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Advice for BDSM Novices

  1. BDSM play has inherent risks and both tops and bottoms share the responsibility for safe, consensual and fun experiences.

  2. As a novice, top or bottom, avoid "pick-up play". This is when people you meet at parties want you to play the same night. Arrange to meet, negotiate and get to know them.

  3. Learn to negotiate so that all areas are covered before the scene. You should be certain that you understand your partner's interests and limits, and you should be certain that they understand yours. There are several forms to help at including SM Activity Sheets to indicate interests and limits as well as long and short Negotiation Forms/Checklists.

  4. Get at least two references before playing with anyone new. People at parties will usually be glad to provide information, and Braven Manor organizers are happy to assist if we are able. Friends of the individual on Fetlife will also provide details, but you should prioritize the advice of people you know and trust. It's very appropriate to tell a potential play partner that you are seeking references. If a potential partner disapproves, does not have references or does not participate in the public community, avoid them until you have more experience in evaluating safe players.

  5. For the first time that you play with someone new, have someone observe (sometimes called "spotting").

  6. Whenever you play privately, have safety calls arranged with friends and let them know where you are and with whom. To learn more, visit:

  7. Watch for red flags such as:

    1. Reluctance to use safewords. The minimum should be Yellow and Red.

    2. Name dropping, bragging, or invalidation of feelings: "I'm friends with so-in-so." "Everyone knows me." "I know everything about kink/SM play." "I've been practicing kink for years." "Don't worry, you have nothing to be afraid of."

    3. Reluctance to have someone else observe the scene.

    4. Variance during the scene from the original negotiations. Any request to add anything to a scene while it's in progress is highly suspect, especially where novices are involved. This is sometimes called "creeping consent"- it is difficult or impossible to give informed, conscious consent mid-scene due to all the emotional factors and power dynamics.

  8. If you have a distressing experience, seek help from Braven Manor organizers who will support you and educate all parties.

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Revised July 2021


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