This week, the tell me about prompt is Safety. Such a broad topic, and there is so much to write… I’m a reluctant advisor, after all I love it when people find their own solutions. But there is something which comes up time and time again. A gap in understanding, a missing piece of (to my mind) vital safety information, and I want to share what I know with you. I’m talking about a safety call. In this post I want to share with you what this is, why you should have one and, more importantly, how you should use it. If you’re anything like me then you’ll firmly believe that “shoulds are shit.” Please bear in mind that this is why I use one, and my expectations around them. How you choose to use this information is entirely your call. (Please exvuse the pun)
Firstly, what is a safety call?
Simply put, a safety call is a way of making sure that when I go into a situation by myself, I’m not doing it all alone. It is always someone I know and trust. I can share with them where I’m going, and what my expectations are regarding the activity, and give them an idea of my timing.
But why do I have one?
I haven’t always used one, there have been times I have blindly walked into situations and am lucky to have come out safely. Had anything happened to me, no-one would have known where I was. This was not responsible behaviour on my part, it left me extremely vulnerable to all kinds of dangers.
This occurred at a time in my life where I hit self-destruct- it wasn’t pretty, but it was perhaps inevitable. With guidance from sir, self-compassion and hindsight I soon learnt that a safety call was necessary. Fun is only fun if I make it home to my little family, after all! Sometimes this will be a coffee social, other times a solo rope session, or perhaps I’m joining a new couple for an evening of debauchery? Whatever I’m doing, wherever I’m going and whoever I’m meeting, doing so with virtual company makes everything feel safer.
However, this lesson, learnt through kink and a desire to make my mischief as safe as possible, has given me freedom in other areas too. You see, it’s not just kinky friends providing back up for swinging socials, fetish play dates and solo rigging. I also have friends and family on stand by for when I go running, sea swimming or on one of my solo date nights. Is this overkill? Maybe! But I’m ok with that.
How does a safety call work for me?
I’m going to tell you about how I use my safety call in relation to a play date with a new friend. This is, after all, a sex blog! But if you want to use these tips in any other setting then it’s exactly the same process.
First things first, I figure out a plan of action with them. This will include who I’m meeting, where and when I will be seeing them (date and time.) Also, what I expect to be getting up to and how long the planned session is likely to last- to this I add a buffer just in case we overrun. You know how these things go!
Once I have a plan, I choose my friend carefully. I don’t want them to have to be waiting up for me, if they are an early-to-bed person, and I don’t want them fretting because they don’t understand the kinks I’m exploring. Then I ask, and tell them the plan. Plans are flexible, but it’s good to have a starting point.
Having another person to discuss plans with is helpful for me too, as it means that I can have a reality check with them beforehand. I trust them to say “N, stop. Think about what you’re actually about to do…” if I’m about to get myself into a pickle. Occasionally they may have a perversion in mind that could be added? (Oh no, that’s usually what I offer them…)
I will always message when I arrive and make first contact with the new person. I used to be really shy about this step, but being open makes me feel safe. They know that I’m not completely alone, and that allows me to relax. I’ll message again at an agreed time, to check out or extend.
What do I expect from my willing helper?
It all seems fairly simple at this point, right? In theory I’ll text in, and text/call once the scene is complete and I’m alone again. And so far, everything has always been fine.
But we don’t make these arrangements for the times when everything runs smoothly. I have people on stand by for those just-in-case days.
I can’t just ask anyone to be there for me because I need to know I can trust them. If I haven’t checked in at the planned time I have to know they will call. If no answer they will text, and wait ten minutes before ringing again. At this point, if there is no answer, then there will be back up plan in place, depending on the situation. If I met in a cafe they would call the cafe. If they are near my home they might pop round. Or failing that they might call a neighbour who would come and ring the doorbell. Or… any number of scenario specific things that could be put in place. It’s all about having a back up plan in place.
What is important is that I trust them to do as we have agreed.
What can they expect from me?
If they are taking that responsibility for me and my wellbeing, what can they expect from me.
The first thing is that I wouldn’t take any unreasonable risks. Meeting a stranger in a dark alley in the middle of the night? Doing some self-suspension when I’m feeling really ropey? Having a blind-fuck with someone who I’ve not spoken to, and haven’t even been able to check out through shared contacts? You get the picture…
There are many situations I can think of where it would be unfair to ask for a safety call, because it isn’t the right time to meet or play. But once I’m satisfied with the timing and situation then I will always keep to my word. On play dates I’ll have my phone on silent, except for that number. And I’ll set a timer to remind me to touch base with them. If all is well at the point of contact and things are continuing I’ll usually arrange to message later. So they can go to bed! but I always do as arranged. It’s not fair on them otherwise.
My frustrations when being the safety call…
I don’t often “teach” what to do, rather try to demonstrate good practise, as I see it. But sometimes I do step in. The more people I get to know the more I see dangerous practise, and completely avoidable traumas. It is these cases where I pipe up and tell rather than show. My friends are important to me, and I don’t want bad things to keep happening to them, so I share my understanding of safety, and offer myself to help.
I love when I’m asked, and when we can share stories afterwards (if they choose) it is a wonderful bonding experience. And since I’ve started sharing this nugget of information I’ve only had to get cross with two of my friends.
The first was due to check in when her playdate arrived at an agreed time.
She didn’t, so I called, then text. “Oh sorry, he’s not here yet…” When he did arrived she text to check in, but when she hadn’t called after the agreed time I called, text, waited and then called again. Still no reply. Being 60 miles away, on a trip to see B, I did as we had agreed. Called her dominant. He’s got a partner who doesn’t know about his sub, so when there was no answer there I wasn’t altogether surprised. I decided to give her another 15 minutes before trying again, and when I had no answer I prepared to call the police.
As I started to dial her ONE LAST TIME she called, laughing. It was just a big joke. I was furious, as was B (another of my mutual safety folks). If you ever have a safety call miscommunication, don’t be like her. Apologise! Your friend is helping you out so you can have fun. Accidents happen, but please be respectful!
Recently I was unavailable for in-person spotter duties with another friend.
He wanted a kinky day of self torture and bondage. I happily agreed to check in at a set time. I called, then text. Waited, called again. Still no response so I pulled my shoes on, and walked round. With their health concerns I was worried, all set for calling an ambulance! Fortunately they had just forgotten to tell me they were safe and then misplaced their phone. Huge apologies from him, he understands why I was worried, and has promised not to forget again. I think it scared him having me let myself in to his flat!
For me, safety calls are a quick and easy way to manage my risk profile. No matter how we live our lives, there will always be situations which could be safer. Especially if you are an independent kind of person who was born with a shot of adrenalin in you veins!
I hope you’ve found my thoughts on the safety call helpful. I’d love to hear your thoughts on any additions you’d make. Or if you think it’s all a bit over the top! Let me know in the comments.
You might like No Need For Slut Shaming, also shared for Tell Me About.