At some point, I should actually talk about abuse, if I'm going to bitch about people not talking about abuse. Ugh, responsibility.
Like I've said, I was involved in an abusive D/s relationship. I'm going to call the abusive fellow Arthur, because when you want a name for an abuser, just ask a Bronte. (Gals, which one are you? I'm an Anne.) My abuse narrative will sound familiar to anyone who's spent time in Fetlife's groups for submissive women. In fact, after typing the whole thing up, I've opted not to include it here, because I think that anyone who actually knows me will be a lot happier if I omit the details. In very brief, the relationship (not a romantic one) was abusive because Arthur was into maintaining control over me by pushing my hard limits and by guilt tripping me if I used a safeword. I walked around feeling completely fucked up for way too long, and when it hit the point that I was sobbing about it every day, I got enough objectivity to realize, "Wait, this is not how this should go. I don't feel good about this at all." Finally, all of the Are You In an Abusive Relationship? pamphlets that had been stored up in my brain since high school got to have their say. "Holy shit," I thought. "This relationship is textbook abusive."
Now, I do not think that Arthur is a bad guy. I think that he was young and troubled, and completely unprepared for the responsibility of having someone give so much control over to him. I think also that he really believed himself to be acting in my best interest. I think this in part because I've heard some of the views that he espoused from other sources as well, all around the kink community here. They go like this:
- What every sub really wants is to be good. If she isn't striving for this, then she isn't a real sub. [Oh, yeah, I'm going to use female pronouns to talk about subs and male pronouns to talk about doms, because that's what I'm talking about right now.]
- "Being good" means having no boundaries whatsoever, so as to be most available to your dom.
- It is the duty of the dom to help his sub achieve ultimate goodness by breaking down her boundaries.
This is the Father Knows Best model of D/s relationships. I know a lot of people who subscribe to it. Shockingly enough, I think it's extremely dangerous. This philosophy of D/s did a great disservice both to Arthur and to me. (Fucking people up isn't one of his kinks.) Like I've said - or at least implied - before, I think that it's important to maintain a clear boundary between what we actually want and believe and what we pretend to want and believe. I wanted to pretend to believe that Arthur knew what was best for me, and I ended up relinquishing so much control to him that I had to behave as if he actually did know what was best for me.
Here's the thing that separates D/s relationships from vanilla ones: one person is explicitly relinquishing power to another person. That makes abuse all the easier to perpetrate and all the harder to identify. That said, why don't we warn people about this as soon as we find out that they are new to the scene? Why is this topic so taboo? I guess it goes back to this fear that if we tell anyone that anything is wrong with BDSM, that he will pull off his fake mustache and reveal himself to be a secret member of the Vanilla Police, here to take us away (haha hoho) for indecent acts. To which I say, grow up. You are not Oscar Wilde. The worse persecution you will probably ever experience because of your naughty proclivities will be at the hands of a partner who thinks that your sadism/masochism/dominance/submissiveness/balloon fetish is kind of icky. Oh please. You have so little to lose from warning people about abuse and so little to gain from shaming me for warning them.
If I had been told that what I was experiencing was abuse, and not just par for the course, I might have gotten out of that situation a lot sooner. I want to tell everyone that, but I don't, for fear of losing the community that I have. Because, like, this shit is heavy. It's not fun to hear about. It's terrible PR. And now I'm a little ashamed for posting this for the benefit of a few people, instead of saying it really publicly, because it should be heard. I don't know. Maybe it's best not to drop the "a-bomb" because that's, like, totally humorless. Maybe it's better just to point out that not everyone that can tie a knot or wield a knife deserves your trust. Maybe you're better off being hyper-vigilant about safewords until you know for sure. Maybe we bottoms have to look out for each other. Just a thought.