October 25, 2017

Question: My boyfriend is a masochist though I’m not a sadist. I very much enjoy pleasuring him, but I don’t actively get joy from causing pain. The only thing that bothers me about the whole situation is his use of the word “abuse” inreference to the consensual things that we do. I grew up in an extremely abusive household, and that word rightfully holds a lot of negative charge for me. We’ve talked about this, and he’s fine with changing if there is a better word for it.

Unfortunately, I cannot think of one, and this has led to me being unhappy about inflicting on him whatever it is that we do together. I don’t want to keep this as a situation in which I feel bad about doing things that are pleasurable to him, but I also don’t want to be abusive and that is the connotation that we currently use for what is going on. Is there a better word that we can use? Or am I just going to have to suck it up and deal with this?


Dr. ZZ: If you are an abuse survivor, it is understandable that the word “abuse” has negative connotations for you. Especially if you are playing in the arena of BDSM, you owe it to yourself – and your partner – to make sure you are 100% safe and 100% comfortable (or willing to be interestingly uncomfortable) with exploring this arena of sex play. Given the kinds of games you are playing, saying and doing only those things you are comfortable with come with the territory.

Checking an online thesaurus, you may want to use any of the listed synonyms: Hurt, harm, defile, debase, exploit, damage, mistreat, violate, manhandle. You could also go with any of the verbs that describe specific actions: Hit, bind, grab, slap, spank, grasp, strike, shove, punch, twist, restrain. Since you’ve asked your boyfriend not to use the word “abuse,” he has an obligation to comply with you in using any alternate if he wants to remain as awesomely good, giving and game (GGG) as you have been with him. You have an absolute right to set boundaries for whatever reason you wish.


Question: I am female in my twenties, living in Bali in a small two-story building with my mom and stepdad. A few weeks ago, I was outside on the steps when an older Indonesian man came out of his upstairs room and talked to me. The entirety of what I understood him to say was that he is from Java, he lives upstairs (apparently alone), and that his wife is in Jakarta. He also kept asking me if I wanted to be his friend.

Confused at first, it finally dawned on me that he probably meant for me to be a fling or his mistress while his wife is back at home. He left before I could express my horror and, even though I have not spoken to him since, I have noticed that he follows me. The other day, for example, he apparently waited in the shadows of a tree until I walked up across the street to where he was. Then, he started walking, keeping pace with me until he reached the building that we regrettably both occupy. When I crossed the street, he stayed standing at the downstairs steps until I went up into my apartment. I’ve also seen him watch me from his balcony.

This completely disgusts me, and I want to punch him somehow without touching him. I know that Western women are often viewed as “loose” by men from more “traditional” cultures, and this makes me angry. What’s the best approach in a situation like this? Ignore him, which I’ve been doing? Try to express in plain English that I will never want him? Or some other creative solution?  Thanks for assisting!


Dr. ZZ: The next time this guy makes any kind of unwanted contact with you, say something direct and explicit to him to let him know that it is unwelcome. (Example, “Please don’t follow me,” “I want to be alone,” “I don’t want to walk with you, please go,” “I don’t want to talk to you, please go,” “You are making me uncomfortable, please go,” “You got the wrong idea from our conversation the other day; I’m not interested.”) Say whatever you say as concisely and directly as possible without apologizing or backtracking. Treat him as if you expect him to do the right thing, and he probably will.

A normal person who is told to back off will apologize and back off.  A creepy person will get angry with you, will willfully misunderstand, or will do whatever he can to continue the interaction. “No,” “Please go,” and “I am not interested” are complete sentences. If you say this, and the man keeps talking, that is a warning bell. Get away, and do whatever it takes to physically remove yourself without worrying if it’s weird or offensive.

If you ask him to leave you alone, and he clearly does not, you may want to enlist your stepdad to have a word with him. Your job is not to teach the guy how to behave around every woman in the world, or to set an example for all time; it is to teach him how to behave around you, so that you feel safe where you live.

You don’t need to punish him, humiliate him, or get more angry or engaged. Keep a calm, neutral, civil tone, and let him save face. The optimal outcome is that you feel safe, and that everyone retreats to a curt and polite “friendly nod” when encountered.


Dr. ZZ has a Ph.D. in Counseling and a doctorate in Natural Healing. Drawing on a background of  over thirty years as a professional therapist, she offers self-help in the areas health, relationship and  personal  growth. All queries are answered by email and, if they appear in print, are subject to editing. Please email your questions :<ba.saywhat@yahoo.co.id> All identifying information is kept strictly confidential.

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