It’s fair to assume that most people don’t wish to be beaten by their spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend or other intimate partner. But it’s not accurate to say no one wants to be hit by their lover. In fact, many people throughout the world enjoy a little pain with their pleasure and participate in healthy, and consensual bondage and S&M play. Unfortunately, S&M and domestic violence are often confused for one another and participants in this lifestyle are sometimes wrongfully charged with spousal assault and battery.
S&M and Bondage Play Are Legal in California
Nosy neighbors, concerned friends and even confused children can sometimes misinterpret and confuse S&M and domestic violence when they see evidence of these sex acts or overhear a couple who engages in dominance/submission play. This could involve the submissive party having bruises or yelling, crying or even saying “no” during sexual activities. In most cases, when police appear at a well check and find out a couple was engaged in these types of sex acts, they will leave without placing anyone under arrest.
But police should know the difference between S&M and domestic violence, they may still make an arrest if they feel the alleged victim is lying because he or she has been subjected to too much physical violence, or if the victim is nervous or embarrassed and doesn’t tell the police that the “abuse” was actually a part of a consensual sexual activity. When this happens, it is critical you speak with a domestic violence attorney as soon as possible because consent is a strong defense in these cases.
If you are concerned your partner may be too scared or embarrassed to tell the police the truth if they arrive at your house, you can always create a written contract or a video agreement discussing the terms and limits of your activities. While this isn’t an airtight defense, it can help in many situations to clarify between S&M and domestic violence.
The Fine Line Between S&M and Domestic Violence
While consensual S&M, bondage and dominance play are all legal, it is critical these encounters remain consensual the entire time. This is why it is important to establish and respect safewords to ensure both parties always have the ability to stop at any time. When you have established safewords, it is critical to respond immediately when your partner uses their safeword as failing to do so can open you up to charges of domestic assault, battery or even rape.
Remember that while consensual S&M is legal, when someone uses a safeword, they are revoking their consent for a given activity. Failure to respect that revocation of consent can be a criminal offense. That being said, there are still defenses to this crime, including a failure to hear the safeword or misunderstandings about safewords and their meanings. Remember not to try to defend yourself or talk to police at all without your lawyer present though or you could end up hurting your case.
If you have been accused of domestic violence after participating in a consensual sexual activity with your partner and believe police simply confused S&M and domestic violence, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss. His office is conveniently located across the street from the Vista courthouse and jail.
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