Psychological safety bdsm

Psychological safety in BDSM play – Introduction

Psychological safety in BDSM play, part 1 – Introduction

Playing with pain and power is risky. There is no getting around it. It’s why, as a community, we spend time reading, practicing and attending workshops to make sure we can give our partner the experience they want, in the safest way possible.

In kink we play with the mind just as much as we play with the body. And just like the body, there are certain things that we need to be aware of to make our play as safe as possible.

Mental illness and psychological trauma are an invisible epidemic in Western society. A worldwide survey of women recently revealed that one in three women worldwide has been the victim of sexual assault. And if you look at the combined experience of physical and sexual assault in Australia, the number of women who have experienced some kind of trauma is one in two.

The risk of trauma is not evenly split – it increases with each minority group you belong to. According to the latest data, here in Australia if you are playing with someone who is a member of the LGBTIQ community, there is a 90% chance that they have experienced sexual or physical violence at some point in their lives. If they are an indigenous woman, they are 45 times more likely to have experienced violence than a non indigenous person.

This means that unless you are a cis-gendered straight white man playing with another cis-gendered straight white man, it is more likely than not that your play partner has experienced an emotional or physical trauma at some point during their life.*

So why all this talk of trauma? Because memories of old traumatic events can be triggered when you play.

One of the difficulties of mental and emotional triggers is that they are invisible. Asking someone about muscle pain or fibromyalgia is already difficult, because it forces us to think about and be aware of illnesses that are invisible to an outside observer. Dealing with emotional and psychological safety adds another layer of complexity. Not only is the person’s internal state invisible to an outside observer, but sometimes triggers or hotspots are invisible to the person themselves. They do not realise that they will be triggered by a certain event until that event actually happens.

So what’s to be done? Perhaps the answer is to stay at home with the curtains drawn in case you stumble upon something that triggers you? Sounds boring, right?

In the same way that we work to minimise the physical risks of play, there are ways that we can minimise the emotional risks. 

In part 2 we will discuss just that. Minimising risk, looking at some preventative strategies, and also what you can do in the event of a problem.

We hope you have enjoyed this article, and invite you to join in by leaving a comment below, checking out our awesome shop, or following us on Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you,

Miss Pixie

*By the way, the incidents of physical assault for men is also high – approximately one in ten. They don’t escape the risk of sexual assault either. According to a recent study of college men in the US, approximately 40% of men have been coerced into sexual contact that they did not want at some stage in their lives!

 

Some definitions:  Trigger, dissociationtrauma

 

For a detailed exploration of psychological trauma (and triggers), try Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman.

 

Crisis numbers (Please leave more in the comments so we can add to the list!)

UK

Samaritans: 08457 909090

NHS advice line: 111

Emergencies: 999

AUSTRALIA

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Lifeline crisis chat

Emergencies: 000

USA

Samaritans 24hour: 617 247 0220 and 508 875 4500

Emergencies: 911

About Miss Pixie

Ms Pixie is a woman of many talents. As well as assisting with the running of Ethical Kink, she also runs a separate business practicing as a queer friendly, kink aware health professional. A vegetarian for over 13 years, she made the journey from animal welfare to animal rights via her interest in feminism, kink and body modification. Ms Pixie assists with ethical issues, business planning and writes regularly for the Ethical Kink blog. She is also the full time partner and submissive of Stuniverse. When she isn’t working she enjoys playing guitar, dancing and fire twirling. She also makes a mean vegan lentil pot pie ;)
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