Safe Spaces

Let me preface this with a statement. I am not good at writing articles. My memory of particulars is not great because I have depression and anxiety. But I wanted to type this up, tell people what’s happened to me. I want people to know, I want them to read about what might be the most common kind of sexual abuse that happens in this community. I want people to think about it.

An aside, when I was 13 I still identified as a girl and used she/her pronouns. I will refer to my past self as such, since I did not begin my real gender journey until after I turned 19.

By no means have I experienced the worst that could have happened to someone like me, but I was still targeted by sexual predators within the furry fandom.

When I joined the fandom, I was 13 years old, in 7th grade. A budding artist, introduced to the concept of drawing myself as a silly animal person by an upperclassman in my school. It was enjoyable, I had fun, and made myself 4 different fursonas within the span of a year. I do not regret becoming a furry, and I never have. It’s part of who I am as a person, and has helped me explore gender and my own mental health for over a decade.

But I discovered FurAffinity when I was 13 as well. I had an account, the now defunct drolf( https://www.furaffinity.net/user/drolf/ ), which is currently wiped of artwork, but not of favourites. I no longer have access to the account to look at my PMs or anything. But I would, regularly, engage with other artists. Its what young artists do.

But the adults who engaged with me regularly were not the adults who should have engaged with a 13 year old. Specifics escape me now, at 25 years old. But there were adults, at the time were aged 20-25, who would talk to me, a 13 year old, a minor, an actual child, to become my friend (it was not difficult, I was a young artist who wanted to make friends!), encourage me to roleplay, and then take those roleplays somewhere they should not have gone. I was encouraged and manipulated into sexual roleplays with these people on multiple occasions, as well as talked to and “play rp’d” with like I was not a 13 year old child. Gropes and murrs and nibbles and bites were all over the place.

Its common knowledge that a tactic used to groom minors is to compliment them on how mature they are, and I got that line from a lot of people, very often. I was, I thought at the time, well spoken, friendly, and most importantly to those adults, willing to go along with what they wanted. I didn’t know it was wrong.

I was convinced by someone to make a second life so that he could do sexual things to my avatar.

Another user, when I was 14, managed to manipulate me into sending him sexual pictures of myself.

I don’t even remember how many other people I did sexual roleplays with. There were a lot of them, because I thought that it meant they were my friends if I did that with them. My worth had started to become tied into that idea.

After that point my mother, who would go through my history, my emails, et cetera, banned me from the internet out of fear. I don’t blame her for that. I understand why she was so afraid for me. It’s a difficult situation to handle when you realize your child is being targeted by a sexual predator. 14 year old me didn’t understand what she had done wrong, exactly, because I did not understand that I had been in danger.

And while I don’t blame my mother, I do believe the situation could have been handled better, because I was 14. And I was technologically savvy.

Don’t tell your teenagers they can’t do something, they’ll find a way around it.

And I did. Yes! I was a dumb, naive, ignorant teenager who did dumb shit.

I had a DSi, it could connect to the internet. And I had a MySpace.

The thing you need to understand about MySpace when I was 14-15-16, was that it had a thriving furry roleplaying community. I roleplayed as my fursona, a tiger/wolf hybrid with butt wings who was blue with orange stripes and blonde hair. Still fond of that one. But I was at a time in my life where I was exploring sexuality as well, moving forward. I didn’t understand sex exactly, didn’t understand what I liked, but I wanted to find out. So I roleplayed, with a lot of people. A lot of people who were much, much older than me. In their 20s, in their 30s. And they all knew how old I was. I would tell them, if they asked, and it was on my profile. MySpace was not good about keeping that kind of stuff under control. And those people continued to interact with me.

I learned what I thought was okay, I had people convince me to give them my phone number so they could call me. I was targeted and sexually predated on. And I didn’t realize that was what was happening. It was the only space I had to explore. My self worth, as a person, had become tied into my ability to please people.

Time moved on, my interests shifted. Furries had, in popular culture, become “cringey”, so I moved away from the furry fandom. I got into Homestuck, joined tumblr, started going to conventions and getting back into anime. I stopped roleplaying with a lot of people. I honestly did my best not to think about it. But reminders popped up. My old FA, drolf, had been wiped, and I tried to start over multiple times on other art websites. I had a Deviant Art (now completely lost to time), and a SheezyArt. I did not come back to the furry fandom properly until two or three years ago. Some part of me felt.

Disgusted.

Unsafe.

I didn’t know why until I came back, after realizing that what had happened to me was sexual abuse.

I don’t remember everything, my memory is a sham of what it used to be because of my depression. But I remember it happened.

No one, not one adult who ever interacted with me in my early days, stopped and thought “maybe I shouldn’t.” If they did, they were the ones who didn’t speak to me ever.

And that’s the point of this. This whole write up. The furry community has brought me a lot over the years. I always come back to it, even if I don’t actively participate. I’ve never stopped drawing furry art for almost 12 years.

But there’s something wrong with the community.

I see adults who think its perfectly reasonable to talk a certain way to minors and if I call them out on it? I get called out for being too sensitive.

It is, in all spaces, the adults job to keep minors safe. It is the adults job to make sure that anyone underage is comfortable and safe from harm. It is always our job to make sure that they are not harmed. It’s like Asimov’s rules for robots, but instead, its for adults.

This is a call for change, this is a call for adults to step the fuck up and act their age. This is a call to remember that you need to think about your actions and your words.

Pedophiles are, somehow, for some reason, an accepted part of this community. Pedophiles hide behind nice smiles, kind words. The emotionally and mentally manipulate minors, because the minors do not understand, they don’t know what to look for.

Speak the fuck up when you see someone acting disgusting. Speak the fuck up when you realize someone is a minor in a space they should not be in.

Speak up, and speak out against these people.

This is not the most coherent of things, I’m not good at writing coherently. I can’t provide sources for everything I’ve talked about because I don’t have access to those things anymore. But I remember them, I remember dating a 32 year old horse furry when I was on MySpace at the age of 15. I remember dating a 23 year old Liger furry when I was 14 and having weird sexual phone calls behind the art building at my school. I remember the furry who sexually assaulted my avatar on second life by inviting my character to a private space and telling me how to click on the pose balls and telling me it was okay, they were supposed to do that, when I was 13.

These people, these behaviors, the kinks they introduced me to, the ideas and mentalities.

These experiences are why I don’t trust babyfurs. I don’t trust people who use diapers without reason and baby clothes and have their characters act like kids, sexual or non sexual. I don’t trust anyone who makes any allusion to the idea that children are a kink.

These people are pedophiles.

Do better furry community, do good. Speak up, and protect the younger generations.

An amendment and aside to this article, essay, thing.

I am aware that people utilize babyfur things to cope with traumas. But your coping mechanisms do not need to be public to the world. What you teach minors when they see these things, is that its normal. And that it’s okay. It’s not. It’s a maladaptive coping mechanism that can do more harm than good, especially to kids.

I am also aware that minors and spaces where they can sexually explore and express themselves (this is specifically about teenagers) is a grey area, because the moderation of such spaces are not possible, even if the minors host them. They deserve the space to explore these things about themselves. And that’s an entirely different discussion.

Enbiable Words is Live

Well, people have told me to start a real blog. So I guess I’m here now! I don’t know how to use wordpress, and honestly it will probably just be me throwing things up every so often when its too long for a tweet, but, its an important tool for me to try and utilize. I hope I can do something with this.