I’m in a femdom relationship: Is this abuse?

This landed via my Ask Me page and I absolutely didn’t want to wait to answer it in my next podcast because it needs a timely response.

Hello,

I am in a 1 & 1/2 year old relationship first time with a domme who is also a sadist and I am a submissive and okay with a bit of pain play.

We are living in together & things were going okay but one day I was pretty late from work and didn’t pick any of her calls. Naturally she was pissed and when I arrived home, she slapped and punched me in the face, didn’t ask a single question and went off to sleep. She is a very wonderful and kind woman but that day she really scared me and made me feel very bad about myself.

It was clear that it we were not in any scene. Now I don’t know about much about how D/s relationships(because its my first) but was it okay for her to do it or was it some kind of abuse? Or am I just overreacting? I am stalling until your reply or maybe just give her another chance because it seems quite common in other femdom related websites and blogs but your advice will definitely help me in the future.

P.s- sorry for bad English.

Let me say this in a very clear and unequivocal manner: What happened was in no way acceptable. It’s abuse.

It was not okay. Not even a little bit. And you are not overreacting at all. I’m so sorry that happened to you :(.

Imagine if you swapped the genders here: maledom/femsub, and he slapped and punched her in the face because he was pissed. This wouldn’t even be a question, right? The gender of the parties makes NO difference at all. It’s unacceptable behaviour.

It’s not okay in any relationship for your partner to hit you without your explicit consent. It’s not okay in a vanilla relationship and it’s not okay in a BDSM relationship. So yes, it’s abuse.

If you read about it happening on other femdom websites or blogs there are three possibilities:

  1. It’s a fantasy (this is hugely common on the internet: Fantasy presented as ‘real life’)
  2. Consent was given but not explicitly stated in the writing (ALL of my little real life snippets sit in this basket)
  3. It’s non-consensual and that’s not okay

It is obviously up to you to decide what to do next: You know her, I do not. You also know how you feel. You say you are scared: Please don’t ignore your bad feelings. They are valid and you should listen to them.

If I was you, I’d leave. Not least because I now know what this person who is supposed to love me is capable of, and I find that frightening. I could never trust them again.

But I know that’s easy to say from here, so I’m going to ramble a little bit more about it.

An action like this generally doesn’t ‘come out of nowhere’. Normally there is a pattern of intimidation or aggression, and physical violence is a progression of that pattern.

If this is an escalation of previous intimidating and negative behaviour (yelling, throwing things, gaslighting, name calling etc), then I’d advise that you leave. That’s a toxic environment that has escalated into physical abuse.

If this is some alarming and bizarre behaviour that really did ‘come out of nowhere’, you might have a chance to address it together. Regardless, be very clear that it’s not okay.

Then ask her what happened.

As an aside: If she’s new to D/s (and I know this will sound ridiculous to people with experience, but trust me, I’ve seen it happen), she may have been influenced by some really bad information where someone (an ‘authoritative’ website or a forum or some other ‘knowledgeable’ source online) told her that ‘this is how real femdoms handle their sub’s poor behaviour’. It seems ludicrous, but if she’s struggling and looking in the wrong places for help, she can get really really bad advice.

Regardless of the reason, it shows incredibly bad judgement on her part, and I wouldn’t blame you if you considered it unforgivable no matter where it came from. But if you think you can salvage something, then dig around with her to figure out what happened.

Then work out some strategies together to handle conflicts in constructive ways that strengthen your relationship.

I’m going to stress this though:

No matter what, if she isn’t abjectly sorry, if she doesn’t clearly see that she did something really bad, if she doesn’t promise that it will never happen again, if she tries to justify it or excuse it in any way, then leave.

If she’s not sorry or thinks it’s no big deal, then you have nowhere to go with it.

I wish you the very best of luck.

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20 Comments

  1. Wow.

    Great entry. While everyone loves happy/sexy stories, I think everyone benefits from being reminded that things can go wrong and shown how they can address such situations.

    1. Yes: Things can absolutely go wrong and sometimes it goes REALLY wrong.

      It’s hard when you’re new and you somehow think that ‘this is what femdom looks like’: There is SO much bad information out there masquerading as advice :(.

      Ferns

  2. Ferns has covered it, absolutely NOT acceptable in any relationship. Again as she has suggested talk it over, find out the cause if any, and make a decision then
    Coug

  3. Yeah, those three lines in italics at the end sum it up for me. Maybe she’ll be really sorry in the morning, and he can give her a chance. Maybe.

    I’m curious abut how this will evolve. Maybe he’ll let us know.

  4. For me, that sort of thing would happen exactly once. The first time I was struck without my consent, would be the last. Even the most tearful, abject apology would do no good as it would tell me that she is unable to control herself and could never be trusted again. I have seen two family members go through this and from what I have seen, abusers don’t change. It is a part of who they are so there would be nothing to “talk over”.

    1. That’s completely understandable.

      I think I’d be the same. I say ‘I think’, but I’ve never been in that situation (hope I never am), and people are strange and complex and sometimes we do things that baffle even ourselves.

      Ferns

  5. I’m so sorry for your reader/emailer.

    Open message to him from someone that’s been in an abusive relationship – if this was totally out of character (if), if you’ve not seen any of the signs of things escalating that Ferns mentioned (if), if she sits down and apologies and says she was wrong and doesn’t come up with a dozen excuses of having had a bad day or ‘reasons’ (if).

    If she promises this won’t happen again, that if she has anger problems she is going to get help to work on it, etc, then look for actions not words.

    Words are easy, and the apologies come, the promises of it won’t happen again, the extra attentiveness, etc. If there is no action on change, its just waiting to happen again, and then the next time it will be harder to leave (as you’ll be a little more worn down, a little more hopeless) and then again and again and again. It’s ok to ask what are you going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again even if they are tearful and miserable with themselves at their action, and its ok to get out if you don’t believe it. It’s also ok to get out if you just aren’t prepared to take the risk of it happening again (you need to look after you).

    The first thing a dominant needs in my mind is self-control, if you ever see something where you feel they are not in control, don’t even second guess it. It’s not dominance.

    1. Thank you for your comment, and I’m so sorry you experienced that :(.

      And you are 100% right about meaningless apologies. I think it’s very common: The sad and sorry abuser who feels SO bad, and then repeats the behaviour. Rinse and repeat.

      We want to believe the ones we love, we want to believe we weren’t wrong about this person, we want to believe in their fundamental goodness, we want to believe they aren’t ‘that abusive person’ (because that’s someone else entirely).

      But as you say: Actions are everything.

      Ferns

  6. Fundamentally, I agree the analysis Ferns gave. These kinds of scenarios are difficult to fully understand on paper, though. Just for sake of deconstruction, I’ll cherry-pick a few bits and discuss.

    Let’s grab what I believe is the most important bit, which Ferns astutely highlighted. In my judgement (too), this is the key element:

    “She slapped and punched me in the face…”

    Granted, without context, it’s easy to mislabel this, but we do have some context, albeit minimal. The OP writes “Things were going okay, but one day…” and asks “Is this abuse?” Both statements suggest non-consensuality. Myself, even without context, I’d have to call this out on grounds of safety, alone. Punching your partner in the face is NOT OKAY and can lead to critical, life-changing health problems or, in a worst case scenario, death. I’ll qualify. If this is consensual play and safety issues have been mitigated, okay, do whatever floats your boat. However, what we have here, I suspect, is an uncontrolled, physical, and mental assault; it’s not okay in any way whatsoever, D/s or othewise.

    Should we condemn the Femdom for her outburst? Is this Femdom a damaged control rod, just waiting to let forth future, uncontrolled rates of fission and potential explosion?

    That’s hard to answer. Minimally, at least in this instance, whatever trigger and conflict resolution mechanisms are in place seem to have failed. That’s where I’d want to start the conversation between Femdom and sub. Why did the Femdom react this way and think it okay to do so? Does the Femdom understand why their behaviour is unacceptable and cannot happen again? Could the Femdom and sub have done things differently, to reduce the friction that caused this? What communication mechanisms, conflict resolution methods, and other tools can be used to prevent this re-occurring?

    We all fuck up, sometimes very badly, from time-to-time, so lynching the Femdom isn’t where I’m headed. And, nor am I recommending an assessment of blames; personally, I think that’s a fruitless use of time. Rather, I’m advocating for communication, honesty, and solutions. It may be the case that these two find they are not well-suited to each other. Or, this may be an instance of human failure where different methods are needed to solve the situation. The Femdom and sub involved will need to communicate and assess this.

    Moving on.

    “One day I was pretty late from work and didn’t pick any of her calls…”

    I have no idea what this means and some may suggest the specific task isn’t relevant, because a partner should never punch another partner. Let’s look at this another way. The task and its failure may be extremely relevant. Are these calls critically important for the Femdom? Has the OP missed picking these calls before? Maybe this is a case of bad process engineering? Possibly, due to work commitments, it’s not feasible for the sub to do this task in a reliable way, and thus the task should be re-assigned.

    Revisiting the sucker punch. (For the OP, a sucker punch is an unannounced, often vicious, attack.)

    “She slapped and punched me in the face, didn’t ask a single question, and went off to sleep.”

    It’s the tail end I’m interested in now: “…didn’t ask a single question, and went off to sleep.”

    Has there been any follow-up since?

    The heat of the moment is rarely a good time for resolving conflict. Indeed, the best one may be able to achieve is recognition of the conflict, wherein both parties agree to time out, separating for a cool-off period. After a cool-off where rightheadedness has returned, the partners can make amends and start constructive problem solving.

    Were I the sub, after an appropriate cool-off, if my Femdom hadn’t started this process, I’d initiate it. This isn’t a case where it matters who starts the reconciliation. What’s important is that communication and problem solving occur. Perhaps the partners, given their specific needs and style, cannot solve the problem. That’s okay. Because, each partner now has more information and can make better informed decisions about the relationship.

    “I am stalling until your reply or maybe just give her another chance, because it seems quite common in other femdom related websites and blogs, but your advice will definitely help me in the future.”

    There are fantasy / fiction web sites with Femdom (and other BDSM related) stories. And yes, in some of these stories, there is plenty of actual violence. It’s important to remember these are fantasies that do not represent how consenting adults engage in safe, healthy, and loving D/s relationships.

    “Now I don’t know about much about D/s relationships (because this is my first)…”

    The mental, physical, and emotional stimuli in BDSM can be intense and gratifying, and this sometimes causes D/s partners to think their relationships are heightened or special, and that traditional relationship rules do not apply. Traditional relationship rules very much apply, even in D/s. So, let’s deconstruct another example from the OP.

    “She is a very wonderful and kind woman, but that day she really scared me and made me feel very bad about myself.”

    Strip away the D/s and imagine what you’d say to a friend who said the following: “…she really scared me and made me feel very bad about myself.” Do you want to be with someone who frightens you and makes you feel bad? Would you want a friend to be with such a person?

    As in all relationships, when D/s relationships are working properly, the partners enrich each other and bring greater joy and happiness to each other. Now sure, from time-to-time, relationships may suffer problems, but generally the positive aspects of a relationship should far outnumber any negative aspects. If you do not feel safe with your partner, this is a sign you are with the wrong partner. You should feel okay bringing concerns to your partner. If your partner is not willing to discuss and address your concerns, again, you are with the wrong partner.

    Earlier, I wrote, we all fuck up, sometimes very badly. Femdoms fuck up, because they are people too, just like the rest of us. Ideally, the Femdom will recognize her mistake and take steps to make amends. But sometimes, Femdoms (and, indeed, partners in general) are not mind readers and may not recognize their mistake. In that situation, it’s up to you, the sub, to bring the problem to your partner in a respectful and loving way.

    Don’t go to your partner and say: “You really fucked up and we need to talk!” Rather, try this: “Something happened and I’m feeling frightened and bad about it; could we talk about it, please?” When you discuss your feelings, avoid blame. Instead, say: “When such and such happened, I felt hurt and frightened.” Let your partner address your feelings and, if need be, as appropriate, let your partner know what you need to feel safe again and good about the situation. It’s okay to ask for what you need, as long as you do this in a respectful, loving, and constructive way.

    I cannot underline the following enough. There is nothing special about D/s relationships as compared with their vanilla counterparts. Would you allow a lover to punch you in the face, violently and in a non-consensual and unwanted way? No. D/s can be a significant structural and emotional part of a relationship, but it doesn’t override the foundations that are present in all relationships: humanity, love, trust, joy, honesty, communication, and, hopefully, lots of kissing and great sex! Just as two vanilla partners may meet due to their mutual interest in mountain climbing, D/s is similar icing on the cake.

    Let’s re-frame the punch. Would you allow your mountain climbing partner to punch you in the face? Hell no! And if your mountain climbing partner did punch you, you’d need to resolve that before you went climbing with them again. To the OP, I believe you and your Femdom have some talking to do, and I wish you both success in finding solutions.

  7. Fundamentally, I agree *with* the analysis Ferns gave. (Fixed.)

    (But of course, I leave an embarrassing typo in the very first sentence. Mistress Circumstance is keeping my male ego in check! :)

  8. Good God ….

    Well, Miss Ferns, you put that more strongly than I, a malesub, would have put it. But, on reflection I’ve decided you put it only as strongly as was required. That was indeed abuse, very clearly.

    The thing I’m ruminating on isn’t easily expressed. It’s this: that the dominant partner must never forget that the person who is submissive to him/her is only doing it on the basis *of consent*. The question should never be far from the dominant’s mind: ‘Does he/she consent to this?’

    1. Agreed.

      And if you aren’t sure if you have consent, then you ask. And if you’re so angry that you can’t or don’t want to ask for consent, then you obviously don’t have it.

      I think there are grey areas in longer term relationships (this vs play) that can lead to mistakes happening, but even if you have negotiated some kind of mutually agreed blanket consent, if a dominant’s behaviour ever leaves their submissive scared and feeling bad, that’s clearly not ok.

      Ferns

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