Sunday, February 9, 2014

Playing It Safe

The spanking scene is full of wonderful people. Caring, funny, compassionate people. But it's also blackened by predators, egomaniacs and wanna bes. Figuring out who is who and navigating the waters of the scene is difficult, even for seasoned participators. Of course, most of us have some sort of "inner voice" or "gut feeling" that we listen to when we aren't sure how to proceed or when we're in a situation where we're unsure of ourselves. But even that isn't foolproof.

My sister and I entered the spanking scene in early 2003. Neither of us had any experience when we came in. Carol got together once with a gentlemen she'd met on the Crimson Moon Yahoo Group. But I had no experience at all until I attended my first party. From the outset, safety was emphasized, both for party play and for private play dates. We both knew better than to meet someone privately that we didn't know. However, because we weren't young women in our 20's we felt safe because we weren't in most criminals' "victim profile". Being a huge fan of true crime novels and documentaries, I've read countless books and seen countless documentaries accounting women who acted injudiciously. I knew how to be safe.

When Carol and I first came into the scene, we had rules in place when it came to play. The man always came to us. And we always played together. We figured there was safety in numbers. The man would meet us at a neutral site and then he would follow us to the house. Neither one of us ever wanted to be in a situation where we were trapped in a vehicle with a man who might have a lot more than spanking us in mind. All of this worked well and the men who we played with never had one single problem with cooperating with our rules. All of that changed in 2006.

I had been in the scene for three and a half years at that time. I thought I was above being gamed. I thought I was too smart to fall into the hands of a predator, But, for all of that, I did. It started in 2005, shortly before Carol's breast cancer was diagnosed. Through another Yahoo group, I met a man online who seemed like a pretty good fit for me as a play partner. He was vague about some aspects of his life, such as where he actually lived, but I figured he had to be discreet. He told me right off the bat that he was married but that his wife was OK with him getting together with other women provided there was no sex involved. I told him, rather apologetically, that I wanted to speak to his wife. If he was sneaking around on her, I didn't want to be his little thing on the side. To my amazement, he handed off the phone to her. "Here, Cheryl wants to talk to you." So I spoke to her and she was delightful. She said that, because she had MS she could no longer participate in that part of their lives and she told me she had given him her blessing to go out and play with other women. The man, who went by the name "Jack" then got back on the line and told me that his wife (who's name was either Robyn or Randi, I can't remember which now) was the best thing that ever happened to him and that they were still very much in love, even after almost 30 years of marriage. We made tentative plans to meet. I still wasn't sure if Carol was going to have the day off or not. And, as much as I liked this guy, I wasn't sure I wanted to meet him alone. I didn't drive and so transportation was going to be an issue. If Carol was going to be there, we would simply do as we'd always done and that was meet at a neutral site and let him follow us to the house. Well, that date didn't work out because Carol had to work. So I told him I couldn't meet him. Just before Christmas, her cancer was diagnosed and most of my desire to play or to engage in frivolous things was put on the back burner as we faced her treatments. My main focus was working and taking care of Carol's needs, seeing that she was kept clean and comfortable while she underwent chemotherapy.

In March, 2006 Carol finished her first round of chemo and went back to work. I wanted to start playing again but felt kind of guilty about telling her that. Her desire to play wasn't quenched and we even got together with a trusted and adored friend two days after her hair fell out. I had kept in contact with "Jack" all during those awful days following her diagnosis. He was understanding because of his wife's illness and could relate to the things I was going through. I felt a bond with him because of that. And I wanted to get together with him. We discussed a date sometime after Easter. I don't remember now what date we set, but it was around mid-April, sometime after the end of tax season. Carol, unfortunately, couldn't join us because she had to work. But she did volunteer to drop me off at the neutral site we always picked on her way to work. She also wanted to meet him. He had sent her a touching card and had also sent her the name of another breast cancer survivor that she could talk to if she needed to. What a sweet guy, I thought. As we waited in the parking lot for him, I began to have second thoughts about meeting someone in my home alone. But I figured I had talked to him on the phone for months. I had poured out my heart to him concerning my sister's illness. So I ignored my misgivings and went ahead with the play date. When he pulled up, I knew it was him  by the description he'd given me of his car. I hadn't seen a photo of him yet and, in fact, when he'd offered to send me one, I had said no to it. Looks are about the last thing I'm interested in when it comes to a play partner. He looked so harmless, almost like a Casper Milquetoast-type of guy. He wasn't physically intimidating in the least. He was sweet and funny and he made a very good impression on both Carol and I. I trusted her judgment implicitly. She had worked in the gas station business and was way more street smart than I was. So with that hurdle cleared, off we went.

Carol went off in the direction of her job and "Jack" and I headed for the house. He followed my directions exactly and never made one false move towards me. We made small talk until we reached the house. Once we were there, I unlocked the door and we went in. I got him comfortable on the couch and got him a cold drink. While I smoked a cigarette, he called "Robyn" and let her know that he had made it. Despite the fact that I offered to let him use the phone in the kitchen he insisted on using his cellphone. I didn't think too much about it at the time. When he was done talking to his wife, he opened his toy bag and asked me if I wanted to look through it. He had some wonderful toys, all of my favorites, in fact. There was nothing dark or foreboding in his bag. We started playing and he was a compete gentleman. He started out slowly and seemed to be taking his time. He was a wonderful spanker and we laughed and talked a lot. I relaxed and let my guard down. We continued playing and, around one o'clock we decided to break for lunch. He took me to one of my favorite places and told me to order anything I wanted. We ate and talked more. He again makes no false move towards me and never says one inappropriate thing to me. We both ate hungrily and talked about what we were going to do with the rest of the afternoon. I went to the rest room while he paid the bill. I met him at his car and we drove back to the house.

Once we were back at the house, I had another cigarette while "Jack" used the rest room. I called Carol at work and spoke with her about how the day was going. She confessed she'd been a little bit worried about me and was relieved to hear from me. When I hung up, "Jack" came out of the bathroom and asked if I wanted to play again. Sure, I did. But this time, the play was a little different. He spanked me harder this time. At the time, I attributed it to the fact that we'd both been reinforced with food and now knew each other better. I started to reach my saturation point and wanted a break. "OK, get up," he told me. When I got up off his knee, I started to pull my pants up. He frowned. "We're not done," he said. I shook my head because I didn't think I'd heard him right. I told him "I think it's time to call it a day. I'm toast." He assured me the spanking was over. But we were going to do something else. "We're gonna fuck," he told me. "It's all I've thought about since I saw you this morning." "No, there won't be any sex," I said. "I told you that already." While I was talking to him, I didn't really notice him walking towards me. He put his hand around my throat and said "Sweetheart, you're gonna do exactly what I tell you to do." I was facing the dining room and he was facing the door. Our house had an open floor plan, so the living room, dining room and kitchen were all one room. The kitchen and dining room were separated only by a long counter. On the counter, we kept a block with knives in it. I was calculating whether or not I could get to one of those knives before he harmed me. "Jack" kept his hand on my throat and with the other hand began to unzip his pants. My mind was racing, as you can imagine. All I can remember really doing was praying. I asked God to get me out of this situation. Before "Jack" could do anything, a brown UPS truck drove into the driveway right behind his car. I quickly pulled my pants up and went onto the walkway to meet him. He had a package for me. "Do I need to sign for it?" I asked. The delivery man said yes and I signed the signature capture with shaking hands. While I was doing that, "Jack" came out and said it was time he was leaving. He got in his car and as he did, I noted his license plate number. He was annoyed at having to wait for the UPS truck to leave before he could leave. Despite being dyslexic, I could memorize numbers easily. I was able to keep the number in my head until I was able to write it down. I locked the door in case he came back. I thought about calling the police. But then I thought they would probably not take my complaint seriously. I'd invited the guy into my home and taken my pants off for him voluntarily. So I decided not to. But I was badly shaken. I called Carol again and asked her to come home. I wouldn't tell her over the phone what had happened, I just wanted her to come home. So she did. And when I told her what had happened, she was furious. We had both been taken in by an act.

At the time, Crimson Moon had a sister Yahoo group just for the women. I went on there and posted about my experience. To my horror, three other women emailed me and told me of their own experiences with "Jack." I learned the whole thing had been a game. "Jack" wasn't even his name and "Robyn" (or "Randi") wasn't his wife at all. She was a woman who agreed to act as his wife so that when women would ask about his wife being OK with him meeting other women, their minds would be put at ease. One of the women who emailed me was a top who had had her own close call with this man. It made my stomach churn to think that someone had gone to such lengths to get a trusting woman alone with him. He looked so harmless. I couldn't believe it.

So now, nearly eight years later, I still get a reaction when I think of how close I had come to being attacked or worse yet, maybe killed. Who knows what would have happened to me had that UPS truck not pulled up? I did the best I could to get the word out about "Jack". A few people called my reaction "hysterical" and that I was going to ruin a man's reputation when he hadn't done anything. I was shocked that a few people defended "Jack". "You're a tease" one man told me, "it serves you right!"

The Internet is even more pervasive in our lives now than it was in 2006. We now have Smart phones, iPhones and Androids in order to keep track of each other. This means it's even easier to be victimized by an Internet predator than it was then. Having a safe call in place might seem old school and "so 20th century" but it's still a good idea. Now that Carol is gone, I don't have any choice but to meet people alone. But I've taken steps to increase my safety. I've finally joined the local community and am meeting and getting to know the people who live right here where I do. At the very least, most groups have a vetting or screening process in place to weed out crazies and other undesirables. Even if someone has been deemed safe to attend a function or party, it's still best to err on the side of caution. The urge to play is strong in most people, as it was for me on that April day in 2006, and many times we allow our desire to overcome our better judgment. I wish I had listened to that "little voice" back on that day. I wish I had changed my mind and decided not to meet him. But he was already on his way and, even though I didn't know exactly where he lived, I knew he had driven for at least a couple of hours. I didn't want the trip to have been a waste for him. And this is one of the problems we have, especially women. We're taught that other people come first: that we should always put other peoples' needs ahead of our own. And there are plenty of men out there willing to exploit that feeling. I should have said "I'm sorry you wasted a trip and I would be happy to pay for your gas, but I just feel uncomfortable about meeting you." He might have been pissed off about it, but at least I would have been spared the horrible experience of looking in his eyes as he put his hand around my throat. A side note to women with rape fantasies or who get into fear play: that is still play. You are still a willing participant in the scenario. If you ever had a situation like this happen to you for real, believe me, you wouldn't find it the least bit thrilling.

So do what you can to protect yourself. If you're chatting online with a man and it seems to be moving a bit fast (like he asks for your phone number on the first chat) then tell him so. Ask him to give you time to get to know him better. And since people can say anything they want online, ask for references. Ask to talk to people who have met him in the flesh and played with him. A top with a good reputation will value it above almost anything else and will be happy to give you references. Someone who says "Who do you think I am? Ted Bundy?" and who gets his ass hairs up about your safety concerns is throwing you a huge red flag. If it's your practice to ask for ID when meeting someone for the first time, don't waver on that no matter how much the guy acts indignant or others think you're going too far. It's your safety that's important. Never go to the home of a man you don't know well and allow yourself to be tied up. You are probably thinking "Duh, Cheryl!" but you would be surprised how many women (and men!) do just that. I had a friend a few years ago who agreed to meet a new play partner at his place and when she got there, there were three other men there. You can bet she said "No thanks" and hightailed it out of there. Keep your guard up until you're absolutely sure you can trust this person. On any given day on Fetlife you can read posts from men who are looking to discipline bad girls or who are looking for a woman to bring them in line. As appealing as that may sound to someone who enjoys that kind of thing, it's a pretty dumb thing to do in practice. Running off to meet a total stranger for a nice long discipline session is about the dumbest thing a person can do. First of all, look at the post. This is someone who's looking to punish a woman- any woman. That by itself ought to send the red flags waving. The scene has its fair share of misogynists and a lot of them are very adept at covering up that part of themselves. There's a night and day difference between a sadist who's looking for a willing partner and a woman hater who's looking for someone to take that hatred out on.

Common sense needs to prevail. If something doesn't seem right, assume it's not.

Author's Note: I know I talk a lot about men being predators. I'm well aware that there are female predators as well. But I'm a female bottom who plays mostly with male tops so I'm writing from that perspective. Men need to protect themselves too.

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