(This post first appeared on The Playroom blog.)

I’m going to post a series of quickie articles inspired by questions I get so frequently (or see others ask elsewhere) that they’re practically turning into BDSM tropes. Unfortunately, the fact that they’re so often used in BDSM fiction doesn’t help shine light on the reality.

Today’s topic: Free-ranging submissives

What do I mean by that?

Stop me if you’ve heard/seen this in a book before. A female submissive somehow accidentally (or on purpose) stumbles into a private BDSM club. Because there’s no collar on her neck, some big, bad Dom (good guy or villain) grabs her and starts playing with her, even if she’s said no.

For starters, that’s assault, not consensual BDSM play.

Secondly, the private clubs I’ve been to, or have been a member of, require membership, and usually have an outer lobby or office area you must pass through to check in. To join, it’s commonly required you either have to be sponsored by someone who is already a member in good standing of the club, or you have to attend either an orientation class during non-play hours, or attend a sponsored munch or other event so they can get to know the prospective member.

Thirdly, the private clubs I’ve been to have dungeon monitors (DMs) on staff to watch play, and if a safeword is called out, they WILL step in and stop play. If they don’t, someone else will. If players are doing a heavy or consensual non-consent (CNC) scene, they will notify the DMs in advance so that their play is not interrupted, but the submissive will still have a safeword, usually. It’s common for the “dungeon” safeword to be RED, and if it’s called out and play isn’t stopped, people will step in to find out what’s going on.

I’ve been to fetish nights held at a bar, where the public is allowed in (provided they pay a cover charge). But these events usually include extra security, DMs, or bouncers who will also step in if someone yells something appearing to be a safeword. Ditto BDSM and fetish events held in other locations, like hotels.

You can also ask staff at the event/facility if they could introduce you to someone willing to mentor you, or at least talk to you for the night, or who could help answer your questions. All you have to do is ask.

I know a lot of submissives who go to events and don’t wear collars. Yes, it’s common for someone to come up and talk to a person, but dragging them off to play? No. All you have to do if you’re asked to play is say, “Sorry, no thanks.” If the person keeps bugging you, tell them to leave you alone. If that doesn’t work, find a DM/staffer and tell them what’s up, and I can pretty much guarantee you the person will be escorted out.

If you’re at a private play party at a home, keep in mind that someone taking the risk to host a play party is not going to risk getting sued or arrested later. So if someone screams a safeword, someone WILL step in, if nothing else to ascertain what the frak is going on. The private play parties I go to, everyone at the very least knows each other, and if something happens, more than one person will step in.

So feel free to check out a local dungeon or fetish event. You’re not going to get dragged into a play scene you don’t want to be in, and you won’t be sold or auctioned off or whatever. Remember that fiction is FICTION, and frequently bears little to no resemblance to real life. Not to mention many authors of BDSM fiction are actually vanilla writers who’ve done little to no real-life research.

Feel free to chime in with your comments, or ask any questions you’d like to see answered in future posts.

You can also check out the Lifestyle 101 classes at the Tampa Bay Phoenix Club.

(Tymber Dalton is an author, as well as the web wench and social media sadist for the Tampa Bay Phoenix Club.)