There has been a lot of talk lately regarding young sanguivores and the ethics of teaching them. All of the content on The Red Cellar is aimed at those over 18 years of age for numerous reasons. In saying that, the fact is that sanguivores most often realize what they need at a young age. Puberty is the most common time I hear of sanguivores realizing how they are. I myself had this happen to me first beginning around 12 years old, and I was active in the Sanguinarian Community for some time at the age of 14-15. I was not allowed in certain spaces and was asked to leave because of my age. I had no guidance when I desperately needed it, and this resulted in me making an attempt on my own life aged 15 and being targeted by an online predator 12 years my senior. Even after that, I didn’t have anyone teaching me. I had to learn my information from the ground up, and then I began to teach this to others; a habit which continues to this day, 15 years later.
I made a lot of mistakes. I’ve seen plenty of mistakes from other sanguivores I grew up with as well. If I could go back and teach my younger self, there are many lessons and pieces of advice that I would give them. I have decided to share these lessons here.
You are not alone.
That is the biggest thing I would tell myself. Realizing you are this way and what you need is traumatic. It has the potential to reverberate through the very threads of our being. It can call into question everything we know about ourselves. It can make us feel like we are delusional, and that we are likely to harm someone. We feel guilty that we must take blood; that someone else must be wounded in order for us to feel okay. We can feel completely isolated and like no one would ever understand. Perhaps we don’t deserve to be loved. Perhaps we don’t even deserve to be alive. This line of thinking is what pushed me to the brink of despair as a youth.
No. Whilst these feelings are completely valid and even to be expected in someone first going through this, know that these things are not true and the pain you feel will not last forever. There are others like you. There are whole communities of people like you. You have your whole life ahead of you. You deserve to be loved and understood as much as anyone else. You will learn how to take blood safely. There are a lot of people who will understand you just as you are, and who genuinely want to help you by giving blood. It is not an inconvenience to them, and these people have full agency over themselves; it is their choice to give freely to you. In my opinion, being a sanguivore does not make one any more or any lesser than someone else. It does not detract from your value as a human being and you deserve happiness as much as anyone. We can learn control. In fact, our impulses to take blood can afford us greater degrees of control than those who don’t deal with it once we have learned to manage it, because it does require spending a lot of time learning self-control. It pays off.
You are not delusional.
As I mentioned before, this realization can be traumatic. We wonder if we are delusional. This can especially be the case when everything is new, and you stumble upon the Vampire Community. There are a lot of ‘fancy’ titles, organizations, beliefs, most of which probably won’t apply to you, some which seem pretty ‘out there’, inapplicable and make you question yourself even more. If you perceive the need to take blood to maintain your health, a lot of this can feel quite alien and bizarre as you aren’t quite sure what this has to do with your need and you want answers. ‘Vampire’ may be off-putting; though you may find it empowering. You want to understand why your body needs what it does. Unfortunately, these answers aren’t particularly forthcoming. We have to make our own peace with what we need in time. Ultimately, we aren’t harming other people and we are careful in ensuring full consent and safety. While it is absolutely needed to exercise critical thinking, we don’t need to tell ourselves we have lost all semblance of sanity for needing what we do. It is entirely possible to be as you are, to be a skeptic, rationalist, to exercise critical thinking and to question. While your experiences may not be like those who peripherally are connected to the term ‘vampire’ somehow, you can still find understanding from others who identify as such. Or, you may choose to keep your distance altogether. You could join TRC’s med-sang community. There are options available to you nowadays that there weren’t a decade ago.
Never settle for ‘sanguinarian’ or ‘vampire’ as a medical diagnosis.
Neither of these things are medical diagnoses. They are stop-gaps and identities until we have further research and information. Taking blood is an absolute last resort, and even when we know it helps to restore our health, we should never stop seeking answers. Sanguivores frequently describe ‘symptoms’ that they experience absent taking blood. Many things can cause these problems. The body and mind are complex, interconnected systems and something nefarious could be lurking underneath these symptoms – please see your doctor. Follow up with specialists. There are more medical disorders than you can even imagine, and it is entirely possible you have other medical issues that *can* be diagnosed alongside your sanguivory. In fact, a lot of things seem to be common for sangs – whether they are more so than the general population, I couldn’t say. Dysautonomia, ADHD, and irritable bowel syndrome to name a few. Continue to pursue answers behind your symptoms. Never just settle and explain away new symptoms with ‘vampirism’.
Be vigilant with anyone you talk to online. Report any suspect activity to an adult you trust. Do not meet anyone in person. If you feel you are being manipulated or exploited, please report it.
The Sanguinarian Community does contain predators. I was targeted by such a person when I was a minor in the VC. I have heard too many horror stories about people being exploited when searching for help. Not even necessarily younger people. Desperate seekers of all ages. Vulnerable people. Those who need help, community, guidance; taken advantage of, usually for sex, in exchange for information, blood, what have you. It is a disgusting trend and it is never okay. If you have any doubts or get any red flags at all about someone, don’t walk, run a mile. People can help you, but they can’t if they don’t know what’s happening. Definitely do not meet someone if you are under 18 years of age.
If you are over 18, follow the typical guidelines. Talk to someone a good while before meeting. Meet somewhere public, and let a friend know where you’re going. Do not leave any drinks unattended. Preferably take a friend with you. Though it might seem extreme, a panic button is never a bad idea. These devices are little keychains that you pull if you’re in danger and need help. They emit a loud siren to alert people that you are in danger. Honestly, they really aren’t excessive. You never plan for that kind of thing to happen, but most women have a story to tell, unfortunately. Be on your guard and vigilant. Learning self-defense, such as Krav Maga, isn’t a bad bet either.
Learn self-control through practices such as mindfulness meditation.
Sanguivores do have the impulse to take blood. We ‘twoof’. Our gums throb, our muscles ache with the need for exertion. This can be exacerbated at certain times, such as when we are ‘blood-starved’. Or any time someone’s warm skin is near our mouths, even. When I was young, I had a friend who was a sanguinarian as well. He had problems containing himself. When he and his girlfriend were being intimate, he bit a hole into her neck and put her in the hospital. These things can happen if sanguivores do not learn to control ourselves. That said, it is not an inevitability – don’t think this will definitely happen to you. We can learn to restrain ourselves and behave. I practiced meditation for many years after I became aware of how I am. Mainstream, secular meditation guidance is available through apps such as Headspace. Headspace is an excellent resource for someone beginning meditation. Meditation gave me a constant awareness of consequences allowing me to develop self-control and a kill-switch even in the most compromising of situations. This kill-switch allows me to shut down twoofing before it gets me into trouble. It is imperative that we find our own way of learning self-control, and meditation is the best way I have found personally. If this sounds a bit ‘woogity’, note that there have been a plethora of medical studies showing differences on MRI results following meditation. Googling ‘meditation MRI results’ will get you a ton of studies to review if you want to do further research on the scientific studies.
Study anatomy, health and safety. Learn to take blood safely, including learning about blood-borne diseases and what tests your donor should get. Make sure you see clean papers before taking blood.
- Many of us start off using lancets. It is a relatively painless way to procure blood, and doesn’t require the same level of expertise that other methods of blood drawing do. Still, as always, safety is needed. Clean the area thoroughly with rubbing alcohol and allow it to dry. A useful device can be found here to extract more blood from the lancet pricks. Make sure your mouth is clean; but be wary of brushing hard, as this may cause damaged and bleeding gums which is definitely not ideal.
- Scalpels require a great deal of care. When using a scalpel, always opt for a disposable, sterile blade, and clean the area with rubbing alcohol first, cleaning your mouth as you would with lancets. Scalpels are, of course, very sharp. It is best to cut around areas with larger muscles, such as the back of the shoulder. Avoid any sensitive areas such as the forearms or neck – you’d be likely to kill someone if you used a scalpel there. Be sure to practice after-care with the wound, cleaning and dressing it appropriately.
- Some sangs use animal blood as a stop-gap between donors. This is often purchased at Asian markets, but can be ordered online from Filstop. There are risks with using animal blood, and parasites along with other nasties can be present. You can find a detailed article from us on handling animal blood here.
- Make sure your donor is tested for HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and syphilis. A full panel for STDs is preferable. Donors should be at least 110lbs to safely donate per American Red Cross Guidelines, and be in good general health. It is good practice to have a donor’s hemoglobin levels tested before donating. Women need a minimum of 12.5g/dL and men must have a minimum of 13.0g/dL to donate in volume. Donors over 20.0g/dL cannot donate. Have your donor maintain healthy iron levels, supplementing if necessary. Do not take more than 1 pint (450ml) every 56 days – this is the standard set by the FDA. Storage will depend on what additives you use, but the very maximum blood (with the appropriate additive, blood without will clot within minutes) should be stored is 42 days with refrigeration. It can be frozen and last longer, though the effectiveness of frozen blood for sanguivores is questionable.
Enroll in phlebotomy school. Do not practice venipuncture if you are untrained.
Some sangs practice venipuncture to procure blood due to the lack of harm needed to draw a large volume of blood, in addition to being able to store it for longer periods of time. For those who need a lot, it can be hard to get blood in enough quantity in other ways.
That said, it is extremely important that you do not practice this technique if you have not gotten professional training. Venipuncture is an invasive surgical procedure. If you make a mistake, you can maim someone for life and do significant damage. It can cause nerve damage and much more. Being cavalier with it is very dangerous and opens you up to a world of legal liability. You have a duty of care to your donor to know what you are doing. Start by googling phlebotomy courses in your area.
You do not need to join a Court to get help, or to fit in.
The ‘vampire’ aesthetic is prevalent in many places associated with blood-drinking, but it doesn’t have to be and it isn’t everywhere. It is your choice entirely how to cope with this, and you do not need to adopt any aesthetic or subscribe to a particular structure or clan to find answers. If community is what you want, find one that has a message that resonates with you on a personal level and that you believe will help you grow. There are plenty of us who eschew the ‘vampire’ label and aesthetic entirely. Be wary of any group that makes you pay to get in, where you have to buy a certain ‘book’ to learn or that preaches dogmatic beliefs. Cults are, unfortunately, not uncommon in the blood-drinking scene.
Not everyone will understand what you’re dealing with. People can have a bad habit of judging, bullying and being altogether unpleasant to something they do not understand – this definitely falls beyond the understanding of many. Personally, I am private about anything related to being a sanguivore. If I decide to come out, it is after I’ve already tested the water extensively and have a pretty good idea that the person will react positively. Stay safe, keep your personal information protected. Using an alias online is a good idea, as are proxies/VPN.
Exercise critical thinking. Don’t be so desperate for answers that you’ll believe anything.
When coming into contact with blood drinking, ‘vampire’ is an inescapable comparison. It is most prominent in the minds of the masses, and so, there will be shared spaces with those who identify as a vampire for whatever reason. In those spaces, ‘vampire’ is a broad umbrella, and there are a great many beliefs within that umbrella. You do not have to believe in all of that to find help or community. You do not need to believe in anything at face value. Many of us don’t. Skepticism is healthy, and sorely needed. On the same token, don’t believe it when someone tells you that they have ‘the answer’ for why we are the way we are without any proof, such as ‘retro-virus’ pseudoscience babble with false science to sound legitimate like some of the sites out there. This mindset is applicable to physiological answers as well as anything else. A curious, open mind that questions and analyzes is primed for scientific inquiry without grasping for answers and confirmation bias. People will be quick to try and give you answers. When I was young, I was told I was an Egyptian Goddess with some elaborate backstory, an ancient vampire who liked to lock people in cages, yada yada… The imagination can be active in this sphere. Question absolutely everything, and be careful to avoid confirmation bias. That said, not believing in something is not a valid reason to discount the lived experiences of others, and is never an excuse to be rude to them about it. Everyone has their different reality. If an answer you’re given doesn’t feel right to you, walk away. People deserve to have their beliefs respected and not mocked or denigrated because you disagree with them (provided they do not harm anyone else). You don’t have to repeat ad nauseam “I don’t believe in it”. Bullying and mocking someone’s beliefs is still bullying. Find those who align with your views and find community and camaraderie there.