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SAFETY IN THE LIFESTYLE

D/s Safety Online:

Even in our little online world, there is danger.

For all new Doms/Dommes and subs alike, here are a few standard rules to make your transition into online D/s a safer, happier one.

1. You do not have to answer ever private messages that you get. Should you get one that is vulgar, rude or harassing, simply use the delete button. Even if you are a new sub and the message is from an "online Dominant,” no one has to take abuse.

2. Do some reading! The fact that you're here is a good start! But there are many good books about D/s on the market. Doing your homework can really pay off.

3. When you make your first few forays into the discussion forums, don't just announce who you are and what you're looking for. That is a magnet for anyone out there looking for quick and easy cyber-sex. If you're seriously looking for friends, contacts and possible partners, be discreet. Read profiles, if they are available. Message respectfully to people who interest you. Make polite conversation in the forum. Show respect and you'll earn it in kind.

4. NEVER give your real name, phone number, credit card information or any other personal information to ANYONE you've just begun to talk to online. Get to know someone over time before revealing anything of importance!! First names are sufficient in the beginning (I like to use screen names until I am very familiar with someone).

5. When approached by a potential partner, ask questions!! Get to know the person as well as online will allow and then, very discreetly, ask around for references about that person. Please heed any warnings you may receive about an individual, but be sure you ask for more than one opinion. If you cannot find anyone online who will vouch for this potential partner either way, please proceed very slowly. Remember that online is no different than real life. Make them earn your trust.

6. Always be aware that this form of communication harbors unsavory characters, just as any other. Also, be aware that people may not always be who they appear… or claim to be. If you proceed at a cautious rate, you'll save yourself some possible heartache down the road.

7. PHONE CALLS: If someone wishes to speak with you, and you aren't entirely trusting of them yet, offer to call them instead of giving your number out. You can disable any possible Called-ID function they have by punching in the disable code (check your phone book information pages, or call your phone company). Keep your first conversation brief and friendly. If you still harbor doubts at the end of this, continue to call them. Never go against your instincts - they are your most valuable resource. If they demand your number and you've respectfully and repeatedly told them no, perhaps it's time to close that particular door.

8. Even if you live close to someone you’ve met online, it's not a good idea to move into meeting them in person too quickly. Take your time in getting to know them, speak several times on the phone, and if you do agree to meet, set it up at a public place, and take a friend along. A serious potential partner won't mind.

First Time Meetings:

There are many ways to meet potential D/s partners. The Internet and classified ads are only two of these ways. Perhaps the best way is an introduction from someone already in the Lifestyle. First time meetings always require a little extra security and safety. Here are some simple rules for those awkward first encounters. ALWAYS TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU ARE GOING AND WHO YOU WILL BE MEETING.

1. Always set the meeting up well in advance, so that you have time to arrange a sufficient safety net (this goes for Doms/Dommes and subs alike). If you are traveling, make reservations at a motel, but do NOT let the person you're meeting know where you'll be staying.

2. Arrange to meet for the first time during the daylight hours in a public place, such as a mall or a restaurant. Always park your car a distance away, so that if the meeting goes badly, you cannot be followed away. Another good idea is to take a cab to this first meeting.

3. Do not plan to play during your initial meeting. You should have plenty to discuss, without sex or D/s play entering into the equation.

4. Think about taking along a friend. A serious potential partner won't feel intimidated.

5. SAFE CALLS: There are many ideas out there about how safe calls should be done, but I'll only offer you my humble opinion, and what has worked for me in the past. Let two friends, preferably local to where you'll be meeting, know your complete schedule. Give them the full name of the person you'll be meeting, their phone number and a brief physical description. You can even go so far as to give them the make, model and plate number of the car your “date” will be driving. Make sure that your friends have an accurate description of you as well and the phone number of the local police. Arrange to call these two friends immediately after you've met your “date.” Give them a key word beforehand, that you can say if you need to get away from your “date” - for example, you could say that everything is “great” if you need help, or that everything is “wonderful” if you're okay. Your safe calls should arrange to come get you, or give you some sort of out if you use your keyword. If you'll be spending more than a few hours with your “date,” it's a good idea to call your safe calls every few hours, at least at first.

6. Be honest with your “date.” If you feel, after this first meeting, that this person is not someone you want to be involved with, be honest and up-front about that. It's not necessarily a good idea to do this at your first meeting. Go home, sleep on it. And then arrange to speak to this person the next day. Remember, your instincts are your most valuable resource.

7. Have a good time. Be yourself. But most importantly, be SAFE and be HONEST - with your date, and with yourself.

First Scene Safety:

It's always a good idea to get to know someone very well before committing yourself to play time. It's also a good idea to think long and hard about what you expect, and then lay that out for the other person clearly beforehand.

It's also a good idea to list out your limits (yes, Doms/Dommes have limits, too!!). Exchange your limits well in advance of your first scene.

1. SAFE CALLS: See Item #5 from the above section. If you plan to play at your new partner's home, make sure your safe call has the address, the phone number and a clear map and directions to the home. If you plan to play at your home, do NOT turn off your phone, and make sure you have the number of the ambulance, local police and a contact posted by each phone, in case of any emergency. Secure any valuables before your partner arrives. If you plan to play at a motel, or a third party's home, make sure your safe call knows exactly where you'll be. If in a motel, make sure they have the room number, and the name the room is registered under. It's also a good idea to keep your keys and purse or wallet by the door, so you can grab them quickly if need be.

2. PLAY: It’s a good idea to keep your first scene light. I do not recommend bondage, gags or extreme pain for your first scene with a new partner. There are plenty of other activities you can use to get to know each other's likes and dislikes. Besides, if it works out, you'll want to save something for later.

3. SAFEWORDS: You should chose and discuss safe words and/or actions well in advance of your first meeting. My recommendations are something very simple, such as yellow for slow down, and red for stop. Never play around with these words - they are your protection, and your safety net, and should only be used when you mean them.

4. SAFE SEX: I don't think anyone needs to be reminded about this, but I'll throw it in anyway. Both parties should possess condoms, in case one forgets. It only takes a few seconds to slip on a condom. It takes a long and painful time to die of AIDS.

5. If, at any point, either party is feeling uncomfortable, S T O P!!!!! Dress. Talk. And then talk some more. It takes a lot of trust to have a meaningful D/s relationship. Take the time to build that foundation.

Emotional Safety:

No,pain is not always physical. Sometimes, it's in your head and your heart as well and sometimes, those scars are the hardest to heal. Here are some tips to lessen your chances of getting them in the first place.

1. Be honest with yourself AND with prospective partners. Never be ashamed to admit you don't know something or too embarrassed to ask questions. If you're looking for 24/7, don't tell someone you only want to play. If you're looking for love and romance, be up-front about it. If you are dishonest about what you want, it's not only you who could get hurt in the long run.

2. Never reveal too much about your personal life to anyone on-line. There are too many people who'll use your heartaches and problems for hot IM gossip.

3. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Your instincts, once again, are your greatest gift and resource. Use them, and listen to them.

4. Heed warnings. If you're told by more than one person that a prospective partner could be trouble, LISTEN. Take into account that it's someone else's opinion of someone you are getting to know, but always listen, and openly ask your partner about what you hear. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide if you believe everything you hear, but always hear what someone is trying to tell you and always check it out.

5. If a prospective partner asks you not to ask anyone else online about them, ask yourself why. Then ask them why. And if you can't come up with any satisfactory answers, either walk away, or proceed with EXTREME caution.

6. If a prospective partner is hesitant with personal information after you've already given yours, then take it as a warning. FIND OUT WHY.

7. Don't get dragged into online gossip. It may be fun for awhile, but eventually it will only come back to haunt you. There are people online who have nothing better to do. Don't become one of them.

8. Think for yourself. Trust yourself. Be honest with yourself. And above all, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.

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