Hurt Not Harm

Originally Published 3/31/2016

A fortunate few of you have been close enough to see the tattoos on my arms up close, they read in large script: “Do No Harm. Take No Shit.” The first part may seem weird for a lifestyle dominant to have marked permanently on their body, but do let me explain.

I make a strong distinction between hurt and harm. Hurt can encompass the simple physical sensation, but we also recognize it in times that we are embarrassed, debased, and made to feel vulnerable. There’s potential for great excitement and growth in those sensations within a BDSM or kink context. It’s frequently how we start to break down those heady barriers that deprive of us of a greater joy. Weeping in a session is not uncommon, which could be the result of physical or mental stimulus, it feels scary, but is also an incredible release. Avoiding hurt and is an integral part of who we as humans on both an instinctual and social level.

Harm, on the other hand, is something more long-lasting, something that does not have all of the redeemable qualities we love about things that hurt. It’s insidious, quieter, and usually happens when we weren’t even paying attention. Something that harms us can rear its ugly head at any point without our consent, and result in paralyzing fear, guilt, or malaise. Harm is largely avoidable with proper communication, informed consent, and honesty. I ask everyone who walks into a session with me if any of their desires are based in trauma, because it’s important to understand what could be a trigger and possibly send someone into a dissociative space rather than a subspace. That is not to say we cannot work through trauma in BDSM, certainly I have, but it must be handled skillfully.

The balance is in causing hurt, while creating an environment that mitigates harm. Our avoidance of hurt is important, it’s what stops us from getting hit by cars or chopping our fingers off every time we cook dinner, but sometimes that fear prevents us from shutting off our “brain squirrels” (term borrowed from Midori) and diving head first into our base desires. What I suggest is investigating if we’re actually scared of the hurt, or more likely the harm?

Submission takes a lot of bravery and self-awareness. The task for someone like me is to create pathways to facilitate that exploration, and to do things that you can’t or won’t push yourself to do otherwise. Fortunately, I happen to have a wide arsenal of tricks, tools, and trade secrets to get you there. The only question is, are you ready to come with me?