The PEP Support Group Philosophy

In 1986, fueld by her own loneliness, passions, and desires, Nancy Ava Miller founded the People Exchanging Power S&M/B&D/fetish support network. The first PEP meeting was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 16, 1986. Nancy went on to create PEP groups in many cities, including Denver, Phoenix, St Louis, Washington DC, and Atlanta. PEP groups sprang up in Houston, Buffalo, New Orleans, and other great cities. Some groups have since closed; others continue to flourish. Through her support group work, Nancy saw how deeply people needed a safe space to express their erotic fantasies, sexual proclivities, and identities. Our Ladies and our company provide safe space, and we aim to help anyone stuck in shame, fear, isolation, and/or sadness. We strive to help people connect with their most whole selves, and we speak with our callers from an authentic, compassionate point of view. 

We believe everyone has an inherent right to a shame-free life.

The purpose of PEP, then and now, remains the same, as Nancy describes it: to help those with the same longings and obsessions that led me to create PEP in the first place ... if you need to talk, PEP's articulate and savvy Ladies are available for intimate dialogue—passionate and compassionate, kinky and raunchy, informed and unique.

PEP's philosophy, too, remains the same, as copied below with only minor adjustments to its 1986 publication. We welcome your comments.

People Exchanging Power (PEP) is a sincere support/discussion/social group for all adults—male, female, married, single, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender—concerned with dominance and submission in love relationships. The goals of PEP are to provide support, acceptance, dignity, communion, understanding, and education for its members, and to serve as a liaison between PEP members and the community at large.

PEP is also concerned with correcting the erroneous stereotyping connected with D&S (dominance and submission), S&M (sadomasochism), and B&D (bondage and discipline). We are not violent, sick, or perverted individuals. Of course, every segment of society can claim its share of the insane and criminal, but this is not what D&S is about, and there is no evidence to hint that there are more evil, violent people among the S&M community than anywhere else in society.

S&M is consensual fantasy play involving the roles of dominance and submission. S&M can be very mild, or it can be intense. It is important to note that "pain” is subjective, and is perceived by S&Mers as pleasure and as sexually titillating.

S&M activity is always consensual. Most S&Mers are extremely concerned with safety and would never transcend the boundaries of their partner(s). Anyone, S&M practitioner or otherwise, who hurts or sexually exploits another person against his/her will is not practicing S&M; that person is a criminal, a batterer, a rapist. The difference is sodomizing a willing lover, or having intercourse with a consenting adult, as opposed to someone forcing sodomy or intercourse on another. The former is acceptable love-play; the latter is rape. S&M is not child abuse or child molestation. A person who abuses a child is not practicing S&M; that person is a criminal.

We in the S&M community tire of being stereotyped. We are not violent, perverted, evil, or insane; we are not rapists, batterers, or child molesters; we are merely concerned with enhancing our sexuality through safe, consensual, loving interplay of dominant and submissive roles.

Who are PEP members? Many are well-educated, intelligent, professional people. Some of our members are gay or bisexual. Although there is always a core group of the same faces that attend the general meetings, there is a constant influx of new people looking to explore what PEP has to offer.

What happens at a PEP meeting? We begin with a discussion of PEP activities and general information about the club. Next we have a speaker who delves into a topic relevant to S&M. For instance, we’ve recruited an AIDS Services worker to speak on “Safe S&M Sex”; a local writer/educator conducted a “Sexual Fantasy Creative Writing Workshop”; a sex therapist/professor discussed “Relationship Issues for S&M Practitioners”; a lawyer talked about “Sex, S&M, and the Law”; a successful Mistress spoke about “The Phenomenon of the Professional Dominatrix”; another spoke of “S&M as Philosophy”; we have even had a demonstration from a bondage master on safe bondage techniques. After the guest speaker has finished the presentation and entertained comments and questions, we hold a general support group discussion wherein members talk about personal concerns, needs, desires, and/or problems openly and confidentially.

PEP meetings are conducted in an intelligent, dignified, informational, educational, and friendly manner. The meetings are led by an educationally qualified person who is experienced in group leadership. No sexual activity of any kind occurs at these meetings, and drug usage and heavy drinking are prohibited at any PEP event. PEP usually hosts two to four parties monthly. PEP urges the more skeptical among society to shed their stereotypical views of D&S/S&M/B&D, and to realize that negative notions concerning the S&M community are due to lack of knowledge about S&M.

Thank you for having the courage to inquire about PEP. Please consider joining us.