Friday, July 24, 2009

Damn it, Toto, we're still in Kansas!

A cop was recently arrested in Kansas for domestic abuse. The alleged victim is his (now) ex-girlfriend (and former contracted submissive).

Michael Percival (age 44) set up a fishing trip for he & his kids on June 15. Elisha Cabrera (age 42) and her son weren't invited. After his return from the trip, there was an exchange between Percival and Cabrera which, in line with the terms of their agreement, which resulted in her being assigned 50 whacks, which were then administered over the course of 2 days.

On June 18, Cabrera got drunk, went to his house and pitched a fit. Charges against Cabrera as a result of the June 18 arrest included third-degree assault, harassment, DUI and obstruction of telephone service (no details on what that might actually mean).

Cabrera goes to jail. She's in the restroom, changing into a jail suit and being supervised by a female officer who happens to notice marks on Carbrera's butt (without knowing dimensions of the room, location of the two women, etc. it's impossible to say if the marks were "noticed" or exhibited purposefully). Cabrera says Percival made the marks during a punishment. Without seeing the pictures that were taken by the police, in jail, of Cabrera's butt, it's hard to deduce the age or direct source of the marks. Reports of affidavits are unspecific as to the nature or condition of the marks.

Cabrera has provided law enforcement with contracts, documents used to affirm and record consensual negotiations about roles, limits, and consequences to prenegotiated activities. Items discussed in the contract included "personal hygiene, general behavior including sexual behavior and clothing,” and specified punishments if she failed to meet expectations. “The punishments could be as simple as standing in a corner, or as severe as ‘spankings’ on her bare buttocks with a belt or other object,” the arrest affidavit for Percival said.

As a result of all this kinky, incarceration, dayglo orange clothing fetish scene, Percival gets arrested, is suspended from duty and is out on $2,500.00 bond. His trial is scheduled for September 11, and the attorney he's running with is named Scissors. Running with Scissors on September 11? I dunno. You figure it out.

I first heard about this on Dr. Gloria Brame's blog. The header is "Here we go again: male dom on trial in Kansas." Her response to Cabrera’s admission of consensual BDSM activities is:

What can I say except if you ever find yourself at a doctor's office, in an emergency room, or under arrest and someone notices the marks of your sexual play, and ASSUMING YOU WISH TO PROTECT YOUR LIFESTYLE PARTNER...please LIE. The sad thing is that real victims of domestic violence usually do lie about the source of their bruises, while sadomasochists (unaware that what we do can and will be viewed by courts as assault) will blithely spill the beans. Stay safe and keep those beans to yourself UNLESS you feel you are being abused.

It seems that Cabrera has no interest in protecting her "lifestyle partner." Contracts about standards, protocols, rules, roles and punishments may sound fierce and foreign to the nilla ear, but having participated in long-term consensual service arrangements myself, I am not appalled. In fact, it shows damn good sense on both their parts. If Cabrera whipped out the contracts in an attempt to foil her ex, it may backfire. I'm not sure if Kansas is a 'consent is not a defense' state (but I do know that California, my beloved, bankrupt home, is such a state). If she entered into those contracts willingly, then they are of no use to her as a punitive device. In fact, using them as evidence may prove that he wasn't abusing her and that she knew what she was doing.

According to the arrest affidavit, “If she failed to count (each strike) or miscounted, Percival would start over from the beginning.” Well, duh. That's how those things work. If I had someone under contract, in service to me and they were displeasing or violated the contract, there would be punishment. And it would hurt (not much of a punishment, otherwise). I have found that if I am not self-mastered enough to be willing to be the hard wall against which others dash themselves during kinky adventures in self-discovery, then I don't deserve to have someone under my supervision or in my care. Period. Within the BDSM context, this all makes perfect sense. Outside of their context, these things become leverage and sensational soundbytes.

Dr. Gloria Brame is one of my heroes. Her shoulders number those upon which I stand; her work made it possible for me to do what I've done. But lying? I must respectfully disagree. Yes, abuse victims often lie about the abuse, because they don't want anyone to know. Home life could get worse, or there's so much guilt, shame and fear that it's best to rot slowly from within than face the often dire consequences of bringing abuse into the light.

If I wanted to protect any of my "lifestyle partners" the LAST thing I would do is lie. Audre Lorde said, “Your silence will not protect you;” I think that lying is an anti-protection device also. I would discuss it as I would my laundry, or my grocery list, quite matter-of-factly. This is who I am and this is what I do. Your squick-factor is not my responsibility; my responsibility is to conduct myself honorably, within the bounds of my own integrity, while compassionately respecting the fact that you’re squicked. Sure, there'd likely be some grief to take for being honest and frank, but that sort of thing needs doing during the normatization process, in culture, of things previously held as major social taboos. I'm alright with that. It is the silence of those of us who practice both personal culpability and consensual kink that creates the loophole for someone like Cabrera to jump through, using shocking "facts" outside of the context in which they make perfect sense in order to further her own personal agenda, whatever that might have been. If people had better, clearer ideas about what we do and how we do it, it would become far less possible for facts to be twisted like that. Social clarity about our subculture with its rituals and traditions will not be created by BDSM practitioners lying. As long as we hide behind the guilt, fear and shame, arrangements like the one between Percival and Cabrera can--and WILL--be used against us in courts of law.


  1. This took place in Olathe, Colorado, NOT Kansas. Elisha Cabrera does not have any sons. She has 2 grown daughters, one of which is in the service. The one you are referring to here is the only daughter still at home and she is around 9 years old. The whole thing didn't really start over a fishing trip either but that is,it seems, what they want everyone to believe.

  2. Thank you--I welcome the corrections!


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