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BDSM & Kink Safety 101 (Weekly Top 5, August 31 - September 04)

Hello, my lovely folks. Here's to another week, and hoping this one is better than the last. So recently, my TikTok blew up a bit, and from there, I have been getting several BDSM-related questions. While I know I have done a kink/BDSM post before; I wanted to focus on safety basics this week. If you are brand new to exploring kink or your local BDSM community, or are coming back after time away, or could use a refresher, I hope you will find something helpful in this week's posting. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out.


Also, I'm not merely speaking academically when I discuss this stuff if you did not know if you did not know. I have been affiliated with kink communities for nearly a decade. I worked as a Dungeon Monitor for 6 months and have done much of my own research and education over the years, on top of the study I had to do for my sexology certification. I am listed as a Kink Aware Professional on the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom's website and will soon be attending a conference to further my education in kink. Also, my crowning project for my sexology certification was about the history, basics, etiquette, and newbie information for BDSM clubs in the US. So, I have learned a bit about the topics over the years.


#1 How to Find your Local Community

The biggest question I always get asked is how to find other kinky people or someone's local community when first starting. I always give folks a disclaimer. Before diving into any groups or events, make sure you've done some of your own solo research. Maybe explore some implements you are interested in trying, take some BDSM interest inventories to learn your starting points, read some books, watch some YouTube videos, etc. While finding a local community to join can be an important step and is great for education, you need to know a bit about what you want, what you are looking for, your boundaries, limits, and definitely consent before you ever go to an event.


Once you've taken some time for solo research and are ready to find that community, there are a few ways to get started. One of the biggest ways is to make a profile on Fetlife and look for your local community there. Think of FetLife as Facebook for kinksters. ****DO NOT use Fetlife as a dating site; use it for finding groups****** There are two ways to find groups on Fetlife. You can specifically look for local groups under the Groups tab or look for local events under the Events tab. From there, you can find munches, educational events and workshops, conferences, and more. ( If you do not know, a munch is simply a term for a vanilla/neutral kinksters meeting for a social event, think of meet and greet, usually held at a restaurant or on specific nights at clubs. )


Also, within sites like Reddit and TikTok, you can find great communities. Now obviously, be careful with both of these sites as it's easy to get to the wrong side of things, and also, they are not necessarily local specific. You can often connect with online education and communities and perhaps join a local discord server for more communication. There's also http://findamunch.com/ which is a smaller site but has the benefit of being international as well. There is always good ol' Google. Many local kink groups have local listings and searchable sites. Also, occasionally you can find a Facebook group as well. Bottom line, if you want to find your local groups, you have many avenues to find them.


#2 Vetting 101 & Red Flag Behavior in BDSM

First and foremost, what is vetting? According to dictionary.com, the definition is ” to appraise, verify, or check for accuracy, authenticity, validity." Think of it as a "get to know you" time for a new potential partner. More importantly, why is vetting so important? It is a way to ensure that the person you are thinking about playing with is who they say they are, is trusted within the community, and is someone who makes you feel safe and that you can trust with your boundaries and possible traumas.


The vetting process is very similar to when you are getting to know any potential new partner, whether romantic or play. You want to take this time to explore the person's profiles, talk to their current and/or ex-partners, talk to the local community you're involved with, and talk to the potential partner extensively. This is not a process that should be rushed; it can not happen in a night, a day, or even a week. This is about building trust and communication, ensuring this is someone who you can ensure yourself with at your most vulnerable and raw. You want also to discuss your personal kinks and boundaries with this person and make sure you match well in this area. Remember that just because someone says they're a dominant, submissive, masochist, sadist, etc., doesn't mean they have actually done the education and work necessary to be a good match for you or take care of you. Kink and BDSM play and scenes are not just about the body; they are about us being open and raw, vulnerable and emotional. It is critical that you make sure this potential partner is a good fit for you, or you run the risk of someone violating your boundaries or the potential for physical or mental abuse.


#3 Red Flag Behaviors within Kink and BDSM

When going to a munch, a BDSM club, or meeting a new potential partner, it is important to know what the red flags are you should be aware of. The links above lead to a couple of great podcasts on the red flags to be aware of, specifically concerning D/s dynamics. First, let's go over some of the red flags for those who identify as submissive:

  • If a submissive is willing to submit to a stranger or without knowing the person.

  • If a submissive uses honorifics with others without a dynamic in place.

  • A submissive allows others to use terms of endearment or honor names with them without a dynamic in place.

  • A submissive claiming they have "no limits" or never call "yellow" or "red."

  • A submissive saying they're willing to do "anything" their partner or dominant wants.

  • A submissive who believes they have no responsibilities within the dynamic.

  • If a submissive is continually never obeying the rules or following the standards set by the Dominant. Bratting is fine within the confines of the dynamic, but there should be a submission aspect to the D/s dynamic.

  • If a submissive lies about their experience or lies in general.

  • A submissive who cannot clearly communicate their boundaries, desires, needs, safe words, etc.

  • If a submissive disrespects your boundaries, desires, needs, safe words, etc., or is constantly trying to push the boundaries.

When it comes to red flags, you also want to think about relationship flags for you with people in general, and trust your gut, as this is not a list covering all possible red flags. Now let's look at some of the basic red flags for those who identify as Dominant:

  • A Dominant who expects submission from a stranger, or without knowing the person.

  • A Dominant who has to boast about how dominant they are or talks about how they don't need to learn because they're just naturally dominant.

  • A Dominant expecting someone they are not in dynamic with to use honorifics with them.

  • A Dominant who allows others to use honorifics with them without having a dynamic.

  • If a Dominant begins giving orders within the first meeting of someone or laying out instructions before a dynamic has been established.

  • If a Dominant sends a dick pic or any other pic, ever, without prior consent.

  • If a Dominant ignores boundaries or safe words or tries to coerce or manipulate you to go past your boundaries.

  • If a Dominant ever lies to you or others in the community.

  • If the Dominant thinks only of their pleasure or their needs, not yours.

  • If a Dominant ever makes you feel bad about yourself or degrades you outside of an agreed-upon dynamic.

  • If a Dominant forces you to give up friendships or family relationships or isolates you from those you care about.

  • If a Dominant tries to tell you you aren't a real submissive because you have boundaries, disagree with them, use "safe words," etc.

  • If a Dominant ever makes you feel unsafe, gaslighted, manipulated, or fearful, ever.

Once again, go with your gut and go with your own personal boundaries and guides for relationships.


#4 Consent 101

Consent with any relationship is always key, but within kink and BDSM dynamics, it becomes even more crucial. Let's go over what exactly consent is first. Consent is an agreement between two or more partners to engage in an activity together. This can be of a sexual nature or not. As is explained in the graphic above, consent should be

  • freely given by each person involved,

  • have the ability to be reversible at any time,

  • should be fully informed of all risks, potential dangers, and potential positive outcomes

  • should be given enthusiastically

  • and should be given specifically, for the agreed-upon task, there is not changing the plan or adding something new in midstream here.

What are some situations where consent cannot be given:

  • Consent cannot be given by underage individuals, intoxicated or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, or asleep or unconscious.

  • If someone agrees to an activity under the pressure of intimidation or threat, that isn’t considered consent because it was not given freely.

  • Unequal power dynamics, such as sexual activity with an employee, student, or client, also mean that consent cannot be freely given.

With consent, remember, if it's not a "Hell YES," then it's a "NO." Also, "No" is a complete sentence. Partners are allowed to change their minds in the middle of a scene or on an activity or item they previously enjoyed and should not be shamed or guilted for this. Remember, too, when working through negotiations concerning kink or BDSM play, you will be considering risk and looking at all possible outcomes, good and bad, and need to talk through consenting to all backup safety measures and protocols too. When someone is in subspace or triggered into trauma, they cannot consent, this is why you never change a scene or plan in the middle of it. Whatever was initially agreed to is what you do, period.


#5 Safe Words &Signals 101

When it comes to kink play, one of the most discussed topics is safety and a big part of that topic is safe words and signals. What are safe words? This is a word you can use in the middle of sexual or kinky play to get the action to slow down or to stop the action entirely. A safe signal will do the same thing and is meant when a person is either physically unable to speak or not in a headspace where they can speak. "Couldn't I just say stop?" While stop can be effective in some scenarios, in kink play, or really any play, having the ability to say stop without actually meaning it can be freeing, especially for more advanced kink concepts such as consensual non-consent. The most common safe words used are the stoplight words of "red," "yellow," and "green." Green in this scenario means that everything is great and should keep going. Yellow means that you need things to slow down, perhaps need your partner(s) to check in with you or switch to a different activity. Red is a hard stop. The scene ends, care is immediately given, and then you can process with your partner(s) what went wrong or what happened that made you call red.


I want to be very clear. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH CALLING YELLOW OR RED, AND NO ONE SHOULD EVER MAKE YOU FEEL GUILT OR SHAME FOR CALLING THEM. YOU ALSO SHOULD NEVER FEEL PERSONAL GUILT OR SHAME FOR CALLING THEM AND PROTECTING YOURSELF. In addition, I also want to point out that ANYONE IN A SCENE CAN USE A SAFE WORD AT ANY TIME; SAFE WORDS ARE NOT ONLY FOR SUBMISSIVE'S TO USE. Safewords and signals should be part of negotiations before any activity is ever engaged in, and during play, there should be periodic checks to ensure that all involved remember their safe words.


If you do not like the "traffic light" system, you can definitely come up with your own safe words, but make sure that it is something you wouldn't typically call out in the throes of passion, or that might come out naturally during a scene. Simple yet effective is usually best, such as pumpernickel, earring, t-rex, mercy, hippo, pineapple, and more. As far as signals, you want to ensure once again these are all discussed and agreed upon before any play happens. It can be someone winking three times, tapping their thigh or arm 4 times, or two snaps. Something that a person can perform if they are gagged or bound in some way.


#6 Kink &Trauma

We live in a society that is rife with hurt and pain. So many people have experienced trauma of a sexual, emotional, mental, or physical variety, and this leaves behind scars in those harmed, both the kind that can be seen and the kind that can't. While there have been many myths over the years that those who engage in BDSM only do so because they are traumatized or dysfunctional in some manner, and the pervasive idea by many others that BDSM is abuse, research has started to arise that shows that for many kink and BDSM practes can be therapeutic in their own right and that those who engage in such practices tend to be more resilient and emotionally open.


One of the most interesting bits about this research is how well the trauma therapy process, such as one may experience with a licensed therapist, lines up with the negotiation and scene of BDSM play. When working through trauma therapy, it is a three-step process, and this goes hand-in-hand with the 3-part process of a BDSM or kink scene. The first part of the therapy is skill building. In this phase the therapist works with the client to help them establish coping skills and boundaries around their triggers. This lines up with negotiations before a scene. In both it is about learning your boundaries, verbalizing them, having open and honest communication with yourself and others, knowing what areas you can possibly explore a bit further than others, and which ones are hard limits, and knowing what tools you will need to help you through before, during, and afterward if triggered. Next in the therapy process is rewiring or exposure to the trauma. This correlates to the scene in kink play. During this step you take deliberate measures to face the trauma in a controlled and safe environment, where the traumatized person has the power. This is an opportunity to feel the emotions brought on by the trauma and let them process through to completion, or to let feelings stuck in the body release. The final step in the trauma therapy process is integration, which in kink this would be the aftercare portion after a scene. During this phase you take what you learned in step one and then look at how well it all worked in step two. What went well, what needs to be reworked, what didn't work. In aftercare you process all these things too about how the scene went.


I will note and give explicit warnings here. KINK AND BDSM PLAY IN NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR ACTUAL PSYCHOTHERAPY OR TRAUMA COUNSELING!! IT ALSO SHOULD NOT BE A GO TO AS A TREATMENT AIDE IF YOU HAVE NEVER PARTICIPATED IN KINK PLAY BEFORE. The process that those who participate in kink play go through; negotiations, scene, and aftercare, is difficult work. One should be educated thoroughly before ever engaging in kink play, and workings through a trauma is only for those who have been in the lifestyle for a while, and it comes up as a natural progression of their journey. To this end, though, A DOMINANT, SUBMISSIVE, TOP, BOTTOM, PLAY PARTERN, ETC. ARE NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR A THERAPIST OR COUNSELOR, AND IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING WITH THE MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL TOLL OF TRAUMA YOU SHOULD SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP. TRYING TO PROCESS TRAUMA THROUGH KINK, CAN TRIGGER YOU BEYOND WHAT YOUR PARTNER(S) CAN HANDLE, AND COULD POSSIBLY END UP TRAUMATIZING YOUR PARTNER(S) AS WELL.


If you or someone you know is or has experienced sexual assault or abuse, please reach out, or get help. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7: Telephone: 800.656.HOPE (4673) Online chat: online.rainn.org Español: rainn.org/e

#7 Frenzy

Frenzy is a term that not all people have heard of when associated with kink and BDSM play. The best way to think of it, is a bit like a feeding frenzy. If you've ever fed fish in a pond, the water goes from calm and quiet to loud and frantic quicky. First are jumping over each other, sometimes hurting each other or themselves in the process, just to get a taste of what they seek. In kink play, the concept of frenzy is very much the same. Somone new comes in, they decide they are ready to play, get a taste, and then want more and more, often times at the detriment to their own boundaries, triggers, and safety protocols, and those of others. While this is mostly discussed and addressed with those who identify as submissive, those who identify as dominant have been known to frenzy, too, though for them it can even more easily turn to abuse.


Kink play is exciting, discovering a new part of yourself you want to explore can be exhilarating, and with so many things to experience and enjoy within kink, it can have one feeling like a "kid in a candy store," This is one of the reasons it is so crucial to have well vetted and educated local groups and clubs, to help protect newbies should they begin to frenzy. Many times with frenzy, those experiencing it do not realize they are experiencing it until it's too late, but there are some things to try and stave off frenzy before it happens.

  • Make sure you have done thorough research into kink play, and have your boundaries established before you ever start playing.

  • Join a local community, and only play in front of others or with those who have been thoroughly vetted.

  • Have people in your life, who know about your kink journey and can speak truth to you, and who care about your safety.

  • Be honest with yourself about your boundaries and what you can and can not handle, do regular check-ins with yourself.

  • Limit the amount of play you engage in, in the beginning, maybe only go to one party a week, or only doing 2 scenes a week with your partner(s).