There’s a difference between abuse and ethical kink practice: it’s consent and fun and fulfilment, carried out with respect and honesty.
A controlling and dominating abuser operates by stripping away the autonomy of their partner because of deeply held insecurities or anger, causing immeasurable pain and suffering. Dominance and submission dynamics are based on equality of humanity and willful handing over of power/authority whilst maintaining each other’s autonomy with respect and compassion.
A violent attacker has no control over their behaviour or feels that’s the only way the can get what they want, resulting in death and injury of others. S&M players care deeply about their partners, careful to not cause harm or unintentional suffering to each other, making sure that pleasure is the goal of their play.
An imprisoner or kidnapper takes a person and restrains them to get a ransom, or to carry out violent sadistic acts without consent from the kidnapped. In bondage, we explore the feelings of control and letting go, trusting that our partner will look after us after a long negotiation process.
A pedophile destroys the lives of children for sexual pleasure. Age and/or incest players like to act out that they are those types of ages or roles because it explores a taboo and there’s a deeply emotional and sexual fulfilment in it.
Animal abusers carry out beastiality from a motivation to use their surroundings for themselves to achieve whatever they want, including for sexual pleasure. Pet players treat each other with kindness, one person being the pet, the other the care giver/owner, to fulfil a need they have and for self expression. Equally, primal players explore animalistic instincts, as predator and prey, to tap into carnal lusts and pleasure.
There are plenty of other types of dynamics that we can explore, and each of the ones I have mentioned can go in all sorts of directions. Some of these or none of these might appeal to you, which is OK, too. The benefits of each overlap and the ethics around communication, trust, respect, autonomy, kindness, etc very much underpin them all.
It is understandable that people not familiar with the ethics and thoughtfulness that goes into the BDSM lifestyle and play, might find this all repugnant. There are some very dangerous people out there, using our lifestyle to abuse others. Harming others is not what we do. And if we see that going on in our community, we (should) speak out, so bad actors can be removed.
When we do get to explore taboos and our own personal sexual desires beyond traditional stereotypes, it can be an enriching and deeply validating experience. That is where the magic happens!
(Want to learn more? Check out my book The Kink Embrace )