Yes, I’ve brought up this debate here before and I’ve read it in a hundred places too. Your blogs out there are teeming with it on occasion. Is the desire to be submissive natural or is it part of the way you were brought up? Especially when there was abuse involved. Those internal radars go off and want to blame the abuse for how you live your life now. I can’t say that I have the global answer, but I do have my answer. That seems good enough for me.
I read a post today over at a submissive’s musings where she discusses how submissives are wired different depending on their home life as a child. She even goes on to say that 75% of submissives were abused as children (even though she admits this number may be wrong and only uses the statistic for childhood sexual abuse). In fact, I’m certain it is. The math just doesn’t make sense. Let’s put those numbers in perspective. Say 100 BDSM submissives are in a room and going on the assumption that 20% of the room have been abused as a child, that doesn’t make out to 75 people.
Now, if we take the statistics for all abuse as a child, which I found at ChildWelfare.gov. It says, and rightfully so, that the statistics are hard to measure. We have the fact that not everyone will admit to abuse as a child, but of those that do the maltreatment rate in the US was 12.1 per 1,000 children in the population in 2005. That’s 1.21%. This statistic includes all forms of abuse; sexual, physical, emotional and mental as well as neglect.
What does work in my mind is that the BDSM population has the same or similar composition as the population as a whole, I mean we are a varied group of people correct? So, I can safely say that of everyone with a BDSM mindset that is submissive, 1.21% were probably abused as a child. That does leave many other to wonder if this statistic is correct as well. But as I see it, ask any submissive that was abused as a child if being in a BDSM relationship feels natural and I’d say the majority will say that no, it didn’t… at first.
Yes, I’m in that 1.21%. But also, if you have read here for at least a year, you will have heard me say on numerous occasions that I am not naturally submissive. Perhaps I was and the abuse rewired me? I know that growing up, I vowed to never let anyone get under my skin and they would not hurt me. If they did, I would hurt back. I’m still fighting this new wiring.
If I was submissive from birth (which isn’t likely if you follow familial birth patterns. I’m firstborn, thus natural dominant) and then my parents abused me, turning me inward and fighting the submission, what would really make me change as an adult? Most other nature vs nurture debates say that once nurtured the change is complete. If you are nurtured to abuse, you become an abuser. Wouldn’t that then, for hypothetical purposes, make me more likely to be a domineering dominant with a penchant for causing pain? (I am NOT saying dominants are all abusers, heck no. This is hypothetical and if I have to keep placing disclaimers then your mind is wandering where it shouldn’t go.)
What keeps me from being an abuser? Several factors.
- I fear it. I’m constantly afraid that I will listen to that voice that says, “You were abused, why not strike out at those that hurt you.”
- I am in control of it. I know when my anger has reached a peak where I need to step away or face the fear of becoming.
- I refuse to accept that it can happen. This is the strongest for me. I will not become an abuser because I refuse to let myself. In this capacity lies my desire to not have children. I believe that in my fight against my nurturing, I solidified the distaste in having children. I will not subject another life to my possible weakness. This is what makes me strong.
So back to the idea we are wired differently from libby’s post. Yes, we all are born to different circumstances and there is nothing wrong with choosing later in life to be in a BDSM relationship no matter how you were raised.
What do you think about childhood abuse and its relation to a BDSM submissive? Is the percentage higher? Lower? Why do you think so?
Moving deeper into this, why do you think the NLA-I DVP exists? It exists because there is domestic abuse in BDSM relationships. How many of those do you think the abuser was once the abused? So of that 1.21%, we have people who returned to what they knew, abuse. We also have others who became abusers without childhood exposure. This post is not about those who evolved into abuse. Are submissives who were abused more likely to pair up with someone who becomes or is a BDSM abuser? Well, how likely is it that a vanilla domestic relationship, the submissive partner moves from one abuser to another? It is what they know. (My mother is one of those; I can’t get her to see reason.)
I can’t say I know why I found submission to be my calling and why I feel fulfilled in this role in relation to my past abuse. I can say that my childhood has no relation to my partner choices or my love of pain as pleasure. I refused to allow it to mold me in that way. I’ve taken back my right to chose who I am.
*BDSM submissive in this case is a submissive in a BDSM relationship or looking for one, not just someone with a submissive nature; we all know that submissives exist everywhere but not necessarily all are into BDSM.