A Primer For Examining Allegations Of Sexual Assault & Violent Threats; With Discussions On The Role Of Leadership While Navigating An Often Secretive & Duplicitous Environment
During the early part of 2020 the Vampire Community was engaged in contentious discussions centered around abuse and abusive leaders, victimization and supporting those who are victims, the roles and responsibilities of leaders, intimidation techniques including doxing and shaming memes, and what the community can do as a collective to better protect its participants from harm. We were presented with both broad and specific allegations taking the form of emails, screenshots, videoblogs, and extensive commentary on Facebook that left many of us mired in the problematic complexities involved with substantiating the veracity of the claims made; while often causing the victims to feel marginalized and othered from the communities they sought connection to for kinship and support. There are many longstanding and reputable organizations within our community, but none are without fault or impervious to manipulative personalities with ulterior motives that run contrary to the spirit of their original creation. We would like to take a moment to unpack and address these serious topics in hopes of bridging divides, educating participants, and firmly establishing that serial abusers, disingenuous individuals, or malicious disruptors will not be granted asylum in our community.
Vampire Community News (VCN) was established in 2008 for the express purpose of transparent communication with the community about all aspects affecting our involvement in the subculture from both internal and external forces. While we are far from perfect in the execution of this goal, we have strived to the best of our ability, and often against our own self interests, to maintain a laissez-faire approach with moderation of content. Communication that occurs in a vacuum or that strives to silence others gives rise to enabling subversive elements who thrive on sowing drama, despite claims to the contrary, and is often done from fear of losing power. For purposes of balance and civility we recognize that equal time must be given to attempt to repair the deep divisions, fractured friendships, and damaged relations among individuals and groups should we ever have any hope of claiming a moral high ground.
Personal responsibility and maturity are necessary to safely and successfully navigate the often murky waters of the Vampire Community. We are not able to firewall ourselves off from those who wish us harm and no leader or organization should attempt to police the actions of its participants. While abuses occur in the BDSM, Goth, Occult, Pagan, Spiritual and similar communities, there exists enough dissimilarities embedded into the foundational underpinnings of the Vampire Community and expectations from pop-culture that we are particularly susceptible and vulnerable. We appreciate and recognize the historical significance and sacred traditions of the diverse groups, families, and notable personalities that have made the community what it is today. Equally as important, these same groups, families, and personalities must be willing to evolve to best serve the needs of their followers; temporarily putting aside political, territorial, personal, and business interests when matters of safety are at hand.
To begin, abuse takes many different forms and wears many faces. Sometimes those being abused do not even realize that what is happening to them is abuse until it progresses or an outside influence causes them to reflect on their situation. Other times they must remove themselves from the situation in order to have a chance to look back and examine what has occurred to reach this realization. An abuser will often condition their victims into their worldview or desired reality over a period of time to lessen the perceived intensity of the change and what sacrifices they are being asked to make. Sometimes abuse is opportunistic and situational where individuals have been either intentionally coerced or find themselves by their own actions in compromising positions (ie. excessive alcohol consumption or highly sexualized situations) where consent is not able to be given or where consent is less definitive. It is often even harder for third parties to see or recognize abuse, particularly because so much of it happens behind closed doors or is quite subtle when perpetuated around others.
Subtle abuse often begins with actions like the victim being put down or called names on a regular basis, being told what they can or cannot do or pressured to make those decisions, who they may be friends with or who they may speak with, what interests they are allowed to pursue, what groups they may join or events they may attend, or what permissions they have been granted. The victim may find themselves withdrawing from outside circles and only being around those who also are under the influence of their abuser. They may find themselves feeling compelled to (or being directly told to) make excuses for their abuser’s bad behavior or to help deny that it is even happening. They may end up in the cycle of recognizing something bad was done to them, saying they are leaving, only then going back to their abuser despite of this because the abuser apologized and placated them with compliments. They may find that they start blaming themselves for the things that are happening to them, justifying them as that they are not good enough or do not deserve to be treated better. Eventually, they may feel trapped in the situation because they are afraid of what will happen (ie. stigma, loss of ‘family’ or access, violence, financial setbacks, impacts on work and educational options, etc.) if they try to break free and separate themselves from the abuser.
For third parties, recognizing abuse often involves seeing a pattern or a distinct but very compelling situation of circumstantial evidence. Witnessing the abuse in a completely direct manner is very rare. There may be signs of physical abuse, such as bruises, burns, cuts, etc., typically accompanied by implausible excuses like “I fell down the stairs” or “I dropped a cigarette on my arm”. Most signs of abuse are far less physically visible. The individual may have unusual and rapid mood changes, especially negative ones. They may be more withdrawn, depressed, or irritable; they may have drastic changes in appetite and gain or lose weight; they may start to show considerable lack of self-esteem or say they have to check about everything beforehand, including basic life functions, with their abuser. Some of these signs can also be the product of other things besides abuse, so talking directly with the person who may be being abused and safe people around them is a key factor in determining if what is happening is indeed abuse.
Abusive leaders are often very charismatic, with gregarious and larger than life personalities and may even conceal their true selves or personality defects to even the most seasoned of leaders. They are often driven to stand out and garner as much attention as they can, albeit it positive or negative. For abusive leaders, their goals are almost always ego and power-driven. They may use their position to ask favors of their subordinates, starting small and working their way up to things of a more serious nature. They often use their position to compel their subordinates or mentees to do the things out of wanting to please them, in hopes of being granted some status or recognition (public or private) in return. They often threaten and manipulate others to get what they want. When they do not get their way, they increase the severity of the threats and grow enraged. Eventually this may escalate to the level of threatening family and friends, and they may become, or threaten to become, physically violent. They attach themselves to the most vulnerable or useful to them in their areas of the community, with the goal of individuals believing and following them over their own intuition. They use and then discard individuals when they no longer need them or they no longer serve the narrative they wish to advance. They demand absolute loyalty and control, and often become angered or express strong disappointment if someone goes elsewhere to seek another viewpoint, assistance, or support. Finally, abusive leaders tend to threaten or attempt to scandalize anyone who does not go along with them, and especially anyone who speaks out against them. They will fashion and manipulate the situation to try to make it seem like they are the victim. Many individuals, including leaders, fall for these techniques because they are so charismatic, and it is easier to believe than recognizing that a leader could be capable of such toxic and demeaning behaviors.
Despite the Vampire Community being by and large an underground subculture; anyone who finds themselves in a bad situation or who is being abused has access to resources and avenues of support to escape this reality. If someone is simply in a group and figures out that bad things are occurring but nothing has happened to them yet, there are a plethora of other groups, online and offline, to join and find one that works for them. A key recommendation would be to find a group, speak with the leadership of the new group letting them know that you are planning on leaving the initial group and that there may be backlash, and then remove yourself from the group where the abusive behavior is transpiring. From there, the abused person has the right to make the choice about whether they wish to speak out publicly about what they went through or witnessed or if they simply wish to remain in the shadows. Alternatively, they may approach leaders and ask them to speak out on their behalf, in ways such as disseminating an anonymized notice to other leaders or even to work with supportive leaders to alert the rest of the Vampire Community.
If the abuse was more severe and there were illegal actions involved, the process can be much the same depending on the desires of the victim. Additionally, the victim can make great efforts to help ensure no one else gets harmed in the same manner by submitting official police reports and evidence of a crime. While they can do that by themselves, they do not have to do so. We have a number of law enforcement officers within the Vampire Community, as well as a sizable number of mandated reporters. Approaching any of them, or going to a leader who can help connect the victim to them, will provide a support network of people in the community who understand and will not judge the victim based on their being a part of the community, and who will help walk them through the legal process. The ideal way to stop an abuser and begin the process of healing and hopefully one day finding closure, is to see them punished by the courts and incarcerated for their crimes. If that does not happen, then ostracization from the community may be possible and be of some consolation. Even having a report filed against someone weighs heavily on the general opinion and trust level of an individual by the greater community. The more evidence that is brought to light, the more likely it is that they will lose followers, diminish their power-base, and may be systematically removed from our community.
When victims or witnesses of abuse do come forward, there must be a discussion about allegations versus substantiation. Allegations are the original claim or complaint against the person or group of improper behavior. For most of those participating in the Vampire Community, substantiation ranges from corroboration by having a witness who was present to having a police report filed to having a legal conviction in a court of law. In a legal context, substantiation typically means some sort of proof (ie. rape kit and exam showing that someone was raped, DNA was left behind, and that there was a match to the named abuser) to a very compelling corroboration that has not been able to be disproven or had serious doubt cast on the veracity of the claim or integrity of the claimant. There are serious potential legal issues that come with directly naming individuals, so often leaders and others in the community are unwilling to do so. However, warnings about the types of behaviors individuals are being accused of doing represent a strong way of bringing the issues to light while protecting the individual parties involved from legal repercussions.
Any discussions of abuse in the Vampire Community must also reflect on the topic of doxing (doxxing), especially since we are a community comprised of individuals who could face severe ‘dayside’ repercussions as a result. Many individuals seem to be confused about what is or is not doxing. Doxing is a legal term that means revealing “documents” about an individual. This can range from revealing the name of an individual who uses an alias or moniker, but more commonly refers to revealing whatever the individual performing the doxing does that may harm, shame, humiliate, endanger, or put the subject or their close relations at some risk. Doxing is a form of stalking or threatening and is illegal under many different federal and state laws, depending on the relevant facts, location, and the nature of the original intent. Even revealing a ‘name’ may or may not be considered ‘doxing’, depending on the level of anticipated anonymity or how the subject has historically comported themselves. For the most part, all ‘restricted personal information’ falls under the purview of doxing, including someone’s Social Security number, home address, personal phone number, or personal email. In all cases, if you outline the physical location of any individual with the express intent to harm, stalk, humiliate, endanger, or otherwise compromise the physical safety and security of any individual or their family, you have placed that person in a position of risk and you are in violation of stalking laws and other cyberstalking or harassment laws depending on jurisdiction.
Vampire Community events and groups that place emphasis on hierarchical structure, closed doctrine, symbolism, and sometimes overt sexuality, have existed for decades and represent one of the vibrant pillars and unique brands of our subculture. It is not necessary to avoid participation in these institutions but it is necessary to educate yourself about what may be involved and how to maintain autonomy over your own advocacy. Similarly, social media platforms, or as some have dubbed them ‘social engineering platforms’, present challenges to tracking and controlling the interactions of abusers and predators with their victims. While the psychological markers for identifying abusers remain relatively consistent over time, the methods by which they plow their craft is ever-changing with the advancement of technology and the platforms used to connect people. We are now faced with the unfortunate realities of trolling, fake news, false flags, sock puppets, disinformation campaigns, and factions within the community who have long been at odds with one another seeking to discredit or minimize the power of the other. While it is not always possible for us to discern if this is actively occurring, it is important that this does not detract us from the reality that abusive individuals exist in our midst and ensuring the victims can speak up without fear in our community.
There have existed organizations and leaders for more than two decades who have continuously maintained open lines of communication with one another and with law enforcement; and any reputable leader will not hesitate to advocate for an investigation when faced with credible allegations. Some leaders employ methods that are not always seen or publicized in order to attempt to guard the gates of our community before cult-of-personality abusers ever develop in our community. These efforts are often made possible by individuals who are brave enough to come forward and provide awareness of the potential for abuses or crimes and are sometimes necessarily opaque to protect the identities and lives of those involved. Leaders often work behind the scenes to isolate divisive instigators by whatever legal means are afforded to them with the goal of minimizing the reach and sphere of influence of abusers, while also illuminating for potential victims what behaviors require their cognizant awareness and efforted due diligence to avoid.
If one is aware of the planning and committing of crimes or the incitement of violence, one should collect any and all information that gives one cause to suspect an individual is capable or planning such followed by the appropriate notification to your local law enforcement representative or official with these concerns. It would also be advisable to have an internal oversight to make sure your judgment in this matter is not biased or the situation dramatically misinterpreted; perhaps even contact made with the individual by another party to help ascertain their intentions or mindset to the best of their ability. Whether it be online or offline, leaders of groups, organizations, families, Houses, Courts, etc. have a responsibility of due diligence to investigate claims and safeguard those in their purview to the best of their ability. While this is not always possible, or even a reasonable expectation when dealing with hundreds and even thousands of individuals, at minimum a mechanism for reporting and open willingness to investigate must be foundational. It is important to note what when warnings exist the onus for the heeding of such warnings ultimately resides with the individual themselves.
Any transcripts with date and time stamps, screenshots, text messages, eyewitness account statements, notations of peculiar behavior, postings, emails, etc. should be preserved without modification and organized to allow for rapid accessibility in case of a law enforcement request or if an unfortunate event occurs where such is needed as part of an evidentiary process. One should also identify the geographic area(s) of the potential affected range of the individual along with their particular offline contacts, groups, clubs, etc. and privately reach out to the leaders and security personnel for those groups or clubs so that they may watch for behaviors and take actions they feel appropriate and legal to keep distance between the individual or abuser in question and their patrons.
We have established that the Vampire Community is divided into numerous groups and beliefs systems, tribes, and lone individuals that do not have seamless communication between them. Many remain in their own lanes, so unfortunately, things sometimes fall through the cracks and are not always seen even though they are in the public space, or are discounted because someone has had a completely different experience with the same individual. In situations like this, it is even more important for victims to directly seek out other individuals or leaders, who will listen and help them. If this is performed through online communications then a verification of a response to ensure their message was received should be sought. It is quite often the case that leaders do not even realize what is going on until someone tells them, sometimes even among their own friends and within their own groups. Until things are brought to their attention, they cannot help get victims into safe spaces, remove abusers from their areas of control, warn other leaders about what has happened, and help with any legal actions that need to be taken.
As a community, we are all in this together regardless of how we personally feel about one another or what wrongs were visited upon us by others. It matters not if we identify as vampire lifestylers, sanguinarian vampires, med-sang vampires, psychic vampires, living vampyres, sexual or tantric vampires, spiritual vampires, otherkin, donors, or allies. It takes everyone to help foster a welcoming and safe environment in the Vampire Community.
Victimization In The Vampire Community
By Merticus & Isealdor; Vampire Community News (VCN)
February 12, 2020 – This article may be redistributed, translated, or adopted by other organizations provided there are no content modifications and full citation is included.