Link to original: http://atlantavampirealliance.com/educational/abuseawareness.html
A message to visitors, newcomers and all those on their paths of discovery
The real vampire community is an open and accepting culture, which should be a safe space to engage in introspection and the open exchange of ideas. Whether you have a solid self-understanding as a vampire or non-vampire, or whether you've come to the community in pursuit of such an understanding, the community is a place which is often engaged in dialogue about self and identity. Likewise, it often attracts individuals who are seeking tools with which to build and grow that sense of self.
Any space used for self-exploration and introspection will attract predators -- those whose primary interest is taking advantage of others’ uncertainty and desire for answers. Just as the vampire community acknowledges its participants search for self-understanding and their right to discover their own personal truths, we also acknowledge the potential for predators to abuse members of our community. We must resolve to openly combat such manipulation by being extremely clear about the types of behaviors which are absolutely unacceptable to members of the vampire community.
The vampire community will not be silent about those who go out of their way to appear older and wiser with the intent of garnering favors in exchange for their knowledge of vampirism, and who lurk at the edges of the community in hopes of attracting potential victims of any age or background for physical, sexual, mental, or emotional abuse. If members of the vampire community encounter abuse they should not be afraid to report such to law enforcement and remove themselves immediately from the abusive situation.
Whether you are vampire, otherkin, therian, energy-worker, or just interested in the community, you are considered a member of the vampire community for the time that you decide to participate, and deserving of the same safe space as any other participant. Unfortunately, there's no border to the vampire community, no authority, and no one to evaluate its participants and remove potentially harmful individuals. Therefore, we want you to be aware:
Do not give away details of your personal or offline life
This used to be a basic safety rule of the internet, back when people remembered that a loss of privacy was dangerous. If you're participating in the community, pick a pseudonym (screen name/nightside name/etc.), don't give out links to your real-life social networking, where you work or attend school, your physical address, phone number, or non-community e-mail addresses. Actively work to minimize the amount of information potential stalkers can locate and don’t assume any conversation you have online is ever completely private.
Do not travel to meet people from the Internet indiscriminately
Unless it's a gathering like a convention, open house from a reputable organization, established meetup, or at a public venue, this is taking an unnecessary and potentially dangerous risk. Do not meet a fascinating vampire personality through a forum or social network and then get on a bus, train, or plane to go find him. We've seen people encourage impressionable seekers to leave their homes and families to start a new life with the “elder” vampire. This turns out poorly when the “elder” is revealed to be a socially manipulative and emotionally harmful individual; or worse. Legitimate community members don't want you to abandon your life and move in with them. They want you to live your life for yourself and no one else.
Authoritarian social structures create abuse
This is true of any human social activity. All authoritarian structures breed abuse: physical, emotional, and sexual. You need only to look to religion, political history, the structure and abuses of churches, military dictatorships, authoritarian governments, or any other social context in which leaders have authority and followers must obey. Predators lurking among the outskirts of the vampire community might try to lure the new and uncertain into such an authoritarian context, trying to convince their audience that they know more, are wiser, have secrets they can share, or that they are established leaders and it's appropriate for you to follow them. Like every other authority-centered social construct in human history, the attempt to gain power over others will result in the abuse of that power. Remember that real vampires don't want authority over you, and don't want you to join a social context in which such abuse occurs. Vampires value independence and self-definition and encourage seekers to make their own decisions.
Joining hierarchies or groups is not necessary or common, and joining groups in which one member holds all the power and prevents others in the group from making their own decisions, leaving the group, or declining to obey the leader is completely antithetical to the nature of the vampire community. Authoritarian groups aren't healthy or safe for their members, and the vampire community encourages the use of the Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame (ABCDEF) to evaluate any groups you might be thinking of joining.
Real vampires do not have all the answers
Some of us who've been around longer have simply learned to ask better questions and hone our skills of observation. Chronological age or years spent participating in the community does not necessarily denote greater knowledge or wisdom. Beware of anyone who tells you he or she knows all the secrets of being a vampire, especially if they want something in exchange for their knowledge. We've seen people posing as “elders”, “leaders”, or other authorities, asking for sexual favors, monetary compensation, indentured servitude, or other benefits in exchange for sharing their “wisdom”.
Real vampires prefer you find your own truth than dictate it to you
If you meet someone who insists they have the answers and want you to follow them because of it, you've met an aspiring cult leader, not a vampire. Real vampires want you to think for yourself, and we know better than most that one person's truth might not be right for another. Anyone who asks you to subscribe to their belief system without evaluation is a manipulator, not a community member.
You don't have to join a House or Group to be a vampire
We all have better things to do with our lives than collect followers. If a group of friends choose to arrange themselves in a House, et. al., that is perfectly acceptable, but you should be aware that this is an uncommon experience within the vampire community. It's not necessary to join a House, and legitimate Houses are never dictator-styled authoritarian or controlling structures. Don't feel like you must participate in any group whatsoever in order to talk with, learn from, or be a member of the vampire community. Keep in mind that over 75% of community members are solitary and unaffiliated with any House, et. al.
First and foremost, your search is about you
Don't let your journey of self-discovery become about anyone else, no matter how fascinating a character they might present. You won't learn more about being a vampire if you let someone else dictate your experience or tell you what it should mean. When you meet a charismatic personality on a forum who tells you that you're their long-lost reincarnated true love, or that they dreamed about you and you're destined to be in their coven, trust us, it's just a line. Your independence is your greatest asset - the mental freedom to decide who you are. Do not let anyone else hijack it from you.
By Zero & Merticus; Atlanta Vampire Alliance [AVA] & Suscitatio Enterprises, LLC
April 11, 2011 - This article may be redistributed, translated, or adopted by other organizations provided there are no content modifications and full citation is included.