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Punishment is the infliction or imposition of a penalty/consequence as retribution for an offense.

Punishment in the context of BDSM is most frequently discussed as part of a consensual M/s dynamic.


Funishment is distinctly different from punishment as the penalty or consequence applied is done so in a light hearted and flirtatious manner, generally as part of a play scene that may involve bratting, rather than in a corrective manner to maintain a relationship structure.

Best Practices Responsible Use of Punishment

"Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies." ~Nelson Mandella[1]

Responsible of Punishment is an idea put forth by LT Morrison in the Devil in the details series[2].

From that work is extrapolated the following ideas:

Functions of Responsible Punishment

  • Punishment allows a "forgive and forget" mechanism, enabling both partners to move forward. This prohibits baggage/resentment from accumulating over time.
  • Punishment lets the s-type know the d-type cares enough to punish and do things that are hard and distasteful for the sake of the relationship health and betterment of the s-type.
  • Punishment makes structure possible because without consequence there is no accountability, and therefore, no structure.
  • Punishment also allows the s-type to eliminate guilt and move forward after the punishment is applied.
  • The d-type must not punish while angry, or for something that isn't trained for, and must never fail to punish for a set protocol or it will destroy the structure put in place. As such, a D-type must not put more protocols into place than they are willing to enforce.
  • Ignoring should not be used as punishment unless there is no reasonable alternative.

How to Responsibly Punish

The d-type will...

  • Explain the disobedience and the rule the s-type broke
  • Explain genuine disappointment and feelings the s-type's behavior generated.
  • Provide the s-type an opportunity to talk and explain the behavior. The d-type may opt to potentially allow them to offer a punishment suggestion to consider.
  • Re-teach the s-type the rule and expectations.
  • Punish the s-type. The d-type will use the minimum influence necessary to compel the s-type’s compliance with the policies and procedures the s-type previously agreed to. Punishment need not be of a physical nature, apply a type of punishment that is most appropriate to teach the s-type.
  • For M/s only... Bearing in mind that the a Master wishes the relationship to continue, there are no limits to the nature or extent of punishment that could be ordered as a result of the slave’s act of willfulness or negligence, so long as no crime is committed (such as battery, death). It is good practice to use the minimum amount of punishment necessary to effectively punish the slave.
  • Forgive the s-type, while ensuring the s-type forgives itself, then everyone forgets and lets the issue go.


Many in Power Exchange relationships report that they prefer not to use any form of physical punishment as they prefer to view any sort of acting out or failure to comply on the part of the s-type as an opportunity for discussion and retraining, however as these are direct consequences from disapproved actions, within the definition of this article, these are still technically punishments, even if they are done in an exceptionally loving and sensitive manner.