From the bottoms point of view it can be very hard to understand what you really want. Part of the allure is the letting go. Someone else takes control freeing you from having to choose but this means you run the risk of playing with someone who, while working within the parameters of what you have negotiated, takes you farther than you are ready to go. This is not to say that there are not true assaults and that rape is a matter of perspective. There are violations of agreed upon limits and there are times when safewords are ignored but the truth of the matter is (and I know this may cause issue with some) many cases of scenes gone bad are cases of miscommunication, inexperience, and unclear lines of consent and desire.
So then what you do? How do you avoid unintentionally hurting someone or unintentionally getting hurt? First thing is you have to know yourself but that is easier said than done. Things that you have never thought of may be hot button issues for you, triggering latent memories. This is true for tops as well as bottoms. If you are playing with a woman’s lack of emotional connection you may find that you are digging up feelings about how your own mother left you when you were young. We are all doing this for different reasons and it is good to be aware that what you are doing runs the risk of waking sleeping demons. Are you honestly ready for that? If the answer is no or you are unsure then be careful to make this point clearly and early on to your potential play partners. Tell them that there are places that are off limits. There is no shame in not playing as “hard” as the next person and anyone who says different is weak egoed douche-bag. Even with an understanding of yourself, you will find yourself experiencing things in edge play that you will be surprised to not be ready for. So how do you deal with that the next day when you are awoken from a terrifying nightmare is a screaming cold sweat?
Since we are all humans and prone to miscommunication, the best thing to do is start by trying to make sure that you and the person(s) you played with understand each others point of view. The old saying about there being three sides to every story is useless. The truth is not what matters, what matters is how each person interprets the moment. If you thought that you were assaulted then it does not matter as much whether the person meant to assaulted you or not. The damage to your psyche has been done and has to be addressed. By talking to your partners you can start to see what they were seeing and feel what they were feeling. As a top this means you can understand that a few casually callus words meant to scratch like nails in the skin may have torn open old wounds that are easily infected. From the bottom’s POV this means that you can start to understand why a top picked the things that they did to play with. Perhaps they meant to open up fears that they felt were unfounded or maybe they were playing with ideas that hit close to home for them. By talking to your partners you keep them in the realm of the real and do not let them slip into a mythical role as avatar to your personal demons. We help each other through these dark places but in the end we all carry our own baggage.
Another thing that you can do is write, draw, sculpt, dance or in someway try and come to terms with the feelings. This is a personal thing. It has nothing to do with others but with how you feel and interpret what happened. Talking things through with someone else can help but everything they say is tinted by their personal experiences. It is not on purpose but simply the end result of them having living souls that have life experience to pass all their thoughts through. It means that there has to be someway for you to express yourself without influence. When you write or draw or sing, you are exploring the feelings for yourself. See where those feelings take you, see what your soul is trying to tell you.
In the end you are alone. You are born alone and you die alone and all that happens in between happens to you and only you. Part of edge play is the facing of the great void and the horror of the abyss that stares back. It is not something that you can do without finding from time to time that a little bit of your soul falls in, that you are burned and frozen and scarred by what you discover about humanity and yourself. The thing that you have to do is get up afterwards, brush yourself off and move on and that, like birth and death, must happen alone.