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FollyToBeWise

Second Life's BDSM community

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On my very first day in Second Life, I've noticed the difference between the Second Life community and the real life one. Anonymity sometimes seems to mean less accountability and that's unfortunately the case in most websites, including FetLife. I've come across many who would cower behind the label 'dom' or 'master' when they have earned neither and demand submission of people they know nothing about. When submissives decline their 'invitation' or point out that there are better ways to approach potential play partners without resolving to name calling, the entitled 'dominants' call the submissive 'false' for knowing to vet and not submit to the first person to ask - no, demand it.

My question is, in the real life community it's appropriate to ask for references and I was wondering if other players do that? I would like to start asking for them, though my vetting process *does* weed out those entitled people, hearing from people who have played with them might offer... perceptive. 

I fear for people who are new to the scene - many could take advantage of lack of knowledge and sub or dom frenzy. ?

Thank you,

Rhae.

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Dumbinants are a common discussion here.

References... no. Too easy to fake. "Hmm.... Well, you can talk to MySlaveAlt.Resident, they were my sub for years and loved me" <logs over to alt> "Oh yes, I knew them well. They were the most amazing Dominant in the world. I wish I didn't have to leave them" <logs back to dom> "See? I am awesome, let me collar you now slave.... sllock... slkneel..."

If talking and flirting leads to a possible match, this has to be a trial. In SL I normally do a 4 week trial on my subs, either of us are free to break it without penalty during that period.
 

15 minutes ago, FollyToBeWise said:

I fear for people who are new to the scene - many could take advantage of lack of knowledge and sub or dom frenzy. ?

Yes. It happens a lot. Those of us who care support people trapped in these situations. In world and here on the forum. That's all we can do,

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There are always going to be variability when it comes to people and their experience, expectations vary from community to community. Seeking references might be welcome in some, and felt to be creepy in others. Personally I prefer to get to know someone and make up my own mind.

SL is not really any different from off-screen when it comes to standards and expectations, you get good and bad in both. If in doubt, a good belt buckle always carries some weight.

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2 minutes ago, Callum Meriman said:

In SL I normally do a 4 week trial on my subs, either of us are free to break it without penalty during that period.

I think you ment no hard feelings rather than penalties.

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44 minutes ago, CoffeeDujour said:

There are always going to be variability when it comes to people and their experience, expectations vary from community to community. Seeking references might be welcome in some, and felt to be creepy in others. Personally I prefer to get to know someone and make up my own mind.

SL is not really any different from off-screen when it comes to standards and expectations, you get good and bad in both. If in doubt, a good belt buckle always carries some weight.

You are absolutely right, except from my experience in the real life community, there's a little difference in the sense that transgressions like abuse and ignoring consent, will be punished if reported. Maybe not by authority, but people within the community - they'd 'ban' them from the scene, and make sure people know they're unsafe to play with. Granted, I never seen it happen, but I've heard stories from people who've been in the community since before I was born and from mentors who guided me. 

References is complicated, even in real life - it's why I stick to my vetting process, though they reveal themselves too soon most times, if I'm being honest.

I just wish there's a way to protect newer players, you know? I am fairly new but I found amazing books and amazing educators, both on youtube and FetLife, but I realize not everyone is that lucky. It's why I took a new player in, to mentor - expose them to the basics and show them the ropes, if you will.

51 minutes ago, Callum Meriman said:

Dumbinants are a common discussion here.

References... no. Too easy to fake. "Hmm.... Well, you can talk to MySlaveAlt.Resident, they were my sub for years and loved me" <logs over to alt> "Oh yes, I knew them well. They were the most amazing Dominant in the world. I wish I didn't have to leave them" <logs back to dom> "See? I am awesome, let me collar you now slave.... sllock... slkneel..."

If talking and flirting leads to a possible match, this has to be a trial. In SL I normally do a 4 week trial on my subs, either of us are free to break it without penalty during that period.
 

Yes. It happens a lot. Those of us who care support people trapped in these situations. In world and here on the forum. That's all we can do,

Well, there's too much that needs to be discussed first - hence my insistence on vetting and getting to know them first. Even if they were good players, we might not share the same kinks or we might be looking for different types of play. For example, what I need to enjoy scenes is detailed and well written emotes. Without it, it's not fun for me. 

People need to understand that attraction alone isn't reason to play or collar/submit to someone.

And yeah, some sims do offer education!

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3 hours ago, FollyToBeWise said:

And yeah, some sims do offer education!

Well, you shouldn't expect too much from these éducations', though. Mostly they are led by one person, who is teaching you their way of looking at BDSM.
I don't believe BDSM can be 'taught', I would recommend newcomers to talk to people about it, and not just take advice from one person. 

Even if newcomers ask me, and want me to train them, I tell them to meet more people and get more opinions and views.  My views of BDSM, and my way of living BDSM work for me, it doesn't mean it will work for anyone. So yes, I do maintain a trial period like @Callum Meriman, but even before I start a trial period, I usually know the person for a while already. One could view it as having two trial periods. One for being a friend, and one for being in a D/s relationship.

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10 hours ago, lavalois said:

Well, you shouldn't expect too much from these éducations', though. Mostly they are led by one person, who is teaching you their way of looking at BDSM.
I don't believe BDSM can be 'taught', I would recommend newcomers to talk to people about it, and not just take advice from one person. 

Always ask what you can expect to happen afterwards , I've seen "education" places that really only exists to supply a specific role-play with fresh meat.

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14 hours ago, lavalois said:

Well, you shouldn't expect too much from these éducations', though. Mostly they are led by one person, who is teaching you their way of looking at BDSM.
I don't believe BDSM can be 'taught', I would recommend newcomers to talk to people about it, and not just take advice from one person. 

Even if newcomers ask me, and want me to train them, I tell them to meet more people and get more opinions and views.  My views of BDSM, and my way of living BDSM work for me, it doesn't mean it will work for anyone. So yes, I do maintain a trial period like @Callum Meriman, but even before I start a trial period, I usually know the person for a while already. One could view it as having two trial periods. One for being a friend, and one for being in a D/s relationship.

No, maybe not, but I believe in the importance of mentors and educators - specially when it comes to different types of play. For instance, there is a proper way to wield a whip and a proper way to spank - these things can be taught. Another thing that can be taught is terminology and the expectations and standards that come with being a BDSMer - this community, for instance, stresses the importance of consent and communication far more than vanilla communities do, and have for the longest time. 

Being part of the BDSM community have made me a better person, because I knew where to look and to listen. But you're right, not everything can be taught, least of all compassion and basic human decency. It's why I made sure to properly vet people and get to know them first. Because, like you both said, a trial period is important specially before play - to find out if you're compatible and whatnot.

(Also, I didn't know you could tag/@ someone here, that's awesome! ?)

 

 

 

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19 hours ago, FollyToBeWise said:

My question is, in the real life community it's appropriate to ask for references and I was wondering if other players do that?

References? I can't even get Snugs to vouch for me!

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I've been in the lifestyle, all my life. Grew up in a D/s household and met my RL Dominant when I was seventeen. The "training" I had was watching my gran and her Dominant interact with each other. When I was little, of course, I didn't realize it was a D/s relationship but as I got older and more curious I ask and was sat down and they explained what the dynamic was. I had a mentor that further gave me instruction and taught me what to look for and what to stay far away from. I suppose I was lucky in the fact that I had so many good people helping me understand and training me.

Enter Second Life...I came here after I lost my Dominant to a drunk driver and needed something to fill that void inside my heart, and I definitely was NOT looking for a SL Dominant. But, I suppose because I had been in the lifestyle all my life, one gravitates towards what they know and I ended up in a lot of BDSM Sims. I won't name them because it is against the TOS but there are several that I learned to stay far away from as they only play at being in the lifestyle. You get a sense of what is and what isn't if you just stay quiet and observe.

I have, while at these BDSM Sims, observed a lot of mental and emotional abuse from so called Dominants and how it affects the submissive and the damage it does to them. It hurts my heart, that someone who just wants to serve will be abused like that, all because a person has Master above their heads. I know that there are some really good Dominants in SL but they are few and far between. 

So, if I do see a submissive that is unhappy and unsure of what they can do, and please do not say that they can just log off or leave, true they can do that but the damage has already been done and there's no escape from that. You play it over and over in your head until you begin to believe what they have been told. It's hard to get out of that mindset...but IF I see someone who is being abused, I will IM them, give them my card and tell them they can IM me anytime and I will to the best of my ability help them. Sometimes that will mean referring them to RL counseling or sometimes it just helps to have someone to talk to, someone who will not judge you and try to help you heal.

I wish there was a true vetting process here in SL for Dominants and submissive but sadly that's not a viable option, because it's so easy to lie. All I can offer is my ear and offer to help in anyway I can. 

*looks up at her post and thinks, "Gee, I don't think I have ever written anything this long on the forum ever"*  

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That's about normal. In the San Francisco real-life kink community, when there was one, about 80% of the male tops were jerks. About 60% of the female subs were very needy. Can't speak for the gay side. This leads to hookups between borderline abusive guys and insecure women, which last for a while and then end with both parties angry. Sounds like the previous poster had that experience.

Domination needs a certain amount of mischievousness to be done well. The best BDSM instructor in SF was a small Asian woman who has the timing for stand-up comedy.

Have fun with roleplaying it in in SL, but don't take it too seriously.

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3 hours ago, anniepany said:

I've been in the lifestyle, all my life. Grew up in a D/s household and met my RL Dominant when I was seventeen. The "training" I had was watching my gran and her Dominant interact with each other. When I was little, of course, I didn't realize it was a D/s relationship but as I got older and more curious I ask and was sat down and they explained what the dynamic was. I had a mentor that further gave me instruction and taught me what to look for and what to stay far away from. I suppose I was lucky in the fact that I had so many good people helping me understand and training me.

Enter Second Life...I came here after I lost my Dominant to a drunk driver and needed something to fill that void inside my heart, and I definitely was NOT looking for a SL Dominant. But, I suppose because I had been in the lifestyle all my life, one gravitates towards what they know and I ended up in a lot of BDSM Sims. I won't name them because it is against the TOS but there are several that I learned to stay far away from as they only play at being in the lifestyle. You get a sense of what is and what isn't if you just stay quiet and observe.

I have, while at these BDSM Sims, observed a lot of mental and emotional abuse from so called Dominants and how it affects the submissive and the damage it does to them. It hurts my heart, that someone who just wants to serve will be abused like that, all because a person has Master above their heads. I know that there are some really good Dominants in SL but they are few and far between. 

So, if I do see a submissive that is unhappy and unsure of what they can do, and please do not say that they can just log off or leave, true they can do that but the damage has already been done and there's no escape from that. You play it over and over in your head until you begin to believe what they have been told. It's hard to get out of that mindset...but IF I see someone who is being abused, I will IM them, give them my card and tell them they can IM me anytime and I will to the best of my ability help them. Sometimes that will mean referring them to RL counseling or sometimes it just helps to have someone to talk to, someone who will not judge you and try to help you heal.

I wish there was a true vetting process here in SL for Dominants and submissive but sadly that's not a viable option, because it's so easy to lie. All I can offer is my ear and offer to help in anyway I can. 

*looks up at her post and thinks, "Gee, I don't think I have ever written anything this long on the forum ever"*  

I absolutely hate it when people say that you could log off or block the abusers - a lot of times, a lot of people don't recognize the signs of abuse or know what to call it - and as someone who has been abused both offline and online for the whole 22 years I've been alive, I can tell you that leaving your abuser(s) isn't as simple or as easy as people make it sound to be. More often than not, abuse can be subtle - it can eat away at you and you wouldn't realize it until you're stuck in the webs of your abuser(s). I know I've made excuses for my abusers, I know I've blamed myself for it and I still catch myself doing that. 

Abuse messes with you, it leeches on to you and eat away at your well-being and sanity. Gas-lighting, for instance, will have you thinking it's 'all in your head' and make you question your sanity. 

Leaving abusers isn't easy, be it online or offline. And even if you do recognize their abuse, there's always that fear, the 'what will happen if I leave' spiral, and while real life abuse has the potential of physical endangerment, there's still a lot that abuses can and might do if you leave them. 

Hence why 'you can just turn off your computer' or 'just block them' are not good responses to give an abuse victim. 

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55 minutes ago, FollyToBeWise said:

I absolutely hate it when people say that you could log off or block the abusers - a lot of times, a lot of people don't recognize the signs of abuse or know what to call it - and as someone who has been abused both offline and online for the whole 22 years I've been alive, I can tell you that leaving your abuser(s) isn't as simple or as easy as people make it sound to be. More often than not, abuse can be subtle - it can eat away at you and you wouldn't realize it until you're stuck in the webs of your abuser(s). I know I've made excuses for my abusers, I know I've blamed myself for it and I still catch myself doing that. 

Abuse messes with you, it leeches on to you and eat away at your well-being and sanity. Gas-lighting, for instance, will have you thinking it's 'all in your head' and make you question your sanity. 

Leaving abusers isn't easy, be it online or offline. And even if you do recognize their abuse, there's always that fear, the 'what will happen if I leave' spiral, and while real life abuse has the potential of physical endangerment, there's still a lot that abuses can and might do if you leave them. 

Hence why 'you can just turn off your computer' or 'just block them' are not good responses to give an abuse victim. 

I absolutely agree Folly. Even though I was raised in the lifestyle and I have a relatively high IQ, I still found myself in an abuser relationship here in SL. It was so subtle, I never saw it happening, and when I finally did realize what was happening, the emotional damage had already been done, and it's taken me a very long time to get over it and yes there are still times that I think it was my fault and maybe if I had been a better submissive, he wouldn't have said the things he said to me. But all that is just bull crap, it was not my fault and I am so much better without him in my life. If people have not been on the receiving end of said abuse, they can't possibly understand what happened and how it made you feel. 

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2 hours ago, anniepany said:

I absolutely agree Folly. Even though I was raised in the lifestyle and I have a relatively high IQ, I still found myself in an abuser relationship here in SL. It was so subtle, I never saw it happening, and when I finally did realize what was happening, the emotional damage had already been done, and it's taken me a very long time to get over it and yes there are still times that I think it was my fault and maybe if I had been a better submissive, he wouldn't have said the things he said to me. But all that is just bull crap, it was not my fault and I am so much better without him in my life. If people have not been on the receiving end of said abuse, they can't possibly understand what happened and how it made you feel. 

No, they cannot. Not many people who haven't experienced it can understand. I've been abused my whole life, be it by family or people I've trusted enough to call friend. Society can and does normalize some abusive behaviors - for instance, my cousin told me my  mother's abuse was proof of her love. What kind of twisted logic is that? It has taken me a long time to admit she was abusive and I still feel guilt when I associate her with that word, because there's love there, but that's the thing about abuse. Sometimes, you think it's different when it's happening to you. Sometimes, you make excuses for them because you love them. 

It's taken me so long - I've been working on it for the past three years and it is still hard, cutting people out of your life - even without the threat to your safety if you left them.

Another sad thing is, when you experience something enough, you normalize it - it's part of the reason many abuse victims become abusers themselves and the reason some abusers don't realize they're  that.

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7 hours ago, anniepany said:

I absolutely agree Folly. Even though I was raised in the lifestyle and I have a relatively high IQ, I still found myself in an abuser relationship here in SL. It was so subtle, I never saw it happening, and when I finally did realize what was happening, the emotional damage had already been done, and it's taken me a very long time to get over it and yes there are still times that I think it was my fault and maybe if I had been a better submissive, he wouldn't have said the things he said to me. But all that is just bull crap, it was not my fault and I am so much better without him in my life. If people have not been on the receiving end of said abuse, they can't possibly understand what happened and how it made you feel. 

When you say "raised in the lifestyle" do you mean you saw your parents acting as Dom/sub? By that i mean, you saw the sub kneeling and acting in a submissive role when you were a small child? If so, that was highly wrong and possibly illegal depending on where you were raised. Children should never be subjected to any sort of BD/sm. All of that activity should be done when the children are asleep or not around. My wife and i have never done anything in front of our kids. I would be horrified to even think of it.

I am truly sorry that happened to you. I know of several women who were abused as kids and they have messed up relationships now. Always drifting towards an abusive person. In whatever way that happens to be. 

To all of you that were abused, all i can offer is my sympathy and free hugs. 

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2 hours ago, Drake1 Nightfire said:

When you say "raised in the lifestyle" do you mean you saw your parents acting as Dom/sub? By that i mean, you saw the sub kneeling and acting in a submissive role when you were a small child? If so, that was highly wrong and possibly illegal depending on where you were raised. Children should never be subjected to any sort of BD/sm. All of that activity should be done when the children are asleep or not around. My wife and i have never done anything in front of our kids. I would be horrified to even think of it.

I am truly sorry that happened to you. I know of several women who were abused as kids and they have messed up relationships now. Always drifting towards an abusive person. In whatever way that happens to be. 

To all of you that were abused, all i can offer is my sympathy and free hugs. 

No I never saw any of that, what I saw was the different way they treated each other, as compared to my friends parents. I think she would also have been horrified to have me see any of that. What they did in the privacy of their bedroom was their business, it was simply a sense, a feeling that their relationship was not the same as others and when I was older around 15 or 16,I asked and it was explained to me. I didn't leave with my grandmother until I was ten after my parents died. So there was NO abuse whatsoever. The way I grew up was in a very loving and respectful and nourishing household.

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On 11/15/2018 at 8:37 PM, FollyToBeWise said:

My question is, in the real life community it's appropriate to ask for references and I was wondering if other players do that? I would like to start asking for them, though my vetting process *does* weed out those entitled people, hearing from people who have played with them might offer... perceptive. 

I fear for people who are new to the scene - many could take advantage of lack of knowledge and sub or dom frenzy. ?

Thank you,

Rhae.

I would just do it. At best, they enjoy seeing you informed and cautious enough to ask for references. At worst, you have to explain why having references happens to be important to you in an online setting. I've personally never thought of it, but usually if I'm excited enough about someone as a top or bottom, they meet all of my friends anyways. I guess that's kind of like giving references?

Vultures will always be out there and excited bottoms make easy targets. Bu hell. You could see it as kind of a service. Make it trendy to ask for references among people you know. Make fetch happen!

 

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There is a completely different difference between the SL BDSM lifestyle and the RL BDSM Lifestyle Sadly, the vetting process as one pointed out is very easy to fake. And Even if you do get a second person to speak for them (not an alt) again, you have no idea if they are part of the sl or rl lifestyle. 

I know me and the hubby, have gone through many people thanks to the difference. We are an rl couple, that is part of the rl lifestyle and most we have found follow the sl lifestyle it seems. The best I can say is honestly use your own judgment. Don't add just anyone to your stuff, give them a trial, ask questions (Ask the same questions at different times) and such. and eventually, all sl and rl ones will show you which lifestyle they are in. 

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After reading all of the replys to this topic all I can say is that a little of my faith in humanity and common decenceny has been restored when it comes to this community and the lifestyle. I have seen so many fakes, on both ends of the spectrum. Fake wanna be dom/me's who are just out for their own needs and have no feeligns or care about their sub/slave/pet etc.. Fake sub/slaves who are just seeking to trick or use and abuse their dom/me. I have dealt with abusers in the community and those that have been abused. And so many are so willing to just accept and tolerate and permit it like there is nothing wrong at all. I understand that some might be in to it, but there has to be a point when common sense and rational thinking just say, "hay this isnt right its too much its to far, it needs to stop". Too many people are becoming so numb to abuse in this lifestyle online and its becoming more acceptable to be done. and even becoming the new 'in' thing in many of the groups within sl. That you have to be useable/abuseable or else your trash or not a proper submissive or slave. Its sad and shocking how different sl bdsm is from rl bdsm and how much is accepted or tolerated. How easy it is for those new to sl and new to bdsm can be so easily mislead by the abusive predators within sl who think its ok to do it, who think its their right to be so, that they are entitled to act in such manners becasue its just rp and because its their kink or fetish and you cant shame them for it. That you have to just allow it and go with it and flow with it or you are worthless. That you are not allowed to say no or stop because your a sub or slave and have no rights now according to them.

And if you use rlv you are not allowed to log in with rlv off because doing so is cheating and wrong and any sub or slave that cheats out of rlv for any reason is just useless to their master/mistress because they wont blindly obey and not question or doubt or fear. that they have to have complete trust and loyalty that their master/mistress is only acting in their best interests even when completely locking them down and leaving them that way for hours or days or longer with little to no interaction, and that this behavior should be seen as ok to do. people are so willing to be abused/manipulated/decieved here in sl just to fit in and be accepted its sad really.

So many like to try and use the old addage, sl=/=rl. where nothing in sl has any affect in rl, and that is simply the biggest lie out there. Everything we do or say in sl has some effect on someone in rl. Be it emotional or psyhcological, and can even lead to physical responses, such as depression and even other mental problems that could lead to anxiety or suicidal thoughts or actions. Yes I am speaking from personal experience on this. I was abused in rl and even here in sl to the point I became chronically depressed and had severe anxiety issues and even suicidal thoughts because of how one of my owners treated me here.

So many groups even try and put it into their information that by joining the group you give consent for members in the group to treat you in what ever way that the group says its about, abuse, rape, forced submission, etc. That just by joining that group you gave consent, that they dont have to even acknowledge your limits, hard or soft. Its just sickening when seeing such groups and that some people fall for it and then get stuck in the ever downward spiral of accepting being abused because they believe they have to allow it. Soon they become desensitized to it, and then the abused becomes the abuser. An abused sub becomes an abusive Dom in some sadistic twist to take back and do to others what was done to them and the cycle continues. Or an abusive dom realizes how much they have hurt others and then becomes a willing sub/slave to let themselves be abused as some sort of perverse punishment or retribution for their actions instead of just stoping what they were doing and trying to help others stop and get out of such relationships too.

Once again I want to say thank you for restoring a little of my faith and belief in the good of humanity and in the lifestyle, I was beginging to doubt there was any or much left at times when it came to sl or online.

Ehh, there is so much more I could say on this as has been seen on a couple of other posts but at times i wonder does it even matter..seems as if the majority of sl really doesnt care about their actions as long as they get what they wanted out of it first..

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I don't ask for references, I just hang out with people and see what happens since actions speak louder than words. I also don't submit to just anyone, as my submission is a gift that is earned by a select few both irl and in sl. There's currently one person I'm interested in submitting to in sl, and as of right now he's the only one I will kneel to because he has earned both my trust and respect as a friend and a Dominant.

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In essence, it's down to the lack of real life accountability. A lot of sexual fantasies revolve around being treated in an objectifying, commodifying or disposable manner, but they're fantasies. Anyone who knows what they're doing in real life understands that and will keep the connection with their partner throughout, not to mention giving proper aftercare at the end. In SL, it's too easy for hateful, psychopathic individuals to take it to a basic level, and believe that they can quite literally treat someone like an object with no rights. They have no concept of power exchange and because of the lack of accountability, they have no incentive to learn. There is no community to take cues and lessons from and they can simply cut themselves off from consequences. 

Real life is also more restrained (if you'll pardon the pun) in some respects. You can do all sorts of crazy stuff in RL but in SL you can act out truly wild fantasies that you either couldn't touch in RL, or at least not without a heck of a lot of work and preparation. People get carried away with it, especially since, as before, there's no actual RL accountability. The other thing that makes it more restrained is that in RL, there is real pain and physical sensation involved, and people do often find their tolerance is lower when it's really happening. In a way, you need more intense fantasies when it's not really happening, to compensate for the lack of real sensation and interaction. 

There's also the sense among people that it's not "real" and therefore they are not responsible for what happens since you can click out at any time (funnily enough, these people tend to have very strong opinions about what's real in terms of their partner's RL sex and gender though). This not being "real" also encourages people to take it further and further, perhaps beyond what's really fulfilling for them

And of course, the internet has always been a hotbed of misogyny and threats against women, and there is no reason to suppose SL would be any different, especially with all the groups and sims dedicated to acting out what are, unfortunately, psychopathic abusers' wet dreams. 
 

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On 12/15/2018 at 2:14 AM, Kendraskyye said:

I don't ask for references, I just hang out with people and see what happens since actions speak louder than words. I also don't submit to just anyone, as my submission is a gift that is earned by a select few both irl and in sl. There's currently one person I'm interested in submitting to in sl, and as of right now he's the only one I will kneel to because he has earned both my trust and respect as a friend and a Dominant.

What is worrying, both in real life and in any place really, is how charming abusers can be. They can put on a mask and fool you and it took me years to even begin to recognize it. 

I have a play partner in real life and she is wonderful. We are taking it slow, too slow for my liking haha, but I do appreciate how thoughtful and sweet she is. She checks in on me a lot, which is good when you're getting to know your sub.

I have a lot less reservations in SL and I want to explore things I wouldn't in real life, for whatever reasons, but it is still disheartening to see abusive people hide behind the guise of bdsm. I feel for those people who haven't found good resources or mentors yet.

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8 hours ago, FollyToBeWise said:

What is worrying, both in real life and in any place really, is how charming abusers can be. They can put on a mask and fool you and it took me years to even begin to recognize it. 

Of course. That's how they operate. Nobody would fall in love with a meathead who just came charging straight in with abuse, insults, threats, physical violence and nothing else. I think that it's quite common for them not even to be aware of it. Many of them lack the emotional intelligence to understand themselves exactly what it is they're doing, and cling to a narrative of themselves as the good guy, perhaps humanly flawed, but ultimately sympathetic and heroic even if not strictly in the right. They themselves frequently believe that they could still be that caring, charming, loving person they were at the start, if only that idiot didn't MAKE them act differently by causing them to be angry or displeased or whatever.

Of course there are also the calculating, potentially sociopathic ones who understand exactly what they're doing from the off, but I actually think these ones are less common. One reason why abusers are so convincing when they tell you it's your fault, or they're the good guy really, is because they themselves truly believe it. 

And when you've had a taste of what felt like blissful true love, and still gets glimpses of it every now and then (the cycle of abuse) it can be very very hard to accept that it isn't real and never was, and this person you're trying to bring back never actually existed. And this, of course, is an even easier facade to maintain on the internet, where you can honestly claim that you literally never touched the other person and can't possibly be forcing them into anything...

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