Recognizing Abuse

By Drea Martin

Something that I’m encountering with alarmingly increasing regularity is the excusing of abusive behavior under the guise of BDSM.  I have recently come in contact with a number of women who have described to me vicious scenarios of untempered abuse at the hands of their Dominant.  Threats of being left, accusations of not being a ‘real sub’ and many other tactics are used by the perpetrator to force the submissive to go beyond their hard limit boundaries or to endure much more pain, degradation, or humiliation than is reasonable.  I’d like to pause here a moment to explain that, though it has been female submissives sharing their stories with me, this isn’t something that is at all bound by gender. Males can be, and often are, victims of the same abuses that females are subjected to.  This is especially true within the dynamic of Domination/submission (D/s) because a much deeper level of trust is engendered, as well as the element  of perceived control, versus a vanilla relationship.

The beginning of any relationship that will involve BDSM, whether it’s 24-7 or only occasionally, should begin with honest discussion between partners about the things you’re interested in, the things you’re a bit wary of and the things you absolutely will not participate in.  Without proper communication, you are setting yourselves up for disaster. Keep in mind, as you explore yourself and talk with your partner, that your interests are subject to change as you gain more experience in BDSM. It’s also important to remember that some things are just better as fantasies than as reality.


Think of BDSM as a giant buffet. Just because you go to the buffet doesn’t mean you must partake of every dish presented there. You walk around and examine the options, select what things you feel are right, and begin sampling them. BDSM is the same. I encourage you to spend as much time as possible reading about and contemplating the things that pique your interest.  The best way to prevent abuse among our ranks is to arm ourselves with education, to know ourselves more fully, and to be prepared to stand our ground when it comes to being coerced into going further than is healthy.


When you know yourself, your desires, and the basic dynamics of relationships that are of a darker nature, you make it that much harder to fall prey to those who are out to bring you harm.  There are many warning signs to watch out for, chief among them your own instincts.  If a potential play partner gives you a bad feeling, heed it at least far enough to slow down and find out what makes you feel that way.  A few more include:


  1. Isolating you from friends or family. Encouraging you to withdraw from healthy relationships to ‘prove’ your love or loyalty.
  2. Bringing a hard limit into play and getting angry or sullen when you refuse
  3. Withholding affection, attention, food, sleep or any other vital thing from you to ‘punish’ you for not going past your hard limits or using your safeword.
  4. Not honoring your safeword. Even once. Even just for a moment. When the safe word is uttered play ceases. No exceptions. No repercussions.
  5. Extreme forms of torture that result in serious injuries, i.e., major blood loss, concussions, broken bones, etc.
  6. Having pre-negotiated aspects of the relationship, such as bringing additional people into the relationship, disregarded and being ‘punished’ for speaking out about it.
  7. Being forbidden to express discontent or similarly negative feelings about activities perpetrated by the ‘dominant’.
  8. Breaking a hard limit as ‘punishment’.


These are but a few of the things I’ve noticed, both in my own experiences and in those others have shared with me.  While it should go without saying that as a submissive, you should always approach your Dominant with respect, regardless of the topic, your Dominant should never, ever deny you the right to talk about anything that’s on your mind with regard to your relationship.  It’s important to remember that the submissive, not the Dominant, has the real power in the relationship.  It is always the submissive who decides where the limits are.  It is ALWAYS! Within your rights as a submissive/slave to say no, to stop play, to leave your Dominant/Master and to say that you will not accept certain types of treatment. Any self-proclaimed Dominant who believes otherwise should raise a huge red flag to prospective subs/slaves.


Being in a D/s relationship is a delicate thing at best. It is the concept of being possession, yes, but prized possession. A good Master/Dominant will treat their slave/submissive as their most valued property; to be used well but also to be well cared-for.  A successful D/s or M/s relationship leaves the Dominant feeling they have acquired the most beautiful thing in the universe in the gift of submission from their partner. A submissive in these circumstances should feel that they have found, at last, the place they belong, shining and beloved by the one who owns them, body and soul.


If your experience is less, but not dangerous, have no fear… you may still be learning and journeying to your One.  However, if you have experienced any of the things I’ve described here or anything that feels to you that it belongs in this list, please, I urge you, get out.  Get as far away from that person as you can, don’t toy with your life.  The very real truth of the matter is that we take lives and psyches in our hands when we play in our dark spaces together.  Abuse of trust on this level even if it doesn’t take your life, can rob you of your very essence and must not be allowed to continue.


BDSM is freedom, acceptance, trust… it is not abuse.  Enjoy your journey, revel in the darkest of your desires, but be on your guard against those who lurk in our midst looking for their next target.  We have a responsibility to raise awareness of abuse within the realm of BDSM and to flush all such monsters from among us, out into the light and to the justice they so richly deserve.


Until next time, be well, be happy, be safe and question everything!

2 thoughts on “Recognizing Abuse

  1. I love reading these stories and articles, I have realized I have been a submissive for so long never to have found a dominant until now, it is such a beautiful feeling to be truly cared for by another person, I have always strived to satisfy partners by giving myself fully but never to be accepted for my true self. I think I have found what I had been missing in my life of trying to serve men. A man who I can fully submit myself to body, heart and soul. He cares for me, desires me, and does it with a strong love. I respect him fully and answer to all his desires.

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