Kink and childhood abuse

Since I posted Fuck Forgiveness and Worth It, I knew I was eventually going to have to tackle the topic of whether there’s any connection between childhood abuse and being kinky. I was planning to dig up the studies referred to in that last link, and present a perfectly researched, air-tight case against the idea that my shitty childhood caused me to be kinky. But then I decided, fuck that shit.

If you want to spout condescending bullshit like this,

I get that most people that are into it [kink], are into it because of things that have happened to them.

then you are the one making the extraordinary claim, and you are the one whose job it is to provide extraordinary evidence to support that claim. By all means, show me a remotely believable study proving that childhood abuse makes people kinky.

I’m not going to hold my breath waiting, though. Why? Because I have a basic grasp of logic. Mr. Condescending, in fact, is an excellent argument against his own idiotic theory. He followed up the part of his comment I quoted above with:

I’m not one of those people. I had a happy childhood

If there are kinky people who had happy childhoods, it’s pretty fucking hard to argue that kinkiness is caused exclusively, or even mostly, by abuse. If it was, then where did all the kinky people with happy childhoods come from? Oh? You don’t have a good answer? What a huge fucking surprise.

People do tend to assume that there is a greater percentage of childhood abuse survivors in the kinky community than in, say, the model train building community because in the kink community we have to talk about it. That’s idiotic, but it sort makes sense in a dumb as a sack of wet mice sort of way. If the kink community is the only place you see people talking about their abuse, you might assume (if you’re an idiot) that the kink community is the only place where people who’ve been abused end up.

Or, you know, you could think about that for five seconds. Maybe, just maybe, abuse survivors in the model train building community don’t talk about it because they don’t fucking have to! Honestly, do you think anyone enjoys talking about how much their childhood sucked? We do it in the kink community because it’s the only place where we have to explain why we’re fine with being spanked with a hand but not with a belt. There are probably just as many abuse survivors building model trains as there are building bondage furniture, but because the model train builders don’t generally have to explain the deep dark trauma behind their dislike of modern train engines, nobody knows that they’re abuse survivors.

I hate to break it to you, but child abuse is not exactly uncommon. According to McCreary Centre Society. Healthy Connections: Listening to BC Youth, 1999, p. 17. (link found on safekidsbc), 35% of girls and 16% of boys between grades 7 – 12 had been sexually and/or physically abused. With statistics like that, what would be strange is if there were no abuse survivors interested in kink.

Finally, it’s stupid as well as hugely insulting to assume that I’m nothing but a puppet whose strings are pulled by terrible memories. Human behavior is complicated, there’s no single simple reason for much of anything we do. Now, there are certainly people who spend more time reacting to their trauma than they do responding to what’s actually happening right now, but if the only evidence you have that I’m doing that is the fact that I’m kinky, well you don’t have much of a case now do you.

If you’ve got anything like evidence that there’s a connection between having a shitty childhood and being kinky, bring it. If you don’t, and we all know you don’t, shut the fuck up.

11 thoughts on “Kink and childhood abuse

  1. It could be argued that strict causal explanations of kink in terms of early childhood abuse are as perniciously reductionist as similar explanations in terms of presumed genetics.

    Either way, crude reductionism can be, and perhaps should be resisted on existential grounds. In the words of a certain prince of Denmark:

    “Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me. You would seem to know my stops. You would pluck out the heart of my mystery. You would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass. And there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak? ‘Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.”

    • I really like that quote. You get a gold star for being (as far as I know) the first person to quote the bard on my blog 🙂

  2. Um. Not that I disagree with you, but I do recommend that you read This One’s for the Invisible Girl for a really courageous post by an abuse survivor. She doesn’t say that abuse made her kinky, because it didn’t. The post is more about how abuse poisoned her kink, which is an issue much more deserving of our attention. She said, for instance, that she could only climax by forcing herself to relive abusive experiences. This is something I haven’t seen people discussing when kink and abuse are brought up in the same breath – have you?

    • I fixed your link. As it happens, I have read that post. Some time ago, in fact. This post, however, is about a different subject. Do try to keep up.

      The post is more about how abuse poisoned her kink, which is an issue much more deserving of our attention.

      I am not your bitch. I will blog about what I want, when I want. I, and only I, decide what is deserving of my attention and what is not.

      As I do not have a history of self harm it would be appropriative and blatant douchebaggery to pretend I am any sort of authority on that subject. Perhaps people who are would be more willing to talk about it if they didn’t have to fight the perception that any interest in kink means they are damaged.

      My experience of my kink being affected by my abuse, which I do intend to talk about in more detail in a future post, is of my ability to express my kinkiness being strangled by behaviors trained into me by my abuser. I am kinky in spite of my history, and consider it a personal triumph that I am able to express it at all. There are certain kinks I may never be able to explore because of my fear that I would go too far and become what I hate most, but because I have the sheer dumb luck to have a relatively uncomplicated relationship between my abuse and my kink I feel pretty thoroughly unqualified to talk about the experience of having your kink poisoned by your abuse.

      She said, for instance, that she could only climax by forcing herself to relive abusive experiences. This is something I haven’t seen people discussing when kink and abuse are brought up in the same breath – have you?

      Only in the post you linked, and in Faith Allen’s post linked from it. I wish it were talked about more because on top of the misery of self-harming in that way, it must be awful to believe that you are the only one who does that.

      However, I believe that self-harm and joyful consensual kink are as different as surgery and knife-fights. While the similarities and differences between the two are important, I am simply not a good enough writer to handle that subject and the fact that being kinky does not mean that I am damaged in one post without making it an incoherent mess. Plus, you know, I’m still not your bitch.

        • Yikes, I figured it out. I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean that you shouldn’t blog about this! I was talking about the people who say that all of our kink comes from abuse – they are the ones wasting our time. And you didn’t misread what I wrote, I miswrote it in the first place. Once again, apologies.

          • I was talking about the people who say that all of our kink comes from abuse – they are the ones wasting our time.

            Ah, that makes much more sense. Now we can violently agree 🙂 It would be so much easier to have important conversations about survivor’s sexuality without feeling like we have to defend ourselves from jerks who think we’re all damaged goods.

            In a similar vein, it would be so much easier to talk about abuse in the kink community if we didn’t feel like we had to defend ourselves from jerks who think all kink is abuse and we’re wrong to enjoy even the most light-hearted spanking session.

            Everyone misphrases things sometimes – I ramble something awful in person 🙂

          • Phew. Thank you for the response, it really bothered me that I’d upset you. And yes, I know what you mean. With me it usually comes out as extreme wariness and formality instead of anger, but the distrust is certainly there, and I wish it weren’t.

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