There are differences between dominant relationships and abusive relationships though some persons confuse the two. Dominant relationships are consensual and designed by partners who believe this lifestyle will be beneficial to them. Abusive relationships are ones that are detrimental to the partners especially the victims who often suffer both physically and emotionally. Dominant relationships are controversial in society with both proponents and detractors while abusive relationships are universally condemned.
Dominant Relationship Definition
A dominant relationship is one in which partners mutually agree that one of them will assume the role of leader and the other follower. The dominant figure is likely to be responsible for making the decisions in the relationship though the non-dominant partner may have input. In a dominant partnership there is the desire and consent of both partners to structure the relationship so that the dominant is the leader. Partners often negotiate “contracts” either verbal or written that outlines the arrangement including the preferences of both parties. These relationships may include physical discipline which is agreed upon and desired by both persons.
Abusive Relationship Definition
Abusive relationships are one in which there is a partner who inflicts physical or emotional pain (or both) on the other partner. The abused party does not consent to the treatment received. Abuse can include hitting, other means of force, threats, intimidation, harsh criticism and shouting. There is no negotiation of limits and the abuse often escalates over time. The abusive partner often uses force and intimidation to take control over the relationship. The partner being abused takes no pleasure in it. Physical abuse is against the law.
From those on the outside looking in on a dominant relationship they may only consider and misunderstand the “discipline” involved especially if this includes sadomasochism play such as spanking. Many assume any relationship that involves control of a partner is abusive. Advocates of dominant/submissive relationships contend that because both partners desire and consent to the arrangement that no abuse is occurring.
Many involved in dominant relationships believe the submissive person’s self esteem is built during the relationship while it is well known that self image is often destroyed in abusive relationships. Those who enjoy dominant relationships claim this type of partnership gives pleasure, provides security, increases intimacy and promotes achievement for both partners. Abusers and their victims suffer adverse effects of their toxic relationships with abusers often being incarcerated and their victims suffering physical injuries, fear, decreased self confidence and the belief that they are “trapped” in the situation.
Participants involved in relationships in which one individual assumes dominances must be careful to clearly define all aspects of the relationship. For example, partners who engage in physical discipline should employ a “safe” word to be utilized by the submissive partner should the dominant partner inflict more force than the other is comfortable with. Dominants and their partners should evaluate their relationship on a frequent basis to assure the arrangement is still desired and is progressing to the benefit of both parties. Those in abusive relationships should seek professional help immediately from law enforcement, medical personnel and friends and family as quickly as possible.