Boundaries Crossed: Part 1

What to do when there has been a consent violation
Emily Anne 
Updated: January 21, 2020

Boundaries Crossed

In this lesson, I'll be going over what needs to happen when there's been a consent violation.

First and foremost, if you're the one who violated consent and your partner has come to you:

Be patient with them, open to what they have to say, and sensitive to their emotions. Act with dignity, respect them and their choices, and be civil and compassionate.

1. Listen

Most often, you'll find out you've violated someone's consent because they tell you. Face to face, over the phone, it doesn't matter; they're telling you what happened.

In this situation, the first thing you need to do—and it might sound simplistic, but it's important to remember—is listen.

Emotions and thoughts will come up, but don't interrupt. Actively listen; don't try to problem solve or defend yourself, it's not the time.

Don't interject, just give them space to vent what they need to say.

2. Pause

After they've said what they need to, don't respond immediately.

Defensiveness in this situation is normal, especially if you're empathic and care about your sub's/bottom's feelings (and you should care). It's hard to hear that someone you care about was hurt through your actions.

Pause, take a moment to feel that defensiveness coming up, breathe through it. Take whatever time you need to calm down.

This'll help you respond in the most responsible way and not out of a fight-or-flight mode.

3. Ask for Permission

After a consent violation, both sides need to be completely clear on what happened and what went wrong. But getting and giving that clarity can be a delicate situation.

Their Side

When you're calm and ready to respond, ask for permission to inquire more about what the consent violation was.

It can be a scary thing for your partner to tell you you've violated consent, and they might not have the capacity to talk more about it right then.

If they say no, don't push. Give them time and space.

Your Side

Once you're clear on what they experienced, ask if they're comfortable hearing what you felt from your side and what you noticed.

But be very careful that "telling your side" doesn't turn into "excusing your actions". Telling them directly or through implication that "they're wrong" is not appropriate.

It doesn't matter what "actually happened" or what the facts are, what really matters is that they feel their consent was violated and are coming to you with it.

4. Take Responsibility

Once you get to this point, take responsibility.

This is especially important as a dom/top, because you were the one in charge of the session/interaction.

You're allowed to feel your feelings, but don't act on any heightened state of anger, defensiveness, fear, or regret. That behavior will not be helpful.

Part of taking responsibility is acknowledging the harm that you might have caused, intentionally or not, and apologize for it.

Don't apologize just to get off the hook or so you can feel better.

Apologize sincerely and take ownership of what you did and the harm that occurred.

And lastly, repair is an important part of your responsibility.

Work with the sub/bottom on how you can repair the relationship, what they need from you to feel safe again, and how you can move forward. Do they even want to continue the relationship?

5. Seek Help

This can happen prior to taking responsibility. If you're not sure what to do after they've come to you, tell them you're taking a pause and you're going to do some reflection.

In that reflection time, go seek some help.

Seek help and reassurance outside of the victim. Don't rely on the victim for how you're going to repair the relationship or what you're going to do for it.

Take some responsibility and find a mentor (a BDSM mentor) or a therapist who's kink friendly.

Get advice and solid action steps for what you can do next to repair the relationship.

6. Do Better/Improve

After you've done all that, learn from the experience and improve. Do better next time.

It can make you a much better dom/top if you've experienced this and gone through these steps. It'll prepare you to not make that same mistake again.

That's how we learn. Everyone makes mistakes.

All you can do is try to repair, learn from the mistake, commit to act differently, and make precautions for the future. Implement those and follow through with consistency.

And that's what needs to happen when there's been a consent violation.

This is for the truly kinky

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