Sex and Salt Lake City

Sexual sadism


BDSM is not new, and in all likelihood, it is not going away anytime soon. Thanks to mainstream movies such as Fifty Shades of Grey and The Secretary, the conversation about BDSM is no longer too taboo to discuss. However, with that, also comes a lot of confusion. While many are interested in finding out more about how to have kinky fun, the lines between what is arousing and fun, and what is abusive, can be blurred.

Sadism is one element that many associate all other aspects of BDSM with. To look more closely at sexual sadism, let’s break down the acronym of BDSM. BDSM actually stands for six separate aspects. Bondage and Discipline; Dominance and Submission; Sadism and Masochism.


So just what is sexual sadism? In short, it describes one who experiences sexual arousal in response to the pain or humiliation of another. Ideally Sadism is practiced with a willing Masochist (One who experiences sexual arousal by receiving pain and/or humiliation). All parties involved are choosing to participate willingly. Negotiations that take place between everyone and can be quite detailed and thorough. Consent is ever present.


Much like preparing a buffet of deliciousness, the Masochist will list all their favorite delights and desires in the form of sensations, pain tolerance, and possible humiliation – a menu if you will. The menu could include various forms of bondage and/or depravations such as blindfolds, ropes, chains, as well as various sensations such as hair pulling, spankings, floggings, electricity. The menu and choices are as varied as the people who indulge in them.

Along with laying out all the desires the Masochist hopes to experience, there can be experiences that are completely off limits. Maybe the Masochist dislikes any stingy sensations. In that case it is a boundary and all things that might possibly sting are taken off the menu.


With the growing acceptance of people being able to express their fantasies through BDSM community, this may not seem problematic, and in most cases this it’s a positive experience for all involved. The people participating are consenting and indulging of their own free will. The person being hit to the point of bruising may be getting exactly what they desire and are receiving sexual pleasure every time they look at their bruises. Possibly a sexy reminder of the play they experienced. At the same time, the Sadist may have found the torturing (while consensual) of their play partner so arousing that just the thought of it can place them back into into a state of arousal.

The Key here – the parties involved are consenting and while pain may be experienced, no actual abuse is taking place and none of the actions are being done in anger. Everyone leaves the experience feeling better for it.

So, when does Sadism become problematic? In some cases, it can take conducting actual torture and humiliation, with the intent to do actual harm, for the Sadist to be able to experience any sexual arousal.. In other cases the Sadist may actually act out with harm to their partner in anger. In either case there is no consent sought out or respected. In fact, just the opposite occurs. Once those lines are crossed, it is time to seek professional help.

To say it can be a challenge for those outside the BDSM community to understand is an understatement. Sexuality is at the core of who we are as human beings. It is through sexual interaction that we all came to be. Therefore, it can be a challenge to understand how the same action of inflicting and/or receiving pain can be either arousing or abusive.
As a clinical sexologist, most of the work I do is around honoring whatever helps people feel like their best sexual self. I consider myself a sex enabler and seek to help others feel acceptance with themselves in whatever brings them sexual pleasure. Many times, what people find pleasurable, is questionable in mainstream society.

When that source of feeling good is in direct conflict with the consent and boundaries of another, it is time to step in. Should one find themselves at either end of Sadism that is harmful and void of consent, finding the right therapist may be the saving point that helps to create a sense of safety.
The bottom line? For some people, inflicting pain and humiliation on others is what sexually arouses and excites them. And for some being at the receiving end of that infliction is arousing. But when consent is removed from the equation it is no longer a fun venture and intervention is needed.

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook is a Clinical Sexologist with private practices in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. She can be reached at: [email protected]l’

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook
She/Her/Hers
Clinical Sexologist

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook is a graduate level Clinical Sexologist, with an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Doctorate Degree in Human Sexuality. As a Clinical Sexologist, she believes a large part of her job is to be a sex enabler. Through counseling, workshops, and hands on exercises, she assists others in achieving the level of sexual function they desire. She enjoys the study and research of not only what people are doing sexually, but how they feel about it. Dr. Laurie divides her time between Los Angeles California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to seeing clients in either of her offices or via skype, she is President for the non-profit, Sex Positive Los Angeles inc. (SPLA) and recently began a chapter in Salt Lake City, (SP-SLC). Her non-profit offers sexual education and support programs throughout Los Angeles and Salt Lake Counties. Rounding off her work, she is an IPSA certified Surrogate Partner Therapist working with clients and therapists in a triadic model to assist in bringing clients comfortable with their sexual selves. Dr. Laurie can be found in various publications; radio, podcast, and television interviews. For individual consultations or appointments please contact her at [email protected] Welcoming and affirming of all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all sexual and relationship expressions.

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