and they tell you they will not investigate it as a result, still insist on filing a report, so that at least there is something on record about this person’s behavior to help establish the pattern in case someone else runs into trouble with them and seeks police assistence.  There is also something very personally empowering to just tell your story to the authorities, to name what has actually happened.

Your Kink Is Not OK

There.  I’ve said it.

The words that will earn me the hatred of a lot of the BDSM world.  Words that are anathema to this subculture.  Thinking that runs counter to the mass-think of our counterculture, that threatens all kinds of people who are supposedly secure in whatever it is they do.

I posted my recent post about consent on Fetlife, and the anti-bestiality petition – and all hell has broken loose.  I’ve been accused of being a Nazi because of the consent one, and more.  I’ve been told – like it’s a bad thing – that I seem to be on a moral crusade with respect to being opposed to bestiality.

Well, yes.  Yes, I am, as a matter of fact. On a moral crusade.

I am very much opposed to things like bestiality, child sexual abuse, porn about both, abuse of all sorts, and to an assortment of other things like play behavior that causes bodily damage and emotional harm, and I refuse to be silenced about it by peer pressure any more.

I believe that they are wrong in every possible way, particularly bestiality, child sexual abuse, and other forms of abuse of others (including animals), both physical and emotional.  I believe (and there are plenty of good studies to back me up) that they are deeply injurious on multiple levels, and that injuring other people and other creatures is just plain wrong.  They are sick, disgusting, perverted in the entirely wrong way, and just plain abominations.  People who do these things are sick, too, and in serious need of therapeutic help.

That is very much part of my moral compass, and I have always vigorously opposed these things.

To have deeply held convictions of this nature and to not speak up about them and work to stamp them out is to do one’s own self damage.

So, yes, I am on a crusade to do just that, particularly with abuse of children, women, and animals.

I won’t try to stop people from doing themselves or truly consenting partners bodily harm in the name of kink, but I for damn sure reserve the right to express my opinion of their doing so, and what I believe their mental status to be.

And the thing is that a huge percentage of the rest of our ranks does the same thing, either in private just in their own minds, or among friends, although we all pretend in public like we don’t.  No one wants to be the one to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

This whole “your kink is OK” thing that we espouse in the kink community is actually kind of hypocritical, in my opinion.  We almost all have opinions about the advisability or sanity of at least one or two things that other people do, and these are routinely spoken of in private, among friends – but no one is willing to actually stand up in public and say the exact same thing, either in front of anyone who practices whatever the activity is, or to the community at large.

The BDSM subculture is, in fact, one of the most intolerant and judgmental groups of people I’ve ever come across – or at least certainly no less judgmental than any vanilla group.  The judgments are just about different things, and on the whole, we do have a lot more tolerance of extremes than vanillas do, and the bar is higher.

It’s ironic, though, that while we attempt to be all inclusive of everything that everyone likes, in the process, what gets shut out is the right to freely state our own real opinions of some of those behaviors without facing a crucifying wall of attack from others.

It’s as if when you sign up to be kinky in the public scene, you have to turn in your rights to stating and sharing your own opinions of what others may do.  I’ve written at length elsewhere, particularly on Tribe in the New to BDSM (Uncensored) group, about the many unwritten rules of the scene.  This is a major one.  You don’t get to have an opinion of what others do, or at least you most assuredly aren’t allowed to express it out loud.

Everyone who has been around for more than a month and started to get to know others knows that there is a large and well-established grapevine behind the scenes.  I was told about it when I was brand new a decade ago, and it exists as a deliberate institution to help submissives stay safe by sharing information about dangerous tops.  It’s not only condoned, it’s actively (although quietly) promoted, and polite newbies are welcomed into the fold.  Get any group of submissives together, and you’ll hear all about how we all need to look out for and protect one another.  But God forbid anyone actually share any of that same information out loud in public, or to more individuals than a particular person deems appropriate – and then all hell breaks loose about violating confidentiality, bad-mouthing people, etc. – regardless of the truth or lack thereof of the information being shared, and the actual experiences of the person sharing it, and then the crowd often turns on the messenger.  All this happens right along with a lot of public verbiage about wanting to stop abusive behavior, and people crowing about how we are somehow better than the vanilla crowd and have less abuse in our ranks.

Hello?  You either want to stop abuse and help protect others, or you don’t.  No, it’s not as cut and dried as may appear that I am saying.  There are indeed nuances and specifics to each situation.  Unfortunately, the victim is often revictimized over and over again by her own peers just for speaking up.

There are also significant pockets of people who not only do not condemn behavior such as child and animal sexual abuse, but who actively practice and promote it, despite the fact that they are generally illegal as hell, much more so than any of the rest of what we do, as well as totally amoral and exploitative.  It is appalling that such abusers try to hide behind the wall of calling their perversions “kinks”, and thereby trying to slide in under the umbrella of “your kink is OK” in our circles.

It’s not OK, folks.

I’m sorry, but it’s just not.

And yes, I’m on a moral crusade – and on a legal one.  I’ve worked for years to help stamp out child and domestic partner abuse, and I will now also not rest until bestiality is likewise recognized legally everywhere as the sick abuse of helpless creatures that it is, and helped to create a legal framework within which anyone who causes harm to people and animals who cannot consent can and will be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law – a law on a par with how raping children and others is now treated.

Child abuse and bestiality are not “kinks”.  They are full on perversions, sicknesses, and victimization of others who are helpless to defend themselves.  People who do these things are predators, and mentally ill, and should be locked away for life.

Anyone who thinks it’s OK to fuck children or animals is a psychopath.  And anyone who remains in a relationship with anyone who does either of these things once they know about it is equally guilty of the crime because to stay is to condone it.

What I find particularly puzzling is that I know people whose own friends have told them they are sick and in need of therapy because of the extreme nature of their kinks and participation in bestiality.  Why are those people still friends, when such incredibly exploitative and blatantly injurious behaviors are being practiced by those people?  Why do people stay in intimate relationships with such animals?  Birds of a feather flock together, though – so don’t be surprised if others consider that you actually condone the behavior of your partners and friends who engage in these kinds of practices if you remain in relationships with them once you know about these things. Sadly, I know people who have sounded off vociferously about exactly this – and yet are now in relationships with known, self-proclaimed bestialists, and still there, despite knowing full well about it.  It’s really pathetic when people’s desire to get their rocks off so overrides their own moral compasses – or at least what they said were their moral standards.

Don’t even start me on things like breath play, extremes of body modification, skewers, screws and nails inserted through breasts, penises, and testicles, needle play with unsterile needles, heavy impact play on the same kinds of delicate body parts and other areas that are easily injured, extensive brands, etc.  People have had to have breasts amputated because they haven’t healed from play of this nature.  Others have reported it taking literally years for such injuries to heal completely.  I’m hearing more reports of spinal fractures from flogging older people.  The list goes on.

So yeah.  As long as you are not hurting others, human or animal, do whatever you want.  But don’t expect me to condone it, or to not speak up against it, and to try to educate people to not do it if possible, if I find it either morally repugnant or too unsafe.

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See also Tolerating Criminal Behavior in the Scene, and Judging Others, and Just because it is “your kink” does not make it OK with me

The 15 Characteristics of Verbal Abuse

via married2mrmean

“As defined by Patricia Evans, in her book The Verbally Abusive Relationship – How to recognise it and how to respond.

“I make reference to Patricia Evans often and decided I would write this entry, in case anyone needs it :) None of these words are my own, they are all taken from the book.”

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

1. WITHHOLDING
Withholding is a choice to keep virtually all one’s thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams to oneself and to remain silent and aloof towards one’s partner, to reveal as little as possible and to maintain an attitude of cool indifference.

The verbal abuser who chooses to withhold can add a variety of flourishes and camouflages to his withholding, such as pretending not to hear, picking up something to look at while his partner is sharing or watching television while saying “Go ahead, I am listening” when it is clear that he is not.

2. COUNTERING
As a category of verbal abuse, countering is one of the most destructive in a relationship because it prevents all possibility of discussion, it consistently denies the victim’s reality and it prevents the partner from knowing what her mate things about anything.

An abuser who constantly counters seems only to think the opposite of his partner. If she (or he) says anything directly or expresses thoughts on something, the abuser will say it is the opposite. What he is really saying is “No, that’s not the way it is” even about her most personal experience of something.

3. DISCOUNTING
Discounting denies the reality and experience of the partner and is extremely destructive. The verbal abuser discounts his (or her) partner’s experience and feelings as if they were worth nothing. He will say something that gives her the message “Your feeling and experiences are wrong, they are worth nothing.” Such as – “You’re making a big deal out of nothing, you always jump to conclusions, you can’t take a joke, you don’t know what you’re talking about, you take everything the wrong way.”

4. VERBAL ABUSE DISGUISED AS JOKES
This kind of abuse is not done in jest. It cuts to the quick, touches the most sensitive areas and leaves the abuser with a look of triumph. The abuse never seems funny because it isn’t funny.

Disparaging comments disguised as jokes often refer to the nature of the partner, their intellectual abilities or competency. If the partner says “I didn’t think that was funny” the abuser will discount her experience by angrily saying “You don’t have a sense of humour!” or “You just can’t take a joke!”

5. BLOCKING AND DIVERTING
This category of verbal abuse specifically controls interpersonal communication. The verbal abuser refuses to communicate, establishes what can be discussed or withholds information. He or she can prevent all possibility of resolving conflicts by blocking and diverting. This may be by direct demand or by switching the topic.

Examples of blocking are:

*You’re just trying to have the last word!
*You think you know it all!
*This conversation is over!
*Just drop it!

Through diversion the topic is changed. None of the abuser’s diversions answer the partner’s question in a thoughtful or considerate way. Continue reading

The 15 Characteristics of Verbal Abuse

via married2mrmean

“As defined by Patricia Evans, in her book The Verbally Abusive Relationship – How to recognise it and how to respond.

“I make reference to Patricia Evans often and decided I would write this entry, in case anyone needs it :) None of these words are my own, they are all taken from the book.”

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

1. WITHHOLDING
Withholding is a choice to keep virtually all one’s thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams to oneself and to remain silent and aloof towards one’s partner, to reveal as little as possible and to maintain an attitude of cool indifference.

The verbal abuser who chooses to withhold can add a variety of flourishes and camouflages to his withholding, such as pretending not to hear, picking up something to look at while his partner is sharing or watching television while saying “Go ahead, I am listening” when it is clear that he is not.

2. COUNTERING
As a category of verbal abuse, countering is one of the most destructive in a relationship because it prevents all possibility of discussion, it consistently denies the victim’s reality and it prevents the partner from knowing what her mate things about anything.

An abuser who constantly counters seems only to think the opposite of his partner. If she (or he) says anything directly or expresses thoughts on something, the abuser will say it is the opposite. What he is really saying is “No, that’s not the way it is” even about her most personal experience of something.

3. DISCOUNTING
Discounting denies the reality and experience of the partner and is extremely destructive. The verbal abuser discounts his (or her) partner’s experience and feelings as if they were worth nothing. He will say something that gives her the message “Your feeling and experiences are wrong, they are worth nothing.” Such as – “You’re making a big deal out of nothing, you always jump to conclusions, you can’t take a joke, you don’t know what you’re talking about, you take everything the wrong way.”

4. VERBAL ABUSE DISGUISED AS JOKES
This kind of abuse is not done in jest. It cuts to the quick, touches the most sensitive areas and leaves the abuser with a look of triumph. The abuse never seems funny because it isn’t funny.

Disparaging comments disguised as jokes often refer to the nature of the partner, their intellectual abilities or competency. If the partner says “I didn’t think that was funny” the abuser will discount her experience by angrily saying “You don’t have a sense of humour!” or “You just can’t take a joke!”

5. BLOCKING AND DIVERTING
This category of verbal abuse specifically controls interpersonal communication. The verbal abuser refuses to communicate, establishes what can be discussed or withholds information. He or she can prevent all possibility of resolving conflicts by blocking and diverting. This may be by direct demand or by switching the topic.

Examples of blocking are:

*You’re just trying to have the last word!
*You think you know it all!
*This conversation is over!
*Just drop it!

Through diversion the topic is changed. None of the abuser’s diversions answer the partner’s question in a thoughtful or considerate way. Continue reading

The Abuse of Animals and Domestic Violence: A National Survey of Shelters for Women Who Are Battered

From a major national study undertaken to more fully assess the already known relationship between animal abuse (including bestiality) and domestic violence.  Please read the full article as well as the excerpts below.

“Although an age-old issue, the relation between the abuse and maltreatment of nonhuman animals and human interpersonal violence is receiving renewed attention from the scientific community. Two recent reviews of literature (Arkow, 1996; Ascione, 1993) highlight the potential confluence of child maltreatment, domestic violence, and animal maltreatment as shown in the diagram in Figure I which illustrates how each form of abuse can occur independently or in combination with other forms of violence.”

“An earlier paper (Ascione, 1993) outlined a series of issues that pertain to the development of cruelty toward animals in childhood and adolescence, using the following definition of cruelty: “…socially unacceptable behavior that intentionally causes unnecessary pain, suffering, or distress to and/or death of an animal…” (p. 228). Case examples from the early psychoanalytic literature were reviewed as well as primarily retrospective research from forensic psychiatry and sociology linking childhood histories of animal abuse with contemporary patterns of criminal violence. One of the watershed events for research in this area was the inclusion of “cruelty to animals” among the symptoms of Conduct Disorder in children and adolescents in major psychiatric diagnostic manuals (American Psychiatric Association, 1987; 1994). Conduct Disorder represents a pattern of antisocial behavior that can persist into adulthood.

“Research examples included the association of animal maltreatment with cases of child physical abuse, the sexual abuse of children, and partner battering or domestic violence.”

“…we also know that animals have been abused by perpetrators to frighten their partners, as a threat of potential interpersonal attacks, as a form of retaliation or punishment, and abuse has been implicated in forced bestiality.”

“Arkow (1996) cited two studies, one of which was conducted at the Center for Prevention of Domestic Violence in Colorado Springs, Colorado and found that 24% of women (N=122) seeking safehouse refuge reported that their abusers had abused animals in the women’s presence. The other study was conducted by the La Crosse, Wisconsin Community Coalition against Violence with 72 women using domestic violence prevention services. Eighty-six percent of these women reported having pets and, of these women, 80% had experienced their partners’ maltreatment of pets.”

“Ascione (in press), in collaboration with a shelter in northern Utah for women who are battered, surveyed 38 women entering the shelter for in-house services. Using a form of the Battered Partner Shelter Survey (BPSS) – Pet Maltreatment Assessment (Ascione & Weber, 1995), he found that 74% of the women reported having a pet currently or in the past twelve months. Of these women, 71% indicated that their boyfriend or husband had either threatened harm to their animals or had engaged in actual maltreatment and/or killing of an animal. The prevalence of pet abuse by children in these families was also disturbingly common. Thirty-two percent of the 22 women with children gave examples of children hurting or killing animals. This level of cruelty is comparable to what has been found in samples of mental health clinic child clients (Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1981; Achenbach, Howell, Quay, & Conners, 1991) and in a sample of sexually abused children (William Friedrich, April, 1992, personal communication). In this sample of women with pets, nearly one in five (18%) reported that they had delayed entering the shelter because of concerns about their pets’ safety.”

“The overwhelming majority of shelters we surveyed indicated that women seeking shelter mention experiences of pet abuse. A smaller but still substantial majority also reported that children have shared instances when pets have been abused in their homes. If in fact, shelters reporting that children talked about pet abuse always reported that women discussed pet abuse as well.”

“We know that cruelty to animals may be a battering partner’s attempt at control, coercion, intimidation, retaliation, and an element of forced bestiality.”

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all quotes from:

The Abuse of Animals and Domestic Violence: A National Survey of Shelters for Women Who Are Battered

By Frank R. Ascione, Ph.D, Claudia V. Weber, M.S., and David S. Wood,
Utah State University, Logan, Utah
Originally published in Society and Animals, 1997, 5(3)

in The Zero – The Official Website of Andrew Vachss