How to Apologise for a Consent Violation in Five Not-So-Easy Steps

Step One

There can be no meaningful statement of contrition if you think “sorry” *is* the apology. “Sorry” is for leaving the lid off the toothpaste. If you’ve violated consent, your remorse is supposed to be a marker for the meaningful change you’re about to achieve. Your community isn’t looking for someone who kind of sort of feels bad about it. They need to know that you’re going to stop harming people.

Step Two

If you don’t define your wrong accurately, we can conclude you’re not aware of your wrong and therefore can’t change it. If you inserted a knife into someone’s mouth without permission, don’t rephrase it so it sounds prettier than it really was, or you might as well not apologise at all.

Don’t rationalise it. That renders any hope of change moot.

Don’t minimise it. That tells us you don’t think you did much wrong.

Don’t justify it. If you do, we will know that you see no reason to change.


Step Three

Most consent violators follow with “yes, but.” Yes, but the bottom was supposed to… Yes, but the DM didn’t… Yes, but it wasn’t me. It was Miss Scarlet in the Library with a Candlestick.

You cannot blame others while simultaneously taking responsibility for a grave error that caused serious harm.

Step Four

At this point, you should already have asked how your bottom paid for your mess so that you can lift some of the burden from their shoulders. Were there medical bills? Then pay them. Was there unpaid sick leave? Offer to cover it. Did you cause losses for a for-profit event? How much?

Step Five

You cannot dictate how those you’ve harmed should behave now that you’ve spent 10 minutes typing a Fetlife post.

You do not get to decide if you should be allowed back at events.

You don’t get to tell the bottom you harmed that they should stop being angry now. Those emotions are part of healing.

You’re not entitled to a damn thing from them, but they’re certainly entitled to their feelings.

I can hear the “buts” rolling into this post already. But “sorry” should be enough. But I shouldn’t have to put my dignity away. But you should forgive me. But everyone fucks up.

But you are the one looking to glue back the shattered vase you dropped, and “sorry” won’t achieve it. Only making sure you do everything necessary to help your bottom to recover in every way will amend this. If you don’t want to fix it, then you shouldn’t be apologising.

But I guess then you might have to deal with the consequences of your actions, wouldn’t you? And maybe that, right there, is why you’re bothering with this apology in the first place: not to heal your bottom, but to regain your social freedom. Yeah. That’s not amends. It’s manipulation



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