Safety: More than SSC and RACK


You may have already heard the terms SSC (Safe Sane Consensual) and RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink).  Both of these are important considerations before undertaking a BDSM Play:

Safe– Has everything been done to ensure the play is as safe as possible?

Sane– Is the play practical, realistic and sensible?

Consensual – Does every single person involved give their consent?

Risk– Level of danger

Aware– Understanding of situation

Consensual– Does every single person involved give their consent

Kink– deviation from the conventional

However, safety within BDSM is so much more than acronyms and should be approached in a much more wholistic way.  As much, if not more of the attention given to the physical safety of participants, should be given to the mental and emotional safety. Not only does this protect participants, this level of awareness to safety creates a more secure environment which is conducive to a more successful play overall.

Safety must be considered continuously; before, during and after play.  You also need to be adaptive and ensure the play remains safe should you have to deviate from your original plan.  Where possible, consider some variations and the potential changes needed for safety.  Have an exit strategy for the just in case scenario.  Admittedly, the top is responsible for most aspects of safety, but the bottom also has responsibilities, primarily being honest in the pre play discussions.

Before attempting a play, the main focus points for safety should be as follows:

  • Research – understand the general anatomy and the effects what you plan will have on the body.
  • Chemistry – have a basic understanding of the chemistry within the brain when a play takes place.
  • Safe words – must be discussed and clearly defined so there can be no ambiguity or misunderstanding should they be used.  A safe signal must be discussed beforehand should the bottom’s mouth be restricted.
  • Injuries, illnesses, conditions and medication – must all be considered and factored in to the play.
  • Mental attitude – is especially important and all involved need to be doing what they are doing for the right reasons; feel confident that what will happen will be a positive experience.

All the safety aspects you can think of should be considered during setup, risks discussed, and any concerns addressed.  All involved must be happy to continue. Once the play has begun, the Top needs to be aware of the state/condition of the bottom at all times: reading body language, monitoring awareness, checking circulation, checking reactions on skin (bruising, abrasions), any wounds to be cleaned and monitored.  It is the bottom’s responsibility during the play to use safe words if necessary, this does not mean the top may not call an end to the play even if the bottom wishes to continue.

Safety needs to be considered after the play too:

  • Physical safety – advise wound care if necessary and what to expect in the healing process
  • Mental safety – discuss what has happened and what to expect with drop and thought processes
  • Emotional safety – Aftercare (should be discussed pre play to ensure it will happen) not necessarily performed by the Top of the play, but physical comfort and reassurance is normally required by the bottom immediately after the play.  A check-in with the bottom over the next few days is also appropriate, offering reassurance, comfort and advice until the drop has passed, or the bottom does not need contact.

Any play within a BDSM setting comes with its own risks.  Always be conscientious of them and make sure that you are working within your own personal limits.  Should you wish to try something outside of your limits, call upon experience within the community and make sure that everything you do is done in the safest way possible.  Mistakes happen, do what you can to avoid them, but be prepared for if they do.  Do not forget the importance of the mental and emotional safety too.

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