What we have here is a semi safeword.
I think safewords can be a valuable tool for play for many people, especially if they like to do any CNC or rape play where the submissive is allowed to say "No, don't, stop!" and not mean it. The safeword gives them a way to clearly say they need to stop.
However, for all the people who don't use safewords, it can be equally good to simply use "Stop" or explain the problem and expect their partner to stop.
Because it can't be said enough:
A safeword will not make you safe. Having a trustworthy partner will go a lot farther to that end than any "magic" word.
Also, having a safeword is not enough.
There are times when I have gone non verbal during play, and this actually happens to a lot of people. We become unable to use a safeword, or explain any problem we are having, so it is important that Tops and Doms (and subs for that matter) realize this can happen and do check ins with a new partner if in doubt about their situation, and keep a close eye out on any partner they play with, new or not.
The reason we have a semi safeword is that to most people, a safeword gives them the absolute right to end the play right there. I don't have that right with my Master, so mine would be more like a quick warning to him that something is going very wrong with me.
He would definitely check in with me at that point and then decide where we go from there. There have been times he has completely taken it away for a session (as a bit of mindfuckery, since I don't actually use it anyway) or he's changed it to something impossible like antidisestablishmentarianism.
We use the traffic light system, and there have been times especially while playing in public that he's asked me "What's your color?" If I can't say green, or I say I'm not sure, he knows where my head is at (muddled).
If I play with someone else, then my safeword means stop absolutely right now to do a check in. My Master gives me that right because he wants me to be safe and have a non-traumatic time with others. It might be OK to continue after the check in, depending what the problem is. I have used "red" exactly one time now with someone other than my Master. I have used "yellow" a few times in play with other people.
Using a safeword is a big deal to me. No matter how many times I hear people say that using a safeword is not a failure of any sort, deep down inside I partially feel that I have failed if I have to use it. I feel I have failed to "just take it." I have tried to talk myself out of this feeling, because intellectually I know it is not the best way to feel, it is not productive or helpful, but sometimes feelings will not be reasonable. The time I used it, it was my best alternative in the moment, so that is a success, right?
Read more about the Kink of the Week here: