Archive for February 16th, 2010

I have received emails from several readers asking about my opinion of sado-masochism (S&M) after child abuse. In some cases, the person is engaging in S&M as a consenting adult. In other cases, the person has been viewing S&M pornography. The emails I receive ask my opinion of engaging in these actions, whether as active participants or as viewers. Because this seems to be a recurring theme, I thought it was a good idea to address this issue on my blog.

Let me begin by saying that I see nothing wrong with engaging in pretty much any type of sexual behavior that is 100% consensual between the adults involved (no children ever or other unable to consent). If consenting adults enjoy engaging in S&M, who am I to tell them that they are doing anything wrong?

However, the emails I have been receiving are filled with shame and confusion, and they are written by adult survivors of sexual abuse. Some of those writing the emails specifically say that the S&M behavior that they are either viewing or participating in mirrors abuses that they suffered as abused children. In my opinion, this is not a healthy activity for someone who is using S&M as a way to reenact the abuse.

I don’t see S&M as any different from fantasizing about the child abuse during consensual sex, engaging in degrading consensual sex that mirrors the child abuse, or watching pornography that mirrors the child abuse. All of these situations have the same common element – a child abuse survivor is choosing to go back to an abusive situation in his or her head in order to achieve an orgasm. I think this is re-abusing yourself and not emotionally healthy for you to engage in.

While I cannot relate to S&M, I can relate to choosing to reenact the abuse in my head to achieve an orgasm. If I want to climax during consensual sex, nothing makes it happen faster than to fantasize a reenactment of my childhood trauma. However, I have chosen to stop doing this out of respect for my wounded inner child. I would rather never climax again than continue to harm my inner child. I am still in the process of separating out trauma from orgasms.

If you are engaging in consensual S&M and do not feel any sort of shame or triggering from it, I see no need for you to stop. However, if you are a child abuse survivor who is feeling conflicted, listen to that voice inside of yourself. If this behavior was not harmful to you, then why would you be second guessing yourself? Why would you be writing to me asking whether or not it is “wrong”? You already know the answer – it is wrong for you because it is hurting you.

Believe me – I don’t have all of the answers, and I certainly don’t have them all for sex. I strongly suggest reading The Sexual Healing Journey by Wendy Maltz to help you with your sexual healing.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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