The Complexities of Using a Safeword

Consent is the cornerstone of what I do as a professional dominatrix. Whilst with your permission, I may at times hurt you (if pain is your jam, that is) I will never harm you. Part of avoiding harm in session, whether it is a session that incorporates pain, pleasure, bondage or intense sensory experiences of any kind, is ensuring you have a way to let me know that you either need me to slow down, reduce the intensity of the play, provide you with a break, change activities or simply stop the scene and finish altogether. These are all perfectly good reasons for using what is known as a safeword – a word that acts like a shortcut to indicate to your Mistress to please stop what she is doing and check in with you.

There are many reasons why you might want to use a safeword in a session. The most common one being that the pain is too intense and you need your Mistress to give you a breather or reduce the intensity of the activities. Perhaps it is something more practical like feeling really cold or hot, and needing your Mistress to make you more comfortable so the play can continue for as long as possible. You might simply need to use the bathroom. Or if you have a background of trauma, perhaps you are feeling triggered and need your Mistress to support you with some grounding techniques. Perhaps you have realised that when making your session request, your eyes were bigger than your stomach. It is not uncommon to have bitten off more you can chew with your session request and to find that you want to change activities to something else altogether, or even stop the scene and go home because it just isn’t working for you right now, for whatever reason.

Safewords seem simple on a surface level. You just say it when you need to use it, right? But in reality there can be complexities involved with using safewords. Something I have noticed a lot in my experience over the years, is that many submissives feel reluctant to use it when they really need to. They may feel ashamed, as if they are letting the Mistress down by using it, or that they aren’t tough enough for her. This is frequently bound up in unhealthy ideas around masculinity and sexuality. I have also met submissives who have previously been shamed by a Mistress for using their safeword and in more extreme instances, have difficulty using their safeword as it has been ignored in the past. Sometimes, due to trauma or even the overwhelming experience of endorphins that wash over you in a scene, slaves “freeze” and are unable to use their safeword at all.

While I always say that responsibility in a scene is held by both a Mistress and a submissive together, it is important for a Mistress to keep all of these complexities in mind. Reading body language is so important in the work I do. I can’t always count on a playmate having the capacity to use their safeword if they need to. If I see signs of freezing, dissociation or discomfort that is not fun for the person I’m playing with, I’ll always check in. It never hurts the scene to quickly touch base and move on if all is ok. And this gives someone who may have frozen a chance to ask for a break or anything else they might need. That said, for those who have a capacity to use a safeword, it is essential that you take responsibility for your needs and use it. It is also essential to let your Mistress know if you are aware that you find it difficult to use safewords for any reason. You can then discuss this openly and she can keep a close eye on things as the scene progresses. During my pre-session consultations, I often ask if you have any problems with using a safeword. This is a good time to let me know about that if it is an issue for you.

I tend to advocate for using the simple and traditional safeword “mercy” in my sessions. Whenever I hear you say it, I stop and check in. Some people let me know if they have another preferred safeword. Sometimes you might prefer a different safeword system altogether (look up the traffic light safeword system, for example). If I am gagging you, or smothering you, I will also provide you with another way to indicate “mercy” that is non verbal. For example, placing something in your hand that you can drop on the floor to indicate “mercy”, making you grunt loudly in a staccato fashion 3 times if you can’t use your hands, or tapping. Depending on what is happening in the session, different kinds of safewords (or safeactions!) are great tools to keep up a Mistress’ sleeve.

In a #metoo era it is important to keep conversations about consent alive. I have heard some people idealise the BDSM community for being great at consent due to conversations that frequently happen round kink preferences and safewords. I don’t agree with that, as there are predators in our scene who mobilise sex positive language to conceal their true intentions and I have certainly met many submissives, slaves, bottoms and switches who have experienced consent breaches. That said, I have found conversations about safewords and difficulties with using them to be a great way to better understand one another as sexual beings with healthy boundaries and limits. If you have any thoughts about safewords when booking a session with me, don’t hesitate to let me know.

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