How BDSM Can Help PTSD

Photo by slave boy julia (sjstudio1.com)

Those who suffer from PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) often make choices that are unhealthy and/or dangerous due to low self esteem, picking the demon they know rather than the unknown, panic/panic attacks, and/or thinking they deserve nothing more than to continue traumatic experiences.

People often self sabotage, get back with unhealthy exes, pick abuse over breaking free, practice unsafe sex practices, cater to their addictions, and many other damaging scenarios, to blot out the pain that they are feeling, to minimize the flashbacks, to not feel the weight of being abused/traumatized.

They often continue this unhealthy cycle of sweeping their torment under the rug, and hoping that it will magically go away on its own. However, it does not work like that. Normally things left undealt with only increase in size over time, and often become too large and overwhelming to be handled healthily without professional help.

Our demons are always there; it’s our job to find a way to healthily and effectively deal with them before they devour us, and/or before they have grown too powerful to take on.

I have found that BDSM can help break this cycle. Before I found BDSM, and before I met my Master, I would deal with my pain in all sorts of unhealthy ways-unhealthy dating patterns, unhealthy sex patterns, operating on low self esteem and abandonment issues alone. My self worth was very low due to the family and sexual trauma I had experienced.

I was caught in this vicious cycle of making myself the victim, and creating this webbed mess that always needed to be cleaned up. It seemed I just couldn’t get on the straight and narrow because of the pain that lived inside of me.

But through playing with my Master and being my Master’s slave, I have been shown that there is a healthy way to deal with the pain. Now, I also go to therapy, see a psychiatrist, read a lot of self-help books, exercise five times a week, communicate with my Master about these issues daily, and part of our contract is dedicated to my recovery. With this being said, I am saying that our BDSM has helped my PTSD, but I am in NO WAY saying it should be the only thing one uses to get over their traumas. However, it can be used as a coping strategy and trust builder for those that have been seriously wounded in tandem with other methods like the ones listed above.

PTSD can generate a lot of fear and feelings of general distrust. I used to fear that everyone would hurt me. Through our BDSM play, I have been show that even though my Master is inflicting consensual “pain” on me, I am still loved, and he would never actually hurt me. Every time we engage in breath play, he’s never actually trying to damage my windpipes. When we practice spanking, hitting, slapping, flogging, or any other form of impact it is for our enjoyment, and never for harm’s sake. My Master actually has mentioned on countless occasions that if I did not enjoy being a masochist, he would not want to continue being a sadist.

When I am objectified, called a slut, whore, sex toy, it is coming from the love that we have in our dynamic. It is consented to and appreciated. It is never coming from an abusive or non-consensual place.

After we engage in play, we always lie with another, talk about how much we mean to one another, and relive the scene we had just created. We often talk about things we liked and what we want to do again. If anything were to occur that we didn’t like we would talk about that too (However, this rarely happens since my Master knows me very well). It is so relieving to feel him close to me, holding me.

The trust, care, love, and respect make these actions satisfying, and help to heal any wounds made by others that once upon a time did these things to me non-consensually, and without any rendition of love, care, respect, or trust.

I have found that it is not the action that is traumatizing, it is the intent, core value(s), and virtue(s) driving it.

BDSM and the values of the Kink/BDSM Community can provide a safe space to work through our traumas in a healthy and safe manner. In my opinion, that why’s rape play exists. That’s why impact play is even a thing. That’s why so many of us love getting consensually choked, whipped, caned, bit, etc.

Someone with PTSD who has been raped might go out looking to relive that experience (these types of motives are usually in the unconscious or subconscious mind), which will most likely be much more damaging than it is worth. This situation is not in a controlled environment, and pretty much anything could happen. Instead, this person could go to a safe space, and reenact what happened/act out what they want to happen safely with a trusted friend or partner (to help work through their traumas). In this situation, it is controlled, and if someone reaches their threshold or is about to, they can always use their safe word. Real life, unfortunately, does not always work that way.

I cannot stress how paramount a controlled environment is when working through our traumas. That’s one reason why people go to therapists’ offices.

Also, at a dungeon there are DMs. So, if things were to become too much, you can always flag them down.

Safety is key. Safety with partners, location, and action. Safety mixed with consistency leads to trust, which will lead to PTSD not having such a hold on you.

In time, as trust builds, you will begin to see a different, positive side of these actions that were once only viewed as the most detrimental thing that could happen. You will begin to see people not as vessels that could hurt you. You will learn that the world is not out to get you and neither are most individuals that cross your path.

Please note, do not engage in BDSM relating to your traumas until you are sure you can handle it and are ready. Always respect your own timing. There’s no shame in waiting. If you are going to engage in play relating to your PTSD/traumas, who you play with should know of these traumas, limits should be talked about/respected, and safe words should be decided. If you find that you were not as ready as you thought after the scene has started, please stop the scene using your safe word(s). It’s never a good idea to force anything, especially when dealing with something so painful.

I would say that even if you are engaging in play that does not directly relate to your traumas, the above should be followed. And of course even if you do not have PTSD and have no apparent traumas, limits, boundaries, and safe words should always be discussed and agreed upon (unless you do not use safe words, but that is an entirely different article).

I think it’s also important to reflect on all scenes-especially the ones relating to your traumas that you are trying to work through. Perhaps journaling could really help with this. Introspection after any scene is essential in my opinion. Introspection leads to understanding and understanding leads to growth. Growth leads to change.

I have found that APRI really helps too. These steps can be done on your own, with a trusted friend/family member, a partner, or therapist. 

Address- Address what happened. What caused your PTSD?

Process- Process the feelings and behaviors that stemmed from the incident or incidents. Notice any unhealthy behavioral patterns.

Resolve-Try to let whatever is traumatizing you go. This is the hardest step and could involve multiple steps and methods to complete. BDSM being one possible method. Make amends with yourself and others (if appropriate and possible). Think of ways that you could make your life more fulfilled, happier, and healthier.

Integrate- Integrate what you have learned thus far concerning your PTSD, yourself, and the traumatic incident. Make a plan of action and rules for yourself that you can follow and will follow based on the new knowledge you have gained. This will allow you to not only let go of the PTSD and your trauma(s), but become a healthier person in general.

Again, please note that there are countless ways to cope with traumas, pain, PTSD, and anxiety. I am merely providing a few coping strategies for one to ponder. I hope you have found this article helpful, and please reach out for more information.

As always, feel free to comment and ask questions. Thanks for reading and stay tuned!


About the Author

Slave Bunny, a 1950’s power slave, is involved in a wonderful and loving TPE 24/7 M/S relationship with her Master and husband. She is also the Creative Director of Kink Weekly.

Along with being a part of the Kink Weekly team, she will be teaching kink classes all over the Los Angeles area this year and organizing events.

She has dedicated her life to working on herself mentally, spiritually, and physically, and hopes to inspire others to do the same. Through teaching and mentoring, she hopes to help everyone in the Kink Community as much as she can.

Feel free to add her on Fetlife (Slave_Bunny992) to see her upcoming events and classes.

Comments

  1. GlassMenagerie says:

    As someone who struggles with PTSD this was a wonderful read. BDSM is some ways has changed the way I cope with triggers and symptoms. My journey in this lifestyle so far has been healing and empowering.

  2. Great advice. Should allow myself. (here via FetLife.)

  3. Great article, a nice healthy read!

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