My impression is that a feeling of safety is a necessity to make submissives (and dominants) want to play, but when this feeling of relaxation and safety is developed, it persists through humiliation, pain, tears and even fear. If consent is not violated, of course.
To feel safe is paramount for both submissives and dominants before, during and after play, but it is also my impression that what makes a submissive feel safe is not necessarily what makes a dominant feel safe. And of course, there will always be differences between people, even if they use the same label.
Feeling safe when bound tight with ropes does not make much sense for me, but I know of several who feel safe that way.
Feeling safe with a hand or two around my throat does not make much sense either.
To give up all my power to someone else, even someone I trust, is not safety, for me.
I have other safety triggers, so to speak.
Lying in bed with my girlfriend with a leg over her legs, my face snuggled against her neck and a hand at her throat makes me feel loved and safe, because she trusts me and feels safe that way. Being the big spoon with my arms around her is also a good place to be.
It makes me feel safe when she tells me that something is wrong during or after play. She takes responsibility and help me take care of her, and of us. She does not want to hurt me by letting me hurt her.
To have one hand in her hair or a hand around her jaw, or even better both, makes me feel both powerful, relaxed and safe.
It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when she kneels by my feet and put her head in my lap. Or when she sits in front of my chair so I can lean forward and embrace her, and maybe give her some cuddly pain.
To have one or both hands around her throat does not only feel good to me, it feels safe. She has given herself up to me, and I find a sense of well-being in that.
Sometimes putting my collar on her makes me feels safe. In a particularly stressful situation some months back I got up, found her collar and put it on her, so I would have control over a part of my life – her. It made me feel better.
All this is not to say that I never feel safe when I am the little spoon or when I have my head in her lap – I do, no doubt about it. However, I think these examples are good illustrations as to how dominants and submissive have different ways to feel safe, as well as similarities.
This is just my perspective, of course.