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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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.

 

Pushing Past Hard Limits

From The Mistress Manual, in a post decrying Mo’s rape:

A Dominant pushing past hard limits, ignoring the sub’s refusal, has just crossed over from BDSM into the very different, very ugly world of rape and sexual abuse.

Dom/mes need to hear this too, need to hear that pushing someone past their stated limits is not being one badass hawt tough Master or Mistress, it’s being a fucking asshole rapist. Your honor as a trustworthy, skillful Dominant is on the line. You deliberately violate a sub’s consent, you’ve lost that honor. You’ve joined the ranks of leering, pawing sexual abusers. Don’t do that.

Because Lorelei is right, and this needs to be repeated everywhere.

And because someone in particular who also badly needs to hear it, from someone else other than me, is still reading this blog for reasons I know not, and won’t find this on his own otherwise.

I’d add that pushing too much past soft limits is in the same category.

Emotional Damage

It is coming home for me more and more just how bad the emotional fallout has been for me thanks to X-man. I mean, I’ve known the damage that happened in the course of the relationship and its aftermath, but realizing just how bad it *still* is, and the ways in which it is affecting me, is turning out to be increasingly upsetting.

I haven’t played since the breakup, by choice, mostly because I’ve known I wasn’t ready and wouldn’t be able to handle it, but I didn’t know by how much. For much of this time, I wasn’t even able to visualize a flogger hitting my back. I could visualize it flying through the air and getting halfway down to my back, then something would kind of jerk it back upwards and away, halfway down, then jerked back away, over and over again, half strokes that never connected, as if some kind of invisible barrier existed halfway between the top of the swing and my body. Eventually, I was able to force the visuals to bring the flogger into actual contact with my back, a fully completely strike – and then, upon impact, I saw myself fly up from the bondage table I’d been visualizing myself lying on, screaming in panic and rage, grabbing the flogger out of the top’s hand – and wrapping it around his head and neck.

That mental scenario has gradually started to give way to just flying off the table screaming, but no longer trying to kill the top all the time, although that unwelcome visual still plagues such attempts to envision myself being flogged more than I’d like. In my mind’s eye, I’m gaining more control over that reaction, and just barely starting to be able to envision the possibility of *maybe* being able to play again someday.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at a party talking to some friends, when all of a sudden, something that felt for all the world like a singletail caught me on the left shoulder, in exactly the same spot X-man had once injured me. I turned around in shock, expecting to find some moron cracking a singletail too close to the people sitting there, but it turned out to just be a stray rope end from another friend taking down some rigging he’d been using earlier, and clearly a totally innocent accident. (We were in close quarters because of the way the venue was set up for that event, not because I’m stupid enough to get in the way of someone else’s scene.) I was not injured, but the moment it happened, I just started having terrible flashbacks to everything that had happened with X-man, all the fear, all the emotional trauma, all the injuries, all the panic.

I was able to catch my breath and start to calm down, doing some deep breathing to get a grip, and the guy whose rope it was was extremely apologetic and understanding, especially when I filled him in on the basics of what had just happened and why. After a couple of minutes of chatting, he offered to tie me to the chair I was in, and after a moment or two of thought, I agreed, thinking that since good bondage had always previously been like a safe, calming cocoon, it would be helpful to help me get recentered – and a good, low-key way to test out light play again. So he took a few fairly loose wraps around me, securing my torso and arms to the back of the chair. I don’t think he even tied the ends off, or if he did, it was one loose wrap. It was secure enough to feel and create that enveloping, holding feeling that I’ve always found so soothing about bondage, but in no way completely immobilized me, and I knew I could easily get out of it if I had wanted to, with minimal effort.

As I continued my deep breathing to try to calm myself, and to try settle into the headspace of security in bondage that it used to bring years ago when I’d last been with partners who were good at it and able to tie me securely, I *almost* started to get there – and then all of a sudden, it was like the sky lit up with fireworks, and the flashbacks started bombarding me from every direction, and the relationship flashbacks were mixed with some from the car accident I’d been in a few months before The End. It was like an incoming stream of attacks and light flashes coming at me, like being in the middle of a Star Trek battle scene. I flew into a panic and started screaming to get it off, get it off, so freaked that I stood up, still attached to the chair, and fighting the rope, trying to shake the whole assemblage off, starting to try to run to try to shake it off me. Thankfully my friends were within arms reach, and were able to calm me down enough to sit me back down and hold me still enough to get the rope off. The top in question was at my side instantly, too, and I just flew into his arms, sobbing my eyes out in panic, and sheer upset. I calmed down within a few minutes and was then OK, but still pretty shaken up for the rest of the evening.

This afternoon, following the fundraising auction for the Tour de Cure team sponsored by our local dungeon, I was standing around chatting with the same friends, who had won a marvelous soft, sweet red leather paddle that I’d also bid on. Its handle is very flexible, and one side of the paddle is a cushy leather pillow. I’d tried it on myself earlier, and was absolutely unable to elicit anything remotely resembling pain. It doesn’t even have enough impact to really create any real sensation at all.

J started whacking a bit on some other friends, and then I started wagging my tail at him, thinking that this thing was *sooo* soft and cushy that there was no way it would be a problem, so after verbal verification that I was game for a few swats, he started to pound lightly on my upper back, then started to work over more of my back and butt. For the first half minute (I would estimate), I was doing great. It was lovely, just like a massage.

And then all of a sudden, the panic started to come up again.

The instant it started, I cut things off, and J stopped instantly, and both he and A were checking in with me to be sure I was OK. I must have looked *really* freaked out because of the depth of concern I saw on A’s face.

The freakout was not as intense as it had been with the bondage, but what was so upsetting was that not only did it happen again, it happened with a toy that is really no more of a physical challenge to take than it would be to be hit with an average pillow.

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Response to Fetlife query about how to have sex again after rape or sexual abuse:

I’m still pretty much in the “Anyone who touches me is a dead son of a bitch” stage myself. I panic at the mere *thought* of anything much beyond a massage or light, decidedly nonsexual carress. A stray rope end from someone else’s scene hitting me sent me into flashbacks, a couple of loose turns of rope around me for probably less than a minute triggered a fighting panic, and a few smacks while fully clothed with a paddle about as hard as a pillow brought the panic up also. The very *thought* of trying to have sex with anyone again is enough to send me screaming into the night.

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

Can’t Get Rid of It…

Why can’t I get rid of this lust? This need?  This craving?

Despite abusive relationships and swearing I’ll never go near D/s or anything like it again on more than one occasion, I am still continually drawn back to… whatever it is about wiitwd that draws me and keeps me.  I’ve been saying that I’m going to go back to vanilla, but the thought is like death.  I’m afraid I’ll really be buried alive.

Reading Dreamwalker’s blog started reminding me of the kind of connection I’ve always sought, that I’ve missed so very much for so long, that showed in bits and pieces with R, but too quickly turned to dust because of…  well, because.  Because as amazing a lover as he was, and as “charming” as he seemed initially, he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) control himself in a way that kept me safe in any way.  Mr. Hyde won out, once he surfaced, and I finally had to face that that was who R really is, not the wonderful guy I thought I’d found initially (at least when I was able to ignore the red flags)…

And that’s no way to have a life or a relationship.  I can’t live walking on eggshells all the time.  I’m starting to learn more about why I put up with his shit for so long, but I digress…

I no longer believe that D/s is a particularly healthy relationship paradigm, since it’s now clear to me that too many doms in particular use it as a cover for abuse – but I can’t get away from it completely either.  Continue reading