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Safe BDSM is sexy BDSM and for me safewords are a key to that.
I never play without a safeword and I want to explain more about that and why they are so important. I have a very simple safeword that I use in all of my sessions, and it is quite commonly used by others in the kink world, and it is RED.
What is a safeword and why have them?
Quite simply they are a codeword that communicates you need the scene and session to stop. Depending on the nature of the scene you may struggle, you may shout out you may say No! You may beg and plead for the tickling to stop for example. But you do not want it to stop … it is part of the experience and play.
This is where communication in BDSM can get complicated. So, we agree a codeword or as we know it … a safeword. A word or phrase that communicates you need to stop playing. But it needs to be a word that you would not usually use in the scene – so “No” and “Stop” aren’t usually used. You can of course use them, and if you wish to make sure your play partner understands that!
But most often people will use a word that would not be used in a scene – Banana for example. You must choose something simple and easy to remember. If one of the players can’t remember it’s Banana, they may suddenly develop fruit-based Tourette’s calling out various fruit names trying to find the right one!
So, I always use RED. It is simple and easy to remember – I remind subs with the phrase “think of a traffic lights – red is stop!” There is now a visualisation of the colour in their mind and my incredibly basic understanding of psychology is that if you relate it to something you can see it helps store that memory.
Why may you use it?
There are many reasons! I cannot give an extensive list, but I can give ideas that may help to understand why you may need to use a safeword.
For example, something does not feel right.
Maybe you are in bondage and something is pinching, or you feel it is too tight (fingers are tingling are an excellent example). Maybe your worried you are not secure, the top has tied you up safely and you are not going to fall, break anything. But because if the position or maybe blindfold you cannot see that. Your brain is now thinking “but what if something happens” you cannot relax and enjoy the scene.
Or maybe the scene has become too intense for you? You thought you could take what you are doing, you have committed, you have tried, but right now in this moment it is not working.
Maye you wanted a hard flogging or caning – you wanted to be pushed hard, you wanted to explore your pain limits. But today is not right day for that – your head is not in the right frame of mind.
Or you suddenly feel unwell or faint maybe – and you need to alert your partner to that.
There is also one reason that can seem so frustrating at the time. You are having a great scene, this is beating every fantasy you ever had, it is the horniest most amazing experience of our life. And then *snap* something goes in your brain and suddenly out of nowhere. No warning, your brain is suddenly … NO! ABORT! DANGER! DANGER WILL ROBINSON! ABORT!
You need to stop. The best description is that you are having an anxiety / panic attack. This is something I have had the displeasure of experiencing – and it is really important you communicate that quickly!
You may feel that you want to carry on, but if you are having some sort of anxiety attack you need to stop and pause. Your selfcare is paramount – no matter how much you feel the other person is enjoying what you are doing.
If you do not feel safe, mentally, physically or emotionally you need to communicate that.
I never see reasons for using a safeword as a failure by the sub / bottom, I always tell people do not push beyond your limits to please me or because you think it will please me. If it pushes you to something or somewhere you are not comfortable then STOP.
It will be much better mentally and emotionally. This self-care is so important – both the sub and the Dom have a responsibility to look after their own safety and wellbeing.
And this responsibility also gives the Dom the option to Safeword end a scene. And that is important to understand – many people assume safewords they are only for subs. The anxiety attack, feeling unwell or faint for example. The Dom needs to recognise them and communicate to the sub they need to stop and stop immediately.
They may need to do that to safely remove any restrictions on the sub to release them for example. I have used a safeword as a Dom in a scene before. The sub was furious with me for stopping something they loved and were enjoying so much, and they were very vocal about that – even after my explaining the situation. That lack of respect for me looking after my own wellbeing meant that I will not see them again.
There are many reasons a Dom safe words, and that must be accepted – consent is a two-way process!
What happens if you use a safeword?
It depends on the scene and what is going on at that moment, but I can give a general idea. Firstly, I will stop whatever we are doing and check “are you ok?”
I will start by removing anything on the head / face / mouth first and then I will take any restraints off in an order that means you are safe – so that they will not fall over. All the time talking to you – making sure you are ok, discuss what you are feeling and what you need to do.
In the dungeon I will have water available, a fan to cool if too hot, a blanket if cold, an energy drink or sweets if blood sugar feels low, just some simple essential supplies. Maybe your emotions have overwhelmed you a bit and you just need a hug.
Whatever aftercare and reassurance you need in that moment is my focus to help you come down and relax safely and comfortably.
But what if you have a gag in or a heavy deprivation hood and your ability to communicate verbally is restricted – what then?
This is a little harder, but something that can be negotiated. Let us say you are in the bondage chair, heavy hood on or gagged and your strapped down. You can’t talk easily, so I use a simple gesture to communicate – repeated movements.
Open and close your fists or wave left to right for example. But not once! Keep doing it until I have noticed and acknowledged it by touching your hands (or body part moving). If you continue to do it once I touch you, I know that is the same as saying RED.
What if you are in a sleep sack? This time bend your feet back and forth – a repetitive motion that you are clearly doing on purpose.
But as I say – it is negotiation prior to the scene and there are many options.
One more thing
Just before I finish off, I want to add a final option to the use of safewords – green and orange. You may want to slow down a little, but not stop … so orange /amber is a good one to use, again traffic lights.
And if you think I may be slowing down or worried, or maybe you want to communicate you want to push harder? Green … keep going!
But most of all remember to negotiate and agree before starting any session! Don’t assume a partner uses the same safeword system as you … and never play without one!