G X O

The Risks Of BDSM Play


BDSM and Kinky play has risks. There’s no denying or escaping that fact. In this guide, you’re not going to learn about safe sex, nor are you going to be told the risks involved with various activities, this guide is about learning safe strategies to ensure that your activity has consent and understanding. You’re pushing the body to its limits in some ways, and you need to be in control of that. Safety in BDSM is important, and it’s often the first thing that is discussed before sexual play can begin. The two acronyms which concerns safety in BDSM are SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual) and RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink). These two mantras are well known within the community and are a guideline as to whether a particular activity is going to be safe or not.

 

Risk Is Involved With All Kink And Bdsm Sexual Activity

Staying Safe In BDSM

SSC has been attributed to David Stein in his essay Safe, Sane and Consensual: The evolution of a Shibboleth and it has been widely accepted within the community since publication. It is used to identify as to the types of behaviours which can be seen as acceptable between involved play mates. It is structured with three guidelines of which are relatively simple and easy to understand. Any type of sexual behaviour or play should be:

Safe:

When involving pain play, breathing play and needle play there are going to be the inevitable understanding of the risks involved. However, what safe generally refers to is the reminder that regardless of the play that it is paramount to stay as safe as possible in order to avoid permanent injury or harm.

Sane:

Bondage involves a lot of fantasy and role playing, and this is often described as fun and exciting. However, blurring the lines between the idea of fantasy and reality can be very dangerous. To put it simply, where safety refers to the physical safety of an individual engaging in a particular activity, the sane aspect refers to the protection of their mind, feelings and emotions.

Consensual:

It sounds obvious, but some people still might not get it. Particularly within power exchanges and newbies. Just because one identifies as a top or as a dominant does not give them the exclusive right to treat a submissive without the respect they deserve, and the acknowledgement of them as a person. A dominant does not have the express right to touch or sexually engage with someone that identifies as a submissive simply because they are submissive. Similarly a person who agrees to engage in sexual relations does not automatically mean that they have consented to be blindfolded, tied up and or gagged. Each component of such play needs to be consensual and communicated on.

 

 

Kinky sex has risks. This does not diminish the affection and feelings of love between individuals that result in kink play. Some people are often scared of kink play because they deem it risky, not understanding that kink sexual activity is an expression of mutual love and trust. Some members of the community find that SCC is too limiting and not representative of an accurate and complete framework for the engagement of safe sex within the BDSM field. For that purpose, they might be more inclined to subscribe to the RACK mantra. In RACK the Safe and Sane component have been replaced by Risk Aware – meaning that there is an acknowledgement of risk within the proposed sexual activity and that all parties have agreed, accepted, and acknowledge the risks that are involved. The distinction might be subtle, but RACK inherently acknowledges that all forms of kink play will involve some form of risk, which differs from SSC and its idea that some types of play are ‘safe’ and others are not safe at all. Such a mindset has been known to cause issues between play mates, and when bondage and BDSM is all about the mind, it can become quite a difficult thing to navigate through. The important thing to remember is this - it doesn’t matter which mantra you are more commonly aligned with or which one you think is better the important thing to remember is that communication and respect are the two key elements between consenting adults that engage in such play. Without communication and respect, it doesn’t matter which mantra you’re subscribing too, one of you will end up being ignore and it will result in unsafe sexual play.

These acronyms are important tools to individuals because they acknowledge that everyone engaging in kinky sexual practices should have the responsibility and expectation that any such play will involve safe, sane and consenting adults who are not distracted by other substances or events and are in an appropriate frame of mind to understand the risks involved in kinky types of play.

It makes sense to use such acronyms especially when you pause for a moment and consider the types of tools that are often used in kink relationships and types of kink play. There might be the inclusion of whips, floggers, cuffs, hot wax, ropes, latex suits all of which can pose risks when not used correctly. These might be used in the context of sensation and sensory play, or dominance, or even role play, but these tools can injure someone when not used correctly or without proper understanding. It’s important to note that these tools are on the milder side of things as well. When you’re doing needle play, suspension, breathing play and other forms of extreme bondage which uses piercings, or even suspension, then the element of risk increases exponentially. Injuries from Kinky types of play can result in burns, nerve damage, broken bones, pulled muscles, internal bleeding, anxiety attacks, emotional trauma all of which are common in unsafe sexual practices.

 

Handcuffs And BDSM Gear Is Not The Only Set Of Tools You Need In A Bdsm Relationship

Negotiating After Care In BDSM

Before engaging in BDSM you need to ensure that you have some form of safety system in place before you even touch their hand or consider the words kinky sex. You need to be aware of how you’re going to provide after care to each other once the scene has ended. One of the parts about kinky sex and BDSM that a lot of people forget about is the understanding of their own physical and emotional boundaries. This might seem simple, but then it gets complicated when the expectation is that you need to be able to articulate that both clearly and effectively. How can you expect your sexual partner to abide by the boundaries of your body if you cannot articulate them? It might not sound like a veritable safety tool, but rest assure that it is. Your ability to articulate your desires, and then express your boundaries will go a long way in your ability to protect yourself, ensure that there are no misunderstandings as well as ensuring that everyone around you are also aware of your limits. This includes common sense, if you’re heading out to a play party then it’s wise to let a friend know where you are going, especially if you’re going alone. That’s something that’s not exclusive to the kink community but an example of a common sense safety tool which you can use to ensure your safety at all times.

Common sense also includes having the ability to talk everything out beforehand. If you’re going to engage in a particular type of play with a person, make sure that you’re both understanding and acknowledging all of the details of the activity, what’s going to happen, what’s not going to happen and this will still apply even if this person is a regular, or if you know them quite well. Common sense also involves the understanding that you are never to engage in BDSM and kink play if you, or your partner, are injured, impaired in some way, or emotionally compromised due to a recent event, or the stresses of life.

 

The Importance Of A Safe Word In Kink

Following this up is the all-important safe word. You might have heard this term bandied about throughout HellsC but not quite sure what a safety word is. Well, to put simply a safety word is a specific word or short phrases which is used to immediately end play. It might be used when a participant in the scene/play/activity has been hurt, is feeling uncomfortable, overwhelmed or emotionally distressed. Anything can trigger trauma and emotions. The sight of a male chastity device might be enough to drive some people over the edge, or the particular body movement of a person during a scene might also be enough to trigger painful memories and experiences which will need to be dealt with before continuing.

It is important that safe words be chosen are words unlikely to be used in normal conversation during the activity. Animals, objects, and colours generally work pretty well, or short concise phrases. Do not use too many syllables such as Red-Belly Black Snake as this has too many words and syllable and would not be able to be stated quickly and easily. If you’re about to pass out because there’s too much going on, you need to be able to stop the scene quickly. A common set of safe words are red, yellow, green and these are known as the traffic light safe words. Green means to proceed normally, yellow means to slow down/stop a particular action and move on, and red means to stop all activities at once. It is important to know what the definition of yellow is because some people will use different definitions – check in with your partner so that you’re all on the same page. Whatever the kind of word is that you choose, they are absolutely critical in providing all people with an immediate escape rope out of the situation. This can mean the difference between escaping safely and being injured physically and/or emotionally from a particular activity.

 

 

Some BDSM activities can be physically demanding, or they carry substantial physical risks. Physical safety is therefore a very important element of BDSM because without it you could cause permanent damage to your sexual partner or even yourself. Physical safety and the understanding of physical safety is a very important thing to consider. They might be simple, or they might be more complex – some physical safety practices might include warming up or stretching before being restrained or being made to go into restrictive poses. They could also involve checking that restraints are not cutting into the skin, checking the temperature of items if you’re using temperature play and ensuring that the person is okay in a particular pose and then continually checking in with them throughout the session.

 

Physical Safety In BDSM

Sometimes a lot of the components of physical safety is simply about checking in with your partner and yourself. If you’re the one holding the cuffs and then applying the to a submissive – then you need to check in with them to make sure that they’re comfortable and that there’s no immediate risks. If you’re the one being restrained, if something isn’t feeling right then you need to be vocal and to speak up. Never underestimate the value of pain as it is the body’s primary tool as to whether something is wrong, your body will use pain to tell you if you are hurting or potentially damaging yourself. If there is unusual and abnormal pain, or extreme pain – then it is important to use your safety word and to check in and make sure that the body is okay. Once a safety word has been used though, considering the element of the mind and the focus and mentality needed, it is recommended that you try the type of play another day. When using restraints, always make sure that there is a quick way out of them in the event of an emergency, this might include having scissors nearby, or employing the use of quick release cuffs and restraints.

All too often, once a scene ends a lot of people forget about physical safety. All too often injuries occur at the conclusion of a scene. You might have been using urethral sounds, and they’re removed incorrectly at the end of scene potentially causing damage because the person who was restrained is now at a different angle. It is important to follow through with physical safety after play as well. You might want to do a damage check on yourself and your partner or simply give your body some time to heal and rest. A soft blanket, water and a comfortable bed or position will help you and your body to become hydrated, readjust and then come back to reality.

 

Emotional Safety In Kink Play

Safety doesn’t just include an individual’s physical well-being either. All too often, people’s emotional safety is ignored or forgotten. We’ll speak more about head space during BDSM in a second article, but the idea of head space is an important aspect of BDSM and it involves the submersion of accepting the fantasy as reality, and then coming back up from that and developing from the scene. Emotional safety is important because an individual might have an emotional memory triggered, or they might be struggling to re-emerge from the scene and back into reality. If you’re not in the right emotional state, or you are emotionally and mentally unprepared for a specific scene then the ignoring of your emotional safety can have dire consequences. When protecting your emotional safety you need to employ personal practices to ensure that you are not put in a compromising position. If you find that you are uncomfortable with a particular scenario, or the conduct of your play partner then it is absolutely essential that you use your safe word to immediately end the play session. If you are entering a scene where there might be a trigger, for example in a dominant and submissive state where the sub is ‘forced’ to engage in sexual acts and this is a potential trigger for an emotional memory then you absolutely need to voice that and sincerely reconsider whether the type of play that you are about to engage in is appropriate for your mental state. This is said in the acknowledgement that some people might find such a situation to be therapeutic or invigorating. Humiliation is another such example, being forced to watch a particular film, channel or even a gay porn film (for straight men) can be used as humiliation and a form of punishment during a scene which might result in the triggering of unpleasant memories.

 

A Woman Upset After A Particular Experience Hells Couture Reminds Kink Practioners To Be Mindful Of Playmates Mental States

 

Support Mechanism And Kink Safety

It might happen randomly though. You’re in a particular scene, and the play partner does something that reminds you of a memory and your brain is triggered. Sometimes we are taken by surprise and our mind takes over, causing us to become quickly emotionally overwhelmed. This is precisely where the use of a safe word comes into play. It allows for a separation from the play whereby you can disengage from the activities at hand and physically and emotionally remove yourself from the triggering environment. You might need to consume some water, engage in a meditative state and breathe deeply and regularly. You need to be considering the best ways to calm down both quickly and safely. Your physical and emotional safety is not just restricted to how to disengage from a scene, but there should also be processes and a system in place to provide support for yourself or play partner in the event that a safe word is used and for the period immediately following play. A support system could be a fellow play mate other than the individual that triggered the event, a close friend. To further assist in the coming down period it is advised that you remove all clothing and fetish gear from the room and body and return to casual wear as soon as possible to help break the headspace.

This support system is an important mechanism which will assist in the cooling down processes. It is a period where you can readjust from the space that you were in and come back from your play both physically and emotionally. Cooling down, also known as after-care is one of the most important final steps when it comes to a scene and it is extremely important to one’s physical and emotional health. There are people in fetish play who might not engage in the correct after care and they can suffer from a host of issues which might include tremors, hot flushes, anxiety, emotional instability and even nausea. It is therefore imperative to recognise the important of after-care and to make allowances for that. We will also go through what after-care looks like in a separate article on this site.

 

Woman Being Comforted After A Scene After Care Is Important In Bdsm

 

Seeking Medical Advice In BDSM

If you’re not feeling right after playing and you suspect that you have sustained an injury during BDSM activities, it is important that you seek medical advice as soon as possible from a kink friendly doctor in your area. If you’re suffering from any extended sensations of pain, tingling, numbness or anything otherwise unusual then you need to monitor the situation and react accordingly. If you are feeling emotionally unwell, then it is advised that you consider speaking to a counselling specialist at your convenience. It might be beneficial in coming to terms with the emotions that you are feeling. When it comes to medical advice it is important to be open and honest about the type of play that you are having in order to get the most out of the medical care, finding a kink friendly doctor may not be as difficult as you think.

We don’t say all of this to scare you. We also don’t speak about the idea of safety because this happens to everyone, we state it as a precaution. It also depends on the level of engagement within BDSM that you have. Someone that is handcuffed to the bed for a naughty weekend away might not require such care as opposed to someone who is role playing in a heavy bondage scene with elements of ‘forced’ sexual activity from a submissive. BDSM and kinky play is what you make it. All the while it is important to remember that such activities and forms of play can be both exciting and thrilling – so long as everyone that is involved is considerate of others and there has been an implementation of good safety practices. Do not let a foreseeable accident or event ruin your kinky activities and play.

In Summary, safety rules should always be followed with couples using an agreed oral or visual command to stop.
Safety precautions should include:

  • The use of a "safe word", or some clear way for the subject to indicate genuine distress and a wish to discontinue, temporarily stop or vary the activities of the play.
  • Never leaving a bound person alone.
  • Avoiding positions or restraints which may induce postural asphyxia.
  • Making sure that the subject changes positions at least once an hour (to avoid circulation problems).
  • Making sure that the subject can be released quickly in an emergency.
  • Remaining sober; alcohol and drugs should be avoided.
  • Ensure proper after care is administered.