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50 Shades of Controversy: Is It Domestic Violence or Kink?Now let me start with a disclaimer, I have only read part of one book in the 50 Shades of Grey series so I am no expert on the book. With that said, I do know enough to get an idea of what the book is about. The book describes a kinky relationship between a man named Christian Grey and a woman named Anastasia Steele who engage in a consensual kinky relationship.

On the radio last week, I heard a report on the up coming movie release of 50 Shades of Grey. A woman from a women’s group suggested this movie promotes domestic violence against women. She suggested “women in these types of relationships [kinky], end up in women’s shelters.”

Let me say this: I support women’s equality and I’m against domestic and sexual violence against anyone. However kink is not domestic violence because it’s a consensual act while domestic violence violates and subjugated a victim through violence, fear, and manipulation.

Understanding Kink

Kink is a community that is very misunderstood. The reason it is so misunderstood is because some of the kinky play can be construed as domestic violence especially to a person not familiar with the kink community. I know this because I know people in the kink community both men and women. Through them I learned about the world of kinky relationships and what they seek in those types of relationships and from the kinky play.

50 Shades of Controversy: Is It Domestic Violence or Kink?I hear stories of extreme sexual play that I can absolutely see how someone could misconstrue the act as domestic violence. For instance, knife play, bondage and sadomasochism (BDSM), racial play, sub/dom/pet play, among others. However, they are not violent acts because the person being treated in that way when in a healthy kink relationship would in fact have to ask for that kind of treatment, while the domestic violence victim did not ask for any of it and was violated in the most horrible way.

I say this because a person in a kink relationship will literally in explicit language say, “Honey, I want you to tie me up like a beast tied to a steak, and then whip me until I am red all over, but if I say stop, you must stop.”

The domestic abuser forces that on a person turning them into a victim with no and stop being totally disregarded by the abuser.

The Rules of Kink

The kink community has rules to prevent a situation from getting out of hand and will stop a person from feeling victimized.
Kink is not an excuse to hit your partner or treat him or her like a dog but rather a play desired by both parties, arranged ahead of time where either party can stop the play at any time no questions asked.

If those rules are violated then yes its domestic violence.

Domestic abusers don’t ask for consent to hit their spouses or paramours, they just hit them. If the victim asks for the beatings to stop they just keep on beating them until they are a shell of person. The members of the kink community that I have met do not look, act, or feel like victims of violence. In fact, many are happy self-actualized people who live with only one fear; being outed and judged for their lifestyle by a disapproving world and having their worlds turned upside down because of ignorance.

Why Choose A Kinky Relationship

In many ways kinky relationships can be therapeutic in the same way as a therapist who helps a client express anger by having them hit something not living like a punching bag. Kink can help a person deal and re-experience trauma from a past abusive relationship in a safe caring environment. We have found that these experiences can really help resolve past traumas.

For many, kink also offers freedom of sexual expression and make individuals them feel alive and fulfilled, even if they are the ones receiving a whipping from their partner.

50 Shades of Controversy: Is It Domestic Violence or Kink?If we are going to address domestic violence then we need to understand the fine line between sexual freedom and violence. Domestic violence is a serious issue and a serious crime. The line is simple, think about the difference between sex and rape. Sex is a loving consensual act with desire for pleasure and a mutually erotic experience for both parties. Rape on the other hand is nothing more than violence. I define violence simply as the infringement upon another’s boundaries both physically and emotionally using some sort of aggressive harmful act with soul intent to manipulate, control, or intimidate another person.

Kinky relationship are like sex because the intense play in a kinky encounter may appear violent but in fact is a loving act agreed upon by both the person providing the act and the one receiving the act. After the kinky act is over, the person receiving the act will not fear that it will happen again unless they want it to. Just because a person in this community may get pleasure from pain, it does not mean they are violent people. In fact, outside the arena a vast majority of the people in the kink community are gentle loving souls.

As therapists we need to understand this difference so that kink communities can obtain the services they need without fear of having their world destroyed and their children, who are not in any danger, taken away from them. Therapists must understand what consenting adults do in their bedrooms is not a crime nor that it is our place to judge. We are there to treat the client’s issue they sought help for, not for us to make their lives worse. However, when we take a kinky relationship and call it domestic violence, we are causing harm to our client.

I want to be clear, I believe that domestic violence is is an epidemic in this country and an issue that needs to be tackled now. That does not mean kink and domestic violence are the same thing and I hope I’ve made that distinction clear.

David Fishman

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