In my continuous effort to read the books that have been in the bottom of my Kindle, I came across Kitty Thomas’ Tender Mercies. It wasn’t until I finished it and was writing a review that I realized what a great lesson this piece of fiction can teach those in the lifestyle, especially those that are new. Before I go on any further, I do want to issue a trigger warning. This article will talk about abusive situations, so this may not be for everyone.

Tender Mercies

tells the story of Grace. She wants to submit but feels that up to this point, that all she’s been doing is playing at being a slave and is wanting a serious relationship. She finds out about Eleu, an island where owners legally own their slaves and the slaves are stripped of all legal rights. Grace meets Lucas, a master who lives on the island. Over the next year, they talk online and see each other via webcam. Shortly after they hit the year mark of talking online, Lucas starts pushing Grace about whether or not she is coming to the island to be his slave. She isn’t sure, but he keeps pushing her to make a decision, telling her that they both want more than just an online relationship, that he has given her more than plenty of time to get to know him and to find out about him, and that most of all, he’s tired of waiting. After giving her a week of the silent treatment, he asks Grace again if she’s coming. After the week of the silent treatment, she’s terrified of losing Lucas, she tells him that she will be coming to Eleu. The last thing Lucas tells her before she leaves is that he is a hard master. Once Grace arrives on the island, she realizes what kind of man Lucas is and what he meant by being a hard master. He automatically burns everything she brought with her, including the clothes on her back, then he chains her naked in a cold dungeon. He beats her to the point of scarring, starves her, and other terrible, terrible things.

When I wrote my review, I said that people who are new to the lifestyle should read this book because it is a great example of how one can never be too careful, especially when the communication is strictly online. I know the example from the book is an extreme one, but unfortunately, things similar to what happened to Grace do happen in real life.

The Internet has been a great thing for people in the lifestyle. It’s made things easier for kinksters to connect and share ideas and opinions with one another. It’s given people the chance to meet people they would have never met otherwise. It gives those who are new a chance to get their feet wet until they’re ready to venture out to a local group. People have even found their partners online. But despite all the wonderful things that have come with the Internet, there have been a whole new set of dangers as well. It’s easier for people to pretend to be someone they’re not and I’m not talking about just lying about physical appearances. It has given those who are, for lack of a better term, predators, the chance to prey on people and has made it easier for them to do so. We have all read on Fetlife from people who have fallen prey to these predators, especially those who are new to the lifestyle.

There are a lot of risks that comes with meeting people online. Yeah, you can get a feel for who they are, but that’s only from what they’re willing to show and tell you, and vice versa. It’s so much easier to keep up a fake facade than it is in person and predators totally use that to their advantage. It’s so easy to have honey dripping from your lips when the person can’t see the sharp that are behind those lips. And that is exactly what those predators are counting on.

Some people do totally blow off online safety. Some people think when the topic is brought up, that a big deal is being made over nothing. Online safety isn’t something to just brush off and ignore, especially within the lifestyle when the things that we do already carry a lot of risks and require a great amount of trust from both sides.

I totally don’t want to lecture here. I know lecturing isn’t fun to hear. I can’t stress the importance of keeping yourself safe when actually meeting people from online in person. Have a safe call in place. Meet in public for a while before venturing to one another’s homes or to a hotel room. Don’t just focus on lifestyle related stuff. Keep an eye open for red flags. I’m gonna throw some links here too with some more information, because like G.I. Joe says, knowing is half the battle. Keep yourself safe and protected.

Cyber Submission and Exploring D/s Online

Some Notes on Safety for Meeting Online and Off

Offline/Online BDSM Safety Rules