Fifty Shades of Grey’ Controversy: The Difference Between Abuse and BDSM

New York-based psychologist Alexis Conason, PsyD, a researcher at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital who is also has a private practice specializing in treatment of body image and sexual issues, said it is crucial to differentiate between the BDSM relationship and emotional or physical abuse.“BDSM is characterized by a safe and playful arrangement between two consenting adult partners,” Conason explained. “Before entering into a BDSM relationship, partners should clearly define the boundaries of what they and their partner want and are willing to engage in. BDSM does not involve emotional or physical abuse. Emotional and/or physical abuse is no more common in BDSM relationships than in ‘vanilla’ or any other type of relationships. Most people who engage in BDSM do so because they enjoy it and it is fun and pleasurable for them, not because they are acting out a pattern of abuse.

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