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Using BDSM as a Healing Tool in Your Sex Life

Using BDSM as a Healing Tool in Your Sex Life

Hello lovelies, and welcome to our newest blog post! This time, we’re moving away from sex toys, anal play, and g-spots, and into a space of kink + BDSM; specifically, how BDSM can be used as a healing tool for survivors of trauma. BDSM tends to get a bad rap in mainstream media, so we’ll also be debunking some common myths surrounding BDSM & opening your mind up to all the fun, empowering possiblities that BDSM can bring into your sex life. 


BDSM 101

Let’s start with the basics: what even is BDSM?

 

What is BDSM?

BDSM stands for bondage, dominiance, sadism, and masochism. It’s defined by Merriam-Webster as a “range of sexual preferences that generaly relate to the enjoyment of physical control, psychological control, and/or pain. Often described as a sequence of power, pain, & release, BDSM comes in many forms: bondage play, breath play, discipline, roleplay, power exchanges, sadomasichism, and kink. Each has its different purposes and are enjoyed for different reasons.

 

BDSM is usually further broken down into three categories: bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism.

Bondage typically involves restricting one partner’s movement using something like handcuffs or ropes in order to increase sexual enjoyment & create different bodily sensations. Discipline involves different punishments or rules that partners discuss beforehand, typically surrounding control by one partner so they can tell their submissive partner what they want.

Dominance is simply the act of being the dominating partner who dictates the other partner’s behavior (inside and sometimes even outside of the bedroom), whether that be telling the partner how they’re allowed to move/not move, when they’re allowed to finish, or being the physically dominant partner who’s on top/controlling positions during sexual expereinces. Submission is the opposite – the submissive follow’s instructions/actions by the dominant partner, and may or may not have control over their decisions depending on what’s discussed beforehand. Permission and boundaries are super important when it comes to playing around with dominant & submissive roles!

Finally, sadism & masochism (AKA sadomasichism) are terms that describe the enjoyment that partners get from inflicting (sadism) or receiving (masochism) pain.


To learn more about kink play + how to incorporate it into your BDSM experiences, pause real quick & read our guide to Kink for Beginners: 5 Tips for Getting Started!


Busting BDSM Myths

Like we already said, BDSM definitely has a bad rap in mainstream media and there are a lotttt of incorrect assumptions floating out there about what BDSM is, its purpose, and the people that participate in it. So we’re here to bust some of the most common BDSM myths to help you get an understanding of what BDSM actually is & is not! 


BDSM is abusive

The myth we probably see portrayed most in the media and in conversations about BDSM is that BDSM is inherently abusive. This is far from true, as the BDSM community is ALL about safe, consensual sexual experiences for everyone involved, every single time. While BDSM does often involve inflicting and/or receiving pain, it’s not because participants want to experience abuse or inflict it on their partner: the purpose of this pain is to experience the pleasurable sensations that can come with pushing your tolerance in a safe, controlled environment. It’s crucial to for all partners to be intentional about consent, communication, boundaries, and trust when participating in BDSM in order for everyone to have a completely safe experience, which is why the idea the “BDSM is abusive” is just plain incorrect.


BDSM is only for survivors of abuse/trauma

Another one we hear sometimes is that BDSM is only for survivors of abuse who want to heal from traumatic experiences. While this can be the case (and we’ll get into that more a little further down!), it’s not always the case: BDSM can be for anybody who wants to try it out or practice it in their sexual experiences, whether or not you’ve experienced some sort of sexual abuse that you want to work through & heal from through BDSM. In addition, some survivors of sexual trauma may feel triggered through BDSM and may prefer to avoid this type of sexual pplay. While BDSM is not for everybody, or something that everybody will enjoy, it’s open and available to anybody who would like to participate! 


BDSM is all about pain

BDSM does often involve pain (hence the “sadism” and “masochism” in its name), but it’s not just about pain! The reason BDSM participants enjoy pain in this context is because it allows them to push their limits, test their tolerance, and enjoy pleasruable sensations that can come from the extreme sensations that often come with pain. Some BDSM participants may love feeling good via inflicting or receiving pain, while some may prefer simple bondage without intense levels of pain – and either way (or anywhere in between) is valid!


BDSM is sufficient therapy on its own

Finally, although we will be talking about how you can use BDSM as a healing tool if you’ve experienced some sort of sexual abuse or trauma, it is usually NOT sufficient therapy on its own. It can be therapeutic if done correctly, but you’ll most likely experience the most benefit if it’s supplmeneted by normal talk therapy, or a different type of therapy with a licensed professional to guide you.


BDSM As a Healing Tool for Trauma Sufferers

Now, let’s discuss how BDSM can be used as a healing tool for people who have suffered from trauma – which can sometimes seem counterintuitive at first, as BDSM often involves pain and can sometimes involve roleplay of scenarios that, outside of a BDSM context, could be seen as abusive.

 

How can BDSM help people heal who have suffered trauma?

BDSM is a super interesting way that trauma sufferers can venture into a world of healing through sexual experiences, as it can really help participants to reclaim their bodily autonomy & power. If you’ve ever experienced any degree of sexual assault/abuse/trauma, you may feel as though your bodily autonomy was stripped away from you without your consent. This is where BDSM comes in: BDSM is ALL about consent from all parties, and shouldn’t be practiced without it. Consent is cornerstone when it comes to safe BDSM experiences with the intention of empowering participants to reclaim their power & allow themselves to experience pleasure!

With the proper communication, trust, and boundaries, the controlled enviroment of BDSM can allow trauma sufferes to rewrite and revisit traumatic memories or experiences in a safe way. The ability to voice when lines are crossed and communicate what you want or don’t want can open up a world of pleasure-based sexual experiences rather than shame-based or anxiety-inducing!

For trauma sufferers, BDSM can be an incredible tool used to rebuild trust with yourself, your body, and a partner, as well as a form of meditation through the breath work required to tolerate certain levels of discomfort or pain, if you’d like to venture into sadomasichism.


Benefits of BDSM for trauma sufferers:

Window of tolerance:

In BDSM, the term “window of tolerance,” coined by Dr. Dan Siegel, is used to describe how we operate when we’re regulated compared to when our sympathetic branch is in overdrive, or stuck. If you’ve experienced traumatic life events, your window of tolerance will decrease, causing your nervous system to be more easily triggered by certain behaviors. BDSM can be used to help your nervous system relearn self-regulation through increasing your window of tolerance – AKA what you’re able & willing to experience before your body tells you to stop.


Communication:

The level of honest communication required for BDSM is key to having safe, consensual sexual experiences that all parties can fully enjoy. If you’ve experienced trauma, you may struggle with using your voice & communicating what you like/don’t like, or want/don’t want – and BDSM can be a great tool to help you practice voicing your desires and boundaries in a safe, controlled environment where you will be heard and seen! 


Trust:

Trust is another big one, along with communication: building trust with your sexual partners is crucial to enjoying BDSM and using it to help you heal past traumatic experiences. Building trust with partners will help you feel safe and confident in communicating your boundaries, or communicating what’s pleasurable to you so that you can fully enjoy your experience with somebody who you feel completely comfortable being vulnerable with!


After care:

Finally, after care is a big part of the BDSM community and having enjoyable, safe BDSM experiences. After care is simply the time that you and your partner take after an intense sexual experience to recover, heal, and avoid any emotional/physical damage. This may involve cuddling, hugging, kissing, cleaning up, showering together, rehydrating, eating, or simply talking about & reflecting on how the experience was for each of you. This step is essential to making sure all parties feel safe, comfortable, and taken care of after what could be an intense sexual experience, physically and/or emotionally.


BDSM in Pop Culture

Rewinding back to the topic of how BDSM has been portrayed in mainstream media through the years, let’s look at some of the most popular examples of BDSM in movies & TV shows that you might be familiar with!


Fifty Shades of Grey

This is probably the one you think of first. The Fifty Shades of Grey films are iconic for their portrayal of BDSM including the use of paddles & nipple clamps, safe words, and contracts between partners. These movies definitely played a big role in the normalization of BDSM, even if they didn’t fully depict healthy, ideal BDSM scenarios when it comes to dominant-submissive relationships.


CSI

I know, this seems like a weird one – but CSI actually had a recurring dominatrix character who played a love interest to one of the main protagonists!


Secretary

Lastly, the 2002 film Secretary is a big one, as it depicted the relationship between a younger woman and her boss who was into domination. This is one of the films that contributed to the normalization of BDSM and dominant-submissive relationships, albeit a bit of a lighthearted take on BDSM than many other films/shows that took on the topic in a heavier way.


How to Practice Safe BDSM

Before we wrap up this blog post, let’s go through some of the main components of ensuring you practice BDSM safely and consensually, whether you’re a beginner or are experienced within the BDSM community!


Consent, communication, & trust

BDSM cannot be BDSM without consent from ALL parties involved. Without consent, BDSM has the potential to feel unsafe/abusive to people who have suffered traumatic experiences in the past where they weren’t able to give their consent. Before any sexual experiences that will involve BDSM, make sure you’re engaging with people you fully trust, and open up an honest line of communication between all parties so you can discuss what it means for you to give consent, as well as how each party can be confident that you have given your consent. 


Boundaries

On the same note, boundaries are incredibly important to safe BDSM! All parties need to be able to comfortable & confidently express their boundaries, as well as adjust their boundaries safely without judgment or pushback. Discuss your boundaries ahead of time, both emotional & physical, and make sure all parties feel comfortable knowing they can change their boundaries at any time.


Safe words

Safe words are a huge part of BDSM – these are simply words you decide on before entering a sexual experience involving BDSM that tell your partner(s) to stop immediately. Decide on safe words before engaging in BDSM or kinky sexual experiences so that all parties know what words they need to listen for & respect. Safe words can be used if boundaries are crossed, or simply if a sensation/practice doesn’t feel good for one person and they want the play to stop without hesitation, questions, or judgment. This is a big part of creating a safe, controlled environment where everybody feels completely comfortable and taken care of.

 

Planning

Finally, plan out your activities beforehand! Especially if you’re new to BDSM, or you want to try out a new type of play (such as breath play, or switching dominant-submissive roles), it can be helpful to talk about what you’re going to do beforehand so that all parties know what to expect, and what’s going to happen. Remember that if you want to change it up partway through, you can totally do so & go with the flow as long as all partners agree to it – and you can also stop whenever you want to, even if you planned to go further!

  

Alrighty everyone, that’s it for today! We hope that this blog helped you get a better understanding of what BDSM is & is NOT, how to engage in safe BDSM, and how you can use it as a healing tool in your life. 

If you’re looking for some fun toys & accessories to incorporate into your BDSM experiences, shop for paddles, floggers, & crops here, and browse through restraints here. Or shop all of our BDSM products here!

Now go get crazy (consenually)!