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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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

Do You Mind Your Guy Looking at Other Women?

I think there’s also the “how is he looking” issue for women. If a guy is looking in an appreciative “wow that’s a good looking woman” sort of way – I think women are more “understanding” about it. If he’s looking in the “omfg I’d bang that in a heartbeat!” and has drool rolling down his chin …. yeah, not so much.

Definitely, @cola.  Ditto if he’s looking at her with a “Come hither” or “On your knees” kind of look directed at her, especially if she responds to it.

It also depends on who started it, and how it progresses.  Looking briefly and then looking away?  No problem. Looking any way he wants at women that are untouchable like cheerleaders, models in magazines, actresses in films, etc.?  Even passing strangers on the street he’ll clearly never see again?  Also no problem.  Heck, I’ve always pointed these types out to my men myself because their reactions amuse me.

But heavy flirting, lingering looks and drooling over women he’s face to face with or having direct personal contact of any sort with?  Mutual eyelock and undressing/ravishing?  Verbal/written evidence of a less-than-purely-platonic interest?  Especially when she is someone we will routinely encounter in person?  Fuck no.  Those are all into cheating territory in my book.  And cheating is a form of abusive behavior. Continue reading

Incompatibility vs Uncaring/Abusive?

Dominants, how would you handle a sub/slave who acts this way or in a way you don’t like when you play with him/her but is someone you want to keep on your chain?

@redcheeks, I’d start by making sure I fully understood what was driving it, both in himself and my own self.  A savvy dominant will start to assess behavior he doesn’t like by first looking inside himself to see what he himself may be doing to cause it.

Then you go from there.

I’m not sure why I get so angry at him.

Anger at someone who is not respecting your needs and desires like this is perfectly normal, especially when it happens repeatedly.

Why do you have to figure out who’s at fault? How about just figuring out what’s wrong at the core? Blaming people isn’t productive. It’s actually very damaging.

@_Aine_, if you don’t identify what part of the problem is in your own hands vs what is not, then it’s much harder to address issues effectively – or to do anything about whatever your own role may be.

While it is usually true that it takes two to tango, the reality is that sometimes problems are much more clearly the fault of one party or the other.

I’m not saying that’s the case here, but it’s true in general.

Even when it is clearly two-sided, it’s still important to know who owns what part of the problem – and for both parties to recognize this.

Blame in the sense of locating the responsibility where it rightly belongs and not taking on someone else’s bad behaviors as one’s own responsibility is important to maintaining good boundaries, in BDSM as well as in the rest of life.

You are not less submissive if you can’t give him what he needs; you’re just not a pain slut and unable to take the level at which he’s able to give.

I could not have said that better myself, @MistressOrlando.  And objecting when a dominant continues to try to administer a level of pain which one cannot take, particularly after communicating that to him repeatedly, is an entirely reasonable response.

It may also be a compatibility issue as others have already mentioned, but it’s definitely a violation of limits for that particular sub if that same behavior and level of pain administration continues after the submissive has made it clear that she cannot take it, and particularly if she also makes it a new hard limit.  At that point, and particularly if it continues, then it’s just abusive.

If it really is a compatibility issue, and it’s something that the dominant cannot live without, he should end the relationship if a mutually acceptable solution cannot be worked out.  If he continues in the relationship, though, he has an absolute obligation to respect those limits.

Continue reading

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Dominants Coming Through on Their Word

@Xinergy said on Fetlife:

The Dominant failing to come through with what they say they are going to do is devastating to the submissive. The submissive is in this lifestyle because they need that comfort and safety. They need to believe that if the Dominant says something, it will happen. Without that certainty and trust, how can he or she sink into subspace while chained to something being beaten?

It is indeed completely devastating, particularly when the promises broken are as fundamental as repeatedly violating limits, not respecting her health and safety above his own needs and desires, etc.

It doesn’t matter what else the dominant does in the rest of life, how good he is about his word in other matters both in the relationship and elsewhere, no matter how many other wonderful qualities he has. If he does not scrupulously respect his sub’s limits and boundaries, and remember and honor both the letter and the spirit of relationship-level agreements, he will lose both the trust and the respect of his submissive.

While I don’t think that “need [for] that comfort and safety” is necessarily the reason we are in this (certainly not for everyone), we do in fact absolutely need it to be present, or there’s no possibility of being able to submit to the dominant at any level, whether in play or every day life. Continue reading

Alternative Sexual Practices – Kent State article response

first posted 9/17/06 @ 5:34 PM EST; updated 12/17/09

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In response to the 9/14/06 article in the Kent State “Stater Online” entitled “Alternative sexual practices abound among college students“, I would like to offer these remarks.

While it is true that sadism and masochism are still listed in the DSM-IV, and that there *are* some people who enjoy these practices when they are nonconsensual, when you start to speak of *most* practicing sadomasochists, consensuality is a *very* important part of what we do.

As a community, the kink community decries people who inflict pain on others without their consent as much as any other normal people do. Those nonconsensual practices are *not* part of what we do. Such people are *not* welcome in our midst any more than they are welcome anywhere else.

I also concur with Susan Wright‘s comment that the DSM-IV is quite clear that as long as these practices do not interfere with a person’s daily functioning, they are not considered mental illnesses – although that clearly only applies to people who are practicing these things consensually in the first place, not to the rapists and torturers of the world. Ms. Wright it quite correct, but I don’t think that her comment fully addresses the actual issue raised by Laurie Wagner’s comments, and how they are reported in the article, and that is the distinction between consensual and nonconsensual behavior.

It is exceedingly unfortunate when people in positions of authority and in a position to educate young minds such as Ms. Wagner don’t even have their information straight, because it is uninformed attitudes such as this that perpetuate this myth that what we do is somehow evil and dangerous.

The distinction between S&M and dominance and submission is also *not* as Ms. Wagner has stated it, and I concur with Ms. Wright’s assertion that she clearly has no idea what she is talking about, either on the psychological diagnosis side, or especially on the side of referring to the most common practices that typically carry these terms. Continue reading