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Old 02-23-2015, 03:30 PM   #1
Dixon Carter Lee
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My friend is an abuse victim interested in BDSM. Looking for advice.

So I've wandered over here from the GB for the first time, sans my usual snark, to ask a question of the community.

I have a friend. A young woman. She's quite beautiful and bright and men don't just want to fuck her, they fall in love with her. They want to own her. In every sense of the word. Since about the age of 17 she's been with and abused by (physically and mentally) a number of older me. (Not me.) She's been tied up, filmed, hit -- all by men looking to possess her.

The details aren't all that important. Suffice it to say that she has never had sex with anyone she's ever loved. She also equates all forms of touching, even hugs from her mother, as an invitation to sex. I believe she also finds herself equating intellectual stimulation with sex. She falls in love at the drop of a hat, with interesting me, all older. She cringes when physically engaged now, but at the same time she feels drawn to being dominated, and has determined that she would like to explore that kind of sexual lifestyle.

I understand that women that have been abused may be later attracted to that sort of sexual proclivity, though, of course, they would like to proceed more safely. She very much wants to fall in love. And she very much wants to maintain some innocence, or at least tender the innocence she has left.

Here's my question --

How can she reconcile the fear and disquiet of physical contact she now experiences as a result of her abuse with her undisputed desire to seek out a BDSM lifestyle?

My advice to her has been to practice non-sexual touching, to dissociate herself from the power her past physical relationships hold over. She's been hugging friends more, and it's working. She now feels that every time she touches someone it isn't going to lead to sex. I don't think she's excised the intellectual component. She's still turned on physically by any man that excites her mind, whether or not she cares for him physically. I've also spoken to her about not dating anyone or fucking anyone for a while until she gets a better handle on her feelings. She is very much not in control of the disquieting reactions that come up when a man touches her sometimes, and that bothers her. She wants to be able to experience smile human contact without flinching. As I say she's getting better at that, with friends. But she doesn't feel she can yet make love to someone she loves, only someone who is out to abuse her.

I could say more, but that might be enough. I have no idea if anyone has any constructive advice. If I put this on the GB I'd get plenty of witty, vulgar, funny and completely useless comments. Curious about what I'll get here.

Thank you in advance, all.
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Old 02-23-2015, 03:38 PM   #2
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Good advise may not be a suitable substitute for the advice of a mental health professional.
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Old 02-23-2015, 03:44 PM   #3
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That's true. That would be part of the "more" I could talk about. She has a therapist. She feels she opens up more to friends. Her therapist listens but doesn't advise. She's clearly "in a rush" to move on, heal, explore. She's only now coming to terms with waiting things out a bit. I don't think she's done with therapy, but, aside from that, I'm looking for insight.

What brought you all to BDSM? Anyone here because of past abuse? How did you reconcile the past with your happy present?
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Old 02-23-2015, 04:01 PM   #4
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It took me a decade to heal from my abusive experience. There were many moments during that time when I thought I was over it and then, through my eagerness and haste to be better, discovered I wasn't. I guess it's hard to skip steps even though you may wish to.

Is your friend submissive? I assumed that she is, but then realized you may not have said so much.

I'm submissive, so I can only offer that point of view. I think it's helpful to become the commander of your own destiny, to become as independent and self-supporting (financially, mentally, spiritually, physically) as possible, before reconsidering submission because then you feel like you own your shit. Then you can empower someone worthy from a position of strength instead of weakness.
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Old 02-23-2015, 04:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ahlam View Post
I think it's helpful to become the commander of your own destiny, to become as independent and self-supporting (financially, mentally, spiritually, physically) as possible, before reconsidering submission because then you feel like you own your shit. Then you can empower someone worthy from a position of strength instead of weakness.
Excellent advice to pass on. Thank you.
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Old 02-23-2015, 04:09 PM   #6
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I didn't come to this because of abuse. Unfortunately, my temperament and need to please made me a perfect target for abuse.

I quickly learned from those experiences and have found a better place for myself. It took years and a lot of introspection (plus therapy/meds) and such.

Learning to like me took a lot of time and work. I'm happy your friend is getting help and I hope she continues.
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Old 02-23-2015, 04:21 PM   #7
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I think it is dangerous to think of BDSM as a way to heal from that kind of thing. That doesn't mean you can't be interested in it and want to do it anyway.
I think it's important to be clear and realistic about what you expect from it.

Taking your time like Ahlam said and finding some comfort and stability with yourself is probably a very good idea and to me it sounds like she has a long way to go still.
It is not easy tough, to take your time when you are young even under the best conditions.
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Old 02-23-2015, 04:23 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by IrisAlthea View Post
I think it is dangerous to think of BDSM as a way to heal from that kind of thing. That doesn't mean you can't be interested in it and want to do it anyway.
I think it's important to be clear and realistic about what you expect from it.

Taking your time like Ahlam said and finding some comfort and stability with yourself is probably a very good idea and to me it sounds like she has a long way to go still.
It is not easy tough, to take your time when you are young even under the best conditions.
I agree. In some ways she has started taking herself down this path. She no longer looks for men to rescue her to keep her (though she's quite poor). She tries to keep in shape physically. She feeds her mind via an insatiable curiosity and intelligence. So mentally she's healing herself. Really she needs to improve her living and work situation and build self esteem from there.

Articulating that she should make that her goal before moving into a lifestyle so as to engage with it from a place of strength was wonderful. I've already passed it on to her and she felt it was great advice.

Last edited by Dixon Carter Lee : 02-23-2015 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 02-23-2015, 04:24 PM   #9
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I quickly learned from those experiences and have found a better place for myself. It took years and a lot of introspection (plus therapy/meds) and such.
Not that she's looking for anything like this, but may I ask what meds? Anti-anxiety?

You don't have to answer.
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Old 02-23-2015, 05:52 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dixon Carter Lee View Post
Not that she's looking for anything like this, but may I ask what meds? Anti-anxiety?

You don't have to answer.
Both depression and anxiety. Those were issues that I had that were made worse through abuse. I don't take them anymore, but they really worked to help stabilize my moods and give me a great starting point to work on myself.
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Old 02-23-2015, 05:56 PM   #11
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Glad you're off them, and better.
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Old 02-24-2015, 04:45 AM   #12
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A very long time ago I had a relationship that was mentally abusive.
It has taken almost 15 years to undo the bulk of the damage that it did to me, simply because I didn't address it.
All the hurt, the uncertainty, the humiliation, it leaves big scars.
It sounds like she has made a start by getting therapy, that's brilliant. BUT it doesn't sound like she is completely open to her therapist, so maybe she needs to find someone she feels more comfortable with, who is kink aware.


I am very reluctant to suggest that she uses relationships as therapy, but desensitising to touch would be very useful.
Getting used to good, healthy, non sexual and positive touch would be a good way forward. Maybe a regular sports massage with a professional therapist might help?

Abuse affects people in different ways.
As a friend, you can help by offering the voice of reason, asking her to put on the brakes if she looks like she is rushing into something anew.
I don't mean going overboard, but get her to slow down and be choosy. Find someone who is on the same page as her in what they want in a relationship, whether it's BDSM based or other.
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Old 02-24-2015, 05:23 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Dixon Carter Lee View Post
That's true. That would be part of the "more" I could talk about. She has a therapist. She feels she opens up more to friends. Her therapist listens but doesn't advise. She's clearly "in a rush" to move on, heal, explore. She's only now coming to terms with waiting things out a bit. I don't think she's done with therapy, but, aside from that, I'm looking for insight.

What brought you all to BDSM? Anyone here because of past abuse? How did you reconcile the past with your happy present?
She needs a different therapist then

There are mental 'tools' that she can learn to use to both deal with the past and to cope with the future. She may find that she will develop 'guilt' feelings when trying to submit to behaviour that she has found abusive in the past, which won't be helpful in future relationships.

But it's great that she has such supportive friends to help her on her journey of recovery
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Old 02-24-2015, 02:58 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dixon Carter Lee View Post
So I've wandered over here from the GB for the first time, sans my usual snark, to ask a question of the community.

How can she reconcile the fear and disquiet of physical contact she now experiences as a result of her abuse with her undisputed desire to seek out a BDSM lifestyle?

And you would ask how to deal with a self-harming cutter in www.bladeforums.com, right? After all, they know how to safely handle a knife.
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Old 02-24-2015, 03:27 PM   #15
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A therapist who doesn't advise is a crook.
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Old 02-24-2015, 05:32 PM   #16
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A therapist who doesn't advise is a crook.
Funny thing, after all it's about the first semester that you learn that your job as therapist is not to give advices. A therapist helps you to make your own decisions. What's the point of the therapy if you need to rely on your therapist on how to live your life?
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Old 02-24-2015, 07:25 PM   #17
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A therapist who doesn't advise is a crook.
^Yep.
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Old 02-24-2015, 09:48 PM   #18
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I was also abused at age 15/16, although not as badly as she was. I had the same issues for a long time with physical contact. I also went through a phase where I truly, honestly believed that men were incapable of love (thank goodness I got over that), and I still have trouble trusting Dominant men. I also still have trouble believing that some men (and women) are friends with me for me, and not just because they want sex.

So, all of that said, I think that the advice already given about desensitization and independence is fantastic. I started moving on when I started living my own life, and building a wonderful network of caring, loving friends. I had a father figure who made it clear from the start that sex and romance between us was completely off-limits, and that helped a lot.

Hugging and talking with male friends also helped. In time, I slowly started desensitizing other things with my then-boyfriend. We moved very, very slowly. Any time I had a flashback or panic attack, we stopped and he hugged me and we watched a Disney movie or did something else completely innocuous.

I think the two most important things are a support network and self-confidence. It sounds like she's on her way to building both. There just need to be some people in her support network that are sexually completely off limits.

Making love may be one of the last things to come. (No pun intended.) It was for me. Patience, persistence, and support will help a lot with that. In the meantime, and this may sound silly, but masturbation helps a lot. It lets you reclaim control of your own body and your own pleasure. I know that I personally didn't realize I'd let that control slip away until I began regaining it.

I wish her (and you) the best of luck!
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Old 02-24-2015, 09:55 PM   #19
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It sounds like she may be interested in BDSM as a type of exposure therapy to cope with her traumas. While I don't think it's wise, I can understand it. I would suggest that she seek out a therapist that focuses more on sexual issues and really open up to him or her. They won't tell her what to do but help her evaluate the decisions and choices she faces on her journey.
I think the most beneficial thing for her to do is focus on becoming a healthy person. I didn't come from an abusive place but I know learning to be happy with myself, and being alone, provided a sense of confidence and independence that put me in the right place for future relationships. Searching for outside forces to fix internal issues will lead to constant disappointment.
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Old 02-25-2015, 03:10 AM   #20
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The ugly truth is that many of us come to BDSM from situations of traumatic abuse. But, then, what relationships don't have a certain degree of irrational security seeking as a component? Many, if not most relationships are a kind of emotional damage control, and not necesserily the bad ones. If being wholly rational was prerequisite to getting into a relationship, we'd have died out long ago.

I saw my mother abused as a child. You can't explain rationally to a child that often the person in tears is the strong one, and the one throwing the punches is the frightened one. Some part of that person will always be scared of being the weak one, and is going to have to deal with that.

Once in a session with a submissive who was exactly like you described; an utter sweetheart that you couldn't help but love, she told me she had a hard limit of having her hands held above her head. She explained it was because that was the usual position she got molested in when she was young. It hit me about as hard as anything I can remember, and many times I've looked back on that when I questioned if what I do, as a dominant, can really be as healthy as I like to believe.

But what I keep coming back to is that we have to take people as they are. A lot of who we are might come from an ugly place. We still have to accept them, and support them, and help them follow their own nature to a better place. You can't just edit out the parts of them that have a little bit of messiness attached. And trying to steer them to what we think they should be doing is never going to be as much for their benefit as for our own.
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Old 02-25-2015, 07:21 AM   #21
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Whether its BDSM or vanilla, everyone brings their own individual degree of self actualization to the table.

So DCL, whether your friend is interested in BDSM or vanilla, boy girls or goats... Is not relevant, i suggest.

She just needs someone who loves her for who she is, warts and all.

And it sounds like you genuinely care about her....so maybe theres a future for you as a couple(?).
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:51 AM   #22
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It sounds as though one of the big issues she has experienced with men in the past is a result of not applying enough judgment at the outset. A lot of guys who present themselves as Dom are really just selfish assholes. If anything a Sub needs to be more discerning than most people in choosing their partners.

Being submissive can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. And the craving to submit is very powerful. But if you give into that craving before establishing that he/she is really a caring and suitable Dom you will always be vulnerable to abuse and in fact a magnet for assholes.

In addition to her own mental and emotional healing your friend needs to find a way to not cede control until she has found someone who will treat her properly. At least maybe her negative experiences can help her understand what she doesn't want as a way to establish better filters and understanding of what she does want. As contradictory as this sounds she must control when and to whom she cedes control.
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Old 02-27-2015, 11:16 AM   #23
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It sounds as though one of the big issues she has experienced with men in the past is a result of not applying enough judgment at the outset. A lot of guys who present themselves as Dom are really just selfish assholes. If anything a Sub needs to be more discerning than most people in choosing their partners.

Being submissive can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. And the craving to submit is very powerful. But if you give into that craving before establishing that he/she is really a caring and suitable Dom you will always be vulnerable to abuse and in fact a magnet for assholes.

In addition to her own mental and emotional healing your friend needs to find a way to not cede control until she has found someone who will treat her properly. At least maybe her negative experiences can help her understand what she doesn't want as a way to establish better filters and understanding of what she does want. As contradictory as this sounds she must control when and to whom she cedes control.
I think the fact that DCL talks about abuse, mentions how very young she was when it started and that older men were involved, makes it pretty harsh to talk about her not applying enough judgement.

Also, selfish assholeishness and dominance aren't mutually exclusive.
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Old 02-27-2015, 12:07 PM   #24
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I think the fact that DCL talks about abuse, mentions how very young she was when it started and that older men were involved, makes it pretty harsh to talk about her not applying enough judgement.

Also, selfish assholeishness and dominance aren't mutually exclusive.


Thanks, I didn't know how to say this myself.
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Old 02-27-2015, 01:15 PM   #25
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I think the fact that DCL talks about abuse, mentions how very young she was when it started and that older men were involved, makes it pretty harsh to talk about her not applying enough judgement.

Also, selfish assholeishness and dominance aren't mutually exclusive.

I don't believe I criticized or judged her for not applying enough judgment. Nor did I even remotely imply any culpability on her part. I simply made an observation. We all make mistakes. Hopefully we learn from them which is greatly facilitated by talking about them. And perhaps if she feels more empowered and knowledgeable in how she applies judgment in the future she can gain confidence that the negative experiences of the past don't have to be part of the future.

We all have our own experiences. I have found that glossing over mistakes can be just as damaging as being harshly critical of them because both approaches impair our ability to learn from them. The best approach is a neutral and compassionate understanding and acceptance of our mistakes so that we can learn from them. I am sorry if my terminology did not project an adequate degree of compassion and understanding, but nor did it project the harsh criticism that you have presumed.

Further I agree that being dominant and being a selfish asshole are not mutually exclusive. Nothing in my message suggests they are. The point was that just because someone presents themselves as Dom does not mean they will be a good fit.
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