It might be unfair to call a person an abuser, we all make mistakes after all. For some people it’s habitual. Its how they chose to relate to others. I’m referring to the types of people who can’t be honest, lack the self security to ask for what they want, so resort to manipulation and lies to get what they want. They feel entitled to sexual intimacy or kink.
They take different flavours, (all based on my personal and professional experience in the kink community and elsewhere):
What you want is secondary to them and see you as a resource to be used. Not in a healthy fully negotiated dynamic where all parties’ needs are met, and one party enjoys suffering for their partner and everyone is happy because of it. I mean in a cold, selfish, non sexy way. You’re serving a need and have no/little say in the matter. Or if you are given a voice, it’s structured in such a way that it is dismissed. They’ll love bomb and then drop breadcrumbs to keep you interested. Just enough. Asking how you are feels superficial. Being “used” must be fully negotiated .
Some abusers like you to feel sorry for them. They recount stories of abusers in their past to try out the “rescue me” tactic. It’s quite insidious. Perhaps they were abused? But you’re not a therapist, a friend would not want you to “fix” them. A person rescues themselves. But they will use a person’s natural instinct to care for others to their advantage. Don’t base a relationship on pity.
They see you’re in healing or surviving from some trauma, and decide to use this tactic to manipulate you. They sweep in and do whatever they can to “help”, providing support, but it all happens very quickly and they go too far. They help with your kids and fix up your home or car. This removes your autonomy. They may decide to be your therapist or control therapy sessions, deciding for you what you should do. They keep a tally of “all the good things done for you” to use later when you try to stand up for yourself. You are your own rescuer.
Power in any community makes abuse easy. Authority and respect is earned. But it doesn’t mean they are safe. They use this status to appear safe and respected. A leader can say a few words about someone and everyone loves them, or other words and ruin their reputation. They have gravitas and people like them and vouch for them. That is such a power trip, so you can see why the less ethical would seek leadership. (As a leader myself, I have to be mindful of my actions in this regard, that I take the responsibility very seriously). Good leaders will not take advantage of you.
They have a low opinion on everything and everyone. They will tell you all the bad things about other people. They do this to isolate you and make you question your own friends. When you find out that they’ve been gossiping about you, telling people how “crazy” you are, they deny it or deflect. They cannot be trusted with information. Trust carefully.
Yes, newbies can be abusers too! They bring bad habits with them. They use porn as a reference point, which is…. well, bullshit. They are too excited and take too many risks. They may not take education of the lifestyle seriously. They may not be self aware enough to have honest negotiations. Take your time.
The ones that can argue themselves out of a death squad line up. I exaggerate! They have a way with words. They recite the ins and outs of BDSM and come across like they know what they’re doing and will be safe. They care about social and political issues (left, right or centrist) and campaign for rights in our community. They may genuinely care, but they also know that talking the talk is enough for some people. Walking the walk isn’t as reliable. Don’t be fooled by sound bites.
The one that uses “traditions” to justify the one true way of doing things. They don’t appreciate individuality or nuances. They want a formula that they think should work for everyone, else you’re “fake”. Do kink your way.
Some abusers use their age in particular to prey on younger kinksters. Some race. Some gender. Some socioeconomic background. With any privilege comes a degree of responsibility to the person more marginslised than you. These characteristics may be fetished. These types of abusers will perhaps play lip service to caring about your background, but usually they don’t care. They’ll tell you how mature you are for your age, how inspired they are by the struggles you have overcome. They do this to manipulate you. Check their and your privilege index (Even if you don’t believe in it).
I struggled labelling this one… I’m referring to the ones with mental health or cognitive differences that make safe negotiations extra challenging. Certain neurodivergences make communication and empathy tricky. It doesn’t mean you can’t play with a neurodiverse person, of course not. But when the neurological differences make them so detached from reality that they aren’t fully present with you, you have to notice if they treat you as a whole human , and are not using it as an excuse to ignore your needs also. You are not responsible for another person’s communication and welfare.
Conversely to the un-present, there are those abusers that will see any neurological, physical or emotional challenges in another person (that’s most people) and plot to make use of it. To isolate. To manipulate. To dehumanise. They see them as “weak” (they are not) and easy prey. Run from these ones.
The ones that say and do things without checking if you are alright with it first. They send explicit photos and messages without asking. They touch you or your property, invading your personal space. They appear excessively on your social media. In a relationship, they make sudden romantic plans when they know you’re seeing friends or family. They do not respect your boundaries. They word “no” means “convince me” in their eyes, or they don’t hear ot at all. Romantic gestures should be taken with caution.
If someone has a conviction for any form of intimate partner abuse or violence, it takes a lot to get that conviction. Don’t listen to their excuses. They’ll use the tactics previously mentioned to mask their “mistake” or “false comviction”. Not all events (certainly in my location) ban convicted criminals. You probably know one. Imagine if you were the victim.
Anyone can be an abuser. Anyone can be a target of abuse. Do you recognise any of these traits in you or your partner(s)? I often stop to reflect on my practice. I try hard to not fuck up, given the various relationships I’m blessed with and challenges I have myself. I’ve made mistakes. I’m trying. We have to try and remember this is an ongoing process. We have to seek help when needed. But never take advantage of others. Don’t lie, cheat and/or manipulate. Don’t tolerate being lied to, cheated on or manipulated. And if you’re being taken harmed or advantage of, want more for yourself. We all deserve happiness. Help is out there, you will be believed, it is not your fault.