Emotional Safety Issues
it's not all about the physical...
~~ Not everyone is looking for love. But even if
Conditions precedent for most sustainable erotic power exchange relationships are love, mutual respect and trust. The epe game is all about feelings and emotions. Whether you're involved in a relationship or just engaging in a scene, the partner's emotions are always in motion. 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's something you gain. This takes time and effort. If you want to build a relationship with erotic power exchange aspects in it, you need to work on it. If you're into different, short-term or incidental contacts, trust is a problem. You may just have to believe someone based on his or her word. That's difficult and requires insight.
The basis of emotional safety is laid down in the concepts. But there is more to it from the D/s viewpoint. In these exchanges the dominant has the biggest part in this. The dom/me has to gain trust and their 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 dom/mes.
The Farm Model
Gaining trust and learning enough about each other requires a lot of communication. A Dutch BDSM magazine worked out a model for such communication that's proven to be very useful. It's called the Farm Model. It's based on five areas that both partners should work their way through as a minimum. Here are the basic questions.
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 and a better way to get things started.
Will all animals have their own restricted area (in other words will 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?
What do we do at the gate of the farm? Are we going to be just a farm of our own, or do we want to share with others, are we going to let others enter our farm?
Where do we draw the lines? What are the boundaries of our farm? In other words, what are absolute NO GOs (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").
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 for erotic power exchange scenes 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 NOs 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 seek certain 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 their own feelings and fantasies. As far as their own feelings are concerned they obviously have their own responsibility here and the Dom/me cannot and should not take over all of that but certainly can help and guide.
In scene - Out of scene
A dominant has to understand that just because a submissive doesn't use a safeword to stop a situation, that doesn't necessarily mean they're totally comfortable with what's 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 your partners if they are still all right, if they 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're uncertain about their 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 disappoint the dominant. Not using a safeword, turning the scene into a disaster is simply stupid.
Please remember that anything happening which is really against your will is NEVER erotic power exchange but outright ABUSE. If you even have the slightest feeling you're somehow being overpowered, if anything happens against your will, if it doesn't feel sound, safe, sane and secure, DON'T do it. If you have the feeling you're in an abusive relationship, get help. Erotic power exchange is never an excuse for abuse. Nothing is.
...safety guides continue over several pages, see menu for more.
Based on materials from the POWERotics Foundation
© 1996-2000; republished here with their permission;
see the Contributors page for contact links.