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Safecall, In Practice

July 27, 2010

I write this just to note that in her My Sluthood, Myself, which is now up at Jezebel, Jaclyn describes setting up a safecall.

Jaclyn did it in two stages; first, before meeting her partner:

I left my roommate a note telling her what I’d done and where I was going and to call me at 11 and if I didn’t answer to call the police. (What they were going to do about the fact that her 30-something roommate had gone on a CE date and wasn’t home after two hours I mercifully didn’t wonder at the time.) And then I went down to the local bar and met him.

Then, after deciding to leave the public meeting place with him:

I found that I did. Though not before asking him for his address, calling my roommate with it in front of him,

I’ve written about safecalls before, and I’m a fan. In my last post on the topic, I quoted a guest post from Guy’s Guide To Feminism that described the nuts and bolts, like so:

safecall is an arrangement that you make to check in with a trustworthy person when you’re meeting with an acquaintance or someone new with whom you haven’t yet developed trust. Your trustworthy person should know where you’re going to be (specific addresses), who you’re going to be with (real names), and what time(s) you will be checking in. If you don’t check in, they’ll assume something has gone wrong and will contact the local authorities.

I also quoted the part about a silent alarm:

For example, you could agree beforehand that “can you please feed the cat” means “‘I’m seriously afraid for my safety” and that “yeah, I picked up your mail” means “all clear”.

Just to reiterate the practical elements:

(1) have a trusted person;
(2) establish a call time, and whether you’ll be making or taking the call;
(3) get, and give your trusted person, the information about where you’ll be and who you’ll be with — real name and address;
(4) decide if you’re using a silent alarm, and if so make sure the trusted person is very clear on the code word or phrase.
(5) decide if you’re telling the person you’re meeting that you have a safecall.

I tend to be in favor both of silent alarms, and of disclosing the safecall. The latter is a deterrent, the former makes it hard to defeat. If the person you’re meeting knows you have to make a call, you might be in a position to have to make the call in his or her presence. But if the silent alarm sound innocuous (“we’re just hanging out”, “can you feed the cat?”) help can be on the way.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Ministan permalink
    July 28, 2010 2:36 pm

    The safecall is a longstanding practice in the BDSM commnity. It’s advocated at pretty much every “new to BDSM” seminar I’ve ever attended. Yet no one seems to ever use it. I hear a lot of, “I broke all the rules… barely knew him, no safecall, he got me in a compromising position, but everything turned out alright… fortunately!”

    I’ve yet to hear any horror stories and hope I never will. I’ll still always advocate safecalls, however!

  2. July 30, 2010 2:33 pm

    I loved that part about the safecall when I first read Jacyln’s piece and I want to start applying it but… how? I’m not asking about the how-to of the call itself, more of planning it out before hand with friends. Have you talked about this aspect before, Thomas?

    I don’t have a roommate and I only have one friend who’d I’d be comfortable asking for help in this area. And I know it’s my own hangup but I also feel a little uncomfortable putting this responsibility just on one person, who has her own life and relationship. Is there a good way you’ve found to broach this with friends or do I just need to suck it up and ask point blank?

    Adding to my I’m-too-independent-for-my-own-good angst, There’s a chance I’ll be moving soon to an entirely new state…. are long distance safecalls a viable option?

    • July 30, 2010 2:43 pm

      A little additional back ground:
      I guess I find this so hard for me because I was the “I can take care of myself!” type of person in college and scoffed at friends’ suggestions that I should call when I got home from somewhere (which usually also happened to be in the middle of demands to not see some strange (to them) man in the first place).

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