Author: Raven Shadowborne © 1997, 1998

 Below are some of the questions I have been asked about safe words. The most common ones anyway and the answers I have given. Not everyone uses safewords. It is like so much else in BDSM, a personal preference. Safewords should be discussed BEFORE any play takes place. Bear in mind the best safeword a person can have is their own instincts. If something in you says or makes you think something isn't right here, don't play with or without a safeword. Safewords also change quite a bit when a realtionship moves from occasional play partenrs, to a more comitted one. They should be discussed often in case of any changes. 

Q: What is a safe word?

 A: It is a word or series of words decided upon between the Dominant and the submissive to be used during a scene, by either party, to end the scene. the most common series I have seen is: Red (stop) , Yellow (slow down), Green (go). Think of a traffic light.

Q: How do I choose a safeword?

A: the word you choose must be one which will be obvious to a Dominant that something is wrong and does not fit into a scene. For that reason the word, No is probably not a good idea. Many people when aroused will say no but mean yes. The selection of the word is between you and the dominant. just be sure it is a word that is easily remembered and definately out of place in a scene.

Q: What if I am gagged or otherwise unable to speak?

A: This is where it is a good idea to have a safe action also. In the case where the submissive is gagged there should be a gesture that the submissive is able to use to signal she/he has had enough. the most common things I have heard of is for the submissive to be given a small ball to hold, which if dropped is a signal that play should stop. Keys, bells or other things which make noise to attract the doms attention can be used in place of verbal safewords.

Q: When is the best time to set up a safe word or action?

A: Preferably before any play takes place. This is part of the negotation process inherent in a D/s relationship. 

Q: Doesn't a safe word take the control from the Dominant?

A: By some points of view, yes, by others, no. I feel that the dominant is still in control of the scene, what happens during the scene, and it's direction. A safeword is merely a way for the sbumissive to let the dominant know that the limit has been reached, or something is seriously wrong. Many of the activities inherent in a D/s relationship have risks, and no one is perfect, the possibility of real physical damage exists. So a safeword is a good way to help prevent that. (falls under "safe" in safe sane and consentual)

Q: What if I no longer use a safe word in my D/s relationship?

A: In long term D/s relationships use of a safe word usually fades out because the dominant knows the submissive so well that he/she knows where the limits are, how to pace the action so as not to push too fast, and a multitude of other little bits of information that allows both the submissive and dominant to feel completely comfortable that a safe word is no longer used. If this applies to you, then you are indeed fortunate to have such a well working relationship.

Q: When do I use a safeword?

A: The particulars of a safe word being accepted should be discussed with your dominant during the negotation part of the relationship. But the most common times a safe word should be used are if your limit is reached, or you feel real physical pain.
I have heard of some ppl who use the safe word under certain other conditions. and use it as a time out so to speak. For example one submissive I have spoken with, who was new to the lifestyle, told me her dominant wanted her to use the safeword at any time she felt truly uncomfortable, as a time out for them to sit and discuss the situation but that his final word on the matter would still hold sway. the best example she gave me was of a punishment she had earned. She truly did not understand what she had done wrong, so invoked the safe word to discuss it with her dominant This kind of use I found to be extremely beneficial in both the submissive's learning and growth and to help build trust.

Q: Should a dominant ever ignore a safeword?

A: The answer to this question is a simple and resounding, No. The word is there for a reason. If used, it is done so for a reason and should not be ignored.

Q: What if I feel that my submissive is abusing the safeword?

A: If you feel that your submissive is abusing the safeword, then you should sit and talk with him/her. Something may be truly bothering the submissive, making him/her feel unsafe or unsure. 

Q: Should a dominant ever punish for the use of a safeword?

A:The logical answer to this is no. To punish a submissive for honestly using the safeword under the conditions preset for it's use, is a breech of trust. The submissive trusts that the dominant will honor the safe word. Punishing for it's use makes the sub feel the safeword has no power, and causes a feeling of being unsafe to foster. This can undermine the trust in the relationship. Though, if a safeword was used for no real reason, then yes a punishment may be in order. This of course depends on the relationship. 

Q: I feel guilty when I use a safeword, have I let my dominant down?

A: The answer to this is no, you have not let your dominant down. Though a feeling of guilt is a perfectly normal response. A submissive tries hard to please his/her dominant in every way. Many view ending a scene via a safe word as displeasing to the dominant. When the safe word is called the dominant should act apropriately to end the scene then comfort his/her submissive. Letting the submissive know that it is allright.

Q: My dominant and I purposely pushed for me to safe out, is this normal?

A: It is not for me to say what is normal and what is not. But I have heard of this, many call it breaking a submissive. Others call it exploring for limits. Most cases I have heard of it is a new submissive, one who does not know his/her own limits. This type of scene is done to help the submissive find his/her limits. In other instances I have heard that scenes are done purposely to get the safe word from the submissive. The dominant's intent can have many reasons behind it. Maybe he/she is checking to see if the submissive will still use the safeword if he/she feels it is neccessary. Possibly checking to see if limits have expanded. Still others do this with prior consent, looking for a heavier scene. As you can see, like everything else within D/s, there is no right or wrong answer to this. it is a personal decision and experience, as each relationship is different.

Remember a safe word is set to help build trust within the relationship. A D/s relationship can not survive without trust. Do not abuse a safe word as it will destroy the trust in the relationship. The dominant trusts you will not abuse the word and a submissive trusts the dominant to respect the word. So use it wisely and maintain the trust. Some relationships do not use safewords, if yours is one such as this, the fact that safewords are not used does not make you an unsafe person. A safeword should not be used in place of communication. 

A submissive should be able to communicate to the dominant during a session if something is wrong, like a cuff is too tight or something similar. This kind of communication can prevent a scene from ending earlier than the participants truly wish it to. 

As well, it is also a means of communication. Through a safe word you communicate with your dominant your limits. Through using the safe word in either direction, the dominant can communicate the same thing, his/her limits. To not use a safeword when it is truly needed, breaks the chain of communication. Using a safeword when it is NOT truly needed, also breaks the communication as well as the trust in the relationship. 

Please feel free to email me with any additional questions you may have, or information I may have left out on this page.



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