What Is A Silent Alarm?

What is a silent alarm?

What is a Silent Alarm? A silent alarm (also known as a safe call, or safety call), is an arrangement you make to check in with a trusted friend when you’re meeting a new partner, or someone you don’t know well enough yet. The concept of silent alarms originated within the BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance, sadism, masochism) community as a way to ensure physical safety for all involved in SM (sadism, masochism) play. However, a silent alarm is helpful and recommended as a safety tool in all relationships.  When using a silent alarm, it is important to inform your identified person of exactly where you will be (specific address/location) and the real names of those involved. You identify a specific time to contact your silent alarm to let him/her know that you are safe. If he/she does not hear from you by this set time, he/she can assume that you are in danger, and has your exact whereabouts in order to notify 911. It is NOT recommended that your safe call intervene and try to rescue you. For safety reasons, leave it up to the local authorities. A silent alarm is only a deterrent. It is an extra safety measure, it is not a replacement for primary safety measures, such as getting to know your new partner better in person before entering into a scene, or meeting in public with your new partner first. Engaging in SM in private with someone new, especially someone you don’t know very well, and no one else knows about this, could be extremely dangerous. Your new partner may have no intention of staying with the agreed upon plan the two of you made in advance, or the negotiated plan could begin to stray away from play and turn into abuse. Or simply the play you’re engaging in, you may find it’s no longer feeling safe to you, and it’s okay if you need to stop. Sometimes this type of play can get too dangerous. When anyone in any scene meets someone new, there’s an element of the unknown. Whether you’re a part of the BDSM, or LGBT, or vanilla straight community, there is always a risk in giving someone new too much trust, too soon.

The important of silent alarms are not limited to just new partners. The rule of thumb regarding when to use a silent alarm: Always use your silent alarm whenever you sense the need, or when you know you would feel better with someone in place. Sometimes people can just lose it, without a sign or any warning. There is a risk to anything we do (driving a car, eating, even sleeping). Participating in BDSM has a greater degree of risk. The risk never goes away, regardless of how long you’ve known your partner, or how long you’ve been into BDSM. The use of a silent alarm isn’t always about the person, it can be about the type of play you are engaging in. Maybe you have agreed to try new types of play and you would feel more at ease knowing that there’s support waiting in the wings if needed. Even if you have a longterm partner, it is good practice for both of you to have a silent alarm during all play. This demonstrates a sign of responsibility and respect for all involved, regardless of how long you have  known each other. Safety is always important in all relationships.

The agreement between you and your Silent Alarm.There are a few options for you when it comes to how to proceed with your silent alarm. First off, when using your silent alarm there should always be an agreement that you will contact your partner when you arrive to the location, as well as contacting your partner when you leave and return home safely. HOW you contact your partner upon arrival is up to you, some prefer to communicate with their silent alarm through code words and phrases, such as “I already walked the dog” means “I’m here and I’m safe.” The use of codes with your silent alarm keeps the communication discrete from your partner, if you feel discretion is needed. Texting allows us the privacy and quick communication that is needed when following up with your silent alarm. Agree ahead of time with your partner what the communication will look like, whether it’s a text message, or phone call, as well as what language will be used. Discuss with your silent alarm in detail the meaning of each message, and decide on the method of the message. Most importantly, it should be identified and understood between you and your silent alarm exactly when to call 911 for help. For example, if your silent alarm didn’t hear from you within the hour you were supposed to arrive to the home of your new partner, does your silent alarm call for help? Make sure the agreement between you and your silent alarm is clear. Don’t forget you also need to agree on deactivation, and identify when to let your silent alarm know he/she is “off duty” for they day. Deactivation could mean you contact your silent alarm when you are leaving your partner and are headed home, and then contacting your silent alarm again to confirm that you are home and safe. Most importantly, keep your silent alarm aware of your location if your plans do change. Having this agreement with your silent alarm “should” ensure that you will most definitely follow through and let your silent alarm know you have arrived to the agreed destination and you are safe, because you know of the consequences if you don’t.

The use of a silent alarm creates a sense of shared accountability. Meaning, both you and your partner have to keep track of the time on the date, you have to make sure one or both of you have a working phone that is on nearby, and even making sure you’re not too drunk in order to contact your silent alarm. The majority of the effectiveness of a silent alarm comes from letting the other person know early on that it is in place.

A silent alarm is something that should be discussed upfront and early in your negotiations with your partner. Your partner (new or longterm) should be aware that you always have a silent alarm in place. The very fact that your partner knows someone is expecting you lets him/her know that if anything should happen to you, he/she will be caught and held accountable.Your partner should also be encouraged to have his/her own silent alarm in place. A silent alarm can help build trust for those involved. A silent alarm is a non-negotiable, and should never be challenged by your partner. If you find yourself being continuously questioned by your partner, take this as a major red flag. Why wouldn’t they want you to feel more comfortable by having a safety net? Why wouldn’t they want someone knowing where you are? SM play is about more than just whips, biting, and subordination. Yes, there is always a subordinate and a dominant one, but there is also always consent, communication, respect, and safety.