Home > No Stupid (Kink) Questions > NS(K)Q: Q44 – I think my friend is being abused.

NS(K)Q: Q44 – I think my friend is being abused.

January 2nd, 2015

NoStupidKinkQuestionsGandhi said that if you want to change the world, you have to be the change you want to see. To that end, Insatiable Desire brings you No Stupid (Kink) Questions, a series of questions asked by novice kinksters around the web. If you have a question for us, leave it in comments, or send it to rayne (at) insatiabledesire (dot) com with “NS(K)Q” in the subject.

Question 44:

So I read your response to the radical feminist who was considering reporting your owner. That’s just insane. I’ve been reading you a while, and it’s pretty clear to me that you’re happy, and healthy, and Melen is not, at all, abusive. But I know this other submissive, and she’s not happy, or healthy, and I’m pretty sure her dom is abusing her. I have no idea what to do. Advice?

This is a really difficult situation for everyone involved, and I’m sorry that you and your friend are going through it. I think part of the reason it’s so hard on the victim’s friends and family is precisely what you said; they have no idea what to do.

First, you need to know that it is not your responsibility to save your friend.

Many people would disagree with this. Part of the message of No More is that we all should be more aware and step in when friends, family, or strangers are being abused. And to some extent, I agree. We do have some responsibility to offer help if someone we know appears to be in trouble.


Stepping in when someone is being abused can be dangerous for everyone involved. You need to know that before you make any decisions about how you’re going to help your friend. An abuser is not only dangerous to his or her partner, but to anyone who involves themselves in the situation. Many abusers feel they own their victim (which goes doubly for dominant abusers), and may become violent when someone outside the situation tries to take their “property” away from them. This violence may be aimed at the “intruder,” or the victim, or some other perceived instigator.

Besides that, you cannot force them to see the abuse for what it is and/or leave. They have to do that on their own. That’s just the way it works, legally and on a personal level.

In BDSM relationships, it is so much more difficult to make the determination. Is it abuse, or is it BDSM? Are they drowning, or is this what they want?

You’d think it would be as simple as whether or not they seem okay, but it’s not. Just because someone is unhappy and unhealthy and in a BDSM relationship doesn’t mean they’re being abused. There have been times in our relationship that people thought I was being abused because I was unhappy and unhealthy, but the reality was that I was dealing with a lot in my personal life that was completely out of M’s control. Believe me, if he could shield me from the rest of the world, he would. He already tries.

Besides that, there are some bottoms who get off on things that would, without a doubt, be abuse in any other relationship. What do you do about that? Tell them they’re not allowed to participate in those behaviors because society says they’re abusive? Ffs. I’d tell you to take a long walk off a short pier if you said something like that to me.

If you’re really worried, and you want to get to the bottom of it without alienating your friend, I’d start by talking to them. No judgment. No accusations. No declarative statements. No pointing fingers at behaviors you don’t understand. Just ask questions. And not leading questions styled to “open their eyes” to what you feel is abuse. Just simple, curious questions, the answers to which will give you some idea about how they feel about their relationship.

If during your conversation, you get the impression that they are not happy with their relationship, and they feel powerless to do anything about it, and they’re not into consent to non-consent, you can choose to work to get them out, or give them resources to get themselves out. The National Domestic Violence Hotline suggests giving them resources, supporting them in their decisions, but maintaining the line between supportive friend and white knight. The NDVH says avoid white knight syndrome at all costs. And I agree.

For more help, visit NoMore.org or call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233).

  1. January 2nd, 2015 at 13:24 | #1

    Thank you for this.

    I am submissive and masochistic. I also live with recurrent episodes of depression (for which I take medication). On top of that, I have a history of self-injury. I am also somewhat clumsy and ungraceful, which is exacerbated by my personality’s inclination to do things at top speed.

    So I am bruised…does that mean it came from Her? So I am sad…does that mean it came from Her? If life were only so simple…

    The heart of your words is this: What is our responsibility to another? Unless they are somehow incapacitated (there are debates as to what this means); then our responsibility is to speak our love and concern. Then we are responsible for listening and trusting the person in question.

  2. January 2nd, 2015 at 17:28 | #2

    @ Tomio Black
    Yes, exactly. Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  3. RynJ21
    January 4th, 2015 at 18:03 | #3

    It’s tough to watch loved ones struggle but you can’t live anyone’s life but yours. It probably seems harsh but your advice is spot on. If the sub isn’t being abused and the questioner tries to “save” them, then the friendship will likely damaged. If the sub is being abused and the questioner tries to rescue them, they could both end up dead. *winces*

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