In this entry of my hard limits blog series, I decided to talk about one of the major things that has plagued my entire sexual history. Choking. It doesn’t matter whether it’s just light pressure from a hand being placed on my neck or hands more forcefully pressed against my throat, everything neck related (aside from kissing and the occasional collar wearing) is off-limits for me. I’ll pretty much give anything a go once or twice (within reason) but both times I’ve tried choking have resulted in a PTSD flashback. I’ve had to go into a dark room with my favourite blanket and a scented candle to feel okay again.
If I take you back to the limits post that I wrote about rape play, you’ll know that I was assaulted at a young age. This is relevant because the guy that was responsible for that event put his forearm against my throat during the assault. It was forceful and it hurt. I didn’t really understand it at the time. I thought he was trying to kill me. I now understand that this was an attempt to keep me quiet but because of this, I can’t associate any level of choking or breath play with anything but traumatic memories and physical pain. It’s not a sexy type of domination for me. I don’t know if my feelings and boundaries on this topic will change following a revisit to trauma treatment, but I am not expecting it to be an activity that’s part of my sex life anytime soon. It is a defined in stone hard limit for me and I don’t think I’d mind if this box stayed locked forever.
I think it looks hot in porn, and I can see how that level of trust and vulnerability can be sexy to some, but it’s not something I could do. I thought that coming back to it in adulthood with a trusted sexual partner could change the way I feel about it, or at least make me less scared of it, but evidently that’s something I’m not able to explore. I have taken a few steps in recovery such as allowing someone touch me there and penetration was an issue for a while, but acting out anything similar to what happened during that assault send me into a trauma infused panic attack. I can’t do certain sex positions with my partner now as they are variations of what that person put me through and it’s a painful (mentally and physically) encounter.
Outside of that part of my past, there’s another reason that plays on my mind when I think about choking. My health. This can be a very risky, dangerous play and using the wrong amount of pressure or missing a safe signal can be deadly. For that reason, I think that being in a well-rested, sober mind-set with good lung health is vital before engaging. I personally do not have great lung health. I am a lifelong asthmatic who had pneumonia in my childhood that required surgery on my left lung. I still have it, unlike my grandfather who had to have his removed, but it’s never been quite the same. I end up in a panic state if I can’t take a deep inhale/exhale every five seconds or so. I wouldn’t be able to feel safe, comfortable and sane during a choking scene as a result.
If you are going to engage in this sort of play, I’d recommend only doing so with someone you truly trust. Someone you’ve been intimate with before. Someone who understands what “no”, “stop” or a safe word/signal means. Get those safety measures in place beforehand. Both be clear on the signal and make sure to follow through and use it if needed. Be aware of your surroundings if the choking isn’t taking place on a bed and remove any possible hazards from the area such as long cables or dressing gown ties that could get caught around the throat. Don’t pull the neck upwards, apply pressure on the receivers windpipe or use your grip to move a partner around. Use their lower body to manoeuvre them into a more comfortable, accessible position or stop and let them adjust themselves.