July/August 2001
Safety Tips

by unknown


While the Internet provides millions of opportunities for people to meet each other and indulge in BDSM fantasies, you must remember to use common sense. It's easy to get swept up into a fantasy world, but reality begs for us to use caution. Like the offline world, the online world has its ups and downs - good people and bad people. While the majority of people can be trusted, we must all be aware of the scammers, liars and the rare but present predators. While there are risks, hiding from the world is not the answer. There are many ways to protect yourself and find someone online! Here are several tips for you to remember.

Online Safety in General...
1) Never, ever give out personal information. This may be the most important thing for you to remember. Your personal information includes your real name, telephone number, personal email or address. If they want to send something to you through the mail, get a post office box. They're not expensive! No matter how nice the other person may seem, you do not know them. While most people are decent, you can never be absolutely sure. Don't risk having this information fall into the wrong hands.

2) On the telephone?
Activate your caller ID blocking feature to keep your number private.
Don't call collect! Your number will show up on their phone bill.
If you want the other person to be able to contact you, get a pager.
Use a payphone. It may be a hassle, but well worth it!

3) Location is everything. You haven't given the other person your name, phone number or any other personal information. But, you've told them all about living in Anytown, USA with a population of only 1,102. Think someone who really wanted to could find you? The answer is yes. Telling someone that you live in a small town, even omitting your actual address, is not the way to go. On the other hand, saying you live in New York is probably a pretty safe bet. Think before you type or speak!

4) Get a current picture. Use a current picture. This may not exactly be a safety issue - but more of an honesty issue. Be honest and post a current photo even if you've gained a few pounds! If the other person's picture seems to be outdated, and they refuse to update it, you must put them in the "dishonest" pile. Even if you do not have a scanner, there's a variety of cheap and easy ways to get a photo scanned. There's no reason for someone to lie, unless they're hiding something. Don't put up with their dishonesty.

Communication and Red Flags...
1) Get the details. Feel free to scrutinize the emails and chat sessions you have with another person. If they seem too good to be true, they probably are. If they're vague about their life, try to get some non-intrusive details. Red flags are people who are vague, talk in circles, or answer questions with questions. Be very cautious with these types of
people. They may be playing hard to get, or they may not be someone you should continue communicating with.

2) Are they hiding something? If the other person can only meet and chat with you in the middle of the night, they may have a secret. If you call them and they talk in a hushed voice or "have to go" all of a sudden, they may not be as single as they claim. If you call at a non-designated time and they get angry, feel free to assume that they're hiding something from you. Red flags are anyone who uses fancy footwork, excuses, or evasive maneuvers. If they cannot be honest with you from the get-go, don't count on them to ever be straightforward. Because trust is so integral to BDSM play - this is a key indicator that the other person is not worthy of being your partner.

3) Get their background checked. Even if you don't notice any red flags or get a gut instinct to back off, doing a background check on someone is a great way to put your mind at ease. You can find several services online, many for a reasonable price. Your only red flag here will show up in black and white. Because BDSM play is so intimate, this is highly recommended. Feel free to dig into their past until you KNOW you will be. Get their full name, address, social security number, driver's license number, etc. Write it down and make sure friends or family members also have a copy. You can never be too sure.

4) Don't put off meeting in person. While online relationships can be full of intrigue, your ultimate goal is to find a casual or serious BDSM partner. Why put it off? Why invest in a relationship online if it's going nowhere offline? Make sure the spark you get from your chat sessions and email also exists in the "real world". Red flags are anyone who puts it off or avoids answering your questions about meeting. And remember, if you do not have the money to invest in a long distance relationship, don't start one. Online dating requires that your brain and your heart work together to make the best and safest decisions for you.

Going Offline for a Meeting...Safety First
1) Whether you're looking for a BDSM partner, love interest or both, it's always a good idea to meet and get to know each other first. Don't head straight to the dungeon for your first meeting.

2) Once you've agreed to meet face to face, don't ask the other person to pick you up. Get yourself to and from the date, even if you have to beg a ride off of a friend or take a taxi.

3) Before you go, make sure that several friends and family members know where you're going, who you're going with and when to expect you back. Make sure everyone writes down the information so that there are no misunderstandings.

4) Always meet in a public place. A public place does not mean a parking lot - they are not monitored closely enough to be considered safe. Make your first meeting a lunch or coffee date. If the sparks don't fly, it's much easier to say that you have a meeting or some other commitment that requires you to end the date prematurely.

5) Stay in a public place. If they pressure you to go elsewhere, say NO. If they pressure you, they obviously don't care about your feelings - don't spare their feelings. End the meeting and leave. If they start to follow you to where you've parked, stop and hail a cab. Come back later for your car with a friend or family member.

6) If possible, bring a cellular phone. If you need help or feel a little nervous, excuse yourself to the bathroom and call for back up! Put together an instant, "accidental" meeting with a friend. They're also good for emergencies or in case you think your online love is an offline stalker who's following you home. Use the cellular phone to call the police - just don't head back home. Keep the person far from there. Drive to a police station if you feel it's necessary.

7) Never leave your personal belongings unattended. A purse or wallet contains all your personal information. In your jacket pocket could be your keys. Just don't take the risk.

8) Do not leave your beverage unattended. If you do, nonchalantly ask for another drink.

9) Stick with non-alcoholic drinks. Being drunk is not a good way to be safe.

10) If all goes well, set-up another date before the first one comes to an end. Use your best judgement and gut instincts to determine whether or not the other person worthy of a second date. Be sure that this second date (and any others thereafter) incorporates all of these safety tips. You're worth the effort! If the other person truly cares about you, they'd expect nothing less.

A Thousand Miles from Home...Extra Tips for Meeting a Long Distance Interest
Be sure to use all of the tips mentioned above, plus the following tips if you plan to travel to meet your online interest:

1) DO NOT plan to stay at the other person's home for your visit. If you cannot afford a hotel, do not go.

2) If you've made hotel reservations, do not tell the other person where you're staying. They don't need to contact you there. You can contact them.

3) Let them meet you at the airport, but do not get in a car with them. They can help you with your baggage and help you hail a cab. Use cabs as your mode of transportation throughout your trip.

4) Be sure to keep in touch with friends and family. Have a schedule in place as to when you should call. And make sure they know where you're staying and how to reach you.

5) Just in case...keep your valuables in an in-room safe or in with the front desk - they often have safety deposit boxes available for free or a minimal charge.

6) When you leave, just to be sure, meet them at the airport to say goodbye.

BDSM...Tips and Rules for Safe Play

The Basic Rules of BDSM

1) Use common sense. Most people use their common sense, but not always. Any exchange of power, as well as other forms of BDSM play requires that all who participate never lose sight of this essential tool. Don't get so swept up in a fantasy that you lose touch with reality. Your safety depends on it!

2) Always negotiate. Now, this does not mean "if-you-get-this-I-get-that" type of negotiating. This is simply getting to know each other's fantasies, feelings, boundaries, limits and common ground. Your fantasy scene may differ from your partner. Don't let a partner pressure you into something that you are not willing to do and respect the boundaries of your partner at all times. Getting to know all of these factors are essential to safe play.

3) Share equal responsibility. Doms are not the ones who should shoulder 100% of the responsibilities. During, after, and before play - both partners are responsible for themselves and each other. Even if you are a sub, you must not withhold information or feelings, especially when it comes to your safety. Inequality in your role and share of power do not cancel out your responsibility for your own personal safety. Take care of yourself.

4) Always have a safe word. A safe word is your parachute - your emergency "Stop" switch. Safe words can be used by doms and subs at any moment anything gets too tough, too scary, just annoying or for whatever other reason. Choose words besides "stop" or "no" as they may have a different meaning or be misunderstood during play. You can use more than one safe word to slow things down, take a break or come to a complete stop. This is a must when it comes to novices or partners who do not know each other very well. Both partners must agree to respect safe words at all times, no matter how far into a scene play has progressed. If you use gags during play, use a bell or other means of nonverbal communication in place of a safe word.

Do's and Don'ts

1) Do take it slow. Don't dictate the scene details.

As said above, negotiation is key! Your fantasies and your partner's fantasies may not be the same. Plus, fantasy and reality can be two very different things. For example, if you fantasize about getting 50 lashes, then ask for them from your partner, you may find that 2 provide more than enough stimulation. Build your scenes over time. Incorporate new ideas in small doses. Fill in the blanks one at a time.

2) Do use safe words or signals. Don't ignore safe words or signals.

No matter what, these are essential. If you find that your partner refuses to respect or use safe words, you may want to reconsider the relationship.

3) Never use drugs or alcohol during BDSM play.

It hinders your ability to sense pain or sense your partner's pain. It slows down your response and lowers your inhibitions. Things can quickly get out of control.

4) Do buy quality toys. Don't forget to test them.

Cheap toys can break or malfunction. It's a great way to hurt someone or ruin a fantastic scene. Go for quality and test them out before beginning play.

5) Do concentrate. Don't play unless your 100% in the game.

If you had a bad day at work or have other things on your mind, don't enter into play. It won't be as much fun and it could lead to a mishap.

6) Do come prepared. Don't try to improvise.

Bring a lot of condoms, dental dams, lubricant, a variety of toys and first aid items. Improvising with household items can be a health risk and/or dangerous.

7) Do tell each other about any physical, mental or medical problems.

Full disclosure is key to having a strong and trustworthy relationship with your partner.

8) Do create a contract.

If you're entering into a 24/7 BDSM relationship, it's essential to create a contract that specifies duties, responsibilities, limits, etc. Being on the same page from the start is a great way to create a healthy long-term BDSM partnership.