Guest blog: BDSM and trauma – a different kind of happy ending

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

Sex is not the same experience for everyone. The same simple physical acts can have wildly different effects depending on someone’s needs, desires and past experiences. This week, guest blogger – Warrior – is here to discuss BDSM and trauma, detailing a kinky scene with another guy which brought up some nightmares from the past. Be aware that this post discusses sexual abuse, and the ways in which kink can interplay with that.

BDSM and trauma: A different kind of happy ending

I’m going to tell you a story about a short-lived relationship that made me understand how I view sex. I’m scared that you’re not going to like how it ends, but I know that I have to share it and that I’d like you to listen.

I’m a cis man and I’m mainly sexually attracted to men. I’ve had a few relationships and plenty of sexual experiences, like a lot of other gay men of my age. I love sex. Or even better, I love the idea of sex. I’ve been hearing and reading that it’s pretty good for people, and on various occasions it has been amazingly good for me too. But more often than not, it’s fair to say that it’s been closer to a nightmare.

The nightmares started when a few years back, I discovered in therapy that some of my childhood sexual experiences were not as happy as I thought they were. It all went downhill from there. Or to be fair to my process: sex was always a struggle but I wasn’t able to see it till then.

About a year ago I started becoming curious about BDSM, wanting to explore submission. A few months ago I met someone who seemed ideal for what I was looking for: he was experienced in kink, open, kind, gentle, in touch with his feelings and a good listener. It felt safe to explore this new territory with him. We experimented a few times with different kinds of stuff such as restriction, pain and discipline. Even if our sessions were initially short and limited, I loved every minute of them and I wanted more.

So one day, when I felt ready, I told him that I’d like to go all the way.

We started playing and he put a hood on my head, told me to undress and placed a spiked cock ring on my dick (a device that doesn’t cause any hurt, unless you get an erection). He started playing with my cock and told me it was up to me to tell him when to stop. It was amazing. The hornier I got the more I was in pain. Pain and pleasure were becoming one. I was scared by the whole thing but excited and into it at the same time.

But my excitement was short-lived.

He got undressed himself, told me to give him a hand job and I obeyed. He was very excited and it was obvious that it was me who was making him feel horny. I should be grateful, but the truth is that I hated him for it.

I couldn’t make sense of what I felt at the time, but a couple of days later after my head cleared up, I went back for another round. I was still recovering but I was determined to see what was on the other side. We talked about my feelings and what triggered me. I said that for the time being, it was important for me not to be asked to give him anything related to genital pleasure. He said that it was important for him that if and when I notice any signs of triggering, to try and use my safe word.

And so we started playing again.

He ordered me to undress and he covered my head, only this time he left my eyes visible so that he could carefully watch my reactions. He told me to stand and he tied my hands and feet with chains. I felt scared but I was mainly curious. He started touching me, hitting me from time to time with different objects (he had a big cupboard full of different kinds of toys). It was playful and painful and even if it was wonderful in its own way, I wasn’t getting anywhere near horny. My dick was soft, my fear was increasing and my adrenaline high. Then he stood across me and started touching himself. He unbuttoned his trousers while looking at me with eyes full of passion and lust.

And right at that moment, it all turned to horror again. Terror filled my space, I started breathing heavily and I called my safe word.

I was glad I stopped but I was left feeling overwhelmed with disappointment, guilt and sadness. I had just seen that the thing I long for and fantasise about most – to be wanted and desired fully – was also my worst nightmare. Where the hell do I go from here?

As I let my feelings do their thing the next couple of days while binge-watching TV series and emotional-eating, it finally dawned on me: sex as I’ve known it, is not a safe place for me. As much as I want things to be different, my erection, my pleasure and my orgasm have to move down my list of priorities to give place to insight and grief. My partner’s erection, pleasure and orgasm have to move down the list too. (I’m aware that it’s not easy for them either. I know how it sucks to have my passion rejected.) I also figured out why I’m into BDSM: I’m not in it for the ecstatic journey. I’m using it in order to revisit my past and regain control over it. I felt relieved. I finally knew where I was and what I wanted.

My BDSM experiences didn’t end the way I was expecting them to end. I didn’t feel ecstatic, nor fulfilled and no one had any sort of orgasm. In fact it was the opposite. It was, mildly put, pretty awful. But it was exactly how it should be and what I needed.

I met my partner again and talked about all this. He listened and he understood but it turned out that this is not going to work for him. For him, like for most people, sex and BDSM are a way to ecstasy and pleasure; a space where emotional pain and past trauma have no place. I don’t blame him. But my path is different and I’m not sure whether it’s because my options are limited or because I have no choice at all. And it doesn’t matter really – all that matters is that now I know it, deeply.

It’s not going to be easy finding someone tolerant and brave enough to go on this journey with me, but I have to be brave myself. I need to face that it has to go on like this for a while before it gets better. Besides, there’s a reason why we are called warriors.

 

Warrior has asked for his guest blog fee to be donated to Not Your Fault – a peer-led support group for men (trans, cis and otherwise) and non-binary people who have experienced sexual violence. 

1 Comment

  • fuzzy says:

    There are some notable aspects to your story. That you remembered to use your safe word, that you are taking the time and effort to self-examine, his response. I find these admirable. People have different reasons for kink; and while mine are primarily as a pure hedonistic pleasure seeker, I have in my past had some significant traumatic episodes relating to sex (including rape and other sexual assault) as a young man. At over half a century, I’m as reconciled with them as I’m going to be. Your thoughtful approach will pay off for you in the end. Blessed be.

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