Pictures and stories from of a real life 24.7 D/s couple. Richard and Amy explore bdsm, daily life, and each other, from both sides of the relationship.

Add to Technorati Favorites

November 18, 2007

BDSM or abuse?

Filed under: D/s, BDSM, Daily Life — Amy @ 8:02 am


A lot has been written making the distinction between BDSM and abuse, but a couple of recent posts I’ve seen whilst blog-hopping have made me want to add my two cents.

I’ll begin with the proviso that I don’t think there is any way to know for sure whether or not a relationship is abusive just from reading someone’s blog posts. Maybe they are leaving out crucial details, maybe they are exaggerating or under-reporting to make a better story (even unconsciously). One of the best things about blogs in which both partners write (like ours) is that you get a real sense of how two people can see the same situation quite differently. I’m still often surprised by Richard’s very different take on something we have done together.

Vanilla people have occasionally wandered onto our blog and been alarmed by a post in which I talk about Richard controlling me or hurting me. I think there are two main reasons that I can say with assurance that I am not being abused.

1. Consent. I have given my consent for Richard to make all decisions in our relationship. I can take away this consent at any time. Of course, that could well be a relationship-ending decision, just as making the decision to have multiple sexual partners or a same-sex partner could be a marriage-ending decision (although it needn’t be).

Richard does what he wants to me, whenever and wherever he wants. But it’s not rape and it’s not coercion because I have given a global consent, if you will, to whatever he chooses. BDSM folks refer to this as “consensual non-consent”.

The reason that I am able to comfortably give this consent to Richard, to give total power to him (Total Power Exchange = TPE, another BDSM term) is because I trust him absolutely. I trust him not to harm me, and I trust him to care for me, better even than I would care for myself. This brings me to the second reason I am sure that I am not being abused.

2. Self-esteem. I feel good about myself, I like myself, I feel sexier than I have felt in my whole life, and healthier and happier. Some of our play involves Richard humiliating or degrading me (”You are such a dirty little slut. What kind of girl gets fucked in the ass and then begs to cum? What kind of girl gets wet from being face-fucked? I have never met such a little whore in my entire life.”) After that kind of play, I feel very submissive and clingy (in a hot, sexy way) for a while, but I don’t feel bad about myself.

I have been in some less-than-healthy relationships in my past, all vanilla. I honestly think it was because I was *looking* for a D/s relationship, but didn’t know it - didn’t even know what it was. So I was attracted to older men, bigger men, domineering men, controlling men, because the submissive in me was searching for a Dominant. But they are not the same thing (although unfortunately they can be packaged together). Those relationships bordered on abusive, my relationship with Richard does not.

So how do you know whether it’s BDSM or it’s abuse? I personally think it’s pretty straightforward. Ask yourself two questions.

1. Do I feel coerced or abused? You should not. If it’s D/s, you should feel that you are in the hands of someone who is calling the shots because you gave *consent* for them to call the shots. Sure, sometimes things happen you don’t like - you get spanked or pinched or told to do something you reallyreally don’t want to do. But you should always be able to discuss it. When Richard was talking about doing orgasm control, I had a very strong knee-jerk reaction based upon a looong history of being with men who couldn’t care less whether or not I got to cum. We talked about it and he decided it that it wasn’t a good idea for me at that time. On the flip side, he will occasionally slap me and I find it just.plain.hot. even though I have seen posts where people have argued that all slapping is abuse. If you’re not allowed to talk about it, if you’re told “suck it up” and dismissed, if you feel unheard, coerced, abused…then you probably are.

2. Do I feel good about myself? You should. Being able to be myself sexually has freed me in a way I could not have imagined. Since I have been in a 24/7 D/s relationship, I am more creative, more productive at work, more loving to friends and family, more content, less judgmental, I bake better bread (OK, maybe not the last, but I was starting to nauseate myself so I needed to make a joke). If you feel worthless or unattractive or stupid or weak, particularly after spending time with your partner…then that is not a good partner for you.

All relationships require work, so I’m not saying that if you have concerns about your relationship that you should immediately bail on it. But you should certainly be talking very seriously to your partner if you feel any of these things.

P.S. I am a big fan of “bibliotherapy”, and a great book for deciding whether or not you should be in a relationship is “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay” by Mira Kirshenbaum. It helped me get out of a really awful relationship. It is eye-opening - I highly recommend it. Here’s the link to her blog & info about the book:

Powered by WordPress