When Abuse Masquerades as BDSM: My Bad Experience and What I Learned

Consent is the dividing line between abuse and kinky fun. When consent is broken, it’s not BDSM anymore- it’s abuse. Always remember RACK- Risk Aware Consensual Kink. No exceptions.

Prior to getting active on fetlife and getting involved with the local kink community here, I didn’t know much about consent other than saying no meant stop. My understanding of BDSM safety included basic safe words, but little else, including how to effectively negotiate safe words and playtime specifics. Aftercare was something I’d never even heard of. I’d never done BDSM with someone I didn’t know well and explicitly trust before, so I didn’t know how risky it was to allow someone new to top me without going through all the safety and scene preparation procedures (which I didn’t know much about anyways, I didn’t even know what a scene was). I also didn’t know to watch out for serious red flags in conversation beforehand, which I know to look for now.

A safe word was supposed to be set up, but he conveniently forgot that detail. I did know enough to set up a few hard boundaries beforehand; but unfortunately that didn’t matter very much. My boundaries were pushed and even blatantly broken, and I didn’t feel safe saying no. At the time I couldn’t understand why I didn’t tell him to fuck off or tell him to stop pushing and breaking my boundaries. Instead, he just did what he wanted and I let it happen.

Afterwards I was very confused and upset. Why hadn’t I just said no? Why hadn’t I told him I’d changed my mind and didn’t want to do it anymore? From the moment he arrived I knew I didn’t want to do anything with him, but he jumped right in and I couldn’t seem to get the words out. I was a fish out of water- unprepared, ill educated, and at the mercy of a predator who didn’t have any respect for me.

Now that I’ve learned more about how BDSM works, I understand that scenes like that can be incredibly intense. It can be hard to get your head in a place to actually articulate a no- especially when the dom doesn’t respect their sub. When there is no safe word and the dom makes no effort to make sure you know you CAN say no at any time, it sets up an abusive situation. The domination stops being playful and it becomes real, and that’s very scary. It may not have been the dom’s intention, but the result was no less traumatic. While I fortunately haven’t suffered from any PTSD or other serious repercussions and I still thoroughly enjoy BDSM, other people have not been so lucky.

I’m sharing this in hopes that other newbies might read it and prevent a similar experience from happening to them, or to prevent them from unintentionally doing those things to others. No matter what anyone tells you, you ALWAYS have the right to say no, and so does your sub. Always. No exceptions. If you don’t feel like you can safely say no, then it’s not consensual and it needs to be addressed right away. Safe words are absolutely essential. If you’re a newbie, I strongly advise getting involved in the community and learning about safety from experienced players before going off on your own. It’s also a very good idea to try out kink stuff at established events, since there are moderators and other players who can help if someone tries to break your boundaries.

When you meet strangers online and don’t have others around to help hold your play partner accountable, it’s very easy to get into a situation where you might be hurt or assaulted. Predators try to take advantage of newbies, hoping to find inexperienced new players (especially young ones) who would be susceptible to their abusive, selfish tactics. Being a part of the community and playing within that community is important because then you can ask other people if your potential play partner is safe or not. And in fact, whenever dangerous or abusive players are discovered, they are kicked out of the community. Or at least, they are in the community I’ve gotten involved with. (They’re awesome!) So if someone doesn’t want to get involved with the community or meet you at a kink event, that should be a red flag because predators avoid accountability. Not that everyone who avoids the community is a predator, but it is something to watch out for.

My bad experience is why I waited a long time to start topping or dominating people by myself. I want to be sure I can be a safe, healthy, considerate dom who knows how to care for and communicate with my subs.

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