I Ended My Relationship Years Ago. He’s Still Stalking Me Online Today.

It started as a fling.

He, whom I’ll call Alex, was older than I, and he was also an authoritative figure of mine. After three months of flirtation and comments here and there, he invited me over one night. We chatted, and you could cut the tension with a knife. He was drunk; I was dead sober.

It was there that the tryst started. In our professional setting, we were hot and cold – in front of some people, he would pretend not to know me. In front of others, we’d jump in his car and eat dinner out together. It was never consistent, the way Alex treated me in public – only when he wanted me to come over.


Crossing Boundaries

It was the second time I went to Alex’s house, and he was extremely drunk. It was there where he took advantage of me, ignoring our safe word and sexually assaulting me. But I was young, and he was older, and I was flattered that he would even pay attention to me with all the backhanded compliments he threw my way. I claimed to my therapist that I had power, that he respected me, that it wasn’t that bad and it was just an understanding the two of us had.

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For years, in between relationships, we would meet up every now and then. He never apologized for the second night. But he told me he loved me, so I brushed over it. I pretended that it didn’t matter, he didn’t mean it, it was fine. He loved me, after all.

Eventually, I entered a serious relationship with a man I’ll call Joseph. He was nothing like Alex – he was sweet, he was kind, he listened, and he always made sure things were consensual. So, I blocked Alex’s number. We talked one more time, and then I ended things.

But He Wouldn’t Go Away

It had been a year and a half after Alex and I had last spoken. I had gone to a lot of therapy to work out lingering feelings, specifically those of trauma. I did not realize that my lack of consent and tears truly meant that he had sexually assaulted me – like, definition-of-the-term-sexually-assaulted. I was so much younger, and so full of pride and denial, that I didn’t think to put a name to it. 

One night, I received a snapchat message from someone I didn’t know. “When did we stop seeing eye to eye?” 

I was confused, unsure of the person messaging me at midnight. “Who is this?” I responded. Their response told me everything I needed to know: “Goodnight Tess.”

My Snapchat was hidden well, meaning Alex had to do a deep dive to find me. After a year and a half, Alex was back. I felt nothing but dread in the pit of my stomach. He then started threatening suicide because his ex-girlfriend had “demolished his existence.” He was dramatic, but the Stockholm Syndrome in me pushed me to respond and neutralize the situation.

I felt guilty for “abandoning” him, something he had manipulated me into thinking. So, I responded carefully. Finally, I had the guts to call him out on his sexual assault. I still remember his response to this day:

“I mean, it was bound to happen eventually.”

I damn near vomited. And I realized: I had been so desperate to not be a victim, because I associated it with being weak. Hearing him say these words, I realized I was a victim, and that what he did wasn’t okay, and that he had led me on for years because he knew he had the upper hand.

I stopped responding and blocked him there.

The Statistics of Stalking

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Stalking happens to more women than you’d think. In 2011, 5.1 million women reported that they had been stalked,  and the majority of the time, they knew their stalkers — in fact, approximately 2/3 of women were being stalked by past and current intimate partners. The most common forms of harassment came from phone calls and text messages. 

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One of the most difficult things about a stalker: it’s hard to stop them with so much technology around. You can block a Facebook profile… but they can always make a new one. Block their number, and they’ll use a third-party app to get through,  or they’ll use someone else’s phone. They may ask friends to keep tabs on you, as if receiving intel on your actions.

It’s extremely detrimental to mental health, understandably. Women are likely to suffer from PTSD symptoms, such as nightmares and suicidal thoughts, and have an increased risk of depression and anxiety. Indeed, the idea of a stalker having eyes all over is terrifying. 

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With these stats in mind, I felt relieved that I had managed to stay away and get rid of Alex…or so I thought.

But It Wasn’t Over

I had just arrived at my mom’s place, and I saw I had a voicemail from a blocked number. And I knew. With my heart in my throat, I opened it up to listen. It was a threat, saying that he knew I could hear the message and that I needed to call him. Alex was angry, snapping at the end. And I felt terrified.

He had threatened me before in a thinly-veiled manner, but it was when he was lashing out, so I thought nothing of it. But hearing the tone in his voice in this voicemail, demanding I pick up, made me realize: “yeah, if I’d stuck around, I don’t think I would have made it.”

I fully believe his gaslighting would have driven my life straight into the ground. Either I would become worn down, like an abused puppy, or his drunken, violent nature would have physically hurt me. I’m scared to think of what could have happened had I stayed a moment longer.

Still No Escape

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I have a portfolio site. I no longer use it, because I’m quite content here at She’s a Full On Monet. But I keep it up, just in case. I don’t have any personal information on it aside from my name – not even my email.

So, when I did check my email, I was excited to see that someone had sent me a message through my site. No one had ever done that before, and I was excited to see who was reaching out.

“Call me. Reach out. I miss your…presence. Hope you are well.”  

And then I wasn’t excited. The narcissism was baffling. Alex knew why I had stopped talking to him, and he thought he could simply slide into my world again. How dare he.

I responded, using an unused email of mine, telling him to leave me alone or I’d go to the authorities.  I didn’t want him to have my personal email, because clearly, he was determined to harass me.

To This Day, I’m On Edge

This all happened a month ago. As of late, I still occasionally get late-night calls from “No Caller ID,” so I can’t block them. I ignore specific area codes, because I don’t know his work number. All of my social media is private, and I am wary of any new person adding me on LinkedIn. I’ve never been so paranoid or scared. I would get a restraining order, but there is so much I don’t want anyone to know about, so it isn’t an option for me at this time.

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If I could give myself one piece of advice, it would be this: do what you must to survive, and no more than that. Surviving at the time, for me, meant making sure he wasn’t forced into a psychiatric admittal during mental breakdowns (though I now see that he should have been), but also refusing to see him in person. Surviving now is taking every possible precaution to avoid him, and not compromising my safety out of some twisted guilt.

I wish I had more words of advice, but know this: it is not your fault. It was NEVER your fault.


Have you had experiences with stalking? What did you do? Let us know in the comments.

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