• Ernesto L. Brea

50 Shades Of Grey Can Turn Up Unsafe

Updated: Jun 6

BDSM practices are varied and can include erotic spanking, fire play, ropes and other restraints, piercings, costumes, and role playing that emphasizes the power differential between partners, such as master and slave, or animal and trainer. Some types of kink focus on the degradation and humiliation of the sub. There is little in BDSM play that can be considered universal practice, except that in most encounters, or “scenes” there is a dominant partner, the “dom,” and a submissive partner, the “sub.” Although it may give the appearance of a loss of control or erasure of boundaries, BDSM practice depends on trust and respect and for most practitioners those aspects are of tantamount importance.

Power and safety

Safety is central to BDSM communities and good practice is maintained by following some guidelines known as SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual) or RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) standards. This includes the use of safe words, pre-scene negotiation, and observance of rules that forbid certain parts of the body, for example, the kidneys and lower back during a flogging, from being harmed. But what about BDSM practice that does not feel safe? A good dom will never let a situation get out of control. It actually takes a great deal of awareness, education, and maturity to safely and responsibly act out the dominant role.

On consensuality

One of the most critical factors is consent. BDSM that happens with a partner who is under age or high or coerced is obviously not permitted. If a sub is unable to communicate a safe word, or is bound to the point of numbness, or cannot breathe, then clearly safety is being sacrificed, and the practice has likely gone from mutually satisfying fun to unsafe and dangerous. This is called abuse and it is morally and legally prohibited.

Few important points

In determining whether a BDSM relationship has deteriorated into an unsafe and abusive situation, try to answer the following questions:

  1. Are you able to express your needs and limits without fear?

  2. If you show unhappiness or jealousy are you safe in doing so?

  3. Are you able to continue normal work and social activities?

  4. Are you allowed to say no to illegal practices or substances?

  5. Are you free to leave the relationship without threats to your safety, or that of others?

  6. Are you able to make your own decisions about where you work or live, how you can spend your money, or when you can come and go?

  7. Are you allowed to speak openly with others about the BDSM aspects of your partnership if you wish to?

If you cannot answer affirmatively to all of these questions, then it is very likely that your relationship has gone beyond what can be considered safe kink. Try to find someone to confide in, such as a therapist, doctor, or legal advocate who can help you free yourself from a situation that is not mutually enjoyable. Above all, do not allow yourself to be the victim of someone else’s physical or emotional abuse, because that is just not acceptable in any form of safe BDSM practice.

Images on Creative Commons license courtesy of Richardgiles, shockinglytasty, freakshow9

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