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Can BDSM Be Healthy?

By Melissa, a Hotline advocate

bdsmHere at The Hotline, we hear from quite a few people who have questions about BDSM (which encompasses a variety of erotic practices or activities that may involve bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and/or sadism and masochism). They might be wondering if it’s healthy, or they may have concerns about a current relationship in which they’re practicing BDSM with a partner.

A lot of stigma is attached to certain sexual appetites and desires, but we want to be very clear that BDSM is not inherently or automatically abusive. It’s possible to have healthy BDSM relationships, and they require just as much–if not more–of the same things that healthy “vanilla” relationships do: trust, honesty, respect and equality.

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Everyone Deserves a Safe Relationship

You’re probably aware that the movie Fifty Shades of Grey, based on the extremely popular book series, opens today nationwide. Despite the popularity of the series, many different voices have criticized the books for portraying and even romanticizing unhealthy and abusive behaviors.

Some members of the media and other groups have also commented about the characters participating in BDSM. We at The Hotline want to note that a BDSM relationship is not inherently abusive. People in the BDSM community enter into consenting and healthy relationships every day.

A healthy relationship includes open communication, mutually agreed-upon boundaries and consent from all partners. No matter how a relationship is defined, behaviors like verbal abuse, sexual violence, jealousy, possessiveness, stalking and damaging or destroying belongings are all signs of an unhealthy or abusive relationship. If you have questions about your own relationship, if you feel unsafe or if you are feeling triggered, advocates are here to support you 24/7, confidentially and without judgment.

At The Hotline, we believe everyone deserves to be in a healthy and safe relationship.