Bit of a personal one, but here goes.
I was in a relationship with a guy who was kinky and poly. I was definitely curious to the kink side of things. I’d also had some abuse in my background. My “friend” and I talked about all of this. I don’t know if me being curious and interested amounts to consent, and I’m getting ahead of myself.
After a month or so of frequent contact and interest, we decided to have sex. I’ll have to admit some ignorance here, but I thought if there was going to be any hitting/spanking/etc. there’d be a set of ground rules set, and at least maybe a safeword or whatever. Right as I was about to climax my partner slapped me across the face. I went dead inside. I pretended to come. I just wanted them off of me.
After this happened we had a falling out. They would not look me in the eye next time we saw each other. They broke things off and said something about the sex being “incompatible”. I wanted to know the real reasons because, honestly, I thought I had done something wrong.
I later found out that this person and their partner had gone around me to start telling things to trusted friends. I felt isolated and undermined.
I guess my question is, was I raped?
Let’s be clear: What happened to you was totally unacceptable. You were violated.
Now, that said, I don’t know if it meets the legal standard of rape depending on where you live. But that doesn’t change the fact that what happened was atrocious. And it doesn’t change the fact that your consent was certainly violated.
Again, depending on where you live, BDSM without negotiation is at the very least physical assault, if not sexual assault. You were assaulted and violated. I’m so sorry that happened to you.
You’re correct. Prior to any sort of hitting or spanking, there should have been ground rules set. Healthy BDSM requires proper negotiation — especially if you’re playing with someone you haven’t played with before (which they were) and who doesn’t have a lot of formal kink experience (which you didn’t).
A Second Opinion from the Wonderful Mr. Promiscuous
Since the subject of this letter was so serious, I called in a colleague of mine, Mr. Promiscuous (of Adult Conversations), for a second opinion, just to make sure I was on the right track.
Here’s what Mr. Promiscuous had to say:
That he slapped her with no warning or anything was definitely Not the Thing to Do. And I can tell that he had to know on some level that it wasn’t the thing to do for two reasons:
- He had the frame of mind to just slap her across the face with no warning and just kept going. While that might have been a “spur of the moment” thing, the fact that he didn’t notice or check in upon slapping them in the face without warning makes it feel like the lack of checking in was deliberate.
- The going around her to majorly discredit them sounds a lot like making sure no one would believe them, and you don’t really do that unless you know you did something wrong.
Anything involving kink should start with negotiation, especially if you’ve had some amount of physical and emotional abuse and you informed your partner of that before you’d gotten to sex.
You don’t “opt-in” just because you said you might be interested. That’s not consent, because giving consent means you had a choice.
And seeing how you didn’t have clue one they were going to just slap you across the face, you can’t have consented.
Readers, Please Make Sure You’re Negotiating Properly
Page again! Thank you, Mr. Promiscuous. Great points about it seeming deliberate.
To everyone else who may be reading this, please make sure you’re negotiating properly. As I said in another recent piece, consent is an extremely important issue to the BDSM community. Getting a “yes” requires agreement. Consent is not simply the absence of no.
In BDSM, it’s not only important that a person consents and that there is a clear and resonant yes. It’s also important to be clear what that person is saying yes to. And usually determining this requires some form of negotiation.
What this looks like precisely can vary based on the people involved, but at minimum you want to ascertain the following:
- Bucket lists, curiosities, and desires. What you’d both like to get out of the arrangement
- Experience level. What you’ve done with others in the past (if anything).
- Hard and soft limits.
- Pain tolerance and any relevant health or medical issues.
- How to stop a scene.
And most of all, you want to obtain clear consent for whatever you’re going to do together.
For more information, please see Understanding Each Other’s Yes & Finding the Overlap: A Guide to BDSM Negotation.
Special thanks to the lovely Mr. Promiscuous for helping out with today’s question. Mr. Promiscuous is a bi, poly, black man on the path to becoming a sex educator. He answers questions of the adult kind with a casual, respectful, and fun air at his blog Adult Conversations.