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Beau’s collar consists of a leather handle, a metal chain, a metal buckle, a thick leather neck strap and a little padlock. That’s all it is. But to Beau and I, the collar is more than the sum of its parts. A lot more.

A collar is a lot of things to a lot of different people. For some, the collar is a sex toy that’s left in the drawer and pulled out on the odd Friday night, after a couple of bottles of wine when both couples want to explore their kinkier sides. For those in Absolute D/s relationships, and for those who describe themselves as “collared subs”, the collar is a symbol of servitude.

I can’t speak for any other D/s couple. All I can do is talk about the significance the collar has for Beau and I – in fact, I can only speak for myself, and what I observe in Beau’s behaviour.

It was very, very early in our relationship when Beau first expressed a desire for a collar – it may even have been the very first night we were together. I showed her some examples that I could get hold of easily and cheaply; luxurious collars with padded necks and dainty leads. Beau was unimpressed.

“Why do they make them padded?” she asked. “I don’t want it to be comfortable.”

And with this simple question uttered so innocently, I knew Beau was a little different. This kind of sex was still relatively new to her, but it was obvious that she could handle being thrown into the deep end without the kind of foreplay and pacing that a new submissive usually requires. It was also obvious that our minds worked in parallel; I had been trying to introduce her slowly to bondage equipment via soft, fluffy, harmless routes even though I wanted to brutalise her as early as possible. In the event, it was Beau’s own deviousness that meant we skipped the soft, fluffy, harmless phase all together.

I bought the collar she selected online and couldn’t wait for it to arrive. When it did, I opened it up and put it on. It was uncomfortable, tight, degrading and humiliating. It was perfect and I couldn’t wait to close it around Beau’s tiny neck. I took a photo of it and emailed it to her to build her anticipation.

When she arrived that weekend and walked through the door, I was stood in the hallway holding the collar in my hand. We exchanged platitudes, I think I kissed her to soothe her, and then with shaking hands, I slid the collar around her perfect neck, and closed it with the padlock.

My hands were shaking with lust, adrenaline and a little nervousness. I couldn’t place my finger on why I was nervous and still can’t, but it totally added to the intensity of the experience.

As soon as the padlock locked into place, Beau slipped away. She held the chain meekly in front of her and caressed it, tracing her fingers around the neckline of the collar, staring blankly at the floor, trembling a little. She instantly looked like a different person; no longer the confident, lively and assertive young woman that you might meet in a bar. Instead, she looked vulnerable, malleable and controllable. The transformation was immediate and complete, and it made my cock leap just to look at her.

Throughout the night, she held onto the collar like a lifeline, like it was the only thing tangible in her world. When I wasn’t keeping her hands busy pleasuring me, she held the chain with her left hand and tucked a finger or two under the collar, holding it like a security blanket. After I had finished with her that night, she slumped to the floor filthy and used, and simply lay there on her back, hugging the collar. She has told me since that she often sleeps with it in her bed.

It’s been the same way ever since that first night I put it on her. Now, the moment that she walks through my door the collar is clamped round her neck and she submits immediately. She’ll wear it for hours on end without complaint, even when I can see that it’s rubbing her skin raw. I hold the chain while I fuck her mouth, or move her onto all fours and fuck her from behind and pull the chain hard, choking her with it. I wrap the chain around my erection when she sucks it.

But why? Why should such a simple thing have so much significance for us? Why does my pulse quicken when I see it? Why does Beau shrink at the sight of it? What does the collar mean in a dominant-submissive relationship like ours?

The answer is complex.

For me, it symbolises power, control, degradation. When I slip it round Beau’s throat, it helps me dehumanise her. When she’s wearing it and I’m holding the chain I don’t pity her as much as I would if she wasn’t wearing it. This is incredibly useful for me as a dominant man; it enables me to be less emotional with her. When she’s not wearing it, I find it harder to inflict pain on her without wanting to hug her and kiss her better after each paddle stroke. When she is wearing it, she becomes not a human, or a woman, or a girlfriend, or a casual sex partner, or an equal, but a possession. A fucktoy.

This I’m sure all sounds terribly inhumane if you’re unfamiliar with the topic, but such is the nature of our relationship and I suspect, since you’re reading this, you’re at the very least interested in exploring such a relationship yourself. You may already be.

For Beau, the collar is even more complex and confusing. She hugs it and loves it, despite it being the single most powerful symbol of her submission to me. She should hate it, dread it even, but she doesn’t. She’s eager to wear it, and by extension she’s eager to submit to me. She holds the chain between her teeth while I punish her; I push the handle into her pussy and make her suck it clean. It must be a total mindfuck to be so attached to something so demeaning – like when I made her pleasure herself with the spanking paddle after I’d beaten her with it. I enjoy watching her conflict with it; how moments before I had used the collar to choke her and then as she drifts into subspace she toys with it like a lover.

The collar is control. The collar is her submission made physical. I’ve since realised something very important about it; when she first asked me to buy her the collar, she wasn’t asking for the collar itself. She was asking if she could submit to me. And that first time I wrapped it round her throat, I was saying ‘yes’.