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.
Someone on Fetlife posted a link to an article entitled “Warning Signs That You’re Dating a Loser”, which is a great primer on abusive relationships. The name is unfortunate, but t’s an excellent overview of the problem of abusive partners, how to identify them, and how to get out.
I actually found the one that follows it entitled “Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser” even more revealing, at least at the stage that I’m at in understanding why I get involved with these abusers myself – and why I stay with them even once I realize what’s going on, or why anyone does, particularly those of us who are well-educated, experienced in life, professionally successful, and have good self-esteem overall. I’ve never heard this paradigm before, but it makes perfect sense. The basic idea is that the bond that happens between an abuser and his victim is much the same as what happens in hostage situations and the like, where the victim begins to identify with the abuser and even to defend him. Patty Hearst’s situation when she was kidnapped was the classic example of our times where a victim actually started to sympathize with and bond with her abuser. This was the case that brought the Stockholm Syndrome into common awareness. It’s a fascinating paradigm that also really explains why people who are stuck in more “run of the mill” abusive relationships stay, often no matter what. It’s the same thing.
This model also explains why the most typical responses of family and friends only seem to drive the abused person away and more firmly into the clutches of the abuser, and what the best (and safest) way to assist us is.
Someone said: “Weird thing is these guys show up usually during period when I am feeling bit more confident about myself, I am more active, less reclusive and soon as they enter my life begin tear all that a part [sic]”.
There’s something of that for me also, but not as much any more – at least not until the breakup happens and I’m torn apart. I’ve gotten a lot better at spotting them in advance and Continue reading
@Xinergy said on Fetlife:
The Dominant failing to come through with what they say they are going to do is devastating to the submissive. The submissive is in this lifestyle because they need that comfort and safety. They need to believe that if the Dominant says something, it will happen. Without that certainty and trust, how can he or she sink into subspace while chained to something being beaten?
It is indeed completely devastating, particularly when the promises broken are as fundamental as repeatedly violating limits, not respecting her health and safety above his own needs and desires, etc.
It doesn’t matter what else the dominant does in the rest of life, how good he is about his word in other matters both in the relationship and elsewhere, no matter how many other wonderful qualities he has. If he does not scrupulously respect his sub’s limits and boundaries, and remember and honor both the letter and the spirit of relationship-level agreements, he will lose both the trust and the respect of his submissive.
While I don’t think that “need [for] that comfort and safety” is necessarily the reason we are in this (certainly not for everyone), we do in fact absolutely need it to be present, or there’s no possibility of being able to submit to the dominant at any level, whether in play or every day life. Continue reading