A Toxic Roleplayer is a player that employs various methods of emotional abuse to get what they want out of their roleplay partner(s) at the expense of that person’s happiness, including but not limited to a hell of a lot of guilt-tripping, isolation of their victim from other roleplay, jealousy over other roleplay, and making the victim feel like they are imagining the toxic behaviour. In order to get a better understanding of what I’m talking about here, I strongly suggest reading the Emotional Abuse in Roleplay compilation by Sahnin on Tumblr. She’s far, far better at explaining this and just how easily it can make you feel like you’re the problem than I am — even though I have been a victim of emotional abuse, I just don’t have the capacity for a decent explanation.
I have dealt with and watched others deal with several Toxic Roleplayers over my time in various RP communities. Every single one of them was an emotional abuser — that’s why they’re toxic — and resulted in my friends and myself dealing with a lot of stress. In the case of one abuser, her victims are still dealing with the aftermath of her abuse. Victims of emotional abuse can suffer from anxiety, depression, various physical ailments (including chronic headaches), low self-esteem, and even more serious issues, most of which require treatment — some of which, like medication and therapy, are expensive.
I bring this up because, this week, defenders of one of these Toxic Roleplayers accused those that warn about her of “being mean”. They wanted this person’s victims to “get over it” and “grow up” — despite, you know, the fact that these people suffered abuse. This was not a roleplay issue, it was a player issue. These people wanted her victims to stay silent.
I would go so far as to say these defenders are guilty of abuse themselves, or at least are supportive of abusive behaviour.
There is absolutely no reason for victims of a Toxic Roleplayer to stay silent about what they went through and dealt with. Warning others about this sort of roleplayer is a community service because it can and will save some people from stress, anxiety, depression, and other issues that most people just don’t like dealing with. Telling people about what you went through with this person and what behaviours to watch out for can prepare other people so that they can decide whether or not to engage, and if they do decide to engage, they can be ready to get the hell out when things start to get bad.
If nobody had warned me how much trouble a particular roleplayer was, I may have gotten sucked into the same trap as everyone else. I’m already suffering from depression and chronic headaches — further stress would make my already iffy physical health even iffier, and at least one or two people can attest to my inability to deal with me even imagining that I’ve hurt somebody I care about.
If you have dealt with a Toxic Roleplayer, or if you know of one, it is of the utmost importance that you pass on your knowledge. By warning others of this sort of person you help protect your community from a force that can tear it apart by setting members against one another, victims against those that doubt them, friends against friends. The Toxic Roleplayer often insists that they are not the problem, that everyone else is what’s wrong, they’re the real victim, but as you start asking questions and making mention of your own tale you’ll find that you aren’t the only one.
So, yes. Warn people. You’re doing everyone a favour — and if the defenders of a Toxic Roleplayer accuse you of being mean? Forget them. You, your mental health, and the mental health of those you come across in your time within your community are far, far more important than the feelings of an abuser.
Thanks to calleo for the heads-up. I’ll be adding information as it’s brought to my attention.
Here are some other tips for reference when dealing with and reporting on Toxic Roleplayers:
- It is essential to just provide the facts. That roleplayer will be doing more than enough exaggerating about your role, don’t do that yourself. This is to protect you.
- To tie in with #1, be sure to screenshot posts, conversations, and other interactions. Elephant is a wonderful add-on and I have used it myself for documenting issues I’ve had with my own problem players. Even if you didn’t do it before, start doing it now, it’ll provide you with a record of what the other player is doing — proof. These sorts are very, very quick with the delete button.
- Have a record of the Toxic RPer’s known alts available. IM handles, blog addresses, and other information may be worthwhile just in case, if this is the sort of player to have out-of-game contact. This is especially useful to catch them if and when they attempt to stalk their victims (this does happen).
- For those that are attempting to break away from a Toxic Roleplayer, when you block them and cut off contact, state plainly that you don’t want them trying to contact you in any way at all. No e-mail, no IMs, no whispers, no snail mail, nothing. Screenshot this. It’s another ass-covering technique to make sure they can’t pull the “I didn’t know you meant THAT” card.
- If and when they try to contact you again, don’t respond, just block and report. If you ‘report spam’ that will temporarily block the entire account from contacting you. Blizzard does — or is supposed to — take harrassment reports very seriously, and if you’re being harassed, read Apple Cider Mage’s guide on dealing with this sort of thing.
This post will be further edited as required. If you have other information to provide, please contact me!
Sahnin @ Tumblr’s articles:
- Part I: Let’s Talk About Emotional Abuse.
- Part II: Control, Isolation, and Gaslighting.
- Part III: Getting Out of a Toxic Relationship.
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