The Difference Between BDSM And Abuse

I continually receive emails and comments at The BDSM Training Academy about how BDSM is a form of abuse. I find it very upsetting especially when W/we try so hard to educate people on how to incorporate a safe, sane and consensual form of BDSM here at the Academy. BDSM is meant to enhance and strengthen a healthy, loving relationship. In no way shape or form, would W/we ever support any form of abuse. It is wrong to physically or emotionally lash out at another person and cause that person any form of mental, emotional or physical harm or duress.

In the image below you will be able to see a list of the big differences that I believe separate BDSM from abuse. Have a look and let Me know what you think. Do you agree, disagree or do you believe there are other differences that I have overlooked.

Also please like and share this image and page with your friends. Its time W/we start educating people in the world on the differences between BDSM and abuse. People need to know that there is a huge difference between BDSM and abuse. W/we are not evil people because W/we like to spice up O/our love life, or for enjoying BDSM, kink and other associated fetishes.

Please help to spread the word, that BDSM is a beautiful expression of love between responsible consenting adults

Thank you for your time and for your continued support.

Wishing you all well,

Master Bishop

P.S. Please feel free to add this image to your blogs, websites, and social media networks. W/we want to spread the word BDSM does not mean abuse. Help be a part of the solution. If you choose to share this image, please include a link back to the original image: https://bdsmtrainingacademy.com/the-difference-between-bdsm-and-abuse/

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The Difference Between BDSM And Abuse
5/5 (3 Reviews)

33 thoughts on “The Difference Between BDSM And Abuse”

  1. BDSM is a beautiful form of expression in a loving relationship. We have been married 30 years. I have a very high stress, high demanding job. I have 120 employees under my direct supervision along with 135 patients. I make decisions all day. There is nothing better than having my husband pick me up from work and take over every decision, no matter how big or small, so that I can just serve him. He cares for me mentally, emotionally, and physicialy. Yes, I get punished when I get out of line, but I punish my employees when they get out of line, it’s just in a different way. I’m very thankful the loving relationship I am in. I’m very spoiled to an extent. My husband knows my desires and wants so well that I don’t have to want for or ask for anything. I love giving up all control to him, and receiving the punishments that I deserve.

  2. The only thing I see missing is the comparison of consent vs. lack of consent. The abusive vanilla relationship does not involve asking your partner to please not do thus & such and trusting that it will be respected. (you don’t ask for relief of abuse, and you NEVER talk about it after to say what was not ok! You do not have any say, the abuse is for control and is not consentual)

    Having been the victim of emotional abuse, I can say with assurance that in my D/s relationship I feel better listened to and respected as a person than I EVER did in vanilla society.

  3. Master Bishop, i have posted this onto facebook and onto my timeline and i hope you approve Thank you Master Bishop and to all the others,, yours dawn

  4. i am a survivor of a truly abusive relationship. i am now a proud slave to my Master. You have really expressed the true differences in the differences between BDSM and abuse. i lived in fear and with both physical and emotional damage and scars. In my BDSM situation with my Master i find my relationship to be sensual and sexual with new emotional highs as we seek to deepen our Master/slave understanding.

  5. I am new to this lifestyle and have a Dom who is younger than me (12 years) although I’ve gained a lot of information & understanding from your website (for which I am truly grateful) I have also pondered this question on many occassion, from my own experiences with my Dom. I have decided (from reading your diagram) that my relationship borders both elements and that I need to open communication (again) or quit while I am ahead……..I already know deep down that my Dom has a Masochistic streak that grows towards Sadism and I feel that he himself is learning how to push his desires past my limits – which I suppose is my warning sign. So thank you again for pushing this issue as it is one that I have tended to avoid.
    Thank you once again, you really do make sense x

    1. @Smeegle,

      I’m glad this image has been able to help you and potentially avoid what could be a dangerous situation. In BDSM your first responsibility is to yourself and your own safety. Never let anybody ever cross your limits. I hope every works out for the best.

  6. One of the biggest differences between Abuse and BDSM is TRUST.
    In BDSM, you TRUST your partner to care for you, to know you and to not abuse you

    In Abuse the only Trust is that the Abuse WILL happen

  7. I love this visual as a way to showcase and explain the big difference. I always here from friends the same question about abuse vs BDSM and it’s sad that such a misconception can still exist.

    W/we hope that, as switches both (my identity as a sub is simply stronger while my Partner is more Dom) we can better explain when we are posed with “what’s the difference?”

    Sincerely,

    B

  8. I’m not in the lifestyle, but I am reading and learning as much as I can. I am very interested in the psychology behind BDSM play.
    I think the worry regarding abuse, is if the Dom/Domme uses coercsion to get a sub to try something or allow something that they really don’t like. Its very easy in the fictional tales to have all the right words, but I know some people who manipulate without even realizing they are doing it. It just comes natural to ‘talk someone into’ doing something that person really does not want to do. It would take a very astute person to recognize this and reject it. It has taken me 20 years to recognize manipulators..I run the other way.

  9. Bdsm is great although there is a very fine line between bdsm n abuse if its done right there’s no harm for either partner xx

  10. Wonderful piece of intelligent information! Looking forward to sharing this with my love and friends, keep up the great work!!!
    s

  11. I have watched several dozen BDSM videos and clips on the internet. The women reach a state where quote “It is difficult to be coherent after 10 minutes without a thought in my head” others could not state where they were. Some spoke in a foreign language but continuously said “No” in English yet the “scene” continued. Theae women couldn’t state their own name let alone a safe word.
    In reality a ‘safe word’ is moot. At best a pacifier for the masses.
    Any man who needs a whipped dog to f_ck is a loser.
    Hitting anyone with anything without both people wearing impact resistant goggles is foolhardy. This includes hands and erections striking a person.
    One woman had a plastic bag on her head and a Dom and Domme urinated onto her head so the urine gathered in the bottom. Her eyes were exposed to the urine.
    Other women were threatened with having a Hitachi magic wand vibrator shoved into their cunt if they came even accidentally. Others were frightened into a screaming frenzy with threats of tazers, tazappers, cattle prods.
    Many acts of asphyxiation.
    Many times they were told they would be left alone with a vibrator or f_cking machine left on them.
    One woman was told she could faint or die from multiple orgasms because the vivrator was going to be left on and it was her choice to faint or die.
    Oh yea, very loving acts.
    I notice that the figure stating ‘I love serving you’ has hunched shoulders…like a whipped dog.

    1. @Anna

      Thank you for taking your time to write your comment and for being as honest as you were. Since I am only one person I can only comment on my opinions about BDSM and the scenarios that you have commented on.

      1) Please do not take BDSM porn as a representation of what BDSM is for people who live it in their day to day lives. I agree with you in that fact that what you see in those BDSM porn videos has nothing to do with love. At the same time, regular porn has nothing to do with love either and has little resemblance to the average couples sex life. Porn is just that, its porn and its not meant to be taken as fact.

      2) One thing a responsible consenting couple do in a BDSM scene is stop everything they are doing and check in with their partner to make sure they are ok and wanting to continue from time to time. Even when no safeword has been called and nobody has said no or is screaming bloody murder. Many times these “check in with the partner scenes” get cut out of porn videos, because they stop the flow of the video. I wish they would not do that, because checking in with your partner is a huge part of a BDSM scene and by removing them it does send a message that there is no care for the receiving person. When in fact a great deal of care needs to be given. While I can’t speak for everyone, I do know many responsible consenting adults do this on a regular basis, including Myself.

      3) I agree with you that when a person says “no” or doesn’t seem to be able to respond in a way to protect themselves, the scene should stop immediately. This is just My personal opinion and preference. While I use safewords as well, an visual signs of distress, shaking their head or saying no, I take as a signal that the scene is over. I do not play in scenes where a submissive enjoys acting like they do not like being Dominated because it does send far too many mixed messages. If a submissive would like to be Dominated by Me, then they can’t be saying no or resisting because I consider that as a sign to terminate the scene. Again, this is My opinion and how I participate to make sure everybody remains, safe, happy and consensual. I can not speak for how others play, but as long as both partners stay within their agreed upon limits, remain safe and consent to the scene, who are we to deny them.

      4) As you said “Any man who needs a whipped dog to fuck is a loser” First I don’t believe there was any mention of having a whipped dog in this article. This article was about the differences between BDSM and abuse, not turning a human into a whipped dog. In My personal life, I am looking for an equal partner, someone who I can share a life with yet enjoys being submissive. A ying/yang complement to each other.

      I have dated extremely intelligent women who enjoy being submissive; From a professor, medical doctor, lawyer and highly successful business owner. Would you consider these women whipped dogs? I’m not trying to brag, I’m just pointing out you can not be a whipped dog to succeed in any of these positions, yet they all wanted and enjoyed being submissive. If this is what they want and enjoy, who is anybody else to judge them for that as long as they are happy and safe.

      5) Also there is no need to call anybody a loser or any other name calling. The point of this article was to share the fact that we should not make broad judgements. Just as you should not judge people for being of a different ethnicity, or sexual orientation. We in the BDSM community (which could be considered a different sexual orientation) are asking for the same respect.

      Are there people within every community throughout the whole world that do bad things and/or are bad people? Yes, but you can not judge everybody from that community with the same brush. If there are people within the BDSM community that are be abusive and hurt people, then these people need to be stopped. This does not mean everybody that who enjoys BDSM are bad people or doing the same illegal abusive acts. Blaming everybody who has BDSM within their life does nothing to stop the real abuse.

      With this mentality, nobody should be allowed to drive or consume alcohol. Everyday on average 30 people die from drunk driving in American. Does this mean everybody that drives is a murder? Or does it mean everybody who drinks is a murder? The large majority of people in North America are responsible drivers and responsible drinkers and they know not to drive when they have too much to drink.

      As a society, we have agreed the best way to deal with these tragic losses, is not to lock up everybody because they could be potential murders. We don’t even stop people from driving or drinking as long as it is done responsibly. Instead we focus on educating everybody that drinking and driving are a terrible combination in excess and it is against the law (hence blood alcohol limit). Most people learn from the educational message, its those that do not learn that we as a society focus on.

      However, from your comments anybody who enjoys spanking is automatically abusive. Educating people on how to keep themselves safe while having an opportunity to enjoy what they desire in the bedroom is important.

      This is why we teach sex education in high schools. Safe practices of BDSM need to be taught, just like sex education, drivers education and drinking responsibly. We need to educate and then focus our attention on those that are abusive. Not just assume that everybody who enjoys BDSM is automatically abusive.

      6) Much of the hitting that you see in a scene is actually not meant to be painful. In fact, it is meant more as a form of deep relaxation. Very much like a deep tissue massage to release the tense muscles. This is why much of the spanking is focused on the upper back and buttock, two muscles groups that hold the most amount of stress through a day.

      7) As for each individual scenario that you have mentioned, I can not comment on them as I personally have not seen them. While personally it may not be something that I would enjoy, that does not give Me the right to look down on these people for doing something that they do enjoy. As long as it remains safe, sane and consensual. Now if the people involved did not agree to the scene then you are right this would be abuse. However, if it is a porn video you are watching then each person has consented to be in the scene and agreed to perform in the act. Just because you do not like it, does not make it abuse. But again, please don’t base your view on BDSM solely on what you see in porn, this is not an accurate representation of what the BDSM lifestyle is about.

      8) Lastly, your comment on the stick figure I created. It was not meant to look like a whipped dog, but to look like a butler, maid or server bowing in politeness. Do you consider any person that works in a service position to be a whipped dog? Do you consider every race that bows when greeting and leaving to all be whipped dogs?

      Anna, I want to thank you again for being so open and honest with you comment and being brave enough to post it. I truly believe communication is the only way people can better understand each other. While I can understand your concern and distaste for BDSM from your comments, I hope My comments may have shed at least a small amount of light into the fact that there are people who do go to great efforts to live a loving, safe and consensual relationship within BDSM.

  12. Let’s not forget emotional abuse also, where a person uses their actions, words, physical presence, and physical violence to break you down and that results in a very draining emotional cycle. I also think that some abusers are very volatile, and they are not so in tune with the cycle they are being and living, they just are abusive and do not put thought into how, rather they just are and do.
    What people tend to miss is that anything in the wrong hands can be hurtful. BDSM {can be} abusive if used by an abusive person, just like a kitchen knife {can be} court evidence if used by a murderer. The act of BDSM or the knife is not abusive, or inherently designed as a weapon. It is the hurtful person behind it that is using it that way, and as a result people see the vehicle for hurting as the symptom, and not the person responsible who is contributing to a bad reputation for those who know the distinctions. I have been in and lived through a few abusive relationships. I would hardly blame the fist doing the hitting, but I would blame the person who owns the fist.

  13. There are several points I’d like to make to Anna
    BDSM porn is no more reflective of all bdsm activity than vanilla porn reflects all sexual behaviors. Internet porn is raw and sensational. Some enjoy that type of play but it is not reflective of most bdsm relationships. Don’t be naive.
    Safe words are useful. They are not shown on video because that destroys the illusion. Porn is not like real life.

    You assume it is only men who want to do this to women. In reality women who do this, enjoy this intense type of play. While we do these things to each other, we are also doing these things for each other. Both parties are getting something out of this.

    Adults can protect themselves and bdsm play can be intense and even risky but it is not intend to create harm and reasonably safety precautions can be taken, but to suggest everyone needs eye protection is overkill. Again most bdsm play is not like what you see on internet porn. (usually)

    So she had piss on her face. Urine is sterile enough and not likely to cause any harm.
    Many women enjoy being taken to the edge of fear and anxiety, especially when they trust the other partner and know that they will not be permanently harmed or killed. It is intense role play. Nothing more.

    Breath play, people don’t die from plastic bags when playing with others. It is intense but controlled. You do not ever hear from people dying from bdsm play.

    So you think it is all about men subjecting women but in reality it is about intense role play that turns both parties on. Listen to the women at kink.com. The beginning and exit interviews are very revealing about the pleasure they receive. Knowing that the women are not only participating but enjoying the play reveals that this is not the sick abuse that you think it is.

    As stated above this does not condone non-consensual play or abuse. It is clear that bdsm practitioners, both tops and bottoms embrace this view against abuse, individually and as a community.

    It is interesting to note that a recent study suggested that bdsm partners had a deeper level of satisfaction with their lives. It has for us. Go figure.

  14. I used to wonder if what i was doing was considered abusive. But then when im working i’ll get the text message that she needs a spanking, or she cant wait for me to get home and bend her over my knee. How can i say no?
    Ive been into s/m as long as i can remember, and finding that someone that is just as crazy as you sexually is really and truthfully uncommon in your average marriage. There are no secrets, no latent issues that we have with one another. What we have is sublime. Bdsm opens the gates of a relationship to a whole new world of trust. I’ve never hit my wife out of anger, and i would never. And truthfully in life, im as passive as can be. Until i met my wife, i could care less about anything. And she was the opposite, cared about everything to much. She needed something to help her forget the day to day b/s and i needed something to tie me into it. I was a natural dom she a natural submissive. When bdsm took off in our marriage you could measure the difference in the compassion we had with one another. We started out as best friends and 5 years later we are closer than we’ve ever been. We barely have fights. We are always honest with each other. I have a perfect marriage and i like to think bdsm plays a huge roll in the ever changing development. We dont get bored. We can watch movies and cuddle for a week straight, its fine with us. Bdsm is not all about sex and humiliation. Its about the beauty of losing and gaining control, its about seeing how far someone is willing to go for you, its about trust, its about learning your partners desires, its about the confidence you gain from fulfilling their desires; knowing full well that you gave them pleasures they
    Did not even know existed. The first time i spanked my wife,
    we were just young lovers who happened to be best friends. I had no idea that we would become married one day, we were just young and having fun. She was self concious over the appearance of her bottom so i bent her over my lap and gave her a very easy spanking tellin her how good it looked. I empowered her. She got off my lap loving her body more than she ever did. With us its all about love, its all about compassion. There is not a single moment in our relationship where we have to repress our feelings or bottle up our emotions. We’re both grown consentiual adults who like to get kinky as often as we can. She wants a man who can take control and

  15. I need a woman to put up with my b/s. im not controlling at all. I dont get jealous, i dont get angry, but when we’re in the bedroom its a whole different ballgame. And my wife loves it!!! So you can say what you want about this being abusive or not moral, when reality is this: some people need an extra oomph into their sexlife. Some people need to dominate. Some people need to feel helpless and submissive. But all those people have someone who’s caring for them and willing to do whatever it takes to keep them safe. Because whats the one thing over all that bdsm has that abuse doesnt? Security. Plain and simple. My wife loves to be spanked, tied up, scolded, and punished. I may test her physical limits from time to time, but emotionally i only build, only help her achieve more from herself. So don’t judge. We have a very safe practice, and any actions taken are 100 percent consensual.

  16. I too am a survivor of 10 years of domestic abuse. It insenses me when shallow minded people are quick to condemn those who practice bdsm in whatever way shape or form they choose. And that is the difference, its a choice and a way of life. I sincerely regard bdsm as something we are born with, and either ignore as best we can, or embrace it. Bdsm relationships are full of love, respect, compassion and communication. Beautiful in every way.

    I have to disagree with Anna in the strongest terms. I am a submissive. I am certainly not a whipped dog lol (unless I choose to be). I would never do anything that I didn’t want to happen to me. This is were communication and trust comes in. It is vital. Please Anna research, research and research a little more before you condemn. I was raped aged 15, abused by a relative and beaten by my childrens father (before anyone says, this is not why I’m into bdsm, I was into this from a young age, before I even knew what it was). Bdsm is none of these things (wish I could word this more strongly, but I’m a lady)! It is an empowering, beautiful, loving, sensuous and amazingly wonderful way to live.

    We are all entitled to our own opinions, but you won’t hear many bdsm people trying to condemn vanilla people for their lack of imagination and stunted sexual growth (or am I being shallow)!

    Sincerely grateful to You Master Bishop for raising this topic of which I’m so passionate about. I hope I haven’t ranted too much?

    Love to all xxx

  17. WWhe ever me and the husband get some alone time he love when I surprise him with a little bad girl sex and control his every move I enjoy every thing things you post and it’s has mmade my sex life fun exciting and better thanks you keep posting

  18. I completely agree with the differences expressed by Master Bishop. Having grown up in a violent home (my Mother not me was abused by her husband violently). My Master is the best. I love giving up control to him, yet I dstill struggle DAILY with willfulness. My Master totally takes care of my EVERY NEED. He also has never done anything I haven’t wanted, enjoyed, loved. I truly am blessed – never was I this LOVED in the vanilla world! Thank you for educating the uninformed!

  19. Thank you so much for this – I work as a domestic violence victim advocate and, in my private life, am a sub. While I have seen many posts about how BDSM is not abuse, this is the only post I have seen so far that seems to truly understands domestic violence.

    I have worked with a few clients now who have experienced domestic violence, which their abuser called BDSM but there was no communication between the D/s.

    Also, I think it’s important to point out that BDSM is not excluded from domestic violence, because no sector of society is excluded from having an issue with domestic violence. There are healthy BDSM relationships and there are unhealthy abusive BDSM relationships just like there healthy vanilla/mainstream relationships and unhealthy ones. There healthy and unhealthy relationships between ALL people – domestic violence all sectors of society. BDSM is not excluded just like solidly middle-class, white-collar, both parents working and educated, non-BDSM relationships are not excluded. For me, as an advocate, it means that I help of a victim in from a BDSM relationship that might have different needs than one from a different sort of abusive relationship. For me, as a member of the BDSM community, it means encouraging us not to sweep it under the rug (like society largely does) and explaining to people outside the community that it’s not domestic violence.

    To say BDSM is domestic violence is like saying every relationship on Earth is domestic violence. There are healthy relationships and unhealthy relationships. So let’s help the ones that are unhealthy, encourage the ones that are healthy, and educate people to prevent further unhealthy ones (which I would say BDSM has a leg up on the rest of society in that regard).

    Personally, I think pointing out domestic violence in the BDSM community (or other communities, such as: immigrant communities, Native American communities, trailer parks, low-income housing, etc) is a way of the mainstream (dare I say dominant?) society denying that domestic violence is their problem too. Nobody wants it to be their problem but it’s everybody’s problem.

    (PS: October is domestic violence awareness month.
    Go spread the news.)

  20. Thank you for such a thorough, concise way to look at this. It’s such an important topic. I’m sharing this post and I’ll be using the graphics in an upcoming workshop I’m giving on Negotiations. Any opportunity to share the information!

    Rev

  21. Master Bishop, Excellent point but it is reactive in nature rather than proactive. We, as members of the lifestyle, cannot change the perceptions of those outside BDSM. However, we can join our voices in opposition to the “rape culture,” and domestic violence, that exists in our society as a whole.

    Our collective voices raised in opposition may seem odd to Vanilla onlookers initially but who better to define abuse than those of us who participate in activities wrongly perceived the same? i.e. Join forces with celebrities like Mariska Hargitay from Law and Order SVU.

    Such a move would make Vanillas wonder why we object to something they view us as participating in through our chosen lifestyle. Then, and only then, will their preconceived notions be undermined sufficiently to hear our argument about abuse differentiating from our consensual lifestyle activities.

    Our collective defense of BDSM has been futile to date. Why? Because we’ve been reactive. We need to proactively seek to change perceptions by attacking physical and sexual abuse openly. Violence against women is not part of our lifestyle and it makes sense to fight against it. My observations and suggestions are mine and should be construed as only one idea for getting our message heard.

  22. I never associated domestic abuse or other forms of violence with BDSM. It is only recently that I started to read on the internet they were somehow tied together (pun intended).

    BDSM is a fantasy, one which can become very much a part of life. But to inflict pain on someone that is unwilling or not happy about it is not really what BDSM is about. Dominant or submissive, the real pleasure comes from the thrill or the idea or attention.

    Domestic violence is altogether different. It is abusive and perpetrators of it are criminals for a start. They enjoy the sight of fear or at least they are people that just blow up and attack a partner or lover.

    It’s really quite sickening.

    The internet has to a large degree perpetuated the myth of BDSM and abuse given pornographers have been publishing images of quite visibly shaken women that have been cajoled into performing for the camera. When this leads to violence and intentional wounding then we are dealing not with a BDSM issue, but a criminal one involving greed and quite possibly hate.

    To me, BDSM is about play. Try it, if you have a willing partner.

  23. I had a lot of trouble with this distinction myself in the past. What really helped me realize the difference was comparing sparring in karate to being in an actual fight. I’ve gotten physical wounds from karate, bruises and such, and even occasionally done activities designed to help us take hits better. I also had a running pattern where as soon as I was told how to find a pressure point, I’d immediately press on that point on my own body and yelp in pain. The thing is, none of that felt anything like the times I’ve been in actual physical fights, or the times I self-injure from emotional pain. Realizing that made me realize that BDSM could differ from abuse the same way that sparring differs from fighting.

  24. Everyone needs to understand that an abuser will abuse under any condition. They don’t have to be in a BDSM relationship. They’re just as abusive when they’re in a vanilla relationship. Propagating abusive myths about BDSM is easy because the pictures of the equipments used and the facial expressions of the people involved, that are widespread over the Internet look scary. But more often than not, the equipments are all about pleasure. There are a certain group of people who enjoy stronger sensations and they do it with explicit consent of both the parties involved. The clarity with which the illustration distinguished between abuse and BDSM is commendable. We need to remember that one word can stop an entire BDSM scene but a thousand words won’t stop abuse. Thank You Master Bishop for highlighting this issue.

  25. Pretend Domme

    Is it possible to recover from being an abuser? I literally had no idea what I was doing was abusive. I legitimately thought it was 100 percent ok. Please help! I am scared that I will hurt him. Ihave been talking to him trying to convince him I didnt know what I was doing and that I can learn and find mentors and even be in therapy so to figure myself out. Already started the therapy. I am notified upon learning what I did was abuse and not what he wanted. Mortified that the reason I didnt know was my own fault. All the dommes I know keep defending me, the fault is his but I dont share that opinion. His sense of safety was my job and I use to have it. Has any one else been where I am and succeeded?

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