We’re almost done now. Having read this guide you should have a much clearer idea of what’s on offer in the world of BDSM, and what areas you’re interested in, as well as what kinks you wish to explore. Before I bid you a fond farewell, however, there’s just one more topic we need to cover. And that’s abuse.

Because of the nature of BDSM relationships it can often be difficult to tell when one has strayed into the territory of abuse rather than just play. Fifty Shades Of Grey is a novel about an abusive relationship, but many who read it are at a loss as to say why. Here then, is a brief list of some “red flags” to watch out for.

If you notice several of these things, then it may be cause to evaluate the nature of your relationship, and work out whether it is truly good for you or not. By keeping these in mind you’ll be keeping the BDSM community healthy and happy, and ensuring that it doesn’t become a haven for predators.

  •  Do they try to isolate you from your friends, family or BDSM community and stop you communicating with anyone else but them?
  • Do they avoid talking about personal details and get mad when you ask questions?
  • They might end the conversation when you ask for more detail about something.
  • Are the details they give about themselves inconsistent?
  • Do they consistently break promises and mislead you?
  • When something goes wrong, do they always try to avoid responsibility, by blaming you or someone else?
  • Do they push you to do things that you’ve identified as a hard limit? They may use emotional blackmail to get their way on these issues.
  • Do they concede to a contract, agreement or negotiation and then not respect it?
  • Do they use your dynamic with them as a reason to forbid you from asking questions or having limits?
  • Do they try to make you feel guilty for not being good enough? They might tell you that you’re not a real dominant or real submissive.
  • Does their behaviour vary from moment to moment? Are you always on edge over whether they will be kind and loving or violent and cruel?
  • Do they blame you for anything which upsets you or hurts your feelings?
  • Do they abuse alcohol or other drugs? This does not mean having a couple of drinks, but instead using to the point where it inteferes with their life and judgement.
  • Do they threaten to commit suicide or self harm in order to get you to go along with their wishes?
  • Do they want to control your finances?
  • Do they frighten or intimidate you outside of the situations in which you’ve agreed to play?
  • Do they threaten to leave you or cheat on you if you do not do as they demand?
  • Do they use expensive gifts and money as a way to gain compliance?
  • Do they labour how experienced they are and their connections within the scene?
  • Do they come on way too fast and too hard, making you uncomfortable?
  • Are they solely negative about their previous partners? Are they quick to accuse them of lying and slandering their name?

If you notice one of more of these red flags, it’s time to sit down and have a serious talk with your partner. If you don’t feel safe or secure enough to do so, then it’s quite simply time to get out. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated or tricked into staying in a relationship where you aren’t happy. Abuse continues often because people allow it to, but the community is generally fairly committed to putting a stop to it. If you’re having trouble leaving, make sure to get in touch with your friends on the scene, as they will be well placed to help and advise. Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t suffer alone.

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