is fundamental to good leather sex.
statement is enough of a sentence to be its own paragraph.
If there is anger, intimidation, coercion, or permanent
injury in a scene, then I don't want to be part of the
action. It is more than semantics to write that the attributes
of safe, sane, and consensual easily separate fantasy
folks aren't wimps. My recent (and very happy) experience
at Hell Fire's annual Inferno Run was ample demonstration
that at least some leather men are able to give it and/or
take it. In this case, "it" is pretty heavy action. Heavy
action isn't violent.
on the other hand, doesn't have to appear "heavy" either.
The continuous or long term application of even minor
forms of pain (psychological or physical) can be detrimental
and injurious. Unfortunately, it's a fact that there is
violence and we need to work to eliminate it.
that important fact, please bear with me as I write about
an important, but seldom discussed issue: Domestic Violence.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
you're anything like me, you don't know a lot about domestic
violence. In all my years, I've only met one person caught
in that kind of ugliness. Bound to a lover by financial,
physical, and career ties, Rich (not his real name) was
harassed, beaten, berated, and practically enslaved. He
saw no way out of his prison: trapped by drugs and alcohol,
beaten by an over-powering lover, coerced at times at
gun point, he was depressed but saw no where to go.
offered a safe haven for him, but was turned down because
of his fear of retribution against him and against me.
Part of the following information comes from a recent
press release from the National Leather Association. For
further information or help, contact Beth Zemsky of the
Gay and Lesbian Community Action Council (800-800-0350)
or the National Leather Association at 584 Castro St,
#444, San Francisco, CA 94114, 415-863-2444) or any of
the hot line services in your neighborhood.
violence is not an easy topic to deal with, in so far
as it can bring up a lot of complicated emotions in all
of us -- pain, shame, betrayal, guilt, or fear. But we
need to understand and recognize the signs of abuse, the
cycle of abuse (build-up, confrontation, and honeymoon),
and know what resources are available to us. Anyone can
be subject to abuse: a person's size, gender, or specific
sex role (e.g. top/bottom, butch/femme) is irrelevant.
Violence is a pattern of intentional intimidation for
the purpose of dominating, coercing, or isolating another
without his/her consent. Abuse tends to be cyclical in
nature and escalates over time.
are the signs of domestic violence? "Physical:" Does your
partner ever hit, choke, slap, or otherwise physically
hurt you outside the context of a consensual SM scene?
Has he/she ever restrained you against your will, locked
you in a room, or used a weapon of any kind? Are you afraid
of your partner?
Rape and forced sexual acts are not part of consensual
SM. Battering is not "agreed" upon; there is an absence
of "safe words." Are you confused about when a scene begins
and ends? Does your partner ever ignore your safe words
or pressure you not to use them? Has he/she ever violated
your limits? Do you feel "trapped" in a specific role?
Does your partner constantly criticize your performance,
withhold sex as a means of control, or ridicule you for
the limits you set? Do you feel obliged to have sex? Does
your partner use sex to make up after a violent incident?
Does you partner isolate you from friends, family, or
Has your partner ever destroyed objects or threatened
Does your partner limit access to work or to material
resources? Has he/she ever stolen from you or run up debts?
Are you or your partner emotionally dependent upon one
another? Does your relationship swing back and forth between
a lot of emotional distance and being very close? Is your
partner constantly criticizing you, humiliating you and
generally undermining your self-esteem? Does your partner
use scenes to express/cover up anger and frustration?
Do you feel you can't discuss with your partner what is
to those questions can help put your relationships, or
those of your friends into proper perspective.
you are a "beaten partner" there are things that we'd
like you to know as well: No one has a right to abuse
you. You are not responsible for the violence. You are
not alone. Connect with other survivors.
are many reasons for staying in abusive relationships
-- fear of (or feelings for) the abuser, and a lack of
economic or emotional resources. If you stay, help is
out about shelters, support groups, counselors, anti-violence
programs and 24 hour crisis lines in your area. Ask a
friend to help you make these calls. Plan a strategy if
you have to leave quickly. Line up friends and family
in case of emergency.
is a crime. Find out about your legal rights and options.
You can get the court to order the person to stop hurting
you through an Order for Protection (OFP) or a Harassment
Restraining Order. You do not need a lawyer.
majority of us aren't involved in domestically violent
relationships, but that doesn't mean that they don't affect
us. Here's what you ought to know and do:
that domestic violence does exist, and exists in the SM
community as well. Don't blame survivors for the violence.
Hold barterers accountable. Listen to any person who has
the courage to talk about his/her experience. Keep all
information confidential. Be supportive. Understand that
leaving is difficult. Let the person make his/her own
the process of making choices, even if you don't agree
with the person's choices. Be a resource -- help find
safe housing and legal advocacy, contact community resources,
and offer emotional support.
me add to that list: Be a responsible and responsive friend.
It neither costs nor hurts to listen. This isn't my usual
SM style, but it is important information, if not for
you, then perhaps for someone you know. If I can help,
let me know.
1999 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in
any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact
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