Safety in BDSM

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BDSM sessions have an inherent risk. It’s the responsibility of each and every player to make the best to keep a session as safe as possible, by having mature communication, agreed limits and a experience in the techniques at play. But risk exists, and this is why BDSM is a lifestyle for adults as it requires to take responsibility for the actions. Accidents happen, and negligence can happen too.

In my opinion, the most important thing in BDSM is owning the responsibility of caring for oneself. Both Doms and subs need to observe some precautions as trust cannot be given for free, but of course for a sub is inherently going into a risk because of the imbalanced power that the Dom/sub relationship brings. Gags, restraints, ropes, floggers and crops put a sub in a vulnerable position that the Dom doesn’t experience. And if the dynamic is a Master/slave one, risk increases because power exchange dynamic tends to be more extreme and to touch certain degree of consensual ‘abuse’.

A Dom has an inherent responsibility to take care of a sub, but a Dom might fail in honoring this expectation. Maybe because the skills are not there, maybe it’s a bad day, maybe the limits and fantasies aren’t discussed properly, or maybe because both sides have a different understanding of what BDSM is.

I understand the kinky community as a fusion of the different views, a space understood as non-judgmental and tolerant where all kinksters should feel included. And it’s for this reason I believe that the kinky community as a whole shouldn’t be seen as a warranty of protection, because everyone is part of it regardless of the skills, the different values and the different understandings of what safety is.

Of course illegal and punishable acts cannot be tolerated. But the understanding of safety is one of the most controversial topics, to the extent that there are different ‘frameworks’ around it, with the most common acronyms being SSC, RACK and PRICK.

Safety starts with taking the time to find those in the community with the same understanding of safety. Once I find those and I have some degree of friendship and trust with them, it’s not unpolite to express interest for knowing someone that could be a good fister, rigger or flogger for example, as a personal recommendation.

At some stage, it’s time to meet the guy in person. In my 20s when I was starting I had some fear. But from good advises and experiences of all types, I learned to adopt a series of do’s and don’ts that still today help me feel more secure and relaxed.

Meet in advance (days) in a public place

I like to meet for a beer in a pub, just a coffee or a park walk in days or weeks before when willing to go for a session, and get to know each other. In one side is the best way to confirm there is common wavelength and expectations, and build some trust, and at the same time brings humanity to the other side. There is nothing that effective to remove any fear than seeing a Dom being natural and friendly.

When the meeting happens just in the hour before the play, cock excitement can cloud the mind. And even if the mind is telling me not to continue, there is the pressure of being polite and not saying no at the stage in which the other person might have done arrangements.

Share who and where with a kinky(-friendly) friend

It gives me peace of mind to have a good kinky or kinky-friendly friend that knows who I am meeting (profile name, real name and phone name) and where I’m going. Even when I go to a club or sex club, if ending the night heading to someone’s house, I share the live location and I even make my best to get and share also the exact address.

I always bring a phone charger, and make my best keeping the phone always charged and close to the play area. Some people plan a check-in call with a friend at a certain time.

As a Dom, I like when the sub is proactively discussing these things, because it shows self preservation and responsibility. If this doesn’t happen, I encourage that when I’m driving with the sub to the play place. As Dom I also share the same information with my contact, and I make sure that my contact has a set of keys or knows who to call in case there is no response in the agreed check-ins. I don’t expect to get a heart attack, but just in case, let’s make sure there is no Jessie Burlingame situation.

Plan in advance how to come back home

A bunch of times I have been picked up by car, realizing late that I was ending somewhere far from public transportation, and regretting at the end because the story didn’t go well and I couldn’t easily leave on my own. Now I always try to have a contingency plan that includes how to reach transportation and how much it will cost. If someone is hosting me in a different country, I must also have budget for accommodation, in case things don’t work well and I need to find a hotel or B&B.

It’s great when people is generous and facilitates transportation or accommodation, but there is a risk of becoming trapped and not being able to afford to leave or pay for alternative lodging. It’s great also when people makes their best to help those in such vulnerable situation.

Refresh memory

I might have discussed during the previous gathering/s my limits, expectations and the safety framework. But people forgets things, even more if there were many beers during those conversations or a few days have passed since then.

In the same day of the session, do a refresh of the agreements. Cover again the limits, the safety framework and safe words, and disclose any medical condition that could be worsen by kinky practices (e.g. blood pressure issues, joint problems or contractures, any known allergy, asthma…) as well as any emergency medication that would be nice to have close.

Don’t push the gas – behave

Being a brat tends to excite the sadism in a sadistic Master. With my Master I enjoy showing some bratty behavior in the days before the play because I know that he will be extra horny. But I don’t do this with someone new for the first time. I just don’t push the gas when I don’t yet know the intensity of play of the Master and what are the triggers.

If someone is being a brat in the first session when I don’t properly know the limits yet, I might feel powerless as I would like to punish hard to make clear the difference between reward and punishment. But as I don’t know where the limits are, I cannot do that without risking to trespass the unknown limit.

By not being a brat in the first session, the Dom doesn’t feel that needs to punish and can gently play in ‘reward mode’, which facilitates getting to know the limits.

Narrow the play offer to flow in one wave

By reducing the play offer, the session becomes more relaxed. I’ve learned that the more different techniques in a session, the sub might not be able to stay in subspace with all the changes and different sensations. But by using one technique as the main one along the session, the trip to the subspace is kept easily, as in one wave. It feels like a continuum despite the breaks between scenes. It’s very common using bondage on a bed as the main driver. I prefer spanking, it transports me to the subspace easily, thanks to the activation of the endorphins.

Then on top of the main one small additions can be added in low intensity, not to break that state of happiness but rising the level of pleasure. By progressing slowly and in a cadence the subspace is more intense. It’s like that tasty lunch or dessert we just eat with small bits, and whose sweetness lasts long after.

However, by narrowing the play offer there might arise the feeling that it’s a sacrifice of the joy. Some subs might end pushing the Dom into a Service Top and some Doms might just get pleased without considering what the sub likes. Both sides are to enjoy, and subs and Doms should get to know the triggers of the partner, and make sure that both sides feel there is reciprocity.

Lower the limits, test communication

A first session should be a gentle discovery progression, to setup foundations. With someone I don’t have much information, I will set lower limits. I need to trust someone very much to engage on heavy bondage, suspensions or breath play, for example. Bondage in a first session should be soft and with real options of escaping.

I trust my Master and I know that the safewords will trigger a quick response. But with someone I haven’t played with yet, I cannot know with certainty that the response will be that quick. So by lowering the limits at play, we have some ‘safety buffer’ in case of a delayed response.

In my view, everyone should test on a first session the effectiveness of communication. And if something is not working, it must be faced openly without any shame or worries for stopping the play. It’s better to stop a scene that is not anymore joyful because we have fear than letting it continue to avoid being unpolite.

And if communication doesn’t flow, let’s not be ashamed or worried to stop the full session and call it a night.

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