A safe word is something you use during a scene to let your partner know if you are ok, need to slow down/readjust or to STOP. While most kinksters use the stoplight method, you can use any word(s) that you can remember easily as long as it is not something normally said during a scene.
During some intense scenes the sub/bottom may say things like “no”, “stop” “ouch” or may scream like you’re killing them. This is pretty normal during a scene, but it doesn’t mean they actually want you to stop what you’re doing. We use safe words to help communicate our needs to our Dom/Tops without unnecessarily disturbing the scenes flow.
The stoplight method I mentioned earlier is simply RED, YELLOW, and GREEN. Red means STOP right NOW! Either they can’t handle what you’re doing to them, they are in way too much pain, not in the right headspace, or possibly something medically wrong. Yellow means slow down, or I need to readjust or give me a minute to catch my breath. While green isn’t really used during the scene, it means I’m ok, having a good time, please don’t stop. If the Dom feels the need to check in with the sub, they can either say “are you ok?” Or “are we still green?” The sub can either reply green, or any of the other safe words that they need to communicate to their Dom at that moment.
Your safe word should be picked out BEFORE you start your search for a partner, NOT 5 mins before a scene. You need to have your safe word memorized so if/when the time comes you will be able to say it. This could be while starting to float off to subspace, having pain you can’t handle, and cumming the 50th time that hour…not so easy when you add all of that to the picture.
There are other methods of communicating a safe word, besides actually saying them. If you are gagged or hit subspace hard like I do, you won’t be able to speak. To communicate to your Dom you can tap a certain amount of times, hold something to drop like a ball or scarf. It can be anything that you can remember to do and the Dom understands the signal to avoid any physical or mental damage during the scene.
A Dom should also have a safe word. While they normally don’t shout the word “red” before stopping a scene, they can stop or take a break if they see their sub is struggling or upset. This is why it is important to take time to learn your partner’s body and how it reacts to various types of pleasure and pain.
There is a big debate if a sub should have a safe word during punishment. I think they should have a safe word, but only use it for emergencies NOT to get out of a punishment. Just like during a scene, things can go wrong during a punishment. When you are negotiating various things about your potential dynamic, don’t forget to discuss the punishments as well. If there is something you can’t do because of either physical or mental reasons let your potential Dom know. For example, if you have bad knees you shouldn’t be kneeling on rice, or if someone abused you with a wooden spoon, you probably want to avoid the spoon. You can list those things as hard limits so the punishment corrects a behavior, not physically or mentally harms you.
Another type of safe words are for medical conditions. I knew someone that was diabetic so her medical safe word was sugar, that meant she needed to stop and either take meds, check blood sugar or eat. A rope bunny could use numb as a safe word to alert the rigger that something is numb and they need to readjust. Make them personal to you and your condition, but again easy for both of you to remember.
Everyone should have a safe word, even someone in a M/s dynamic. Normally a slave is not allowed to have a safe word, because they have negotiated every possible situation, and completely trust their Masters not to cause any unwanted harm to them. Since a Master can make mistakes, and is not a mind reader there should be some kind of signal to let them know there’s an emergency that needs to be dealt with.
Some of those in a M/s use “mercy” as a safe word. By using mercy they are letting the Master know they would like to stop or take a break, it is then up to the Master to then have mercy on their slave and grant their wish. This safe word still serves its purpose of communicating to the Master the need to stop, while still allowing the Master to be completely in control.
I hope this clears up any confusion of what a safe word is and how to use it. Never feel ashamed for having to use safe words, it doesn’t make you weak or less of a sub. Doms never criticize or punish your sub for having to use their safe words, instead build them up and tell them how proud you are of them. It is important to vet your potential Dom really well because safe words are just words and if you have a “fake” Dom or predator they might not honor them. If safe words are ignored a lot of unwanted physical and emotional damage can be done during a scene that wasn’t consented.