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There’s A War On Part 3: A Fungus Among Us

April 20, 2012

Part 1 is Here

Part 2 is Here

[Trigger warning for the whole topic.  I’m talking about rape and abuse in the BDSM community. This post specifically contains narratives of rape and abuse. ]

I said in the last section that when the predators manipulate their way into central positions in BDSM communities, they are unstoppable.  We have to talk about this, and this is the uncomfortable part.  Predator Theory, backed by empirical research, tells us that the bad actors, the repeat, deliberate, serial abusers, are less than 10% of the general population (depending on the population; the research is sketchy, but 4% or 8% depending on whether one looks at Lisak’s college sample or McWhorter’s Navy sample).  Four out of a hundred, one out of twenty-five: someone we know.  Someone we’re friends with.  Someone we trust.  Someone who is friends with our friends.  It may be worse in BDSM communities, nobody has any numbers.  Pedophiles try to become priests, teachers, coaches, run camps: places where their access to targets will be easy, where they can select and groom targets.  Given the way BDSM communities offer access to targets and unwittingly or even recklessly provide cover for abusive conduct, why wouldn’t predators who want adult victims gravitate toward BDSM communities?  Anyone who thinks that can’t be true is in denial.

The first step is admitting we have a problem.  And we do have a problem.  I’ll skip to the end: 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.  You, you out there on the internet, can search blogs until you’re blue in the face for a record of some of these stories, or some indication that you shouldn’t play with some of these people, and you’ll never find it.  Even when “everybody knows,” the “everybody” is very narrow.

Here is a classic example; a pretty typical story that was left in comments to Charlie Glickman’s blog post on BDSM and rape [TW specifically not so much for the violation but for the community shut-down, but if you can, I encourage you to read this and not just TL;DR skim it]:

A good friend who is a non-masochistic female submissive negotiated “a painless singlestail scene” at a convention dungeon. She was not a novice, but had 3-4 years experience and was very active in the local community. The dominant man was a was a current title-holder, doing the circuit of regional conventions.

In midst the scene, after she was spacey and not able to speak, he re-negotiated the scene and got her agree to body punching. She expected a thumpy massage. She got three ribs dislocated.

When he punched her kidney she fell, so he held her to the floor and kept punching her. She had to pull herself together enough to speak, and to call red, before he stopped. Then he told her not to tell anyone what had happened, and he dumped her on me and left. He did not show up at the pre-arranged meeting place the next the morning.

This was clearly not a scene gone wrong, or a mistake.

The man could not have claimed ignorance. He was a trained martial artist, so he would have known the effect his blows were having. It could only have been deliberate.

Rather than dropping out of sight, she chose to warn people. When she tried the tell the kink community what had happened, she got shut out. Her forum posts were deleted. She was told to have a mediated discussion with the man who had assaulted her. The rape crisis center wasn’t interested because it had happened in a kink environment and there had been no penetration. People in the community stopped talking with her.

She found other women who had had their limits violated and had been beaten or even put in the hospital by this man. Of course, some of them dropped entirely from the scene, which made them invisible. If she hadn’t sought them out, they would have been forgotten.

People in the community still didn’t want to hear about it. She continued to fight for three years before anyone agreed to help her.

This response was not merely local. People acted in the same way in our home state, in the state where the convention was held, and the home state of the man.

The result is that this man seized the one thing she enjoyed most in life, BDSM, and took it away from her. That was the last time she ever allowed herself to to get spacy and unable to speak. And for that, the community treated her as the villain.

We tell ourselves that the kink community is self-policing, but we’re lying to ourselves. The community prefers to minimize visible conflict. If a predator says the right things in public, and abuses people in private, not only is he accepted by the community, he can be made a title-holder.

[Bold mine.] Now, I don’t know who the hell that is.  I don’t know who the victim is, who the perp is, nothing.  But it rings true because it matches what I’ve seen.  A close friend of mine, a queer cis woman, won a leather contest title on the East Coast in the late 1990s, then moved out to the Bay Area.  After playing and participating for years, she met a guy who was a relative newbie Dom and they decided to try a 24/7 relationship.  It didn’t last very long, and they broke up, but when it fell apart and she tried to get back together with him, he punched her in the face.  It wasn’t consensual, it was in anger.  They had a written contract that specified that play in anger was a hard limit.  The contract conveniently disappeared.  She reported and it ended up in court.  The BDSMers generally sided with him.  He’s a sought-after speaker.  She tells me she feels like persona non grata in her old play space.

Here’s the grim punch line: a friend of mine, a feminist, a prominent feminist BDSMer, played with that guy.  After the incident.  Nobody told her.

There are stories that have me gritting my teeth, ones where I’ve talked to the participants and know what happened as well as anyone except an eyewitness can, stories where the abusers are very public, very well-connected, and where there have been attempts to tell people that a top is wildly unsafe and untrustworthy.  Those attempts resulted in no meaningful action against the tops, and a whole lot of personal consequences for the victims and other people who tried to speak out; so much so that in some cases the survivors have personally asked me not to be more specific because they don’t believe anyone will do anything about it and they just can’t go through it again.  It makes me sick and sad not to say what I know, but … I understand.  Some of the people who do very fucked up and wrong things are also the fixtures at some of the parties, or the hosts, or in the inner circle of organizations.  Some survivors decide that they need to be heard, however, so I have permission to print one such story.

I’ll call her Nina, and I’ll call him Boris. Boris is charming. Boris cares more about consent than anyone, or that’s the impression he gives, and so say some of his friends.

Nina isn’t okay now, not completely, but Nina is strong enough to tell her story, and this is what she wants you to know: that she was new to BDSM and Boris was showing her the ropes; and in his case the knives, because he’s a knife fetishist. They were together for a few months, and in that time she says he repeatedly encouraged her to accept a knife insertion. She didn’t want to do a knife insertion. If she had had the language, which she didn’t then, she would have called it a hard limit. (In case the terminology escapes you, readers, we are talking about knife-in-vagina here. I’m not going to get into a safety debate here, though, which will devolve into unproductive namecalling between the knife players who think it’s fine and the people who think it’s inherently and stupidly dangerous.)

She says he would put his fingers inside her, and tell her the fingers were a knife. It made her uneasy, but she never asked him to stop the roleplay. She knew, she knew that he wouldn’t really put the knife in. She hadn’t agreed to that. She had said not to. She had said she wasn’t ready. She says she had been clear: certain that he would respect her boundaries, she let him have his pretend play. (It’s not a bad way, this sort of mindgame, to move towards opening up a limit. But then, the move from pretend to for real is the difference between consent to pretend and consent to real — all the difference in the world).

She wasn’t ready, she said to Boris. Then all of a sudden, he said it was in, and it wasn’t pretend. The knife was inside her, not Boris’s fingers; in her vagina, without telling her. (I’d explain the technique, but it’s a technique that has to be learned in person. Don’t read about it and try it at home.)

And then she had to leave, because he had some people coming over, and she was left to pick up the pieces. When she addressed it, she says he wouldn’t apologize. He told her he left her better than he found her. And she’s still picking up the pieces.

She came into the scene through him. Who else did she know but his friends? She wanted to go to parties, but he would be there. Asking the hosts to bar him seemed an impossibility: they were all his friends. People she knew and thought she trusted made excuses for him, erased what she told them and rewrote the story in a way they could accept, that neither required them to call Nina a liar nor accept what her story meant about Boris. Some people just don’t want to see Boris like that. They know Boris! Boris wouldn’t do a thing like that! And it’s easy to say, “I wasn’t there, how can I know?”  Of course I wasn’t there, and unless you’re Nina or Boris, neither were you.  But when Nina told me, everything I know about judging credibility said that the story she told me was true, from A to Z.

One of her fears now is that, to keep the peace, to allow them to accept that she is telling the truth but not to deal with what that would mean about Boris, mutual acquaintances will pressure her to accept an apology from Boris of the “sorry-I-misunderstood” kind, to accept that it was a mistake, an accident, a miscommunication. She knows her truth. She was clear. She did not consent. He did it anyway. And she needs to say that, even if that’s uncomfortable for the people in the scene.

This one appeared on Tracy-Clark Flory’s Tumblr, after she posted the story about Stryker that I linked in the first segment:

I was at a play party some years ago where I was seriously abused non-consensually by a woman who figured she could do anything she wanted because “sub males should consider themselves lucky to get any kind of attention from a dominant woman.” After it happened, everyone kept telling me to stop talking about it because she was a known dominant, and it would only “hurt your reputation in the community.”

One of the founders of one of a big city party operation was accused of sexual assault by a woman.  His friends, on Fetlife, piled on her and attacked her.  A second woman’s allegations came to light — she hadn’t wanted to say anything publicly, but she got dragged into it.  Team Perp was well on their way to shutting the women down and protecting him, when a prominent youth organization threatened to boycott the perp’s parties.  He took some time off to address issues in his personal life.  Recently, I read a first-hand account that that guy’s co-founder nonconsensually and against event rules finger-penetrated a woman at one of the events.

One friend of mine started asking questions about a prominent, well-connected Midwestern kinkster.  He and his wife started making threats, and they’ve threatened other people who have made inquiries about whether his conduct was all consensual.  Some of his friends then tried the good-cop approach: they were trying to change him, to make him be better about consent and limits, but if she attacked him, he’d just get defensive and would stop trying to change.  Charming, right?

(I’m listing blind items here.  Some of these incidents, I don’t know who it is.  Some, what I know I know only second-hand.  Some, I got the stories firsthand and I do know who it is, and I have not said.  I could give you all kind of excuses for why I’m not naming the names I know; but the blowback if I tell other people’s stories isn’t just on me.  I’m not afraid of the abusers, or not afraid enough to shut me up anyway.  But I am afraid to set in motion events that will harm people who trust me.  So … right now I’ll just say that I did what I did.  I’ll return to what it means to name names later.)

There are more.  Kitty Stryker collected some stories for a blog carnival.  If you follow online BDSM communities, the stories sometimes pop up, but then they are sometimes quickly hauled down, or they occasion a flurry of attacks on the victim, and only occasionally the victim’s supporters returning fire.  Some I get by private email or PM, some I hear third-hand, some are laid out in personal blogs, under the radar with a readership of a dozen.  Those are the stories that you don’t hear unless you’re already close to it.  You have to know somebody to find out what was said.

The plural of anecdote is not data.  The plural of anecdote is evidence.  How many does it take to make a pattern?  One woman, a friend-of-friends, had this to say (Sorry, folks, Fetlife login req’d):

I joined the New York scene around end of summer or early fall of 2009. I wasn’t new to kink, but I was brand-new to joining public groups about it. I got to know a bunch of people, but I made closer friends with a group of maybe 10-12 women who bottomed/subbed at least part of the time, and who got into the scene at around the same time I did.

It’s now spring 2012. Out of these 10 or 12 women, 3 (including me) are still in the scene. Out of all these women, 100% were raped, abused, assaulted, drugged without their consent, or had their hard limits totally ignored by members of the scene.

Most of them didn’t even think of going public for fear of backlash. If you asked one of their acquaintances why so-and-so left, they might say “didn’t she move?” or “I thought she got a new job that kept her busy” or “oh, I think she left after her breakup with that guy” or “you know, people just drift in and out sometimes.” You wouldn’t know the real story unless you were one of their close friends. I can’t count how many times I’ve gotten an “I can’t believe what he just did to me, but don’t tell anyone” call. Single digits would be unacceptable; double digits is incredibly disturbing.

I think at least 90% of people in the scene are good. I think the others get around a whole lot.

I think even in a relatively small sample size, a violation rate of 100% is a sign that something really needs to be fixed.

[Emphasis mine.]  There’s a theme here: that silence and secrecy are the paramount values, and open discussion is to be avoided.  It’s a basic function of institutions, but often of informal social networks as well, to protect the body from reputational damage.  That’s what colleges do with rape: they use nondisclosure agreements so that whatever the result, nobody can talk about it.  When I was in college and there was an accusation of a sexual assault on a woman I sort of knew, I got the account from her, and she said it happened and I believed her, so I told anyone who would listen about the perp.  So the administration told me I’d be punished if I didn’t shut up.  That’s how it happens.  Not talking about it is rule #1.

I said before that even when “everybody knows,” everybody is really narrow.  Even when there’s a paper trial, a police report, a restraining order, people who are new in the scene often don’t get told.  When I was a teenager, I believed that reputation was the gold standard and that if there were stories about a top violating boundaries, that it would get around pretty quickly.  It turns out that it doesn’t.  People sit on what they hear.  To tell you, the people who have heard need to trust you, and the people who nobody knows well enough to share the story with are those who are newest and least protected.

I titled this series, “There’s A War On.”  There are two sides, and the two sides are Transparency and Secrecy.  Justice Brandeis famously wrote that “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”  People who are against sunlight have arguments, some of them even sensible arguments.  But when it comes down to it, either you think things have to change, or you don’t.  For reasons that I’ll write about in greater depth in the sections to come, the only real way to make change is to let the sunlight in.

There’s a way I think I need to come at this.  Some of the people on Team Secrecy are not evil, just misguided, and on my account they’re misguided because they’re not seeing the critical relationship between the predators, and the environment that allows them a social license to operate.  So the rest of what I have to say is about those factors and that relationship.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2012 10:50 am

    From what I know of friends who are into BDSM, many are secretive about their involvement in the lifestyle. As such, I can understand the hesitation to let “sunlight” in for fear of being “outed”. (Especially if people are witnesses to a crime and as such could be called to testify publicly about their involvement in the lifestyle, thus opening their own private activities to public scrutiny to friends, relatives and employers who may not understand why they would participate in such things).

    Of course, standing by and allowing people to continue to violate others for fear of being outed personally is abhorrent and morally reprehensible. I am not knowledgeable enough about the lifestyle to understand all of the dynamics at play where certain things are negotiated as being acceptable and not acceptable in any scene that takes place. As such, it is hard to put myself in the situation to completely understand how the desires of the more submissive person can be adequately communicated to the more dominant person.

    However, if someone is submitting and someone is dominating, it seems to me that the responsibility to find out where that line is rests with the dom and as such the dom would have the responsibility to make sure the line is not crossed. Crossing the line should be what causes someone to be shunned, not reporting that a line was crossed. I cannot imagine how any submissive person could feel safe in a community that would participate in apologia over those who are reported to habitually cross the line.

    • trusthynenemy permalink
      April 20, 2012 2:26 pm

      I think, the sunlight does not need to be *general* public exposure. But *certainly* community exposure. There are people in my community who are well-respected leaders, who I wouldn’t trust farther than I can throw them (which is not at all). Because I’ve heard ghosts of whispers that they might push boundaries which have been explicitly stated as things not to cross. My community wouldn’t have to out them to the “normal” world, to let newcomers to events know that those people are not safe to play with. But they *would* have to speak up about it, and not leave those ghosts of whispers as ghosts of whispers.

      One of the ways the community communicates boundaries and things is that *before* a scene starts, the parties involved talk about what is ok and what isn’t ok. And yes, sometimes you miss things, and there are legitimate misunderstandings. But saying “no you may not insert a knife into me” and then having a knife inserted is not that. Practically all of the abuse/boundary violation/assault stories I’ve heard have been that clear-cut. Not all of them, but the vast majority.

      “Crossing the line should be what causes someone to be shunned, not reporting that a line was crossed.” This. You said it PERFECTLY here. THIS.

  2. Holly B permalink
    April 20, 2012 1:57 pm

    I skimmed large sections of this for trigger reasons, so apologies if I missed anything relevant and my commentary sounds odd because of it.

    For the record, in Massachusetts you legally cannot consent to being beaten. It’s highly problematic for some aspects of the kink scene, but it does mean that in MA, anyone who physically abuses someone in a kink scenario can be charged directly for assault, and not just sexual assault. (such as in the case of the man who “only” dislocated ribs) Consent, even hazy consent, is not in any way an acceptable defense. Obviously not all women are comfortable pressing charges, and I believe you said some people have done so, and it doesn’t fix how awful the community is being about these things – but people do at least have a great deal of leeway to take these things to court.

    It kind of sounds to me like a large percentage of the kink community is broken, and desperately in need of fixing.

    • April 20, 2012 2:27 pm

      Holly, I’m a lawyer and I have a good working familiarity with the case law. As a matter of pure case law, what you say is true. In practice, in Mass and many other places, prosecutors are not sure that they could get and keep a conviction for assault in a BDSM scene without proving nonconsent, and so are unlikely to bring it unless they intend to prove nonconsent. While NCSF argues that we need to change the law, the primary issue is that the existence of the criminal laws against BDSM hurt kinksters in family court and employment, not that there are actually prosecutions for BDSM where all parties agree it was consensual –and if we exclude practicing surgery without a license, such as [TW Graphic] finger amputations and castration, the last case I’m aware of where the prosecution didn’t even attempt to prove nonconsent was Attleboro, and that was 20 years ago and resulted in no convictions.

  3. April 22, 2012 11:13 am

    If 4% of people are serial abusers, then we’re dealing with probability. It’s by no means certain that if you know 25 people, then you know 1 serial abuser (in fact, you’ve got approximately a 1 in 3 chance that none of them are serial abusers).

    On the other hand, if you put 17 people in a room together, you’ve got a better than 50% chance that at least one of them is an abuser. If the more accurate figure for prevalence of serial abusers is 8%, then the “50% chance” figure is just 9 people and when you have 36 people in a room, there is a statistically significant (i.e. less than 1 chance in 20 that it’s wrong) chance that at least one of them is an abuser.

    Comparing those numbers with the sizes of BDSM events (munches, and one fetish club event) I’ve been to, is pretty scary.

    • April 23, 2012 9:17 am

      Sloppy shorthand on my part, of course. Thanks for taking the time to do the math properly.

      • April 23, 2012 7:43 pm

        You’re welcome, it’s kind of my thing that I like to do. Although, as Lukas points out, it’s a scary result in general, not just for BDSM spaces.

    • Lukas permalink
      April 23, 2012 9:24 am

      I’d just like to point out that the 4-8% number comes from general studies; college students and navy sailors. It’s not specific to the BDSM community. So, what you’re saying is true, not just for fetish events, but for the the classroom, the office and the grocery store.

      Now, THAT’S scary.

      • April 23, 2012 9:52 am

        Correct. We have no idea what the proportion is within BDSM communities, other than by taking those figures and making assumptions based on observation. My observations lead me to hypothesize that the proportion is greater than Lisak’s college sample. We have serious problems.

    • BeccaTheCyborg permalink
      May 22, 2012 1:11 pm

      I find it interesting that you would be commenting on the number of predators in BDSM, considering that whole “attempted to abduct, rape and murder a woman” thing.

      • May 22, 2012 2:58 pm

        BeccaTheCyborg, my comment page is showing that you’re replying to SnowdropExplodes, but I don’t have any idea what you’re referencing when you say “attempted to abduct, rape and murder a woman.” Are you talking about something Snowdrop Explodes wrote, or something he did, or something else? I also don’t know Snowdrop Explodes’s real name, so if there is something that’s been all over the British press, I’ve missed the connection.

      • BeccaTheCyborg permalink
        May 22, 2012 9:25 pm

        Well, you have his (SnowdropExplodes’)own admissions about the matter:

        I know it’s not widely known, but this is kind of terrifying as a survivor.

      • May 23, 2012 11:12 am

        Wow. Somehow I missed that. I’ll have further response when I can.

  4. Katie permalink
    April 23, 2012 10:07 pm

    Thanks so much for this series. So necessary.

  5. orangedesperado permalink
    April 25, 2012 6:41 pm

    I often feel like abuse within this community is like one of those plastic “flicker pictures” as the reality of what is going on can shift back and forth a great deal, depending on the position of the viewer.

    I had a friend, who was a domme of long, long standing. Her slave never had a sexual or romantic relationship with anyone else before their relationship started, when he was an adult. I know that there were many BDSM things that happened within their relationship that went way further than anyone else I had ever known — some stuff that seemed pretty extreme, and exceptional.

    The BUT here was that I also commonly observed her behaving really badly towards him — that did not seem to be part of any scene. I lived near her, and I remember walking past unobserved as he was doing some ordinary task like unloading her car, and she was by her front door yelling at him, telling him how stupid he was and how bad he was at doing the simplest task — and it felt horrible and uncomfortable to witness this — you could hear it down the street. It made me feel ashamed to know her, at that moment. I was around both of them — and she really treated this guy like he was inferior, stupid, useless, like she could never be pleased — but this dynamic never stopped. It was never interjected by loving appreciation or affection, at least in my presence. I knew a lot about my friend’s personal history — like her emotionally abusive alcoholic father — who sounded like he treated her mother in pretty much the way she was treating her slave.

    In weaker moments she could admit that she was being abusive — but seemed to have zero interest in changing or correcting this behavior, or even understanding the parameters of what abuse is commonly defined as. I knew her slave a little bit — but we were not close personal friends so I did not feel comfortable broaching this subject with him. There was a relationship of long standing between them — but I felt concerned that it was not healthy — not because of the perversion (Yay Team Perversion!) — but because of her shitty behavior/attitude.

    Mistress ***** was a pillar of the local BDSM community, a VIP. Who in the local scene had the authority to call her on this psychological abuse ? This stuff went on in front of lots of people — no one ever said a thing about this to her or ABOUT her. Was I just not a serious enough player to “get it” ? Was this play so sophisticated that it was over my head ? I felt upset and triggered being around it. Other people in the scene made a BIG DEAL when a new(somewhat novice) slave she was playing with had the audacity to offer his leash to a different mistress at a play party he was attending with her — this was like an international incident for weeks afterwards within that community about how unfit this new slave was. No one ever suggested that Mistress *****’s behavior might be psychologically damaging to her long time slave. This hypocrisy really bothered me.

  6. June 10, 2012 7:53 pm

    Thomas, thank you for this excellent series. A friendly request: now that you have completed the series (at least through part 7), it would be a little easier for those of us who are trying to catch up here to read the complete series if you could link the earlier posts to the next post in the series (thus part one would link to part two and so on). I’ve been going through this series by holding part seven open in one window and linking from that to the first six parts one by one by opening a new tab for each. Which works but is a little cumbersome.

    I am a relative new-comer to the concept of “rape culture” and “rape apologism” and still learning to recognize the signs of “rape culture” and how pervasive it really is. This series has been helping me wrestle with related concepts and considering ways for society to more effectively prevent rape.

    Some of the BDSM-related vocabulary and acronyms sometimes get a little mystifying for me, but a lot of the thoughts you raise here seem very relevant to society at wide well beyond those involved with BDSM. I realize you probably don’t want to bog down your posts with a lot of explanations for vocabulary, acronyms, and concepts that probably seem pretty basic to your more regular readers, or to readers who are involved with the BDSM community elsewhere if not here. Is there a glossary of terminology somewhere that I can consult? (including acronyms … including BDSM since i’m not even sure what words this stands for! 🙂 ) I think I’ve been following along pretty well despite this. But since so much of what you say is so generalizable even for those of us who aren’t part of this community or any of the relevant practice, I want to ensure I’m not losing any important nuances due to my lack of familiarity with terminology specific to the community.

    I discovered this blog via the Goldfish’s post on things fiction writers should remember about sexuality, and part 7 of this series happened to be on the front page when I linked here.

  7. June 13, 2012 10:04 am

    I’ve had time to think about what I want to say about SnowdropExplodes and his confession that he planned and nearly executed the abduction and murder of a woman. So he didn’t actually do it; he didn’t harm her in any way. But I don’t write off what I read as a mere thought, either. I don’t believe in thoughtcrime. Whatever someone’s ideas, ideas that stay in one’s head harm none. But what he wrote about was not that. He wrote about an aborted attempt, something he not only though about but started doing, and stopped just short of finishing. That may have constituted a felony at the time — I don’t know UK law but in the US if you’re apprehended while planning to kidnap someone and having not done it yet, it’s an attempt, and in many places is one grade of felony below the completed act of kidnapping. Which is really serious shit.

    The editorial stance is that we’re taking no action. My personal stance is to state my disgust. To err is human. To plot to kidnap and kill the innocent … isn’t what I’d call error.

    • July 9, 2012 10:07 pm

      I’ve only just seen that this has come up here. I have a few points to make to clarify some things that seem to me to be poorly represented, and also to express a little of how I relate to this part of my past. Ultimately, I view it as past, in that it represents little about who I am now, but it gives me more motivation to fight against rape culture and to confront issues like the one in this series.

      Firstly, there was no “abduction” involved, either in thought or action. That statement by BeccaTheCyborg is false.

      Secondly, I feel that describing it as “planned” is misleading; I took steps to make a certain course of violent action possible if I chose to do so, but never expecting actually to do so. Taking one’s swimming costume on holiday is not “planning to go swimming”, but it does open up the possibility of doing so. Planning is appropriate only in the sense that I put some thought into how it might be possible to carry out the acts, and to gather some things that would make it possible. Certainly the word “plot” implies far more cohesion of thought than I had.

      Thirdly, because of that I also feel that “started doing” is misleading, or even false. Although I put myself in a position to be able to take those actions if an opportunity arose, when an opportunity did arise, I did not take any steps to do them, although I did think about it. Again, one does not “abort an attempt to go swimming” simply because a visit to the beach while carrying a swimming costume and a towel, does not after all result in swimming (even if the urge to get in the water does occur).

      That said, my own feelings about that day agree with the sentiment that “I don’t write off what I read as a mere thought”. And that the appropriate reaction is one of disgust. I also agree that it was not an “error” in the sense of a mistake.

      The “Snowdrop Exposed” text linked by BeccaTheCyborg is an old version, and it is in fact the text that I wrote within hours of the incident in 2004 to express to myself the horror and disgust I felt at where I had arrived, and specifically to make sure I never forgot how far I had drifted from my sense of morality or how horrendous it could have been. After the issue was raised at Womanist Musings, I re-evaluated the purpose and effect of my writing, and rewrote the piece to express what I currently understand to have been going on in my mind to lead me to betray my own principles so thoroughly, and to focus on the purpose of preventing others reaching the same position.

      As explained in the rewritten piece, it wasn’t a “mistake”, but it certainly wasn’t intentional or planned in the sense of being the product of a rational or stable mind – it was an integral part of a collection or complex of suicidal and destructive thought patterns that manifested in a particular way.

      I don’t know the legal position (although I suspect that I probably could have been charged with a crime – and as I’m sure I wrote in at least one version, I could probably have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act at that time as “a danger to myself or others” – actually, at that time, both). Morally, I am culpable for the fact that I did take actions that were designed to make a criminal and terrible act possible. The fact that I made preparations rather than just thinking about things is inescapable and that’s why I agree that it was more serious than being “a mere thought”.

  8. July 14, 2012 9:20 pm

    This is happening in the Austin poly community. I’m with you. There is a war between transparency and secrecy. Between deception and truth. And predators hiding behind sex-positivity and alternative relationship styles turns my stomach. I’ll be writing more about this on my blog next week. Thank you for this.

  9. Kate permalink
    December 13, 2012 1:05 pm

    It’s rather unfortunate, but this is currently happening in my community, as well. As one of the numerous victims of this individual, I can attest to not wanting to come forward and talk to the community leadership because 1- he was a part of that leadership, and 2- Myself being brand spanking new, and him being a 15 year “well-respected” veteran, I thought- who would even listen to me?

    When I finally did come forward, I learned that this individual had done to others what he had done to me. Unfortunately, because his public play is always kosher, but the many, many other non-kosher things have all been done in private, leaving no witnesses and no proof, the leadership says they are unable to do anything.

    For myself? I’m not going to bow out of the community- I just found it and it’s a wonderful thing. What I have decided to do, is to watch out for and warn/protect other newbies that he may be inclined to prey on.

    • December 13, 2012 10:45 pm

      It’s admirable that you’re choosing to remain and do what you can to help warn/protect others, Kate.

      Consider, if you haven’t yet, the option of filing a consent violation report against the individual you wrote of in the FetLife Alleged Abusers Database Engine (FAADE).

      It would also be very helpful if you shared that link with others in your community.

      Thomas, FAADE was designed partly as a response to this excellent series. I’d appreciate any assistance you can offer in getting the word out about the tool, too.


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  5. Got Consent? Part II: Safewording Abuse | Disrupting Dinner Parties
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