Q: A friend is into some pretty kinky stuff but when I expressed concern about possible injuries, she said that her Dominant always gives her after care. I had a look online and it (aftercare) seems like a very complicated process. Shouldn’t my friend just go to a doctor if she’s hurt?
It’s true that aftercare can be an intricate process. After the negotiation and actual play, aftercare is the final vital step to completing a successful bdsm scene. Although aftercare is important for Tops and bottoms, to keep relevant to your question, I’ll focus on aftercare for submissives.
Firstly it’s vital that aftercare should never be an afterthought and should have a place in any initial negotiations. Although many subs love some intimate, attentive aftercare, there are also those that prefer to process the play on their own and will need very little attention after the scene. It’s important to find out prior to playing what these preferences may be. There are, however, two main things to consider in the application of aftercare – the physical and the emotional.
In an ideal scene, physical aftercare will begin as the scene winds down; any restraints and/or accessories are removed, and the submissive robed (or snuggled in a blankey!) and moved to a more relaxing position. Some play can result in obvious injuries like skin abrasions, swelling, or bruising, and these are usually the first areas to receive care. These wounds are generally planned, and the initial negotiation process should aim to provide both medical care eg. cleaning, disinfecting, and/or dressing lacerations, and comfort eg. applying cool packs and/or soothing gels and creams to reduce any lingering, unwanted pain. But bruises and lash-marks aside, kink can be a work-out! A caring Top will ensure drinks and snacks are on offer to help their submissive rehydrate and refuel when they’re ready, or offer some gentle encouragement if they’re not. Physical aftercare can also have an element of affection; close hugs, low-key massage, gentle and reassuring touch – all of which helps the submissive recalibrate their sensitivities, and aids in emotional support.
The aim of emotional aftercare is to ensure the submissive leaves the scene in a clear and positive headspace, ideally feeling empowered and proud of themselves and their part in the scene. Like the physical aspect, emotional aftercare begins as the scene winds down; the Top will use a gentler tone and words of praise and affection come to the fore as more soothing physical contact builds. Sometimes the submissive will have items for emotional comfort (stuffed toys, a favourite robe) and their Top should ensure those things are available. Once the submissive is settled, their body and brain resuming some sort of normal, they can have a more thoughtful scene debrief with their Top. The amount of emotional aftercare required will depend on the play and the players. Emotional reactions – positive and negative – generally parallel the depth of the play: the lighter the play, the lighter the reactions; the heavier the play, the potential for bigger emotions. Some people will be satisfied with a couple of cuddles and words of praise, others may require a longer debrief with check-ins over a few days.
Although the focus here has been on bdsm, aftercare can be equally important in other situations such as a gang bang or even for newbies at a swingers club. It's a time to debrief with your partner/playmates to ensure they are ok.
This is a relatively simplified look at aftercare, covering some of the considerations your friend and her Top would likely have in mind. I hope the fact that your friend is engaged in receiving aftercare brings you some comfort. If your friend has any long-term pain – physical or emotional – she should see a professional; trust her to do that. The best thing you can do for your friend is love and support her. Educating yourself (as you are) is a wonderful way to do that.