Having been in the lifestyle for almost two years now, one of the things that I have noticed is that I am facing a lot of issues due to abuse from my past. Not from any Dominant in the lifestyle, just from others in my past. I've learned enough that if you have similar past experiences, I'd like to share some of it with you.
When it comes to this lifestyle there is one important factor that keeps coming up which is to be open and honest with your Dominant. To some, this is a very frightening thing to ask because there may be things that you have not worked through yet. I have come to learn that these things are things that can hinder you emotionally and sexually. One of the duties of a Dominant is to help you through those issues in order to help you grow.
One of the main issues is trust. People who are emotionally, physically, and sexually abused find that the ability to trust someone is very rare. Don't get this confused with the ability to show respect. If you are a service submissive, it is okay to show respect to all Dominants as is appropriate and allowed. That doesn't mean you are required to trust them. For example: in large crowds, I will huddle close to either my Husband or my Master depending upon who is my escort for the event as they both understand my needs in this situation. It is important to find someone who is aware of your needs and capable of taking care of you.
How do you take that first step out of your box? The answer is very carefully. First is to not rush things, be patient. This can be very hard to do when you discover this new world and want to try new things, but there are a lot of predators out there, it is important to not latch on to the first person you come across. I have made many mistakes, like jumping in without finding out what is in that murky water. Be careful of being over confident in your ability to handle yourself. It is easy to end up in the same situation in which you were abused before, and it can put the locks on your mental doors in the process. You can easily become jaded unnecessarily. Take time to get to know people. If they are worth keeping around, they will stick around and will also make the effort to get to know you.
When it comes to taking that step in wanting to get involved in scenes, again, talk to people. Get references about those in which you are interested in having a scene with. Set up a public scene at a local dungeon. Do not do private scenes. Do not invite someone to come to your home, especially if you live alone, or even if you don't but know you will not have anyone there at the time. These are all safety precautions that should be first and foremost in your mind. I know from experience that being anxious and excited sometimes overrules common sense.
Know your limits and be honest with yourself and those you choose to share this lifestyle with. For example, I have a very hard time with humiliation. I can't handle someone calling me a dirty whore, slut, etc. I go into fight mode or completely shut down, even though I do like being that naughty little girl. This is an example of something you need to face and explain to your Dominant, even if it has been agreed upon that you are to be broken down and reprogrammed. I have seen and read about this in many Master and slave relationships, the point should not be to damage you in the process. If that is the path your Dominant chooses to go down, you should re-evaluate your relationship as that is abuse.
Be very open and honest with your Dominant. He or she is not a mind reader and no matter what he or she says, your Dominant will not know your needs, or your limits unless you give him or her that information. This includes your past, which I know, again from experience, can be very frightening. But if you are going to go out on a limb and consider someone who would be allowed any physical, sexual, and emotional control over you, you owe them the tools to do the job. Suggestions I give in my Submission in Motion's group: Write out what you feel are your needs. (I say feel because these will change over time as your grow.) Keep a journal. (This can be either online or buy a journal, or even use a notebook.) Chat with other submissives. (Peer support is great and will offer you many ideas to think about.) and/or go to local munches. (I went to Fetlife.com found the munch in our area and started going. You should too.)
Keep your heart and mind open enough to have new experiences, but close enough to be safe.