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Advice – My girlfriend revealed something about her past. [NSFW]

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[TW: Sexual violence, drug use.]

/u/creepythrow351 on /r/relationship_advice writes…

“My girlfriend [27F] and I [32M] have been together for three years now. Last weekend decided to do molly at home and during the trip she told me to ask her anything because she’ll be 100% honest. This caught me off guard because the thought of her not being honest with me didn’t even enter my mind. But to keep it light and fun and maybe a little sexy, I asked her what is the naughtiest thing shes ever done sexually. She hesitated a bit then told me she was involved in a master/slave relationship two years before we met. Now, I’m not a prude and I know people have sex and what was done in the past is in the past etc etc. But she told me that the “master” guy arranged some kind of semi-public group sex involving multiple men shes never met while. Her former boyfriend drugged her with meth and molly and she kind of lost control during the whole thing. I won’t go into the graphic details, but she still has scar tissue in her rectum from the event. She said she was brainwashed to think that she enjoyed it and it was only after some time that she realized what he did was basically have other people rape her. She broke up with him and filed a police report that never went anywhere.

Now this was very upsetting to me, but at the same time I knew she was telling me this because she trusted me and I felt like it was a huge burden off of her chest. After she told me she started to cry and said shes always felt like damaged goods and felt guilty about never telling me because I didn’t know this about her and what I was getting into by having a serious relationship with her.

I reassured her and told her it made no difference to me and that I was happy that she was able to get this off her chest. Now, I had some time to think and the drugs worn off, I feel like absolute shit. I think it makes me a bad person, but it actually does make me feel like her psychology was damaged in some way by her relationship with that guy. Shes been going on like nothings changed and I have this image in my head that I can’t get rid of and I feel like shes put this burden on me and I’m starting to resent her. I feel like since my initial reaction was so supportive, it’ll be betrayal to go back on that and tell her its bothering me. And even if I do talk about it with her nothings going to change other than make her feel bad. I feel like my options are either I let time do its thing or break up with her and I feel like an absolute garbage person for feeling upset at something she was a victim to. I guess what I’m looking for is reassurance that time will let me forget/be okay with this and not feel like shit.”

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Dear CreepyThrow351,

My heart breaks for you and your partner. My heart hurts for your partner for what painful experience she had to endure from someone that she trusted. My heart hurts for you because the pain is so fresh for you. I am sincerely sorry that you and your partner have had to experience this.

This is heavy.

So let’s partition this column into smaller, lighter bits that we can work on together.

This is going to be a four-part column. I will first go over kink aspect and explain what healthy D/s relationships look like. Then I will discuss what your girlfriend experienced back then and what she is experiencing now. Then I will talk about what you are experiencing now. And I’ll conclude by discussing what you two can do going forward.

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Let’s first talk about kink. This section will help you understand what master and slave dynamics are normally like, and how similar transgressions are treated in kink-friendly spaces.

It should not be a surprise to hear that there is an inherently high degree of trust required in domination and submission dynamics. Majority of kinksters operate in “scenes” or brief snapshots where the power exchange happens. For example, that could happen in a kink-friendly space (i.e. dungeon, fetish clubs) or even at specific times. Master and slave relationships can also take place in specific scenes, but can also extend to a 24/7 power exchange dynamic as well. In healthy master and slave power dynamic (or really, in any health D/s dynamic), consent is ongoing and safewords are heavily enforced and reminded to make sure that both the Doms/tops and the subs/bottoms can safeword out of a scene if anyone feels at all uncomfortable with what is happening. For all D/s relationships, the sub/bottom holds all the keys as they are the ones surrendering various aspects of their control over to the Dom/top.

In healthy D/s arrangements, both the Dom/top and sub/bottom fully flesh out what kind of scenes they are both consenting to before getting involved in such scene. This is called proactive consent. Unscripted scenes can only be found in relationships that are fundamentally sound with very little wriggle room for misunderstanding. In some kink spaces such as dungeons, there is usually an uninvolved third-party (i.e. a dungeon master) who makes sure that no one is being taken advantage of or being coerced to consent to something they are not enthusiastic about. In some kink spaces, heavy drug use is also frowned upon, but that too is usually enforced by the overseer.

This is all to say that what your partner’s former top did was gross misconduct and highly unethical. If this had happened in an actual kink-space with someone impartial overseeing the scene, this top would have been tarred and feathered, never to return to practice in the same club again. Drugging a sub/bottom to the point of not being able to consent at a completely new environment with new play partners is incredibly frowned upon, especially without intensive, explicit consent. There definitely was no informed, proactive, or mutual consent here.

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Now I will talk about your partner’s experiences – then and now.

Your partner has experienced an intense sexual trauma. And it looks like it is manifesting in form of complete dissociation from what happened, deflection of guilt onto herself for what happened, and substantial damage to her self-image. What she experienced has completely warped her sense of self. All of those are highly unfortunately very common among sexual abuse victims.

I am going to go on a small tangent here. There is a scene from the 1994 movie Street Fighter that stuck with me about the role of evil. Chun Li is a main protagonist who has fought her way to finally facing the main antagonist M Bison. She goes on this long monologue about how M Bison’s forces came and wrecked her village. She tells M Bison about how one lone bullet took her father’s life, robbed her of her innocence, and set her on this path to vengeance. This road to vengeance that took her to where she is standing today. And M Bison, after listening to her monologue, responds.

I’m sorry. I don’t remember any of that. … For you, the day Bison graced your village, was the most important day in your life. But for me, it was Tuesday.

M Bison, Street Fighter (1994)

For many, many victims of sexual trauma, that one singular moment changes an incredibly large slice of their sexual identity and expression. The moment (and, by extension, the perpetrator) robs them of their sexual agency. It sets them on path to recovery, a journey they did not consent to. Victims are asked to make their own efforts back to recovery without very little consolation or recognition of the work they put in to become better. But for the perpetrator, her ex, it was just another thing that didn’t work out. That moment makes him an unethical, evil person. Because he was not held responsible for his actions, he doesn’t even acknowledge that he himself is responsible for robbing your partner of so much. And for what?

It sounds like your partner has repressed this memory under very extreme pressure in the face of extreme sexual violence that was inflicted upon her by not just the men who raped her but also in her former partner who facilitated such violence. Handling of her emotional workload here is her own responsibility. RAINN would be a good place to start. They have a free national sex assault hotline that she can call at anytime (1-800-656-4673). I’m not sure if she ever considered receiving counseling or therapy to help her through this horrific sexual trauma, but it might be a good idea to sit with a professional who can help unpack and help her walk through her recovery process.

Your partner may have been on this journey to recovery, mostly on her own. And it is a long and lonely road to having a healthy relationship with sex after such traumatic experience. And it is a road that she will continue to walk for years and decades after.

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Now we are going to talk about what you are going through.

You say that you have been together with your partner for three years. And that this is the first time she has opened up to you about her past trauma. I can understand why you would feel upset. There are multiple components to your current headspace.

First is that you are experiencing this for the first time. I don’t get the sense that you’ve ever had to walk someone through their own sexual trauma in your past experience. This may have been something that your partner has been processing well on her own for years past, and throughout your relationship with her. But this is something that is fresh for you. And it is causing you a lot of pain. I understand your pain. But please understand that that pain is not something you should run from. Instead, choose to have a dialogue with your pain. Sit and discuss why you feel that way. And dig deeper into what insecurity it taps on.

If that insecurity you find is hinged on how long it took your partner to approach you about her intense sexual trauma, look at how you are behaving. And see how much pain you are going through. And recognize that you are thinking about breaking up with someone at a place she has felt the most vulnerable in since the moment of trauma. Just think about that for a moment. There is a reason why she could not come to you right away. She didn’t feel comfortable discussing that with anyone. She might not have known what your reaction was going to be. And if you do decide to turn away from your partner in times of intense stress, then her worst fears were justified.

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Now. Let’s talk about what it means for you and your partner. Something immense has changed. Neither you nor your partner are the same people today as you were before last weekend. You were replaced with someone new. And she was replaced with someone new. Now it’s your job to determine who you are, figure out who she is, and whether or not there can be a relationship between the new you and new her.

I understand that not everyone signed up for this. You certainly did not consent to taking on your partner’s past trauma here. This is going to add new facets of your emotional labor that you will have to do for your partner. You will have to be more mindful about approaching sex with your partner, even if the past three years have been relatively problem free. If you are unable to or unwilling to work with your partner here, it is also completely within your right to let her go so that she may be with a partner who she can be rewardingly open and vulnerable with. You are not at all obligated to stay with her just because she is going through something really difficult. Pity has no place here.

If you decide you want to continue to be there for your partner as a confidante and her romantic partner, be there for her. Be supportive. Recognize that she is not and will never be perfect. Cherish and celebrate her smallest successes. Be the branch she can rest her tired wings on. You can always choose to be something more.

You say that her psychology was damaged by this guy. And you are right. There was a knife that went through her life that split her life into two different sections: Before Rape and After Rape. And this new experience with you too might further partition her life: Before You and After You.

In moments of vulnerability, we should ask ourselves what our goals are in regards to being vulnerable around each other. Peeling back layers of our skin while our past selves haunt our current and future is not at all pleasant. So why do we do it?

We do it to earn trust. We do it to gain assurances from the people we become vulnerable with, in faith of the space that each participant has created and maintained. In that the trust will build upon the vulnerabilities we have shared. Your partner trusted you with her most intense vulnerability. My question to you is, is there enough trust in you to carry that weight?

Good luck.

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at teatimetomato@gmail.com.

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