Abuse vs BDSM – an uncomfortable subject


I’ve noticed that most lifestylers do not address that topic, they rather talk about Master vs Dom or slave vs submissive (just my observation)

Why is that? Does this subject hit too close to home? uncomfortable to talk about?

I think people should speak up and talk about it. Awareness is the key to solve or reduce it. Silence is not the solution.

Thank you for bringing this up, @quietstormdom.  I agree that abuse is a *huge* problem in the BDSM community, and not discussed nearly enough – the elephant in the living room that everyone sees but no one wants to be the one to mention.

It is a shame that those who bring it up are ostracized and worse, because the problem is there on a huge scale, and ignoring it and sweeping it under the rug isn’t going to solve anything, whether we stick our heads in the sand as an entire “community” or we do so only about specific cases.

Just in the past 6-8 months or so, I’ve been stunned at the number of personal stories I’ve heard from my own friends, and read about here on Fetlife and elsewhere, not to mention my own experiences with two different abusive doms, one of them far worse than the other, and far and away worse than the one vanilla abuser I’d considered the worst for 20+ years.

Despite the studies that supposedly show that we have no higher incidence of abuse (or mental illness) in this “community” than exists in the vanilla world, it is becoming increasingly more clear to me that if that ever was true before, then it certainly does not appear to be the case any more.  Several of my friends who have been around a lot longer than I have estimate that 80-90% of the dominants have some kind of issue along these lines – at least of the “available” ones.  I completely agree with your summations, Dragonfly, at least until you and Domina went head to head here over the difference between consent and coercion, and whether or not abusers separate their victims from their support systems.  And Domina – and others – you are all also right on.

This “lifestyle” is a haven for these people, because it allows them a cover that is not only socially acceptable within this community for both D/s and SM, but actually applauded.  All too many of these people think that being a “heartless bastard” is what it means to be a dom – and they get away with it for all of the reasons Dragonfly and others have already mentioned.  This crap is *institutionalized* in the BDSM community – and once you get some of the most dysfunctional people “leading” the community, then those issues only get perpetuated further and further.

I’m speaking primarily of male doms, as I don’t have any experience with femdommes.  But even at the lower end of that range, or even if you knock it down further, that’s still an astronomical rate of abuse.

This is such a big issue that I’ve started compiling a list of abuse-related links on the topic so as to create a central repository.  There is an entire section that lists differences between consensual BDSM and abuse, and another devoted to abuse in general, among other things.  I will eventually expand the links listings to cover related topics such as narcissism, sexual addiction, and more, all of which commonly co-exist and form parts of the bases of abusive behavior.

I would also like to draw particular attention to an article entitled Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser.  This is unquestionably the best explanation I’ve ever come across for why people get into and get stuck in these abusive relationships, why it’s not so easy to “just leave”, why they won’t press charges even if they’re the ones who called the police, and why the sort of consent that Domina rightly calls coercion is just exactly that.

Please note that both this article and a number of others I’ve linked to were in fact written by physicians or therapists of one sort or another.

But I will tell you that like Domina and myself, anyone who has lived through one or more of these relationships and managed to heal from them will still know *far* more about the subject than the average bear – and indeed far more than many physicians or therapists will.  The school of hard knocks teaches well…

Isolating a partner from family and friends doesn’t always happen, nor do any of the other classic signs always all happen, or at least they may not be so overtly obvious, at least not initially.  That’s well known to be one of *the* most common tactics abusers use, though, whether it’s overtly obvious or more subtle.  It doesn’t have to be in the form of barring the door or locking the sub up in the basement and tearing out the phone lines; it can happen much more gradually until little by little, smaller events add up until the entrapment becomes complete for many.

The more wily and manipulative abusers often actually find a way to get the victim to complete her own isolation and even to think it’s her own idea.  I’ve actually only just identified a couple of insidious variations on the theme that I myself was subjected to in one relationship, just now as I’m writing this..

In situations like this, you end up isolating your own self as you tread carefully on an ever-increasing pile of eggshells, trying to avoid incurring their wrath – and then they’re never satisfied anyways.  And then they can claim complete justification for what they did because of how they set it up, and say that they didn’t do anything to you.

Sometimes these kinds of things really don’t even become fully apparent for what they are until you look back on them with the 20/20 vision of hindsight and distance, with the full perspective of everything that happened in the relationship both before and since those particular events…

Not all abusers or abusive relationships will follow the exact same patterns, of course, but at core, what really separates abusive relationships from healthy D/s ones is true consent, and whether the dominant builds the sub up more vs tearing her down overall, to put it grossly simplistically.  Some of the articles I’ve linked to will shed much more specific light on the differences.

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To read more, go to the thread of this same name in the WIITWD – What It Is That We Do group on Fetlife.

This entry was posted in Abuse and BDSM, Fetlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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