A newbie I met the other day told a tale of being abused or having her limits violated when playing with someone she said is well known at the Citadel, our local community playspace. She said she’d like to get involved to help combat this problem, and asked how to go about it. Here is my response to her.
I’d also add that it’s important to bring the issue to the attention of the dungeon owners if the problem occurs in their playspace, and frankly, even if it doesn’t. No one will know that someone in an inner circle is a problem child if no one reports it.
At this point, it’s pretty much a free for all. People are writing in their blogs and getting interviewed for other publications, doing various classes, etc. I’ve got links to many of them on my blog, so you might want to take a look.
And then there’s my nascent BDSM Abuse Survivors’ Network that one day I’ll set up a separate website for, which is currently housed on the front page of my blog. It’s purely volunteer, just allowing me to post whichever contact information you prefer that people use so that others who have been through this or are going through it now can find someone to talk to on a peer level. I have no idea if anyone thus far has actually contacted anyone on the list, and I don’t monitor it in any way. I get pretty good SEO rankings, though, and am getting more and more hits as time goes by, so eventually something should happen.
And then there’s just speaking out, telling others about your experiences, encouraging still others to speak up. It very well may cost you something in terms of popularity, I can’t lie, but I’ve come to realize that the people who are ready to pooh-pooh me, particularly because they don’t see my ex doing what he did themselves, or who believe his crap, are people I don’t need in my life. As some “friends” started dropping away, I found new ones who have a lot more sense coming into my life.
I’ll tell you this, too. If the person you had a problem with is indeed popular at the Citadel, or in any other way a “leader” in the community, it is *highly* likely that you are far from the only one with a negative experience of him. The same is true of many others as well, but it’s a near certainty with these most visible people.
One of the hardest things to communicate to newbies is that just because someone is well known and popular around the scene, or even a well-known presenter or group leader, or member of a board of any of the kinky groups, that in no way should serve as an endorsement. Many such community leaders are just fine – but there is a frightening number who are quite dangerous to one extent or another.
As to what you said about blaming yourself, I do think it’s important that we all look at whatever our own contribution to a problem situation may have been, if any, and there are in fact times when we need to take that sort of responsibility for what has transpired, but when you say “Stop”, and someone doesn’t, or they just flat out violate limits you’ve already set, then hon, I’m sorry, but it is often entirely on them.
This game we play of “the dom is the boss” is a game, although many people do take it seriously. There is nothing wrong with any level of that as long as both parties are consenting, and in agreement as to the parameters of the dynamic, but at the end of the day, no means no, no matter what, and you are entirely within your rights to object and pin the blame on them if someone violates those agreements with you.
The hard part is that it *is* hard sometimes to know how far is OK to go in any given encounter, but this is one reason we have things like safewords and promote the idea of thorough negotiation. Pay attention to your gut. If you don’t like what’s happening, and you do not end up feeling as good or better overall when all is said and done, and especially if the top involved responds poorly to your objections and even continues what he is doing if that is not your agreed-upon dynamic, then there’s an issue that needs attention, even if it’s just finetuning the negotiations next time.