Author: SilverOz ©
With Permission: © COPYRIGHT Zebee Johnstone - all rights reserved.
I wrote this after talking to people who had been in abusive or otherwise bad BDSM relationships, and I'd been in one that while not abusive was a severe mismatch.
Thing we noticed was that it took us a while to realise that what was going on was *not* normal, and we none of us could cope with others telling us "that person's abusing you".
For some bad relationships, "abuse" is too strong a word, but that doesn't mean that people shouldn't be out of them, and this piece may help such people come to that conclusion.
This is my take on it... As always, this is my own opinion, comments welcome.
One of the problems that pretty well any person interested in BDSM comes across soner or later is "When is it BDSM and when is it abuse?"
Most of us have a gut feeling about that but, BDSM being what it is, you may find your gut feeling and mine are not even close.
There is sometimes a confusion between personal limits "No way would I do that!" and objective limits "No way should anyone do that!".
So... somehow we need to find an answer to "when is it abuse?" an answer that can be used for all kinks and types of play.
Problem is that there are so many different kinks and level of play that coming up with objective limits is hard. Yeah, you can say "no amputations" but face it... plenty of people are being abused every day and not losing limbs or being killed. You can go on about standards at playparties and miss the interactions elsewhere. You can focus on physical damage and miss emotional abuse.
Remember also that tops can be abused too. They can be pressured into doing things they don't want to do, manipulated, made to feel guilty, not get what they need from the relationship... We usually focus on the sub because the top is seen as less vulnerable, but subs can be manipulative leeches, and tops can be prisoners of their role. So how to tell it's abuse?
And once you have decided there is abuse, what next? I think that you can't do anything but help the person involved think about their situation, and offer them help to get out or solve it if they decide they need such help. You can't "rescue" them, you can only offer them the means to rescue themselves and support when they are ready to do it. There are three main areas to think about:
What is abuse in a BDSM context? I offer these possible guidelines. In no particular order. I'm not really talking about one-off meetings, but about relationships.
Is your play Safe, Sane, and Consensual?
2) Is your
play informed by Trust, Care, and Respect?
the good outweigh the bad?
you getting your needs met?
It's tricky. The person will likely not believe there is a problem. They may be quite happy, just playing at a level or with a kink you are not comfortable with. They may be convinced that they are "supposed" to feel that way cos slaves have no rights, or they may feel that they are a dom, and masters are always in control so they can't admit to feeling bad. Or they may be unwilling to face the idea that what was good is now bad for whatever reason.
This is especially difficult when someone is in a deep Dominance and Submission relationship. Many feel that because they have "accepted a collar" they have to take what comes, they have given consent in the beginning and everything else is just their lot, they must keep their word to keep their self-respect. Even if they are unhappy, they may find it impossible to deal with the idea of breaking that bond. They aren't being stupid or suicidal, they have a very real and difficult problem. Here are some ideas....
negative about either partner. Don't say the person *or* their behaviour
is bad. You might think it is so, but attacking in that way is no way
to get someone listening to you
I don't think a simple denial is useful. You won't convince them, you'll just make them think that you are not thinking properly.
Nor is it right to jump on them from a great height and tell them they are idiots for even thinking such things. They aren't idiots, they are just not fully informed. They want the best for you, so accept their concern.
Best bet is to show them where you fit in the abuse pointers above. If they think the play is risky, tell them what risks you see and how they were minimised. If they worry about whether you are getting your needs met, then reassure them by telling them about some. If they seem to have a feeling that your partner is a bit deficient in trust, caring, and respect, then give them some examples that show the solid basis you have.
And you never know.... you might then find that things are not as good as you thought. Which then gives you the opportunity to repair your relationship before it goes bad. Or get out if you suddenly realise your concerned friend was right.