As I stated in an answer to a different topic, I've been in this lifestyle for over 30 years. In that time I have learned a great deal, and one of the main things I have learned is that the sub/slave only allows the Dom/Master to be in charge as long as they feel their needs, wants, and desires are being met.
I believe one of the most important desires of a sub/slave is to feel safe. Regardless of the type of Dominant all they want is to know that the one they have chosen is not going to do irreparable physical or mental harm to them.
I've encountered both and I've got to say that the sub/slave with irreparable "mental" harm done to them are the ones who are damaged the most. They are the ones who crave being in the lifestyle, but fear being in a Dom/sub relationship again. They seem, to me, to have the most trust issues. Where a bruise or cut on the body will heal in time, the mental scars may take a lifetime to heal.
Right now, I'm sure I might be able to hear some in the back ground saying, "Yeah! Right! How the hell does he know? What is he a Psychologist or something?" NO! I don't have a degree in Psychology and since I have never attained a license to practice medicine, neither am I a Psychiatrist. But! I have been a student of human nature all of my adult life. This I can tell you, my wife was, and I stress the word WAS, a victim of physical (almost killed her), mental, psychological, and even financial abuse. The one that I still see today after thirteen years together and eleven years of marriage, is the mental abuse. I'm always so very careful when waking her because as soon as I do I see the "deer in the headlights" look. That look of instant fear of something that is going to happen to her. This is today, when we first got together it was not only the look but also a startled cry, as if trying to ward off an attack.
So? What has all this to do with the subject line? When we first got together I was a typical Master/Sadist. I had no idea of how deep the mental abuse was nor how deeply it had effected her. I had to learn more about what had happened to her and even more about how it effected our relationship. I had to go on line and also to the library to read and absorb as much as I could about what the effects of mental, physical, psychological, and financial abuse that she had endured. Once I had done all this I then had to attack the most difficult part. Getting her to talk about what had happened to her to make her this way. This was such a difficult thing for her to talk about. While we were in a Master/slave relationship and she seemed to handle this very well, I still had to gently push her to talk about what had happened to her. For anyone who has ever been in an abusive relationship and been the victim, you will know how very difficult the abuse is to talk about. How very hard it is to bring up the past, even the recent past (which was her case). She had a former dom who heaped all this abuse on her. She had gastric bypass surgery before she left him. Shortly after her surgery, he decided that he wanted to bring another slave into their relationship. Since he was so very enamored with his new slave he wanted her out of his bed. Instead of just verbally ordering her out, he began kicking her in her stomach. This broke open the internal surgery, unknown to her. Shortly after this she left him and that was when we met. It was about a year later that she was admitted to the hospital with gangrene in her intestines and the unused part of her stomach (this was how he almost killed her).
But enough about that. What I had to do was scale back on being the dom and start being her partner. Someone she knew would not deliberately try to hurt her or abuse her in any way. Yes! She was still my slave and masochist and I was still her Master and Sadist, but when we played we did it in ways that still inspired confidence in her. I had to learn a new way to be a dominant and a new way to treat her.
It has been thirteen years since we met and yet she will still give me the "deer in the headlights" look on occasion, but it's not as often as when we first got together because I learned that I don't always have to be dominant to still be her Master.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that there will come a time when you, as a Master/Mistress, will have look inward to determine if being dominant is appropriate for any given situation. Your domination will have to be tempered with some compassion if the need arises. I'm not saying that compassion will make you any less of a dominant, but it may make you a better dominant.
There are people who make their BDSM dynamic their entire lifestyle. I find those people funny to observe, personally, but the gist of what you're saying is that when you have a relationship with someone, you need to remember to act like a human being instead of a poorly written character in a 4 dollar piece of erotica?
As a slave, what i have found that the time that being a Dominant is when the individual only wants the benefits of owning a slave but not the responsibility. Fortunately, that situation did not last. It was complete and utter shite while it went on, but fortunately i was not in a desperate to be owned, no matter what; state of mind.
Aye, trauma is something one must learn about and be careful around. My Master has had to learn a great deal about that, as well.
And dominance can mean caretaking, kindness, nurturing, compassion. Many seem to think that domination must mean harshness, coercion, causing fear, being cruel. Not at all, not at all. I have met wonderful doms who were always nurturers, always supportive, encouraging, and kind.
And sometimes, yes, even in 24/7, you must recognize your partner as a human being first and foremost, whose needs may, at the time, be at odds with an M/s dynamic. And that's ok. The person you are with, they come first, before titles, before roles.
The person who created the leather pride flag said it must be up to the interpretation of the individual, but I have always agreed that the heart stands for the love between the dom and the sub (or top and bottom, or master and slave, etc, etc, etc.)
I've been talking to some people privately on this subject. One of the comments I just made concerned our interactions. "There have been times when my wife has gone off on me and the only repercussion was my going off on her right back (I never use my hands when I'm angry. I'm too big and strong for that and I know it)."
I personally think knowing not only your limitations but, also the abilities that you posses that if used in the wrong way may be injurious to someone else. Granted those abilities should be used when there is a possibility to ones personal safety, but never against someone whom you are supposed to be protecting as in a BDSM relationship.
I think the original post (SirPain kind of answered his own question by the end) and all the replies here have the right idea. Although I am a sub, not a slave or masochist, I tend to agree with Evergrey that one should consider compassion incorporated into Dominance, not something that needs to be added on the side or during a break from Dominance.
Anyone who doesn't believe the thoughts laid out here- that people come first, that relationship dynamics need to be adjusted to specific situations for people, and the general feeling that Dominance of any type comes from a place of love for the submissive, not just desire to act out some predetermined plan of Dominant behavior - I would say is not a bad or confused Dominant, but an abuser pure and simple. Being an abuser of that mindset has nothing to do with BDSM, that would be an abuser who is just using BDSM.
Whereas SirPain had thoughts about what Sadistic Dominance meant, but because he loves his wife, he adjusted them based on her needs, and doing that certainly didn't stop him from being a good Master. Not doing that would have been abuse; what SirPain did was love. It's that simple.
i am a slave with PTSD, among a few others. A person does not have to be a "professional" of any sort to educate themselves about mental health and trauma. The only requisites are a desire to learn, compassion, empathy and not treating trauma as " something to get over." Sources of trauma vary, just as people's reactions to it. If trauma was really something that one just got over, then it would not leave the depth of scarring that it does, not would it be an issue that people talk about, such as right now. Learning about something is not the same as experiencing it, but there are some things that, honestly, a loved one does not want their significant other to EVER have to experience. Educating oneself is the best thing that a layperson can do, along with approaching the issue with an open mind. This has been my experience only. Others' experiences may and will vary.