While we’re talking about abusive RPers...
…don’t forget that some of the flags of an abusive roleplayer are identical to the ones for abusive RL relationships.
The Idolize > Isolate > Devalue > Discard cycle that we see in a lot of abusive RL relationships is actually creepily common online and devastating to the victim, despite the lack of physical damage in most cases (I say “most” because I have seen people driven to self-harm or suicide attempts by online abuse of this type).
Idolize: the abuser is desperate to roleplay with the target. They lavish them with attention, gifts, plots, writing, and/or art. The abuser will do anything to become the target’s new best friend. Some abusers will become irrationally angry if rejected at this stage and transition into stalking and/or harassment.
Isolate: the abuser begins peeling the target away from any existing friends or RP partners. They’ll attempt to occupy all their online time and suggest they do a lot of one-on-one roleplay in private with them. When in multi-person scenes, they will deliberately alienate the target’s other friends either by acting out, attacking them, or intentionally making RP awkward or impossible for everyone but their target. Gaslighting starts. They may complain the target’s friends are “mean” or “jealous” and attempt to instigate arguments where the target will feel the need to defend them and further alienate their friends. Lavishing with gifts continues in this phase.
Devalue: when their target is cut off from everyone else, the honeymoon ends. Gaslighting ramps up massively. They still want to roleplay with the target, but the target suddenly can’t seem to do anything right. The target’s self-esteem is systematically degraded. Plots revolve increasingly around the abuser’s character with the target’s being an expendable, breakable prop. They attempt to push their target into roleplay they don’t enjoy or are actively afraid of, and respond to objections or refusals with manipulative behavior like crying, insults, or threatening abandonment. In extreme cases, the abuser may feign self-harm or suicidal impulses and present them to the target as the target’s fault, i.e. “LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO.” Gifts only come as “makeup” presents after a fight and are generally presented in public so that all seems well to anyone not involved. They are now the target’s only major roleplay partner and use that as a weapon.
Discard: the abuser finds a new idol. Gaslighting hits maximum, convincing the target that they’re the reason the abuser doesn’t want to play with them anymore and that no one will ever want to play with them. Finally, they drop their current target and ignore them or harass them, often resorting to scorched-earth tactics and spreading rumors to make sure their victim has difficulty reconnecting with others. The target and their character are usually badly damaged, possibly irreparably.
Abusive roleplayers like this usually leave a trail of shattered guilds and broken people behind and often move games or servers when chasing a new target. Due to their habit of giving gifts in public and abusing in private, they may even have a good reputation in the community and staunch defenders (especially if they’re well-known for their writing, art, or crafts).
In other words, good fucking luck catching them before they hurt someone.
Since this kind of abuse is hard to see from the inside until it’s already too late, the biggest thing you can do is watch out for your friends and guildies. We’re all weirdos here, and we need to keep each other safe. If you feel like somebody’s new RP partner is trying to separate them from their support system, don’t be afraid to speak up. I don’t care if they write like the next Hemingway or their art appears to have been shat right out of Da Vinci’s asshole, they don’t get a pass.
If you feel like or know that this type of abuse is happening to you, remember that no plot or friendship is worth your mental health. Walk away if you can, get someone you trust to help you if you can’t (yes, even the old friends you told to fuck off and leave you alone - they probably have a strong suspicion of why). Take screenshots or chatlogs so you have some defense against gaslighting or malicious rumors. You’re not alone, no matter what they tell you.