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Author Topic: My partner wants my help to relive their sexual assault
Elka
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This is a pretty complicated situation for a few reasons, but let me explain a little bit about my partner.

Essentially my partner and I are friends who have sex. We are also emotionally intimate but are technically not in a relationship and could have sex with other people if either of us wanted to. They do not love me, and I do love them.

Now as disastrous as this sounds from the outside, our relationship is fairly healthy for the moment. It isn't going to last forever, and I know I will be hurt at some point, but for now I am content.

My partner is a non-binary person (they/them/theirs pronouns) who experienced rape and abuse several times as a child. I don't know any specifics about what happened because they don't like to talk about it (and I haven't asked).

My partner wants the way that we have sex to change. They want me to do a few things differently, some small, some big. They want me to be more aggressive towards them while we have sex.

That isn't a major deal, because although it definitely makes me uncomfortable, it isn't an unusual thing to do.

What is a bigger deal to me is that they want me to roleplay raping them.

I have no idea why they want me to do this. I sort of understand; they might want to try and interpret something traumatic through having consensual sex and explore that. At the same time I can't imagine this not hurting them.

I guess the at core of my questions is this - Can this be a healthy thing for them? Should I go along with it if I am able to do it without being uncomfortable?

I recognize that I may never understand exactly why they want to do this, or a lot of things about how they cope with being a survivor. That's okay. This is about them. But at the moment they are asking me to do something that I am not sure I'm comfortable with to help them, and I'm not even sure it will help them either.

They have said that I don't have to do it if I'm uncomfortable, and they understand that it may be too much for me. This isn't something I'm being pressured into.

At the same time if they find someone else who could do these things for them I find it hard to see them staying with me for very long.

I'm not going to cross my own boundaries for them. Those are solid. I just need to discover what those boundaries are and what I can deal with.

I'm here because I want to hear the opinions of other people who may have more experience hearing about this kind of thing. That's why I'm in the volunteer only forum.

Unhelpful answers include telling me to leave the relationship, telling me to not do anything I'm uncomfortable with, telling me to get them a psychologist (they can't get one), and telling me to talk about this with them (I have and we are slowly working things out, I'm asking for others' opinions).

If you can avoid saying the above things without having a very good reason to say them, feel free to answer.

I would very much appreciate the help as this is an issue I am far out of my depth in.

I do my best to support them as a friend and accommodate them as a sexual partner, but I have been rather worried about whether this is the right way to go forward or not.

Posts: 9 | From: Perth | Registered: Jun 2014  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
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Welcome to the boards, Elka.

I would be concerned for the safety of both you and your partner if you both were to do this.

I don't want to make a blanket comment on whether role-playing past abuse can ever be healthy, and I also don't think there's a need to do so here. There are some universal points about it that are relevant, though. It's deeply risky, to both people's emotional health, physical health, and to the relationship between them. Even when people take great care to identify and mitigate possible harms (and I don't see some essential parts of that in your post - more on that later), the risks remain large and unpredictable.

Re-experiencing past trauma may have all kinds of effects on the person who was abused, including ones that they - or anyone else - simply couldn't predict. There's the potential for great emotional harm and re-traumatisation. Being in the situation may become physically unsafe for the person who was abused and their companion: people who have been traumatised can often be triggered by particular things which remind them of something about the abuse. Obviously, re-enactment of an abusive situation would be a prime time for previously unknown triggers or reactions to triggers to be unearthed. Someone who is severely triggered may not be in immediate control of their actions - they may be re-living the traumatic situation and earnestly believe they are back in it, with the person/people who abused them. Obviously, that is physically, psychologically and emotionally dangerous for both the person who was abused and their companion.

Some people who've been abused do feel that they want to role-play or re-enact some part of the abuse. There are a range of reasons for that, and most of them are only likely to keep the person stuck in a cycle of thoughts and feelings about the abuse and driven by the abuse, and/or harm the person further, and not at all likely to help. People can also feel very strongly that the role-playing is something they need and want to do and that will help them, and it is still a thing that harms them. I'm not at all wanting to suggest that people who've been abused don't know what's best for them - we do know what's best for us! - it's just that abuse, especially when a child or young person, can really hijack one's sexuality, even further than we realise while we're in it. Someone who wants to role-play abuse they experienced is strongly identifying a need that they have and a stage they're at in their healing, but they're not necessarily coming up with a safe, healthy or ultimately beneficial and healing course of action.

Processing and healing from abuse - and perhaps even more so abuse as a child - is a hard and confusing thing. There's no one right way for everybody, but many people benefit greatly from getting professional support and guidance. Do you know if your partner is getting, or has had, support and counselling from anyone trained in abuse recovery? Obviously, it's up to your partner, but I would strongly suggest that it's the thing most likely to truly help them. Coming back to one of my early points, if your partner is not getting expert support and has not discussed in-depth and at length with a counsellor/therapist their wish to role-play the abuse, their motivations, the possible outcomes and how they would handle them, then the risks of role-playing are just much, much too high.

I know I've written you a lot here, but I'd like to mention you, specifically, in this too. Even if we take re-enacting past abuse out of the picture, any time people do any kind of power-exchange play, it's important that everyone involved feels comfortable with their role. Being the person With power over someone else, if that's not what we want and not what we feel comfortable with, can also feel disturbing and hurtful. You said being aggressive isn't a big deal because it isn't unusual: whether something is usual or not never, ever matters, what matters is whether everyone involved is safe and truly wanting to do the thing. If someone isn't truly into a thing, that's a wonky sexual dynamic, and no-one is ultimately helped by being a part of a wonky dynamic. Your feelings and wishes matter here, too. They matter for you, but they also matter for the relationship (word used in the broad sense, ie, friendships are relationships), and they matter for your partner. Your partner won't benefit, ultimately, from being part of any dynamic with you that isn't truly healthy and based on enthusiastic consent.

Putting the re-enactment back in: your partner is asking you to do to them (some of) what the person/people who abused them did; they're asking you to take the role of someone who abused them. That would be far too much for many people. You said you feel out of your depth, and I think your feelings are giving you important messages. This Is big stuff, and if we don't know how to swim, it's wiser not to step into water that we suspect might be very deep indeed.

If you want to talk about your thought that your partner might not stay with you, we can do that too. I've just written you quite enough already and don't want to load even more on.

How are you feeling about all this, now?

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Elka
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I feel calmer than when I first found out, that's for sure.

I'm having some trouble structuring my response because it is late at night, but I wish to get my thoughts out now while I am feeling able to do so. Apologies for this being a bit all over the place.

Thank you for your perspective on this. I didn't know what to think about the general idea of survivors wanting to relive their sexual assault through roleplay. I knew that it wasn't unheard of and that other people had similar feelings but I wasn't sure whether it was a healthy thing to do. Some of what you've said is making me think about this a bit more clearly.

On getting professional help: The reason I said that was unhelpful is because it is basically impossible at this time. My partner is under 18 and cannot access most or all psychological services without their parents permission or mandatory reporting to their parents. They feel unsafe telling their parents and they know it will go badly. I'm not going to disrespect that wish.

That said, I know that it's a good idea and they are currently seeing if they can get a psychologist to break the rules to help them. It probably won't happen because of monetary concerns, but if they find someone who can help and feel like they need it at the time I can pay for it, although they're not too happy about that idea.

To clarify, they have not ever had a chance to see a psychologist. Most if not all of their other friends don't know about the abuse. I don't know exactly who knows that it happened, but I suspect there are 3 or so people that know.

They have said to me in the past that their sexuality is largely shaped by their experience of sexual assault. They recognize that.

I don't think I could or should try to convince them that what they want is wrong. I don't see that as being helpful or likely to work. In fact that would be cruel if anything. However because they are mindful of my feelings they don't expect me to do everything that they ask, just what I'm comfortable with.

Something you said " It's deeply risky, to both people's emotional health, physical health, and to the relationship between them." I explained this to them, except I didn't talk about the physical part. They seem to think it will work for them and are only worried about me. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are going to be okay with it. They may not be able to predict their own reaction, which makes me very hesitant to see this as something harmless.

I think what you say about talking to a counsellor about this is sensible. I have wondered about their motivations for this, but they don't seem fully able to articulate why they want to do it, they just feel like it's something they need to do. I think that it's best to leave this particular part of things on the back burner until they have a psychologist or someone else to consult about this.

I feel like it might help at this point to explain what other things they wanted me to do. They wanted me to spank them, call them names, hit them and hopefully cause bruises, and stuff like that. Apparently that is sexy to them. It makes them feel panicked, but apparently that's what they want. They say that it feels good to them to panic, and that it helps them come. I interpreted that as them basically wanting me to trigger them while we have sex.

They think that doing these things will increase their sexual satisfaction. That's why they told me they wanted to do all of this. Apparently what we were doing before felt good, but also left them kind of detached. They couldn't relax into it and felt hyper-aware of everything that was happening. They think that "normal" sex will probably never feel good to them, so they want to try this stuff. They seem very determined and sure of themself.

I was completely unaware of their dissatisfaction until they said something. They seemed to be enjoying it. We have mostly had sex in the dark, so I couldn't see what their face was doing. Maybe that's it? Or maybe they just seemed to be alright but were actually not?

I guess this is the point where I talk about my own feelings. To be honest I feel a little selfish for thinking myself so much in all of this. I know that they aren't trying to hurt me, and that they're just trying to make themself enjoy sex more, but I still took it a little personally initially.

I got over the slight hit to my ego of realizing that they perhaps were not enjoying it as much as I was quickly. Then I realized that they wanted me to hurt them.

This is a big sticking point for me. I'm a gentle person for the most part and that's my preferred way of having sex. Imagining myself doing some of the things they asked hurt. I love them and hurting them is the last thing I want to do. Then I worried about whether it would harm our relationship. We are quite close and I would hate to lose that closeness.

The issue of whether I feel comfortable with being dominant and aggressive is complicated for stupid reasons. I'm a transgender woman. This is sort of important to the story.

Basically I was sort of into this stuff when I was a virgin and thought I was a man, and then when I realized I was a woman my interest suddenly became tainted with memories of the masculine version of my sexuality. It's not unlikely that I could enjoy being aggressive in sex, but I can't enjoy it when it triggers dysphoria. I also feel weird about power dynamics in sex as a whole, and I prefer to keep it as equal as possible.

I'm not sure if this reflects a change in my sexuality or the aversion I have developed to this stuff due to dysphoria. I've only known I was a woman for a year and a few months, and been on hormones for 5 months. Add on top of this that my first sexual experience was a month ago and I'm totally lost. I don't yet know where my boundaries lie and what is tied up in dysphoria and whether what triggers my dysphoria can change. I could tell you what I'm comfortable with if you asked me, but I'm basically uncomfortable with everything that isn't gentle sex.

Of course that means something different to everyone and I can explain if need be, but talking about what does and doesn't trigger my dysphoria makes me uncomfortable and I'm done with it for this post.

Something that I should probably mention is that I wasn't sure I would be comfortable with sex when I had someone to do it with. My partner makes me feel very safe. I don't doubt that there are other people who can make me feel safe, but at the moment my current partner is the only person I've ever met who can make me feel this safe.

An awkward thing about all of this is that I am no longer able to masturbate. It just doesn't work. I need the help of someone who makes me feel safe to get sexual satisfaction. Luckily my sex drive isn't ridiculously strong unless I have someone I'm strongly attracted to/in love with, so this isn't something I'm super worried about, but it does suck that I really just can't feel good on my own anymore.

I guess I'll talk about feelings in general for a bit, because that might help you understand where I'm at.

Initially I was quite hurt by what they wanted me to do. It made me feel insecure and inadequate, and I wasn't sure if I felt safe doing any of what they wanted. After sleeping, I looked at it a bit more rationally and saw that some of what they were asking was not unreasonable. I could probably do what they were asking without being hurt much.

I've changed my mind since then and I now am thinking that it's best if I try some of the less serious stuff that they're asking, and if I enjoy it then continue, and if not then stop.

But here's the thing. This whole relationship (and by extension these issues) is kind of framed in terms of what will hurt me least. I mentioned this briefly in my last post, but I'm in love with my friend/partner. They are not in love with me. They know that I'm in love with them and they're okay with it, but they feel like they're stringing me along and don't want me to get hurt.

Whatever happens, I'm getting hurt at some point. It's not going to be anyone's fault but mine. I got more invested than I should have and now I've put them (and myself) in a bad situation. I've decided that since I'm getting hurt whatever happens, I want to stay in this relationship and try and make it a good memory.

I have to try not to think about that too much. It's sad.

I know that sooner or later they will probably leave me. I know that they care about me and worry about hurting me but they also have their own needs and desires. It's not unlikely that one day they'll find someone they want more than me and leave.

In some respects I know it would probably be healthier for me to get out of this relationship now, but I can't do that. I know I'd regret it, and I can't do that to myself, even if it's the better decision.

I'm going to keep going with this relationship. If I get hurt, that's okay. I knew when I fell for them that I was going to get hurt, and knew that I had to tell them my feelings anyway.

Knowing that they will probably leave me one day hurts a lot. I'm insecure about whether I'm deserving of love and whether I'm worthwhile, so knowing that they don't feel quite the same way sets off my insecurities a bit.

My other major insecurity is that I'm so unlovable that everyone I love will leave me. I get scared that people I care about will leave me when I don't feel loved and cared for. You can probably see how that one is not an ideal insecurity for this situation.

We've talked about the possibility that they will leave me or cut off our relationship a bit. That made me feel way worse about it, because now I know that because they're worried about it happening it's something they think is likely to happen at some point.

I think the worst bit is how inevitable it feels. I don't believe that our relationship is unhealthy or weak, in fact I feel like we're getting closer, but despite that one day it could just end.

I guess that's true of any relationship though.

Something that messes with me about this relationship is that while we're "just" friends who have sex, we're also companions and close friends, and sometimes it really feels like more. Being able to feel so close when we're together but know that one day they may just leave and I'm supposed to be okay with that sucks.

I know I've put myself into a shitty situation and that I'm probably being foolish by refusing to get out, but this is what I have to do. I'll be okay. I'm strong enough to get through this and come out the other side.

This probably sounds really bad from your side, but please don't worry. I'm going to be fine whatever happens. I'm young, and I can find someone else if/when this falls apart.

Honestly what I'm worried about the most is supporting the person I care about through the tough times that they are in now as best as I can.

I was crying on and off when I wrote this, so I apologize if some of it is unhelpful or rambles one a bit. I apologize for the fragmentation of it as well. It is hard for me to collect my thoughts on this well enough to write large and cohesive paragraphs, so you've mostly gotten two sentence ones. It is also 2:40 AM here and I should get to bed. I've written a fair amount here, so it'll probably take you forever to decipher.

I appreciate your help.

[ 07-04-2014, 02:01 PM: Message edited by: Elka ]

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Heather
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Just poking in briefly to say that rape crisis/abuse survivor services are not usually only free, but there is NOT parental permission required, nor mandatory reporting UNLESS someone's life is currently at risk, they are currently being harmed (or abuse was very recent), are doing harm to others or themselves, or voicing an intent to do so.

So, if they call or otherwise contact any rape crisis/abuse survivor support services, they can ask both what they offer, and what issues, if any, are presented by their being a minor.

It also sounds like you, yourself, could sure use some extra support! So, if you'd like help from us in finding some support services for yourself -- be that trans* support, support as the partner of a survivor, both or something else -- please just let us know, and we'd be happy to see what we can find for you that is within reach.

Lastly, I think this sentence from you? "I love them and hurting them is the last thing I want to do." probably actually tells you all you need to know in making your choices with this.

They are asking you to hurt them, per asking you to relive harm done to them, and, in a lot of ways, keep them wounded rather than moving towards healing. Sexual abuse or assault can hijack our sexualities for a while in a lot of ways. That can mean that for a while, we just aren't really sexually functional in some ways, or that our sexualities or sexual responses are kind of stuck in our abuse, assault or wounds from them. That's a reality, but it is also ideally something we don't want to enable anyone in, but instead, either steer very clear of that or do what we can to help them move out of that, rather than "helping" them to stay trapped in it. (Which, perhaps obviously, is no kind of help at all.)

So, if either hurting them or being part of someone else hurting them is the last thing you want to do, you have your answer here. We always want to nix anything we do not want to do when we have a choice, especially if it is the very last thing we want to do.

I'd say the same goes for hurting yourself. I hear what you're saying about feeling like you are getting hurt or going to get hurt regardless, but it seems to me that when any of that is avoidable, and is also something that is really about everyone involved being hurt or hurting, we want to avoid it. Even if this was something that could be, or even was, somehow therapeutic for them, it seems clear from a lot of what you are saying that is would hurt you, so isn't emotionally sound for you.

[ 07-04-2014, 03:12 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Elka
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Is this in America, Europe, or Australia? I live in Perth, Australia and in Australia as far as I can tell a minor has no rights to privacy or to mental health services.

We may be able to find a service that is somehow exempt, but I don't know whether we'll be able to. I'll start asking around, there's one place I know of that might have a small cost but be confidential for minors.

Support for me is less important. I'm fine. I'm trying to make more friends at the moment so that I have more emotional support all around, but seeing a psychologist has never helped me before and I'm not interested in trying again over something like this. I came here to ask for other people's perspectives and I think that's what I needed.

I'm still having mixed feelings about this. On one hand I'm definitely uncomfortable doings some of this stuff and I'm not going to do anything I don't want to. But on the other hand I want to satisfy them and make sure that they enjoy sex, partially because I enjoy satisfying them, and partially because otherwise it would seem there is very little left in the relationship for them.

What I'm seeing is that I've allowed myself to shift my boundaries from enthusiastic consent to anything that I don't actively dislike because I want to satisfy them. I'm unsure that's healthy and I might try to discuss this with them when they feel better and see what they say. (There is other stuff going on at the moment which makes this a bad time to talk.)

I think it probably won't help them in any way if I do something that I'm not into. It probably wouldn't satisfy them much if they could tell I wasn't enjoying it. I guess I've neglected to think about what I actually want in all of this.

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Karybu
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Hi Elka, I hope it's okay if I add a couple of things here.

From where I'm sitting, your last sentence is pretty spot-on. Reading through your posts here, there's a lot about what your partner wants and needs, and not as much about what you want, but your needs and wants are equally important. Shifting your boundaries from enthusiastic consent to "what can I tolerate" because you're putting your partner's wants first is definitely not healthy; sexual relationships are ideally about all parties being on equal footing, about everyone's needs being met, not just one person's. There is definitely a lot of messaging out there that the best thing to do is put other people's needs before our own, to take care of others before we take care of ourselves, but it's very difficult, if not impossible, to take good care of care someone else, to meet their needs, if we are neglecting our own needs. Wanting to satisfy a partner is understandable, and it's a good thing, but not if their satisfaction comes at the cost of your own wellbeing. You're absolutely right that it wouldn't be helpful for them for you to do something you're not happy about.

Per your partner finding mental healthcare: I live in Australia (although not WA), and have an acquaintance who is a lawyer who would likely be able to clarify - or know someone who could clarify - the law as it relates to minors accessing mental healthcare confidentially. Would that be useful at all?

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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Elka
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I think it probably wouldn't help, because practically they can't see most psychologists without parental consent. If it isn't much trouble and you think it might turn up something helpful, then it would be worthwhile.

I think they might have found a place that might be able to provide therapy without parental consent or breaking confidentiality. We'll see how it turns out in the next month or so.

I am the sort of person who puts the wants and needs of the people I care about before my own. I generally balance this fairly well with my own needs but this is the first time I'm been in a sexual relationship and the first time I've felt so strongly about someone, so I think I may have let the balance tip too far in one direction. Making myself unhappy for my partner doesn't help either of us.

I know there is a lot of messaging about this out there, but I doubt that is the cause of this. I just tend to consider my own feelings less important than those of my loved ones. I don't really understand why, but I feel a strong need to help other people and when helping someone else means hurting me I tend to just take it.

When I feel it is appropriate to talk to them again I will definitely talk about enthusiastic consent and try and start a conversation about what I want and what they want, and whether they would even want me to do something I don't want to do. I suspect the answer is no.

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OhImpecuniousOne
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I've been doing a bit of online research, and from what I can tell, healthcare providers are required to report sexual abuse of minors to social services (I think that would be the Department for Child Protection in WA), but not to the person's family; I can't find any information on what social services do with that information, although I would imagine that if your partner was abused by a parent, there's a good chance that social services would intervene. The easiest way to find out is probably to take up Karybu's offer, or to call a rape crisis centre and ask them.

What you said about the balance tipping seems pretty insightful to me - it sounds like you're recognising that and doing well at righting it now. Previously, I wanted to tell you that just being uncomfortable with something is a good enough reason not to do it - you can dissect that discomfort and try to break it down if you're curious about it, but you don't need to do so in order to justify being uncomfortable, and doing so in order to rationalise and try to talk yourself into being comfortable with things is something that doesn't work in my experience. But it sounds like you're coming to that conclusion yourself, anyway. [Smile]

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Elka
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I don't know who abused them and they say that they will never tell anyone. That complicates things a little, because I know that they don't consider themselves in immediate danger, but that they think it could still happen again one day because the person is not completely gone from their life. I get the feeling it is a relative, an uncle perhaps, from the way that they talk about extended family. If social services didn't know who the perpetrator was, what would they do? It's unpredictable and hard to find information on our specific situation.

The problem with reporting to social services is basically that at some point it could come back to my friend and their parents would find out, especially if the police are told and decide to investigate. I'm not sure whether the police would decide to investigate, but if they did their only lead would be to talk to the survivor and see what they could find, which would almost 100% involve their parents finding out.

There are many good reasons to not want any authorities to find out. The safest thing to do is to make sure that they don't find out, and find a way to get help which doesn't involve them finding out.

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Redskies
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(OhImpecuniousOne, thank you for your input; also, a gentle nudge that this is in the Expert Advice section.)

Hi, Elka.

Heather and I did look around for resources and at information regarding mandatory reporting after we spoke with you yesterday. We know we have an international site here, so we do try to be very careful that we're considering the correct information when someone's given us a location [Smile]

We're aware that there's mandatory reporting in place for certain professionals, including doctors, in WA. There is support and counselling available from people who are Not doctors, however, and from what we can identify, we believe that other services - do not have those mandatory reporting requirements. In case it's not already clear to you, we are sympathetic about people wanting to avoid mandatory reporting about historic abuse, and we most certainly understand that some people's families would not be supportive. I, personally, would be hypocritical if I did not understand and support people's wishes around this, as I took care to avoid triggering mandatory reporting when I went for help as a legal minor. Us talking so much about getting help is truly about getting help, and not about us being rail-roading or clumsy about reporting or reporting procedures.

I had begun to wonder if your partner was in a situation where they were concerned about still being at risk of abuse. If a legal minor is earnestly in danger, then that does change things. Separately from any reporting requirements, it's not ethical for a legal adult in a position of trust to not make what efforts they can to keep a legal minor safe and out of further abuse. That doesn't mean tramping all over a minor's wishes and taking everything out of their hands and over their head, but it does mean gently working with a minor to make sure they are safe or that they become safe, even if that is scary or unwanted at first to the young person.

I understand that there's a lot you don't know here; your partner's situation is also not something that is ultimately your responsibility. Those things given, I'd like to ask you: as far as you know, is your partner currently at risk of further abuse?

(I have more I'd like to say to you, but it's much more for you personally than what's in this post, and I'm also not the fastest typer in the world, so I'll put it in another post.)

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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OhImpecuniousOne
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Ack, sorry - I make a point of checking, I just didn't realise this time. [Frown]
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Redskies
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Now, things that are more for you rather than your partner.

First, I have a serious concern about possible consequences for you from doing any kind of BDSM with your partner, especially leaving marks on them. If you're a legal adult, it is very likely that there is no legal framework in which they can legally consent to that, leaving you very much on the hook for committing a crime. I would be seriously concerned about the possibility of someone else seeing marks, like bruises, on your partner, and that getting reported to authorities. Regardless of the genders of the people involved, that's potentially a very serious legal situation for the person in your position; prejudices mean that it's more likely to go badly for you, as a trans woman. I gotta say, for your own sake, as an absolute baseline, please do not do anything with or to your partner that may leave marks on them.

From what you've said, I very much agree with your assessment that they're basically asking you to trigger them during sex. I really don't think that's a good idea, and I think it's likely to be bad for both of you. I am deeply sympathetic to your partner and their situation, but I strongly feel that what they are asking of you is way, way out of bounds, for you (even apart from what's good for them, and no, I don't think it's good for them either). They're asking you to be part of a situation which is deeply unhealthy, and I can only strongly suggest to you that you don't. Given what you've said about what they said about sex, I would strongly suggest not being sexual with them at all. I'm so sorry that that is probably hard to hear and hard to consider - abuse does tend to spread out and affect people close to the abused person, too, and I'm so sorry that the both of you are in this situation and struggling with this.

But you're the person talking with us and asking us, so I mostly want to focus on you. You said that partnered sex is still very new to you. For most people, moving right towards spanking and related activities would just be way, way too fast. You said, too, that's it's not something you're really "feeling" as a way that you, yourself, want to be sexual. It's important that you stick with things that you earnestly want to do, and at a pace you want. I don't want your own journey of sexual discovery to be unpleasant, hurtful or concerning to you. While people who've been abused and are struggling with it are certainly having a tough time, their needs never out-rank someone else's. I know it can feel like that, because Big Stuff and Struggling, but it's actually very important to keep your needs equal too. Partners of people who are struggling with abuse typically have a tough time, too, so you having a tough time is not out of the ordinary and is completely legitimate. Someone who's been abused and who is still really in the middle of struggling with it can, deliberately or accidentally, attempt to import really unhealthy relationship or sexual dynamics into other relationships. That isn't ok for a partner, and ultimately, it doesn't help the person who was abused either. I'd really encourage you to stick to what is healthy for you, and what you can enthusiastically consent to. Too, as I said above, from what I'm hearing it's sounding like your partner is not currently able to have a healthy sexual relationship with anybody. If it was them I were talking to, I'd be suggesting that to them. (Too, trying to get sexual responses/satisfaction from negative feelings, like panic, which remind someone of their abuse, is not a way that someone can regain or re-build a healthy sexuality - it makes it further away. And although people who've been abused commonly feel that there is no way they will ever be able to have a "normal"/healthy sexuality, people can and do, with appropriate help and healing.) For you, while it's not right to tell someone else what's going on with them, it would be perfectly appropriate to say that You do not feel comfortable about this kind of sex or sex in general with them, because You fear it may harm them more and that is just not a thing you can risk.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Elka
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I'm busy at the moment so I'll respond later today, but thank you for the input. I'm talking to them today about all of this stuff, and I'm mainly going to focus on enthusiastic consent and see what they say.

Hopefully it will go well. We'll see.

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Elka
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I'm home, but I'm sick and feeling quite tired so I'll sleep before I answer.

Quick update though, I talked to them about enthusiastic consent and they agreed that they didn't want me doing things I wasn't into for their sake.

To address one point you made Redskies, I don't think I'll stop having sex with them unless I have a pressing reason to do so. I enjoy having them as a partner and I don't want to give that up without a solid reason.

Now that we're back in a more even position where both of our needs are being talked about, I think I'd like to stick around and see how this turns out.

EDIT: I've found out some new things and it seems like they really need to get out of the house as soon as possible. They are unsafe psychologically and possibly physically. I'm also going to look into some form of psychological help for me, because this has gotten me into an even more difficult and vulnerable position.

Before I go, can anyone suggest a particular kind of counseling or psychological help that might help someone dealing with supporting a partner who is in trouble? I know that I need some sort of help with this, I clearly can't deal with this on my own.

I'll talk more when I have the time tomorrow afternoon. For the moment I'm sick and need to sleep.

[ 07-06-2014, 11:31 AM: Message edited by: Elka ]

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Heather
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Elka: the rape crisis center I found in Perth that looked good offers counseling to partners, not just victims or survivors themselves. They look, to me, like an excellent resources for you.

Extra bonus: if you establish a connection with them first, your use of that service is basically vetting them. So, your partner may feel safer then contacting them, too.

They are here: http://www.kemh.health.wa.gov.au/services/sarc/have_you.htm#past

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Karybu
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To add a bit of practical legal information around confidentiality and reporting in WA: doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers and police officers are obligated to report past and/or ongoing sexual abuse of minors. Other professionals, such as therapists, are encouraged to report, but are not required to do so.

In terms of requiring parental consent to see a psychologist, it's likely not necessary. Your partner would most probably be classified as a "mature minor" for the purposes of seeking out such treatment: someone who is under the age of 18 but who is, in the opinion of the professional they are seeking help from, competent to consent to treatment without a parent or guardian being consulted. (Most adolescents would be considered mature minors by around age 15 or so.)

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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Redskies
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Hope you're doing ok, Elka.

We're here if there's anything you need or would like that we can help you with. (It doesn't matter if you disagree with anything I said - our support or assistance isn't dependent on your agreeing with us.) Too, if it's something you'd be comfortable with, we'd be happy to talk with your partner if that was something they wanted.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Elka
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I understand. I'm trying to recover from my cold because at the moment I can't say anything that makes much sense.

My partner is going overseas for the next 10 days or so, leaving tonight, I've got some stuff on for the next few days, and trying to recover from my cold on top of that has left me with little energy to talk about my feelings and thoughts about this.

For now I'll say a few things just to keep you up to date with where things are.

On Tuesday my partner decided that we should make our relationship officially a romantic relationship, and that I'm now their girlfriend. That's cool.

They had slept over on Monday night and we had been much more cuddly than usual and they seemed to enjoy it.

We also had sex, and while we did everything fairly much as we've been doing it they said that they enjoyed it way more than usual and it was amazing. They haven't asked again about any of the more aggressive stuff that they wanted even though I specifically told them to talk to me about it before sex if they wanted to try it.

I'm not sure that this means that they no longer want to do it, or if it means anything, but our relationship is changing, and it was definitely different on Monday and Tuesday. I'm not entirely sure what to expect from this issue in the future but for now it seems to have mostly disappeared.

I'm not entirely sure why their feelings about me changed (it was certainly reflected in their actions and demeanor around me) or whether their feelings will stay the same, but I suppose we'll see where things go.

I'm feeling pretty happy with where things are. They're taking care to ensure that I'm interested in whatever sexual stuff we do and we're talking more often and more openly about our feelings and needs regarding sex. Our relationship is changing along with their feelings for me and that leaves me uncertain as to where things will end up, but I'm hopeful that everything will be okay.

The only thing that's really worrying me at the moment is the situation with their family and living conditions. They're clearly unsafe but they're also unwilling to leave at the moment. They need to be somewhere else but there isn't anywhere they can go where they will be safe, especially being a minor.

They're strong, and I'm hoping that they will be alright, but they said some really worrying things about the situation at home which make me think that they need to be out of there at any cost. I'm not going to force anything onto them, but I need to start working out what their options are so that I can help them when they decide they are ready.

If you can provide any help with that, especially on the legal and financial/practical concerns, that would be great.

I have to say, this has been a strange first romantic relationship. I'm both really glad that things have turned out this way and kind of weirded out by how things have happened. The situation has changed so quickly. Hard to believe this only started just over a month ago.

For now I have an appointment to go to and then I'm going to sleep through this cold. Talk to you later.

[ 07-09-2014, 11:11 PM: Message edited by: Elka ]

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Redskies
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I hope you feel better soon!

I'm glad this relationship is feeling a lot better to you now.

For when you feel up to it:
We'll look into what might be available to your partner. As a starting point, I'd suggest seeing if your partner is prepared to disclose anything that's happened to them to the resource that Heather suggested above. The person themself starting to disclose to someone trained and in some position to help is often a really good first step.

Is your partner still in full time education? Do they have any kind of independent financial resources, like a job?

It's really great that you want to support and help your partner. I just want to make sure you know that keeping them safe, or helping them to get safe, is not ultimately your responsibility. You simply being there for them and asking other sources - like us - for help and advice is already you doing your share and being a truly good friend and partner.

Obviously it's a little different when we're not talking with the person themself, because that person always has the most information on their personal situation and what they're experiencing as barriers to getting away from abuse. We'd usually ask if there are ANY older adults in their life who they like, trust, or who care about them, or who might help. Those older adults might be extended family (including people they don't see much, if they know anything about them), family friends, friends' parents or guardians or relatives, teachers, youth centre workers, or anyone else. Identifying anyone who might support them helps, because getting away from abuse is hard for anyone, and older adults typically have more practical and social resources and more power.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Elka
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I'm still not totally recovered from my cold, but my partner has just told me that they're getting help with stuff from an adult we both know who is trustworthy and has the knowledge to help them. They're in a professional position, and they won't be able to provide financial help but they should be able to give sufficient assistance.

We'll see how it goes but it looks like they've got the help that they need. If it sounds like they need some extra help after they come back (in 2 weeks or so) I'll let you know here, but it seems like they've got it all covered.

I'm definitely aware that my partner's safety isn't my responsibility, but at the same time if there is anything I can do to help I will. They're important to me and I would do the same for any friend.

I'm not sure that I have anything more to say for the moment. With the original topic seemingly at rest for the moment and them seeming to have the help they need, I don't have anything in particular to ask about.

If there's anything concerning any of you still or anything you'd like to ask, feel free to do so and I will answer. If not, then thank you for the help and I will call on you for assistance again if I need it.

[ 07-11-2014, 07:25 AM: Message edited by: Elka ]

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