Every six weeks after that, I received similar messages through text messages and other messaging outlets. Most were insults; I was an ugly horrible person. I gave him an STD. The police were going to come after me. I was a fat cunt. Things that are almost laughable – if it hadn’t have been so constant.
I noticed that each phone number that texted was the same area code that we both live in, and that any of the social media accounts that had been sending the abuse my way had his name incorporated in it, one way or the other. Not the smartest guy when it comes to sending anonymous abuse.
The messages went on for months. Each time I took a screenshot, and stopped myself from ever replying. Nothing good would of come out of replying to such nastiness – I figured the attention was what he wanted. He was insulting me to get me to talk to him. To let him know that it was hurting me.
The more it happened, the more I began to question myself.
I must of deserved it – who would do something like this to a person for so long if it wasn’t my fault? As it had gone on for so long; my ignoring of the messages not stopping it, not making him get bored of this; I felt weak. My emotions overtook me and made me feel like I was all of those things that he was accusing me of. I sank into a depression that I wasn’t expecting to ever happen to me.
In October I gathered the courage to tell a close friend – the same close friend that had introduced us in the first place. I told him the story – the drunken night, the months of abuse – and my friend explained to me that he had heard that the guy had moved since, and suggested perhaps that I was just being spammed or trolled.
I felt like I was being over-dramatic. Started to down play the abuse not only in front of my friends but to myself. I even began to question my memory of that one drunken night in November. Had I blacked out from drinking too much? Could we have had sex? Could I have given him an STD? Maybe that was why he was so angry.
I snapped myself out of it. There was no question that I was squeaky clean. Just before I had met him, my sister had been diagnosed with cancer, and so I had gone for a cervical exam to take sensible measures. There’s no way I could have given him an STD – it would have been flagged.
By this time I had gone to a doctors for help with my new found anxiety and depression. I was and still am on medication to help ease the heavy weight of both mental illnesses. I have blamed myself for this experience, and since reading other people’s stories online of similar abuse from people that they have dated, I realize that it is not my fault. One night of promiscuity does not mean I should suffer through months of insults and degradation. Thinking that maybe if I had done things differently, however tempting it is to go down that path, isn’t going to help me now. I’m pretty sure that even if I had done things a little different, this guy was unstable enough to find any reason to say such terrible things anyway.
I managed to sum up the courage to tell my family.
I changed my number at long last, so thought that they should know why. Unfortunately, my family responded in ways that could be seen as ‘trying to lighten the mood’ – something that most people do when they do not understand or cannot completely sympathise with something.
“That guy must be sprung on you!” they said, as if these constant insults could be looked at as complimentary attention.
“Time to move on and put it all behind you,” my dad said to me. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear from the most trusted man in my life. I wanted to hear some support, even some anger towards the guy – but instead I got what felt like an accusation that I was the reason it had continued. That I should just let it go and forget about it. Something that seemed impossible and unfair to me.
I’ve been dealing with this pretty much on my own since it began. Though I’ve been on a prescription, my behaviour towards dating has been affected. I haven’t dated anyone since – the only way I have let a man in is on my own terms. I’ve made bad choices just to prove that guy wrong – that I wasn’t ugly, or fat, or horrible. I could be desired by men, if I wanted to. I proved that part. It didn’t make me feel better like I thought it might. In fact I regret each and every night.
I wish that one morning I will wake up and it had never happened. I feel like I’m still walking on egg shells, in fear of receiving another message.
Unfortunately the police are unable to do anything unless a threat comes in to play – which is an incredibly scary thought – as there are no online abuse laws here in California. My best bet at the moment is a restraining order. Thankfully I am getting somewhere in that I have met with the Local Family Justice Centre to discuss all legal matters and where to go from here.
The only good I can see that has come out of this is in myself.
Though I have had many dark moments and thoughts, I hope that this will make me a better and more understanding woman. I would also hope that anybody reading this that is going through the same sort of horrible situation will feel that they are not alone, and that it is not their fault. It is something that is worth getting angry about. Do not feel like you should suppress your emotions because you think it is not an experience worth being upset about – it is. Not talking about such a thing, or at least talking about how it is making you feel, can make it much harder to talk about in the future. I’m 18 months down the line and it is still hard for me to talk about to my closest friends and family. That may not have been the case if I had opened up earlier. Got angry earlier. Let myself get upset earlier.
Any type of abuse is a big deal. It’s not okay for somebody to tear you down in such horrific ways. They do not have the authority or power to make you feel bad about yourself. No matter what anybody says, remember that this is not your fault. And if you are alone in how you feel remember that I am angry with you.