Bdsm Or Abuse?

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In order to get a few – indeed quoted way too often – urban legends out of the way first: scientific research shows that the number of people with a traumatic (abuse) history within the erotic power exchange group is no different than any other group.

Since the same research (European as well as American) indicates that between 20 and 50 percent of population has an abuse history, one may safely say the same goes for EPE people, doms and sub alike.

One important thing to notice here is that first of all the term "abuse" is just as vague as "car-accident" and and without a proper definition of what is considered abuse in any particular case – is useless. Abuse – apart from the very obvious cases – is first of all very personal perception by the victim (which does not mean to say it is a lesser form of abuse – just that different people have different perceptions) and as such, as science and experts will still admit, is one of the most difficult things to give a definition for in any more or less general format.

Another thing to remember here is that it is very important to make a distinct difference between different forms of abuse. Juvenal trauma can not be compared to spousal abuse, rape is different for men and women and the worst thing to do is throw everything on one big pile. Which is another reason why the term "abuse" is useless and empty, because it says very little (again not meaning to say that abuse is not bad).

And then there is the most difficult nut to crack in this area. I know I am very likely to get flamed here tremendously but I am going to do this anyway.

As some of you may know I have been involved in quite a few BDSM-related court cases and police investigations, either as consultant or expert witness and I have worked with several psychiatric departments of hospitals on the same issue. I am saying this so you understand where I'm coming from here.

First of all: there is a lot of research done, especially on the issue of erotic power exchange, sado-masochism and abuse. Much more than many of you seem to know. And much less stigmatized as many in the community seem to think. Especially in Europe some universities (Heidelberg and Trier in Germany, Arhus in Denmark and Utrecht in the Netherlands) have entire departments of the Psychology and Psychiatry faculties working on that and there is a lotof scientific material available if you take the trouble to look for it . Much of that is quite easily available actually, albeit not always in English.

Having said that, there is one pretty common theory among the researchers (taking a bit of time to get here, so bear with me).

Ever since Freud (but before that actually since Kraft-Ebing) the popular assumption was that submissives (masochists – yes, the damn terminology again) themselves more or less bought the abuse upon them by assuming the victim role naturally as a result of their inclination . That theory stand up for half a century and – unfortunately – is still often used.

In the meanime things have changed. One thing that has changed is that even American psychiatry these days makes a clear distinction between consentual adult sexual behavior (including erotic power exchange) and sadism / masochism. As far as MASOCHISTS (ie the ill people) are concerned, the Freud theory still stands and in the meanime is proven. However !!!!!!! There are not that many clinical masochists, just as there are not that many clinical sadists.

So where Freud and others thought everyone with a submissive inclination was a masochist, these days everyone with reasonable and up to date knowledge on the subject (except large parts of the epe-comminuty itself) for good reasons makes a distinct difference between sadism / masochism and dominance / submission and as you can see for very good reasons.

Clinical cases of both sadism and masochism are far beyond the scope of erotic power exchange, and that includes help and treatment. That is one reason why there are so many warnings NOT to play therapist in an epe-context. Since you all are amateurs in this are (and that includes professionals who take their profession into the bedroom), you are simply not qualified, if not for lack of professional distance most certainly for lack of knowledge and experience. If you "the healer" (certainly being sarcastical here) happens to run into a clinical masochist all you do by letting her play out her masochsim is that you are rewarding the wrong behavior which will only make things worse. Exactly the same happens when you run into a clinical sadist. It is much like if you try to teach your dog not to have afraid of fireworks by taking him on your lap and stroking him. By doing that you are doing exactly the wrong thing: rewarding the wrong behavior, since you will increase the fear instead of fighting it.

That is exactly what you do if start to play out masochistic fantasies with a clinical masochist. Like I said, masochists – although there are few – are likely to indeed "bring the abuse upon themselves", either because they want to, or because they feel the need to be punished, or they are looking for what they think is a safe environment (knowing what abuse is and having been conditioned to live with it can feel safer than a normal life) or whatever other reason. There are many.

Submissives however is an entirely different case. They do NOT bring the abuse upon them but – and here is the more modern view – do something else that can be just as dangerous (although understandable). Someone who has been abused will almost always try to look for a reason, an explanation, something that satisfied the need of their brain for a logical explanation of what has happened. And that is where discussions about erotic power exchange and abuse come in. A more modern theory is that those who already have a submissive inclination (which is quite likely to be genetically encoded to a large extend) tend to look for an explanation there. To many that makes the trauma bearable and can help them get over it or at least deal with it.

Although that is understandable, that again is a dangerous motivation, since it is the worng medicine (as in no medicine at all) for the wrong disease. Dealing with a trauma should ALWAYS be done outside an erotic power exchange environment and especially if it is sexual abuse should never be deal with in a sexual context in the first place. Even if there is such a thing as a fight fire with fire theory (which in cases like these is very illegally) that is still something people should NOT engage in on an amateur basis, no matter how caring, loving, supporting, understanding their partner may be. That partner can be extremely important but NOT in that area. Dealing with trauma – if someone can not do that herself (or himself) – always requires help by a professional. Not in the first place because of his / knowledge and skills, but because of the need for professional distance to start with.

Back to the subject: abuse is way to broad a term to just fool around with. No, there are no proven connections and yes, the community itself has a tendency to over-emphasize abuse and to seek for explanations that are not there, no matter how conveniant they may seem to be.

Which all does not mean to say we should not try and fight abuse viqorously on a constant basis.

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