SM vs Abuse: Compare and Contrast

SM vs Abuse: Compare and Contrast

SM is done for positive reasons: personal growth and erotic pleasure. It requires the knowledgeable consent of each player, and is often carefully negotiated beforehand. In SM, the situation is controlled. SM play stops immediately when someone uses a safeword, in any scene, at any time, for any reason–physical or emotional. SM players do not make an assumption of the right to control another’s behavior. Players follow guidelines for safe, responsible, positive play, and to act out each player’s desires. After play, both parties feel fulfilled. Good SM play brings players closer together, and is often initiated or requested by the bottom. It is done with the support and knowledge of friends and community.

Abuse temporarily satisfies one person’s need to control or hurt. With no rules or agreed limit, abuse is an uncontrolled act, with out-of-control emotions. A victim of abuse has no rights within the relationship, has no control over when abuse ends, and feels used and hurt afterward. The abuser decides what will happen, and does not respond to the needs, desires or limits of the person they abuse. Abusers mistakenly assume their right to control another by virtue of gender, income, or other similar artificial scale. Done in isolation, a dirty secret, abuse divides relationships and fractures trust.

– Elaine Miller, Feb 2001

Note: The wording and arrangement is of the above piece is the product of my own skull-sweat, and much coffee (It’s meant to be the sidebar of a much larger article on BDSM). I read several sources on the web to get some background ideas for this, including LSM NYC’s page, and some of Jay Wiseman’s excellent work. I also, of course, spoke to several players I knew to get feedback, and then wracked my brain to come up with more. If I can think of any more salient points, I’ll weave them in.

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