Down the Rabbit Hole
It is now October 2014 and I am 3 months into being stalked online. My stalker has now posted on more sites and keeps getting louder. In life, there will always be people happy to kick someone while they’re down. Forums breed these troll cheerleaders. A lie can be posted and there would be responses spurring on more. Or it is the same person using different personas to add credit to their story?
Chris and I couldn’t tell if all these posts were from the same people or others. What we did know was that it wasn’t stopping.
The words they were calling me…Whore, Cheater, Liar…
It penetrated me to my soul.
I took the words on personally. Every insecurity I had grew like a cancer, eating me alive from the inside. I was losing who I was. The Amanda that looked forward to meeting new people with a smile and a welcome hug was transforming into a girl scared to meet, talk, or even look at people.
Did everyone think of me like this?
I know many people thought “What did she do to deserve this?”
I even thought that. What could I have possibly done that someone hated me this much?
They start a WordPress site on me since I had own arbitration and the cheater sites had taken down the posts. They then start twitter accounts linking the WordPress account and getting more exposure. They place comments on the cheater sites that there is a WordPress site driving more traffic to it. It made it to the top of the search engines quickly. I barely understood how this all worked and it scared me how quickly it happened. I remember running to the bathroom to puke when I saw the new sites. There I was curled around the toilet crying, scared and unable to move.
In the back of my head were people saying, these are just words they can’t hurt you. The problem was they were hurting me. Hurting me to a point a couldn’t function.
I had been tracking everything we had found. I would take screen shots of each site; I created a spreadsheet of all the user names, the dates things were posted and the emails. We recorded every data point we could.
I went to the Calgary Police Service to find help and a Constable assigned to the case began to investigate. The voicemail Chris received from the stalker threatening to kill me got the officer’s attention.
After a month of working with the police officer, though, I got frustrated. I was told there was nothing they could do. I was told not to respond and this would simply go away.
This didn’t make sense to me: why couldn’t the police help me? These are the people who are supposed to protect you and here I was getting threatened and exploited for someone’s amusement. The very thing that laws were put in place for, no longer applied in this cyber world.
Really, everyone just kept telling it would go away if I stopped responding. So I did what they asked and guess what…It didn’t stop. It didn’t go away. It got worse.
Out of desperation, I put a post on Facebook asking all my friends for help. I was so frantic and depressed and at the end of my rope. One acquaintance I knew was able to introduce me to a detective for the Calgary Police Service and helped arrange a meeting. I took the detective a binder filled with every bit of evidence I had.
It surprised me that everyone was familiar with children getting bullied online but had never seen a case involving an adult that was this extensive and that crossed so many platforms. The detective took my information and went to her cyber security department. I was hopeful that someone was going to be on my side. Would this finally be my lucky break?
When I got a call from her to follow up, though, it wasn’t good news. First, the police service didn’t have the time or resources to help me. Second, the only thing they might be able to do was watch my Facebook profile – if I gave them my passwords and didn’t post anything from that moment on.
Since the harasser wasn’t attacking me on Facebook, it seemed pointless to have the police watch over the one place where I was still “safe” online.
As I have now learned, Canadian and U.S. laws are so far behind the times when it comes to stalking, harassing and shaming on social networks… its sick.
The detective offered to watch my case and asked to be informed of any new information, but, because it was happening on third-party websites, it would be difficult to pursue charges. For them to do that, they would need to catch the person on a keyboard at a computer to make a charge stick and I didn’t even know who was doing this to me.
Eventually, I was told if I wasn’t the victim of a homicide or a child pornography case, I was going to have difficulty getting anyone to help me because this is an internet issue as well as a cross-border issue.
I literally would have to die to get any type of help.
I felt completely defeated. I was overpowered and living in the horror story created for me. One that every day I was reminded of and every night I laid awake wondering “Why me? Who is doing this to me?” I rarely slept, the faces of friends, family and every stranger I could ever remember flashed before my eyes as I thought “Could it be them?” I was falling emotionally down the rabbit hole and I didn’t know where the bottom was.