Photo via Flickr user yoppy My online stalker broke up with me this week.He left me a voicemail from a random phone number because I had blocked him from calling me.It got me wondering—who are these dudes who can't take "no" for an answer?
One of my best friends blocked a man from OKC who was explicitly sexual with her right off the bat, telling her he wanted to "ride her wild." Instead of taking a hint though, he started following her on Twitter and private messaging her work Facebook profile, referencing things he'd seen on her Instagram feed, including a pair of joke underwear that I'd bought her for Christmas."Knowing that he knew where I worked and my full name was pretty scary actually," she told me.
"It felt like he was violating my privacy from behind his computer screen.
I could imagine him just sitting there creeping through my social media profiles at night and for the first time I became uncomfortable about the extent of material about me that was available online." The messages from my own suitor started out corny but innocuous enough before becoming increasingly desperate and finally, unnerving, when he correctly "guessed" my full name and where I worked, and starting giving me feedback on my articles.
Then, after 14 months of silence on my end, he sent an apology for messaging me "too much" and said he hoped he hadn't ruined online dating for me. Women who have these types of encounters are not expected to engage, and to report and block men who won't leave them alone, sometimes repeatedly.
I hope it'll be the last I hear from him, but based on our history, I have my doubts. We've never met and up until a couple weeks ago, I had never replied to any of the messages he sent me on OKCupid—messages he's been sending for a year and a half, occasionally changing user names and pretending to be a different person when he had no luck eliciting a response.
When I complained about his aggressiveness to my single girlfriends, I realized I was in good company.
Many had similar, and in some cases much more frightening experiences to share about being hounded online by men they'd outright rejected.
According to a Pew survey, 26 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 24 say they've experienced online stalking and 25 percent say they've been victims of sexual harassment on the web compared to seven and 13 percent of men, respectively.
If it's extreme enough, we're told we should speak to the cops.