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BDSM v. Sexual Assault: A Survivor’s Perspective

May 11th, 2013
We got married here...pre-newspaper and graffiti, of course. Click to enlarge.

We got married here…pre-newspaper and graffiti, of course. Click to enlarge.

If you’re a new reader, there are three things you’ll learn very quickly by reading my posts on this site.

  1. I am a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence.
  2. I am the property in a consensual 24/7 consent-to-nonconsent owner/property relationship. (like how I made sure to get “consent” in there twice?)
  3. I work in the adult industry.

People often ask me how well those last two things play with the first one. It seems like they wouldn’t play well together at all, though a common stereotype is that survivors seek out BDSM and the adult industry because something inside them is “broken”.

I don’t know anything about that. I’ll admit, most of the submissives I know have suffered some form of abuse. But I know a lot who haven’t. And I know a lot who were masochists and/or craved control long before the abuse started. I, myself, decided I wanted to strip my way through Harvard before any of the sexual abuse started, and pain has always been a turn on for me even before it was incorporated into anything sexual with another person, consensual or not. 

I never made it to Harvard. That is a direct result of the abuse. My ex made my life a living hell (though he still claims he was a saint…isn’t that always the way?), which made it impossible for me to do much of anything, much less maintain a high enough GPA to even be considered by Harvard. Probably a good thing. I don’t hide my sexuality from anyone. When it became common knowledge I was stripping to pay my scholastic bills, Harvard would most likely have tossed me out on my ear.

I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore, anyway. That shit went out the window when I realized that the flip side to tons of money (if you’re good) was zero time for yourself or your family. I’m not a martyr, and I don’t think anyone could pay me enough to be one.

Generally speaking, I don’t really have any triggers. Most of my favorite movies and television shows are about crime or horror, and while I can empathize on a level someone who has never been the victim of a violent crime wouldn’t understand, I have yet to backslide in my healing process because of something I saw on TV or in real life. I have been known to be moved to attempt to save someone if I see them in a bad situation, which doesn’t always end well. But on the whole, I’m generally pretty good at differentiating between past and present. There is no question in my mind, or the minds of those who matter, that I am safe now. Well…as safe as a person can be in today’s society, and particularly in Schenectady, where I live.

Something I get asked a lot by readers, friends, M, is, “How do you differentiate between sexual assault and BDSM?”

It’s really simple (to me).

First, in my relationship with M, I didn’t just give him consent to take ownership of me, and do whatever he wants with me sexually. I asked him to do it. On my own with no prompting from him or anyone else. It’s something I desire with a hunger so deep one might call it a need. It is not something that was taken from me against my will without any concern to how it might affect me.

But most importantly, M concerns himself with how EVERYTHING might affect me. In spite of all I’ve been through, I’m not broken, and he’s not interested in breaking me. And because he knows my history, he keeps a close eye on my mental state when we’re just laying around the house, when we’re out and about, when we’re having sex, and when he ties me up and uses one of the whips or paddles one of us or one of our friends has purchased for us.

Probably all couples should do this all the time. I’m willing to bet it would save a lot of heartache. The keeping an eye on your partner’s mental state thing, not the BDSM thing—though that, too, if you’re into it.

M is an alpha male, of that there is no doubt. But when he knows something will cause a problem with me mentally, or emotionally, for whatever reason, he doesn’t do it. No matter what it is. It’s not always easy for him, and it frustrates me that he has to do this, but when it comes to a choice between him getting his way and me remaining healthy, happy, and stable, he’ll choose healthy, happy, and stable every time. And I’ve never had to worry that he wouldn’t.

Case in point, recently I struggled with being touched. Okay, that’s putting it lightly. It straight-up freaked me out if anyone touched me, and every time M touched my boobs, I wanted to hide under a bunch of clothes in the bottom of the closet.

That was particularly difficult for M because he felt like it was aimed at him. Who else touches my boobs? But it’s just one of the side effects of being touched inappropriately by people I trusted for most of my life. Unfortunately, it’s a side effect that affects him because he’s my partner. How fair is that?

Regardless, while I won’t claim either of us handled the situation the best we could have, M was there for me every step of the way, and continues to be there for me. If you know any dominant personalities, you know how well telling a dominant not to touch their bottom goes over. But he refrained from touching me until I could be touched without shrinking away from him because it was what I needed.

My abusers did what made them happy, regardless of what affect it would have on me. In most cases, they didn’t even consider what affect their actions would have on me, and became angry with me when I reacted badly.

As for my work in the adult industry, something that is very important to me is a person’s ability to freely choose how to express their sexuality. Be that homosexuality, BDSM, some off-the-wall fetish I’ve never heard of, stripping, prostitution, starring in pornography, or whatever. And so when I carved out my dark little corner of the Internet, I decided that part of my mission would be to advocate for sexual freedom and encourage people to let go of that deep-seated fear of sex so many Americans (and people from other parts of the world) clutch to their chest.

Most of all, I wanted people to know that it is okay to be yourself, no matter who that is. Rock the boat from time to time. Don’t let anyone define you. I thought the best way to do that was to just be myself. And since sex is a big part of who I am, natural progression was to find a job in the adult industry where I could freely advocate for a sex positive culture.

I haven’t had any issues with my job interfering with my healing process, though there have been many poignant moments that have stirred up bad memories. And I still haven’t regretted a minute of it.

  1. May 11th, 2013 at 15:46 | #1

    Rayne: BDSM v. Sexual Assault: A Survivor’s Perspective: Something I get asked a lot by readers, friend… http://t.co/grV380e74i #slave

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