In all fairness to my readers, possible triggers and disagreeable opinions ahead. Other reads are on the right.
I wanted to do a BDSM versus abuse post last summer, but I just couldn't cool off enough for it not to be a rant. Then the inspiration faded and I never wrote it. Given that thing1 has repeatedly reverted to her previous abuser, I have been inspired again.
These are of course, merely my opinions, and they aren't changing anytime soon. So feel free to disagree. That's the beauty of the internet--everyone gets their two cents.
Of course, the beauty of blogging is getting to give your own two cents to your hearts content.
And where else am I going to jump up on my soap box and preach to the masses? We call the people who do it on street corners crazy, those who do it on blogs are bloggers. Snazzy huh.
So for those of you who arrive here by searching for the term "the difference between BDSM and abuse", here's my ten cents.
There's no doubt thing1 needs someone to take her in hand. And I can't help but wonder if what she was looking for before the drugs, before the jerk, before she became what she is now, was something resembling a D/s relationship.
I have seen it written that the difference between BDSM and abuse is consent--an abused woman doesn't give her consent to be beaten and controlled, whereas a submissive has given her consent.
I disagree. While the circumstance are quite different, consent is given by presence--thing1 has given jerk consent to beat the crap out of her because she keeps going back for more.
Sounds cold doesn't it? And it does come from a bit of a cynical place, but I still believe it to be true.
I do realize that some women don't have anyone in their lives to support them and help them escape, but many do. And they just don't take the option.
And neither is knowing the difference between right and wrong the key element here. Thing1 once tried to tell me she could be with shithead now because he's grown--now he knows that what he did was wrong.
I beg to differ. He knew it was wrong to beat her head into the pavement. He just did it anyways. People do things they know are wrong all the time. Knowing that you have done something wrong doesn't make you a better person--it just means you're not a complete psychopath.
That being said, there are truly psychopathic people in this world who are capable of extreme and horrific abuse. I think those are the ones who are capable of digging their claws so far into someone's mind, the other person becomes somewhat incapable of separating themselves.
So if consent and knowledge of doing wrong aren't the defining differences, than what are?
I believe there are many. And I will probably miss quite a few of them. After all, this subject could be debated endlessly.
In my mind, one of the biggest differences is that abusive relationships come from a loss of control on the abuser's part; whereas, BDSM is very much about control--submissive gives control, Dominant exercises self control in the exertion of his will.
In abusive relationships, there seems to be a lot of "it's my fault" from the abused, and quite a bit of "you shouldn't have made me lose my temper--it's your fault" from the abuser.
I believe that responsibility is a hallmark of Dominants. Specifically,
personal responsibility. An abuser is never responsible for their
actions--it's the fault of the abused for provoking the anger.
In my relationship, actions have consequences and punishment can be one of those consequences. That is our arrangement and it works just fine for us.
Now, if he loses his temper and comes unglued (which is quite rare), it's Not my fault.
An abusive relationship also has the markings of the abused partner not being of equal value (contrary to popular opinion, equal value is not the same as equal footing), they are somehow not up to par and must be changed. Who they are is not acceptable, their input is not welcome, what is acceptable one day may not be the next.
Alpha's Dominance has released and enhanced who I am. It has never sought to change who I inherently am as a person--instead it brings out the parts of me I deny, tempers the parts of me that need work, and encourages my evolution as myself.
Then there is emotion.
Abuse occurs in anger and causes fear of real harm.
Fear is the tool that an abusive partner most often uses to keep the other person with them. It is the binding that holds them together. Not love, not intimacy, not the experience itself.
Alpha occasionally slaps me. Does it bother me? Well, no. Interesting things happen in my mind when he does it. But he has never once touched me in anger. Do I fear that he will harm me? No. Occasionally I may fear the things he could choose to do, or implements he may decide to use, but not him.
And yea, as he says, I'm a bit of a twisted kitty and to some extent, I get off on fear.
Of course, intent plays it's part too...
In a D/s oriented relationship, the best interests of the submissive and the relationship are reflected in a Dominants actions. Of course, what is in our best interests is not always what we want or like, but it is not detrimental.
BDSM can be subtle, children don't witness it, and the undertones of D/s can occur in a manner that slides right over their heads. Abuse occurs regardless of the presence of children and its impacts on their well-being. You will not walk into my house and see busted furniture, broken baubles, and children cowering in the corner crying that daddy hit mommy.
I believe that BDSM is, among many other things, about exploring possibilities, growing as a person, and accepting who you are.
It is intimacy with pleasure and pain, the experience of stripping away superficial trappings, an exchange of power for the mutual growth and benefit of Dominant and submissive.
This is not all to say that the two are mutually exclusive--that there is no such thing as an abusive relationship between people who practice BDSM. I think that when those lines blur, we are actually looking at the worst culmination of both worlds with the most destructive impacts on the abused.
It's not something I intend to ramble about here as I really have no clear personal perspective on it.