PTSD and BDSM

by Medic_Rabbit

(c)July 2013 All rights reserved This article is the sole property of the author and CAN NOT be reprinted in any format without express written permission of the author.

PTSD , or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a all too common problem in victims ranging from childhood abuse, to rape, to Armed Forces vets returning home. Although this is going to be written as a simple introduction to the disorder, and a introductory guide to play with those owning the disorder, anyone reading this should always remember: Use safe words, learn triggers and associated behaviors, and above all else, seek medical advice for any PTSD related issue.

The Event

On this particular day, I was feeling extra sadistic. My sub was being super-subby and wanting to push her limits with how much punishment she could take. So we decided to play a game, where I cuffed her hands and feet, then whipped her with my belt. I worked her up to “Red”, 3 times. After a 20 minute break, I came back to start again (having left her tied up, of course). I was about 3 strokes in when I heard her mumble something. I wasn’t sure what it was, and since she’d been cursing my name, I ignored it. After the next stroke of my belt, I heard it again, but this time it sounded like “Red”. I stopped immediately. She was trying to curl into a ball, and was still mumbling the word. Her voice was just a whisper, and her words were almost drunken/slurred.

During the aftercare of this event, I found out this sub had been abused by a former Dom. He ignored all protocol and safety measures, and let her have it. I also found out she had been raped. By not understanding upfront that her first mumble was our safe word, I had triggered a flashback, and reduced a strong woman, and able sub, into a crumpled up shell, if only momentarily.

Defined:

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as: A severe anxiety disorder that may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, serious injury or the threat of death.

Diagnosis

Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event that meets specific stipulations and symptoms from each of four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity. The sixth criterion concerns duration of symptoms; the seventh assesses functioning; and, the eighth criterion clarifies symptoms as not attributable to a substance or co-occurring medical condition.

Breakdown

If you have experienced an extremely traumatic event, where you have ever felt utterly powerless, hopeless, feared death would result, or felt invaded, you may have some form of PTSD and should seek medical help.

PTSD and Play

When engaging with a person who has been diagnosed, talk to that person. Establish safe boundaries, Safe words and a means for your partner to escape from the situation if needed. Approach it without bias or judgement. ANYTHING can be a trigger for a flashback. Most importantly: Go SLOW!! Your partner may not even be aware that what their doing could be a trigger, and even if it isn’t, when pushing limits, something may be set off inadvertently. Safe, sane and consensual, in this case, also means the Dom isn’t just in control, it means you are responsible for watching your subs every reaction. If the lights go out, assume the worst, not “sub space”.

If your partner is not diagnosed, but has a traumatic event, be very careful. First and foremost, encourage them to seek help. getting help is NOT a weakness. Use caution, as without their issues being worked on, you may find yourself dealing with a whole new person. By the same token, they could be just fine. It’s dangerous, and requires the highest levels of attention to be payed. Any type of “shutting down” or “shutting off”, or any unusual behavior, and play should cease.

Wrap up

PTSD is not life ending. It does not mean you can’t be in this life, or that anything is wrong with you. But it does mean extra precautions are taken. I encourage anyone struggling with a past traumatic event, to seek out help, and remember that people do care, and are here to help you stay strong.

2 Responses to PTSD and BDSM

  1. Elizabeth Hennes says:

    Common sense would have told me to stop the first time I didnt catch what my sub said. Tragic error.

  2. Lasers says:

    Thank you for sharing. Sound like not your fault your sub had this trigger, and you acted immediately once you were clear the safeword was said. HOWEVER the way the story reads… using the safeword as a word to pause a scene with the intent of restarting – can’t be something you’d recommend. I don’t want this to become common unintentionally. Except for some kind of negotiated edgeplay, there needs to be “the safeword” that means: this scene stops, and I need out, I am in danger, no more hits are ok (not 1, not .5 – 0). The top should be listening for that word, even if pretending not to, and be so very attentive to it. I am being pedantic, but because of the educational nature of this site it seems appropriate. Perhaps this was something you and your sub are ok with but I’d caution the reader not to reuse “red” as “pause, that hurt me beyond my limit and I need a breather” – readers should get a new word for that, the safeword has a meaning it’s clear, it’s not ambiguous. Author- If safeword edgeplay is a thing, you need to mention that. Good post though. Feel free to drop this critical comment if you make an edit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *