Rapist and muderer Peter Chapman was online friends with more than 6,000 women and teenage girls on 10 different social networking sites and ended up killing one of them in october last year.

Chapman called himself Peter Cartwright – and claimed he was 17, single, a window maker and part-time DJ from Liverpool and His lies conned Ashleigh Hall into meeting him near Sedgefield in the UK.

Last night, Peter Chapman started his 35 years in prison.

People committing hideous crimes like the ones that Chapman did, are affecting all of us on a lot of different levels – But most of all; They create fear within each one of us.

Fear is never a good feeling and it makes us sometimes see things in a distorted way. It makes us think that every killer is hanging out on the web and all of them are into kinky sex. This is were the deductive thinking with most people goes wrong: Man, into kinky sex = killer, predator and rapist.

Fear makes us apply generalisations to a larger degree than we usually would do. This is something that will affect us all and especially people within the kink communities with honest intentions when they join different social networks.

My advise to people asking me about meeting a kinky partner through a social networking site is to have some simple safety measures in place before meeting up with that person.

  • If it is too good to be true, then it usually is – If you bump into a person, try to see through your own “romantic filters” by being sober about everything. Remember that when we are chatting with people online in text, we mostly read things with our own voice and interpret from the specific mood we are in at that moment. If the person you are chatting with in text seems so perfect after two chat sessions, then I would say that you romantic filters are cluttering things up. Differentiate between the romanticised image you have of BDSM or another kink and the reality of it.
  • Tell your friends about the new person that you are chatting with as soon as possible – Friends are good to have, especially if they don’t agree with you because they can sometimes make you see things in a different light. Let your friends in on your intentions and feelings.
  • Social networks are special environments to meet a partner in – Social networks are a wonderful things and they have made the kink community bloom due to the fact that it is so easy to find a person that is into the same thing as you are. I personally love this fact and I am all for it. This also comes at a price; Thruth and honesty are sometimes rare commodities when it comes to social networks and the possibility to be anonymous or deceitful about your true identity emphasize this fact. Don’t trust pictures and personal profiles on the web, we all want to look good when we are being looked at by others and how people present themselves in a social network is comparable to how you present yourself during a job interview – You want to make yourself look as good as possible. Added to this problem is another phenomena – Some people out there role play in forums and social networks through identities that they have made up and to them the social networks are just big gaming areas where they can  emo play or create social destruction.
  • Always check up on the other persons credibility and the validity of the information given – Some people might find it a bit rude to check up on the background of the other person. I don’t agree with this opinion at all, you are just doing your homework and it is a homework that has to be done for the sake of your own safety. It doesn’t matter if your are a Dominant or a submissive, you are literally putting your life in the hands of another person when you eventually decide to meet up with. Ask where that person went to school, name of friends and other tidbits that can be of importance. When you have some information then you can actually check up if what the person is saying is true or not.
  • Use references – Ask for references, friends that can confirm what the other is saying is actually true. If the other person don’t want to give you any information regarding this then there might be something fishy going on. The usage of references is quite well accepted within the BDSM community and this is where the local BDSM community and  the online community should work together. Check with the local BDSM community about their opinion about the person you are chatting with. A person that is both active in the local community as well as in the online community is, to my opinion, less prone to be a “player” – And to be honest; There are always players within every BDSM oriented social network – People that claim that they are into BDSM but what they are actually looking for is an easy fuck.

If the person you are chatting with is honest, then they will help you out to follow the pointers above. If the person isn’t honest about themselves then you will probably find inconsistencies in the stories that you are being fed with – And if that is the case then pull out.

If and when you decide to meet up with the person then there is a set of safety measures that always has to be in place.

  • When you meet with the other person for the first time, do it in a public setting – Meet up with the person during a munch or a BDSM gathering. By doing so you always have the possibility to call out for help if anything should happen. If the other person are doing last minute changes and want you to meet up with him/her in a more secluded setting then pull out. Never get into the other persons car or house because then you are  making yourself quite vulnerable.
  • Always tell your friends where you are going and who you are going with – Tell your friends, in detail, about your plans and time schedule in order to make it easier for them to sound the alarm in case you should divert from the original details that you have given.
  • The other person you are meeting should also be concerned about your safety – If the person you are going to meet up with care about you then he/she should also be concerned about your safety. I always find it more assuring if the other person is explicitly telling me that I am given information so I can do a check up. It is also a good sign if the other person is giving your pointers on how to keep yourself safe when you are meeting up with them for the first time.
  • Always do safety calls – This is a technique that is very efficient and it basically means that you ask the same friend that know about your schedule and who you are going to meet up with to receive your safety calls. You are then supposed to call your friend at a certain time and if you don’t call within a certain time then that friend should start to take measures. Do a lot of safety calls during your initial date, one call isn’t enough. Don’t leave any room for errors, your life might be dependant on this one.
  • Use code – If you should end up in trouble and the person putting you in trouble is forcing you to do the safety call and act as normal, then do so. But have an established codeword that will tell your friend that you are in danger and that you are making the safety call under threat.
  • Some cellphones can be used as tracking devices – Technological advances are wonderful when it comes to personal safety. Before you are going to meet up with a person you have met through a social network then subscribe to a tracking service. Give the access to the tracking service to your friend that knows about your activities and is the one that receives your safety calls. Your friend can then track your positions and judge if they are consistent with your schedule.
  • Always inform the person you are meeting that you have safety procedures in place – This one works as a deterrent and the other person will also know that you are taking care of yourself. A responsible and honest date will confirm that and agree with your safety measures.
  • Never play on the first date – Use the first time to get to know the other person and to just talk. This might not be easy if you are horny for some play, but as they say; Patience is a virtue.
  • Never get locked up the first time you play – Never agree to being locked up on the first time you play because you don’t know how the other person operates during play and being looked up leaves you exposed. This should be applied even if you decide to play with the person at a BDSM club as loud music and dim lights can mask a situation that needs attention from others. If you are locked up, then you cannot escape, it is as simple as that.

It’s time to get street smart about social networks.

I’ve used social networks when meeting up with the submissives I have had relationships with and I have always used these guidelines when meeting submissives abroad for my own protection – Even Dominants can end up at the wrong end of the stick. I have always been on my guard for a fair amount of time, my physical and emotional safety is dependant on it.

Remember that trust is never given, it is always earned. It is something that the other person has to earn through an expected behaviour and if the expected behaviour isn’t there – Get out…