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Enslavement is the process of putting someone into slavery. This article is about the process connected with the Master/slave side of dominance and submission loosely associated with BDSM (for information about other forms of enslavement, see a general encyclopaedia). The games that some people (including those who might be described as vanilla, having no connection with BDSM) play around the concept of Master/slave do not involve permanent enslavement, as the 'slave' will be freed at the end of the scene.

The person being enslaved must have given consent; strictly speaking this would be the last thing they have a 'right' to choose what to consent to. In almost all countries slavery is illegal, but where both parties desire the condition, a person can be conditioned to behave and think of themselves as a slave to their specific owner; in extreme cases this extends to anyone who becomes their owner (but more usually the slave's state of slavery would terminate with the relationship to the specific Master). This process does not involve the level of violence nor continuous or extreme captivity associated with illegal slavery — the slave willingly enters the process and must be brought to slavery in a gradual and consensual manner.

The motives for someone desiring to be a slave are varied and wide, though many of the common motivations will not endure enough to allow a full process of enslavement. The would-be slave must be willing to be changed, have a desire to please or serve and be prepared for a limitation of their personal freedoms and choices.

Because they will not always enjoy the moments of restriction, a would-be slave must have (and recognise of themselves) a need to be dominated in life; this will often be clear to them from earlier power exchange relationships in which they felt they needed a greater degree of ownership. Because they can not always be monitored on everything throughout the day and must sometimes be left to themselves, they must also have a need to submit and serve; this may be clear to themselves from childhood or previous relationships.

Someone wanting to consensually enslave another must be prepared to subdue them to his will. This can take an immense effort, particularly because moments of high reactance and resistance by the submissive are likely to come when the dominant is under most external pressure (e.g. from work or family commitments). Discipline alone is not likely to be enough, though it can bring about a high degree of obedience; a highly developed sense of observation and timing may be needed to know when to use the "carrot" and when to use the "stick" - and when to use neither, making the submissive work mentally harder for their own subjugation.

In any relationship in which there is a noticeable and desired imbalance of power, a degree of trust between the people involved must exist. The greater the level of power exchange, the greater the necessity (not merely desire for) trust, from the outset of the process. For this reason, enslavement is almost always of a single slave to a single owner. Once someone is appropriately and fully enslaved, it is theoretically possible for an owner to start enslaving another but the difficulties involved make the successful outcome very rare.

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