Sexual Abuse

Violating Hard Limits

In the world of BDSM, hard limits are the things that you absolutely will not do. Hard limits vary from person to person. For instance, I’ve mentioned before that choking is a hard limit of mine. I refuse to engage in any kind of sexual asphyxiation activities, though for many others these are some of their favorite activities. In contrast, I love anal sex and am happy to engage in it, both giving and receiving. For the majority of women, anal sex is a hard limit.

When a former partner of mine violated my hard limits in multiple kinky ways, I was initially in shock. I didn’t understand how this man I trusted could do these things to me. He was a loving person toward me, so what was causing him to treat me with so little respect? When I asked him, he couldn’t explain it to me. I have since theorized that he has a fetish of violating women’s hard limits that stems back to his incredibly toxic relationship with his mother who violated his limits repeatedly. Perhaps his subconscious is taking it out on the women he dates since he doesn’t see a therapist to work on his major issues with his mother. Regardless of why he did it, though, this past partner violated my limits, and he knew what he had done was wrong in the aftermath.

The bottom line is that violating hard limits is sexual abuse. This is not something I’ve often seen explicitly expressed in the writing around hard limits that I’ve read. I’m sure it’s in part because the BDSM community is loath to associate anything they do with abuse. The vanilla world already struggles to understand how kinky people can enjoy things like spanking and bondage and how those things can be consensual and enjoyable.

Yet violation of hard limits is something that can happen in vanilla sex as well as kinky sex. The violations that this partner did to me were well within the kinky range, but I have had another past partner who violated my limits in very vanilla ways. When I told that man no, he would try the forbidden activity anyway because he didn’t really respect my feelings about it. He didn’t see why that activity was a problem for me, and his narcissism kept him from caring when his orgasm was his ultimate goal at that point.

Whether it’s done in a kinky situation or a vanilla one, violating someone’s hard limits is absolutely not ok. No means no. Yes means yes, and a yes should be given enthusiastically—a “fuck yes!” to any mutually agreed upon activity. When a partner crosses those limits, sexual abuse happens. Sexual abuse is NEVER ok. It doesn’t matter what the sexual abuse looks like. It’s a very clear violation of that person’s rights.

If a partner ever violates your hard limits, talk about it with the partner if it was a minor violation that might have come from a miscommunication. We’re all human, and mistakes do happen in the passion of the moment in sexual acts. However, if violations happen repeatedly, that’s not an accident. That’s sexual abuse. At that point, it’s time to leave the relationship if it is just a casual dating one. If it’s a marriage or committed relationship, a therapist is mandated at that point if you don’t choose to end things without further outside help. Regardless, drastic action needs to happen because sexual abuse is never ok.

I pray often for the new partner of the man who repeatedly violated my kinky limits. He says he has learned from what he did to me and has changed. Those are famous last words. Sometimes they are true. Often they are not. However, his new partner is very young—barely legal—and I know she isn’t going to have the strength to leave him if he starts sexually abusing her the way he did to me. I didn’t have the strength to leave the man who would sexually abuse me within the context of our consensual sexual relationship when I was her age. I didn’t even understand that what he was doing was abuse. Now, I’m clear on it, and no man will treat me that way again.


Consent is So Sexy, Y’all

(Throughout this blog post, I am writing from the point of a heterosexual ciswoman who has only had sexual relationships with heterosexual cismen. This is in no way meant to demean the reality of physical and sexual violence between other sexes and genders. I am writing from the perspective I know and have experienced personally.)

Like the majority of people in our nation, I have experienced both physical and sexual abuse. Abuse is an unfortunate reality of our world, one that is slow to change. However, if one looks at how relationships have changed over many centuries, we are making progress. It’s no longer legal for a husband to beat his wife with a stick no larger than his thumb in the US or England. However, the improvements in what is acceptable in our relationships has not happened fast enough to spare many of us a great deal of pain in this life.

Our media, especially social media, is beginning to put a great deal of attention on problems of our rape culture: We teach women that they should not encourage rape rather than teaching men that they should not commit rape. When accusing an alleged perpetrator of rape, most women have to prove that they were not “asking for it” by being drunk or dressing in a manner that might tantalize a horny man. The idea that a woman has a right to her body and that a man does not automatically have a right to her body whether or not she has explicitly said no is foreign in many of our courts. While the refrain “no means no” is being widely taught, too many men on one popular dating site still erroneously believe that this phrase is only applicable, “Mostly. Occasionally it’s a yes in disguise.”

Facing this reality, most of those who have dealt with assault and abuse during their lives end up having trust issues. They know that it’s all too possible that their next partner might be equally disrespectful of their bodies. I fall into that group: I am usually very slow to trust those who might have the power to hurt my body. I’ve been abused too many times to pretend that possibility is not always out there.

When I began a relationship with one of my sexual partners, he knew I had a history of sexual and physical abuse. I was very clear to him that we needed to take things slower than he might prefer, and I specified to him what that meant in detail for me. I gave him exact examples of what I needed him to do and not do in order for me to feel safe. He was accepting of those requirements and appreciated the advice on how to make things more comfortable for me.

At one point during our first sexual encounter, I began having breathing problems which I had never experienced during sex before. When I finally managed to scream “stop,” he immediately responded by stopping and inquiring with great concern what was wrong even though it wasn’t a time when most people would want to stop the activities at hand. In that moment, my protective walls began falling as I knew he would always listen to me when I needed him to. (It turned out that I had developed a latex allergy since my previous partner… not a fun way to figure that out!)

My partner not only respected those boundaries, but he raised the bar even higher than I dreamed possible. At a certain point in the evening, he proposed a particular activity that he wanted to engage in. I responded to him, “Yes, I want to do that, too.” He stopped, looked me in the eyes, and said, “No. I need you to say it all completely.” He wanted me to tell him explicitly, “Yes, I want to do activity XYZ, too” so that he knew he had full consent from me. My partner wanted no confusion in the communication between us.

Until that moment, I never realized how sexy consent could be. Perhaps it was because I had never before been treated with that level of respect in regards to my body. Maybe it was because he was making me vocalize what I wanted him to do to me. Regardless, it was an unbelievably powerful move on his part. If you are partnering with someone who has been abused and has trust issues: Don’t be afraid of asking your partner to give you explicit verbal consent. While it might sound like it would put a boring damper on the evening or slow down events, for a person who has been abused, giving that consent can help them develop trust and respect for you that you won’t gain in other ways.

As a result of this man requiring me to give him explicit consent, either verbally or in writing, for anything that we did, my trust in him grew at an astronomical rate. I knew he wouldn’t ever do something I hadn’t agreed to. I always felt safe that he would stop if I changed my mind for any reason at all. I didn’t realize how quickly I could learn to trust someone when I knew that he respected my boundaries and my body. By the time I had been with this man for seven weeks, he had earned far more trust from me than my partner of more than a decade had ever attained. My new partner had made consent into something that was unbelievably healing. He reaped the benefits of earning my trust, too. That small bit of effort on his part changed things between us in an incredibly positive way.

Consent is so sexy, y’all. I highly recommend it.

© 2016