This was brought to mind with all the sexual allegations that are going on in the community and nationwide. And then an article I read last month about a group called Nexium.
One of the first and biggest red flags is the word "secret." Whenever you're dealing with an individual and they're saying, "Oh you need to keep quiet about this and don't tell anybody." Or, "This is our little secret and no one needs to know." When the "secret flag" comes up, you need to run! Because this means you've got someone who is either a manipulator or someone who's taking advantage of you and they don't want others to know. This is very common with sexual predators. They don't want anyone knowing because they know what they are doing is wrong and they don't want to get caught.
Another red flag is, "Oh if you do this then I'll do this." Or, "If you do this I'll get or give you this." This is especially true when it comes to sexual favors. When someone puts stipulations on something, there's a problem. They are manipulating you. They only give you what you want in order to get what they want. This type of behavior just continues to get worse and worse.
In the Leather community we have a tradition of earning Leathers. There should never be a stipulation that if you do this then you'll get your item or your piece of leather. This also applies to any type of play. There should never be something that has a connection like that to it. It should be because the person deserves it.
The things I read in the Nexium article were: "This is a secret society, we don't tell anybody about it." Or, "We keep very quiet about it so we don't let anybody know." Or, "You have earned it to become part of the 'elite' group." When this happens, it's a problem because the leaders are manipulating people. Religious cults fall prey to this.
Another red flag is when the person restricts you from family and friends. When they tell you that you can't see or talk to family and/or your friends, you need to look at WHY they are requiring this? If you're not allowed to tell your friends and family about something that you're doing because the person you are involved with doesn't want you too, you need to further examine what is going on.
Red flags can happen in any type of relationship: business, personal, sexual or friends. The point is to be able to recognize them or listen to your close family and friends when they point these out. Too often we are so wrapped up in what is happening that we don't see clearly. Manipulators and predators are good about slowly creeping in. But know this; there is never a situation you can't get out of. There are many professionals who help individuals who have found themselves in these situations. Don't hesitate to seek them out. Don't let your pride stand in the way of getting help. We all make mistakes, but the biggest is when we don't fix the mistake once we recognize it.
If you find yourself in one of the above situations, please contact me. We'll find the help you need to get back on track. I can be reached at email@example.com.
Master C is the current president of WOOLF, the local leather club. Contact him via www.woolfks.com or at MsterC69@gmail.com/
Caption: Editor's note: This column may contain content that is offensive to some people.