Did you miss part 1? You can read it here.

In Part 1, we looked at the information that you should try to gather when starting to interact with an unknown Dom/me. However, there are other warning signs that can appear once you start to develop a relationship with your new Dom/me.

Evaluating your training

Once you start in training you have a better chance to evaluate your new Dom/me. Is the Dom creating a positive learning environment, or does s/he make you feel that you are constantly failing his/her orders? Was it really a newbie mistake, or is there a lack of training that is causing the failure? Submission can easily set up a feeling of need and dependency on the Dom/me. The sub is often rewarded with praise and punishment, and the new sub will long to perform well in order to get that praise and avoid the punishment. Good Dom/mes want happy and proud subs. There is a difference between ‘beating’ and ‘browbeating’!

Another warning sign in training is the lack of limits or safe words. I know there are experienced Dom/mes who say they don’t use either; however, I strongly believe both are necessary for the safety of the new sub. No limits? What about breath play, knife play, blood play? What about marks, scars, and piercings? No safe word? How is your Dom/me going to know if there is some physical or mental effect that you are having trouble dealing with? There are some very observant Dom/mes out there, and the safe word may never be used. But why would a Dom/me feel threatened by having a safe word in place?

Is it Abuse or is it BDSM?

A predator can use the feeling of need and dependency to create an unhealthy environment, rather than participation in an exciting power exchange. Signs of an abuser in the vanilla world are denial, isolation, dependency, anger, control, and emotional impact. How does this relate to the BDSM world? Let’s look at them one by one, and compare with the vanilla world.

Denial –In the BDSM world, the Dom may punish you for serious offenses. This has happened to me three times in five years. If He was not allowed to punish me, the alternative would be to end the relationship, due to the nature of the conflict. I chose to accept the punishment. Often a Dom will discipline the sub, giving a clear explanation of the ‘offense’, and the discipline, e.g. standing in the corner because you talked back to your Dom. The discipline will fit the seriousness of the offense. This can be an enjoyable part of the power exchange, and ‘brat subs’ in particular will do things to make the Dom discipline them. (Think of the last scene in The Secretary, where she put a bug on the bed). Discipline can also be a useful training tool. Predators, however, will convince you that you deserve punishment for a wide variety of real and imagined offenses. They do not use appropriate levels of discipline, so the punishment does not fit the crime. It is never part of a consensual power exchange, and offenses are not forgiven after the discipline. There is a constant reminder of your ‘failure’.

Isolation – A vanilla abuser will isolate a girlfriend from her friends and family. The caring Dom/me may limit certain contacts in order to protect the sub but will encourage healthy relationships in the community. In other words, it takes a community to train a sub!!

Dependency – If an abuser can control the person, he can control their feelings and keep them. A Dom is all about control, but again, the power exchange is the key. A sub consents to this control and can withdraw consent at any time. I derive great satisfaction from being owned and under control. However, I still have independent thought and action. This makes a life for both of us more exciting as the willing submission is the ultimate power exchange.

Anger – The abuser reacts with anger instead of a range of emotions. The Dom/me will always keep calm and under control, especially when dispensing discipline or punishment. This is key for the safety of his/her submissive toy!

Control – With the abuser, it is his/her way or the highway. A proper Dom/me will negotiate roles in advance, and when a bump is encountered, renegotiation is encouraged. If this does not work out, then both sub or Dom/me have the choice to move on to another relationship, with no hard feelings on either side.

Emotional impact – You can get used to being treated poorly, and begin to think it is normal. The predator Dom/me will approach slavery and submission as a lowly thing. I have had Goreans tell me ‘she’s just a slave’, but that slave is usually highly valued. Humiliation play can be fun, but constant humiliation is abusive. If your instinct is that you are performing a valuable service, but your Dom/me treat you like garbage, follow your instincts and find another Dom/me.

There are wolves in this community. Some of these wolves are quite open about the fact, and proud of it (which gives you an interesting option if you have Red Riding Hood fantasies). Others are predators hiding behind fancy names and secrecy. In a discussion of predators, my Master told me “they refuse to come out into the light of munches and parties, and they pull newbies out to the fringes like separating lambs from the flock”. The world of BDSM is about playing with the dark side of emotions, pain, and pleasure, or about serving in ways that are often unacceptable in the vanilla world. Subs need to be aware of warning signs to protect themselves, just as they do with dating in the vanilla world. In this case, a little knowledge is not a dangerous thing; it can help you reap the rewards of the lifestyle of your choice.