I participated in a BORK (balls-out reckless kink) scene on Sunday that ended very badly for me. When someone asked if I’d been triggered, I said yes without really thinking it through. According to PsychCentral a trigger is “something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma. Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people.”
The thing that happened to me wasn’t something that setup a flashback, it wasn’t something that reminded me of a past wound, it was a completely new experience. A terrible one, to be sure, and one that may well create some triggers for me – but not a reliving. So what was it? Is there a better word than trigger? Do we need one?
I’m asking for a friend 😉 … Seriously though, these rambling thoughts are the result of someone asking me what I meant by the word “trigger” in that context. She was asking honestly, not being a part of the scene nor familiar with some of the jargon we bandy about, but the more I thought about it the more I realised that I’m not sure “trigger” is the word I want / need. In discussing this with another friend, the word “trauma” was suggested but that somehow doesn’t fit either, maybe due to the implicit heaviness. I don’t know why something like reliving a trauma aligns better with my feelings than an actual trauma but that doesn’t make it any less true.
One thing I do know – it was a complete violation of my autonomy with a concerning disregard for consent and it happened in what should have been a safe and secure space. It happened in the back yard of a house I visit frequently. I’ve been back and spent the last two nights there with no problem, but each time I’ve been on the outside of the house has been … uncomfortable. I find myself looking apprehensively back toward the gate that leads to the physical space. There’s not anything more than an off feeling but it’s there and that makes me sad. I had the potential to be alone in the house today and I couldn’t stomach the thought – I had to get out and luckily I’d been planning to leave and was able to make a quick exit. I have lost trust in some of the tops I was with and that makes me sad. I don’t hold them responsible, and yet I do. Whether that’s fair or not is a larger question that I’m not ready to answer constructively.
I was at a friendly gathering, sitting in the backyard and chatting with someone, I’ll call him 13, about the potential for us to play together. I’ve known him for awhile, he’s part of a circle of friends that I’m coming to adore, I’ve played with his wife –> so even though we haven’t played, he felt like a known quantity and I felt safe going through the list of interesting things we might do. With us were four people I’ve played with before, I’ll call them 2, 6, 8, and 9 – and 9 is a regular partner and lover.
There were a few other people milling about who joined in for some of the discussion. One of those is someone I’d met before but hadn’t ever said more than “hello” to; I’ll call him 7. He made a few jokes about the conversational turns but those didn’t really get under my skin because he seemed ok by association. Not safe per se, but no automatic red flags went up either.
When we got to ‘kicking and stomping,’ I revealed an interest in stomping, though not in a humiliation / degradation sort of way and not in an impact sort of way. So 13 put his boot on my thigh and started to give a little pressure. It was hot as fuck and I encouraged him to add more. He asked 2 to come over and lean on his leg, since the angle we were sitting at wasn’t conducive for him to add much. As the pressure and energy intensified, 9 grabbed me by the hair and bit me. Meanwhile, 13 took advantage (consentually) of 2’s position and gave her a few swats. She also maximised her position by leaning over me and biting the leg not being stomped. I kind of lost track of events at this point because there were so many sensations happening. At some point, 6 got up and went inside and didn’t come back out. I don’t know exactly when 13 stopped using his boot and switched to other tactics and I don’t know exactly when 8 joined the fun. It was an incredible experience. Being the center of that much attention was heady.
After a bit, as I was sliding off my seat and feeling the need to rearrange, 7 came over and jumped right in. I honestly don’t remember if he asked first – all I remember is that suddenly he was one of the people helping me to lie down and he started using some pressure points on me. I didn’t stop him. I think I encouraged him a bit – as pressure points are a particular favourite of mine. With everything else going on, I wasn’t in the most coherent space though I felt the energy shift and it made me uneasy in a semi-aware sort of way. I did have enough sense to proclaim verbally that only people pre-approved for sexual contact (2 and 9) were allowed to have contact with my genitals under my clothes. Almost immediately, 7 asked about anal-play and I vetoed that vehemently.
Again, some of this gets blurry and I’m not sure quite what the sequence of events was but at one point 7 stood over me so that the crotch of his shorts was directly over my face, which I didn’t like. I said something along the lines of “dude, your balls are, like, right in my face” and his response was something like “no, they’re in my shorts” which didn’t feel right. Someone did something to me on the other end of my body and I lurched up, nearly hitting his crotch and that wasn’t ok. So I said something like “dude, that’s not gonna work – you need to move” and his response was something like “no, you need to not move and be better at ___” or “be a better ___.” I don’t recall what I needed to be better at or what noun I was meant to be better at emulating but my mind supplies words like ‘bottom’ and ‘submissive’ when I go over this in my head. Regardless, it wasn’t ok. He followed this up with clamping down on my wrists and physically forcing my upper body down to the table. There had been more than one moment where 9 put his hand on my chest and playfully pushed me down to the table and I’m pretty sure this was one of those and the idea that this may have helped 7 physically overpower me troubles me. Even with the knowledge that he would never have intentionally put me into an experience like what happened, my heart bleeds with the knowledge that his contribution could have made my situation worse. My mind reels – I honestly don’t remember if this happened in that moment or if I’m confusing it because my brain is trying to determine just how 7 got ahold of me.
Turns out that when I say I’m not a submissive and power exchange doesn’t appeal to me – I fucking mean it. I’m sure as fuck not asking for a perverted version of forced dominance non-consentual play.
I struggled against 7 and it was incredibly difficult because not only were my wrists painfully restrained but there were four other people doing things to my lower body. Not to mention that I’d already been sceneing for a bit and had a ton of endorphins coursing through my system. It probably didn’t help that I’d scened hard on Wednesday and Sunday was the first day I was really back in my right mind.
At one point I got a leg free and nearly kicked 7 in the balls and he said something about that and I responded verbally, something along the lines of “I almost managed it” and his answer was something like “it’s cute that you think that” and he rearranged and the holds on my wrists became more painful. I kept fighting and he made some comments to the group about how stupid I was to struggle, since he wasn’t really expending any effort to hold me down. I got a hand free and wrapped it up in his long hair and pulled, which made him back off a bit and regroup – saying something like “ok dumbass, that hair move got me even more riled up” – and I panicked. I don’t know exactly what would have happened because at the moment 2 heard the word “dumbass” she knew that something was wrong and she called a halt.
She helped me to sit up and wrapped me in a jacket, 7 brought me some water, and I cried for a moment. When 8 asked where my shirt was, I grabbed it and wiped my face which he laughed at (thinking I was wiping my brow) and he suggested I put it on – which honestly hadn’t occurred to me. I’m not sure exactly what happened to 7 but the others took me inside. I don’t know how many of them knew that something had gone seriously wrong, as opposed to my simply hitting an intensity overload. In their defence, I didn’t make it clear right away. I didn’t want 7 to see that level of vulnerability and so I sucked it up and was as “normal” as I could be for as long as I could be. I was queasy and cold and worn out, so it wasn’t exactly hard to sell the idea that I was just reeling from the overall intensity. I know that 2 knew and I know that 9 knew because he held me and asked quietly if I was ok (no), if I’d been triggered (yes), if I wanted to talk about it (yes), and if I wanted to talk about it right then (no). He told me he’d be there when I was ready and did some deep breathing with me to help me re-center and calm down.
For the rest of the night I got support from 2, 8, 9, and 13. I slept curled up with 9 that night and he held me close. He held me while I cried again the next morning. I got some lovely support from 6 in the morning and I’ve had ongoing support from friends in the community and I’m in a better headspace than I was Sunday night for sure. That said, I can’t talk about it without crying. I’m sitting here crying while I type this.
I’ve never had this sort of experience, for all that my journey hasn’t been entirely smooth. Talking through it has helped but I’ve only really talked to female-identified people cuz males don’t feel entirely safe right now, even or especially 9. His heart is in the right place but he’s given me more distance and space than I need. When I asked about his request to talk about what happened, he reeled back and clarified that he wasn’t asking me to talk about it … he would listen if I wanted to talk about it and that he “wasn’t disinterested” but didn’t give the impression that it was a conversation he wanted to have. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t hurt deeply. I want him to want to know what happened. I want him to come to me and clearly offer his support, instead of vaguely standing on the sidelines waiting for me to ask. I don’t even know if he wants to be on those sidelines or if he’s there out of some skewed sense of obligation. I don’t know if I can ask after he made it clear that he wasn’t seeking the conversation. I’ve already intruded on him and his space, adding obstacles and making things difficult for him, how can I demand more? How fucking selfish is it that I want my needs to completely trump his? Writing this feels incredibly unfair to him and what I know is his genuine concern but it feels true too. I’m more than a bit of a mess about this, especially around his role in the during and the after.
The other tops – 2, 8, and 13 – have all checked in. I gave somewhat disingenuous replies to 8 and 13 (thank goodness for the flat aspect of texting) and I’m not really ready to talk about this with them. I’m so thankful that 2 caught on to the fact that something was wrong and stopped the scene. I’m so angry that 7 did what he did –> and it almost makes it worse to know that he wasn’t coming from a malicious place. I’m furious and resentful that no one protected me. I’m filled with guilt that 8 and 13 stayed with me until midnight on Sunday, that 9 got very little sleep since I forced myself into his space, and that 2 got even less sleep because she stayed up until about 2:30 holding me and talking to me. There are no words for the love and gratitude I feel toward 2 and her support. I want to keep saying ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ to all of them while at the same time I’m belligerent about it – why the fuck should I apologise? I didn’t do anything wrong – FUCK them. That doesn’t change the fact that I *AM* sorry. I want all the hugs and cuddles and I feel horrid asking for any more of their time to deal with this. I’m terrified and ashamed that I wasn’t able to protect myself. I *KNOW* all the things to do, the words to say, but none of that even entered my brain as options. I was in an almost primal space and all I could do was fight.
As 9 and I were leaving the house yesterday evening to head to a community class, we bumped into 7. It’s likely to happen again, he lives in close proximity to a place I have visited with some regularity. In some ways it was fine. We exchanged greetings and had a discussion about the right word for a summer evening when the sun is still high in the sky (eye roll). He made a comment about understanding why 9 and I get along, to which 9 made a deflecting sort of joke. When 7 wandered off, 9 checked in with me to make sure I was ok and in that moment I was. Talking to 7 wasn’t problematic. Then again, a friend suggested that 7 needs to be made aware of what happened from my perspective and why it was wrong and I curl up to protect my belly just thinking about it. My friend wasn’t saying that I should be the one to have that conversation – just that it needed to happen – and yet I’m still a little shuddery at the thought.
For the first time in my experience I’m not happy when I look at the marks on my body and there are a LOT of them. I find myself pulling my skirt down as far as I can get it (or wearing pants), sitting in certain positions so that I can view unblemished leg. I tried wearing a tank top last night to a community class to take back ownership of my body, if that makes sense, and I was fine until a friend came up to me and poked one of the marks from Sunday and I cringed. Even when she backed off some but was still touching me I was intensely uncomfortable and wanted to cover myself. I had put on an over shirt at that point and I longed for something thicker, heavier. Generally, I LOVE it when people poke my bruises – this same friend created a fetish on FL about poking my bruises because we both enjoy it so much. Right now I just want them to GO AWAY. The one she poked is on my shoulder and is excruciating. I don’t know if additional physical damage was done that makes this one so much worse than the others or what but it’s freaking me out more than a little. To be clear – nothing that 7 did left marks. My wrists are sore in certain places but he didn’t leave marks on my skin. All the marks were gifts from the people that I love … and I’m angry about their existence.
Normally, after spending time with 9, I like to savour his scent on my skin and my clothes. I usually smile for the next day or so as I catch little whiffs here and there in unexpected moments. I’ve bathed myself multiple times and I can still smell him on me and it isn’t a happy experience. During the community class, he made a joking reference to what happened, making it sound like good sexy fun times, and it was jarring. Most of it was good sexy fun times but that’s not how it feels right now and my emotions are in turmoil to think that 9 might look back on what happened with something approaching fondness. I want desperately to be held by 9 and for him to kiss my head in that sweet way he has. It tears me up that he won’t – can’t? – give me that. Monday night I slept on his couch and, while in all fairness I probably slept more effectively than I would have with him, it was devastating to know that he was mere rooms away yet completely out of my reach.
I’m scared that I won’t be able to open myself up to future play with new partners. I don’t know if I’ll be able to play with cis-male people any time soon. This hasn’t put me off their company and so maybe I’ll be fine. I just worry about this adding that final straw to the trust issues I deal with around cis-male heterosexuals. I don’t know how to deal with this and it sucks.