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Dr Bisbey has called in sick, so please enjoy again Risk Assesment Part 3.

Sex Spoken Here: Risk Assessment Part 3

Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Remember that this podcast deals with adult themes so if you don’t have privacy you might wish to put on your headphones.  Today I am finishing my series about risk assessment in relationships.

We assess risk all the time.

Once we reach adulthood, we do most of our risk assessment without thinking.  When you are driving, you assess the risk of driving at a particular speed, of changing lanes, or driving in certain weather or traffic conditions.  We assess risk according to what we have learned about the risks inherent in any given situation.    We assess based on what we have learned from others, from books and other media, and from our own life experience.

All of us travel with baggage.

Some with just a carry on and others with whole steamer trunks.  The problem isn’t the baggage itself but rather the uninspected contents.  If you are unaware of your own patterns, your risk assessment will be faulty so you will make poorer choices.  For some this means choosing relationships that turn out to be abusive ones for others this means choosing partners who cheat and for some this means choosing relationship after relationship with people who abuse or are dependent upon substances.  We tend to choose what feels familiar to us.

I know my own patterns very well now as I have had lots of therapy, coaching and done other types of personal work.  It used to be that if I walked into a room of 300 people with only one alcoholic in the room, that would be the only person I was attracted to.  They would be the person that felt exciting, who smelled right to me.  Nowadays, I would be attracted to the people who have been clean and sober for more than 10 years, people who are adrenalin junkies and those who come from backgrounds where there was substance abuse but who have done their personal work.  I still like the edge but my pattern has changed because of the personal work I have done.  I recognise different qualities, different scents as attractive now.   The hardest thing for most of us is to admit we have made a mistake and this can get you injured or killed.

Gavin de Becker is an expert on security, threat assessment, and personal protection.  He wrote a book called The Gift of Fear that I highly recommend everyone read.  In this book, he talks about how far we as human beings have moved from our primal senses.  Fear is the body’s way of alerting us to danger.  Many people no longer pay attention to fear or to gut instincts in which they feel uncomfortable.   De Becker talks about how essential it is that we learn to reintegrate our primal senses as they will keep us safer and ignoring them may get us injured or killed.

Often people have an intense gut feeling and then talk themselves out of it.

You meet someone and you feel uncomfortable but you say to yourself ‘I’m being unfair’  or ‘I should give him a chance’.  It is amazing how often the gut instinct is correct.  I have interviewed many victims of sexual assault and rape over the years – some in therapy and others during my research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  A full 60% of them have admitted to having a feeling that someone was ‘not right’ or a situation was ‘not safe’ and ignoring the feeling.  This lead them to blame themselves for their own assaults or rapes.  Self-blame is not useful in this situation.  What is though is to learn how important it is to pay attention to your hunches and gut instincts.  They are often correct because they are based on a whole host of perceptions that happen on a less than conscious level.

Many of the people I have seen over the years have ignored countless warning signs in relationships.

Last week I spoke with Dr Sue Mandel about the red flags she talks about with her clients.  I use a system of red flags or warning signs to risk assess in any new relationship and I recommend that everyone do the same.  You may not choose the same warning signs that I do, but you should have a system of your own.

Many people are afraid to do this because they believe on some deep level that if they walk away from a potential relationship, another one may not come along.

These people are conforming to the scarcity principle that says there are not enough ‘good people’ in the world and so that you must grab anyone you think is a ‘good person’ or you will end up alone.  This is a myth.  There are plenty of people in the world with whom you can have a relationship.  It is better to find the right person or people than to enter a relationship with someone who is dangerous, abusive or degrading (or even just a relationship with a person who is wrong for you but might be fine for someone else).    Many people are afraid to be alone and this stops them from risk assessing.  It is better to be alone and alive and healthy than the alternative.

For me, a red flag or warning sign says: ‘Stop and think’ or ‘‘get some distance’

First warning: I feel frightened, deeply anxious or my gut tells me something is off.

This is the most important warning sign to pay attention to.  I don’t wait to interpret this and I don’t suggest you do either.  I simply get out of the situation.  If you feel something is off, it usually is.  Delay can put you in danger or difficulty so don’t delay.  This has saved my life more than once.

Don’t worry about how other people might think of you.  Don’t pass go.  Don’t collect £200 or $200, just get out of the situation.

See your fear as the gift that it is, the sign that tells you that you are in danger.  This one is especially important if you enjoy BDSM and power exchange and you are getting together with someone you don’t know well and don’t know much about.

And speaking of that: One part of risk assessment is to find out what you can about the person that you are entering a relationship with.  Observe their behaviour with you, with friends and family, with people in the restaurant.  Check out the stories they tell you.  Consider talking to x partners and friends.  Do a background check. Do your homework.  Do your due diligence.  If they aren’t comfortable with you doing that, think twice about the relationship.

Types of warning signs:

Many brief intense relationships that ended badly.

This might mean the person has difficulty managing their own intense emotions and expressing emotions appropriately.  It might mean they have overly high expectations of a partner.

Unwillingness to give you full contact details.

This is only a warning sign if this persists after you start properly dating each other.  At first or second meeting, in the information age, it is not unusual for people to want to hold back some of their details.

Remember to be aware of signs of catfishing.  If you are meeting people online, it is possible that the person is not who they say they are.  If things are not adding up, information makes no sense, you feel that someone is playing with you – pay attention to these feelings.

Extremely sensitive to anything that approaches criticism or to you if you have a different opinion from theirs.

People who have these issues can be volatile and often have lots of drama in their lives.

Stalking behaviours:

Shows up where you don’t expect them to be, texts many many times per day when you have just met, doesn’t observe boundaries you set, ‘surprises’ you at work or at home, is constantly following all your social media.  This can feel very flattering at first but will quickly feel uncomfortable and can become dangerous.

Must control every aspect of a date, conversation, meal.

When someone is immediately extremely controlling (without your consent), this is a sign of deeper issues.

 Demonstrations of intense jealousy when you haven’t known each other very long or of time you spend with friends, family, at work.

This highlights insecurity and the need to control and does not bode well for safe, happy, healthy relationships.

Empathy is essential to a good relationship.

Empathy is the ability to feel things from another’s point of view, to understand and share their feelings.  If a person cannot take the viewpoint of another, cannot see things from another’s vantage point it is unlikely that they will be able to share another’s feelings.    Some people can approximate empathy but don’t truly feel it.    People who don’t have empathy don’t consider how their actions might impact upon others and cannot put themselves in another’s shoes to see how the words they choose or the things they do might cause another to feel.

Black and white thinking:

People who cannot tolerate any ambivalence swing from positives to negatives.  They find it difficult to stay connected to someone positively if the person has done something that has caused them to be upset or feel angry.  You are either the most wonderful person on the planet or the devil incarnate.  They swing back and forth and it can be hard for others to know where they stand.  They have unrealistic expectations of others and project their own fantasy viewpoints on to others.

Inability to take responsibility and apologise.

This is a big warning sign.  People who cannot take responsibility for their actions and mistakes, thoughts and feelings, cannot learn and so don’t change.  They don’t apologise because they cannot see how any outcome is their responsibility.  They often also lack empathy so they cannot imagine how others feel.

Inability to control intense emotions.

People who cannot soothe themselves take out all of their feelings at full intensity on those around them.  They are often volatile, sometimes violent and require immediate and constant attention.

These are just a few of the warning signs.

 Risk assessment is about being observant, being conscious of your own biases, your own history and patterns, being able to separate your feelings from those of others and listening to your primal senses (and acting on them).

Risk assessment is an on-going process.  Once you are well versed and have practiced a lot, it becomes second nature.      If you do it well, your relationships will be filled with excitement and pleasure and be long lasting.

Thanks for joining me for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@drloribethbisbey.com, follow me on twitter, Instagram and Facebook..  Check out my YouTube channel: Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.  For a free 30-minute discovery session with me, go to https://drloribethbisbey.com and head to my contact page, click the where it says ‘click here’ for my calendar.   I look forward to seeing you next week.

In time for New Year’s Eve parties, just a reminder about consent and boundaries.

Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Remember that this podcast deals with adult themes so if you don’t have privacy you might wish to put on your headphones.

Today I am starting my series on risk assessment in relationships with the topic of consent.  Consent is the foundation for all sexual agreements and relationships.   Some feel the current emphasis on consent is too intense and make fun of the idea of having to ask for permission each step of the way in a sexual encounter.  Others feel that we don’t take consent seriously and we make too many assumptions.

Joining me today to discuss this is Kitty Stryker.  Kitty Stryker is a Degenderette, writer, queer activist, and authority on developing a consent culture in alternative communities. She was the founder of ConsentCulture.com, a website that ran for 4 years as a hub for LGBT/kinky/poly folks looking for a sex critical approach to relationships, which will be relaunched on 2017. Kitty also cofounded the artsy sexy party Kinky Salon London, as well as being head of cosplay for queer gaming convention GaymerX. Having finished “Ask: Building Consent Culture”, an anthology through Thorntree Press coming out in October, Kitty tours internationally speaking at universities and conferences about feminism, sex work, body positivity, queer politics, and more. She lives in Oakland, California with her wife, boyfriend, and two cats, Foucault and Nietzsche.

We started by talking about issues around consent and the reasons for Kitty starting ConsentCulture.com.    Kitty spoke about how hard it is for people to take responsibility and then look at changing behaviour.  She spoke about the problems in the alternative sexuality communities when consent violations occur.  Often calling the police makes things worse as the police are not necessarily friendly to kinky, LGBT or people of colour.  She spoke about the need for communities to come up with a clear plan to resolve these situations that don’t simply involve calling someone out and then isolating that person from the community.

We spoke about how hard it can be to give proper consent when alcohol or drugs are involved.  Kitty advises people to consider if they are willing to go to jail for the person and the activity they are about to undertake.  She highlights the fact that we all make mistakes in this area and violate consent.  It may be as simple as hugging an acquaintance who didn’t want to be hugged or as serious as rape.  We spoke about how it can be hard to draw your own boundaries and how this can be especially difficult if you are involved in power exchange.

Kitty spoke about the reasons that people don’t use a safe word even when they should and said that she had done some research that found that often women refuse to do so because they want to please a partner and men are more likely to just want to be seen as tough.  She spoke about sitting down and actually looking at how her boundaries had been violated over the years and how she had just brushed this off rather than dealing with the issues.  We spoke about things like playing in a public situation and how difficult it is for people to find a way to protect themselves without feeling like they are causing drama in public.

We spoke about the trauma that perpetrators experience and the fact that they too need help to resolve any shame and guilt.  Kitty highlighted that when we talk about consent in sexual relationships it is only an opening conversation to discussing all the places in which we need to think about boundaries and consent in society.  She highlighted things like consent in medical situations, and where information is shared, and education.

Kitty’s book will come out in October.  If you want to pre-order, here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/Ask-Building-Consent-Kitty-Stryker/dp/1944934251/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497383382&sr=8-1&keywords=ask+building+consent+culture

The website for the book is https://consentculture.com/

Website where stories have been gathered about consent to help deepen understanding https://medium.com/consent-culture-a-conversation

Website Link
http://kittystryker.com/

Facebook link
https://www.facebook.com/officiallykittystryker/

twitter link
https://twitter.com/kittystryker

Thanks for joining me for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.

Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@drloribethbisbey.com.  If there was something you didn’t like, tell me that too! Follow me on twitter @drbisbey, Instagram @drbisbey and Facebook.  Check out my YouTube channel: Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.  For a free 30-minute strategy session with me, go to https://drloribethbisbey.com and click the button that says Schedule Now! If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes.    Sign up to find out more here 

Sex Spoken Here: Sex Love Stories 1 Intro and My Story

Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Remember that this podcast deals with adult themes so if you don’t have privacy you might wish to put on your headphones.

Today I am starting a series that is different from the ones I usually do.  Since I started this podcast, I have covered different topics to do with sex, sexuality, gender and relationships over two or three weeks, looking at each topic in moderate depth.   In this new series, I am interviewing people from all walks of life about their journeys to sexual authenticity and integration.  Different people are in different places on their journeys.  Some are close to the beginning, others in the middle and still others have reached a place of authenticity and integration and their journeys are focused on more pleasure and more learning.    For each story, I’ll give a short summary and I will provide some advice or tips for further learning or help if you need it with any of the issues talked about during the story.     It is my hope that you will see yourself somewhere in these stories and you will gain support and inspiration from them.  Some of them are really hard in places and they also contain great joy.  Your sexual journey is as unique as your lip print (which is as unique as a fingerprint – as is your nose print, ear print and your eyes).

My journey is a long one, so grab a cup of tea, coffee or your favourite tipple, any nibbles you choose and get comfortable.  When you listen to these stories, try to listen without judgement.  Reflect on your own story and each unique piece that makes you authentically you.

Many people believe that all good stories begin ‘Once upon a time’ but that beginning is for a fairy tale and my story starts in the real world.   As a pre-teen, my fantasies were about having a master and living in a bottle like the show I Dream of Jeannie.  I created a decorated a bottle to live in.  I didn’t know why I wanted this, I just did.

By the time I reached my teens, the fantasy was more detailed.  There were Masters and Mistresses, and other slave women (for that is how I saw the genie).   I was sexually precocious for a number of reasons that I will leave for another day.  At 13, I was desperate to lose my virginity but I was ashamed of my desire.  I got it in my head that doing so at 13 would be too young and therefore make me a slut so I decided to wait until after my 14th birthday.  I had a boyfriend at the time and I made him wait until 10 days after my 14th birthday.   Before my birthday, I discovered the joys of blow jobs.  I loved the feelings that giving a blow job gave me.  My boyfriend counted himself lucky.

My boyfriend’s parents were divorced.  He was 16 and lived with his mom.  She didn’t mind him bringing me to his bedroom.  As a result, I lost my virginity in a comfortable room, in a clean comfortable bed, with Pink Floyd’s Darkside of the Moon album playing on the stereo.  We used condoms and he was careful to work on arousing me before the first penetration.  There was nothing at all traumatic about the experience.  It hurt a little but within a few minutes it was feeling good.   It was a great entry to the world of fucking and I have been grateful for this ever since.  When I finally did experience traumatic sex, I knew that sex could be seriously good which meant I knew it could be again.

Shortly after this, I had my first proper girlfriend.  I had fooled around with some of my female friends earlier – kissing here and there, an occasional fondle.  S was my first real girlfriend.  With her, I discovered the joys of eating pussy.  At that time, I preferred to be the one giving not receiving.

My desires to be forced, to be a slave, to be told what to do, just increased as time went on.  At 14, I got involved with Perry who was 18 while I was at summer camp.  He worked in the kitchen and I was a camper.  He was so sexy and wrote poetry.  He would read to me.  It wasn’t long before my parents broke us up.  The age difference was the main reason.  I had not even entered high school and he had already graduated and was headed to university.  Perry introduced me to proper erotica.   As I was and still am a voracious reader, I was in heaven.  I was relieved to see that there were other people like me, who had cravings like mine.  None of my friends who I tried to confide in understood my cravings at all.  I would end up feeling shamed when I spoke about my desires so I quickly learned not to speak of them.  I also loved sex and had no desire for a monogamous relationship.  This had me labelled as a slut very quickly.

The girls I got involved with didn’t want me to be with boys.  The boys I got involved with wanted me to bring the girls I liked home so they could watch but weren’t happy if I saw them separately.  High school was filled with experimentation and promiscuity.  I did not feel good about myself, however.  I had accepted what others were saying – that there was something wrong with wanting the things I wanted and something wrong with wanting sex with more than one person and something wrong with wanting boys and girls.

I read the Story of O and Return to the Chateau.  At 15 while at summer school, I saw the movie.  I also saw the movie Swept Away with Giancarlo Giannini.  I read 9 ½ weeks.  But I still hadn’t yet had a relationship that included much more than pushing my head down when I was giving head.

I went off to university at 17 in the autumn of 1980.  I was registering for English classes when I saw a lithe man with long hair, a goatee who was smoking a pipe.   I fell for him before we even spoke.  His presence struck me and when he introduced himself, I was stammering.  J and I began a relationship shortly after.  Our sex had more than a little power exchange.  There was some breath play and lots of intensity.  It was electrifying.  This was what I had been fantasising about since I was 9.   Our relationship was cut short by his live in girlfriend just before the end of my freshman year.  By this point, I was a bit less ashamed of my desires.  Some of them had begun to feel just a part of me.  I didn’t feel bad about my love for men and women.  I no longer beat myself up because I often loved more than one person at the same time.  I still felt pressure to fit in to my parent’s model of relationships but I was away at university so I felt a degree of freedom to experiment.

I started sophomore year with a re-newed relationship with J with D’s agreement.  This was my first proper foray into an ethical non-monogamous relationship.  It fit me beautifully.  I was thrilled to be able to be honest and I certainly didn’t want one partner.   The first semester was filled with exploration and lots of seriously hot sex.  I still had a small amount of shame about my desire to engage in rough sex and to be dominated, but I was feeling better and better about myself.

At the end of May, D introduced me to Alton telling me ‘I think you two will really hit it off.’.  Alton was 26 years old and I was just 19.  He was tall, slender with burnt sienna skin, a long-ish brown fro with a small white stripe – reminded me of a lightning bolt.  His eyes were captivating and his voice hit me right in the pussy – deep, smooth, liquid with plenty of bass.    The attraction was immediate.  We went out for a bite after work.  Alton drew all sorts of information out of me during that first talk.  I was unsophisticated and didn’t see how he was leading me.    By the time the evening came to an end, I was lost.  He took me home, kissed me goodnight and arranged to see me the next day.

Alton told me that women he dated had to agree to obey him or he didn’t get involved.  He promised we would go slowly and if there was anything I truly did not want to do, he wouldn’t press me.   He was one of my fantasies come to life.  It didn’t take me long to agree.

The next night, Alton came over and we had sex for hours.  It was hot, intense sex.  He was very large so it took me being extremely aroused to manage his size.   When I gagged on him, he pulled back, helped me to relax and try again.  It got easier to manage his size even when he was controlling the action. Orgasm had mostly alluded me during fucking and or having any kind of penetrative sex and my male lovers to that point didn’t eat pussy.  Orgasm with Alton felt easy.  His hands pulling my head back, his teeth on my neck and breasts while he pounded into me just seemed to work.

This was 1982 and I used a diaphragm for birth control so I didn’t use condoms.  I was careful to make sure my diaphragm was inserted properly.  I didn’t want to get pregnant.  I didn’t worry much about disease as I believed all the myths of the time about catching diseases and most of the things I might catch were relatively easily curable.  I was like most of my peers.  We felt invincible.

After a few days, Alton stopped leaving my place in the morning.  He didn’t move stuff in but he stayed.  10 days after we first went out, we headed out for a drink and his attitude was more serious.  There was an edge I hadn’t seen before.  I didn’t know that he had a cocaine addiction.  In fact, he used intravenously. I didn’t know he was withdrawing and that was making him really ratty.  I didn’t have access to money to give him.  My bills were paid by my parents.  My extra money came from the same job that Alton had – telesales.  I was a supervisor in the office, checking the sales made by the others.

We got to the bar and Alton began to interrogate me.  He asked questions about my other lovers.  He demanded details about what I had done, how I felt.  He told me he didn’t believe that I was committed to him.  He told me he thought I was a fake, not really submissive, not really willing to obey.  I felt confused, hurt and also scared that he would leave.  I was having the best sexual relationship of my life and I had strong feelings for him.  I didn’t want to lose him.  By the time we left, I was feeling off balance.  We were half way down Brookline Ave when he pushed me into a doorway and down to my knees.  He demanded I suck him off.  I was overwhelmed, frightened and a little excited.  My hesitation was met with a growl of ‘Obey!’.  I did and when he finished, he dragged me to my feet and we headed back to my flat.

From that evening, things changed.  Alton was rough and mean in his handling of me so at the end of the day, I said no.  I told him I wanted him to leave.  He laughed at me.  He came for me with a closed fist and began to beat me.  I was shocked, then I struggled but it did no good.  He was far stronger than I.  I screamed but no one came.  Eventually, I just took the beating.  When he finished, I couldn’t put my legs together as my thighs were too bruised.

For 5 days, Alton kept me captive.  He beat me repeatedly.  He raped me repeatedly.  He humiliated me.  Twice he choked me until there was no breath in me and I died.  When I came back it was to him pounding on my chest and giving me mouth to mouth.  He fed me nothing.  He poured alcohol down my throat.   Friends came to see me but I was too afraid to say what was going on directly.  I tried using code.  I was convinced he was going to kill me.   On the 6th morning, Alton got up, showered and dressed and told me he was going out and I wasn’t to talk to anyone or to go out.  An hour after he left, J came by and found me shaking and weak.   My face was covered in little red dots (called petechial hemmorhages) because he burst all my capilliaries strangling me.  The bruising on my vulva and my inner thighs was so severe that my skin was black.    I told J that I needed to get away, that I was in danger.  I packed a gym bag with socks, a t-shirt, sweats and butcher knife, a set of hand cuffs and my jewelry and my journal.  I wouldn’t tell J where I was going.  I was afraid Alton would find out.  I told him I would let him know when I was safe.

I went into Cambridge and was lucky that a good Samaritan found me wandering aimlessly and took me to a café and bought me a meal.  I had no money with me.   He helped me contact D and she met me at the hospital.  The rape exam is a story for another time.   As is the story of the police, preliminary hearing and the eventual plea bargain because the DA was afraid to try to prosecute rape when I had slept with Alton consensually before.

I developed PTSD after this event.  Probably no surprise.  I entered therapy quickly with a lovely older man who was a Jungian analyst.  I remember very little of the contents of the therapy except that I remember a warm non-judgemental presence who helped me to be able to breathe and continue my studies but who was unable to help me get rid of the nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and the intense shame that despite all that Alton did to me, I still wanted rough sex and a dominant partner and there were some things that he did to me that I would fantasise about.

I found myself attracted to older men who had an edge.  These were Vietnam veterans who had PTSD. It was a strange coincidence.  I was now 20 years old and there wasn’t anywhere where I came into contact with veterans.  But I was involved with three in a row. All of them were 16 years or more older than I.   All of them were dominant but only with the last one did I enter any kind of stated power exchange relationship.  My liasions with women during this time were fleeting.   And all of my sexual relationships were tinged with shame.

I graduated from university and re-located to North Carolina where I met S.  This was my next power exchange relationship and I fell into it without really knowing what was happening.  I spent the next year exploring the dynamics of a dominant submissive relationship.  There was just one problem.  I couldn’t surrender.  I wanted to so badly but I couldn’t let go.  Orgasm eluded me as it had mostly since Alton because orgasm meant losing control.  I was fine if I was masturbating because I was safe.  With a partner, orgasm was nigh on impossible.  In the autumn, I left North Carolina for graduate school in clinical psychology in California.

Throughout graduate school, I took reckless sexual risks.  I hooked up with strangers to try out various kinks and BDSM.  Looking back, I’m lucky that I was not injured or killed.  I was in therapy during this time, still trying to get my PTSD symptoms to go away and deal with the resultant depression.  They did not.  Hypervigilance had me walking round the house at night, checking all the windows and doors repeatedly.  I lived with G for a year and he taught me that orgasm was much more likely if someone was eating my pussy.    I had a couple of girl friends who added evidence to this lesson.  I hooked up with J, G and T from university and indulged in group sex.  I spent time on Compuserve and on bulletin boards talking with people who were Masters, slaves, tops, bottoms and into all sorts of kinks.  I went to private parties and underground clubs.  I met K and had a whirlwind romance with elements of all of my desires and it ended badly.  I got involved with a woman who insisted that I was truly a lesbian and that the reason I was sexually unsatisfied was that I hadn’t found the right woman.   She wasn’t the right one.  (This has happened a lot – both men and women have felt the need to explain to me that if I found the right insert gender here I would be het or gay or monogamous or I wouldn’t want kink)

Then I met my first husband at a conference on PTSD and a treatment method called Traumatic Incident Reduction.  His accent did me in.  He was tall with dark hair, moustache and pale skin.  Extremely good looking.  I was on the rebound.    The initial sex was good though very vanilla.  There was no orgasm for me but I enjoyed the sex.

I signed up to experience TIR and spent a week working intensively with a facilitator.  It was nothing short of miraculous.  At the end of that week, my symptoms of PTSD were gone and most of them were never to return. (I still have some hypervigilance in certain situations and get tactile defensive).  I had my energy back.  I was no longer depressed.  I could sleep.  No more flashbacks.  3 months later I agreed to marry Stephen and 3 months after that I was living in the UK.

Stephen was alcoholic.  I hadn’t really understood that until he went into withdrawal before our first wedding date and ended up in hospital with a gastric bleed.  He agreed to stop drinking and did for three years.  Those three years were a nightmare.  Alcoholics who stop drinking are crazy for the first year or two of recovery depending up on the severity and length of the addiction and whether they are working a program.  He was not.  Our sex life was sporadic and not satisfactory for either of us.  I remember clearly when I complained that he didn’t wait for me to even get close to coming, he said that he didn’t care if I came as long as he got his.  When Stephen started drinking again, it got worse.   I had sex 12 times in 8 years.  I finally left.

I met up with N, 4 months later.  He gave me permission to play again.  After 8 years of no sex and at 35 years old, I was back out in the single world.  I did some personal spiritual work and personal development work that left me feeling comfortable with my desire to submit, surrender, be dominated and even comfortable with my more masochistic desires, feeling comfortable with my desire for non-monogamy and happy in my bisexuality.    I told N that I was finally ready to go back and explore BDSM and the rest of my kink.  We enjoyed swinging together and have stayed family to this day.    6 months later, I met my second husband, F.

In hindsight, my hormones were driving my choice of F.  He is 12 years younger than I and was happy to be a stay at home dad.  He was relatively inexperienced sexually and it was quickly apparent that we weren’t sexually compatible.    But my hormones drove me forward.  I wanted a baby and time was running out.  This was not conscious!  Before we married, we clearly made a contract about ethical non-monogamy.  We decided that we needed to talk with each other before seeing another person and that each of us had the right to say we didn’t want a relationship to begin or continue.  F wasn’t interested in any of the kink that captivated me but I wasn’t concerned because I could find other partners to meet those needs.    In theory, it should have worked well.  In practice, it was a disaster.

I had my incredible son and became very ill.  My sex life with F was non-existent.  I began to explore again following the terms of our ethical non-monogamy.  I caught F lying about an online hook up and making plans to bring her to our home when I was away on a business trip.  He apologised and said it wouldn’t happen again.    Two years later, he had a real life affair that lasted over 6 months.   He told me when the husband of the woman he had the affair with threatened to tell me.   We separated 6 months after I found out about the affair.

I spent time in 2004 and 2005 at sex positive and BDSM events in the UK. Time I spent running round with a pro Domme and a pro Master and their pro slave really got me to a place where I felt totally comfortable with all of my sexual self.  I finally felt that I was able to express myself authentically, congruently and with no apologies.

I was in a relationship when I found out about F’s affair.  I continued to pursue this relationship and 6 months later headed to a spirituality conference.  I met TJ, my current husband at this event.  We talked a lot and the electricity was apparent throughout but we didn’t act on it.   We maintained our friendship through FaceBook at first and then through Skype calls.  We had lunch when I visited my boyfriend three months after we first met and this led to our first kiss (He threw me over the bonnet of the car in the midst of a main road in Hollywood.  The kiss was so hot we stopped traffic).  Ours was a power exchange relationship from the start.  We spent time talking and negotiating and being clear about the form we wanted our relationship to take.  4 months later I accepted his collar.  This was in 2009.

In 2010, we attend our first public kink event together.  It was at this event that I met a butch woman with whom I would have a tumultuous two year D/s relationship.  He was there with his wife and the four of us got along really well.  It was 2011 before we managed to hook up and the relationship started with lots of promise.

In 2010, TJ and I started attending an annual BDSM event for people of colour and their allies  which lead to attending an annual sex positive BDSM event for people of colour.  We have developed a circle of friends some of whom are playmates.  We have had the opportunity to play in public, play as a couple with another couple, indulge in some threesomes.

When my relationship the woman I met in 2010 ended in 2013, I entered another relationship with a woman I was close friends with to that point.  I have maintained a number of relationships with women since that time.   I adore my woman only time.

I finally live in congruence.  My sexuality is expressed authentically and I am free to continue to learn and explore.   I no longer have any shame about who I am or how I choose to live my life.  I love my husband, my beloved girlfriend, my friends with benefits.  I love attending sex positive events and trying new things even at the age of 54.   I am grateful to all of the people who have walked a part of this journey with me, including Alton, without whom I would not be the person I am today.  Alton forced me to look at myself from all angles, to learn to love every part of myself because I could not recover from what he did with me otherwise.

Today I talked about sexual trauma, dominance and submission, BDSM, kink, bisexuality and non-monogamy.  If any of these areas resonate for you and you need some help with any issues that arise, email me at drbisbey@drloribethbisbey.com and I can provide you with resources for further learning or set up a discovery session to talk about what might help you further.

Thanks for joining me for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@drloribethbisbey.com, follow me on twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Check out my YouTube channel: Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.For a free 30-minute strategy session with me, go to https://drloribethbisbey.com and click the button that says Schedule Now!Please leave a review on iTunes and stitcher.

I look forward to seeing you for next week’s sex love story.

 

Sex Spoken Here: Littles and Bigs and Age Play  TRIGGER WARNING

Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Remember that this podcast deals with adult themes so if you don’t have privacy you might wish to put on your headphones.

Today I am starting my series on littles, bigs and age play.  This area of kink often really upsets people.  Many people see it as related to paedophilia which it is not or related to sexual abuse.    There are many layers to this area so I will spend a few weeks examining them in as much detail as I can.

Joining me to start the discussion is Kathleen Melch.

Kathleen Melch is a leatherwoman within the BDSM community. She has been publicly involved with the community for the last 15 years as an educator and a title holder. She considers the subject of Littles as her primary specialty. Uncovering her own little in her early twenties, it is her mission and joy to guide people who are littles, Bigs and the larger community.

Kathleen started by making the distinction between age play which is adults choosing to take on the persona of a child – more like a role play – and littles where people are actually psychologically and emotionally regressing to a particular age.  She made the point that in age play, consent is possible but that in her opinion with littles it is not.  She highlighted that this is because of the complete regression.  Kathleen said that littles are usually between age 3 and 8 and that middles are 8 to the tweens and that bigs are the people who look after/care for the little.

Flowing from her point about consent, Kathleen made clear that in her view there should be nothing sexual between a big and a little as that is incest and could be traumatising or re-traumatising.  She was clear that she does not see littles and bigs as a kink as a result.   She spoke about the explosion of littles on the BDSM kink scene in the last 10 years and that this has led to difficult situations where the space for littles is placed in the dungeon or in a sexual play space.  Kathleen was clear that she doesn’t think this is appropriate as you wouldn’t expose your 6 year old to an adult sexual space and it is essentially the same as the little, who is psychologically regressed, is in the mind space and emotional space of the child.

We spoke about the grey areas that fall between littles/bigs and age play.  For example, two littles playing doctor is age appropriate sexual play.   Spanking can be a grey area as the sexual pleasure encoding may have happened during a childhood incident in which there was no sexual content intended (e.g The adult was not sexually aroused.  They were administering punishment).  And spoke about the fact that some people choose to re-enact a scene from their own sexual abuse background in order to try to heal.

We spoke in great detail about the discomfort of people who are not interested in little/big relationships sharing adult space and the problems sex educators have when dealing with these relationships.  Kathleen was clear that she is very protective of littles and seeks to keep them safe in adult spaces.

Kathleen spoke about the need for bigs and adults who are engaging in age play to have education around the age regression and how to bring someone back to the adult age as well as around symptoms of trauma and dissociation. She spoke about the fact that after care is usually much more extensive in these situations.

We spoke about the enjoyment people get out of age play and how some people find it extremely exciting to explore these taboo relationships and that these adults are able to consent to do this.

We also highlighted that none of this has to do with adults having any sexual interest in a biological child.  The interest is in an adult who is engaging in pretend.

We began to talk about some of the psychological issues that arise and when people need to consider seeking out professional support (psychotherapy for example).   We will continue that discussion in a later podcast in this series.

You can find Kathleen on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kathleen.baars

Thanks for joining me for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey. Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@drloribethbisbey.com, follow me on twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Check out my YouTube channel: Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.  For a free 30-minute strategy session with me, go to https://drloribethbisbey.com and click the button that says Schedule Now!   Please leave a review on iTunes and stitcher.  I look forward to seeing you next week for part two of all about age play.

 

 

Sex Spoken Here: Risk Assessment Part 3

Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Remember that this podcast deals with adult themes so if you don’t have privacy you might wish to put on your headphones.

Today I am finishing my series about risk assessment in relationships.

We assess risks all the time.  Once we reach adulthood, we do most of our risk assessment without thinking.  When you are driving, you assess the risk of driving at a particular speed, of changing lanes, or driving in certain weather or traffic conditions.  We assess risk according to what we have learned about the risks inherent in any given situation.    We assess based on what we have learned from others, from books and other media, and from our own life experience.

All of us travel with baggage.  Some with just a carry on and others with whole steamer trunks.  The problem isn’t the baggage itself but rather the uninspected contents.  If you are unaware of your own patterns, your risk assessment will be faulty so you will make poorer choices.  For some this means choosing relationships that turn out to be abusive ones for others this means choosing partners who cheat and for some this means choosing relationship after relationship with people who abuse or are dependent upon substances.  We tend to choose what feels familiar to us.

I know my own patterns very well now as I have had lots of therapy, coaching and done other types of personal work.  It used to be that if I walked into a room of 300 people with only one alcoholic in the room, that would be the only person I was attracted to.  They would be the person that felt exciting, who smelled right to me.  Nowadays, I would be attracted to the people who have been clean and sober for more than 10 years, people who are adrenalin junkies and those who come from backgrounds where there was substance abuse but who have done their personal work.  I still like the edge but my pattern has changed because of the personal work I have done.  I recognise different qualities, different scents as attractive now.   The hardest thing for most of us is to admit we have made a mistake and this can get you injured or killed.

Gavin de Becker is an expert on security, threat assessment, and personal protection.  He wrote a book called The Gift of Fear that I highly recommend everyone read.  In this book, he talks about how far we as human beings have moved from our primal senses.

Fear is the body’s way of alerting us to danger.  Many people no longer pay attention to fear or to gut instincts in which they feel uncomfortable.   De Becker talks about how essential it is that we learn to reintegrate our primal senses as they will keep us safer and ignoring them may get us injured or killed.

Often people have an intense gut feeling and then talk themselves out of it.  You meet someone and you feel uncomfortable but you say to yourself ‘I’m being unfair’  or ‘I should give him a chance’.  It is amazing how often the gut instinct is correct.  I have interviewed many victims of sexual assault and rape over the years – some in therapy and others during my research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  A full 60% of them have admitted to having a feeling that someone was ‘not right’ or a situation was ‘not safe’ and ignoring the feeling.  This lead them to blame themselves for their own assaults or rapes.  Self-blame is not useful in this situation.  What is though is to learn how important it is to pay attention to your hunches and gut instincts.  They are often correct because they are based on a whole host of perceptions that happen on a less than conscious level.

Many of the people I have seen over the years have ignored countless warning signs in relationships.  Last week I spoke with Dr Sue Mandel about the red flags she talks about with her clients.  I use a system of red flags or warning signs to risk assess in any new relationship and I recommend that everyone do the same.  You may not choose the same warning signs that I do, but you should have a system of your own.

Many people are afraid to do this because they believe on some deep level that if they walk away from a potential relationship, another one may not come along.  These people are conforming to the scarcity principle that says there are not enough ‘good people’ in the world and so that you must grab anyone you think is a ‘good person’ or you will end up alone.  This is a myth.  There are plenty of people in the world with whom you can have a relationship.  It is better to find the right person or people than to enter a relationship with someone who is dangerous, abusive or degrading (or even just a relationship with a person who is wrong for you but might be fine for someone else).    Many people are afraid to be alone and this stops them from risk assessing.  It is better to be alone and alive and healthy than the alternative.

For me, a red flag or warning sign says: ‘Stop and think’ or ‘‘get some distance’

First warning: I feel frightened, deeply anxious or my gut tells me something is off.  This is the most important warning sign to pay attention to.  I don’t wait to interpret this and I don’t suggest you do either.  I simply get out of the situation.  If you feel something is off, it usually is.  Delay can put you in danger or difficulty so don’t delay.  This has saved my life more than once.

Don’t worry about how other people might think of you.  Don’t pass go.  Don’t collect £200 or $200, just get out of the situation.  See your fear as the gift that it is, the sign that tells you that you are in danger.  This one is especially important if you enjoy BDSM and power exchange and you are getting together with someone you don’t know well and don’t know much about.

And speaking of that: One part of risk assessment is to find out what you can about the person that you are entering a relationship with.  Observe their behaviour with you, with friends and family, with people in the restaurant.  Check out the stories they tell you.  Consider talking to x partners and friends.  Do a background check. Do your homework.  Do your due diligence.  If they aren’t comfortable with you doing that, think twice about the relationship.

Types of warning signs:

Many brief intense relationships that ended badly.

This might mean the person has difficulty managing their own intense emotions and expressing emotions appropriately.  It might mean they have overly high expectations of a partner.

Unwillingness to give you full contact details.  This is only a warning sign if this persists after you start properly dating each other.  At first or second meeting, in the information age, it is not unusual for people to want to hold back some of their details.

Remember to be aware of signs of catfishing.  If you are meeting people online, it is possible that the person is not who they say they are.  If things are not adding up, information makes no sense, you feel that someone is playing with you – pay attention to these feelings.

Extremely sensitive to anything that approaches criticism or to you if you have a different opinion from theirs.

People who have these issues can be volatile and often have lots of drama in their lives.

Stalking behaviours:  Shows up where you don’t expect them to be, texts many many times per day when you have just met, doesn’t observe boundaries you set, ‘surprises’ you at work or at home, is constantly following all your social media.  This can feel very flattering at first but will quickly feel uncomfortable and can become dangerous.

Must control every aspect of a date, conversation, meal.  When someone is immediately extremely controlling (without your consent), this is a sign of deeper issues.

Demonstrations of intense jealousy when you haven’t known each other very long or of time you spend with friends, family, at work.   This highlights insecurity and the need to control and does not bode well for safe, happy, healthy relationships.

Empathy is essential to a good relationship.  Empathy is the ability to feel things from another’s point of view, to understand and share their feelings.  If a person cannot take the viewpoint of another, cannot see things from another’s vantage point it is unlikely that they will be able to share another’s feelings.    Some people can approximate empathy but don’t truly feel it.    People who don’t have empathy don’t consider how their actions might impact upon others and cannot put themselves in another’s shoes to see how the words they choose or the things they do might cause another to feel.

Black and white thinking: People who cannot tolerate any ambivalence swing from positives to negatives.  They find it difficult to stay connected to someone positively if the person has done something that has caused them to be upset or feel angry.  You are either the most wonderful person on the planet or the devil incarnate.  They swing back and forth and it can be hard for others to know where they stand.  They have unrealistic expectations of others and project their own fantasy viewpoints on to others.

Inability to take responsibility and apologise.  This is a big warning sign.  People who cannot take responsibility for their actions and mistakes, thoughts and feelings, cannot learn and so don’t change.  They don’t apologise because they cannot see how any outcome is their responsibility.  They often also lack empathy so they cannot imagine how others feel.

Inability to control intense emotions.  People who cannot soothe themselves take out all of their feelings at full intensity on those around them.  They are often volatile, sometimes violent and require immediate and constant attention.

These are just a few of the warning signs.

Risk assessment is about being observant, being conscious of your own biases, your own history and patterns, being able to separate your feelings from those of others and listening to your primal senses (and acting on them).  Risk assessment is an on-going process.  Once you are well versed and have practiced a lot, it becomes second nature.      If you do it well, your relationships will be filled with excitement and pleasure and be long lasting.

Thanks for joining me for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey. Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@drloribethbisbey.com, follow me on twitter, Instagram and Facebook..  Check out my YouTube channel: Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.  For a free 30-minute strategy session with me, go to https://drloribethbisbey.com and click the button that says Schedule Now!  Why not join me for my upcoming free webinar 4 Secrets for Arousing and Igniting Your Authentic Sexual Self.  Click the link in the podcast notes to sign up or head to https://drloribethbisbey.com/4-secrets/ I look forward to seeing you next week for part one the care and feeding of the vagina.

 

 

Sex Spoken Here: Risk assessment in relationships 2

Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here.  As this podcast contains adult material, if you don’t have total privacy you might want to wear headphones.

Today I am continuing my series on risk assessment in relationships.

We started last week talking all about consent and discovered that it is a many faceted topic.  This week we are going to talk about the red flags that arise when you are just beginning relationships that let you know you might want to slow down or stop all together.

Joining me today is Dr Sue Mandel is a psychologist and a certified life coach and a certified data coach.  She’s been in practice for 30 years seeing couples, single women over 40 and relationships.  She specialises in the psychobiology of intimate relationships.

We talked about red flags ranging from poor boundaries, to feeling rage seething underneath the surface.  We spoke about the importance of paying attention to your gut instincts and your level of comfort.

Sue suggests that when people are self-absorbed you need to take notice as this is a big red flag.We talked about people who ‘never get angry’ and avoid conflict and cannot resolve conflict and that this is also a big red flag.  Sue highlighted the passive aggressive behaviour that you might see with a person like this.  She spoke about people who are denigrate the people around them, people who don’t introduce you to their friends, are evasive and people who lie.

Sue spoke about working with her clients on trusting themselves and acting on their feelings.  She said that it is often hard for people to leave a relationship if they don’t know why they were attracted in the first place.  I pointed out that I often tell people to work on their patterns in coaching but to trust gut instincts and act on the red flags even if they don’t understand why they are feeling the way they are feeling.

We spoke about people who put you on a pedestal and heap tons of praise on you and then switch to heaping tons of denigration on you.  We spoke about how hard it is to walk away from someone who praises you and treats you like you are the best thing since sliced bread even if it doesn’t feel entirely comfortable.

Sue pointed out that getting into a relationship to ‘fix’ someone is never a good idea and that many women think that they can do this and learn the hard way that it does not work.

Sue can be found at:

http://www.drsuesconnections.com

Thanks for joining me this week for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.  Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@drloribethbisbey.com, follow me on twitter @drbisbey and check out my YouTube channel.  For a free 30 minute strategy session with me, go to https://drloribethbisbey.com and click the button that says Schedule Now!  If you are curious and ready to explore more, join me for my webinar/telecall 4 Secrets for Arousing and Igniting Your Authentic Sexual Self .  Click the link to register.  I look forward to seeing you there and next week for part 3 of this series.  Please leave a review if you have enjoyed this podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher. Thanks.