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BDSM Health & Safety 2

Bondage rackThe Occasional Mishap

Sometimes mishaps occur during a scene. There are many scary stories around but, in truth, almost none of these ever happened. Most are tall tales. These are the things that may happen and this is what you do (Please note that some of the symptoms described here, may be indications of other physical or mental problems, such as possible illnesses, pregnancy, hidden fears, etc. If the symptoms appear more often, do consult your doctor):

Dizziness - is usually caused by uncomfortable or unfamiliar positions, standing upright for too long, emotion, temperature too high or just by the tension and the intensity of the moment. It may also be caused by maintaining almost any position for a long period of time. This is nothing to worry about. Have your partner change position, sit or lie down for a while and it will soon go away.

Nausea - has the same causes as dizziness, but may also be caused by lack of food. Treat as for dizziness.

Lack of breath (mostly hyperventilation) - is caused by emotion, tension, fear, unexpected claustrophobia, an over-enthusiastic bondage or an unfamiliar position (folded or head down). Signals are sweating, headache, dizziness and sometimes unexplained, strong fear. Simply stop the scene, untie your partner and loosen up tight clothing (latex or corsets). If it doesn't help, have your partner breath into a paper bag (not a plastic one, this may cause suffocation) a few times. Please be aware that unexpected hyperventilation may point to a very hidden fear or a trauma. Get professional help if you think this is the case. Hyperventilation is frequently misinterpreted. Be careful. If the problem does not go away easily, there might be a more serious one.

Fainting- first of all is the natural reaction to hyperventilation. It may also be caused by uncomfortable or unfamiliar positions (head down or standing too long), by heat, exposure to sun, lack of food and drink, and even emotion or sudden, unexpected fear. This is not a problem. Stop the game, free your partner and have her lie down. This may be a frightening event, but there usually is really nothing to worry about. If it happens more often, it may indicate low blood pressure or anemia.

Bruises - are caused by whipping (seldom), caning (always), spanking (sometimes) and by bondage (more than you would think). A bruise is nothing to worry about, unless it is followed by severe pain or fever. If you don't want to be bruised, tell your partner about this so he can take extra care. You can avoid bondage bruises easily by covering the skin first before you put the ropes around and by taking care when "unpacking" your partner. By pulling rope over the skin you may "burn" it.

Cold, blue or white limbs - Limbs getting cold, starting to tingle, turning white or bluish (lips) usually are a signal for obstructed blood flow. This can be caused by a rope or a strap being to tight, by blocking certain veins with the body weight or because the hands have been over the head for too long. It is not as scary as it looks (the average arm, leg, hand or foot can do without blood for forty-five minutes) but it can be very annoying for your sub and cause lack of concentration. Again anemia or low blood pressure may cause the same symptoms. Change your subís position or loosen the offending bondage to alleviate the symptoms.

The lock will not come off - Although this is the bad dream of every dominant it hardly ever happens. It is most often caused by the fact that the lock is cheap and of inferior quality or by placing too much tension on the lock. You can prevent it almost completely by testing your locks every time before you use them. If there is only the slightest doubt about any lock, dispose of it. And if it happens, don't panic. Sit down, control yourself and try again carefully. Most of the time this will eventually do the trick. If not, go to the nearest DIY(hardware)-store and rent a pair of large wire cutters. DON'T try using a saw! You are likely to inflict some serious wounds to your partner if you do. If your partner has chains around the wrists or ankles, another trick will sometimes help. Use lots and lots of soap. Make the wrists or ankles as slippery as you can. There is a fair chance your partner will be able to slip out of the chains (or the steel handcuffs).

Broken key - If your key breaks in the lock, don't worry. This may look like a very scary situation, but in fact it is not. With the help of a magnet you will probably be able to either lift or pull the remainder of the key out. If you hold the lock upside down in the process you have a much better chan ce. Then open the lock with your spare key (Never use locks for which you have only one key!!!).

Other Aspects of Physical Safety

Here are some other useful tips for physical safety. These have more to do with attitude toward each other and toward erotic power exchange.

Read some books - The more you read about erotic power exchange, the more you will understand about it and the safer you will be able to play. It is very useful if you understand the basics of the human body too.

Know about safety - If you know about safety you can be a better judge of the situation. This is even more important for subs, especially if you are playing with different partners or if you have incidental contacts. If you understand about safety you will be better able to determine if you can trust your new or incidental partner.

Talk about safety - If either one of you is not happy with a situation, tell each other about it. If you are uncomfortable, you won't have half the fun you could have when you don't have to be concerned about safety. Since trust is an important factor in erotic power exchange, feeling safe is certainly one of the aspects here. Unsafe situations usually occur, not because people want to play unsafe, but because someone does not know a situation is (or feels) unsafe with his or her partner or does not recognize it as unsafe.

Build up your scene - Take your time when you play and do not try to do everything at one time. Experiment and explore. Take it one step at the time. It is easy to add, but you can never take away the effect of too much at the same time. This is especially important for pain impulses. Also remember that you are building brick upon brick. Being tied up may be the first brick. A nipple clamp might be next. These two influence each other. A blindfold or a gag will intensify sensations and effects enormously. A simple pat on the back may be harmless in everyday life, when blindfolded and tied up it may feel like an enormous blow.

Hold back and concentrate - Don't bring too many elements into a game at the same time. Hold back, concentrate on what you are doing and only add an element when it is functional and your partner is ready for it. Exploring the effects and possibilities of one element can be very creative and tremendously exciting for both of you.

Be prepared - A scene may lead to fierce and unexpected emotions, and sudden, sometimes almost spasmodic, moves. Orgasms can be much more intense. Getting angry, frustration, crying, yelling - it is all part of the game. Erotic power exchange is all about emotions. And, the dominant partner can, should and will have emotions too.

Physical support - Physically supporting our partner (we will talk about emotional support later on) is important. If the body is supported sufficiently this allows for sudden, unexpected movements and makes your partner feel comfortable with the situation.


  • tie ropes around the neck. Use leather or steel collars that leave sufficient room to breath,

  • leave someone tied up alone in the house,

  • use pieces of cloth or cotton for a gag (they kill!),

  • use wire in an SM-game (for bondage or whipping),

  • use chemical substances, or

  • do anything that you don't know about.

Emotional Safety

Conditions precedent for erotic power exchange are love, mutual respect and trust. The game is all about feelings and emotions. So emotional (mental or psychological if you like) safety is just as important as the technical and physical safety aspects.

Trust is not something you get, it is something you gain. This takes time and effort. If you want to built up a relationship (or a relationship with erotic power exchange aspects in it, as some like to call it), you need to work on it.

If you are into different, short-term or incidental contacts, trust is a problem. You may just have to believe somebody based on his or her word. That is difficult and requires insight.

The basis of emotional safety is laid down in the concepts. But there is more to it. The dominant has the biggest part in this. He has to gain trust and his charisma is very important. A self-assured dominant will have lesser problems gaining trust than someone who is nervous or uncertain. This is one of the major problems for novice Doms.

The farm model

Gaining trust and learning enough about each other requires communication.

A Dutch BDSM magazine worked out a model for such communication that has proven to be very useful. It is called the farm model. It is based on five areas that both of you should work your way through as a minimum and goes like this.

  1. What kind of animals will we have on our farm. Will we just stick to cows (one single play form, like bondage), or will we also have chicken, pigs, turkeys and other animals. In other words, what play forms do we both like and do we - basically speaking - agree upon. This is quite the opposite from the general start of such a discussion. Most people will start with explaining what they DON'T want instead of they DO want. This is a more positive approach.

  2. Will all animals have their own restricted area (in other words do we not mix up different play forms), will we let some of the animals share the same area or are all animals welcome to mingle?

  3. What do we do at the gate of the farm? Are we going to be just a farm of our own, do we want to share with others, are we going to let others enter our playground? Are we just going to talk to other farmers to learn from them?

  4. Where do we draw the lines? What are the boundaries of our farm? In other words, what are absolute NO GO's (not play forms but attitudes or attributes like "rope and leather straps are all right, but no steel cuffs" or "yes I will shave my armpits but not my intimate parts").

  5. This is where most people start! What is "out of bounds" or on the other side of the fence? In other words, what play forms are we not (yet) going into?

These five questions cover the basic ground of erotic power exchange and will set out a baseline for further discussion. It sometimes may be very helpful to write your conclusions down (some people make contracts) so you can check and evaluate them. You will notice that over time your attitude towards certain aspects will change. Absolute NO's will turn into yes, yes, yes and what seemed to be very important in the beginning sometimes tends to fade away over time.


Protection is another important issue when it comes to emotional safety. A submissive usually will ask for different sorts of protection. Protection against other dominants, if this is the case, protection in uncertain and vulnerable situations (like you are in the middle of a scene and your mother walks through the front door) and sometimes protection and guidance towards her own feelings and fantasies. As far as her own feelings are concerned she obviously has her own responsibility here and the Dom cannot and should not take over all of that but he certainly can help and guide.

In scene - out scene

A dominant has to understand that just because a submissive does not use a safeword to stop a situation, that does not necessarily mean she is totally comfortable with what is happening. "Those who do not raise their voice agree" most certainly is not applicable for erotic power exchange. You may sometimes have to explicitly ask her if she is still all right, if she wants to use the safeword and sometimes you will even have to verbally ask the question "are we in scene or out scene now?" If you are uncertain about her responses, ask! Not using a safeword is a well-known beginners' problem. You have to learn that not using a safeword has nothing to do with pride and that you will not disappoi nt the dominant. Not using a safeword, turning the scene into a disaster is simply stupid.


Please bear in mind that anything happening against your will is NEVER erotic power exchange but outright ABUSE. If you even have the slightest feeling you are somehow overpowered, if anything happens against your will, if it does not feel sound, safe, sane and secure, DON'T do it. If you have the feeling you are in an abusive relationship, get help.Erotic power exchange is never an excuse for abuse. Nothing is.

First and Incidental Contacts

We have no intention to scare you away from incidental or first contacts. On the contrary. However, it is wise to be careful with your first contacts. For a first contact the following guidelines are helpful and tested out many times by many people.

When you respond to a personal ad, or intend to meet somebody - you have met on the Net or through a phone chat box or dateline - in person, make sure you know something about him or her.

If you responded to a personal ad, try writing or phoning a couple of times first and use a post office box when corresponding. You don't want strange people ringing your doorbell unexpectedly.

The first time you actually meet, make an appointment in a public place such as a restaurant and not at either one of your homes.

Regardless of where you meet, be sure to get pertinent information from him or her first: full name, address, phone number, (if in the US) social security number and driver's license number. If this sounds a bit drastic to your potential partner, s/he should understand that you do trust them and hope they trust you enough to provide this information. You cannot be too careful. Even if you think s/he is the most wonderful person on earth, your safety should be uppermost in your mind.

Once you have this information, give it to a trusted friend (preferably someone who is aware of your lifestyle) as well as the address of the place where you will be meeting and when you can be expected to return. This is not, as we've said, to scare anyone away from meeting someone met through the Internet or other "blind" services. It is to protect yourself from any problems which may (or may not) occur. You may want to think twice about meeting someone who is not willing to respect your desire to protect yourself by giving you this information upfront. By the way, be prepared that the one you are meeting may ask you the same questions.

The are quite a few horror stories around on the Internet about first meetings, usually in the United States. These almost always are the result of bad preparation and disregarding obvious warning signals. But this is not "just" true for the United States, it happens in Europe just as well albeit - as a result of the smaller scale of things - seldomly. Most likely in Europe you'll be the victim of a joke and nobody turns up on your first date. That stinks, but at least you are in no danger. Especially for the USA it is not such a bad idea to set up a safety network for first meetings, i.e. have one or two trusted friends call you at the place where you are during your first meeting to make sure you are okay.

We cannot over-emphasize the importance of using your common sense. Although 99,9% of the people involved in erotic power exchange are perfectly normal people, especially the Internet has made it quite easy for people with not so good intentions to find their way into the community. If you smell a rat, do not proceed. When in doubt, ask others and follow their opinion. They - the bystanders - are usually right.

  • The general advice is not to start active play the first time(s) you meet, but spend time talking and getting to know each other.

  • Blind erotic power exchange dates are intriguing but very risky.

  • Incidental contacts - on a party or group meeting - may be risky as well. Within a BDSM group you are usually safer because somebody will probably know the person you want to date, so you can ask around first. Do not hesitate to ask. BDSM people are used to these situations and will be happy to be of assistance.

  • If you have no chance to ask, observe before you go into anything.

  • And, if you planning to take part in active play on a party or group meeting, always make sure there is a dungeon master around.

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