This weekend I have been invited to speak at Oz Kink Fest on the topic of kidnapping. Adult kidnapping as adrenaline experience enacting fantasy, I should clarify.
It's a subject I know intimately from the Game of Gambol, a secretive live action roleplay game, which integrates in and around (and with some respect for and consideration to) their "real lives".
So why would anyone want to be kidnapped?, some might ask.
There are several elements to it. For one, it's similar to any kind of adrenaline experience that people pay money to go through, just a little less mainstream. We don't bat an eyelid from people choosing to go on roller-coasters, or sky-diving. We know the popularity of horror and thriller movies. So on one level, kidnapping is a step-up in intensity of adrenaline experience.
In London, there are various experiences such as Escape Rooms, based at London Bridge and Angel, which is based on the Japanese Tagakism. ClueQuest (which has 9 escape rooms, and can accommodate 54 people), Archimdedes Inspiration, Escape London, Enigma Escape, and many more. These games are based on the notion of being locked in a room, invoking some adrenaline and fear, you are to find clues and solve puzzles, in order to escape within a set time window of usually 1 hour. Most are designed so that you succeed in finding the clues, solving the puzzles, escaping, and experience the rush of relief in release, and victory.
However comparatively, kidnapping varies in several senses. There is much more unknown. You don't escape, but rather are "released", and experience a far higher degree of vulnerability, entrapment and posited danger. You are taken-down by your kidnapper, overpowered, tied up or otherwise restrained, and held. Held physically and psychologically. You are not in a reassuringly controlled environment, subject to reasonable expectations on how things will operate and socially acceptable bounds of behaviour. Rather you are pulled away from security, from the safe law-abiding world you inhabit. You are taken away, into the unknown, at the mercy of and reliance upon your captor.
One of the well-known psychological aspects of kidnapping is what's known as Stockholm Syndrome - in which the captive forms a close bond with their abductor. This is absolutely an aspect of the kidnapping experience, and so closely overlaps the feelings which a submissive has towards a Dominatrix from BDSM session.
One of the most famous kidnapping bloggers, appropriately self-named as 'Mr Stockholm' writes:
"When a captive experiences unexpected kindness from their captor, an emotional bond can form. The result of this can range from a feeling of empathy to outright conversion to the captor's cause, but the chemistry is clear: being kidnapped can make you fall in love with your captor. The risks are palpable. If you now throw into the mix the tantalising possibility of being kidnapped by beautiful and powerful women as part of a fantasy that you've had a hand in creating then perhaps you can finally see the allure of abduction."
Thinking through the kidnapping experience, there is the risk-taking aspect to it, or as one participant describes - the insanity of it. In the sense that your are investing - paying - to be put into a situation of ultimate risk. Your body, well-being, and in the greatest extreme - your life - is in the hands of your captor.
The anticipation is enormous. The what, when, how...? There are various types of consensual kidnapping. In some, you go to a particular location at a particular time, where you are to be kidnapped from, but you don't know the how. In some, you know the broad timeframe and day, but not the exact location or time. At the most extreme end, is a kidnap in which you don't know when or where you will be kidnapped, having given all choice over to your kidnapper (who may for example have been given access to your diary and understand limitations around your work and family and so forth). Mr Stockholm describes these as static, semi-static and fluid kidnaps.
Alongside the enjoyment of fear, danger and thrill, there is something else, dangling at its depths. I was pondering this today, thinking more of the psychologies of the people who have come to me - seeking out such experiences.
I don't know that I have got it entirely succinct, but it is the pleasure of escape from one's "real" life. The purported force provides the excuse, the alibi. "I was kidnapped. This was done to me."
The kidnapping opens up a kind of parallel universe, one in which the victim is taken away from their life of responsibilities, their work pressures, their family life, the person they have to be - provider, professional role, family man - by obligation and expectation to everyone else. To be "taken away" is to be removed from all that responsibility, from the mundane everyday role.
There is too an aspect of being chosen, as select prey. In being wanted by the kidnapper, being subject to the beam of their gaze, their study and attentions. In order to kidnap you and hold you, your abductor inevitably inspects you, explores your sensitivities and psyche, your reactions.
The huntress plays with her prey, as a cat with her caught mouse.
Assuming the abductor is also a Dominatrix, skilled in the psychosexual realm, there is also an erotic frisson to the fear. She has the skills to adeptly torture, torment, tease, toy with her victim. To penetrate your mind - or indeed your body, by peg or point, to violate your normal boundaries of self in the context of a (consensual) adult kidnapping.
It is no surprise to me that alien kidnappings so often involve stories of being taken, up into a spaceship that represents a different (alien) world, and experiments which often involve anal probing or other such activities (which belong commonly in a Dominatrix's realm).
Forbidden pleasures (such as anal probing) are given excuse and raison d'etre (reason for being) by the kidnapping scenario. You were probed at the will of another.
And interestingly, it's also under the spell of another. For the psychology of subject and victim has them often go along with the will of their abductor as if in a magical spell, or a stupor of submission.
In consensual adult BDSM kidnappings, the abductee is given reason, excuse, to go along with will of his kidnapper. He experiences a break from his "real life" with erotic possibilities mingled with fear of the painful possibilities also. Can he withstand her treatment? What will she do with him? The experience is also very much one of psychological play and exchange, for in and through the experience, he learns more about himself, observed and tested and reflected through the eyes of another, whose attention and concentration is on him. The abductee also learns about his kidnapper, through her methodology of capture and treatment, the flavour of any questioning and interrogation, the activities they lead - which expose something of their motivations, give insight into her ideas and ideals. The kidnapper reveals part of themselves through their words and will. And the abductee studies these closely, for the risk posed to them, their safety and wellbeing are in the hands of their abductor. Understanding their kidnapper is the best shot they have at aiding their own security and being able to affect somehow their treatment and release. Kidnapping is in this way an intimate experience.
After the initial fear, anticipation and adrenaline rush, there is typically a reassuring safety in being held, by one who the consensual abductee has put his life over to in trust. This is I think one of the key differentiations of fantasy consensual abduction, is that the captor has wanted to be captured, to be taken away. He knows the stay will come to an end at some point, and he will return to his everyday life. But in the meantime he enjoys being held by her.
There is indeed something romantic about the scenario. As an archaeology major, I think of the story of Odysseus and Circe. She as a goddess, sorceress and enchantress. Living on an island - Aiolos - in a large house in a clearing of dense wood. The location is away from, separate and distant from the captive crew's home and their everyday lives. Her role is different from everyday women; she is magical, can make fierce animals docile, and turn men into swine through her sorcery. On the other hand, she is a weaver and a nurturer. Odysseus and crew are set free once she falls in love with Odysseus, but stay on her island for a year, feasting and drinking wine. She gives sound advice for the next part of his journey, which will end with him returning home, to his faithful wife.
Émile Lévy Circé (1889)
The role is in many ways akin to the Dominatrix, who herself is a kind of sorceress of the psycho-sexual realm. Arranging a kidnapping with a Dominatrix combines elements of fear, the unknown, of putting oneself in the hands of a powerful attractive woman, being held for a period by her, but ultimately being released and freed to return home. The period of take-down and captivity lingers on in the mind, is replayed and revisited in fantasy, and remains a ripe parallel universe. A portal in which one could have stayed, continued living with their captor, and maybe they even long for that on some level.
However the experience is something like the experience of a new place on holiday, and the come-down after as the person returns to earth with something of a thud.
Through the kidnapping experience the abductee briefly and for a period lives out a new identity, away from their everyday life. They are studied with intensity and probed by new eyes, seeing themselves in a new way, and gaining the intimacy of a new bond and relationship with their attractive captor - who has explored the responses of their body and mind, and knows them in some ways better than those closest to them.
The kidnappping experience is a victory of escape not from the claustrophobic locked room of Escape Room scenarios, but rather the claustrophobic room of real-life - that has felt locked and inescapable.
"Take me away, forcibly", is the request of the consensual abductee.
"With pleasure", is the answer of the Dominatrix abductor.