Among other sources, this text is collected from Jay Wiseman’s book “SM 101” and Park Elliot Dietz, one of the worlds leading authorities on the connection between sex and violence
SM versus violence
1. Perhaps the biggest difference between a violent sadist and an SM Master is that the former destroys the self confidence, value and dignity of the victim. An SM Master does the opposite.
2. SM sexual games have neither perpetrators nor victims. An SM scene is a win-win situation for mutual satisfaction.
3. The submissive partner wishes and longs for the domination. Most people do not want to be abused, and consensual domination is not abuse.
4. Planning, communication and warming up (like in extreme sports) are essential for preventing damage. Sadistic psychopaths, on the other hand, damage their victims, physically and emotionally, deliberately.
5. A sadistic psychopath has usually a history of sexual abuse like rape and incest. Sadomasochists are, as a rule, ordinary people without criminal records or criminal interests.
6. SM is played out in safe settings and safe ways. Abuse is out of control.
7. SM games are negotiated beforehand by equal partners. They decide upon limits and safe words. A perpetrator decides unilaterally without any concern for the wishes, limits or the well being of the victim.
8. SM games contain rules that are mutually agreed upon. In an abusive relationship there is no agreement and the victim has no rights.
9. SM is built upon respect and confidence and is always consensual. Abuse is non consensual and ruins the relationship.
10. The violent sadist is cold and without empathy during the torture. The SM Master uses communication and empathy to find out what turns the slave on.
11. An SM relationship can be loving, intimate, and involve personal growth. Victims of violence experience anxiety, guilt, shame and powerlessness.
12. Many SM practitioners switch roles during the interaction, from time to time, or as a personal development. In an abusive relationship the roles, as a rule, are static.
13. SM is often practiced with support from friends and often in an SM environment. Abuse, on the other hand, requires isolation and secrecy.
14. The dominant in the SM relation respects the borders of the partner. To the extent the borders are stretched, it takes place according to mutual agreement.
15. Using a safe word (e.g. “red”) the slave can immediately stop the game for whatever reason, whether it is physical or emotional. A victim has no such possibility with a perpetrator.
16. SM role-playing typically ends with mutual cuddling and evaluation.
17. The SM slave typically feels grateful to the Master. A victim is not grateful.
18. SM people don’t feel that they have any rights to control their partners by virtue of gender, income or other external, circumstances. Perpetrators often do.
19. There are reasons to believe that SM, like other kinds of consensual sexual practices, liberate bodily and emotional energy, promotes health and prevent violence.
See also: Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity. Self and society in late modern age. Stanford University Press. Stanford.