Fix the Fucking Stair (*trigger warning*)

EDITS: I posted this in November 2012 on FetLife. I was asked to publish this in a larger forum where they could more easily link to the content for people who might have FetLife blocked or just aren’t members. With over 300 “loves” and 100+ comments and countless personal emails and messages I agree that this is worth sharing with a much wider audience.

As of 2016, I was banned from one of the local venues reportedly because of my activism, but also likely because of the connection they had to the person below.

I’ve also added a trigger warning on the title for those who are survivors of sexual assault whether in or out of the scene. However, there is no cut to protect against the triggers.


September Gateway 2007.

I’ve been part of the BDSM community for 8 years and the Denver community for 6 years. There was a time when I was new. And when you’re new you do some pretty stupid things.

When I was new I agreed to play with someone who told me he’d listen to and respect my boundaries, even though every conversation seemed to revolve around how great he thought he was. When I sent him my personal narrative about the “whys” of my limits, he told me “well, that was more than I ever needed to know”. But you know, I made a commitment to be there and I didn’t want to back out since absolutely no one else expressed an interest in playing with me (before the days of FetLife).

When we played I safeworded, calling Red, three times only to have him to continue the exact thing that I said I didn’t want on the spot that was already sore, the very thing I negotiated as off-limits and for the DMs to walk by or watch oblivious even when in earshot of “Red”. He ended the scene by shoving three fingers up my cunt as my face is covered in snot and tears and asking me if I liked it, expecting to be able to start on my front-side since it was clear he thought that went well.

I told him I was done and was non-verbal for the rest of the night. I didn’t confront him because it was clear that he enjoyed himself, chiding and mocking me for not being able to take more…that more would be expected of me next time. And the gall that he thought there would even be a next time combined with the passive-aggressive insult that I wasn’t a good submissive, that I didn’t give my all, that I was lacking in some respect told me that he would only try to justify his poor choices and blame me if I confronted him head-on or publicly about what he did. I was a nobody in Denver at the time nor did I feel strong enough in myself to not only endure having been outed but to also be unwelcome in a community I wanted to be a part of. Who would ever listen to me?

But the fact is, I wasn’t wrong to trust and communicate when things were going badly. I wasn’t wrong to trust someone who was in such a position of authority. I wasn’t wrong to communicate when there was a problem (screaming Red counts!). The only thing I really did wrong was waiting so long to really talk about this.

The parallels between this event and my rape are too sad when you think about it. Much like when I had been raped 16 years ago while hanging out with my friends in their dorm room, I didn’t tell others until much later. Much like the people who witnessed my rape and heard my “No” (and who jerked off as it was happening), no one stepped in to stop it, even when they had a duty to do so. And like 16 years ago I didn’t confront him, but just made sure to avoid him or anyone closely connected with him. As a person, I tend to always put blame on myself and I definitely did for this – I even thanked him a week later in an email (which years later is quite embarrassing):

Thank you for the time you spent last week…I’m still trying to piece together what I’ve learned.  The fact that I safeworded concerns me.  It’s never happened before, partly because I’ve never been played that hard before.  And while you reassured me that I took it well, the tears streaming down my face the whole time also concerns me.  This points to unresolved issues I have with my previous Dom that I want to figure out before I play any more with anyone else, including you.    There is far too much history to allow it to play out with someone new.  I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to play with you, but I don’t think I can go any further than we did.  I am not emotionally prepared for it…not to mention physically ready for it either.  I will be taking the next few months to really piece together where I am with D/s right now…and whether it even still fits into my life.  You opened my eyes to a lot of issues I’ve been failing to face up to…and it’s given me a lot to think about.  Again, I am very grateful for that…but with where I am right now, where my experiences have led me to.  This was a chance to see whether we’re a good fit for each other and sadly I don’t think we are, especially considering the issues I still need to work through in my own life.

Email, Sept 22, 2007

It isn’t about naming names as naming the problem

What prompted this post? It isn’t to publicize his mistakes. It’s to share an experience that, much like the date rape I survived, is far more common and one where I see a lot of others wrestling with whether they should say something or just keep quiet. What’s worse is I see others who continue to act badly, who take no responsibility for their actions or the impact they might have on others (particularly in a public space) and continue to act as if they are the ones who are victimized whenever anyone wants to address their behavior.

I’ve had enough. It is precisely the pattern of consume-destroy-silence-shame-repeat that is hurting members of our community and I’ve had enough. Particularly with the influx of people coming to BDSM from 50 Shades I am quite concerned about the model we are setting for those who not only have unrealistic expectations to start but who genuinely feel a draw to practice what we do. What responsibility are we going to take as a community?

I know I’m not the only one who has noticed this. Hell, we wouldn’t have had to have hosted a FuK Yes! party if everything was working smoothly, we were protecting our own community effectively, and people weren’t getting hurt by the same limited few who continue on this path of consumption and destruction. We needed the community conversation and we need a LOT more of them. That conversation needs to continue but more than anything it needs to be followed by action.

The do-nothing or the no-drama response is cowardly, irresponsible, and does not actually fix anything. Nor does crying foul when someone is told they are no longer welcome at a particular venue or event. Nor does retaliation when you or a friend has been asked to stop a particular behavior such as touching things and people who aren’t yours or targeted harassment and stalking. Nor does shaming or silencing someone who decides to speak out about their experience whether privately or publicly.

For those on the “we just don’t know what really happened” or “we don’t have enough evidence yet” fence let me clarify how utterly insulting and insidious that response really is. First of all, there are very few of us in the community who have a law degree even fewer of us who are trained to be third-party neutrals. So to suggest that our community is even qualified to hear or evaluate evidence in any sort of neutral, balanced way is fucking ridiculous. And to sluff it off as if there is some magic organization that we created or even trust to sort out the problems in our community is invincibly ignorant.

When we imply that it is the survivor’s burden to bring forth that evidence in sufficient quantity (judged by whom?) suggests that justice basically consists of victim-shaming, silencing and outright dismissal until some superior (that we haven’t actually designated) finally decides that the complaint is “worthy” of listening to. And in those rare cases where the perpetrator was you know -really, really bad- then we won’t say anything about it publicly, but we’ll have some silent agreement (not always involving the actual stake-holders) on how we will deal with that person. Probation? Supervised by whom? Suspension? For how long? Who gets to decide what is needed to keep our community and its survivors safe?

Justice in our community should be easier, but often is just a trap of mainstream victim blaming summed up with “report or it didn’t happen”.

It’s our job to fix the broken stairs in our community spaces

At the risk of repeating the obvious, here is another link to the article “The Missing Stair”. Pretending you are dealing with the problem by ignoring the problem or rationalizing why it’s not a problem is akin to denial. And, for example, it’s what many families who are confronted with an allegation of sex abuse from within do as well. Denial, shaming and victim-blaming is anything but healthy because abuse is abuse. We as a family, we as a community are in denial and people will continue to be hurt until we wake the fuck up.

Yet when people actually do something about the problem such a party host, a bystander, or community leader who confronts someone either privately or publicly with an issue, the backlash is extraordinary. Whether it was the person who was confronted or their merry band of misfits who do the retaliation, it actively discourages others who felt or experienced the same from speaking up and standing up. But more than that it affirms the original perpetrator’s lack of remorse or empathy and allows the wrong behavior to continue as a pattern harming more people along the way.

Tell me how that is called responsible, much less safe or sane?? And yet, we continue to invite them or at least tolerate them in public spaces despite their alarming lack of concern for the consequences of their own actions. We have acquiesced and turned a blind eye and yet we have no problem judging other institutions such as churches who do the exact same thing.

The minute we call them out on their lack of action, they are on the attack instead of taking any amount of energy to determine whether these survivors might actually be right. Much like the abusers themselves, leaders become oppositional the moment they are confronted with wrong-doing and use every tool in their rationalization toolbox to assert themselves as the actual victim or excuse sexual assault as the survivor “not taking responsibility for themselves”. Blame-shifting is a dangerous defense mechanism, a wobbly, crooked, and sharp one that has been honed by years of people stepping out of its way instead of stopping it. And the more we allow these behaviors to continue the more we are the ones perpetuating the problem instead of solving it.

Lack of self-awareness in a partner is a deal-breaker for me. A non-starter because eventually, they will disappoint me when confronted with their own behavior. And when I see such a gross lack of awareness in the community, I likewise feel unsafe. The excuses and victim blaming make their shocking lack basic remorse and empathy even more dangerous. I do not trust their judgment and want them nowhere near my personal space. I have survived too many violations to my very reasonable boundaries and limits to simply “tolerate” those who excuse this level of harm. Nor am I the only one who feels this way.

We are all stewards of this community.

Look, I deal with conflict. It’s my job. It’s a job I chose. And it’s not that I don’t encourage us to deal with our problems peacefully in private with education or healing conversations. What I’m saying is that the people who are actually doing this have been confronted privately and they continue to engage in this behavior and worse yet, they try to lean on those who were trying to be understanding and compassionate about lapses in judgment by wrongly assuming we are on their side.

I know confrontation is scary to everyone. Everyone has their hackles raised. It’s uncomfortable and it’s hard. And those, like me, who normally are more willing to accommodate and accept blame rather than make anyone feel bad about themselves are the least likely to do it – as I proved in my email above. This is a normal response. But nothing stopped the many witnesses that night from either checking on me or reporting his abuse of my safeword.

When we take the passive way out, we remove ourselves from the community responsibility we share. We throw up our hands and wait for someone else to take care of it. We limit ourselves waiting for someone else, someone with the illusions of actual authority to step up to fix the broken stair.

Not anymore. We are each stewards of this community and responsible for making it as safe as we can.

I am no longer willing to wait for everyone else to wake up to this problem. And I support those who tell problem players that they are not welcome. I’m happy to shut doors of opportunity in our venues, pulling away welcome mats to those who continue to violate others and act without regard to the consequences of their actions. No more skipping over that stair for me.

Victim blaming leaders are quick to point out that personal responsibility, integrity and awareness are everything.

For Further Reading:

Posted on November 20, 2012, in BDSM/Kink, Calling, Divine Feminine and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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