I met James (name changed) on a popular online dating site nearly two years ago. I hadn’t dated for a while because I’d been dealing with an ongoing illness and didn’t really have a social life. A friend of mine suggested I try online dating sites, saying that a friend of hers had found her husband that way. (Doesn’t it always go that a friend of a friend had luck on these sites?) I thought I would give it a go.
As a rule, I would never message men first on the dating sites. I’ve always had bad luck when messaging a guy first -- they never seemed really interested and the conversations we had would go nowhere. So when I got a message from James, I was excited. He was one of the men whom I’d purposely viewed in order to get a message from him. I’d been hoping he’d show up in my inbox.
James was quick and very aggressive with his flirting style. He wanted my number right away; I was a little hesitant, because I’d only talked to him for a few days.But when we got on the phone with each other, it was like we’d known each other forever. We talked about everything.
After a few weeks, the conversations started to get sexual. We still hadn’t met, but we would talk to each other via Skype. He would tell me what he wanted to do to me, and a lot of it involved some version of BDSM, which I was also into.
I went with the flow, but I was certain to tell James what I would and wouldn’t do. He seemed to be OK with my boundaries.
Finally, we had our first date on the fourth of July. I wore an orange sundress which James had picked out for me the day before on Skype. We were so attracted to each other that neither of us could wait until we went to his place and ended up having sex in his car. When James yanked my hair and shoved his penis into my mouth, calling me a c#%t, I figured we were still feeling each other’s interests out. But then he spanked me so hard it left a bruise, and he didn’t listen when I told him he was hitting too hard.
James didn’t call himself a Dom, but he clearly was interested in being one. He didn’t seem to really understand BDSM, which I had read about a lot before knowing him. I tried to explain to him that from what I’ve read, people in these relationships are caring and listen to their partner about their wants and dislikes. I’m not really sure if he could process that. He also didn’t believe in safe words. He felt that it was more "intense" just to do everything without asking permission.
The next time I saw him, James was much more violent. As he kissed me, he reminded me that this was the perfect situation because no one knew where I was or who I was with. He said to me as I lay there, “I can do anything to you and no one would know.”
I should have known when he spit in my face that things were going downhill. I rubbed the spit off my face and he said, “Don’t do that, bitch, I’ll tell you when to wipe your face.”
I complied, trying to be a “good sub” and he kept going. But when James put his hands on my neck and began to choke me, I panicked.
He had asked me about choking, and I told him that it wasn’t allowed -- period.
What he had said about no one knowing my location flew through my mind. When I yelled at him to stop, James began to come. Without even blinking, he stopped choking me and began to dress as I lay there, traumatized.
I was still lying there, curled up in a ball, when James began to rant about me being weak and useless. According to James I was not good at being submissive, because if I were, I would do everything he said, and there would be no limits.
Let me clarify: I am not saying that all Doms are like this. I thought it was wrong that James did things we hadn’t agreed upon beforehand. Still, at the time I was unsure -- was he right? Was I bad at BDSM for not complying with what he said? He wanted to slap me in the face, and I didn’t want him to do that, either. Was I a bad submissive?
James and I talked a few times after that incident, but I was afraid to see him again. I was afraid he would do worse. When I told him how upset it had made me, he just laughed. I decided not to talk to him anymore and erased his number, even though I knew it by memory.
Finally he texted me.
I tried to stop contact with him for good, blocking his number, but a few months later he emailed me with a two word message, “You pig.” He would also contact me on the dating site, so I disabled the account.
Finally I got a call from an unfamiliar number, and against my better judgment, I answered it. It was James. We hadn’t talked in about six months. Still, he was calling me, from his job no less.
He asked me if I had blocked his number. I said yes. I began to yell at him: He had choked me when I specifically told him not to. Not wanting to get into it at work, James calmly said, “That’s called autoerotic asphyxiation…“
I interrupted him. “I know what it’s called! I don’t care!”
James later explained he had only choked me “lightly.” Not even as hard as he could have! He acted as if I was getting upset over a little scrape. Then he told me that he would do it again if he had the chance, with or without consent.
While this is a small incident, I felt I had to tell my story because for a while I wasn’t even sure if what had happened was abuse, since we were both trying BDSM. I felt ashamed for feeling so traumatized because I hadn’t been raped, just choked. But I began to speak to those in the BDSM community, and they confirmed to me what had happened was abuse, not BDSM. James was not only what you calla bad dom, he was also controlling and manipulative. He had no interest in my safety.
The scariest thing to me is that James admitted to me he was doing this to other women under the guise of BDSM, when it was just physical abuse. He told me the other women were "into it," but consent was not in his vocabulary -- maybe he was just assuming these women liked it.
And there are plenty of men out there who are doing the same thing -- ignoring women when they say what they are comfortable with doing and what they aren’t. There are definitely some people who call themselves Doms and believe that a good sub will do what they say when they say it.
I think what I am ashamed of the most is that I kept talking to him long after I should have. We talked and tried to negotiate things after the incident, but he wasn’t having it. James told me I had made him think I was someone I wasn’t by entertaining some of his ideas over the phone before, but then feeling ambivalent after that night. He just didn’t get that he had completely fooled me into thinking he was a caring man who wanted me to feel safe when I was with him.
It’s been almost two years since I saw James and sometimes I really feel sick to my stomach that he is still out there possibly doing this to other women without their consent. Still, that won’t stop me from telling others my story and hope that they will catch the warning signs if they meet a James.
It took me a while to understand what had happened was not my fault, and yes, I really had been violated. Fortunately I’ve overcome that night. But I want others to be aware: This is not what BDSM looks like. It’s abuse.