Time to open the window and let in some sunlight! (1)

Time to open the window and let in some sunlight! (1)

It’s time to live out loud!

It’s time to share my story – a story about when I realized how dark a place the internet can be. I am doing this so I can help others searching for a positive light online and realize they are not alone. It is time to have a voice.

I never really understood how powerful the internet is.

I have only ever had a small presence online: Posting about the beautiful and fun things I got to do on Facebook, so my friends and family knew what I was up to; creating a LinkedIn profile so I could network professionally; tweeting random thoughts to the world; and taking pictures of the beautiful world around me to put on Instagram – nothing prolific, just fun little things.

To others, the internet is an online game where they can play different personas, create profiles and, with a few clicks on the keyboard, they can have the life they always wanted. They can just as quickly take away yours.

Why would a stranger have so much hatred that they felt the need to destroy a hardworking Canadian woman?

For the last two years – starting in August 2014 – someone has run an online campaign to hurt me and the man who I was dating and who is now my husband, Chris Nickerson. The person or persons we believe targeted me to hurt both Chris and me. We still do not know who is responsible for these acts but have strong suspects. They have broadcasted their hatred, they have made demands and they have threatened my life.

It is criminal harassment and I am under attack every day. But they will not win.

Those responsible have worked tirelessly to take my life online and at home. They have posted false reports about me personally and professionally over numerous sites, from Twitter to Google+, created fake profiles of me on escort sites, harassed me on social media, threatened me over the phone and sent me a used condom with a note in the mail. As if that wasn’t enough, they took it a step further and started to attack my friends, family and my company, even posting bogus rip-off reports and reviews. They went after every part of my life.

This harassment campaign has tarnished my professional reputation – one I have built over 18 years in the oil and gas industry — a sector where women fight to achieve the same pay and respect as their male counterparts.

I have sacrificed relationships, friendship and family (even choosing not to have one of my own) all in the pursuit of my career. I was a dedicated professional and after many years deserved the titles of vice president that I earned at the companies I worked for.

With a few hateful strokes of a keyboard, everything I worked so hard for was ripped away. I was left alone, with the rest of the world doubting me before even meeting me.

This has left me feeling hopeless, helpless and powerless. It has left me feeling violated.

While the goal of the attacks was to ravage my relationship with my husband, Chris Nickerson, instead it forged us in fire. We were each broken down to our core but we found our true love. We were married in the middle of this merciless attack and now I have a teammate that is at my side until the end.

I’ve kept this in the dark for two years and it’s time to open up about what has happened to me. I want to talk about this openly and create the space for others to do the same. I have decided to embrace the saying, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” and shed light on the darkest corners of the internet. It’s a thing I have used but never really knew how to navigate.

I invite those who have experienced online stalking, shaming or victimization – or those who know people who have – to get in touch or to share what has happened to me with others so that together we can start “living out loud.”

The frightening and isolating truth is it’s so easy for anyone to do what was done to me. It could happen to you, your mother, father, sister, daughter, son, loved ones, a colleague or best friend.  As I have learnt, even when I have felt that there is little to be done, there were individuals who showed me there was hope, offered me help and eventually my personal power started to come back.

This is my story in every devastating detail.

————————————

August 9, 2014

I am wrapped in the arms of one of the most handsome and kindest men in the world, Chris Nickerson, dozing in and out of sleep as the light gently comes in through the curtain. I just don’t want to open my eyes. This moment is perfect.

Then my phone buzzes.

A text message from the president of the company I work for appears on the screen; it says something has happened and I need to phone him right away. When I do, it is his troubled voice on the other end of the line.

“You’d better check the internet,” he says. “Someone is putting awful things out there about you.”

I sort of giggle in disbelief as I race to my computer. Surely, this is a mistake.

But there it is at the top of all the search results: Amanda Rebec, cheater and pathological liar.

My world shifts in that moment. I am left with one question: What the hell is going on?

In a jumble of thoughts and emotions, I try to piece together who could have done this, why this is happening and why would anyone do this to me. I am starting to panic and have no idea what to do.

Chris looks at the computer and pulls me into his arms.

“So what?” he says. “Someone is calling my girlfriend a jerk.”

I try to giggle but only tears come. He’s seen this many times before online and refers to it as trolling but this is new to me and I am wounded by the words on the screen. I almost get sick as my stomach and heart are pained.

We are in Vegas with my friends, so all of the people closest to me are a room or a hotel away. I call an emergency meeting with all of my best friends to discuss every person who could have done this and every possibility as to why it’s happening.

My friends are among the closest people to me and have been for more than a decade.  Surely, one of them would be able to offer some clue about who this crazy person must be and we debated ideas.  I had a very small and limited dating history so it was easy to discuss everyone who had ever been in my life.

Nothing.

I left them with no better idea of who would be attacking me online like this than when we had met up. My mind was filled with racing questions: Who is doing this? Why me?

It didn’t take long before the words followed me off the internet and onto the phone. Someone had left a voicemail on Chris’s cell a few days earlier threatening to kill me. Figuring it was just some jealous man I may have dated, Chris didn’t tell me about it. But when the websites saying awful things about me started to appear, he let me listen to it. I was horrified and disgusted. I was almost sick again.

I listened to it a hundred times and couldn’t recognize the voice or anyone who even sounded similar. Is this a hoax? Had I really hurt someone so bad they would do this?

I had to remind myself to breathe.

My head was spinning and every question repeated in my head. I had no answers.

When you are ill, you go to the doctor. When a loved one dies, you grieve. Nothing I had experienced prepared me for the flood of emotion I felt as I realized I was the victim of cyber-stalking, harassment and social shaming.

I didn’t sleep that first night. I couldn’t stop my brain from spinning.

The next morning, I get up, dress and put on my best face. I refused to admit how upset I was when I was going to be meeting for the first time all of Chris’s friends and colleagues who were also in Vegas for – ironically – a conference on cyber-security, DefCon.

I took a big breath and compartmentalized all the negativity surrounding me and put on a smile. I tried to forget about this new trauma for a while. And it worked.

I went to the conference and laughed and smiled and met a whole new group of beautiful, interesting and fascinating people. I got introduced to a whole new world of “cyberland” and the people who play and work in it.

As we made our way back to our hotel room, though, my new reality sank in. The fear and emotion flooded back. I tried to hide it from Chris because I have no idea how to process this. I need to lean on him and he is more than happy to be my support – even as he struggles with his biggest fear: that I am a woman who cheats on men.

Because there it is on the internet, a place where he works and makes his living: The woman he’s dating is being branded a cheater.

Cheaterville Site

 


17 thoughts on “Time to open the window and let in some sunlight! (1)”

  • 1
    Stephanie Bunting on July 31, 2016 Reply

    I am tremendously proud of your courage to share this experience Much love

  • 2
    y3t1 on July 31, 2016 Reply

    On a different level and in in a different way I understand this.

    I inherited my stalker from someone I met but that stalker went after all I hold dear. My family (and kids), my career, my personal life, and my friends. The attacks were effective costing my company hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue and reputation. Fortunately my work colleagues did not fall for the attacks. They understood what was happening and stood by me.

    I sympathize with you Amanda and hope your situation comes to a rapid and final solution quickly. I am so sorry this happened! I know that the Internet has many useful benefits but it has become a very dark place to me because it is the tool that allows evil weak people to wield great power.

    May you have swift justice, peace, and resolution!

    • 3
      mrsanickerson on August 14, 2016 Reply

      Thank you for sharing your experience too. Sending you and your family lots of love.

  • 4
    Amber on July 31, 2016 Reply

    Amanda! I am so proud of you for this. We will be praying strength and peace as you continue this journey.

    • 5
      mrsanickerson on August 14, 2016 Reply

      Thank you Amber. I sincerely appreciate you reading my story.

  • 6
    Nick Selby on July 31, 2016 Reply

    I am really happy you have begun to put all this online, and I hope to see more. I’m really glad to see you and Chris are so happy, and I love that you are standing up to this turd. Please do let me know if I can be of help in TX with your stalker.

    • 7
      mrsanickerson on August 14, 2016 Reply

      Thank you so much Nick. I sincerely appreciate you reading my story.

  • 8
    #stopcyberbullying on August 7, 2016 Reply

    Amanda….! I need your help!

    The last two years of my life have been hell. I too am a woman in the oil and gas industry who has been publically shamed, threatened, cyberbullied, black mailed, attempt to extorted money….I’ve lost everything. It’s taken its toll on my personal relationship and quality of my life and career.

    They (trolls) have written terrible things about me. Crazy ridiculous theatrical stories of Isis involvement and funding them, that I’m into human trafficking, funding Christian fanatic groups, drug habits, and so on – they will stop at nothing. They have harassed my family friends, even my clients. They have set my my power poll outside my house on fire. They have written to my clients to not work with me by email and mail. People judge me and even some stop dealing with me because of these blogs. They listed me and my partners on Craig’s list as offering free sexual favours etc. My contacts are all over the Internet. They email me terrible things threatening my life and distroying everything I try to do or love. And so much more to mention- I’m sure you get the jist. All so horrible.

    What has hurts me is how unaware people are of dealing with a victim. I’m revictimized each time someone says “surely you did something to instigate this stuff?!” – just as ignorant as someone saying to a rape victim “if you dressed more appropriately this might not have happened !” What? Seriously. So unsupportive and ignorant. No one has the right to victimize and shame and abuse another person. And no one does anything to deserve it! This is an opportunity area to educate people how to support victims of cyberbullying.

    It’s a lonely world right now.

    I’ve hired a company to track these horrible people and work with the police. The Canadian Police are slow moving on these matters. And the insults and threats continue in the meantime. The blog is still very active. What horrible claims! And every post is caused more damage.

    We women entrepreneurs being shamed and cyberbullied must ban together. I’m ready to shine the light on my story as well.

    It’s time to stay out and stand up against these criminals. And bring them out of hidding (from behind their little computers) into the light as well.

    I’m ready to stand by you! You by me!

    The last six months I have had a voice in my heart say ” 2017 Canadian Forum for ANTI CYBERBULLYING”…. ! I’m ready to build a committee of women ready to shine the light on cyberbullying through a forum of sharing stories which involve government and law officials nationally and globally. Laws must be improved locally and globally – the jnternet is also a world of its own and should have a governing body of some sort working with governments around the world creating a regulated network with mindful practice. And awareness must be given a podium.

    Thank you for inspiring me and giving me hope and strength Amanda. I’m sorry you’ve endured so much over the last 2 years.

    We are strong. We must be for all the women out there suffering in silence.

    • 9
      mrsanickerson on August 14, 2016 Reply

      Kelly,

      Thank you so much and I look forward to learning more about your story. Thank you for sharing. Your story will also help others. We all learn different things along this journey. Love and peace. Amanda

  • 10
    Leonardo on August 10, 2016 Reply

    I feel really sorry for you, you have been very brave to write this.

  • 12
    mrsanickerson on August 14, 2016 Reply

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story.

  • 13
    mrsanickerson on August 14, 2016 Reply

    Hi Kristin,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I cant tell you how much I appreciate the fact you then took the time to write me. I have so much gratitude.

  • 14
    Carmen on August 15, 2016 Reply

    Wow, just wow! Amanda, I’m saddened to learn that you’ve gone (and are actively going) through this. As I’m reading through your blog, I feel angered and sad that SOMEONE decided to interrupt your livelihood and well-being. It’s disgusting to think that anyone would publish (& do) such horrific things. Especially to someone that is so beautiful and kind-hearted. Please embrace the love and support on and off-line and remember, love will prevail over jealousy and hatred. And, just as you are shining a light on this subject, the person (or people) responsible will be brought out of the dark for justice to be served! <3 Carmen

    • 15
      mrsanickerson on August 15, 2016 Reply

      Thank you Carmen! All I can do is bring awareness now and hopefully pass along some little tips that helped me. xo

  • 16
    Frank on August 28, 2016 Reply

    That’s horrible. And, I know it doesn’t even begin to describe the issue, but can’t come up with better adjective. It’s very brave that you are talking about this problem, and at the same time the problem is super scary. I started thinking about profiling those who go about online/offline harassment and soon realized it’s kinda impossible to do that. I mean, whoever the stalker is, a man, or a woman, I wondered how good their life must be that they can afford to mess around with stalking in any shape, and clearly that produces another question: if everything else is great and they just have a gripe with you, why can’t they let it go? So, then, we turn to those who don’t have a good life, which raises questions like: why bother with stalking you when they have to take care about themselves, to pay rent/mortgage/bills etc? And, that is how I concluded that it’s impossible to profile an online stalker, which sucks, and it’s pissing me off, to be perfectly honest because that means anyone can be a stalker and anyone can be their victim.
    I must say, it’s amazing that you kept your sanity through this and I do believe you’ll prevail, glad to hear that you have support, and I’m definitely rooting for you and Chris.

    • 17
      mrsanickerson on August 28, 2016 Reply

      Thank you so much for reading my post. I will never understand the energy they have put into this. I am truly thankful for everyone.

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