Therapist analyses Armie cannibal claims
A relationship therapist has weighed in on the ongoing controversy surrounding alleged texts from Armie Hammer, saying it's possible he was discussing a "pure fantasy".
Hammer has come under intense global scrutiny in recent weeks after an anonymous woman claimed he sent her messages claiming he was "100% a cannibal" and wanted to "drink her blood".
The woman, who claims she had an affair with Hammer while he was married to Elizabeth Chambers, has also claimed Hammer wanted her to live in a cage to "serve" him.
Since the claims surfaced, other former girlfriends of the Call Me By Your Name star have come forward with similar accusations, including Courtney Vucekovich, who told Page Six he said he wanted to "barbecue and eat" her.
The actor has branded the allegations "bulls**t claims".
Samantha Forbes, a trauma therapy, relationships and sexual therapist who is familiar with BDSM relationships, told news.com.au the alleged texts sent by Hammer did cause some "concern", because the author of the texts seemed much more engaged in the conversations than his partners, who could have experienced them as threatening.
She said texts can be "pure fantasy" in certain contexts, but that cannibalism is not considered a "safe" BDSM practice.
"These texts are just excerpts," she explained.
"However, my concern is that he seems much more engaged in the chat than she does. She expresses some discomfort. He doesn't seem deterred by this."
She said issues can arise when consent hasn't been "previously negotiated" which leaves partners open to abuse.
TEXTS CAN BE 'PURE FANTASY'
Ms Forbes said there are circumstances where texts like those allegedly sent by Hammer could be exchanged in the context of "pure fantasy and metaphor with no intention to enact cannibalism or unsafe practices".
She said this can happen between two people after they carefully establish consent.
"There needs to be emotional attunement to the comfort and willingness of each other, and explicit checking out along the way," Ms Forbes said.
"And of course, the use of a 'safe word' which indicates play should stop or slow down or change direction.
DID ARMIE MAKE WOMEN UNCOMFORTABLE?
"I can only speculate that his suggestions created discomfort because the women have spoken out," Ms Forbes said.
"Sometimes, in both vanilla sex and BDSM play, it is difficult to assert clear boundaries when they are not fairly negotiated. Negotiation is a big part of the culture of BDSM.
"It is the dominant's responsibility to negotiate boundaries with subs to ensure consent - although everyone must ultimately take responsibility for themselves. Hence, the sub is ultimately in control of play," she explained.
Ms Forbes said people should focus on "why these texts have been revealed". She said the women involved were "best placed to tell us whether these interactions were Safe, Sane and Consensual or whether power has been abused".
'DESIGNED TO SHOCK'
Ms Forbes also explained that BDSM is often misunderstood and depicted in mainstream media in a way that's "designed to shock". She said depictions will "emphasise pain play, without including the intimacy and negotiation aspects of an interaction".
"It is regularly associated with torture-looking implements without recognition of the skill required to play safely. This gives the impression that anyone can do it without understanding the rules and potential risks. BDSM is also often mistakenly conflated with horror themes and people really getting hurt, which is how BDSM becomes misconstrued as violence.
"They are very different."
She said what usually attracted people to BDSM was the "emotional and psychological aspects". "There has actually been research by the International Society for Sexual Medicine that indicates people who participate in BDSM have better mental health than the general population and tend to be more satisfied with their sexual relationships," Ms Forbes said.
"Of course, there are always exceptions.
"But it is important to discriminate between BDSM and abuse/violence so that abusers cannot legitimise their abusive practices."
Originally published as Therapist analyses Armie cannibal claims