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    Sex is whatever floats your boat.  Sex is Burger King – have it your way!  As with favorite flavors of ice cream, there is no wrong option.  However, there are a few important guidelines which can help dictate what is and isn’t okay during sex.

    This blog is going to be about an extremely important acronym in the kink world called SSC, which I think has applications to sex involving kink/BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism) and vanilla (referring to sex without kink).  SSC stands for Safe, Sane, and Consensual.  There is another acronym called RACK, or Risk-Aware Consensual Kink, which is another version of SSC that has a similar meaning and is favored by some of the kink community more than SSC for a variety of reasons.  For the purpose of this particular blog, though, I am going to define and discuss SSC.

    So what does SSC really mean?


    Safe: You’ve considered the risks of the sexual act, be it penetration, oral sex, or involving pain, pleasure, food, leather…the list goes on and on.  Whatever it is in particular that gets you going, you’ve researched it, educated yourself on the risks (not just physical but also mental, emotional, and psychological) and how to properly engage in the act.  You’ve also completed appropriate preparation (i.e., having safety scissors on hand if you’re playing with rope, keeping a first aid kit handy) and discussed aftercare.  Aftercare can be defined as the needs of you and your partner/s post-sex, such as needing a snack, water, physical touch or space, needing to watch a movie, cuddle, listen to music, etc.


    There is also an established level of trust between you and your partner/s.  If necessary, safe words have been set so that any individual can safely tap out if the activities become triggering or too intense.  Many people opt to use a color system, in which green is go, yellow is “slow down I need a minute”, and red is full stop; others may choose a word which is not likely to come up during sexual play (i.e., rutabaga).


    Sane: Expectations have been discussed and set.  The sexual acts are realistic and attainable, and all members are in a state of reality rather than fantasy when all things are agreed upon.  All participants are of age, sober, and present.


    Consensual: All of these are important, but pay special attention because this one is VERY, VERY IMPORTANT.  Consent is not about not saying “no”, it is about making sure you hear and say “yes”.  Why?  If you think about the trauma reaction, it is based in fight, flight, freeze, or fawn (catering to the attacker as a means to escape).  With freezing in particular, an individual may have a difficult time saying “no”, so it is important to make sure that participating individuals have the ability to say “yes”.  Hence, Sebastian from The Little Mermaid got it slightly wrong when he tells us that there is only “one way to ask her…go on and kiss the girl”.  Better to get enthusiastic consent I would say.


    A note about nonconsensual sex – in cases of sexual assault, there are professionals from the National Sexual Assault Hotline who can help support you, answer legal questions, and provide resources by phone (800.656.4673) and online chat (; Spanish-speaking options available).  No one deserves to be sexually assaulted, and it is a hard thing to reach out sometimes, but I want to assure you that there is help and support available if you need it – it’s just a phone call or text away.




    So there you have it, your guide to Safe, Sane, and Consensual sex.  By the way (more information than you ever needed to know) – the origin of SSC if you were wondering was that it was a slogan used at Washington marches in the late 1980s by various kink and Lesbian and Gay rights groups.


    As always, for questions and more information on SSC or RACK, drop me an email.  Have a Mindful Day, and be well!

    Kristyn Macala, MSEd, LPCC, CCTP, CSOTP

    The Trauma Therapy Company
    (P) 330.397.9878

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