Consent – It’s Not Easy Being King
The Deviant Nerd
Brought to you by The Taming School, for when you want curling up with a good book to feel like a good post-coital cuddle.
Question: Hey Pip,
My friend has been dating this kinky creep for about a month now and, no matter how hard we try, she just won’t listen when ALL HER FRIENDS tell him that she needs to leave him. He’s abusive and controlling and just plain horrible.
Like, he makes her call him “Sir” all the time. Like ALL THE TIME. Even in front of us or her family. It’s like he does it just to embarrass her or make us uncomfortable or put her (and, in a way, us) in her (our) place. Like, when she first introduced him to us as her boyfriend, he flipped out and threw this huge fit and started this screaming fight right in the middle of a crowded restaurant.
She later told me that he’s way into all that Dom/sub stuff. Said that, at the start of their relationship, he made her sign some crazy contract where he gets to control what she eats and wears and does and everything. It says all the things he gets to do to her whenever he wants and all the things she isn’t allowed to do whether she wants to or not.
And, now, whenever we go shopping or change in the locker room, I see all these bruises all over her, like her back and legs and butt and stuff. And, when I ask her about it, she just gets super nervous and changes the subject.
We’ve been thinking about going to the cops to try to get them involved, like getting a restraining order or some kind of abuse charge against him, but don’t know how to go about that. Do you have any advice?
- Have Escape Loser Plan?
Pip: Hey HELP,
Look, I know your heart is in the right-ish place here. You care about your friend and are worried that she’s in trouble.
But, here’s the thing…I actually don’t think he’s done anything that terrible.
Don’t get me wrong; he sounds like a jerk and I would never play with him, much less date him. But, if your friend agreed to his terms…she agreed to his terms. She got to know this guy—friggin’ drama queen top that he is—agreed to get involved with him, signed his contract, and is staying with him. You don’t really have anything to report to the cops. Certainly nothing to bring charges or a restraining order against him. Your friend might be in a relationship you wouldn’t want to be in or that I wouldn’t want to be in, but she isn’t necessarily a victim. He isn’t automatically an abuser.
It doesn’t sound like she got manipulated into this relationship. You don’t say that she was lied to or tricked or is being taken advantage of. You don’t mention a shift in their relationship, like there so often is in abuse cases, where the abuser was one way initially to lure someone into the relationship before then changing to show truer colors. You haven’t even told me that she’s unhappy or upset by their arrangement.
The only thing that borders on—but doesn’t qualify as—abuse is him flipping out over titles; this is what makes him a drama queen top. It’s irrational and weird and speaks to a level of crazy that could be seen as a red flag.
While kink isn’t really all that taboo anymore, it’s not mainstream either. It’s not something you tell your family or your partners’ family either. And you should definitely never involve them—or anyone who hasn’t already consented to be involved—in your scenes. Because it’s weird, disturbing, and rude. For everyone involved. So titles are really never used outside the BDSM world. I don’t know anyone who would expect or even want that because it would expose too much of themselves to the world. It’s a liability for the person with the title, out in the wide and often presumptuous and prejudiced world, as much as it is for the person they’re asking to use it.
But, like I said, it’s unwise and off-putting, but it’s not abusive and it’s certainly not enough to build an official or legal case against him. What you describe wouldn’t and shouldn’t make the police act. And, I know, you’re worried because you’ve seen bruises and marks on your friend, which—under normal, vanilla circumstances—should be a huge red flag and should make you worry about your friend.
But your friend is kinky. And, in kink, pain and damage aren’t automatic indicators of abuse like they are in the vanilla world. In fact, we tend to be quite proud of our bruises and scars—often descending into a battle scar contest worthy of Jaws. But only with each other. Which is likely why your friend is uncomfortable with you noticing her marks. Because there’s a good chance she knows you well enough to know you won’t understand.
It’s a hard thing to wrap your head around, even among kinksters, this idea that a top can beat a slave bloody and raw, can string a submissive up until they pass out, can burn, can suffocate, can cut, torture, and rape a bottom and—so long as everything was agreed upon beforehand and wasn’t objected to at any point—it’s not abuse.
It’s just fun.
However, even in the kinkiest relationship, the most vanilla sex—in the dark, half-clothed, married, missionary—can be abuse if done without consent.
Consent is king in kink.
It’s what determines right from wrong in our world. And you just haven’t proven to me that her boyfriend’s done anything worse than acting like a thirteen-year-old girl quibbling over a freakin’ title. It makes him unlikeable, not evil.
My advice: talk to your friend. Talk and, more importantly, listen. Really listen. Check your preconceived notions about how relationships and sex work and really listen to her when she talks to you about him. Does he make her happy? Does he take her wants and needs and desires into account—whatever their BDSM play contract says? Do they play safe and smart? Does he make her feel good? In and out of bed?
If he does—if they’re healthy and happy—stay out of it.
Better yet, be happy for her.
It’s hard to find anyone to love and be loved by in the vanilla world; in kinkland—where we’re few and often far apart—it can feel darn right discouraging at times. You may not get it, you may not even approve but, if you’re really concerned for your friend’s happiness, talk to your friend, get to know this guy, see what they look like together, how they interact, then decide.
If you still have reservations after that, talk to your friend about it. Be understanding but honest. Explain why you feel the way you feel and let her know that, if she ever needs someone to talk to or go to for help, you’re there.
Because, in order for you to help her—if she needs help—she has to want help. And, in order for her to want your help, she has to know that the offer for help is more about her and her happiness than you and your perceptions. If you want to be her friend, be there for her, whatever she decides.
Just because you care.
– Pip, Your Resident Deviant Nerd
* If you have a sex, kink, love, or life question for The Deviant Nerd, email Pip at PipJones.DeviantNerd@gmail.com.
And read more about Pip’s story in Brought to You By.