BDSM is not “safe:” The BDSM community in their own words

 

Kinksters who are honest admit that the BDSM scene has predators. Kitty Stryker say:

Basically, we [Kitty and Maggie Mayhem] realized that we have had very similar negative experiences in the BDSM scene. When we started talking about these abusive situations more, we realized this was more of a widespread problem. It wasn’t just us… abuse is generally never seriously confronted. For example, consent — especially in regards to kinky sex — is joked about and made a punch line. These jokes about safe-wording have a darker undercurrent since essentially we are laughing about the lack of consent. We like to talk about why this is problematic. And one of the main issues we’ve noticed is that many people don’t feel comfortable going to their community leader or dungeon monitors about their sexual assaults.

There’s this “victim blaming attitude” people like to take. Many people responded saying that maybe if I safe-worded, I wouldn’t have been abused. But there’s not always a definite time to safe-word sometimes, because such unexpected and out of the ordinary situations come up. And who really is going to safe-word in a culture where the person who safe-words is called a wimp? … And there’s this attitude that if you are a submissive who safe-words, you’re a difficult submissive.

…neglecting the possibility of rape and abuse is symptomatic of our unwillingness to talk about consent and the reality that it’s not always there.

Many of her commenters agree:

…abuse within BDSM is a problem …Sadly, if a Top or Dominant is popular, has money, throws a good party/event, etc., that Top/Dominant will be given a pass. Too many people are willing to offer the most ridiculous justifications as to why these individuals should not be banished from our community. – Guest

i 1want to say that i have attended play parties where i’ve witnessed bottoms weeping in corners by themselves… i have listened in on conversations occurring between predatory tops who lamented the responsibilities of aftercare and asserted their desires to move along to the next “victim” … – Another person posting as Guest too

There are multiple levels of consent violations. Often times, someone won’t safeword because of what it will psychologically mean if they do and their partner ignores it as their gift of fear is telling them.

… promoting the events of *known* coercive serial rapists who have assaulted at least into the double digits of individuals who are *still* pillars of the community and popular event hosts… the fact that there are those of us who DID use out safewords (including me) and had them were raped or assaulted anyway… the walled garden effect and the way that we insulate and protect our abusers…

… statistics prove more people will be raped than will ever have to be cut out bondage in the event of an emergency.

… bottoms are mocked and reproached so often for safewording that it is not uncommon for me to interact with bottoms who are loaded up with narcotic painkillers in order to play longer and harder without “having” to safeword which is becoming more of a problem. There is a reason why I carry Naloxone (Narcan) in my playbag when I got to dungeon parties: because I have enough knowledge of people using it heavily to play that I feel it is my obligation to carry it in the event I’m present in the room if someone experiences an overdose. -Maggie Mayhem

Other commenters on that site do victim blaming. (Read the comments yourself for examples.) That, too, is a lesson in the mentality of BDSM participants.

There are also messages that prove that BDSM bottoms are sometimes people who cannot keep themselves safe:

“I’ve talked to quite a few bottoms who tell me that they go into a place during play where they’re unable to take care of themselves or take action to protect themselves. –

Janet Hardy

Cliff Pervocracy say:

I went to a sex party not long ago… Days later I found out, almost incidentally, that one of the guys at the party had been ostracized from another scene for “some problems.” Some problems with boundaries. I was a little ticked that no one had identified this guy to me. Later still, I found out that the guy had raped a woman.

Oh, but, like, she only said he raped her and no one was there to see it and it was really confusing and stuff and anyway what do you want us to do, like, treat the guy like a leper? He got kicked out of one scene already and that was like a couple years ago and we’re trying to help him change and now he’s okay as long as someone keeps an eye on him at parties.

Originally I had written a rant here. I’m angry about this, is the short version. I’m quite angry. I’m angry because this isn’t the first time I’ve been around a known abuser and nobody told me; I’m angry because I’ve been abused under the aegis of BDSM; I’m angry because so damn many of my friends have been abused in the scene; and I’m angry because if I used the guy’s name in that story above, I’d be kicked out of the scene.


Judged by that last sentence, not losing his or her chance for BDSM sexual kicks is apparently a higher priority for Cliff than protecting others from a rapist.
And Cliff Pervocracy is actually the one BDSM person whom several people of the BDSM community suggested I should read to get a more positive idea of the BDSM community! Cliff is their model of ethics! He/she also quotes this:

The first step is admitting we have a problem. And we do have a problem… there’s no shortage of stories that start “I was abused” and end “when I tried to say something the community closed ranks around the abuser and I was frozen out.” It’s happened to friends of mine. It’s happened in communities where people insist that the community isn’t like that. And almost always, you have to actually know the participants to know what happened because nobody talks about it. It’s all secret, there’s no sunlight and no transparency.


And his or her commenters agree:

This is happening right now in my community… I was informed, confidentially, by someone in the community who is a friend of mine that [the leader of a BDSM community] was inappropriate with her. It pretty much boiled down to attempted sexual assault. This was about a year ago. Now, more and more women are speaking up. The victim count is up to 4, ranging from rape to attempted assault. There are far more women who have also come forward with stories that amount to “accidental” scarring, leaving marks when asked not to, etc. – Unknown

Both the scenes I’ve been involved with (DC/Bmore) are rife with people who’ve crossed my boundaries, who I’ve heard to be abusers, who I do not trust farther than I can throw them. And that’s JUST the play/kink/abuse dynamic – that’s not even counting the racism. – Katie

I went to a couple of munches, and a rival not-the-munch kinky-people-in-a-pub, and then I decided the local scene wasn’t for me… the big reason was, it was scaring me.
It was scaring me how everyone was assuming I was a femsub. It was scaring me how when I said “I don’t make much noise when I’m bottoming,” people salivated at the notion of “fixing” that. It was scaring me how when I recoiled from tales of electrical predicament bondage, the assembled tops lit up at finding something I didn’t want to do. It was scaring me how every anecdote I was told had either bottoms not wanting what was done to them, or “surprise” play, or intimidating onlookers by pulling a bottom, randomly as far as the onlookers knew (“I’d played with her before, so I knew it was okay…”) out of a queue, or deliberately frightening inexperienced customers with canes…
It scared me, that every story I was told and every reaction I saw said that my active and informed consent to what was done to me was not only
irrelevant, but undesirable and maybe even impossible. – violamessaline

I just left one of my local kink groups because I found out they’d been keeping abuse quiet – when confronted, they said it was a “rumor control” issue. Except I know one of the victims and find the idea that she’s lying (as the group leaders claimed to me behind her back) very, very unlikely. And that leads me to worry about the other “rumors” they’re trying to “control.”
It really didn’t help when they went on a spree of deleting and censoring posts that mentioned the alleged abuse or the abusers.

To make it doubly difficult, someone outright removed from that group because of how many different people accused him of nonconsensual violations (one eventually led to charges, which were later dropped) is now a prominent member in many of the other local groups. – Mar

I’ve been reading in between the lines in FetLife for awhile. Here’s a big red flag: The scene talks BIG about consent, honesty, communication, etc…, but when actual issues of abuse are brought up or when you ask how they are dealt with you either get no reply (*crickets*) or you get people accusing you of stirring up shit. This scares the crap out of me and decreases my confidence that real abuse will be addressed by people in the scene. – Anonymous

33.1% of BDSM participants had their consent violated during scenes. If that don’t seem so high, consider that in a scene, it is the sub, not the dom, who risks a consent violation. As such, it is likely that well over half of subs have experienced consent violations.

 

The BDSM scene has some dangerous people. It is common sense, really. One of the first red flag of a potential abuser is controlling behavior. Therefore anyone who wants to be a dom shows at least one red flag for being a potential abuser.


I can already hear “kinksters” protesting to the above by claiming
that many groups – churches, schools, companies – have hushed up and protected sexual predators in their midsts. Yes, but decent society judge them for it and believe there is something sick in the culture of such a church, school or company. If BDSM communities as a rule are prone to do so, it is reasonable to think as badly of them. And BDSM people themselves say their communities has abusers:

Every kinky community has some hardcore misogynists and abusers, and some of them learn to talk in a way that normal people find more palatable and some of them don’t. – comment by “Thomas” on a BDSM-related blog

While probably the majority of churches, schools and companies are not shielding abusers, it seems most “kinky” communities do. And while the police and courts will get involved when hearing of predators from a church, school or company, they often believe BDSM people are, in the words of Janet Hardy, either “*all* criminals, or that we [the BDSM community] put themselves beyond the tenets of the law and that whatever happens to us is our own fault.”

BDSM is safe” is propaganda. The fact that many in the scene are leaving the term “safe” in favour or “risk aware” is evidence that at least some inside the community know it. Propaganda would have been understandable, except for one thing: By denying the dangers of the BDSM scene, they cause some newcomers to the scene to make choices that will lead right into the arms of those predators.



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1It is not rare among BDSM bottoms to call themselves “i”, not “I” as a mindset, not a spelling mistake.

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