I’ve thought about making a post like this for a while. I usually decide not to because these are things I haven’t told anyone outside of therapy. I’m not sure if I’ll actually hit submit on this even when I’m done.
The tl;dr is that-- I’m really proud of how far this particular community has come when sexual predators poke their heads out. And I wish that the community we have now was the community we had when I first started mushing. And below the spoiler are the specific reasons of why I wish that.
Content Warning: Grooming, sexual assault, slut shaming, and various unpleasantries.
I’ve had questionable online/cyber sexual encounters since I was thirteen when I first started out in the MU* genre. Very briefly when I was in middle school I played on the original “Vampire Wars” mud. Long enough to exchange emails with a 20-something-year-old from the Netherlands. Who I would consider my boyfriend and who would email me sexually graphic things.
Flash forward 2-ish years and I had moved to live with my dad in California, and was home schooled with no real social life. So I got back into the MU* world. The first game I really played long term was Vampire Wars Classic. It was a mud, and not super on roleplay. But it was better than trying to RP on forums or through email RP.
VW was nebulously based on VtM. The leader of my in-game clan was a 30-something-year-old-man, who knowing I was a minor initiated “roleplay” with me. It was, of course, only sexual. At that age I really didn’t know any better and hormones were starting to finally kicked in. And considering I was home schooled, I didn’t really have age appropriate relationships available to me.
This roleplay ended up with me being labeled a slut and a whore. Where someone who I thought was a friend of mine showed me a chat between him and one of my other supposed friends about how much of a slut I was. I was given so much grief and was honestly really harassed because of it that I would eventually just leave the game.
Sometime later, off game, via AIM or MSN or something. There was a man probably in his forties (from the game) who I had talked to occasionally. He wasn’t anyone who had shown any interest in me, and was just someone I just chatted with occasionally. Until, one day-- the very same day I had been complaining to him about being so poor living with my disabled father I didn’t have anything to eat --he suddenly initiated a very graphic sexual conversation.
He stopped talking to me almost immediately after. Maybe he felt guilty. Maybe he just got what he wanted and didn’t care to talk to me anymore. Doesn’t really matter. There were various other men who happily acted like my friend until they were horny and wanted me to write out smut with them. Every single one was aware of how old I was. I never hid my age. One of which told me was a youth pastor RL and it was “wrong” but he was happy for me to write out a scene blowing him.
There were various adult men who were happy to treat me like garbage in “public” but were just as happy to write out graphic sexual scenes with me in private. It has taken me a very long time to understand just how fucked up that was.
Anyway, I left VWC for LAmush at the behest of two friends (people who had never done anything inappropriate toward me). And for a year or so I was able to RP with my hearts content without the pressures of writing out sexual contents.
Until… The game had a resurgence in popularity. I constantly can’t remember the order in which I had encounters with these three men.
Back before skype was much of a thing, before discord, etc. I would talk to people with my own phone! (Ugh, adult me shudders at how stupid that was). And there was one guy from LAmush who I would talk to on the phone while he was at work as an over night security guard. And this is, again, not someone who I had any expectation of a sexual encounter with. I’m pretty sure I was 17 when this happened. But one night we were talking and suddenly his breathing changes and his voice gets all weird.
And my brain sends out a red flag. And I go, “What are you doing?”
Out of no where he goes, “Stroking myself?”
I think he’s joking and laugh about it and go, “No really what are you doing?”
Well, really, he was jacking off. And now I’d love to say that 17-year-old Cobalt was strong and brave and hung up. But 17-year-old Cobalt froze and listened to this creep jack off. We didn’t talk again after that.
Then, one late night one of the three headwiz of LAmush, has had a little too much to drink. And we are sitting and talking. And he’s telling me this story about how he married his wife because he loved her but he finds her completely unattractive. And he’s expecting to be praised and told what a good man he is because he married for the right reasons. But, also, he has a major crush on one of the other players, and oh he touched her inappropriately at a large gathering of players for the game they held. But if I ever tell anyone that he’ll ruin me.
Then suddenly, it goes from him talking about his crush on this other player and how his wife is unattractive to what he would do to me if I was there with him.
Like everyone before him, he disappeared into the aether.
The only person who ever made sure I was an “adult” (e.g. 18) before initiating IC or OOC sexual conversations with me was this last dude. Who introduced me to Shangrila, rather than RPing out sex on LAmush. Who, compared to the others, at least made sure I was 18 before having me roleplay out his BDSM fantasies with him. Still pretty fucked, considering it was pretty well known I was 16-17 when I started playing on LA, and he was a long term player.
Then, there is my ex-husband. Who I will keep short and sweet because I don’t want to deal with any of his friends who might still be in the community:
I was just 18yrs old when I joined his game. He was 35. He initiated private conversations with me. Learned I had just graduated high school, wanted to go to art school but didn’t know how to pay for it, and was worried about spending the rest of my life living with my disabled father watching him slowly die. He casually offered me a “couch” to crash on if I wanted to move to Florida and go to art school there! Then it became flirty conversations. Then it became we were a couple. I’d move out there to be with him, he’d help me get into art school, teach me to drive, and etc. Then I moved out there.
Flash forward 9-years and I can’t drive because he won’t let me. And refuses to teach me. This condo is his. The car is his. I can’t take any job that doesn’t fit his work schedule. I haven’t gone to art school because we “couldn’t afford it”. I haven’t seen my family in years. I have no RL social life, only mushes, and etc. When I put my foot down and say I’m going to go to college finally, he accuses me of trying to kill him because the stress of me being in school while he works will give him a heart attack.
Also during that 9-year-time span I was physically sexually assaulted at a two-day Camarilla LARP, and my chapter chain did nothing about it. So I quit the only RL social life I had.
Thanks to a real life friend of mine from my childhood and @Tributary I managed to get out.
There are so many predators that lurk not only in the MUSH community but in other roleplay communities. And I am just so fucking thankful, that we’ve decided as a community to not allow this shit to fly anymore.