Intersecting Dominance and Trauma

by | Oct 5, 2020 | BDSM, Mental Health, Personal Musings


Holding the trauma I’ve endured under scrutiny has been integral to personal growth and continuous improvement. Whether in BDSM or real life, the examination of my traumas offers insight that explains why I’m prone to certain behaviors and actions. That is, the way I respond to various stimuli contains remnants of personal trauma. 

Possessing that knowledge beckoned for better consciousness about trauma and its appearance in my life. This information about myself would become a shield imbued with the power of healing through inner work. It became a sword to slash through my traumatic responses in my desire to reduce potential harm to myself and others. 

Things weren’t always like that, though. Healing is a non-linear narrative. It’s cyclical, and each cycle presented new trauma to confront. Each confrontation revealed new intersections with other parts of myself. For instance, I often felt helpless with an overwhelming need to run away when two people I knew personally were arguing. As a kid, I witnessed numerous domestic disputes between family members that would often get physically violent. It was necessary to confront what I’d witnessed so many times before in order to combat my responses to similar stimuli as an adult. 

So I consciously approached the subject of dominance while considering trauma. 

I found three things:

  • A great portion of how I once carried out dominance was a trauma response
  • That response created the desire to embody dominance, rather than it be something I do, or simply have access to.
  • I have the capacity to create harm in the very image of my various trauma

That last point is important. It’s an example of repetition compulsion, a theory conceptualized by Sigmund Freud that details a person’s likelihood of repeatedly reenacting traumatic events. (I won’t get too deep here. There’s much to his theory) Despite my most rational self, I am prone to patterns that sit in the deepest recesses of my mind – the place where my deepest traumas live. You know, the ones that occurred during the years where personal identity is still being formed.

And that is why I possess the ability to utilize trauma to manifest harm. Despite this irrefutable fact, as long as I labor to be consistently informed about my own trauma, this ability will continue to stagnate. Developing ethical behavior concerning the exertion of dominance requires cognizance of self including trauma endured. 

It’s a commitment to self.

It’s a commitment to others.

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