Recently, I posted this article to my blogs, and then after much though, decided I had perhaps revealed too much of myself with all that was said. So, I deleted the posts. In retrospect, while I have lost all of the wonderful and supportive comments that were made, I now have a better understanding of why, perhaps, the post needs to stay here for everyone to see. So, with my apologies, it is back to stay, and I hope that it might serve to help someone else avoid the agony this put me through. Thank you to everyone who's read and commented when it first appeared, and I hope you will not think too badly of me for having deleted your thoughts and support. Believe me, it was and always will be very precious to me!
How do you recognize, or in truth define, an online sexual predator? It’s a tricky question, isn’t it? And most of us would never want to admit that we’ve encountered one, let alone fallen in love with him. But, I have recently. I’m going to speak openly about this despite the sense of idiocy I feel about having fallen into this kind of trap. Maybe someone else can pause long enough not to be sucked into it all by pretty words and intense connection.
First, why the very cold and ugly phrase sexual predator? In this case, and at the core of all predatory relationships, you have a darkness that is usually hidden behind brilliant lightness and sweet words. All of that amazing devotion that evolves so quickly in the online world can blind even the smartest of men and women, because while we are online we are deeply connected to the people we choose to spend our time with, be it in light socializing or continuous one-on-one conversation with people we seem to “click” with in amazing ways.
Six months ago I “met” someone on Facebook, someone who was pleasant and creative. He was involved with a woman I knew casually, and they were very happy when I first encountered them. He was out-going and witty, and I was charmed by him. BUT, he was someone else’s guy, and I simply ignored him beyond the hello and laughter we exchanged in the role-play group he was running at that time. About a month later, I noticed very dark and angry posts going up on his page, and I contacted him privately, expressing my concern. His lady also sent me a message and told me they’d broken up and it had been ugly. I was faced with choosing which one of them I would believe or support, and when she vanished, he and I continued to talk, until most of our days began to be spent together while we worked.
He told me she was “crazy” and cited endless examples to prove to me he was being harassed and persecuted by her obsession with him. He said he was forced to remove his “real-life” profile because she hounded his ex-girlfriend, and was after his family. I had no reason to question him, he was smart and savvy, and I figured he was being honest. We had no reason to lie to each other, did we?
Over the course of weeks, we became a team, writing together, hanging out together, and falling in love with the fabulous intimacy we shared. A running joke with us became that we shared a brain because often we were typing/speaking the same words at the same time–and when we wrote together, the chemistry and passion was sizzling hot. To people who read our work, they knew we were the real deal.
He lost a second group, and in the weeks that followed, while he struggled, I was with him, consoling, calming, and keeping his temper in check…listening with love and empathy to someone I wanted to help. He hit upon a new series of books and we bought them together, read and discussed them, then he asked me to help him create a new group where we could write together and make something truly special. None of the “trouble-makers” from his old groups were to be allowed near us. I agreed. In the couple of months that followed, we did in fact make magic with the group we created, then things changed, almost overnight.
Whispered lies and insinuations can get into the heart of anything creative and start the rot. By the time this occurred, I was head over heels in love with this guy. I’d have done anything for him. We’d made plans, were allowing the days to take us closer to each other all the time. The first real “fight” was devastating. Hour after hour of hammering away at me to supply him with information I simply felt no need to hand over. In the end, I did relent, and peace was restored. I realized in retrospect that I should have walked away that night, but I was in love, wasn’t I? He admitted to me that night that he didn’t know how to back off even when he knew he should. A warning unheeded by me.
A few days passed, and because of personal pressures and professional stress, plus the strain of being in a long-distance relationship and trying to hold a role-play group together for him, I had stopped sleeping altogether. Three days passed, during which I slept for approximately two hours, and I’d stopped eating entirely. This makes the best of us judgementally impaired, and susceptible to suggestions from others that feed our fears. What happened after I reached this dark place is the culmination of months of trust in someone who was, ultimately, using and abusing me.
I have in my possession a week’s worth of anger and insanity that was levelled at me. At one point in the final week, a lawyer’s advice was sought and eventually I was given back work that had been taken in a sweep of fury and anger from my beloved partner. A psychiatrist has looked at those messages in great detail, the conclusion being that it is his opinion that I fell prey to an emotionally unstable person who might at heart be dangerous. The phrase “sexual predator” was broached, and the “evidence” presented to me once my mind cleared enough to listen.
In a panic, my partner contacted me with promises of starting over, of fixing what went wrong, etc., and fool that I was, I still believed him. So, I went about doing all that was needed to eliminate a potential legal disaster from coming down on his family. The moment the situation was resolved and the threat removed, I had one last message. “I have to go for awhile, I’ll check back with you in an hour.” That was three days ago. He deleted his personal email address when I asked him “where do we go from here?” I learned quickly there was not going to be a second chance, and he was already telling anyone who would listen that I was mentally unstable and obsessed and harassing him, and stalking him… ALL the things his previous girl was accused of being. The pattern was becoming quite clear.
It’s very easy to be betrayed by your emotions when you are open and trusting. A friend of mine told me I was easily taken in because he was listening to me and thinking of me, and that made me easy to read. We were “perfectly matched” even in temper and strength, as well as creative passion. The difference between us was simple, I meant what I said, he was using the opportunity my naiveté gave him to use me and laugh at me. The most ironic thing in all this is that according to some of his friends, HE is not even a he, but a she with a really good line. I could very easily pretend none of this happened, but in truth, I’m just the latest in a long line of women who find themselves abused in this way because they are caring and intelligent, and trust too easily.
When online, there is no guarantee that what you are seeing is the truth in anyone. What you invest is real and honest, but you have to take the other party on faith, and that’s where the con man lives and waits in many cases. A sexual predator preys on your desire to be loved and understood, tells you everything he slowly learns you need to hear and feel to be cherished and secure. I’m not an insecure woman, yet with him, at the end, I had nothing but insecurities, and he insisted that the only one I could trust was him, because everyone else had an agenda. I wasn’t to talk to anyone about things, or handle things on my own–he wanted to “take care of me” and make me feel safe. All of this was wonderful, I thought. I must have had my head up my arse because if anyone else had come to me with this kind of story I’d have shaken some sense back into them.
People who insist on hiding behind false identities are inevitably hiding more than just their names. I think that’s an inarguable truth. Learn well from this, because trust is all we have to go on, and it must be extended carefully or you’ll lose a lot more than you can imagine at this stage. If you enter into a “relationship” and it progresses to the stage where “I love you” is exchanged easily and daily–there is no reason to hide your life from the person you’re telling your most intimate secrets to–if they continue to hold back simple things like a phone number, a full name, an address…ask yourself if this is someone you SHOULD be extending all your trust to. I think when the brain kicks in over the promises of love, we all know that someone like this is bored and looking for the next woman to exploit. Enjoy your social networking, but be wary and smart. I wasn’t, and as a result, I may never fully trust anyone again. That’s sad, and such a disservice to the people out there who are decent, but will pay for this man’s abuse of my love in spite of my intelligent awareness that he is not the template by which anyone should be measured.