Doms can be abused too

I spend a lot of time yelling about how easy it is for s-types to be abused, and while I want to be clear that in general people on that side of the slash are much more vulnerable to abuse, it’s also important to talk about how being a d-type does not magically grant you immunity to abuse.

Take this woman (link goes to a Savage Love article, for those who aren’t fans) for example, a former pro dom who has been blatantly emotionally abused by her partner, a former client. After they had been together for some time (the letter doesn’t specify exactly how long), he pressured her to give up her job as a pro dom because “he didn’t want to be with a woman who was still practicing this kind of physical intimacy with others”, then “his jealousy flared” when she went out for lunch with a male friend she had played with before, and again when he snooped on her computer and found a photo of her physically intimate with an ex. And finally, the issue that prompted the letter writer to ask Dan Savage for advice: “But the latest and most bitter pill is that he no longer wants me to write anything about my experiences-not because it might cause professional fallout if people knew about him dating a former pro domme (notwithstanding the fact that he was a client once), but because he doesn’t want me to think about the experiences I’ve had.”

Due to the stigma sex workers face, the letter writer is particularly vulnerable to being pressured to give up a job she reportedly loved. As she said in her letter “It seemed like I needed to give that up to have a marriage and family” which is not at all an unusual thing to think. I’m sure there are many people who have left sex work for that exact reason. However, her job really doesn’t matter that much. No matter what you do for a living, no matter how “respectable” it is, an abuser will find a way to object to it. If she were still a secretary, like she was before she became a pro dom, he would just complain about her dealing with strange men all day or accuse her of flirting with her coworkers. If she worked as a goddamn kindergarten teacher, he would find some way to make her feel bad about her job and by extension herself.

The truly ridiculous thing is that if her partner didn’t want to “be with a woman who was still practicing this kind of physical intimacy with others,” there’s an extremely simple solution. Don’t date her. She’s not the only kinky woman in the world, so if her job is a deal breaker put on your big kid pants and leave her.

There are many, many things in the scene that make it terrifyingly easy to abuse submissive people – the idea that having fewer limits makes you a better submissive, that 24/7 TPE is something you should aspire to, that saying no to your dom means you’re just playing at submitting just for starters – but doms can be abused too. We’re only human, after all. If your partner makes you feel bad about yourself, if they control your life in ways that you don’t enjoy, or that you didn’t agree to or that don’t enrich your life, you are being abused. Whether you’re a dom or a sub simply does not matter.

3 thoughts on “Doms can be abused too

  1. Another outstanding piece. Thank you for continuing to write. This is my favorite blog right now and I think you are doing the entire world of kink/BDSM a service by writing about things that a lot of people don’t think about or talk about.

    At the end of the day, all relationships involve emotional attachment on some level or another (unless you are a psychopath), and a dominant wants to have those good emotional feelings about their partner just like anybody else, and thus the pathway to abuse.

    Ironically, the more involved a dominant and submissive are, the easier it is for the dominant to be abused. You would think that things would become more hardcore and the submissive would lose more control and have less of an ability to cause harm, and that may be true depending on your relationship (or not), but emotional bonds are also being formed regardless.

    One of the things my wife always resents is the idea that dominants have to be an incorruptible island. They are people, just like anybody else, and need support from the people who love them most. If that person happens to be a submissive in their life, they can still twist those emotional lifelines to get what they want. If my wife can’t depend on my for support, her submissive husband, then who can she depend on?

    She thought she would never marry again and was left emotionally damaged by her ex-husband. I helped her get over that simply by being depending and loving and trustworthy over a long period of time. Could I twist that around to extort her emotionally at this point in our relationship? Yes. I never would of course, but it’s definitely possible.

    I’ve been using the word “submissive”, but I really felt like using the word “bottom” because this guy doesn’t sound that submissive to me. However, an abuser is an abuser no matter what else they are, and a victim is a victim no matter what else they are (including a dominant).

  2. Yeah, any pretexts will do for isolating someone from other people and limiting their self-expression and communication. I don’t buy either that the degree of intimacy in pro dom work is the issue here. It’s about taking away contacts and creative joy.

    he no longer wants me to write anything about my experiences

    If she were still a secretary, like she was before she became a pro dom, he would just complain about her dealing with strange men all day or accuse her of flirting with her coworkers. If she worked as a goddamn kindergarten teacher, he would find some way to make her feel bad about her job and by extension herself.

    I agree. By analogy, an isolating controlling abusive person would also object to writing about experiences with rock climbing (other sweating rock climbers will hang out near her) or a cake baking blog (strange baking men will comment).

  3. There may be people who want to have their cake and eat it too?

    Real monogamous partner. A. Commited to me in a monogamous relationship. B. Kinky interaction is a matter of interests and desires of two people, never an obligation.

    Real pro dom. A. Works with clients; private life is separate. B. Kinky interaction according to my desires, if a contract is made, can be expected to render a service for money.

    Entitled Fantasy: A. Commited to ME in a monogamous relationship. B. Kinky interaction according to MY desires and an obligation to ME.
    Entitled strategy 1: In a relationship, make her feel obligated to do it all how I want it.
    Entitled strategy 2: Start a relationship with a pro dom, but instead of being her private partner who is separate from her work, become her controlling full time superclient, get her services all to myself, remove the parts in her life where she isn’t obligated to me and focussed only on me.

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