Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Know The Difference

The following is from The National Leather International Association Domestic Violence Project online flyer. I have included the link to the original at the end of this post which includes phone numbers for the NLA-I, their main web site, as well as other resources. A.C.E.S. in-world also has a notecard that contains resources as well. Just ask an A.C.E.S. Facilitator or contact JeZeBeLe Dagger, Rory Glenwalker, Jovial Denimore, or our Ombusmen for this information.

"Know The Difference"

Since there is very little education or support in mainstream society about the BDSM lifestyle it may be hard for some individuals to define the line between what is domestic violence and what is not. Many individuals still have a tendency to label our activities, lifestyle, and BDSM practices as insane or abusive no matter how highly skilled we become or how long we have studied the techniques to master specific “crafts.” Domestic violence is when one person harms or misuses another, with the intent to control in nonconsensual ways. Domestic violence can occur between any two or more intimates. Many people believe domestic violence can only happen to submissives or novices. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of their race, gender, or role in the BDSM lifestyle. Non-consensual dominance and control, also known as “domestic violence”, may come in many forms: physical abuse, threats of physical abuse, emotional abuse, threatening phone calls, disturbances at a place of employment, and stalking.

Healthy BDSM is when two or more consenting adults consent to exchange energy, power, sensations, or experiences (however extreme) in ways that fuel their mutual happiness and increase self esteem. In a healthy BDSM relationship all parties involved are actively invested in the well-being of each other and themselves. Many individuals use “safewords” as a way to distinguish their level of agreement. However, there are a number of other healthy BDSM practitioners who do not. The use of safewords is NOT the only way to distinguish consent.

If you are having lingering feelings that “this isn’t right” or that “something is wrong with this picture” then there is a cause for further consideration. It may not be abuse, but it is important to listen to your internal alarms and explore any areas that you are concerned with. An unhealthy BDSM relationship will have one (or more) partners acting in ways that create harm to someone. This harm can be physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, sexual, social, or economic. In an abusive relationship you may notice the following:

Abuser may coerce or force a victim into agreements without their full informed consent, especially longterm contracts with newcomers.

Abuser may manipulate a victim into financial or emotional dependence without taking precautions should conflict occur or the need to leave arise.

Abuser may exert non-consensual control, dominance or abuse of a partners children or make demands that go against maternal or paternal responsibilities. (I.E. Restricting access to children as punishment.)

Abuser may use threats of abandonment or loss of current contract if new demands are not met.

Abuser may force victim to do things alone, together, or with others in ways that violate or compromise previous negotiations.

Abuser may use name calling, mind games, denial of human necessities like food, water, shelter as needed, health care and so forth, especially in ways that reduce a victim’s self-esteem.

Abuser may threaten to expose victim or your lifestyle to “vanilla” co-workers, family members, or children.

Abuser may initiate Inappropriate or harmful punishments or withhold appreciation or affection as punishment.

Abuser may deny a behavior is abusive and/or may minimize abuse. The abuser may also accuse you of making abuse up, not being submissive/Dominant enough, and so forth.

Link to complete flyer for the National Leather Association Domestic Violence Project


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Trust misunderstood

I recently read an article about Trust on http://www.psychologytoday.com. It has greatly inspired me and made me think of implications of trust in the context of intimate relationships as well, even though this article deals with trust at the workplace.

In my opinion a lot of the thoughts presented by the author Nan S. Russell can be related to trust in the context of an intimate relationship too. We so often talk about trust and how important it is to make D/s relationships work, for example. I hope that this article may feed some contents and deeper level thoughts to the term "trust" that we so often toss in at discussions among people interested in BDSM.

I'd be glad if a discussion about the ideas presented could develop in the comments area of this blog.



7 Misunderstood Truths About Workplace Trust

- Authentic Trust at Work

Published on December 31, 2011 by Nan S. Russell in Trust: The New Workplace Currency


Trust is the most misunderstood word at work, resulting in perceptions of broken promises and trampled expectations. People mean different things when they use the word. But the new workplace currency of trust is centered on authentic trust. Authentic trust comes from authentic people.

Only when there is a commitment to the relationship is authentic trust built. When mutual commitments are delivered without concern for personal advantage or attempted manipulation or control, trust grows.

Consider these misunderstood truths about authentic trust - the kind of trust that builds workplaces and ignites engagement:

1. Trust is not always a good thing.

There are many types of trust. Non-authentic, basic trust can be unrealistic, naïve, foolish, or blind. Yet, many people still operate at work with this simple kind of trust most of us started with as babies. Childlike trust is not authentic trust. It's not the kind of trust that builds work relationships. Trust is not inherently good or not good. It's how and when it's applied.

2. Mistrust is not the opposite of trust. Control is.

Notice where there is a lack of authentic trust and you'll see controlling people. Giving trust is a choice to be made but once it's given, accountability tied with freedom is at its core.

3. There is always risk when giving trust.

Authentic trust is an action developed through critical thought and experience. It doesn't deny the past or ignore the possibility of future trust broken, either intentional or unintentional. Those operating with authentic trust weigh the risks and benefits before giving it.

4. Trust is a process.

Authentic trust is not a screensaver waiting in the background until it's needed. It's not the glue that holds things together. Authentic trust is a learned emotional skill. It involves an ongoing process of relationship building, where the relationship is more important than any one particular outcome.

5. Trust is about people not things.

Trust involves interpersonal engagement. We may use the word, associating trust with things as well as people, but one can't really "trust" their car. We confuse trust with "dependable" or "reliable." Authentic trust requires commitments made and commitments honored. It necessitates decision, action, and response.

6. Trust is conditional.

There are limits and conditions with authentic trust. When we say we trust someone, there is a presumed statement of conditionality. I may trust my mechanic to work on my car, but I don't trust him to do my root canal.

7. To get trust you must give it.

If you want to be trusted you must first give trust. You may be loveable, but that won't get you love - loving will. Sharing, not hoarding information gets you communication, and respect comes by respecting others. As a relationship process, authentic trust is no different. Contrary to popular belief, trust is not earned. You start trust by giving trust.

Authentic trust, like love, is cultivated, grown, and nurtured. We make authentic trust. We make it by what we do and how we do it. We make it by what we say and how we say it. We make it by showing up and being authentic. We make it by giving it away.

The article is adapted from my book, Hitting Your Stride: Your Work, Your Work.