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A Halloween Lesson


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Recently, I recalled an article that I read a long time ago.  I believe it was in the early nineties, long enough ago that I can’t remember most of the details and before I started to seriously look into kink (I was kink curious, just not curious enough to look into it).  I know that the article didn’t analyze it from a kink perspective, so I am left to speculate a lot in my analysis.

For Halloween someone decided to scare trick-or-treaters by pretending to hang themselves.  They rigged a harness to support their weight and with the help of some friends set it up on their front porch.  Unfortunately, they didn’t rig the harness properly so his weight gradually started to settle until the noose actually tightened around his throat and he ended up really hanging himself. 

Remembering this, I got to thinking about what mistakes they may have made that kinksters can learn from.  Again, between the article not being written from a kink perspective and my having to rely on thirty year old memories, I am speculating a little on what really happened, but here are my thoughts on this.

Either they didn’t research the harness thoroughly or didn’t test it properly.  Research is advice that is given to new practitioners of kink often.  Professional safety harnesses are not designed to be hidden; what they were using for their prank probably was meant to be hidden, so I’m assuming it was more of a home design.  In the early nineties, the internet was still in its infancy so trying to find information on faking a hanging wasn’t as easy.  Testing is advice that I don’t see as often.  Trick-or-treat lasts three or four hours in most neighbourhoods, so they should have done a dry run to see if the harness starts to get uncomfortable after a while.  The same goes for kink bondage practices.  Tie just one hand to see how long it stays comfortable before tying both hands.  See how quickly knots can be untied in non-emergency situations before you really need a quick release.  If a rope needs to support somebody’s weight then test several times before committing to that tie for a long period of time.

They used an actual noose designed to function as a noose.  Had they used duct tape to hold it to the porch ceiling instead of threading it through a ring or rafter then it would have likely pulled free under his weight.  It could still have potentially killed him but would have been less likely to.  There are two lessons that can be learned here.  First, they put aesthetics over safety.  They wanted it to look real so they set it up so that it could function as a real noose instead of using some sort of mock noose that would have been safer.  Second, any time you are working with the neck you’ve got to be careful.  A collar can be too tight.  A leash can be jerked too hard.  The bound person can lose their balance and fall.  We tend to think only of accidental strangulation and work to protect the throat but forget that the neck can be delicate.  Even if there is no risk of strangulation long term damage can still be done.

Of course, we can’t have a discussion on kink safety without discussing communication.  Honest communication being very important.  It is possible that the phrase, “It feels fine,” was used when they were setting up their prank.  They wanted it to look real so it should have felt a little tight, right? He could put up with a little discomfort for a good prank, right? Wrong.  People need to speak up when they start to feel uncomfortable.  This doesn’t necessarily mean a complete stop.  There are times I’ve said, “My fingers are starting to tingle, but I can go another five minutes.”   But they were dealing with the neck and throat, so if he started to feel uncomfortable they needed to take it more seriously right away and he needed to speak up immediately.  Again, safety before realism.

Leading off from that, the article left it unclear if his friends left him alone or not.  They were waiting for trick-or-treaters, but did they stay out on the porch or wait inside for the doorbell to be rung?  It is possible that he did try to call for help but nobody was around to hear him.  Sometimes it is possible to safely leave a restrained person alone for short periods of time but the risk has to be assessed first.  In this Halloween prank situation the victim should have never been left alone.

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