July/August 2003

by Kuma

Abuse is a widely bantered subject within the BDSM community, with many claims as to what does, and does not, constitute abuse, and when someone is or isnít an abuser, or when someone is, or is not, being abused. It is my belief that this has been made into a far too complicated controversy, from what is a very simple issue.

There are any number of definitions for abuse, but mine boils down to this; "Abuse, to me, is defined as the non consensual misuse of another persons body, mind, or spirit, to any degree". Lets look at that closely for a moment. Key to the definition is non-consensuality. If you did not voluntarily and knowledgeably consent to another personís actions, then it is, in any form, abuse. Slapping anyone without his or her knowledge and consent is abuse. Slapping someone after an agreed upon negotiation is play. Verbally humiliating anyone (regardless of volume) is abuse. Verbally humiliating someone during a negotiated and agreed upon interrogation scene is play. The second key is misuse. Any action, which has not been consented to, regardless of degree, is misuse.

Sexually assaulting anyone is misuse. Having sex during a negotiated rape scene is play, but even then, if the consent of your partner ends then so changes the definition of what you are doing should you continue. The third key is that of a personís body, mind or spirit. Any part of any person can be abused. The abused body, depending of the injuries inflicted, can often heal. The abused mind often retreats or conceals its pain in many ways. The abused spirit often takes the longest to heal, and can be the deepest forms of all abuse. The last key is any degree. It is a very common misconception that abuse always leaves visible physical and emotional scars which are repairable. The truth is that any degree of abuse creates an impact of varying degrees, and can be caused by thought, word, or deed.

To some extent, most of us have been abused. Prejudiced minds, hateful words, and thoughtless, uncaring deeds are just some of the abuses that many of us have been subjected to in our lives. How we cope with them defines how we will live and how we will survive. Each abuse is its own separate inflicted pain, and should be dealt with in separate terms. There is a very strong sentiment that those that have received abuse, will, in turn, abuse others, and there is some strikingly real evidence to support this. The pain that has been endured must go somewhere, and most often it is to those around the victims. It is a self-perpetuating evil that sustains itself by feeding on the pain and suffering of its victims.

Fortunately, there is hope. While the painful, silent suffering of victims was almost unheard of in years past, a change is beginning. Victims are now opening their hearts, exposing their pain, and breaking the cycle. Abusers are coming to realize that they no longer have the unchecked ability to harm whoever they want, whenever they want to, without sanction or penalty. A cost for abusing is finally being realized, and it is not insignificant.

Many of those who carelessly hurt those around them are finding themselves alone, and with no one to victimize. Many others are being told that life in this way is over, and a new way must be found. Still others, in the most severe situations, are finding themselves explaining their disregard for others to the judicial system, often with some surprising and unpleasant results. Victims must know that abuse is wrong, and that there is help! Support groups have been formed, safe call lists have been organized, and many have stepped forward to help those who feel trapped and alone. We will listen patiently, and understand, because there are no new abuses, just those being suffered again and again.
We are here, we will respond, we will help!

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