Friday, August 29, 2014

Spanking Stories Book Club: A Simple Misunderstanding by Kathryn R Blake

Tara Finnegan is here today to lead the discussion of A Simple Misunderstanding by Kathryn R Blake

A Simple Misunderstanding was, in my opinion, a marvelously written book that tackled a very delicate subject with tact, courage and dignity.
It’s almost inevitable that there are abusive D/S relationships just as there are non D/s relationships that are abusive. One of the great features of this book was how D/s made it a little harder to spot or define the abuse - after all Elly was being spanked, and spanking was normal in that community.
My questions are:

1.       How or where would you draw the line between discipline and abuse?

2.       As can often be the case, Elly did her damnedest to cover up for Arthur’s mistreatment of her. However Jerry was very persistent in getting to the bottom of it all, even to the point where he added to her problems by arousing Arthur’s suspicions. What do you think you would do if you suspected someone you cared for was in that situation, and how far do you think you would push it if they remained in denial?

3.       How did you feel about Brent’s response to the situation?

4.       I thought Jerry was a wonderful character, gentle, protective and nourishing. That said, he was adamant about wanting a discipline relationship. Although he approached reintroducing it by degrees and very gently, starting with corner time and then finally a spanking with a beach flip flop! Do you think if you were in Elly’s shoes could have been able to trust anyone else to spank you again, even someone as kind and gentle as Jerry is?

Thanks so much for joining in. I am looking forward to reading your thoughts.

In the excerpt I have chosen, Elly is in hospital suffering from injuries at her husband’s hands. Jerry has stayed by her side the whole time, and has finally convinced Elly to open up to him about what happened. (Muffin is Elly’s beloved dog.)

                His throat tight, Jerry asked, “Did he relent?”
                She let out a slight snorting sound through her nose. “Of course not. However, when he accused me of neglecting my duties to him, I got a little huffy. He didn’t care for my tone. Realizing my temper was plunging me into more trouble, I agreed he was right. Since I was being disrespectful, I said I’d go upstairs and collect the rest of the laundry. Except my admission wasn’t good enough. He ordered me to apologize, fetch a wooden spoon and meet him in the living room. I was too sore to even consider another punishment, so I told him to go to hell and tried to walk past him. I forgot I still held Muffin.”
                “She bit him?”
                Elly nodded slowly.
                “Good for her.”
“Unfortunately, it didn’t end well for either of us. Muffin kept barking and nipping at him to pull his attention off me. Finally, he kicked her. Furious at him for hurting my baby, I fought back by kicking and scratching. When he backhanded me to the floor, I hit the coffee table, and Muffin attacked again. I think he was attempting to kick her, but he got me three times before he caught her with his shoe and sent her flying into the next room. She started screaming, Jerry. I’ve never heard her cry out like that before.”         Seeing the tears course down her cheeks, Jerry reached for her hand. “Muffin’s fine now, Elly. She’ll recover without any problems. Tell me what Arthur did next.”
                “He yelled at me for making him lose his temper, stormed out of the house and went to work.”                “Then you carried Muffin to my clinic, right?”
                She nodded and wiped at her tears. He took the tissue from her and blotted away the salty proof of her unhappiness as he murmured reassurances.
                “You’re safe now, sweetheart. I’ll do everything I can to protect you. I also want you to know I think you were extremely brave to do what you did. And though I regret you didn’t call me Thursday night, I am very pleased you came to me Friday morning and allowed me to take care of
                “I feel so guilty.”
                “You shouldn’t, but I suspect such platitudes are easier to say than follow sometimes.”
                She met Jerry’s gaze. “Dr. Pendergast said Arthur’s been trying to see me here at the hospital.”               “He has.”
                “Did you ask the staff to keep him away?”
                “I did. He called me Saturday night.”
                Her eyes grew wide. “He did? Why didn’t you tell me? What did he say? Is he angry with me?”
                “Whoa. First, the man has no right to be angry with you about anything. Got that?”
                She blinked, and then nodded.
                “Second, I didn’t tell you because you’ve had enough to worry about. Good lord woman, you were still in the ICU Sunday morning.”

Though Arthur and Eleanor Benson have been practicing domestic discipline for three months since their wedding, he insists moving to Corbin's Bend, where domestic discipline is the norm rather than the exception, will revitalize their marriage. Elly has doubts, but since Arthur is the undisputed head of their household, they move. However, once Arthur becomes immersed in a community where spanking is not only permitted, but encouraged, his personality undergoes a dramatic change. Accusing his submissive wife of being lazy, disorganized and disobedient, he employs creative methods of pain and humiliation to mold Elly from the imperfect woman he married into the perfect woman he desires. And Elly finds herself a virtual prisoner in her own home, accountable only to the man who rules her life with a cane. 

In his years as a vet, Jerry Douglas has seen what abuse does to animals, and he recognizes those same signs in Elly Benson during her daily escape to the dog park with her tiny poodle. Jerry steadfastly supports the tenets of domestic discipline and enjoys the freedom Corbin's Bend offers its residents, but he remains fiercely protective of anyone in need of a champion. And when he witnesses evidence of harsh handling, his instinct is to rush in and rescue. Problem is Elly Benson is a married and consenting adult who insists all her bruises and welts are nothing more than a simple misunderstanding between her and her husband, until the day Arthur Benson takes his authority and discipline one-step too far, endangering Elly's life.
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  1. I loved this book and agree that Kathryn did a really terrific job tackling a very delicate subject.

    Where do I draw the line between discipline and abuse? In Arthur's case it was pretty obvious but in real life, I am happy (and lucky) to say I have no experience with abuse. I have this idea that to practice DD, you have to have two very healthy people, mentally healthy I mean. I'm thinking about your question and the answer that comes to me right now is when the submissive partner is afraid of her husband or his punishments, it might have crossed a line? I'm curious what others think of this.

    #2 is a tough one. I hope I would push to help.

    #3 As far as Brent, it's strange, I have a totally different visual of him in the books I read that are not his original story (Thianna's first one). In his own book, I really liked him, but in the others, he can be a little intimidating.

    #4 too is difficult. OK, but this is a difficult subject... I wasn't sure how Kathryn was going to handle this. In a way, I think Elly needed the DD because coming out of her relationship with Arthur, I felt like she still needed parameters but that she would also need a hell of a lot of time to trust someone enough to allow them the authority to decide when to and then to actually spank her.

    Thanks for hosting Tara and thanks for writing the book, Kathryn. It took courage to take on the topic.

    1. I like that the other characters see Brent as being a bit more intimidating than he actually is. LOL Does that sound funny?

      He is pure alpha male, but has a soft side as well which he shows clearly to Char.

      But among others he can be rather intimidating.

    2. Some great answers Natasha.

      I agree it could be very hard in some cases to draw the line between discipline and abuse.

      Yes, poor Brent does get to be the bad guy a bit. But I love Thianna's take on that. When you are a leader, elder, states-person or in any responsibility, often it is only the tougher exterior that goes on display to the outside world. Sometimes that is simply the way it has to be. You know what they say - it can be lonely at the top :)

  2. I still need to read this book. I'd been looking forward to it for a long time because of the subject matter, but got snowed under. I'm moving it up the priority list!

    1. I hope things are soon little less snowed under for you, Cara. I almost envy you still having this to look forward to though.

  3. Tara, thanks so much for leading the discussion. I'm going to wait to give my replies, but I appreciate everyone who stops by and leaves a comment. This book had a lot of challenges, but almost everyone who's commented or left a review understood exactly what I was trying to achieve. Thanks again.

    1. My pleasure Kathryn. It was such a great read, one of those books that really make you think outside the box a bit. Thank you for challenging me in my thinking.

  4. Great questions

    1. How or where would you draw the line between discipline and abuse?

    I think that line becomes wavy. One could say 'if it's consensual' but at the moment of discipline, consent is one of those terms that is hard to quantify. To me, it comes down to - how do you feel afterward? I'm not talking about the stinging rear end. Inside. Do you feel better or worse? To me that is usually pretty telling. If you feel better, it's not abuse. If you feel worse, why? Think about it.

    2. What do you think you would do if you suspected someone you cared for was in that situation, and how far do you think you would push it if they remained in denial?

    That is so difficult. To be bluntly honest, if a person IS being abused, you can't really do anything but be supportive and try to help. But if they aren't ready to be helped, there is NOTHING you can do. A friend of mine went through an intervention. Her family literally went and kidnapped her & her kids from her abusive husband's home. As soon as they weren't looking, she went right back to him.

    3. How did you feel about Brent’s response to the situation?

    Brent was caught between a rock and a hard place. Legally he was under certain rules. Plus, in many alternative communities, the term abuse is one of the worst words out there. Given what 'we' do as a community, he had to walk that line.

    4. Do you think if you were in Elly’s shoes could have been able to trust anyone else to spank you again, even someone as kind and gentle as Jerry is?

    Having 'been there' I find that handing over that control and submitting to discipline actually made me feel empowered at the beginning. Now it just makes me feel good because it is part of who I am. I don't know that I could have done it that fast, but then again, my life isn't a fiction novel that needs to end at some point :)

    1. Thanks for joining Thianna.
      I totally agree from experience, that you can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped - even if they leave voluntarily, unless they are totally committed to staying away. Sometimes all you can do is be there for them to vent, encourage them and pray.
      I appreciate Brent was caught between a rock and a hard place - CB was supposed to be a safe haven for spankos - if he went to the authorities without damn good reason, and it had been a false alarm, the community members wouldn't have been one bit impressed as it would have been totally contrary to the ethos of the community. It would be a tough call.

  5. I loved this book. For one, I am and always have been a sucker for stories that tackle the difference between discipline and abuse. It's a tough subject, but one I've always been fascinated with. This book handles it extremely well.

    I have to agree with Thianna about where you draw the line and how you know the difference. DD ultimately should be about bettering either yourself or the relationship. It's not about making someone into someone else's image of them, like Arthur was trying to do. Anything that is doing actual harm is not okay. There is a huge difference between hurt and harm. Sure, sometimes a spanking hurts, but it should never do harm. Abuse does harm.

    I also totally agree, from experience, with what everyone has said that you can't help someone that doesn't want to be helped. Sometimes, all you can do is pray and be there to pick up the pieces, as hard as that is in the moment.

    As hard as it must have been to do it, I think it was essential that Jerry and Elly get back into DD, albeit gently and slowly. For some of us, and I really think these two characters qualify, we have a hard wired need for it, and it's that need is not going to go away, negative experiences notwithstanding. Shying away from it would only mean Elly lived in fear and was never able to fulfill that part of herself, and that's no way to live.

  6. Ooh, I really like everyone's reply. I totally agree with Thianna's definition regarding abuse and DD, and it's what Jerry tried to show Elly. After a spanking she should feel emotionally better, relieved, not worse. Never worse.

    And I agree that you can't help someone who is being abused until they're ready for help, and that's why Jerry had to push Elly into telling him what happened to her so she could realize what Arthur did was wrong and unless she was willing to sever the relationship with her husband, they wouldn't be able to have a relationship together.

    I also agree that Elly accepted Jerry's discipline far sooner than a person would in real life. I did try to motivate her reasons and show that even if she didn't want a spanking from him, she realized she probably needed one and she did feel loads better afterwards, which is always how it should be.

    Tara, thank you so much for such great questions and making us think, and I really appreciate everyone's feedback.


I love getting feedback. Thank you for taking the time to comment!