“Rape play” or “consensual non-consent” is a consensual kink between partners that have decided to act out a simulated sexual assault while maintaining on-going consent throughout the scene. It can also be considered a form of edge play, as it can be very intense. Consensual non-consent (CNC) requires a massive amount of trust and communication to act out safely, and this guide will illustrate how to make the best of your exploration in this area of BDSM–with a specialized focus on survivors of sexual assault who are considering this type of play.
Why would sexual assault survivors be interested in rape play?
For years, survivors of sexual assault have come to me in a period of distress over their desire to act out a rape fantasy. Each one has felt some sense of guilt, disgust, or confusion over why they are drawn to the idea of CNC. Many are upset that people will think their desire to act out a scene like this means they deserved or wanted to get assaulted. Obviously, these things are not true–but to survivors, especially, the stress of these issues is very real.
CNC is not an assault. It is a complex scene of defined consent, safety protocols, and careful attention to the well-being of one’s partner. It is heavily communicated and planned out. It is controlled–and that is a key component.
Many survivors are unaware that rape play can actually be beneficial to their recovery, and may even help them manage symptoms of PTSD. Obviously, this kink is not for everyone. Some people are completely against the idea of recreating such a traumatic event, and that’s perfectly valid. No one should ever be pressured into this or any other sexual act. However, for those who are interested and willing to explore this area, there is a potential for some amazing development.
In the field of psychology, fears and phobias are treated with a method called exposure therapy. There are many ways to go about this but they all essential involve exposing people to the things they fear the most in order to re-condition them to stay calm. By exposing people to their fears in a safe environment, they are able to work on relaxation techniques and combat the stress response their body goes through. This is essentially how rape play can be beneficial to survivors. By experiencing an “assault” in a safe and supportive environment, survivors are able to control the scene and “take back” some of the power they feel they have been robbed of. Some people report feeling less triggered as a result of working through these issues in the bedroom, and others find a sense of empowerment by controlling such an intense experience in a safe way.
Some important requirements for this to work:
- This must be discussed heavily before diving in. These scenes are often very intense and in order to avoid triggering a survivor, you must communicate everything about the scene beforehand.
- Limits must be defined. It doesn’t matter if you know your partner and you’ve played before–go over their specific limits for this type of scene because you may have forgotten or never covered something relevant to their assault.
- Create not only a safeword, but a system for checking in. The traffic light system is a great tool here, as colors are defined for different stages (green: all good; yellow: slow down; red: stop now!) and a partner is able to simply say, “Color?” and the other can respond quickly and easily with a status without having to explain in detail. Checking in often is highly recommended (especially for the first time) and remember–if your partner doesn’t or cannot respond, stop the scene and make sure they are okay.
- Keep in mind that Dominant partners may have difficulty in acting out an assault with a partner due to fear of hurting or triggering them. This is okay! Keep talking about those fears and issues and come up with solutions to potential problems before they happen. Everyone engaging in this scene needs to be sure that they have only good intentions and want to support each other. If your Dominant seems upset during the scene, check in with them, too. Everyone has a right to feel safe and if someone isn’t, the scene needs to stop.
- Aftercare is vitally important, especially in a scene like this. Be sure to cover what type of aftercare is best for the situation. Some survivors want to be left alone when they are triggered and don’t want to be touched. Others want all the cuddling and kisses they can get from their partner. Be sure to find out what works best for your partner. Try not to leave them completely alone after the scene, but rather give them space to breathe if they need it. Reassure your partner that you’re there for them and care for them. Tell them how good they did and that you’re so proud of them. Never, ever, get frustrated if they needed to safeword and stop the scene. Be as supportive as humanly possible.
I don’t recommend rape play directly after an assault, rather I recommend it to people with interest in it who have started the recovery process and are looking for alternative ways to cope easier with triggers. It is very important that survivors get professional help when able to. A counselor, therapist, or sexual assault hotline (For US folks, call 1.800.656.HOPE) are all options for those having problems with recovery from their assault. Aid your partner in any way you can with professional help, from providing them a ride to their therapist, to helping them with copays, etc. if necessary. It is important the survivor be ready for this type of play, and to have professional support if at all possible.
If you have a counselor or therapist, I recommend talking to them about this idea if you have come out to them as being into BDSM and know that they support your lifestyle. Some may be able to offer other resources on this type of play, or give a better insight to how this may help you, psychologically. Please keep in mind that I hold a degree in psychology and am a sexual assault survivor who has gone through this but I am not a certified professional. I found this beneficial for my own recovery and I merely wish to pass on the concept to those seeking information on rape play. I do not want anyone to risk their mental health by taking part in this kink when they aren’t supported or ready to take that step.