TW: Sexual harassment, Gaslighting, Cyberbullying, Suicide ideation
“My story starts back in college. I was in a committed relationship with my ex boyfriend at the time. It wasn’t a very happy relationship. During that time, I made a good friend in college. He knew about my boyfriend and he was this guy who was always there when I was upset. We got exceptionally close when my boyfriend and I broke up. It was a nasty break up and I was struggling with it. My friend would call me every day to make sure I was okay. We got close. These conversations turned into some harmless flirting. I never intended to give him the idea that I would sleep with him or that I would date him.
I got back together with my boyfriend and we dated for a year and a half more. My friend expressed his feelings for me and I politely told him I didn’t feel that way about him and apologised in case I made him feel hopeful. He often told me how he felt and would ask me to leave my boyfriend and give him a chance. When I told him that was not possible, he would apologise and tell me that he was happy for me. I should have seen the signs then.
Fast forward one and a half years, my boyfriend and I broke up for good. We knew we weren’t meant to be together. This friend of mine started getting aggressive about expressing his feelings for me. When I did not reciprocate, he told me that he had pictures of me where my cleavage was visible. Those weren’t even pictures of me in a compromising position, but they were pictures of me in my pyjamas and my cleavage was slightly visible. Those were snapchats I had sent him. They weren’t supposed to be on his phone. I was still scared. He threatened to show those pictures to my ex. We had just broken up and I knew he was mentally disturbed and I didn’t want him to have to deal with my mess. When my friend asked me to send compromising pictures of me to make up for not dating him, I didn’t want to, but I did. Like I said, I was scared. I once again sent it on Snapchat because I told him I didn’t want my photos on the internet. He hadn’t taken screenshots, I was relieved.
A few weeks later, he messaged me again, saying he was ‘horny’ and needed to sleep with me. When I refused, he threatened me with those pictures. When I came up with an excuse, and told him I shared those pictures on Snapchat, he told me he had taken pictures of the Snapchat with a spare phone. I was scared and gave in when he demanded I send a photo on whatsapp for him to pleasure himself to. It was sickening. He did this for months. Even if I didn’t respond the moment he texted, he would threaten me. I was stuck and I was scared. I couldn’t go to the cops, because his dad was a politician who had connections. I began to see his true colours. Every time I refused to do it, he would say that I owe it to him for breaking his heart, guilting me into doing it. After he made me send the picture, he would apologize and swear he had deleted the pictures from his phone. I tried to get him to share a screenshot of his album, but he slyly cheated. I developed anxiety. I would have a panic attack when I saw his name on the caller ID.
While this was going on, I was sexually harassed by a colleague in my office. I was traumatized. That weekend I was home and wrapping my head around what had happened. The friend texted me casually and I responded out of fear that he would do something to hurt me. When he asked me what’s up, I told him about the harassment at work. He then said he knew how to cheer me up, and he started speaking sexually and saying inappropriate things about my body. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t know what I was feeling. During all these times, I had stress eaten and put on weight. While harassing me, he would tell me I have become fat and then he would talk about how my breasts are not uniform and point in different directions. I developed a complex about my own body. I think I partly made myself gain weight hoping that if I was not “sexy” and skinny any more, he would stop harassing me because I was unattractive. I became anxious and depressed. It got so bad, he started forcing me to video call him and he would touch himself and I wanted to throw up. I started drinking a lot, smoking pot and having casual sex with people I met through dating apps.
I had quit my job because of the harassment at work. It was my last day at the office. I had requested permission to go late because I was baking a cake for my colleagues. That monster texted me early in the morning saying he was horny and needed pictures. When I said I wasn’t in a mood, he got aggressive. So much so that he said I will send whatever picture he asks me to send and he will make it stop only when he feels like. That time I begged him to stop. I was crying and sobbing. He didn’t stop until he had pictures of every part of my body in every angle. While he saw the pictures, he commented on my breasts, told me my facial expressions were not sexy enough (I was crying) and that my pelvic region was too hairy. When it was over, I wanted to kill myself. My roommate had left to work and I took the knife, ready to slit my wrists. I had just started dating my fiancè then. Something told me that he was worth living for. I didn’t cut myself. I took screenshots of that monster’s messages and circulated it amongst his friends in college. I made him stop.”