With tweets and messages and texts and rumors already circulating about me and what I said about one of my college peers, I think it's finally time that I talk about everything that has been happening to me since 2015. I kept this quiet for too long, and I regret that now. Being strong and silent about being terrorized isn't powerful, it's cowardly and harmful. I don't want to be prescriptive here because I don't know the nuances of every different situation, but in my case ignoring the person who was tormenting me only gave him the power and permission to continue to torment me. So that's over. The days of me gritting my teeth and bearing it are done.
The blog post I keep referencing in this post can be found HERE. I guess there's a chance he might delete it — which is what I wanted for almost a year — but deleting it now will only prove me right.
I want to address a few things. A couple days ago I tweeted about some guy making a short film about blowing me up. It was a sequel to another short film he made where he had previously said this in a blog post:
"That night, I write my feelings down in my journal... a long depressing entry, fueled by feelings of perceived worthlessness and helpless ness, all related to, at least in part, this girl that I like.
She even makes her way into a film I make based on that journal entry, in the form of a large fiery planet with a ring of intimidating storm clouds.
And no one is any the wiser."
He explicitly outlines the facts that 1) I am in the movie in the form of a symbolic planet, 2) that the film was based on a journal entry, 3) the journal entry was about me. So when a big, fiery planet gets violently eviscerated in part 2 of the movie everyone saw ME getting blown up. His friends are telling me "it's not about you; it has nothing to do with you." That may very well be true. But true or not, he still wrote this overwrought blog post explaining what the first half of the movie was inspired by (me) and basically instructed everyone to look out for a planet symbolizing me, and then he blew up that symbol in the sequel. It doesn't matter if it was a different planet or not. It doesn't matter what he decided that the planet symbolized in the second half of the movie. Because everyone who had read that blog post was already conditioned to see it as him obliterating me because of what he'd carefully written and published on the internet for everyone to see. He created his own dominant reading of the film by writing that post. His friends are telling me, "You're being self-centered to think it was about you, it's clearly not about you, no one else thinks it was about you" but literally multiple people who were at the screening reached out to see if I was okay, because they all saw the same thing that I did. It's as simple as that. Whether he meant the film to me about me or X or Y or Z (or all of the above) is a moot point; I am literally not arguing for or against what he actually meant when he made it. The fact is: he went out of his way to ensure that anyone in the audience who read the blog post would view the film this way. Period.
Now let me talk about the guy who made the short film, because the short film is literally the smallest and least significant part in this.
He went to film school with me and was obsessed with me — he stalked me relentlessly and harassed me constantly. He would stalk me across campus from 20 feet back, stand silently behind me when I was talking to my friends, openly leer at me in class, track me through the halls, try to weasel his way into situations where I would be even if he was uninvited and unwanted. He literally hid behind pillars and spied on me like a cartoon villain. My mom thought he was going to murder me and ordered my older brother to walk me home from school if I didn't have any friends to walk with. He was delusional about the state of our relationship, thinking that we were friends or "making progress in our relationship" when I was literally always trying to avoid him, trying to make myself a smaller target, trying to get his attention off me. He was unpredictable and unnerving: silent yet menacing, I was never sure what he would do if he somehow got me alone with him. There were times when I ducked into the Wilk because it was crowded and bright and felt safer when he was following me in the dark. There were times when my best friend literally put her arm around me and RAN to our next class to try and get rid of him. Whenever he was around, I felt uncomfortable and gross, like I needed to hide. I tried to ignore him, I avoided eye contact and sat far away from him in class, tried not to speak to him directly. I made it clear that I liked someone else. In general, I didn't hang out in social settings if I knew he'd be there. I checked over my shoulder when I was walking around campus to make sure he wasn't following me. I carried pepper spray. I hoped that if I didn't engage and if I became smaller and quieter and more forgettable he would tire of pursuing me and move on.
Then he published a 5000 word blog post about me called "The Year of the Witch."
It's horrific. Repulsive and psychopathic. It's threatening and aggressive and completely objectifying, saying he thought of me as a "Game," calling me a witch and an evil queen, comparing his obsession with me to cancer and to "slavery," a play on my name. He says he wants "control" and "domination" the same way I supposedly "controlled" him. It's chilling. Beyond hostile and disturbing, it's humiliating. He says his fanatical pursuance of me "isn't about love or friendship. It's about victory." He makes all these gross claims and assumptions about me; he treats me like I played a part in his obsession, like I was actively feeding his fixation and punishing him and embarrassing him. He twists my own words from this very blog and uses them against me. He says he was in love with me, but he never knew me or knew anything about me. "Everything I do," he says, "every decision I make, every way I express myself or carry myself or think about myself, from the way I walk, to the way I talk, to the things I watch, to the things I read, to the things I eat, to the things I spend time with, or the things I think are important, or the things I do when no one else is around" is controlled by me and getting my attention; he claims he loses his job and his grades fall because he's too obsessed with me.
In reality, I was just trying to get away from him. The whole blog post reads as if I'm an animal that he's trying to lure into a trap and keep. It's demeaning and dehumanizing; it made me feel small and dirty and afraid of what he might do next.
Moreover, he didn't just write this sprawling manifesto about me in his journal. He didn't even publish it on a blog that I would never see. He PURPOSEFULLY texted me, "I wrote a 5000 blog post about you" to make sure I would read it. That's kind of the worst part: that he wanted me to read it, this sickening thing he wrote to degrade me. And then he posted it on Facebook, so that all my friends and everyone I went to school with would read it and make all these mortifying assumptions about me.
What I regret is choosing to treat the whole situation like it was a funny creepy joke instead addressing it head-on and getting the help I needed. "Oh that's just my stalker, he's going to kill me and wear my skin, ha ha ha!" I wanted to be strong and unaffected by his behavior. I am a vocal feminist and a capable woman, I believe in fighting my own battles, and I didn't want to seem weak or whiny or pathetic. I was nervous about telling the faculty members in our program because I didn't want them to think I was a tattletale or that I couldn't handle things on my own. I was also nervous about what everyone would think. I'm loud and opinionated and don't take crap, I have a good support system, I seem to be doing fine and my life seems pretty good. On the other hand, the guy in question is painfully shy and awkward, never speaking up in class or doing anything divisive. Everyone assumes he's so harmless and nice just because he's quiet and shrimpy and kind of a pushover. No one would ever think he could cause so much fear and shame and menace.
I didn't want my peers and professors to think I was just being a baby; I didn't want to have to deal with the fact that reporting him would likely be met with a lot of questioning and interrogations. I just wanted to ignore it, ignore him, and hope that it all went away.
And then I saw that movie. Maybe it has nothing to do with me. But it was front-loaded with not only ample evidence to lead me/everyone else to view it in a way that depicted me in a violent way, but also all the stalking and harassment and objectification that I had endured in real life and online.
So I'm sorry if the guy that YOU know is a nice, quiet guy. I'm sorry if the blog post wasn't appalling and disgusting and shocking and violating enough for you. I'm sorry if it just seems like he had a "crush" on me. I'm sorry if he didn't do anything to YOU. I'm sorry that I'm being "hurtful" to the scary, threatening, misogynistic guy who made my life a hellscape because I'm finally coming forward to tell everyone about what he did and how I felt, and yes I probably should have done it earlier, but I literally couldn't care less if he gets a negative reputation or gets his feelings hurt or whatever.
Some men I've been "friends" with for 3+ years have sent me messages saying that I'm being "hurtful" and "self-centered" and "mean" by posting about this guy. One said it would "mean a lot" to him if I would delete the tweet. Seriously? They want me to delete my 140-character tweet? Well why didn't THEY ever message HIM to tell him to delete his disgusting 5000-word opus about me? Why didn't they ever tell him that stalking me and terrorizing me and treating me like a disgusting little piece of meat was pretty "hurtful"? Huh?
These are men who I was friends with. Who I made movies with and hung out with and even went on dates with. These are men who have spoken up in class discussions about equality and feminism, who have joined the #MeToo movement. Lo and behold, they're just as disappointing and cowardly as any other run-of-the-mill internet troll.
Overwhelmingly, women have been kind and supportive and amazing. They have tweeted at me and texted me and DMed me to tell me they believe me, that they're sorry this happened, that they're here for me. They haven't said "I believe you... BUT."
I want to stress that the Believe Women movement does not only apply to rape/sexual assault — it also applies to stalking and harassment and manipulation and intimidation. That said, after facing down multiple men who've tried to bully me and guilt me and tear me down over this whole situation and after feeling gigantically betrayed and shocked and devastated by these men I called my "friends," I cannot even begin to fathom the hugeness of the pain and anguish that survivors of real sexual violence must deal with. Believe Women.
After years of keeping quiet, these things need to be said. I'm not going to name the guy who harassed me because the people who know him will already know who he is, and that's all that matters.
Finally, I want to make one thing explicitly, glaringly clear: this is NOT about whether some guy's boring Lego short film is or isn't about me. And after all this, if that's still the thing matters to you: back off.
"In a dream you saw a way to survive and you were full of joy." (Jenny Holzer)