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Safe, Sane, Consensual Always Think Safe and never Harm

Grab a cup of coffee a lot of awesome information I found,,,

I would hope everyone takes this serious…

Except, there is no such security. D/s and BDSM exist where safety is tenuous at best. Assurances of complete safety simply cannot be given. The human being is a complex and intricate construction. A considerable amount of information is available on tool and toy safety so I will not cover that aspect here. In a sense it is the easiest and most visible interpretation of the Safe concept within the lifestyle. It is important but in many ways OVERLY considered when people think about what is safe.

Danger within D/s comes in many forms. There is the obvious physical danger to a submissive who must give over physical trust in order to scene with another person. Since in the beginning all relationships are with strangers this means a huge leap of faith and the ‘hope’ that this stranger is worthy of such physical trust. When a stranger is unworthy the sub may become injured or even die. However, there is a significant amount of psychological danger too. A submissive must give over trust psychologically which places them in a position of mental and emotional vulnerability as well.

There is a less obvious physical danger to a Dominant, especially the Female Dominant though not exclusively so by any means. When engaging in a new relationship we place ourselves in positions of intimacy with strangers. Mental problems may go unseen, reactions may be triggered which set off irrational behavior. In such cases submissives occasionally act out AGAINST their Dominant, sometimes with fatal results. Again, this risk can be managed or minimized by taking the time to get to know your partner slowly, not succumbing to fast sceneing when you do not know their mental triggers. And, by deploying the same types of safe calls that should be used by a submissive as well. The foreknowledge that the individuals identity and location are KNOWN to someone external to the scene go a LONG way in containing irrational violence. The presence of REPERCUSSIONS is a GOOD check and balance! This does not make you RISK FREE!

A violation of boundaries is ALL to easy to do, especially when a relationship is new. Your partner cannot know the details of your life, events in your past and the residuals of abuse that may exist. Some of the same triggers which stimulate a person can be gateways to abuse. There are no ‘fast’ ways to learn these things. Every individual is unique and their past is unique. This is for both the Dominant and the submissive. It is possible for a submissive to behave in a manner which triggers a Dominant into negative actions based on past events.

People can be threatened on both sides of the slash. A Dominant may try using threats in order to control a submissive. (This is a VERY poor technique by the way and ultimately WILL lead to total failure of the relationship.) A submissive may try using threats in order to control the Dominant. (This is equally poor, generally reflecting poor mental health, selfishness, failure to release control!) An example of this is the submissive who might threaten to OUT a Dominant publicly (thereby ruining their reputation and may even destroy career’s and family), or a submissive who might threaten to commit suicide if their Dominant ends the relationship with them. ALL of these types of actions within a relationship are examples of poor self esteem, poor mental health, inferior understanding of how to direct action, and a demonstration of personal fear.

A relationship which uses threats for control is in trouble. It is an expression of fear of loss. That loss may be of control, respect, trust or the person entirely. Fear can destroy everything. It makes people irrational and subject to making choices they might never consider at other times. It can drive them to injure, abuse and destroy. Safety suggests we should be FREE from threat. That the actions we take are NOT driven by an underlying fear.

Danger is exposing or involving anything likely to inflict injury. When considered in that way it is easy to see that D/s and BDSM does include danger. It is virtually impossible to be secure from ANYTHING which is likely to inflict injury. From the physical standpoint the Dominant is in the position of ‘stressing’ and ‘extending’ the submissive both mentally and physically. This IS DANGEROUS. It becomes an issue of risk management, attempts to reduce aspects which are known to be life threatening or potentially so, including mental devastation. This can be fairly easily done in the physical aspect by the Dominant and the submissive learning the fairly straight forward dangers of the various tools, toys, techniques and apparatus that they wish to use in scene. It is very hard to do in the mental ranges. The application of mental pressure can easily damage, diminish the self esteem and even thrust the submissive into reactionary modes if they perceive their internal survival to be threatened. The signs that this may be occurring are not always easy to recognize or identify. In addition the Dominant cannot truly know where that edge is. If their submissive has a past with strong abuse issues it can be an accidental usage of a word or phrase that has severe implications to the submissive. Finding a way through the delicate psyche takes lots of time, effort and care. Conversation and open exchange becomes even more crucial in handling issues when they do arise in order to maintain trust and respect.

I am sometimes asked what is the ONE thing I would tell someone who is exploring this lifestyle, my single piece of advice. My answer is this, DO NO HARM! This goes for both Dominant and submissive. If your relationship is in any form injurious to the other persons involved (or yourself), step back and consider why. It is just as easy for a submissive to injure a Dominant through lies, deceit and a cavalier attitude as it is for a Dominant who makes the same choices. No one is invulnerable, invincible or impervious to damage. Keeping your partner as safe as possible is an action of cherishment and value. Taking the time to go slowly is an expression of worth. For those that want to speed down the track of instant scenes with strangers and express window delivery, you are essentially violating one of the primary credo’s which separates this community from abuse.

Much is said about Safe, Sane and Consentual within the BDSM lifestyle, it has become a cornerstone catch word for living. What isn’t being discussed is the necessary evaluation of mental condition that it entails upon all people. This occurs on both sides of the slash. A Dominant and submissive must carefully evaluate the apparent mental state of any person they are considering entering into a relationship with. This is far more difficult than it appears. Few of us are psychological experts and the simple truth is that sometimes persons who are the ‘least’ competent mentally can mask themselves sufficiently to ‘appear’ SANE to those they are interacting with. An example of this was Ted Bundy who was very intelligent and very very good at presenting an image of the sane and safe person in order to lure his victims to their deaths…

Evaluating sanity in the best of times is very difficult. Most often we offer people ‘allowances’ for circumstance, prior events, crisis, stress, etc. In our effort to find that perfect someone we tend to ‘quiet’ our internal voices when they raise questions as to the veracity of the individual’s word or suggest that perhaps all is not right with someone. This is exactly the OPPOSITE of what should be happening here. BDSM is NOT innocent or without risk and danger. That risk transcends MANY levels of life.

From a Dominant’s perspective if the submissive they are communicating with and considering seriously to enter into a relationship with, is in ANY way demonstrating a lack of competence or diminished mental state then that Dominant MUST consider that individual submissive potentially incapable of making a consentual ‘sane’ choice regarding engaging in activities which can and may be seriously dangerous to their health both mentally and physically. A person demonstrating a lack of care for their personal health is NOT mentally competent (in my opinion). This CAN be demonstrated in lifestyle activities which have sustainable and distinct negative impacts on the individuals daily life. Things like addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex, pain, food, etc. Also, those routinely having personal ‘crisis’ beyond the normal or average which could be expected in any life may in some way be through their personal choices bringing these actions upon themselves. This can also be considered to be self destructive and indicative of a less than healthy mental state.

From the submissive’s perspective, selecting a Dominant who is less than mentally healthy may end up costing them their life. This is not the exchange that a submissive is looking for nor the ideal mate they may be seeking in their life. The submissive should look for signs of mental distress in any Dominant they are considering entering into a relationship with. The same signs of disarray, addictions, crisis or frequent events, etc. listed above. It is my honest opinion that an individual in good mental health will CARE about all areas of their lives. They will look to their personal physical health, maintain good relations with people they care for (such as extended family), have a moderate number of friends and activities OUTSIDE of the BDSM world. A well rounded and non-fixated life with richness and depth in many different areas.

Though I have categorized submissive from Dominant here the signs of mental health or incompetence are the same for both. The risks and dangers or level of danger is NOT the same. This is easy to see in the potentially life threatening position of bondage that the submissive must engage in very early in the relationship. The first gift of the submissive is ABSOLUTE TRUST. Placed poorly that trust can and does at times cost a submissive their life. However, other issues exist here too. If either person selects someone who is very compulsive, jealous, or subject to sudden outbursts of extreme rage or violence they can find themselves in a nightmare situation.

People, regardless of their BDSM orientation, live socially in outer society. Most hold jobs, have children, go to PTA and Scout meetings, attend church. They have reputations to protect. Threat of exposure can be VERY real and turn voluntary submission into forced submission. And, can force a Dominant to continue in a relationship they KNOW is flawed and unsafe. Actions to be looking for are any usage of personal threats, fear, embarassment, shame, guilt. If a person attempts to control someone else using ANY of these as tools then it is a HUGE warning sign that they should be avoided. I say ‘a person’ here because manipulation can come from BOTH sides and does. Sometimes I talk with people who threaten to ‘commit suicide’ if their Dom/sub leaves them. They forcibly IMPOSE a power exchange in an effort to CONTROL the actions of the other person. In some cases they cannot distinguish a lie from the truth and will use any form of deceipt in order to attain or attempt to attain the goal they seek. These signs are indicative of significant problems and professional help SHOULD be quickly sought.

Then we have people who routinely vacate personal responsibility for anything negative that occurs in or around their life. We each have the ability to make choices which can place us in positions of compromise. If we choose to get drunk and engage in a sex orgy, explanations AFTER THE FACT are simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Something within the individual encouraged them to take those actions in the first place (a sign of mental problems). Shifting responsibility or finding justifications or excuses for obvious behavior and choice problems is a good indication that the person has some work to do to be in a stable state. In order for the terms Safe, Sane and Consensual to mean anything BOTH people need to be mentally competent and stable. Otherwise, engaging in-scene with someone incompetent DOES violate ALL three of the credo’s. An incompetent submissive may or may not express the truth about their limitations, may or may not be able to make choices that are healthy for them mentally, and with the mental state impaired cannot be fully considered to be ABLE to offer their rational consent! An incompetent Dominant may become obsessed to the point of destroying their submissive either mentally or physically

Consent: Compliance with or in approval of what is done or proposed by another.

We talk about consent alot. There is a very good reason for that. The line between D/s and abuse IS consent. Non-consentual control, manipulation, application of pain or direction is ABUSE.

However, as in most things the meaning of consent is far from simple. When a submissive is new in their exploration of the D/s and BDSM worlds they are simply virgins. They have no personal experience of many or most of the things which now confront them. What they do have is ideas, thoughts, hopes, dreams, feelings, beliefs and desires. These may or may not apply in reality. A person can ‘think’ they will enjoy something only to find that in reality they do not. So we are immediately faced with a dilemna.

As the community becomes more open and readily accessible the numbers of new Dominant’s and submissives is rapidly increasing. With this increase comes an increasing number of problems.

It is impossible to truthfully consent to something you have never experienced. You can consent to trying something, but cannot accurately state that you will enjoy or like it until after it occurs. This means that in some ways the consent offered is NOT a blanket approval of action. In many cases it really means that the submissive will ‘CONSIDER’ trying something to SEE if they enjoy it. From the Dominant’s standpoint this is treading on shaky ground.

Many new Dominant’s and submissives spend a great deal of time looking for and searching out someone (frequently on the internet community). Often they find potential partners who live at some distance from them physically. This can lead to protracted long distance cyber and phone relationships. These types of communication can foster the building up of scenario’s, ideas and expectations.

When the two manage to arrange a meeting they bring with them all of the baggage which has accumulated from their interaction. Many vacate simple safety issues in lieu of their ‘feeling’ of EVERYTHING being perfect. They are SO eager to jump in that they want to play within hours of a first meeting. Sometimes they go so far as to pre-scene this meeting based on the ‘ideas’ that they have allowed to become ‘limits’. It is not terribly uncommon for a new submissive to agree to a first meeting which places her in a foreign state, in a motel room, naked, kneeling and waiting for ‘her Master’ to show up.

In addition the new Dominant comes prepared with the ‘expectations’ of the submissive to perform this ‘scene’. In many cases this may be the very FIRST scene the Dominant has ever tried and s/he may have or feel extreme pressure to ‘meet the submissives need’. This can be a set-up for true disaster.

This week the news was filled with an ongoing court case in NY wherein a woman is suing a man whom she claims raped her. She made contact with him on the internet and engaged in extensive correspondence (some of which is court record), and phone conversations. After 5-6 months they arranged such a meeting. They engaged ‘in-scene’ for nearly 20 hours. Afterwards she accused him of rape, rough sex, forcible sodimy, assault, battery, various kinds of bondage and torture and a few other things. She agreed that she talked to him about her interest in BDSM but she claims that she was ‘interested in him’ and ‘played along’ because she liked him. She acknowledges voluntarily meeting him.

This is important. Early, heavy scening with an unknown person forces ASSUMPTIONS of consent on BOTH people. A submissive can and may feel pressured to go quite far in order not to displease their new Dominant. They may agree to things under duress or contact pressure. A Dominant can and may feel pressured to perform to the ‘ideas’ they have fostered through prior communication. They can be a total novice doing things they are not really prepared for. It is simply impossible to ‘know’ a person you have just met. You cannot know their body language, the suggestions and subtle signals necessary to truly read someones responses. This type of pre-scene creation can and does kill people. It can create situations much like I just described which ARE becoming much more common.

Many people believe that ‘consent’ is a license. That it gives them a blanket permission to ‘DO’ what they want to do. This is simply not true. Consent at the beginning of a relationship is more the ‘option’ to explore further. It offers NO guarantee to the Dominant or submissive that they will be held blameless for what occurs. Those that engage in sudden intense sceneing WILLFULLY place their reputations, careers, family, and life ON THE LINE. When you are dealing with a stranger you CANNOT guess how they will react 3 days after a scene when they bottom out and YOU are not there. Remorse, pain, regret, embarassment, shame, anger, feelings of diminished self respect and outright rage can and will drive people to take actions AGAINST this person they have ‘consented’ to scene with.

Those actions can REVEAL the other persons KINK to their entire community. The person may lose a spouse, children, job, respectability or more or less everything including the risk of imprisonment all to meet the needs of INSTANT GRATIFICATION. It simply is NOT worth it.

Initial limits are just that…initial. They should be expected to change, evolve and alter over years and experiences. They are merely a way of offering an ‘idea’ of the range of interest that the individual believes they are interested in pursuing. Consent can best be considered to be fluid. In addition to the above, it should be noted that everyone is not the same every day. There are days when consent to the range of play will be MUCH wider than on other days. These variables can be effected by mood, health, stress and many other things. Assumptions that consent is CONSTANT can and will lead to problems.




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