One of the best and most comprehensive descriptions I’ve seen of the problem of domestic abuse is at HelpGuide.org, and is entitled Domestic Violence and Abuse: Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships. A couple of excerpts follow, but please read the whole page, as it is full of all kinds of excellent information and links.
Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence..
This statement is one of the main reasons that people in the BDSM world do not recognize abuse when they see it, because this is what we basically do – or at least it’s what it looks like. It is the reason they don’t think the concept applies to them.
This is untrue, and does very much relate to wiittwd because, as the following paragraph states:
Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under their thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.
In a healthy D/s or even M/s relationship, the dom or master may want total control, and that may well be reasonable, once the relationship progresses to where both know what they’re getting into, but a mature dominant will definitely play fair, consider your limits, etc.
MsAuthoritarian concludes on Fetlife that, “It is not what we do within our relationships but ‘how we do it’ that creates the distinction between a healthy dynamic and an abusive dynamic no matter if it is within mainstream or what it is we do. If someone is using fear of harm, guilt, shame, intimidation or violence to gain and maintain dominance then it is domestic abuse plain and simple”.
This is extremely succinct and very well put. A healthy D/s relationship – or any relationship, for that matter – should build the sub up, not tear her down (and ditto for the dom). It should leave both parties feeling better about themselves overall, regardless of the nature of the relationship, and as if the relationship enhances their lives and brings out the best in them both.
To read more about abuse in the BDSM community, please visit the Abuse vs BDSM – An Uncomfortable Subject thread on Fetlife.