Safe house

I’ve written on the topic of safe words before, but I recently was contributing on a thread on fetlife, where very few (local to me) people agreed with my views so I thought I’d share them here too and reiterate my thoughts with you guys. This is also a bit more from a switch point of view than from a submissive’s in a sense.

I want to first of all make it clear, a disclaimer if you like, I don’t have a problem with YOU and your partner having a safeword in play, just I don’t and what follows are my reasons why.

In case you are new to BDSM, a safe word is a word that if the submissive says it that it means the dominant should either stop quickly and get them out of the scene, or, slow things down or change things and usually people choose a word the sub wouldn’t say in that context, or they use traffic light signals i.e red for stop amber for slow things down or change.

I don’t think having a special word to say during a scene necessarily makes it safe. If the person you are playing with is reckless, or self indulgent, or , hell bent on doing what they want to do regardless of your feelings, they won’t listen to it anyway and they won’t stop. It’s a way of communicating to someone that will listen, but is it the best way? Or have merit? If they can be trusted to stop if you say a particular word, why can’t they just listen and observe other forms of communication?

With Grimly, I’ve always preferred either being able to just tell him something is wrong (if I can) like if I have unbearable cramp or if I can’t cope with something for whatever reason. If I can’t (such as if I’m gagged), then I trust him to be able to tell from my body language if there’s a problem. I can give an example of that. The first time I tried ‘the creature’ I was overwhelmed by it. I wouldn’t have safeworded (if I had one) or said there was a problem because I didn’t want to admit there was. However, Grimly knows me in some ways better than I know myself and knew from my eyes that it was time to stop, since I was close to tears and not even I really understood why. It was just though the sort of overwhelmed feeling and too much at once .I think I thought because i’m used to all the various components of it that I should be able to cope with them all at once, and I just couldn’t. At least not the first time. I’m glad I tried it again though since the second time was amazing.

I think sometimes a Dom can , and should, know when their sub is having a problem before the sub does. Or, at least before the sub might admit to it. I know when I play with Grimly I don’t want to let him down by saying stop and its sort of personal failure as well if I say stop especially if its a scene I’ve had some input in suggesting! My opinion is that a Dom should be able to read when their sub has had enough and be able to bring the scene to a natural and enjoyable end at the right time, not just stop it abruptly. I sometimes see people at clubs and they do the same session with people regardless of who they are just because its what they know, but its not like that you need to adapt for the person, and even then what one person can cope with today , they might not be able to tomorrow. So I think there’s a need to be alert to that. I’ll be honest  as Dom, on at least one occasion, I’ve had something go wrong in a scene by misadventure and noticed it before my sub has and I’ve acted on that. I just think its been important to be vigilant. I think agreeing for a sub to have a safeword puts the responsibility too much back on them and I think there are doms out there that have the mentality of ‘I’ll keep going until she safe words’ and I just don’t agree with that. I much prefer the attitude of keep going till the screams get too loud 😉 You can work out if thats a joke or not !

Safe words just don’t work with my fantasies either. When I play with Grimly I want to feel that he’s in control of what happens, not me. Likewise, if I’m being dom to someone I want to be in control I don’t want them to have any say in when the scene finishes but at the same time to trust me that I’ll stop when/if I become aware of a problem. I’ve never yet had someone I’ve played with say to me ‘xxx was wrong and you didn’t notice’. When I’m sub (bottom/masochist however you want to define it) I don’t want the responsibility. I want to be controlled, I want him to choose what happens and when. I want him to be as inventive and imaginative as he can and I don’t want to stop that, unless I really can’t continue and I don’t need to say ‘pink bananas’ for that to happen. I just need to either say to him whats wrong, or look in his eye or something that he’ll pick up on and as far as I can remember there hasn’t been any time when he’s not noticed. I don’t think it works with me something being said thats totally out of context.

I don’t think its easy in general for subs with safe words to use them. There’s reasons for this. By doing it you might feel you’re failing yourself, failing your dom. You might be too overwhelmed by what’s going on like I was in the creature. I think part of the whole power exchange involves the idea of responsibility and care being exchanged as part of that. I don’t know my thoughts are along the lines of  ‘you can do what you want as long as I’m OK at the end of it, and well, even if I’m not you’ll kind of deal with the aftermath and actually I trust you not to do something that would fuck me up’.

Some people have challenged ‘how do you have the sixth sense to read how a partner is, do you have some sort of machine to tell?’ . Well, the arrogant comment would be, you’ve seen my playroom right? 😉 I do at least have an ECG. But, I’m not really that arrogant.It’s not arrogant to say I’m experienced though. I have the pictures and words here as proof of that! 😉 This is kind of what annoyed me on the thread, its like people are saying things like ‘not using safe words is like not using condoms’ and ‘i wouldn’t play with someone who didn’t use safe words as i think that implies they’re dangerous’ and things like this…without these people having necessarily had a varied experience and I just don’t think you know for sure your true opinion on these things till you’ve at least tried to understand it and try it out from the other point of view.

I do think of myself as experienced and capable of reading someone’s reactions , so here are just a list of a few tips to watch out for or to try.

Communicate – i think its important to talk before, during and after a scene. Discuss ideas, discuss fantasies and share. I don’t think the talking has to be necessarily right before a scene like I might say to Grimly I really want to try something, and I might have told him that months ago, but I won’t know that he’s choosing to do it this week for instance. I think its good sometimes not to know what’s coming, because otherwise I might hide under the duvet 😉 I think checklists are quite useful as well in a new relationship, to get an idea of what someone likes and importantly what might freak them out and discussion of limits. When Grimly and I first started playing I didn’t want to be gagged because I wanted to be able to say if there was a problem, and he was ok to play that way until we got used to each other. That way I was able to say stuff during the scene quite easily. I think it’s important to remember someone won’t always say when they have a problem (pride?) so I think check in’s are good as well, just asking ‘are you ok with this’ now and again sometimes I think helps if you’re unsure.

There’s also non verbal communication though. This can be all manner of things. Eye contact, body language i.e. hands moving might indicate the hands are cramped, things like this. Also watching for body signs that the sub may be displaying non-actively, are they cold/hot, are they shaking, are they fidgeting , is their breathing or heart beat irregular? Are they bleeding – has an injury occurred that was unintended? There’s more I suppose its just things that I notice and do without thinking about it.

What I’m trying to say is safe words are fine, in fact, they’re perhaps useful when playing with someone you don’t know that well. However, my arguement is they won’t keep you safe from an unsafe person. Getting to know someone and establishing if they’re a good play partner will tell you that, and then just communicating with each other about where things are going and whats going to happen is of a lot more benefit. Like I said, if I’m the sub I want him to take the responsibility, if I”m the Dom i’ll take responsibility I’ll take care of the person, I’ll keep them safe. If something goes wrong I’ll do something about it and I’ll do that fast. I won’t wait for them to remember what it is they have to say to make me notice!

Of course this stuff all works better with someone that knows you, knows how you react to things, than it it with someone you’ve just hooked up with at an event but even with a new person I think its important to read all available signs.

12 thoughts on “Safe house

  1. Well, as you know, we have been playing a tad longer than you and Grimly…and can honestly say we have never had (or thought the need of one ) a ‘safe word’ !! If a partner mistreats their loved one, then get shut and find someone who loves and cares for you and not just themselves or their fantasy…it is a two way road !!
    We built up our trust over the years..starting with simple bondage and a well, nearly as weird ( lol ) as you two !! If trying ‘heavy fetish’ bondage for the first time and you don’t know you partner to well ( ? ) then maybe a ‘safe’ word is a good idea…but I would never recommend anyone tries heavy/restrictive bondage with someone they hardly know ( re bondage ) etc.
    Play hard and safe and know/understand your lovers limits and you can’t go wrong 🙂

  2. Well said, m’dear. I have never used a safe word. But I have erase arched my few play partners. Only on one occasion did I have a little trouble when I pushed for her to tighten a corset too much and I started to panic because I thought u was going to faint. I was gagged, double hooded, double or triple encased in latex and double corseted (outer one from neck to ankles and that one became one too much). Mistress immediately detected distress through all that and had me out of there so fast I’m surprised my skin didn’t peel! She was fully aware, but more importantly, she was VIGILANT! Without that level of real concern for her sub, that could have ended in disaster!! That is pert of the reason I have only played with really good pro-dommes who take their craft as seriously (or more so) as making a buck. Absolute, 2-way trust in obligatory for a good and very intense session.
    Thank you for writing this. It’s an port any topic.

  3. What a great post. Like you we don’t use a safeword. Its all down to trust and reading the situation at the time. In all honesty why would somebody want to fuck the other up??

  4. Not having multiple partners I can not comment on new or first time together experiences where safe words might fit. But your last 2 paragraphs says it all to me. Safe words are a tool to build trust, but after that knowing the partner trumps that. Those that do not understand, try to make you feel guilty for not having them, and I feel sorry for those people as they must never have experienced that basic level of trust in a lover.

  5. Thank you for posting with so much insight on an important topic. Wether people choose to agree with you or not, you have have a right to and have too live with your own thoughts on this.I applaud you for presenting your ideas so as to educate others into at least thinking about the subject with a more informed opinion.

  6. Even since I committed myself to my Master! & Owner! (later became Hubby!, then ex Hubby!, then again Hubby!) i have not had, nor felt i needed a safe word. i committed to Him! and He! did the same toward me. His! favorite saying is “care and feeding of His! slave”. This includes His! accepting responsibility for my safety, as i am His! property.
    Over the many years (i committed to Him! back in 1974) i have never been in a situation in His! hands where i felt i would have used a safe word, had i had one. Yes, yes, yes…i have “suffered” at His! hands, the same ones that protect and take care of me. But when i was screaming, crying, suffering in pain and/or degradation, deep inside me i never felt my health, well being or even life was in danger.
    I might add one thing. During O/our time apart i was in a situation where i did need a safe word, but alas i was not given the opportunity to have or use one…hence my “time in hell”. Then i was held against my will and used, abused and tortured by two brutally sadistic lesbians.
    Other than at that time, i have never needed, nor wanted a safe word.

  7. Great point re the required and expected vigilance on the part of the Top/D. especially as their sadism increases , as beyond the safeword issue is the faint issue which has occasionally felled me in some past scenes…….as given a hard core maso’s sometime reluctance to sw, to avoid the sometimes resultant faint, Top/D. vigilance is the best if only way to deal preemptively.

    Also agree with CarlGat’s point about the sw’s utility when doing PD sessions in which both parties are often times relatively if not completely new to each other.

  8. I agree with a lot of your points. I have a safeword, but I have never used it, because to do so would mean failure and control of the scene. I don’t mind using yellow, or letting Sir know if something specific happens, that way its his decision on what to do, I’m just making him aware of it.

  9. Yup the fine edge that the safe word M.O. walks is how to not decrease the Dom/Top’s control for both parties’ mutual pleasure and satisfaction, while at the same time still allowing for a heads-up should a genuine problem arise with the bottom/sub, but not for something like it is just uncomfortable or challenging, etc………one of those quandaries that needs continual management and monitoring…..

  10. Think of the existence of safe word as the learners permit stage of a drivers license. Even if there has been discussion beforehand the reality of a situation may be overwhelming and a relationship has to be built in trust. If, however, after a reasonable length of time and number of sessions the safeword is still a significant factor then the pair are unsuited for each other and life goes on.

  11. @Ed, while your comment has some rationale for long term couples, really enough of the generalizations as depending on what the pair are up to and doing, and including such things as heavy gaggage, etc. in which something more akin to a safe signal may be appropriate, a safe word may not be necessary for years but then become so in the blink of an eye depending …..factors such as the sub’s individual health, etc all play a part here regardless of how long they have been together.

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