The following is from The National Leather International Association Domestic Violence Project online flyer. I have included the link to the original at the end of this post which includes phone numbers for the NLA-I, their main web site, as well as other resources. A.C.E.S. in-world also has a notecard that contains resources as well. Just ask an A.C.E.S. Facilitator or contact JeZeBeLe Dagger, Rory Glenwalker, Jovial Denimore, or our Ombusmen for this information.
"Know The Difference"
Since there is very little education or support in mainstream society about the BDSM lifestyle it may be hard for some individuals to define the line between what is domestic violence and what is not. Many individuals still have a tendency to label our activities, lifestyle, and BDSM practices as insane or abusive no matter how highly skilled we become or how long we have studied the techniques to master specific “crafts.” Domestic violence is when one person harms or misuses another, with the intent to control in nonconsensual ways. Domestic violence can occur between any two or more intimates. Many people believe domestic violence can only happen to submissives or novices. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of their race, gender, or role in the BDSM lifestyle. Non-consensual dominance and control, also known as “domestic violence”, may come in many forms: physical abuse, threats of physical abuse, emotional abuse, threatening phone calls, disturbances at a place of employment, and stalking.
Healthy BDSM is when two or more consenting adults consent to exchange energy, power, sensations, or experiences (however extreme) in ways that fuel their mutual happiness and increase self esteem. In a healthy BDSM relationship all parties involved are actively invested in the well-being of each other and themselves. Many individuals use “safewords” as a way to distinguish their level of agreement. However, there are a number of other healthy BDSM practitioners who do not. The use of safewords is NOT the only way to distinguish consent.
If you are having lingering feelings that “this isn’t right” or that “something is wrong with this picture” then there is a cause for further consideration. It may not be abuse, but it is important to listen to your internal alarms and explore any areas that you are concerned with. An unhealthy BDSM relationship will have one (or more) partners acting in ways that create harm to someone. This harm can be physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, sexual, social, or economic. In an abusive relationship you may notice the following:
• Abuser may coerce or force a victim into agreements without their full informed consent, especially longterm contracts with newcomers.
• Abuser may manipulate a victim into financial or emotional dependence without taking precautions should conflict occur or the need to leave arise.
• Abuser may exert non-consensual control, dominance or abuse of a partners children or make demands that go against maternal or paternal responsibilities. (I.E. Restricting access to children as punishment.)
• Abuser may use threats of abandonment or loss of current contract if new demands are not met.
• Abuser may force victim to do things alone, together, or with others in ways that violate or compromise previous negotiations.
• Abuser may use name calling, mind games, denial of human necessities like food, water, shelter as needed, health care and so forth, especially in ways that reduce a victim’s self-esteem.
• Abuser may threaten to expose victim or your lifestyle to “vanilla” co-workers, family members, or children.
• Abuser may initiate Inappropriate or harmful punishments or withhold appreciation or affection as punishment.
• Abuser may deny a behavior is abusive and/or may minimize abuse. The abuser may also accuse you of making abuse up, not being submissive/Dominant enough, and so forth.
Link to complete flyer for the National Leather Association Domestic Violence Project