Q: I AM A 28-YEAR-OLD woman who has been with my boyfriend for two years. I would call it a stable, fulfilling and kinky relationship. I consider myself GGG, and every time my boyfriend has brought up a kink or variation, I've been willing to try it. Some things became a permanent part of our play, others have gone into the "tried that, didn't like it" pile without any problems.
Recently, though, there has been a problem.
Eight years ago, I was raped. I have had counseling, but I am still sometimes troubled by nightmares and flashbacks. My boyfriend knows this. Lately, though, he has expressed a desire to explore rape scenarios. His ideal setup would be to obtain my consent in advance, then, sometime when the mood struck him, he would "attack" and take me, and I couldn't say no or use a safe word. Once the "rape" started, he could do whatever he wanted, and I would not be able to stop it.
I don't think I can do this, not without sending me into flashbacks. I told him that and, as this is the only time I have flat-out refused to even try one of his ideas, I hoped that would be the end of it. It hasn't been. He has been pressing it more and more, and there have been times when I've had to leave the apartment, I've felt so threatened. I've told him that if he keeps pressuring me like this, I will end the relationship. He's told me that by threatening to leave him, I'm manipulating him, and that I have no regard for his needs. But I just can't let him rape me, even in play. Am I really being out of line for not giving in to him on this issue and telling him that continued pressure for this would end our relationship? —Needs Her Boundaries
A: DUMP THE MOTHERFUCKER already. Someone who has experienced a shattering sexual trauma — rape, abuse, a world-class betrayal — has to make a good-faith effort to put the pieces back together again before entering into a new sexual or romantic relationship. We all have a right to expect emotional support from our partners, but our partners have a right to expect that we will be able to meet their reasonable sexual needs.
You did all the right things after you were raped, NHB. You got counseling, you got yourself together, and you entered this new relationship ready to be sexual and more than capable of meeting your partner's reasonable sexual needs. You are, however, suffering from some common aftereffects of sexual trauma — nightmares, flashbacks — that you do not have to apologize for and that he has to be considerate of.
And considering your history — and considering that your boyfriend knew about your history going into this relationship — ruling out rape play is perfectly reasonable on your part and should have been expected on his. Had this conflict ended with your refusal — even if it elicited a little sulking and douchebaggery on your boyfriend's part — I wouldn't be telling you to DTMFA. This rises to the level of DTMFA for two reasons.
First, no safe word? Unreasonable. No way for you to call a stop to it? What if he decides to rape you when you have the flu? Or when your parents are in the next room? What if your fucking appendix bursts in the middle of this "scene"? While some rape victims — excuse me: survivors — develop rape fantasies, those fantasies are paradoxically about control; the "victim" in a fantasy rape scenario gets to pick her "rapist," decides the hour and circumstances, and can call a halt to it at any time. A rape role-play scenario you can't stop when you decide you're done isn't just a rape role-play scenario. It's potentially rape. Just say no.
Second, the pressure. Stitch together all the red flags in China and you won't have one as large as the one your boyfriend has raised. He's pressuring you to consent to sex that he knows is highly likely to leave you feeling traumatized. His unwillingness to drop this, NHB, suggests a desire on his part to traumatize you for real, not for pretend. And if you're already leaving the house because you feel unsafe, I would suggest that he's already succeeded in traumatizing you.
You thought this was "a stable, fulfilling, and kinky relationship," NHB. You were mistaken. DTMFA.
Q: I'M A 17-YEAR-OLD high-school student, male, into foot worship and humiliation. I'm having problems separating my desire to be humiliated sexually from a willingness to be humiliated socially. A girl is using me as her "fallback." I like "Nancy" a lot more than she likes me. I was in a relationship with another girl, and that's when Nancy told me she loved me. So I broke up with my girlfriend, but now Nancy is unwilling to date me. I think she just enjoys having control over me. Nancy is also the only girl I get to indulge my foot fantasies with. The problem is, this gives me the thrill of humiliation, but it means I'm not getting off, yet I'm too turned on to help myself. —Anonymous Foot Slave
A: YOU'VE GOT A pretty good handle on what's going on here: Nancy doesn't want you for a boyfriend, but she enjoys the control she has over you. You're not even her fallback guy, AFS. You're merely living, breathing, foot-worshiping proof that she's sexually attractive and, by putting up with her shit, you give her a palpable sense of how powerful that is and she is.
So knowing that, what the hell do you do?
Seeing as you get to indulge your foot fantasies with Nancy, something you weren't able to do with your previous girlfriend(s), I think you should keep seeing Nancy. But resolve to see her differently. She's using you, right? Use her right back: Get your foot fantasies indulged, enjoy the thrill of being humiliated, then go home and beat off. But remind yourself, after you've come, that she's not your girlfriend and never will be. And resolve to go to college far, far away from this Nancy person, and never speak to her again.
Q: MY HUSBAND AND I were married in a beautiful ceremony a few weeks ago. He's a transman, and while neither of us hides in any closets, it hadn't occurred to us to specifically tell my parents that he's trans — he lives his life as the man that he is. One of my mother's sisters, however, loves starting drama. She did a bit of online digging and found out that he's trans, and she started informing family members. Now we're facing family holidays with the knowledge that she may make a scene. How do we deal with this situation? There's simply not much chance that we can get my parents alone to discuss it before the holidays. —Female Takes Male
A: YOUR AUNT CAN use your husband's status as a transman as a club — a beat-you-with club, not a golf-and-cocktails club — only as long as you're not being fully truthful about it, which is sometimes referred to as being "closeted." Your only choice now is to get out in front of this, FTM. Tell your parents, tell your extended family — tell them now (perhaps in a letter), tell them why you didn't tell them then (not relevant, none of their business), and tell them why you're telling them now (aunt so-and-so is a ripe, royal cunt).Download Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at www.thestranger.com/savage