Safewords are fun savers

You’re tied with silk ties to a St Andrews Cross. Your favourite kinky song is playing loudly. The room is warm. You’re engrossed in the feelings of a suede flogger caressing across your butt, slightly twitches. It doesn’t hurt, yet your body reacts with a flinch. You’re engrossed in the play scene. You are enjoying yourself. Your play partner (Dominant or Top) watches your body for reactions and unconscious behaviours. Suddenly, your arm cramps from being held above your head with the ties. You realise you haven’t had enough water today and need to move your arm as it is getting uncomfortable. What do you do? How do you express you need to move your arm?

This is where safe words come into play. Before beginning any kinky play time, you and your partner must have discussed a way to communicate when something is not quite right – or even when it’s spot on. It doesn’t matter if you are new or an old hat in the kink and BDSM scene; safe words are a MUST.

What is a safeword?

Remember the old joke about using “pineapple” to stop something? Most people have played around with using a safe word.

A safeword can be either verbal or non-verbal. It’s a word or phrase to indicate when something is too intense for you—or if something feels good and you want more of it! A safe word can be anything from “green” (meaning everything is cool) to “red” (meaning stop right now). Sometimes you may become nonverbal. Your play partner must know a body signal; this ensures they know when to stop and check on you. They help you and your partner communicate what’s OK and not OK, and they make sure that you don’t feel pressured into doing anything that makes you uncomfortable.

You must choose something memorable. There is no point in choosing something witty and funny if you or your partner will forget it.

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Who can use a safeword?

Anyone can use one! Sometimes the person Topping may not feel comfortable doing something. Or they notice you are not listening to your body and feel you are pushing yourself too far. Safewords must be negotiated if you are in or starting a Dominant and submissive dynamic. I know dynamics where a submissive will use a safeword to use the bathroom, and other submissives will be told to speak up.

Safewords are not negotiable in kinky play, especially at the beginning of a dynamic. After a while, your Dominant or Top will be able to read your body accordingly; even after that, they are not bulletproof and can misjudge a reaction.

If you are at a dungeon or private party and see someone crossing a boundary, this is also a time you can use a safeword.

What happens if a safeword is ignored or not used?

One of the main pillars for kink and BDSM is consent. Safewords are another way dynamics express consent. Green is GO. Orange is WAIT. Red is STOP EVERYTHING NOW AND STEP AWAY. If your Dominant or Top does not listen to a safe word, this IS abuse. Calling orange or red is an explicit message consent has been withdrawn. The same can be said for the submissive or bottom. Withdrawal of consent can happen at any time by any party involved. Abuse can and does go both ways when lack of consent is ignored.

Using safewords is your responsibility. One of the great things about kink and BDSM is it teaches people to advocate for themselves. If you do not feel safe using a safeword, you must reconsider who you are about to play with. Trust is paramount to a fun and safe BDSM experience, and using a safe word adds to that experience. Imagine how you would feel if you didn’t use a safeword and were hurt. The person you play with would feel terrible and most likely blame themselves. However, failing to use a safeword means you have betrayed yourself and the person/s you are playing with.

BDSM and kink is the best time when all parties are on the same page, being careful, paying attention, and being aware. Things can go wrong, and having a safeword minimised the risks. Never be afraid of using a safeword.

Do you find it difficult to use your safeword? If so, reach out today and we can work together to find your voice!

Pssssst….. you can use a safeword in your vanilla relationships and play time too 😉

Kellie Payne Psychotherapist and Counsellor, Midland, Perth

About the author

Kellie Sheldon is the owner and operator of Kellie Sheldon Trauma and Sex Counselling in Midland, Western Australia. She holds a Master of Counselling Practice from Tabor College in Perth. Specialising in trauma and sexual therapy, she focuses on aiding adults in forming secure connections. With a particular interest in kink, BDSM and trauma, she is adept in techniques like EMDR to assist clients in processing negative and traumatic memories. Kellie is a firm advocate for therapy's potential to alleviate symptoms stemming from childhood or relationship trauma. Her primary goal is to accompany her clients on their journey toward healing, recognising that healing involves not just addressing past events but also acknowledging what hasn't occurred.

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