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(10,173 posts)
Tue Nov 27, 2018, 12:50 PM Nov 2018

Her Ex-Boyfriend Harassed Her Online for Months. She Took Him to Court and Won $6.4 Million.

The guy is a complete sociopath but what really stands out is little structural support she received while he tried to completely destroy her life.

After about a month of dating, David went home to Virginia for the holidays. He called to catch up and then dropped the news: Things weren’t great there and he had decided to move back to help his family with their business. “I’m not coming back,” he said, and I was shocked. We never officially discussed entering a long-distance relationship, but we just kept right on talking at our normal pace. It wasn’t ideal, but school was so strenuous that I thought the lesser time commitment might actually be preferable.

We ended up talking all the time. We’d text throughout the day, and when I got home, from classes we’d Skype. Then, my first narrow glimpse into the future: I started to feel that sometimes David was disrespectful of me and my time. He would call every morning around 8 a.m. on the East Coast because he wanted to wish me good morning or just to talk—he always wanted to know everything I would be doing that day—but it was 5 a.m. in California and I needed my sleep. When I brought it up or playfully complained about the wake-up call, he didn’t take the criticism well. He’d deny it was a weird thing to do or shut down entirely. The daily ring of my phone at dawn did start to feel overwhelming, but I told myself he was just being supportive. In some ways, knowing everything about each other’s days made it feel like he was right there beside me.


But then I got a new request: He began pressing me to send him sexy photos. We were long distance and wanted to keep the spark going, so I understood the reason for the ask. But I was really uncomfortable at the idea of taking nude pics of myself. It’s one thing to undress in front of somebody—that’s in the moment and I’m giving permission—but a pic allows access to my nakedness whenever someone wants it and gives that person control. It all made me feel really vulnerable.

But I did trust David. So I sent a photo: fully clothed where you could sort of see the shape of my butt. It was my way of complying. But he goaded me on. We couldn’t have sex physically, so he’d say, “Don’t you trust me? Why don’t you want to make me happy?”


As my spring semester wound down, we started talking about me going to visit him in Virginia during the summer. He was acting a little weird, though, sort of noncommittal as to when would be good. I felt like he was holding back. I was frustrated, but didn’t give it a ton of thought—finals were coming up.I really didn’t see it coming when David dumped me over text message at the end of April. I shot back a text: “I can’t believe you’re doing this. I just want you to know that this is your choice, not mine.”

A few days later, he texted but I didn’t respond. I didn't want to get caught up in breakup drama. He called me that night, and this time, I answered. He wasn’t speaking clearly and sounded a little buzzed. He started calling me a bunch of names, telling me what a shitty person I was. No one had ever talked to me that way. He accused me of cheating on him (I was not). He was rambling. I told him I had to go.

That’s when he made the threat: “Fuck you, fuck this—it will take an act of God for you to make it through school without killing yourself.”

When I went to bed at midnight, I had no idea of the hell I would wake up to. I got up around 7 a.m. to learn that an OKCupid profile with my name and photos had been created—almost like a parody version of my original profile, except with more sexual innuendo in the bio. I found out because I had received a text message from a stranger, continuing a conversation I didn’t understand.

“By the way, that’s just my sister in the picture!” the stranger said as an opener. I wrote back, “Excuse me? Who is this?” He explained that we’d been talking on OKCupid. He was seemingly nice about it when I explained there had been a misunderstanding.

Within the hour, I started getting more and more texts from strange numbers. Around five or six new numbers texted me every hour.

I asked each one for more info, and eventually, one guy sent me screenshots of “our” online messages. I knew right away it was David. The exchanges had a certain syntax and grammar that sounded like him.

The screenshots showed the profile was getting worse: My default photo was now a pic of a dildo. Then there were photos added of me in lingerie. I started getting tons of dick pics, still from numbers I didn’t know. Maybe 20 different penises appeared in my phone. That night, one of the messages was from a guy who claimed to live close by and to be on his way to my home. I was terrified. Thankfully, he didn't show up.

I thought I can fix this. I contacted OKCupid, and they were actually great—they removed the profile and blocked David’s IP address. But it took them 24 hours to respond to my first email and by then he’d moved on to other sites.

He then created a profile of her on Xamster with videos she sent him...she found out via a private message because he included her personal information under these videos:

On Friday morning, I got a text message from some random person saying they’d seen me on XHamster. I looked it up and realized it’s similar to a porn site where users can interact with each other. There I found two videos of me masturbating. The descriptions listed my real name, my grad school, and phone number, and also included links to my Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The irony was that had I not heard my phone “ping” when I received that random message, I might not have woken up for my exam that morning. I peeled myself off the floor and tried to carry on.

I took the exam, but when I was finished, the administrator of the test told me a professor needed to see me. The building was deserted—it was the end of the semester, and everyone was off for the summer. I went to his office, and he stumbled over his words as he tried to explain that there was something bad going on.

He informed me that David had emailed the two videos of me masturbating to some of my classmates. They had been forwarded around and wound up with this professor. I later learned that David had used some technology to impersonate the grad school dean’s email and distributed the videos to students that way.

I thought I couldn’t be more mortified than I already was, and yet every hour it got worse. It was like Whack-a-Mole dealing with every crisis and each hit represented another layer of my dignity being stripped away. I was indescribably paranoid. I sat in my apartment toggling between the websites and the profiles and the dick pics and the text messages.

One of my professors told me that he knew someone in law enforcement in Virginia. That detective got in touch with David and basically told him to knock it off. I know this happened because David left me a voicemail saying, “Hey, I spoke to the detective. If you have something to say to me, grow up and say it to me directly.”

David’s campaign lasted for months.

I connected with another lawyer who suggested something different: file a copyright.

Sites comprised of user-generated content, like YouTube or Reddit, have policies where they’re not responsible for what is uploaded. But if you have a copyright, like on a film, and a user uploads your film, you as the creator can ask the site to take it down. They have a set amount of time to comply or they’re subject to a liability.


The next year, in 2014, California finally passed revenge porn legislation, and I was able to file a suit in federal court as a Jane Doe. A special law firm, the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project, offered to represent me pro bono. We filed in December 2014. David didn’t show up to any of the court dates, but his attorneys did, and the process extended on for years.

In April 2018, a federal judge awarded me $6.45 million for copyright infringement and emotional distress. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. The amount of money was attention-grabbing, but it wasn’t the most important part for me—I was just so grateful to have a final document in my hands stating that what David did was wrong.


I know some people blame me, but I blame him. These days, I am admittedly far more guarded about my own identity and my sexual privacy. I still struggle, but as time passes, it gets easier. I am strong. I am resilient. And while it may not always feel like it, deep down I know I am stronger than what happened to me.


3 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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Her Ex-Boyfriend Harassed Her Online for Months. She Took Him to Court and Won $6.4 Million. (Original Post) JHan Nov 2018 OP
Our Legal System is Seriously Behind the Times in Protections for Internet Stalking & Harassment dlk Nov 2018 #1
This type of story hits close to home. Socal31 Nov 2018 #2
sorry to hear of what you went through and going through.. JHan Nov 2018 #3


(11,514 posts)
1. Our Legal System is Seriously Behind the Times in Protections for Internet Stalking & Harassment
Tue Nov 27, 2018, 12:54 PM
Nov 2018

We need better laws to protect victims.


(2,484 posts)
2. This type of story hits close to home.
Tue Nov 27, 2018, 01:38 PM
Nov 2018

I was declared a DV victim and awarded a permanent restraining order recently, after an insidious extortion and harassmemt campaign by an ex.

However, being male, I can never even pretend to know what women who are sexually exploited like this go through. It makes me sad and angry to even think about it.

The CA revenge law is a good start, but criminal penalties must be increased to reflect the damage, pain, and suffering that are experienced by the victims.


(10,173 posts)
3. sorry to hear of what you went through and going through..
Tue Nov 27, 2018, 01:45 PM
Nov 2018

the abusive behavior is so disruptive, you can't even imagine if and when things return to "normalcy". I hope things work out for you and I hope you have some emotional support to help you.

but criminal penalties must be increased to reflect the damage, pain, and suffering that are experienced by the victims.

So much this.

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