Becoming a Survivor: Overcoming Stalking, Harassment and Online Bullying

9 months ago
Unsplash.com

It began as text messages mainly to my boyfriend, veiled threats demanding money from him or my reputation, as a public figure, would be destroyed.

“It can either haunt her forever or not. You haven’t seen anything yet. Hell hath no fury.”

Then, I started seeing flashes of light when I would walk to my car and soon realized those lights were camera flashes. At one point, she jumped out from behind a bush screaming at me while videotaping saying, "ding dong, the witch is dead!" 

I'd come home from work and strange cars would be parked outside of my house, my kids would go outside to play and I would see people drive by over and over again taking pictures. We would go to the pool with my kids and text messages would come through letting us know she knew we were there. 

One morning, I left for work around 5:30am and a red car was parked two doors down with a woman inside just watching me. I drove by and stared her down then drove around the block and by the time I came back, the car was gone. 

“God has a judgment day. Are you ready for yours?”

One night, my boyfriend and I finally decided to go out for dinner. I had been sick for weeks from the stress of this mess and had hardly left my house so this was a big deal. We went and sat down and soon after a man sat at a table across from us, perfectly placed. It looked like something you would see out of a cheesy movie. He was alone, oddly dressed and somewhat ridiculous. I whispered to my boyfriend that he was spying on us. Sure enough, he took his phone out and pointed it our direction while appearing to look at the menu. 

I had a thousand feelings. I was angry more than anything, if it happened today, I would have called the police right there but, I didn't. I just watched him, I probably watched him more than he watched me. I watched until I became sad. Being stalked had become my normal. I was followed around by random individuals like I was one of the Kardashians.

“I need someone to kick her @$$ that can’t be traced back to me.”

My boyfriend and I went to a local bookstore. When we returned to my house he got a text message, she claimed to have accidently sent it to him but obviously, that was not the case. The message read something like "oh, they've only been to a bookstore today." We read it at the same time and knew what it meant. We both walked out to the car only to find a GPS tracking device hidden underneath it. To this day, we have no idea how long the device had been on his car.

In the midst of the real life stalking that went on for more than a year, the online attacks were even more intense. Hundreds of facebook posts on my public social media pages, my websites and sent to me via e-mail. I had a staff person who watched these pages alongside me and we screenshot each post and took them down over and over again.

She created a story, made up fictional events in her mind and claimed them as fact. Then, she blasted those made up stories all over social media all in the name of money and what she considered to be her sweet revenge or “karma” as she called it on her ex spouse.

“I’m sure you know you are a homewrecker and that you broke up my marriage. I am sure you figured out you will face this for the rest of your life.”

One by one every media station in our town had been contacted, the advertisers that supported my company had also been contacted. It did not take long before my business was driven into foreclosure and everyone lost their jobs along with their investments. I watched a company I had built from the ground up fall apart and it hurt, badly.

One day, I went over to my parent’s house and my dad was watching the local news. I sat down on the couch in silence as we heard the news anchors talk about my story. They didn't mention my name, they simply spoke about an online article they had read about me and repeated her lies. I was listening to this made up story play out on the very station I had been on only a few weeks earlier as a guest and it made me sick. Not a single person had the guts to ask me if it was true, they simply spread the gossip about what they had heard.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Sarah.”

My attorney told me, “where there is smoke, people will believe there is a fire.” He was right. This woman is an expert at creating smoke, no one would dispute that. But, there was no fire.

I dated her ex while their divorce was being finalized, she dated other men during that time as well. Eventually, I married him. There was no steamy affair, no hidden money, there was nothing. Just two wounded people coming out of bad marriages that happen to find one another. 

I was threatened, stalked, lied about and posted about on an almost daily basis from her and her friends and sometimes, complete strangers. I’d like to say I got used to it but, that would be a lie. Things like this can either make you crumble or make you stronger. I am grateful I came out stronger. 

I took the high road and I'm proud to have that. I have no regrets as I did not behave badly in any form regarding this issue and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, I did not have an affair. I know what affairs are like, that happened to me and I would never do that to another human being. She does not know me well enough to understand that. 

“My friends can do stuff but has to be someone that she doesn’t know because of court stuff.”

I cannot claim to understand the why behind all the things that happened nor those things that continue to happen to this day other than to say it was motivated by a search for money that did not even exist. And, it had much more to do with revenge on her ex spouse than it had anything to do with me. I was simply in the way and therefore, had to be dealt with. 

I do think to some degree she has told the story so much, she has to keep going or people would think she made the whole thing up. That is simply because she did, in fact, make the whole thing up. 

“Keep messing with her, tell your friends to do it.”

It is a weird thing to read the messages now and to think back over all of the things that have happened. It happened so often and so fast I nearly got used to it. I got used to looking over my shoulder, to knowing I was being filmed at all times. I got used to being confronted by complete strangers over things that never even happened. I got used to the sadness.

Today, I'm stronger, I am not the same person I was then and I am grateful for that. My husband and I are stronger because of what we have been through and have survived. I had never known a hate so deep, her hate changed the way I see the world now, three years later, I still look over my shoulder. My windows are tinted dark so she can't take pictures inside of my car, I know my surroundings, I am not afraid but, I am careful.

I have spent the last few years in silence, dealing with the aftermath of this storm. It is amazing the impact social media can have on a single human being, more amazing the lasting effects made by cowards hiding behind a computer screen. 

I am a survivor of hate but, more than that, I have become a fighter, a warrior, I hold tight to my truth and it will not be shaken. No matter what people may say about me behind a computer screen, on the sidelines of a soccer field or on on television, I have the truth and the truth conquers everything. 

"The truth is like a lion. You don't have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself." -St. Augustine 

 

Note: The bold phrases used throughout this article are real text messages and/or social media posts sent to me and/or my husband. 

This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. Want to join our amazing community and share your own story? Sign up here.

More from living

Living
by Colleen Stinchcombe | 2 days ago
Living
by Sarah Landrum | 6 days ago
Living
by SheKnows Editors | 10 days ago
Living
by Nirupama Kumar Hecker | 11 days ago
Living
by Fairygodboss | 15 days ago
Living
by Justina Huddleston | 23 days ago
Living
by Colleen Stinchcombe | a month ago
Living
by Aly Walansky | a month ago