Practicing BDSM requires a great deal of trust and understanding. It requires letting go of your control and believing that your partner will keep you safe. It can also be an emotionally and psychologically traumatizing event.

The panic sensors in your brain cannot differentiate between consensual acts of violence (choking, hitting, bondage) and non-consensual events with this same effect. If your brain isn't getting enough oxygen, it isn't getting enough oxygen, whether you've decided it's ok or not.

The pairing of pain and pleasure can be a pleasant experience for some people but it ultimately rewires your neural connections, resulting in "distinct neural networks and brain maps becom(ing) fused according to Hebb's principle: neurons that fire together wire together. Once this happens, aggression automatically triggers sexual arousal. Or fear and anxiety automatically trigger sexual interest."

Additionally, exposure to violent sexual practices ultimately builds up a tolerance, requiring more aggressive and more deviant behaviors to achieve the same level of sexual pleasure. Soon choking or spanking won't be enough and more painful, invasive acts will be expected.

Porn exposure only exacerbates this addiction to violence, specifically against girls and women. Men and boys are exposed from a young age to violent, abusive pornography, again building up a tolerance to seeing these sorts of things and thus expecting these demeaning sexual behaviors from the women they end up in bed with.

BDSM can be fun and pleasurable for both parties if they both agree that it is something they want to experiment with in respectful and consensual ways. However, there is much more to BDSM than the simple acts of violence and the use of nicknames.

Healthy BDSM requires clear boundaries and expectations, a discussion about safe words and assurance that anything said in bed is only in bed and not reflective of real beliefs, and thorough aftercare to make sure that your partner feels safe and secure after being exposed to this roughness.

Because of all of these factors, BDSM is something that exclusively belongs in loving, trusting, and respectful relationships. It is not appropriate or fair to expect a Tinder match to be okay with violence in bed. It's not alright to take someone home from the bar and spring this sort of behavior on them. Even if you are with a partner that you know and trust, there is no space for BDSM unless each party is able to express informed consent and to safely back out at any time at which they feel unsafe.

Do not allow porn and the people whose behavior has been shaped by porn to try to convince you that BDSM is normal, casual, and to be expected with every sexual encounter. If you're curious about it, allow yourself to explore it safely with someone you trust. Your safety, health (physical and psychological), pleasure, and comfort are the most important pieces of a sexual relationship and you should never be asked to give those things up for someone else to get off with no expectations and sense of responsibility towards keeping you safe.

If you are a victim of sexual abuse or violence, visit RAINN for more information and resources to seek help.