I’ve spanked my fair share of people, and while it’s not a universal thing, most of them will yell “fuck!” at some point, usually after I’ve hit them very hard.
And I always have to remind them that “fuck” isn’t a safeword.
This does give them a short break while I let them decide if they want to yellow out or not, and sometimes that’s all it takes for them to keep going.
So, really, “fuck” kind of is a safeword for me. Or any other sort of really loud, unexpected shout. Why? Because, while I’m definitely a sadist, I also try my best not to be an asshole. If I think someone needs a break, I’ll give them a break. Even if they don’t want one. Which, in some ways, is almost as bad as not giving them a break in the first place.
I definitely encourage my partners to use their safewords. Sometimes, during a scene, while I’m hitting them especially hard, I’ll actually tell them to do it if they need it, to say “yellow” if they have to, to remind them that they are safe and protected even though what I’m doing is making them howl in agony. Some people just don’t want to use safewords, so they push through things they really shouldn’t, and in those cases it’s my job to stop when they’ve had enough. Not when I’ve had enough, but when they have.
That knowledge only comes with experience. Even with people I haven’t played with before, I can usually tell when they need a break by the way their body reacts. It’s not 100% accurate — I have a play partner who is stoic and silent except for little ouches when we play — but I’d say I’m about 90% on target with when I have to stop. That’s still an “A” grade, right?
So just remember: “fuck” may not be a safeword… but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat it as one, at least somewhat, if you need to.