QotD: ‘Aftercare’

i hope that people will realize that the kink term “aftercare” is a weasel word for “trauma bonding,” meaning to calm down the sub enough so they can take even MORE abuse and dissociation.


“Trauma bonding, a term developed by Patrick Carnes, is the misuse of fear, excitement, sexual feelings, and sexual physiology to entangle another person.”

Sounds about right.


24 responses

  1. You’re right to link trauma-bonding with BDSM and “aftercare”, but I don’t think they’re quite the same thing. I’ve always thought that “trauma-bonding” referred to the emotional response of the traumatised person, i.e. “trauma-bonding” is when a person goes through a traumatic experience and as a result feels emotionally bonded to the person they went through the experience with (who could be the inflictor of the trauma), whereas “aftercare” is something dominants do to keep their submissives subordinate (I mean, show their love for their submissives 🙂 ). “Aftercare” encourages trauma-bonding, but I wouldn’t call them the same thing. The dominant does the “aftercare”, the submissive does the trauma-bonding.

    But you’re right “aftercare” is horrific. BDSMers think it’s something that distinguishes BDSM from abuse, which shows that they know nothing about abuse. Haven’t they heard of abusers covering up their victim’s bruises? Haven’t they heard of the “honeymoon” period, when abusers act all nice and sweet in order to win their victims over so they can keep abusing them? That’s what “aftercare” is, a way for the dominants to make sure their submissives don’t dump them after they beat the shit out of them. The fact that it exists is an admission on the part of the BDSM community that what they do causes serious physical harm and thus “aftercare” is needed to prevent (or at least detect) this harm. So yeah, “aftercare” is messed up.

  2. All fair points.

    What BDSM reminds me of is how modern torture works. Naomi Klein writes about this in The Shock Doctrine, where she describes how CIA interrogators wore their victims down using sensory deprivation and torture, causing the subject to ‘regress’ to an infantile state and then view the interrogator as a “father-figure”.

    The parallel is not exact, but the mix of violence and ‘care’ can, I imagine, produce a similar kind of effect, the ‘sub’ is dependent on the person hurting them to also ‘take care’ of them, how is something like that not going to screw you up?

  3. It’s so sad because people really don’t realize what it is, can’t discern love from abuse.

    The point is you’re shocked or frightened down to your foundation and then you bond with whoever provides the relief. The one who shocks you and offers the relief can be the same person.

  4. ‘The one who shocks you and offers the relief can be the same person.’

    On a larger scale, this is an example of what feminist psychologist Dee Graham called Societal Stockholm Syndrome, when describing women’s tendency to emotionally bond with men and defend their interests above those of women. Men as a group inflict abuse on women under patriarchy, so, logically, men are the ones women look to as their saviours from that very same abuse.

  5. [W]ith partner abuse, the periods when the man is being good—or at least not at his worst—are not really outside of his pattern. They are generally an integral aspect of his abusiveness, woven into the fabric of his thinking and behavior.

    What functions do the good periods play? They perform several, including the following:

    His spurts of kindness and generosity help him to feel good about himself. He can persuade himself that you are the one who is messed up, “because look at me, I’m a great guy.”

    You gradually feel warmer and more trusting toward him. The good periods are critical to hooking you back into the relationship, especially if he doesn’t have another way to keep you from leaving, such as financial control or the threat of taking the children.

    While you are feeling more trusting, you expose more of your true feelings about different issues in your life and you show him more caring, which creates vulnerability that he can use later to control you. […]

    He uses the good periods to shape his public image, making it harder for you to get people to believe that he’s abusive.

    Lundy Bancroft Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

  6. You people make me fucking sick. The difference between abuse and BDSM is that in BDSM (in a proper relationship/scene) before they will BOTH consent and talk about what they want. You people don’t seem to understand what aftercare really is. Aftercare can consist of the sub just having some alone time. You don’t seem to understand that a scene can take a lot out of a sub mentally and physically. Do some research on BDSM before doing this. I understand the ‘against porn’ thing, I came across this link by accident and I was horrified and what you people think aftercare is. Subs are free to leave the relationship as they please and they do not feel scared of their Dom. Trust me, I’m a sub, I should know. During a scene is when the most trust is and it NEVER breaks. It’s not like abuse where when he hits you, that wall of trust is broken. No, subs trusts their doms to respect their boundaries and doms trust their subs to say when their limit is in a scene.

    Talk to ANY person in BDSM and I assure you they will all say it’s needed.

  7. I understand it perfectly well, which is why I quoted someone comparing it to trauma bonding.

    “You don’t seem to understand that a scene can take a lot out of a sub mentally and physically.”

    I explicitly understand this, which is why I think BDSM is harmful and ‘aftercare’ is just taking advantage of someone while they are physically and emotionally vulnerable – you seem to be under the impression that I am saying ‘subs’ don’t need taking care of after being tortured for sexual kicks, which suggests you haven’t read or understood the post and the comments underneath it properly.

    I have done plenty of research on BDSM, a darn sight more than you if you are going to try to claim that there is no abuse in BDSM; an in house survey showed 50% more occurrences of violations in the BDSM ‘scene’ than occurrences of rape outside the BDSM ‘scene’.

    Also, women in the ‘scene’ and out of it talk about the violence they have experienced and observed. If anything ‘makes you sick’ it should be the amount of violence people (men) are getting away with in your ‘community’.

    Also, just because you consent to something, that doesn’t stop it being harmful. ‘Choice’ rhetoric won’t protect you from long-term psychological harm in the BDSM ‘scene’ any more than it will protect you from a heart attack if you choose to eat junk food every day and not exercise.

    Let me ask you a question, why do you need to be in a situation where someone is hitting you just to be able to feel like you can ‘trust’ someone?

  8. BDSM doesn’t have to be about hitting someone. Actually, I’ve never heard of in a scene a Dom hitting a sub. Also, you know there are female doms, right? Just putting it out there. I wrote that late at night in a fit of outrage so sorry if I wasn’t clear enough. In any community there is going to be violence but I started doing BDSM with my husband and it was my idea to start it. If people are in a good BDSM relationship, there should be lots of communication. In abuse, there is none. My Dom frequently asks me if I’m okay or want to stop and that is a PROPER BDSM relationship. There are always going to be faults in our community and I understand this and that’s why we try to look out for each other. Subs warn others about abusers and that’s how it should be. BDSM is NOT abuse in the slightest and I know it can seem that way to someone looking in but it’s not. Just like in normal relationships, certain ones can be corrupt with abuse and that happens in BDSM too. Aftercare, is more like a cool down. Physically subs just want to relax after and in aftercare, a Dom will do everything they can to make the sub comfortable. I’m trying to phrase this right so none of you can take a sentence as tram bonding but most of the bonding goes on during the scene. If a sub is blind folded and being led around, there is huge trust in that.

    BDSM is more of a power exchange. A sub gives up their power to the Dom and they can take it back at anytime. It’s not like in abuse where power is taken from you. BDSM is an underground community so of course corrupt men and woman are going to try to take advantage of subs but that IS NOT the whole community. Don’t be painting all BDSM relationships as abuse. They aren’t.

  9. Ok, someone who says they are in the BDSM ‘scene’, but then also says that they have “never heard of in a scene a Dom hitting a sub”, is either lying, or their ‘scene’ is so small, remote, and isolated it’s irrelevant.

    Try actually reading the blog before bringing up the ‘femdom’ canard. Also, spare me the ‘no true Scotsman’ argument, Fetlife has a ban on outing abusers – covering up abuse is built into the architecture.

    (Here’s another hint, there are currently 114 posts in the ‘Anti-BDSM’ category in the side bar, so don’t talk to me as if I’ve only just stumbled upon the subject and that you can ‘educate’ me on it, you are not saying a single thing I have not heard already on numerous occasions.)

    As for the rest of your comment, you are just repeating your insistence that ‘aftercare’ is fine, and I still don’t think you really understand the argument here.

    A BDSM ‘session’ is a human body and mind being subjected to extreme conditions: violence, sensory deprivation, verbal aggression, etc. These cause physiological and psychological effects; when that person is then ‘taken care of’, that also has physiological and psychological effects, and these help bond the victim to the person who was, just a moment before, inflicting the violence on them.

    It doesn’t matter if you consent to it, want it, choose it, these are things going on in the deeper parts of our psyche, our basic animal selves. BDSM is harmful no matter how much you communicate about how you are going to be subjected to violence.

    It is exactly the same pattern that is observed in regular abusive relationships, with the abuser alternating violent behaviour with kind behaviour to keep the victim confused, and to make them stick around in a way constant violence (early in a relationship) would not.

  10. I see there is no getting through to you and now you’re just being rude. You seem like just a feminist who never sees another way of looking at anything. BDSM isn’t harmful and I will stick with that. Perhaps you’ve just been reading the wrong things and never been to an actual scene but if a Dom ever hit a sub without their consent, everyone else would be on his/her ass. There is no point in me trying if you are just going to repeat the same thing too sweetie. I feel now like I’m being attacked and that ‘I’m lying’ is just rude. Goodbye miss. Have fun with your life.

  11. You claimed that you had “never heard of in a scene a Dom hitting a sub”, spanking/caning/whipping is a large part of BDSM, and there is also such a thing as ‘impact play’ which is a euphemism for punching, so yes, when you claim that hitting is something that never happens in BDSM, I feel it is fair to call you a liar or an outlier.

    As for the rest of your comment, if you want to convince me I am wrong, you have to demonstrate how I am wrong, and you have not been able to do that. Saying ‘oh yes it is’/’oh no it isn’t’ isn’t an argument, it’s an opinion; if you want to put forward an argument, you have to include evidence, logic or rationale to back up your claim.

    The original post included a description of trauma bonding, and I reiterated it in my last comment; all you have done is give a brief description of ‘after care’, and your description fits in with the definition of trauma bonding, so you haven’t proven a thing!

    Did you read any of the links I spoon-fed you? They contain evidence, from sources I find much more reliable than you, that the BDSM ‘community’ does not rally against abusers, exactly the opposite in fact.

  12. BDSM breaks down into different parts bondage, discipline, dominance,submission, sadism and masochism. That covers a huge variety of activities and play.

    Personally I have never reached an orgasmic state from vanilla sex. I enjoy being blindfolded with some light bondage – for example hands tied together above my head – because if allows me to focus my other senses and I can work up to an orgasm, that is a part of BDSM and it does not include any violence and “aftercare” is cuddling which I also do after “vanilla” sex so is cuddling wrong?

    I take offence to the view you seem to be using to portray submissives, we come from a wide range of demographics and places within society. For someone such as myself who is always in control and has huge responsibility in my work and public life, letting someone else that I love and trust take the lead in bed provides some balance. With my partner there is never violence due to our personal beliefs about it but there is a lot of fetish play.

    BDSM seems to be used as a blanket term for those outside the scene for a vast range of fetishes of which there are many which are far removed from violence and or anything to do with bondage, discipline, dominance,submission, sadism or masochism although they can if desired be brought into any of the above categories. An example of this is someone with a fetish for feet or stockings/footwear; by itself it is purely a sexual interest in the foot and can be part of any type of sexual play from vanilla sex to any part of BDSM.

  13. Your argument is nonsensical. By your own admission you only engage in the mildest behaviour which can just about qualify as BDSM, then you have a cuddle afterwards; so what? You’re not even describing what I’m talking about above.

    I don’t give a shit about foot fetishists, and I don’t care about your BDSM-lite, it is of no interest to me, and it doesn’t disprove anything I have said about trauma bonding.

    BDSMers do engage in extremes of physical violence and psychological manipulation (‘impact play’, ‘daddy doms/little girls’, etc etc), and they do claim it is psychologically healthy. It is not, and it is dangerous for the claim that it is safe to go unchallenged.

  14. What I was trying to point out is that BDSM does not always include physical violence. There are parts that do contain violence but not all of it.
    You are are tarring all people that partake in BDSM with the same brush an action the field of psychology tries to avoid because they know it is dangerous to make such assumptions.

    The above examples I gave of activities were just that, I am not going to tell you everything I do in bed, even so BDSM-lite as you called it is still BDSM and clearly shows that there is a wide variety of intensities within the category.

    Perhaps you should clarify which of the sub categories you have an issue with instead.

  15. Your points are still irrelevant, because in this post I am specifically talking about the dangerous levels of violence, and the psychological manipulations that go with them, within the BDSM ‘scene’.

    Seriously, what about the original quotes above are actually unclear to you?

  16. My problem is with you tarring everyone who partakes in any kink activity with the same brush.

    You see the term “aftercare” is a weasel word for “trauma bonding,” personally I am more inclined to agree with the Independent Radical on their point that there can be a “link” between trauma-bonding with BDSM “aftercare”, but they are not quite the same thing.

    “Aftercare” would encourage trauma-bonding in those situations where “play” has gone beyond the limits the participants have set in place – ie has become abuse – thus induces trauma. If the participants stay within and respect the limits put in place, by participants to protect the participants, there is no reason for there to be trauma therefore in those situations the idea of trauma bonding is void. This is why I think it is important to distinguish sub categories and types of play that are of concern rather than tarring them all with the same brush.

    There are parallels between some of the activities of those that abuse and those that play with some variety of dominance especially when taken out of context. BUT there is a difference in intent along with the situation as well as other things which must be taken into account, that separate abuse and BDSM play. Although they may be slight sometimes the difference between OK and abuse is not that much. For example the same activity carried out by someone you know verses someone you do not know could be the difference between abuse and fooling around.

  17. Intent is irrelevant, if someone consents to be savagely beaten, that is going to have a physical and psychological effect. If someone consents to recreate child sex abuse, and has a flash-back to their own childhood abuse, that is going to have a psychological effect

    I mean that’s the whole point of BDSM, to induce an endorphin high to counteract the pain, the same way a car crash or other violent event produces a biochemical response to get the victim through it; do you actually think ‘subspace’ is the same as the warm glow one gets from cuddling after ~vanilla~ sex?

    I am not talking about someone thinking to themselves ‘this is traumatising’, I am talking about the body’s natural biochemical defense mechanisms, mechanisms that kick in when a person is subjected to physical or psychological violence.

    Do you actually think being whipped won’t produce a physical reaction, just because the person consented to it? Do you think the parts of your brain that function automatically without any awareness on your part ‘know’ that you have a safe word?

  18. Really though, it’s built into the terminology; if nothing bad/harmful has happened, what do you need ‘aftercare’ for?

    Why do you think your cuddling after your BDSM-lite is ‘aftercare’? What happened that needed to be ‘cared for’ afterwards?

  19. Sadly it can be interpreted that something has to happen for there to be a ‘need’ for aftercare. It is a blanket term for a huge range of actions.
    As an example, if a person said that they cuddled and/or talked about what they liked/did not like after sex you would not blink an eye, but if they used the term “aftercare” so they did not have to talk about what they were actually doing it could sound quite terrifying to someone who has no idea what it entails.
    In simple terms it is a word that is used to describe without informing exactly what you did after sex especially in the BDSM community.

  20. So basically you’re redefining the term ‘aftercare’ to mean whatever you want it to mean.

    Words have meanings, I’m loath to reach for a dictionary, as there’s always some smart-arse who thinks the dictionary definition of ‘feminism’ or ‘pornography’ is some kind of trump card.

    So instead, I put ‘BDSM aftercare’ into google, this is the first link (very much not safe for work):


    Aftercare is he negotiated time after a scene or play time where you recover and take care of each other’s needs. This is also a time to reconnect to reality and re-establish roles outside the scene. Some scenes are very intense emotionally and psychologically and the Dominant may need to help the submissive unwind and recover. Dominants also need aftercare; some like a massage or sex, but at the least you should both get re-hydrated and rest.

    Aftercare is an often forgotten part of the negotiation process and there are many BDSM practitioners that do not perform aftercare after a scene, believing that it is the personal responsibility of the parties involved to take care of their needs after play. It is also less common for aftercare to happen when playing in a casual once only sort of event such as a play party. This is because the Dominant and submissive are there for selfish reasons and not for a dance of power between a well connected relationship.

    Often, the first thing they will need is a drink of water, followed by a trip to the toilet. Lots of tender affection, cuddling and kissing will often comfort the person and improve their mental state.


    Endorphins, when they are secreted continuously, spread to the whole body including the brain – hence the feeling of euphoria but also the ability to process pain at a different rate. Unfortunately Endorphins cannot work for a long time because our body also makes enzymes, called endorphinase, which chew up the Endorphins. This is the reason why Endorphins can stop working when a scene ends and pain can then set in. It is not an uncommon thing to take a good deal of pain in scene and then the next day find ourselves saying, “What WAS I thinking?”


    SO… Now that you know what both our adrenal glands and endorphins are and what they do to your body, it is easier to actually understand what happens during a scene and then also look at how your body (or the body of another) is reacting after a scene and to compensate for some of the negative after effects that can come about.

    During a scene, our bodies push both and, in effect, our bodies are thrown out of balance because of the massive chemicals it puts there to compensate. The MOST important reason for aftercare is to assist the body in re-adjusting to its normal state. It is not healthy NOT to do that frankly.

    The down sides to Endorphins and what our adrenal glands give us in scene:

    The body doesn’t normally produce huge amounts of endorphins usually and even when it produces more than usual (such as when you are in scene) the endorphins will also activate opiate receptors, which is the process that allows you to process the pain easier but it can cause some other side effects as well sometimes. Opiate receptors can inhibit other things in the body aside from pain receptors – things such as seratonin.

    Seratonin can affect things such as appetite, sleep, memory, learning, temperature regulation, mood, sexual behavior, cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, endocrine regulation, and, of course, depression.

    It is theorized that it is the endorphins affects on the seratonin levels during scening that causes many of the after affects that need to be dealt with in aftercare and most especially could be responsible for the severity of the “drop” phenomenon some encounter anywhere from immediately after ending a scene to up to 270 hours after a scene. (Yep that is 11.25 DAYS later folks – although this is extremely rare – it has been known to happen in a few cases).

    The down side to what the adrenal glands do is that it virtually STARVES your body of some things such as potassium and sodium. Also the adrenalin rush causes the body to burn fluids at a much higher rate as well so you are rapidly dehydrating yourself at the same time.

    Can you see the picture of a drop now?

    Reduced or inhibited serotonin levels, lowered blood sugar, potassium and sodium levels, lowered body fluids. This causes (depending on the depletion levels) lethargy, depression, muscle weakness and/or cramps, nausea, headaches, dizziness, irregular body temperature, lack of mental focus, irritability, and can lead to unconsiousness and even more severe problems.

  21. I also googled the term ‘aftercare’ on its own:

    I think the internet is on my side with this one.

  22. imagine thinking its normal for ur girlfriend to have a panic attack after sex and be so distraught at how you’ve treated her that she needs ‘aftercare’ imagine that imagine being that awful

  23. Pale Rose, that last one isn’t aimed directly at you. This is a large blog, I like to keep things in one place.

  24. (Dutton & Painter, 1981). Several conditions have been identified that must be present for a traumatic bond to occur.

    1. There must be an imbalance of power, with one person more in control of key aspects of the relationship, such as setting themselves up as the “authority” through such things as controlling the finances, or making most of the relationship decisions, or using threats and intimidations, so the relationship has become lopsided.

    2. The abusive behavior is sporadic in nature. It is characterized by intermittent reinforcement, which means there is the alternating of highly intense positives (such as intense kindness or affection) and the negatives of the abusive behavior.

    3. The victim engages in denial of the abuse for emotional self-protection. In severe abuse (this can be psychological or physical), one form of psychological protection strategy is dissociation, where the victim experiences the abuse as if it is not happening to them, but as if they are outside their body watching the scene unfold (like watching a movie). Dissociative states allow the victim to compartmentalize the abusive aspects of the relationship in order to focus on the positive aspects.The use of denial and distancing oneself from the abuse are forms of what is called cognitive dissonance. In abusive relationships this means that what is happening to the victim is so horrible, so far removed from their thoughts and expectations of the world, that it is “dissonant” or “out of tune” or “at odds” with their pre-existing expectations and reality. Since the victim feels powerless to change the situation, they rely on emotional strategies to try to make it less dissonant, to try to somehow make it fit. To cope with the contradicting behaviors of the abuser, and to survive the abuse, the person literally has to change how they perceive reality. Studies also show a person is more loyal and committed to a person or situation that is difficult, uncomfortable, or even humiliating, and the more the victim has invested in the relationship, the more they need to justify their position. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful “self-preservation” mechanism which can completely distort and override the truth, with the victim developing a tolerance for the abuse and “normalizing” the abusers behavior, despite evidence to the contrary.

    4. The victim masks that the abuse is happening, may not have admitted it to anyone, not even themselves.

    Found at (ex)Gynocraticgrrl

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