Continuing our series “The Voice of the submissive” is this offering on Empowerment by soumise. Of particular note is how empowerment of submissives and slaves fosters trust and informed consent, which deepens submission in a power exchange relationship, or threatens the lifestyle when undermined. It is our hope this proves useful food for thought as you explore your own journey in submission, enslavement, and service.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “empower” as 1) to give official authority or legal power to someone; 2) to enable; 3) to promote the self-actualization or influence of someone
The word empower came to mind after reading yet another post about consent violations. It seems like a new post by a victim of consent violation is showing on my feed every day. Some from people i know, others by total strangers who happen to have a mutual acquaintance in common. Each time i read one, i find myself going through a cycle of emotions: anger that the situation occurred, empathy for what has happened to the victim and what they are going through, and then finally relief that another person has found the strength and support to be able to come forward and share their story. That relief gets replaced with a hope that the person who came forward continues to heal – physically, socially and emotionally.
But then there is always the underlying question, what is the real story, since each story only shows one side. Was it a misunderstanding, something gone wrong in the murky/ poor communication pool, or a conscious/ deliberate abuse of another person?
Why does this make me think of empowerment? I’m not really sure.
As a service orientated, deep need to please others, self-identifying slave, (who is admittedly on the spectrum of insecurity) why is empowerment even a thought that crosses my mind when i hear about consent violations? Maybe, because every time i am given the chance to make a decision that impacts my welfare, health, and happiness, and i make a choice that works well for me, i empower myself just that little bit more to be stronger in my convictions and sense of self for the next time.
Every time my Master lets me make a choice or takes my feedback and/or suggestions seriously, it empowers me to believe in myself and my self-worth. As my self-actualization continues to grow and develop, i trust myself more. Trusting myself more allows me to deepen my submission to my Master because i’m comfortable that the choices i am agreeing to are the right ones for me at that time and place. But then, whenever i read a story shared by a victim of consent violation, i feel the rug getting pulled out from under me as my mind goes to that “what if” place.
Empathy aside, that “what if” place is a flash back to experiences i’ve already been through and spent a lot of time and emotional capital to leave behind. In college, i was the victim of a date rape. I never reported it past the school’s security, my parents didn’t know until years later when the resulting abortion came out in medical records that were subpoenaed in a car accident lawsuit. It was the mid 80’s, i had been drinking (the rape, not the MVA) and hey, i was wearing a short skirt and a midriff bearing top. It would have been a defense attorney’s dream case in the days of “she was asking for it” rape trials.
At the time, i didn’t have the strength to deal with it and family life was already in turmoil from other issues. Not speaking out took its own toll – stress, relationship, trust, and physical intimacy issues were present for very many years later. i thought i was pretty well through them when a partner asked me to make sure i never mentioned any of “that stuff” to his family because “they wouldn’t understand”. That brought back the guilt, shame, and feeling like the cause of the problem back to the forefront with that one “request” 20 years after the incident.
Welcome to working through it all again, this time with my Master. i had been up front with Him with this as well as other issues that surround my hard limits list. Every time He discussed things that might dovetail, He was very careful to not succumb to victim blaming, but instead to focus on what would help us create the healthy relationship we both want. Every time, that happened, He empowered me to take a little bit of myself back and start to rebuild and in return i was able to trust Him more and be willing to submit a little bit deeper. For this, i am very grateful and fortunate. i appreciate that He is willing to protect me if needed, cherish me when warranted, and that we are on the same side.
In my vanilla life i work with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault as well as those undergoing major health issues. i also spend a large amount of time teaching pre-teens and teenagers and deal with issues like body image, eating disorders, bullying and general teenage angst on a daily basis. My goals with all of these people are to help them develop the tool sets needed to empower themselves. To teach them the skills needed for them to help themselves and to train others to do the same. A big part of this is giving people the information that they need to make fully (or as fully as one can) informed choices, so education is a passion (or maybe even a fetish) of mine.
Most of us are exposed to a culture that is judgmental, critical, argumentative (even bombastic if you watch many “reality” shows). Stereo types, assumptions and lack of effective communication are abound. The increasing disregard for civility and humanity seem to be the behavioral norms that we are exposed to, where self-interest and entitlement are far more prevalent than self-actualization and self-efficacy. One of the things that appeals to me about being in a power exchange relationship is it becomes our bubble away from the abrasive behaviors that both my Master and i choose not to accept for ourselves. We choose to instead base our relationship and dynamic on the 4 C’s – caring, communication, consent and caution.
We choose the 4 C’s over RACK or SSC, because risk aware in RACK doesn’t always seem to mean risk mitigation, and the safe and sane in SSC is definitely up for debate. Take knife play for example; we can be as safe as possible, but accidents happen and many would question the sanity part in this or any other kind of edge-play. With any activity, what empowers me is knowing as many of the facts as possible and being able to give informed consent. We are at a point in our relationship where we have blanket consent between us for the activities we enjoy with each other. If a new activity, or a version of a current activity that has other risks is being introduced, it’s discussed first, not just assumed to be okay. For example, just because flogging currently falls under our blanket consent, if Master were to switch from the floggers He’s used on me to chain or barbed wire, it would be a different enough activity to warrant discussion and new consent first. Knowing that these safeguards are in place and have not been violated allows me to continue to trust Him.
Every time i read another story of someone’s trust and wellbeing taken advantage of, i remind myself that these aren’t the rules He and i play by, but i still find myself repeating the cycle of emotions and hope that it could be the last time anyone has to go through this.
i also find it sad that with all of the stories coming forward from the victims about consent violations, there has been maybe one that deals with the repercussions affecting the violator. It’s hard to be empowered when those “in power” are silencing and hiding the problems or it could be they aren’t being made aware that there was a problem. When only one side of a story is out there for all to see, the court of public opinion is based on what is released. Emotions, trauma and time will affect the accuracy of memories.
For the community to become empowered, as a whole, we all need to be better at communication, caution and caring with and about each other. Without those components there really isn’t any consent.
Copyright 2017 Limits Unleashed