Several years into my second marriage, my husband, like so many others, came to me with a problem. Our sex life was getting 'boring', why don't we try to 'spice it up'? I was a bit puzzled since, to me, the sex was fine and dandy, but I was open-minded and had a "Sure, I'll try anything once" outlook. So, with that in mind, my X took a trip to the local sex store and came home with a pair of fuzzy cuffs.
At first, I kind of enjoyed it. The reasons for this, I have since come to understand, were a direct result of my earlier abuses. I fell into a submissive role easily and readily. In some way, I was trying to act out my earlier rapes in a 'safe' environment and, just for the record, that is not healthy either. However, at the time, this seemed like a ‘safe’ way to regain control of earlier abuses in a ‘controlled’ environment.
Soon, however, it escalated. It began with fuzzy cuffs with cute little ‘safety releases’ which worked well to soothe me into believing I actually had control. Eventually, it moved to Velcro stuff which was more difficult to actually remove if I wanted to. All the while he was bringing me home BDSM magazines and videos with women as submissives. The material became more and more hardcore and he wanted to play out every picture in the magazines and videos with/on me.
Honestly, I’m not sure when I began feeling unsafe, I’m not sure at what point the ‘therapeutic’ reenactment of my previous rapes became not-so-therapeutic and, more than that, damaging, but it did happen. The nightmares came back, haunting me in my sleeping hours. My self-esteem plummeted, and I began internalizing the things that my husband told me while having sex. I began to believe I was a whore, a slut and that I liked to be hurt.
The dominance play gradually escalated as each new ‘thing’ quickly got ‘old’, and was rejected in favor of something more extreme, more painful and more degrading. I have since heard of this process of desensitization and now I understand what was happening; what was once titillating and exciting for him, quickly became an old hat and something new came in to take its place. The new stuff was always a bit more extreme than the old stuff.
In the time that I lived with BDSM, I watched as the abuse began to escalate. And I was confused, I was frustrated. I didn’t know whether I liked it or not. I knew I hated the clamps and the chains and the whips but I didn’t hate the way he seemed to value me when it was happening.
I felt like a sort of traitor. He would talk to me, tell me how much he loved me, as he was tying me up, spread eagle, to our marriage bed. He would kiss me gently, more gently than he ever kissed me before we fell into this strange ‘fantasy’ of BDSM. Then he would hit me, or whip me, or stick strange things inside of me and I was supposed to like it. I knew, somewhere inside of me, that I was supposed to like it. The confusion set in and my mind became divided. This was my husband, the man I had sworn to be with, the man who pledged his love to me. Surely, he didn’t WANT to hurt me, and, even if he did, it was my husband, the man I loved. The man who loved me. I was supposed to be enjoying his attentions.
Love, sex, rape and pain became synonymous with one another. Sex didn’t exist without pain. Love didn’t exist without being called a slut, a whore, or a dirty nasty little slut whore. My concept of love began to twist into something so alien that I fight, right now, as I’m writing this, for the words to describe it. Rape didn’t exist, it was simply sex. Sex didn’t exist, it was always rape. Love couldn’t exist without degradation and the phrase “Love Hurts” began to take on a whole new meaning for me.
I became a divided woman. When he came to me in the morning and put the nipple clamps on me I knew that I was not free. What began with fuzzy cuffs and playful ‘spanking’ ultimately led me to a place where the man I loved tried to seal my vagina with hot wax. And you know what? It was all the same. By that time, pain, love, sex and rape, abuse, and degradation were all the same. Respect was nonexistent and the saddest part of all, the part that makes my heart hurt even now as the memories race through my head and my hands shake from the fear welling within me, is that I didn’t know the difference.
His muttered “I love you” was the same as his “You like that you little whore, don’t you?” His fingertips trailing down my side was the same as the numbing pain when he fisted me after hitting my genitals with a whip.
The previous abuses I had endured, my rape when I was a child, became the same as the ‘sex’ we were engaging in. The line disappeared, and, for a time, I didn’t think that there was such a thing as rape, so hazy had the line in my head become. Of course, a part of me rallied against this, and it was that part that insisted on showing me nightmares at night. That part of me wailed at the division, it insisted on reminiding me, in mind numbing horror that I had been raped. At night my head showed me everything for what it was. Flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, anxiety attacks, all of these things haunted me daily.
I think that the first time I felt ‘real’ terror was when I looked down at him with a needle in his hand, poking into the skin of my nipple, drawing blood, threatening to pierce it. I screamed in terror and unadulterated horror as the cross stitch needle, the very needle that I had used to make the wall hanging in my living room, disappeared into my flesh. When I screamed he stopped, put his hand up, and clamped it over my mouth. I felt fear. I felt it wash over me and all the pretenses fell away. I knew I wasn’t in control. I knew that his words had been lies. His reassuring words, whispered in a husky voice that I was ‘Safe’ that “No matter what happens know that I won’t hurt you, I love you” I knew it was lies. I saw behind the veneer and I was terrified at what I saw.
From there on the rift inside of me widened. My ‘Mouse’ (the part of me who was the quiet, meek, finishing school girl) told me that I was being silly. She soothed me with her words, telling me that I was simply being unfair to him to suddenly desire to deny him what he so obviously wanted from me. She told me that I had the ability to make him happy and here I was denying him. She reminded me how hard he worked to provide for us and how I was a traitor if I believed that he could or would, actually hurt me badly. Every time he raised the bar she excused it and I believed her, or I tried to anyway.
On the other side of the divide was the Warrior. She screamed at me to kill him, to hurt him, she screamed at me that he was raping me. The Mouse countered by telling me that I enjoyed it, how could it be rape if I enjoyed it? And, even if I didn’t enjoy it, I was his wife and that’s what women do they sacrifice and THAT is the greatest power of all. The two sides began warring for control, the Warrior telling me that pain and sex and love and rape are NOT the same, they are different, they are opposite poles on different ends of the galaxy. The Mouse told me what is pleasure without pain? What is love without anxiety? And mostly, she argued that I was being so uptight.
Meanwhile the abuse continued and escalated.
At the high point of my abuse, cloaked as BDSM, he would insert things into my rectum and force me to go to the store. He tried, on several occasions, to ‘seal’ my vaginal lips closed with wax, or clamps. Rape became not only inevitable but indistinguishable from sex. He held me down amid my screaming protests and raped me, and it was the same as the sex. There was no difference. I took it all as different shades of grey in our ‘enlightened’ sex life.
I began to doubt that my rape at 10 had even occurred, as in, was it even rape? How could it have been, when it was the same as what was happening in my bedroom all the time? How could it be rape? Surely, I wouldn’t be living with a rapist? Surely, the man who told me he loved me couldn’t actually be a rapist? My mind refused to latch onto that concept, the Mouse would have none of it and the Warrior screamed from beyond the chasm in my mind.
Abuse and pain were the norm of my life for a period of about 5 years.
Finally, I spoke to him. Finally, I told him that I was tired of BDSM. I told him I longed for the days when he had actually made love to me. When he was tender without ropes, without chains, without pain and spit and whips. I cried. I asked him, in my desperation that day, to “Please, just make love to me. Please make love to me now, prove to me that you still can.” I told him I needed, craved, desired a gentle touch without pain.
He tried. Until he entered me, then his hand crept to my neck and there it was, the same old dominance. He squeezed my neck and I was gasping for air as my head got light. I cried as he ‘made love’ to me and the tears flowed freely down my face before dropping onto his hand. He kissed the tears away as I cried and it was then that I realized that this was not love. He was incapable of love and I wondered and I heard my warrior crying out to me, I heard her words from across the divide and my heart sank and my tears dried as he finished the act.
From then on I resisted him, I resisted the BDSM. I tried to tell
myself I had won, I tried to tell myself that he no longer took out
the whips and the chains and leather lay unused in a duffle bag under
the bed. But I hadn’t won; every time we had sex, he had a hand
on my throat, he had a hand pinning my wrists.
back to myth 9
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