Abuse and Safety In BDSM

Author: Crimson Lord © 1999

used with author's permission




In any relationship these things can happen: Sexual, Physical, Emotional, Financial, Verbal and Mental ABUSE. Inside the home when someone tries to control you by bullying, bashing, threatening, name calling, harassing, frightening and isolating you, it is called DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. This behavior is not acceptable. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

Abusive relationships go through stages. There is a period where tension builds up. It's like walking on eggshells all the time. You are extremely careful to make everything right - but no matter what you do, the abuser still finds something to go off about. An abusive event happens. Then follows a period free of violence - the honeymoon phase. The abuser is sorry, making promises not to do it again, and maybe buying gifts for you. You become hopeful that this time the abuser really means it. However the tension starts to build again and the cycle gets repeated. We know that over time, the violence will get worse and the abuse will happen more often. The fairest way to stop the cycle and the abuse is for the abuser to change. But mostly the abused have to stop it by leaving the relationship.

So how can you tell if it is abuse?

If any of the following is happening, you are probably being abused.
1. You are scared or frightened...of someone who lives or has lived with you?
2. You are being put down by someone who says they "love" you?
3. Are you always being told you are stupid; that it's your fault; that if you had not done something, you wouldn't have been hit, that no one would be mad at you?
4. Do you feel you can't have your friends around because you're not sure how your partner will handle it, or because your partner embarrasses you?
5. Do you always feel tired, worn out and confused?
6. Is your partner sometimes nice for a while, then the tension and violence starts again?
7. Do you feel like you are living with a "Jekyll and Hyde" - one "face" for others and one for you?
8. Do you dream that your partner will soon die and it will all stop?
9. Are you no longer sure of what's going on in your life?
You don't need to experience all of these to be abused. If some of these things are happening - you are at risk. Go and talk to someone about it.

Remember everything we do in this lifestyle is CONSENSUAL; if it isn't CONSENSUAL on your part, it is ABUSE. Pure and simple, no grey areas, if something is happening which you have not given your consent, and doesn't stop when requested, it is ABUSE.

There is no divine Dominant's right, or, in some cases, submissive's right, to ABUSE. And the old "You aren't a good submissive if you don't...." , "You are a weak submissive if you....", "If you aren't a true submissive because...." DON'T APPLY.

When it comes to something which you don't feel comfortable, something you specifically negotiated not to be part of your submission and/or something you haven't consented to, it becomes ABUSE. Run don't walk to the nearest exit.

Abusers have a happy knack of making you feel it is YOUR fault. You are the one to blame. IT IS NEVER YOUR FAULT. AND YOU ARE BLAMELESS. You have the right as a human being to be treated with respect, to retain your self-worth and your dignity.

More's the pity but there seems to be an element who assume a submissive has absolutely no rights whatsoever and this is totally and utterly wrong. You have the right to say NO whenever it suits you as does the Dominant and that right MUST be accepted and honored. Say NO to ABUSE and say it loud.

Abuse Links from CrimsonLord

Abuse? What is Abuse?

A thoughtful essay, with some questions that attempt to define what is abuse within a BDSM context. This essay came out of a dear friend's irc channel #bdsm on Austnet and is and was the collective work of a lot of discussion by some experienced BDSM Lifestyler's. How to tell if you are being abused or abusing someone. How to tell someone you think they are suffering or committing abuse, and what to do about it...and...How to deal with someone telling you they think you are suffering or committing abuse, and you don't think they are right.

Abuse: A Common Link?

An insightful look at a serious issue in D/s relationships. Help for dealing with the ghosts from our pasts.

Abusers Amongst Us

physical, emotional and mental abusers

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

Sponsored by The Morris Center, ASCA is a support group/recovery and prevention program in the Greater Bay Area for those who have been abused emotionally, sexually, and/or physically.   Organized within a low-cost framework, it offers meetings, workshops, presentations, socials, trainings, discussion groups, and a guidebook to healing, Survivor to Thriver, available only through the Morris Center.

AltSex:BDSM:SM is not Abuse

A statement by the Lesbian Mafia outlining the differences between SM and abuse.

BDSM and Child Abuse

Does being abused as a child equal submission as an adult? An interesting editorial on the subject.

CyberAngels Internet Safety Organization


Flashbacks and Scenes

A submissive's handling sexual abuse flashbacks during BDSM scenes. According to this article, flashbacks can occur while one is recovering from past abuse. Read about flashbacks and how to deal with them.

Is SM abusive? Were most SM people abused?

From the soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm FAQ, this page deals with misconceptions about BDSM and leatherfolk stereotypes. It also includes information on domestic violence and abuse from the Leather/Fetish Celebration Committee.

Safe Link

is a clearinghouse for materials and questions about domestic violence, specifically for the leather-fetish community. Safe Link, c/o Domestic Violence Education Project National Leather Association, 3439 NE Sandy Blvd, #155 Portland, OR  97232

Safe Sane and Consensual?

Tips on abusive D/s relationships and how to avoid them. Includes a list of warning signs for potential physical danger.

SM vs. Abuse

From Jay Wiseman's SM 101, an examination of the differences between BDSM and abuse, along with a list of warning signs and an explanation of the "cycle of violence."

The Connection Between Kink and Abuse

Bob King contends that there is a large overlap between the communities of abuse survivors and BDSMers. You may not agree with his statements or his conclusions, but this is interesting reading nonetheless.


Top Abuse: Is It Possible?

An article from the 4/98 issue of "Short Licks" written by Tanith Tyrr.

Violence Against Women Office

U.S. Government Referral of Resources.

vixen's Playhouse

Another good comparison between abuse and BDSM. Includes a list of symptoms of abuse both past and present, and some very wise words about support.

WHOA: Women Halting Online Abuse

Dedicated to eradicating online stalking. Good resource for those who have run into this problem.

Why BDSM Relationships Are Not Abuse

Another examination of the differences between BDSM and abuse.





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