When the Dominant or Master has PTSD or Panic Attacks

This is part 3 of a 3 part article on PTSD and panic attacks.
Part 1: 2 Ways to Deal with PTSD and Panic Attacks
Part 2: When the submissive or slave has PTSD or Panic Attacks

Dominant’s issues are very often swept under the carpet for various reasons.

Firstly and generally, the BDSM community is fairly submissive-centric in its discussions. We talk a lot about subspace, but not much about topspace. We talk about service a lot more than we talk about leadership.

Secondly, i think it has a lot to do with a Dom’s Pride. Exposing weaknesses and vulnerability is seen to reduce the Dominant power in the short term, but allows Dominant to grow stronger and more powerful in the longer time. We talk about submissives involved in BDSM sessions having problems dealing with PTSD panic attacks, but of course there are Dominants who struggle quietly, because you know, Doms are perfect human beings similar to God, and we worship them like we worship God.

In part 1 of this series, i suggested two direct and simple coping mechanisms for PTSD and panic attacks, and gave a metaphorical analogy to drawing an escape pathway for fire drill. When the house is set on fire, you know which way is the best to walk out of the building. In that article, i discussed the Golden 30 Second Rule and reclaiming the trauma (through a form of drama therapy).


What might happen if a Dominant is having an panic attack?

Part of topping (or dominance) in BDSM is being in control and responsible. When panic attacks are triggered, it could cause unnecessary harm to the submissive(s). As with submissives, Dominants may not know they are likely to have panic attacks until they are triggered, so it may not feature as part of pre-scene negotiation. It is one of the reasons why many people prefer the concept of R.A.C.K (risk aware consensual kink) consent to S.S.C (safe, sane, consensual) consent. Nothing is ever “safe”, but we all try hard to minimise risks.


Control your emotions. Panic attacks are unpredictable. It could make a person dissociate from the present to the past memories. It can cause overwhelming sadness, anger, anxiety or depression, catatonic states or aggressiveness, depending on the individual.

If you are feeling extra aggressiveness, there is a chance that you may become abusive and go beyond pre-negotiated limits. You want to stop right there, because your trauma attack could put your partner in jeopardy, not to mention get you into serious trouble. There is no tolerance in BDSM for abuse.

What you could do is put a blindfold over your submissive to keep the trust of your play partner, and sit yourself down on the couch and evaluate the situation. Are you able to continue the session safely and stay within the pre-negotiated limits? Is that something that will bring both of you pleasure without putting either of you in danger?

If you realise your mind is too overwhelmed by the traumatic event, time is precious. You need to use your last mental efforts to make sure your play partner is safe. Is he suspended? Does he have piercing needles in him? Use the Golden 30 Seconds mechanism to temporary push back your panic attack and get your submissive into a safe situation.

You could ask him to kneel in the room or put him into a cage. Do something to dial the power exchange down smoothly, and set a timer of 20 minutes to 30 minutes for yourself to panic and process your panic. Processing the emotions can be difficult, so the timer allows you to temporarily go into dealing in the past, and stop you from being frozen there (because you still have a sub to look after).

Once the timer is up, you need to go to the submissive and explain clearly that you need to stop the session due to emotions, and that it has nothing to do with the submissive. Don’t let the submissive leave blaming himself for an unsatifying session.

If your submissive is someone that you know, you may be able to have them provide aftercare for you, by having them kneel by your feet, or do something to make you feel secure, safe and loved. They could make you hot milo, or show care in some way. It can really help a lot in these situations.


If you are a submissive for a Dominant who has difficulties dealing with PTSD, understand that your Dominant will lose control from time to time. It’s important to be compassionate to your Dom, take up individual responsibility for yourself, and expect to sometimes have to care for your submissive soul to reduce the burden of your Dominant.

Being submissive is not weak, it is a form of inverted strength. You need to be strong for your Master. The leash has two ends, and your collar can lead its Owner back to the present. You have the submissive power to guide your Master back to the present by crawling toward the brightness.

If you are a Dominant, understand yourself, and give yourself time to recover. Learn what PTSD is about and be open to BDSM sessions that help you reclaim your past in an intelligent and safe way.

If you think having an intense session will help you to process your traumatic event, communicate clearly to your submissive, and go back to the past together and reclaim it. Panic attacks can be an enhancement of power exchange and relationship, as much as they can be detrimental. But, you can use your past and allow your submissive to be part of the journey. Spiritually, it allows you and your submissive to go back to the past together, through the door of BDSM. If you are careful and aware of your condition, you can do this without getting trapped in the past.


• Exit and Support Network – How to Walk Yourself Through a Panic Attack
• Briar Thorn Blog – Aftercare for Dominants

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