You'll see it all over this site. "Domination is a consensual exchange of trust." If your sub doesn't feel safe from the beginning, they won't put their trust in your hands ever again. Here are a few tips on how to create a safe, fun environment in which to explore your sexual fantasies:
• Establish a "Safe Word", and respect it!
A Safe Word is essentially a safety net for your sub. If things are going well, your sub will likely be making all kinds of noises, and in order to keep things safe, they need a way to tell you when they have REALLY had enough.
In a domination scene the Safe Word is the ONLY thing that trumps your authority. When your sub throws the Safe Word, you should IMMEDIATELY stop whatever you're doing and find out what the problem is, correct it and then decide if it's okay to continue. Pushing your sub's limits is one thing, exceeding your sub's limits is something else. The first time your sub feels unsafe will be the last time they trust you.
The Safe Word should be something that doesn't come up in regular conversation. It should not be a name, or anything that your sub might normally say during a scene. It should be random, but easy to remember, and all of your scenes should start out with your sub repeating it to you at least once so that it's fresh in their mind. Also, if it is your first time with a sub, make sure you tell them what the Safe Word does for them. It helps them feel safe knowing that their safety is your first concern. Read more for safe word suggestions.
One last thing. If you are using a gag as part of your scene make sure that your sub has some way of letting you know if all is not well. This could be a specific gesture or hand signal, just make sure that it is easily done and easily noticed. Gags require a lot of safety and supervision. Never to leave the room if your sub is gagged, and monitor them carefully for safety.
• Know your scene, and your sub.
The reason we use the word "consensual" throughout this site is because your sub should never feel that they are being forced to do anything that they didn't sign up for. If your sub is claustrophobic, then being tied down to a bed is going to freak them out - in a bad way. Your sub may not mind a little pain when you spank their backside, but they might not like intense stimulation in other areas. Knowing the scene you are setting backwards and forwards is a great way to instill confidence in your sub that they are in good hands, and making adjustments to the scene based on your sub's needs is an even better way. You are in control, and that means that it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that your sub has a good experience.
• A sane scene is a safe scene.
There should be a small element of perceived danger in a domination scene. It should be a little frightening to your sub to know that you are going to dominate their body and mind during this scene. What should not be part of any scene is actual danger.
Feel free to experiment, but if things aren't going well have the common sense to pull back a little, and change whatever's not working. Trying to force your sub into doing something they are not comfortable with, or trying to make something work that isn't is a recipe for disaster, and should be avoided at all costs. Domination is about controlling your sub. Not hurting them.
• A word about rope.
If you are using rope to tie your sub up, make sure that you know what you are doing with it. Never tie ropes around the neck or tightly around the chest. Always make sure that you are not restricting blood flow by tying to tightly around wrists, ankles thighs and arms. (A good way to check this is that you should always be able to get two fingers easily between the rope and skin.)
As always, the Safe Word is king. If your sub is in pain that you are not in control of them, and you are not in control. ALWAYS keep a pair of EMT shearson hand to cut the rope if there is an emergency or even an urgency of any kind.
• A word about cuffs.
Like everything else, there is an element of danger to using cuffs. Make sure that you understand exactly how your cuffs are supposed to work, and check their functionality before using them in a scene. Also. make sure that your sub knows how to get out of them if there is an emergency. Always look for cuffs that have a safety release, make sure that the keys are easily accesable to both you and your sub in case there is a problem.
• Additional Thoughts.
Never ever *EVER* suspending your sub by the collar or neck in any way, ever. Never ever EVER jerk a rope or a leash that is attached to a collar or neck in a way that could damage their windpipe.
Always use extreme caution around sensitive tissues such as eyes, throat, and genitals so not to do damage.
Keep in mind health concerns such as making sure toys are always sanitary.
It is NOT a good idea to consume alcohol during a session. You want to remain in control, and alcohol has a way of making people get out of control. Ditto for drugs of any kind -- don't do it. Period.
Finally -- If you ever get into an emergency situation, always call 911 IMMEDIATELY. Better yet, make sure you use good sense at all times and stay in control so that this never becomes necessary. You and your partner are meant to enjoy each other. Keep it that way.