Healing

TRIGGER WARNING

Rape and sexual assault are touched upon and referenced in this response. Please proceed with caution!

image from @eromaticax on instagram

image from @eromaticax on instagram

Hi! I just read one of your Salty articles, thank you for being open to DMs and questions!

Any recommended reading for someone interested in kink/sub play as a part of healing from sexual trauma?

Hello, Beautiful! First of all, I am so incredibly sorry that we are meeting under these circumstances. I’m sorry for the trauma that so many of us suffer in our intimate lives, and I’m sorry for a harsh and triggering world that doesn’t know how to hold you in the wake of the worst thing. According to RAINN, every 92 seconds in the US, someone is sexually assaulted. One in six women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. This is an issue that is pervasive and ever present. When we begin to consider women as a group, realistically and by the numbers, we are considering a group defined by trauma - big and small.

For context, I was, in the past, in a relationship where sex lived in a consent gray area. Because sex education in the US is complete garbage, consent had only lightly been touched upon if at all when that should have been the MAIN topic of discussion (I mean, putting a condom on a banana is all well and good but seriously - do better), and my partner at the time (a cis-male) felt that the fact that we were in a relationship was consent enough to excuse a lot of things. A lot of bad happened within that space. I came out of that relationship feeling completely off-put by vanilla sex. To me, it meant danger. It meant assumed boundaries. It meant I had no voice.

I came out of that relationship feeling completely off-put by vanilla sex. To me, it meant danger. It meant assumed boundaries. It meant I had no voice.

Enter BDSM. I had always been interested in kink and when I met my Dom, who had been practicing a very measured, safe/sane/consensual kink for several years by the time we started dating, I found a way I could ease back into sex that felt controlled. As my Dom likes to say, the Dom has His/Her/Their hands on the steering wheel, but the sub always has his/her/their foot on the brake. Pre-negotiating scenes and introducing safe words (yellow for slow down, red for stop everything) gave me a framework to begin to understand how to build a sexuality I was an equal party in. Where I mattered. A home where I could grow.

BDSM… gave me a framework to begin to understand how to build a sexuality I was an equal party in. Where I mattered. A home where I could grow.

One of my greatest epiphanies about kink came when I asked my therapist about the components of immersion therapy. Say if a child is afraid of dogs, they discuss their fear of dogs. Then they look at a picture of a dog. Then they see a dog from far away. Finally they come face to face with the dog. With each step along the way, the child receives processing after the exposure. Members of the kink community have likened the controlled climate of a BDSM scene and the mandatory aftercare that follows to immersion therapy and its subsequent talk-therapy processing. I think something about gravitating to kink can be about wanting to reclaim the narrative of your past, to take control of it, but within parameters you can trust. Of course, not all people drawn to BDSM have trauma in their pasts, and not all trauma victims are drawn to BDSM. But you and I are. So how can we proceed with caution? It all begins with building, piece by piece, the utopian sexuality you can thrive in. How do you do that? Let’s get into some resources, shall we?

Aside from a sex-positive therapist, which is immensely helpful but sometimes not so affordable, a book that was CRUCIAL in my nascent sub days was Conquer Me: Girl To Girl Wisdom About Fulfilling Your Sexual Desires. In it, the author reviews many of the basics of building a kink relationship and about communicating limits. And within communicated limits, you can explore anything you desire. Also, I am a devoted fan of the Savage Love Cast with Dan Savage, who fields questions on this topic often. And, just to fill in the gaps, I’ll bullet my own tips for this process for you here:

  • Start extremely slowly with a partner who respects your limits

  • Talk about your limits! Talk about your preferences and experience before/during/after a scene. Openly express likes and dislikes. Openly express your hard limits, any lines you can imagine can’t ever be crossed.

  • FUCK POLITENESS! They say this on My Favorite Murder in a completely different context, so I have stolen their catch phrase, but seriously. As women we are socialized to “grin and bear it” for fear of hurting our partners’ feelings. You should only play with someone who you can trust to not have an ego reaction to you telling them something isn’t working. Full fucking stop.

  • Be kind to yourself. You will have setbacks. You will have triggers. Do your best to equip your partner with how you want them to react when you’re triggered by something (i.e. hold me, put on a movie, make me some tea, etc) and feel the feelings when they come. They will come. You are moving through your trauma and that makes you powerful as hell. You’re a superhero now.

All my love to you on this journey. You are brave and bold and deserve just as good of a spanking as anyone else. <3