The past couple of weeks have been somewhat interesting. Work continues to be something of a disaster. I publicly shared my story about being cyberbullied late last year. And then a day after sharing that, the girlfriend of my cyberstalker texted me to express what was in her own words “disappointment” that she “needed to get off her chest.”
She asked me not to share the text and I agree that even in this case, it doesn’t make sense to share the communication word for word. One, because I don’t think that’s totally fair. But also, to be honest, her rationale is so off that I can’t really bear to re-read the texts themselves. I texted her back yesterday to say that I wasn’t going to keep the text private as a means of being totally transparent with her. But I also did tell her that I wasn’t going to be obnoxious and blast the communication everywhere. And I’m not going to do that here.
In a nutshell, the GF thought that once I had told her to let her boyfriend know to knock it off with the insulting blog comments that everything was over. I should note that she never responded to my text and I never received an apology from anyone, namely the cyberbully. I should also note that character-wise, this woman is very passive and often likes to sweep uncomfortable things under the rug instead of having true and honest life discussions. I’m not going to go into why I think this is, but suffice it to say I wasn’t surprised to hear that she thought that “a hanging chad” was a satisfying ending. She said that my “tactics” could have more negative outcomes than maybe I was realizing. Which is actually where she is wrong. I hoped for negative outcomes. That was the point. I made the risk to shed the spotlight on a cultural and digital problem and her boyfriend, who is a perpetrator and has never publicly paid for the crime, was the perfect “villain” as it were. And frankly, no one should ever think that lack of punishment is ever where something ends. While statutes of limitations do exist legally, there is always the opportunity to right wrongs, if even in the courtroom of public opinion (see art accompanying this post).
She positioned it as retribution/retaliation– blaming me (the victim) instead of being honest and blaming her boyfriend for being a social miscreant. I told my friend about it and he told me that the term for what she was doing is called “gas-lighting” which is defined as: a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted/spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception and sanity. In a nutshell, as my friend put it “stalker’s gf is trying to pull the ‘you’re too sensitive argument’ on you.” She in fact did say something to that effect, that if I really stopped I’d realize how much this situation has been blown out of proportion.
The scariest thing is that she was using the same tactics as the cyberbully, saying things like “you should move on.” These were nearly verbatim the same lines that the cyberbully wrote in his final post, trying to control what I covered in my blog. For a second, I thought that maybe the cyberbully was actually writing the text on his girlfriend’s phone but then I noticed certain phrases that I knew were uniquely her’s. And then I realized that the brainwashing was probably pretty complete and that it would probably take her years before she comes to her senses and realizes that she has paired yet again with an overly dominant and controlling mate.
In the end, this is what made me not want to keep quiet. I think had the cyberbully apologized, things wouldn’t have escalated. Had his company taken some kind of action, I would have been fine. Had she asked me to please cease and desist, sure I would have considered it. But trying to use the psycho-babble on me, saying “I’m sorry that you felt badly” (instead of “I’m sorry it happened” or “I’m sorry that my boyfriend is a giant ass”) was super unsatisfying. In the end, I told her that I had moved on, that I stopped being close with them even when we worked together and gave them space to brew in their toxic relationship. The cyberbully came after me: finding my blog, following it and responding negatively. I don’t know a better example of “not moving on” than what he did.
Following the public admission, other ppl at work came forward with stories of their own. And despite the cyberbullying having occurred and now supporting stories that this guy just isn’t good, the girlfriend kept saying she was so “puzzled”– a phrase that I have heard her use many times before. Listen– the Bermuda Triangle is puzzling. The disappearance of Amelia Earhart is puzzling. Images captured of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster are puzzling. Getting direct evidence that your boyfriend is a big, bullying jackass– not so much.
In the end, I don’t feel bad for what I did. Truthfully, I had thought about other things in the months that have passed that would have been way worse. And in each case, I didn’t want to be that person that did that thing, even if it was to a scummy person. I felt like this was the right thing: to be honest, to hopefully enact change and to right a wrong that the perpetrators never once made an effort to right. And the way I see it, it’s not just that I stood up for myself. I feel like I stood up for the long line of victims that this guy would likely target over the course of his life. I hope that it causes him to think for even just a second before he ever acts like that moving forward. As my friend put it, “he underestimated you. Nobody’s ever stopped him before.” And for that reason, I feel like I did the right thing. And if the girlfriend can’t see the situation for what it is, and places the blame on the wronged instead of the wronger, well I mean– I wish her luck as she navigates her life. It’s gotta be hard living with blinders so thick that you can’t see the truth staring you right in the face. Happy weekend, everybody!