Disclaimer: Before reading this please understand that this is a choice we made in our relationship and I am not suggesting that anyone reject the idea of using a "safe word".
A safe word is a code, word, or group of words used in BDSM which the submissive can use to communicate his or her physical or mental condition to the dominant. Depending on what has been discussed between the dominant and submissive, some safe words can merely mean to slow down or reduce the intensity, while some safe words will end the scene all together.
One might notice, I have never mentioned the use of a safe word when describing my sessions. That's because we don't have one. Some people practice the safe, sane, consensual (SCC) philosophy, but Master and I lean more towards risk-aware consensual kink (RACK).
In educating myself, I found that most information stressed the importance of safe words and the negotiating this aspect of safety prior to playing. Master and I talked about it several times over a period of a few months, but ultimately His position was that we didn't need one. At the time, I didn't quite agree but I made a choice not to push the issue.
Just to be clear...
Had we not been married...
Had I not trusted His skills...
Had I not known that this man would lay down His life for me...
I would have insisted on a safe word!!
What I have learned is that not having a safe word boils completely down to TRUST. Just because you trust someone though, should you abandon the idea of having a safe word? No way!! For me, this is a trust that comes from being with someone 20 years and knowing that He absolutely means no harm and is in complete control of Himself at all times.
Yes, there are days that I cannot tolerate as much pain as others but He is so in tune with every one of my body signals, it's easy for Him to determine when it's time to push my limits and when it's not. If I had a safe word, not only would I feel like a complete failure for using it (or even thinking of using it) but I would feel as if I was honoring the trust I have in Him. I would be relying on my own judgment to stop Him or the scene.
He would no longer be the Master of me...I would be.
On top of that, the constant internal dialogue in my head of "should I safe word or not" would be so distracting, I would never be able to focus and enjoy the experience or the connection between us.
He is very conscious of the fact that my ability to tolerate pain is not an equal match for His need to give it, and because of that, He takes a lot of responsibility to keep Himself from getting too caught up in the moment. Even though I feel at times He might have been able to push me farther, He earns more of my trust by stopping a little early and leaving me wanting. His axiom, is actually "there is no shame in leaving you wanting".
Maybe this isn't true for everyone else, but personally, I would be reluctant to repeat any experience that pushed me so far that I had to call mercy.
Most importantly, He keeps scenes flexible by not really sharing with me what He has planned. This allows Him to make adjustments depending on my reactions and body signals. He may choose to push a little further, change the direction or flow of things, or He may decide to cut it short. No matter what, He has maintained control of the session and I never feel like I have let Him down.
I am interested in hearing other's thoughts on the topic though. Feel free to leave a comment and share your experience with safe words. Do you have one? Have you used it? How did you feel about using it or not using it? How did you come up with it?