My earliest lesson on the importance of safewords was a harsh one. In my very first session with a professional Mistress, and with no experience whatsoever, the physical and emotional shock of her assault on me was so great that I blanked the safeword, forgot even that I had given her a safeword before the session. Taking my silence as consent, she beat me and beat me until my entire backside was covered in vivid purple bruises. They lasted for two weeks.
Safewords for someone like me ought to be simple. You book the session, tell the Mistress what your safeword is and, whenever she does something you don’t like, out it comes. What could be more straightforward?
However, I know from my own experience and from talking to Dommes and subs, that knowing the client’s safeword is often only part of the story. It is also necessary to understand what that safeword actually means to the submissive and the circumstances under which he might use it.
Consider these different submissive males, each having regular sessions with a professional Dominatrix:
Peter is a masochist. He likes to test himself; he likes to come out of a session feeling that he has been pushed to the very limit of his endurance, proud of how far he allowed the Mistress to go with him. If he reaches the end of the session without having felt the necessity to use the safeword he feels slightly disappointed; he wants to wear it as a badge that somehow validates the experience he has had.
Mike is primarily into submission. Although physical abuse is part of how he wants the Dominatrix to demonstrate her power over him, he has a low tolerance for actual pain. He is OK with spanking or having his nipples squeezed and he loves anal sex, but the very idea of a cane terrifies him. If the Mistress performed an act on him that required him to safeword he would be horrified and regard it as a serious breach of trust.
David is experienced and likes to play hard. He wants to set up complex non-consent roll play scenes involving kidnap and interrogation, or heavy judicial punishment scenes where a set number of strokes will be delivered, however hard he protests. Deep into such a scene he might be begging for mercy, begging the Mistress to stop what she is doing, and yet mean none of it. For him the safe word is buried deep in his subconscious, only to be used as an absolute last resort should he get into real trouble.
A misunderstanding about what the submissive actually means when he says before the session that his safeword is “RED” or “BANANA” or “ORINOKO” could lead to upset, disappointment or actual physical and mental distress.
What further complicates the scenario, at least in my case, is that depending on the scene we are playing, or how I feel on the day, I can be Peter, Mike or David.
As Peter, I have used the safeword at the end of a no-counting, relentless caning because I felt that one more stroke would be too much and I was ready to bask in the afterglow, knowing that I had taken enough for both the Mistress and I to be fully satisfied with the session.
As Mike, I have safeworded because I felt uncomfortable with where the session was going and she had just hit my penis with a riding crop, a hard limit.
As David, I have set up a brutal kidnapping scene that included a vicious caning by a man, and quite deliberately buried the safe word so deep that I’m not sure I could have found it if things had really gone wrong for me.
As always in BDSM, communication is everything.
More safewords here: