I started in my teens, and thought I was so fucking clever and outré and glamorous. I was the sort of girl who was by turns self-destructive and self-aware. Had Lana del Rey been around back then, I’d have loved her unironically. As it was, I tried to emulate that sort of “live fast die young” mentality, because in my “vanilla” life, I’d just been diagnosed with bone tumors and there was the very real risk I was going to die young anyways, so what was living fast in comparison?
I was a sub, because of course I was, because they told me that a sub had the power, and everyone took care of subs, and everyone thought they were precious. I was unimaginably stupid, but I was at least smart enough to find a man and his wife to “mentor” me.
This is how he sold it: “a pretty little girl is going to attract the wrong kind of attention. I’m not like that. I have daughters your age. I just think you have potential and spirit, and I’d hate to see the other Doms break that. And they would. They’d enjoy doing it, too.”
So I trotted along after him and, for the most part, it did keep me safe. He was true to his word and was never inappropriate, and his wife was never threatened by me because even that young I would stare all googly-eyed at girls I thought were pretty but was too shy or too low in self-esteem to approach, and I guess it’s hard to feel threatened by a kid who just wants a pretty girl to like her back.
Had a low-grade crush on the wife, but I kept my mouth shut. Even then, I knew not to push my luck.
But eventually, I got older. Precocious girls are always catnip for a certain sort of man, and the Scene has more of those than you’d like to think about.
I’d say “no”, they’d hear convince me. I’d say, “I’m a lesbian”, they’d respond “I can train that out of you”. That’s a polite edit, mind you–they generally were much more explicit, but ultimately they never did more than try to grope me once or twice, out of respect for my “mentor”. Not me, mind you, but him. Because I was, for all intents and purposes, “his”.
And then my mentor moved away, and I was nineteen. And now, with him gone, it got bad.
I got creeped on at parties, at events, at “vanilla” munches. Men said horrific things, told me what they’d do to “cure me” in explicit, graphic detail.
They said that no sub could be a lesbian, that a sub’s nature was to please a man and lesbianism was just rebellion they could “train” out of me.
So, if my options were “being a sub and being with a man” or “being a lesbian and acting the Domme”, well. I was a lesbian first, everything else a distant second.
So I called myself a Domme. I still got men perving on me, but now I had clout. A Dom can’t perv on a Domme–or rather, he can, but it’s seen as a sort of a professional faux pas. I’d get messages from men asking to be my slave–deleted those. I’d get some from women, asking the same–they ended up in the trash bin too.
I could play the part, but my crippling body issues, self-esteem issues and shyness kept me from approaching anyone. I know I acquired a bit of a reputation for being “cold”, which worked in my favour because now, I could just stare men down instead of replying to them.
I did date, mostly other women in similar positions–switches or subs who were lesbians first, the rest after. I even had a few subs that I wasn’t attracted to and vice versa. I didn’t ever sleep with–they just wanted an out from men, and saying “I’m collared” or “I’m claimed” worked better than “no”. I didn’t mind, and honestly understood.
I remember playing a lot of scrabble those years, actually–low key evenings in at my student house, tea and scrabble and stupid Deadliest Warrior marathons.
Not exactly Christian Grey, right?
Sure, I did date some of the women I met in the scene, but it was dating, not Domming. I never found pleasure in hurting people. If anything, it was the opposite. I liked seeing how good it could be, if you catch my drift. I never had to deal with sub drop or Subspace so much as I did wet spots and explaining “that wasn’t pee it’s okay it’s just sheets”.
And then I went to a party.
Invitation only, very elegant. Masks, corsets, champagne for spectators.
It actually reminds me, now, of that Florence and the Machine video, the Shake It Off one. I’d always loved that baroque glamour, dark and twisty, and I ran with a crowd that liked that too. There was money there, and I mean that.
It was only the second time I’d gone, and this was a coup. Doctors, lawyers, media personalities and powerful, beautiful people.
When I walked in, I saw a young woman tied to a St Andrews. I didn’t think much of it; that was pretty much the usual. Then I remember a man I recognized but had only met tangentially: a Master. Well-known, powerful, a “King maker” in the scene. Money, like I said, and when money talks, everyone listens.
He pulled out a crop, started on the girl. No one cared. This was usual.
He switched to a longer, harder crop. People started looking around in the periphery. She was getting pale.
He pulled out a Delrin cane–plastic, 8mm across, and very, very hard to stomach. This is the sort of cane that, swung hard enough, splits flesh like butter. The room went quiet.
Her head was lolling back and forth.
She hadn’t consented to that cane. She didn’t look okay. She was grey as ash, eyes barely open, with no colour to her face.
She wasn’t okay.
I was too afraid to say anything, at first. A blow or two, leaving weals. She’d groan, but couldn’t seem to make words. Her hands were flexing, and I remember that because they looked wrong somehow. I don’t know if I was in shock, but I know she was.
Then something seemed to snap and I’m not sure what the undercurrents were, but the next time he hit her, he split the skin.
I was afraid to intervene–am shaking as I write this even years after the fact–but the fact that she didn’t even cry out, just hung there and cried quietly, automatically like a reflex, while her face sagged and went grey and greyer, was scarier.
So I sucked in a big breath, this lone girl at 22, at a party with people I didn’t know, and I said STOP HITTING HER SHES NOT OKAY.
He looked at me, didn’t even laugh. Just sort of snorted, derisive. Grabbed her chin. “She hasn’t safeworded”, he said to me, like I was some kid talking out of line. My sponsor to the event was looking shifty. If I fucked up, we were both out.
He made eye contact with me, hit her harder, like he was punishing her for my transgression, or like he wanted to hit me and couldn’t. I’m still not sure which.
And that’s when I snapped. I shoved past the little cordon, went to her. “Are you okay?”, I asked. She shook her head no. “Do you need to leave?” Yes. “Do you need help?” Yes.
I untied the knots.
The Dom tried to stop me, accused me of interrupting his scene. I wish I had told him exactly where to stick that fucking cane, but I didn’t. He was hard, and I was young, and the atmosphere was hostile, and this girl was bleeding, and I was scared–genuinely scared–for the first time.
I hustled. Grabbed my coat, thanked foresight for keeping my keys on me, threw the coat around her to hide her nakedness.
She was shaking, the whole ride down the elevator, and so was I. She was in pain, and I was convinced we were going to get stopped, get turned into a horror story.
I bundled her into my car, and told her “give me directions as I drive”.
I must have broken every fucking speed limit and to this day have no idea how I would have explained the bleeding, near catatonic woman in my passenger seat to a police officer.
I got her home, helped her into bed. I got her name off her ID, because she still couldn’t speak.
“Should I come up? Just to help you settle in, nothing weird. ” Yes.
“Do you want me to clean the cuts?” Yes.
Maybe it helped that I was still dressed like a Dom. I took the mask off, undid my hair and threw it into a pony-tail, but maybe it helped her to feel like she was receiving aftercare from someone. All I know is that I did the best first aid I could, got her some water, put two advil and an orange beside her, and then left.
It wasn’t til I was halfway home that I realized I hadn’t even left her my contact info.
To this day, I don’t know what happened to her after I left. I hope she’s okay.
I never went back after that. Stopped taking calls. Didn’t answer emails. Changed my emails. Left the whole fucking scene, because if that was how the people who everyone respected and looked up to behaved…
So I left, and now I use my experience to, hopefully, keep others from making the same mistakes I did.
Simple, and complex, as that.