Content Warning(s): stalking, PTSD, revenge "porn" (photographs taking without consent), gaslighting.
Submitted for Sexual Assault Awareness Month - Our Voices & Stories.
"I want to talk about a stalker I've had for about seven years now. This woman - we'll call her Marie - met me at a summer con about seven/eight years ago. We had a lot of fandoms in common and really clicked. Turned out she was relatively local too!
I should have noticed a gaping red flag because this chick confessed that she had feelings for me after knowing me for JUST THREE DAYS at this con. But hey - I was naive and trusting. I let it slide.
FRIENDS warned me about this girl - how she'd fixate and latch onto people. But I wanted to give her a chance.
I invited her to hang out - she got a hotel room for us. I didn't mind cuz again, she was a friend. Then she started making advances - advances that I was both inexperienced with and genuinely uncomfortable with. But I went along with it. I went along with it because [I felt physically intimidated by her] and I didn't want to lose a friend.
I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't want to be there. She gave me a drink and the rest of the night became a blur. I drove her home and on the way back to my house she started messaging me - talking about how she wanted to take me out again. There were intense sexual undertones to her messages.
She wanted to take me to romantic places - started talking about 'us.' I couldn't bring myself to tell her I wasn't interested. So I had a friend get in a "fakebook" relationship with me [a fake relationship on FB]. I hoped it would deter her but she started MESSAGING THEM about things we'd done - explicit things. Trying to give them 'tips' on 'how to handle' me.
I was horrified. I blocked her. I was traumatized by the entire incident and still am to this day. Any time I see her or hear about her I panic. I can't control it and I feel so helpless.
She continued to obsess over me - tried to contact me on other accounts, which I blocked. She had her FRIENDS stalk my page - I had to clear out my friends list and now I'm paranoid about the people I talk to. The folks I add - I'm terrified they might be working for her.
This isn't something I've ever come clean about on my own facebook. I'm too wary of giving out these details. Of giving her power in some way - of letting her know I'm traumatized about the entire incident.
I've disassociated, I've been through therapy, I still have flashbacks but I do my best to handle them. I've spent the past seven years trying to ignore her because I want to leave that incident in the past and she STILL continues to try and get my attention.
I hate admitting how powerless I feel and I hate the survivor's guilt that I feel every day because I DO blame myself for what she did. I'm also well aware of the fact that this psychopath took pictures of me without my consent - extremely intimate pictures. But she goes around claiming to be a victim - that she was led on and that her FEELINGS were hurt.
I'm a pretty strong and confident guy. I'm terribly private about the skeletons in my closet. I try to be as positive as I can because bad things HAVE happened to me and I try to keep ahead of them.
I encourage anyone who might be dealing with PTSD to seek professional help or even swing by a Coping at Con panel. Learn some of the skills that can help you deal with attacks and the like. To fend off the paranoia and guilt that comes with it. PTSD isn't all flashbacks and panic attacks. It's fear. It's the constant worry that your abuser might come back. That they'll find a way to make you a victim again. It's depression and dissociation.
I try to do my best to make sure I never feel like that again."
Anon, we're so sorry you went through that experience. Being stalked, whether online or in person, is scary in ways that can't quite be defined. When your stalker is manipulating mutual people in your lives into believing their side and treating you differently, it crosses from stalking into abuse. We take your case very seriously, possibly even more so, because a lot of times, people who identify as "guys" aren't respected or believed when they report about stalking happening to them.
Also, we'd like to point out your use of the word "paranoia." In recovery, one of the techniques you can use is to reframe your word choice. "Paranoia" tends to imply that there's something wrong with you, that the thoughts are irrational. However, from your story, we can tell that there's a clear rational basis; your stalker has been using psychological forms of abuse (claiming she's the victim rather than you) in order to make you feel as though it was your fault. We want to remind you that it's not your fault, you don't deserve to be treated that way, and you're far from alone.
The National Center for the Victims of Crime has a Stalking Resource Center. Anon, if you or anyone else is in need of help, please consider checking them out.