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Hiatus How To: When, how & why to take a break from NSFW Twitter

(CW for discussion of mental health, depression, addiction, abuse, trauma, and anxiety.)

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To go on hiatus is to take a break, or to pause something that has been ongoing.

The first time I went on hiatus in an online kink community, I had a full-on hot mess breakdown. I didn’t know what “hiatus” even meant. I was terrified it would be forever, and I didn’t even know how to reassure myself, let alone the people around me. It was 2016 and I was still new to size kink as a shared experience instead of a shameful secret. I’ve come a long way. I’ve made mistakes and learned a lot. That seems worth sharing.

What this won’t be:

This won’t be an official guide. It won’t be an argument for or against leaving a community temporarily or forever, because only you can know what you need. I won’t talk about what it’s like to go on hiatus when you depend on NSFW Twitter to make money from art, writing, or sex work, because I don’t have personal experience with that yet. (If anyone does, and wants to share some advice, I’ll gladly consider quoting you!)

I also won’t pretend to understand you, your situation, or how you feel about your body or mental health. Some of my advice will be a good fit for you, and some of it you can leave. I’m not a mental health professional, and strongly recommend you consider talking with a counselor or therapist if you even halfway think you might want to try that. (Jump to the end for a list of kink-friendly therapy databases where you can look for sliding-scale and low-cost options.)

What this will be:

Hopefully, this will be a useful collection of my thoughts on my own hiatus process that I’ve developed after years of trial and error and watching friends go through the same. Some come back to the community and some don’t. Some hiatuses are scary. Some are a huge relief.

I’m writing this to you, and to the person I was during my first panicked hiatus. And to the less-than-supportive friend I have been to others going on hiatus. I’ll draw from examples in the size kink / #SizeTwitter community, but I think much of this will be relevant to NSFW Twitter or other online kink spaces in general.

I’m writing to share some questions that you might not have considered, and to point you towards some resources, and to just show that it’s okay to need a break—even from something you love.

Embracing My Inner Size Slut

I wrote this while releasing my story “Woman, in Ecstasy,” and it was so fascinating to explore that I realized it needed its own space to grow. Updated in January 2023 with more research.

(This blog post contains discussion of agency, bodily autonomy; nonconsensual themes in size play, hypnosis, mind control and bimbofication; discussion of research on sexual fantasies around forced sex; mentions of trauma and resources for survivors of sexual assault.)

Why am I writing a story about a woman losing her agency? Why am I releasing it right now, as American women are grieving the overturn of Roe v. Wade?

The short answer is that I began writing this back in April, and it’s done, and I want to share it.

The long answer? My body responds to fantasies about giving up control, especially when I’m stressed. I’m far from alone in this. Many people have fantasies about someone forcing them to do the sexy things they find most arousing. My first kink-informed therapist told me that she believed “it’s a way to give ourselves permission to explore pleasures that society tells us are taboo.”

For example, up until recently I was too ashamed of my bimbofication kink to speak openly about it or write stories featuring it as a topic. So much of my identity is wrapped up in being intelligent, competent, and a good communicator—both verbally and in writing. I was afraid what it said about me that sometimes I want to be a carefree, cheerfully vapid slut. Even though I know feminism is about having choices, part of me felt guilty for playing this way. Could I be a good feminist while still making this particular choice? (Yes.)

A fantasy where I become the carefree slut deliberately, on my own, is harder. It’s heavy lifting, mentally, emotionally, and it’s going to take more effort to wade through my discomfort with that taboo. On the flip side, a fantasy where someone takes that choice away from me and forces me to become that version of myself? It’s as easy as handing the keys to the designated driver. I can slide right into that mindset, I can skip the shame and the stress and feel like I have permission to accept all the pleasure.

In recent months, I’ve been stressing a lot about bodily autonomy. Sometimes we want to avoid stressful topics when we explore erotic things. Other times, it feels really good to use stressful topics in erotic ways, to process our feelings and reclaim a sense of agency.

True, it’s ironic I’m reaffirming my agency by writing a story eroticizing a loss of control and bodily autonomy… but it’s still my choice. I wrote this story on my terms, to explore these themes in ways that feel really good to me. (Literally, each time I had to make a decision about where to take the story, I chose the option that turned my body on the most.) I’m releasing the story now in the hopes that if someone else out there needs to process stress in this way too, it’s here.

On a personal level, I’m releasing it now because I genuinely need it now. I’ve been struggling with boundaries and giving myself permission to rest. It wasn’t until this week that I realized I wrote a story focusing on the fantasy of someone taking away my shaky boundaries and imposing new ones: permission to have sex and rest from my anxious thoughts. Even just typing that sentence makes me want to sigh with relief. Fuck, just take me now!

The more stressful my career has become, the deeper my burnout in the nonprofit field, the more power these mind control and bimbo fantasies hold for me. When a lot of heavy things are on my sexual brakes, it’s hard to feel sexy no matter how much I press that accelerator. I’ve discovered that when I try a mind control fantasy, that someone is forcing me to become aroused, it’s a fantastic workaround. Examples might be shrinking or growing potions with aphrodisia as a side effect, or a remote control with buttons to increase arousal. For me, for most of the time, it works like a charm. Instant slut! I can set the stress aside. (Oh honey, sex toys don’t worry about all those things. Let the big people handle that. You just focus on shrinking and being sexy, okay?)

I began experimenting with hypnosis as a kink to help myself sink into that slutty, happy bimbo mindset, to lay down my mental load, and to carve out a little breathing room of peaceful pleasure. It worked partly because I was giving up control to someone else: the hypnokink Domme, a partner I trust, or characters I imagined in my fantasies. Usually someone bigger.

Giant/tiny fantasies almost always have to address the topic of control. Many people are drawn to the idea of a larger person making the decisions and having the power to do whatever they want (it just so happens that in our fantasies the Giant can magically know every nuance of just how we like it). Tinies are often depicted as helpless and have their abilities and bodily autonomy challenged.

In consensual sizeplay fantasies, the topic of control is usually addressed by demonstrating trust, communication, and a caring relationship where the Giant could take full control, but chooses to share it with the tiny in some way. (Examples: a Giant asking the tiny what they want, or a Giant taking care of a tiny by forcing them to rest and snuggle with them, but who stops when the tiny asks to stop.) This is a pretty good model for healthy relationships in general, and it’s what I practice in real life with my own partners.

In nonconsensual sizeplay fantasies, control is usually addressed by bullying, coercion, and denial of a person’s ability to make choices, sometimes through objectification (treating someone like a toy or pet… or a work of art). Dubcon (dubious consent) fantasies are a way to try and have it both ways, by stepping into the gray area of unclear communication, or a tiny who resists but seems to enjoy it, without ever clearly saying yes or no.

If you get turned on by these things too, and you also have had a crisis of identity, faith, or basic humanity about it… you’re not alone.

The Netflix documentary Sex Explained, narrated by the ever-amazing Janelle Monáe, covers the work of sex researcher Justin Lehmiller. A fellow of the Kinsey Institute, in 2018 Lehmiller surveyed almost 4200 Americans from all 50 states, “ranging in age from 18 to 87, ranging all different gender identities, sexual orientations, demographic and political backgrounds,” and asked them hundreds of questions.

His research showed that most people have fantasies: 97% had imagined an arousing sexual scenario. Fantasies fell into three broad genres: group sex, novelty, and power/control fantasies, with 27% of people rating power/control as their favorite kind of fantasy.

  • 79% of people had a bondage fantasy (restraining someone or being restrained)
  • 57% of people had a discipline fantasy (giving or following orders)
  • 73% of people had fantasies about pain (inflicting or receiving it)

Here’s the statistic I find most fascinating:

  • 54% of men, 61% of women, and 68% of nonbinary people had fantasized about being forced to have sex

If you have nonconsensual fantasies, you are not alone. 

The documentary mentions that “a 1987 survey of historical American romance novels, which are written and read mostly by women, found that more than half featured the rape of the lead female character.” The documentary then speculated that this was a way for American culture of the time to go about “absolving the heroine from the moral slur of consenting to have sexual intercourse before marriage,” according to one researcher.

So, where do we draw the line between contributing to rape culture and exploring our very common forced-sex fantasies? I believe the key is making it clear what is fantasy, and what is and is not acceptable in real life. I can’t imagine any of those romance novels offered any introduction with a discussion of consent, or what a reader should do if they found these themes appearing in their own lives.

Some years ago I worked at a nonprofit helping survivors of abuse and sexual assault. I learned a great deal about the complexity of these issues and how to fight to build a culture of consent. I also learned a lot about myself. I had a crisis about what it meant that my body responded to nonconsensual erotic fantasies. Finding my first kink-informed therapist made all the difference in the world.

I’ve written about this elsewhere, but it’s worth repeating what I learned from her:

Having fantasies where sex acts are forced on you or others does not mean you want to act on them in real life, or that you do not understand trauma or lack compassion for survivors of violence. It means your body responds to a fantasy, and you get to decide what you want to do with that information. We are not our thoughts, and we are not our fantasies. Some survivors find healing and liberation through exploration of noncon fantasies, and that’s okay. Some never want to interact with these themes again, and that’s okay too. As long as every real person involved in your fantasy play (such as you reading my story online) is a fully informed consenting adult, then the act you are participating in is inherently consensual.

A fantasy that I have for myself, or that I share with my consenting partner, is inherently consensual. That’s true even if the topic of the fantasy is pretending that I’m being forced against my will. If I fantasize that a Giant picks me up and shoves me in her panties without asking first, I am consenting to my own fantasy. If I explain my fantasy and ask my partner to roleplay that with me and they say yes, they are consenting to my fantasy. All the real people involved are able to say no and stop the fantasy at any point.

As a writer, I make sure to include content tags at the beginnings of my stories and fantasies so people can opt in or out with informed consent. I also make a practice of sharing resources for survivors whenever I publish noncon stories. Feel free to copy and adapt them as needed:

Beyond the realm of fantasy, I do not condone sex acts without consent. Erotic fantasy play between two individuals in reality in person and online should always include negotiation, fully informed consent, and protections such as content tags, safewords, aftercare, and emergency planning.

If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual harassment, trauma, abuse, or assault, I strongly suggest seeking advice and counseling from trained professionals. These are usually free and confidential. Some organizations that offer free resources are: RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) hotline at 800-656-HOPE; National Sexual Violence Resource Center to search for local help; Trans Lifeline Crisis Hotline by and for the transgender community at 877-565-8860; National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.

We really need to take care of each other and ourselves right now. Be gentle with yourself. Set boundaries. Give yourself permission to “be lazy” if that’s what your brain and body need. Figure out how your body in particular asks you for different kinds of rest, like mental downtime or peace and quiet. Find ways to listen. If your brain and body don’t feel good about reading “Woman in Ecstasy” right now—if “all parts of yourself don’t consent to exploring this today” like my EMDR therapist would put it—then it’s okay to say no. You can come back later and see if your brain and body give you a different answer on a different day. It’s okay if it stays a no.

The most important thing is to listen to your body and decide what’s right for you. After all, no matter how much we fantasize otherwise, you’re the only one who can decide what’s right for you.

And, as always, my gratitude to everyone else out there living your best slutty kink lives. You have no idea how much you help other folks. Keep being yourselves.