I get kind of frustrated when I read abuse pamphlets. Because the definition of “abuse” is so different within the BDSM community, so many of the things “vanilla”people consider abuse are expressly used in the training of slaves. In particular, in the training of me.

(Somewhere around the blogosphere, there was an article on “vanilla bigotry”, recently. I suppose, in some ways, some of us kinksters are a little hard on those who are less than kinky when it comes to our exasperation with their lack of understanding or desire to understand. But I figure we’re no better or worse about it than any other group of people who are convinced the rest of the world doesn’t “get it”, so it’s okay. Right? Shut up, it is, too. And besides, it’s not like I’m saying vanilla people suck. Just that they have different ideas of what abuse looks like than some of us in M/s relationships.)

And because I’m such a ninny, I’ll occasionally sit twiddling my thumbs in angst, wondering if I’m abused.

Some people would say the sheer fact that I have to think about (Not that I actually have to think about it. I know that, within the bounds of our dynamic, I am not abused.) means that I am involved in an abusive relationship. Personally, I think the me questioning whether or not I’m abused means the people who write these pamphlets are doing a good job of making people aware of what to look for, and they make a damn good case… for someone in a vanilla relationship.

Remember my BDSM v. Abuse post, and how I said the distinction can be a difficult one to make? Have you read Britni’s posts about identifying abuse, Red Flags of an Abusive Partner: Part I and Red Flags of an Abusive Partner: Part II? They give some very good examples of why it’s difficult to tell if someone in a master/slave relationship is being abused.

For example, it goes without saying that someone looking to be owned will be drawn to a partner who will exhibit controlling behavior. Quit often, property will beg out of the relationship if the owner isn’t up to the task of controlling them. Not many offer up their submission without the expectation of receiving their partner’s domination in return.

Clothing, makeup, food intake, weight, sleep schedule, job, schooling… If these things are controlled in a vanilla relationship, it’s usually considered abuse. And rightfully so, if there is no consensual power exchange in place. However, these are also things that are often controlled by the owner of a master/slave relationship with the submissive’s consent. Though I’ll be the first to admit, there’s a difference between “dominant” and “domineering”. And the difference can only be defined by the relationship’s dynamic.

The sheer point of owning someone is to possess them. So possessiveness in a master/slave relationship isn’t always a sign of abuse, so much as
ownership.

Isolation is often used in the training of slaves. It has been a major part of my training almost since day one. And one of the hardest to accept. There is no denying that I’m a social butterfly.

Controlling who a slave can converse with, when and how can be used as a way to force the slave’s attention where it should be (on his or her
owner) or a way of controlling the information the slave has access to. Taking away distractions focuses all of the slave’s attention on their
training, their owner, their tasks. It’s believed by some that this will result in a more productive slave.

It’s not always a constant thing. Sometimes, isolation is only used in the beginning. Sometimes the slave is required to earn back the right to converse with family and/or friends, proving they can maintain the level of submission expected of them when they’re allowed distractions. Sometimes, the owner chooses to slowly add to what the slave is able to do outside of their relationship. Sometimes, they’re simply given the right to control their outside friendships and such back.

Expectations, from the outside looking in, can often appear unrealistic or just plain over the top in master/slave relationships. Things like speech and bathroom restrictions and specific ways to act are sometimes considered “too much”. Occasionally, “Be on your best behavior.” sounds like “You must be perfect.” Goals are sometimes set that appear unattainable to those not involved in these kinds of relationships. And sometimes perfection is expected.

Many dominant people have a “Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde” personality. Sometimes Mr. Hyde only comes out during a scene. But there are some dominant people who use keeping their property guessing as a way to be sure their property is always on his or her toes. Others use it for exactly the reason Brit described in her post. Keeping their partner always off balance. Always unsure of where they stand. Some use it as another way to keep their property focused on them.

Threats of violence and intimidation… Well, they just get a masochist’s parts all warm and gooey. They’re not always meant to be intimidating in master/slave relationships. And when they are, it’s usually because the relationship has a corporal punishment dynamic (many do).

M doesn’t just pressure me for sex. He takes it whenever he wants it. (Though, if I’m to be honest, I’d have to say he never has to actually take it from me. I’m more than willing to oblige.) And that’s perfectly permissible within our dynamic. I gave him blanket consent to do whatever he wanted with and to me.

Which raises the question, can M abuse me? Is it even possible? And if so, then what should I, and others like me, be looking for? (Not that he would ever intentionally mistreat me aside from the things he and I enjoy but others consider “mistreatment”.)

I’ve given up my right to a safe word. I’ve given M the right to choose where my limits are, regardless of what they originally were. I gave him the right to do with me and to me whatever he wants.

As a matter of fact, the only right I’ve refused to give up is the right to hold an important position in his life. He hasn’t just taken it from me because a) he agreed to it and b) he has no interest in demoting me. He enjoys having me by his side.

So I suppose, for me, abuse would be being catapulted from that position?
What do you think? And can you see, now, why it’s so difficult to judge?

  • Britni TheVadgeWig

    I’ve mentioned that I work in DV education. And one of the things I’ve spoken to the staff about is BDSM and how, to us, the relationships appear to be abusive. But that the definition of abuse is different within the community. That power and control wheel that’s so often used to define abuse often perfectly defines D/s relationships. But, I always say that the difference between the two is consent. You’ve consented to being in this relationship, and you desire giving M power and control over you. Therefore, it’s not abuse. Someone that does not consent to that, and does not want to be controlled by someone else and is traumatized by the relationship is being abused.

    • Rayne

      I remember you saying that, and wasn’t suggesting you don’t make the distinction. I apologize if it came across that way. I merely used your posts as examples because they are such good examples of what can be signs of abuse in a vanilla relationship.
      .-= Rayne´s last blog ..Being a disappointment makes me feel like shit. =-.

  • Kristi

    I think perhaps someone should write a guide for family and friends who suspect a loved one is in a non-consensual abusive relationship. Should they interfere or say something to their loved one? What if it is consensual but they still deny it’s BDSM because they’re afraid of what their family and/or friends will think? Should people just mind their own business regardless? When to bring in the cops? Things like that. Any takers?
    .-= Kristi´s last blog ..Toibocks toy storage =-.

    • Sir

      Honestly, I do not think that anyone has a right to interfere with any relationship, unless one of the partners constantly complains that the other partner(s) is/are abusing them. Bring in the cops when the person complains incessantly, and not in a joking way – DON’T if you see bruises on the person’s arm and they say nothing about it.

      There are also people who are afraid to deny that they’re being abused, for some reason. Those are the real cases that are hard to say what to do with, because generally, the person abusing is not the only one with the problem.
      .-= Sir´s last blog ..Story of O written by Pauline Réage =-.

    • Britni TheVadgeWig

      There is a great book for friends and families of people in abusive relationships called To Be an Anchor in the Storm: A Guide for Families and Friends of Abused Women by Susan Brewster. I’m planning a post for family and friends that suspect a loved one is being abused as part of the series that I’ve been doing, too, so I’ll cover that stuff :)

  • Sir

    I loved reading your post, Rayne. Very good. It was a good contrast to Britni’s, whose was also, in some aspects, correct. It truly does depend on the relationship itself.

    I truly cannot explain how much I enjoyed reading this, it was a wonderful article.
    .-= Sir´s last blog ..Story of O written by Pauline Réage =-.

    • Rayne

      Thank you, Sir. :)
      .-= Rayne´s last blog ..Being a disappointment makes me feel like shit. =-.

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  • Airen

    Yes he could very easily abuse your trust, your body and your ego. I think, however, far from being the dowtrodden type youare thoughtful, intelligent and self secure enough to walk away if you felt you were being told you have no worth and that you will accept the abuse because you are worthless to anyone else. Your M seems to be a very good Dom in that he may challenge you and push your boundaries…he VALUES you and cherishes you. An abuser values nothing but their own comfort and their own pain.

    I think your safe. :) Play on!

    • Airen

      ergh down trodden (sigh) stupid keyboard gremlins

      • Rayne

        Lol I knew what you meant. And thank you. :)
        .-= Rayne´s last blog ..Warning: Not-very-good-slave behavior described within! =-.

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  • anwyn

    I have to disagree with the isolation of slaves being a part of training – that sort of practice could be FAR too easily abused. Not saying that your Sir is doing that, but it seems like a dangerous practice to me.

    • Rayne

      That’s where that whole “knowing your partner” thing comes in.
      .-= Rayne´s last blog ..Warning: Not-very-good-slave behavior described within! =-.

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