This is the BDSM vs Abuse statement formulated at LLC III in San Francisco. Over 20 BDSM Organizations participated in it's wording.


BDSM vs. Abuse

The following Principles and Guidelines are intended to help law enforcement
and social services professionals understand the difference between abusive
relationships vs. consensual BDSM. BDSM derives from bondage, discipline and
consensual sadomasochism and is used to refer to a broad and complex group of
behaviors between consenting adults involving the consensual exchange of
power, and the giving and receiving of intense erotic sensation and/or mental
discipline. Historical usage and dictionary definitions include types of
relationships which are not consensual or legitimate.


BDSM includes: "Intimate activities within the scope of informed consent
that is freely given."

Abuse is: "Physical, sexual or emotional acts inflicted on a person without
their informed and freely given consent."


Principles

The SM-Leather-Fetish communities recognize the phrase "Safe, Sane,
Consensual" as the best brief summary of principles guiding BDSM practices:

Safe is being knowledgeable about the techniques and safety concerns involved
in what you are doing, and acting in accordance with that knowledge.

Sane is knowing the difference between fantasy and reality.

Consensual is respecting the limits imposed by each participant at all times.
One of the recognized ways to maintain limits is through a "safeword" which
ensures that each participant can end his/her participation with a word or
gesture.


Guidelines

Informed consent must be judged by balancing the following criteria for each
encounter at the time the acts occurred:
a) Was informed consent expressly denied or withdrawn?
b) Were there factors that negated the informed consent?
c) What is the relationship of the participants?
d) What was the nature of the activity?
e) What was the intent of the accused abuser?

Whether an individualĖs BDSM role is top/dominant or bottom/submissive, they
could be suffering abuse if they answer no to any of the following questions:

1. Are your needs and limits respected?
2. Is your relationship built on honesty, trust, and respect?
3. Are you able to express feelings of guilt or jealousy or unhappiness?
4. Can you function in everyday life?
5. Can you refuse to do illegal activities?
6. Can you insist on safe sex practices?
7. Can you choose to interact freely with others outside of your
relationship?
8. Can you leave the situation without fearing that you will be harmed, or
fearing the other participant(s) will harm themselves?
9. Can you choose to exercise self-determination with money, employment, and
life decisions?
10. Do you feel free to discuss your practices and feelings with anyone you
choose?