My Year Of Self Doubt: Overcoming Trolls To Triumph - WARNING VIOLENT CONTENT
For over a year I have been on the receiving end of some pretty hardcore online harassment
Via WhatsApp, text messages, email and occasionally on social media.
There have been times when their bombardment has been relentless. A head-shaking shit show of an ongoing array of irritating fake enquiries, threats of imprisonment and harm to my friends, my family, my business and me.
All of these have accumulated into an overall exhausting experience that isn't over yet. It is escalating. Last month alone, I counted 40 different numbers which I suspected of being this person.
Last week I was emailed multiple times with threats to my safety and that my private identity was in their possession. They continued this by explaining how I was going to be kidnapped and raped.
I have debated for a long time whether or not I should say something about this publicly or keep it to myself until it goes away. In my mind, I thought that admitting my feelings would be a catalyst that could make the situation worse.
It might make it worse, but I think some things are worth speaking up about, no matter the cost.
I have decided that enough is enough. I won't be made to feel vulnerable or ashamed because this is something that is happening to me and it is a crime. This is a form of harassment I am being subjected to, and this behaviour is downright fucking disgusting.
Almost all I have talked to about this situation have asked me the same questions, "Do you know who it is" and "What have you done for someone to hate you so much?"
They have also all offered the same advice, "don't feed the trolls," but this isn't a regular troll, it's a new kind of sociopathic super troll. They don't feed on my reactions; they still are getting a kick even when I have no response, there is something else that feeds them too.
Also, how am I suppose to run my business, if I don't respond to my enquires? That is how I am being harassed, with hundreds of points of contact, and then being made too small to take those jobs anyway.
Welcome to the catch 22 of the sociopathic super troll puzzle, it's a head fuck even on my good days.
It doesn't matter what I think about the reasons as to this jerk off picked me, as to why I am the unlucky chosen one. Why should I waste any more of my time and energy speculating who could be behind the fear mongering?
Whoever this person is, or whoever these people are, is irrelevant. That is because they are irrelevant.Only an unfortunate and irrelevant man or irrelevant woman could burn so much of their own irrelevant time in this manner, just to prove they matter
Here is the thing, no one deserves to be stalked, harassed and tormented; everyone should have the opportunity to be happy.
Disclosing my story to you isn't about theorising the irrelevance of the dreary who, what and why anyhow, there is a more pressing reason for me opening up about my experience.
I want to speak up because it's occurred to me that no matter what I do, this is still going to continue to happen to me as long as I am VB.
My reason for starting this discussion is for my co-workers, clients and blog readers to know something.
I want you to know that if you are going through this now, have been through this before or find yourself dealing with something similar in the future; then my door is open to you.
I will listen to you and support you. I am here for you.
I want you to know. It's not ok that this form of harassment is being done to you. You deserve to be able to stand up for yourself and the ones you love.
I know what it is like to feel alone in this situation. I am still living with the self-doubt, inability to trust and the lack of confidence that comes part in parcel with cybercrimes like online bullying, stalking and harassment.
Especially, when you are a face out escort who travels abroad all alone, the world is so big, and you feel everyone is looking at you.
I don't like the uneasiness that has come with living with this, but I have found a way to do something about it now, and I plan to do keep doing that behind the scenes.
In one of my favourite podcasts, Hardcore History, Dan Carlin describes the Western Front in World War One (WWI) like a meat-grinder.
Every day generals would send soldiers into no man's land for battle, even when they knew the inevitable outcome for them.
WWI raged on many more years than first expected, and in this time neither side made much if any headway or victory over the other. All troops feared being lost in the hopelessness of no man's land.
Countries barely survived this war; each battle resulted in massive casualties that decimated entire armies. Locked in a stalemate, yet needing to fight, achieved nothing but a large churning human meat-grinder.
I feel like this gradually happened to my mind and soul over the last year. Somedays I would get up and have to deal with not one, but many intimidating, menacing and threatening forms of contact from my opposition, the troll.
Without knowing my enemy, I was already vulnerable to losing my way in no man's land. It felt like their attack came from all sides at once, and I couldn't see them to defend myself.
Sometimes this would be a short burst of contact and other times it would be ongoing for a few weeks. I noticed every single time it occurred was when I announced international tours.
I am always and aggressively asked where I am.
Where I am working from and who with, relentlessly.
I am asked for bookings around my tour dates to determine when I am travelling, where to and why.
I have had a multitude of fake enquiries that pay deposits.
I receive emails threatening my safety when touring in Asia and working in Melbourne.
I have received ridiculous accusations of my involvement in an illegal activity that I do not know of, nor do I believe it happened and I would have never taken part in any way.
These accusations are crimes that have penalties in countries which I travel through or too, and these places have little regard for international human rights, let alone the rights of a sex worker travelling on her own.
I believe this started when I made a statement on Twitter showing support for a peer who had their name publicly posted on social media by another sex worker in late 2017.
I will come back to this at the end of my expose.
In response to this statement, I found I was immediately trolled on Twitter; this person began threatening my safety in Hong Kong as I was working there at the time.
These same threats have been repeated consistently and form an underlying theme for types of contact I am receiving from the sociopathic super troll.
Living With A Stalker
At first, whenever the harassment would start I would stand my ground mentally, focus on staying positive and try not to let it impact me.
I lost so much of my energy each day trying to do this, and when each battle was over, I would go back to my war trench and nurse my war wounds. After a few months, I had too many injuries, not enough bandages and zero energy to recover.
I am still fighting a war that I don’t want to be a part of, but I am being forced to show up for battle anyway. My army was dwindling from the ongoing meat-grinder, and all my reserves already deployed in the field.
Over an extended period, this harassment started to get to me and bring my happiness crumbling down too. It drove a wedge between me and the things I love. It began to impact my ability to work and connect with people. I was overwhelmed, anxious and depressed and I already had other issues in my personal life to contend with at the time.
I didn't want to look at my phone or emails, so I avoided them. Not working fed my depression, and my depression fed my anxiety. I was too scared to reply to people I didn't already know because I was being harassed that often.
When I tried to reach out to my friends, I was told to ignore the troll, they didn't understand the severity of the situation, and it was too difficult to explain to them how much this was starting to impact my life and my business. They had not encountered the super troll.
Being made to feel like you are the problem because you are concerned about what is happening to you is a horrible experience to go through.
Ignoring did not achieve anything if I responded I was trolled and if I didn't I was still harassed on a growing number of accounts until I did answer.
When you feel sick, you make an appointment. You can see a doctor, ask for help and get advice on how to get better.
Surely, something similar can be done with online stalkers. I decided to ask for help, and I would find out just how wrong I was.
This is an example of how stigma against sex workers is rife, even in a state like NSW where decriminalisation is in full swing. When I returned to Sydney on tour last year, I turned to the police and a PI, both shrugged off my concerns and concluded my troll as a "just a jealous worker or wife".
I was told not to bother, it would cost too much or they might not be able to get a name anyway. Eventually, they would stop on their own. I just had to be patient.
At this stage, this had already been happening for three months. I had a mountain of evidence to show. I was in a state of disbelief; I couldn't believe I was in a state of decriminalisation.
If I was "just any other woman" or "just any other type of business" receiving this sort of communication on my work devices, I can assure you the threats towards me would be taken somewhat seriously.
Paranoia, Paranoia Everyone Is Coming To Get Me.
Five months in and there was little to no help from my support network. Instead, there is speculation and finger-pointing.
I was cancelling tours left, right and centre because I wasn't sure if these threats were empty or not
I started to feel paranoid because I didn't know who I could trust? This person was saying hurtful things about me, to me, they are mentioning things only I should know, or that had been told in a closed group environment. That is a portion of this puzzle I will be leaving out of this story, for now.
This person or people had been allocating so much of their time to attempt to upset me and my work. I felt like I couldn't trust anyone and I started to break away from people and isolate myself. The worst possible thing to do but at the time, you are made to feel like it is your only option.
I mean, why wouldn't you hide? If you didn't trust an entire group of people around you, and all the others are telling you that you don't have a genuine concern to be upset because they don't understand the extent of it. What would you do?
It is a considerable concern indeed when someone who hides behind the internet is stalking and harassing you, using the fact that know who you are and intimidating you with threats to harm you.
The worst aspect of starting to doubt the people you once trusted, is the phase where you begin to question yourself, and you lose trust in your ability to make decisions.
Self-doubt is toxic, it starts small, but it rots quickly and negatively impacts your "everything."
You can't trust in yourself enough to fix the obstacles in front of you. Your paranoia extends to include in-depth questions on yourself that drive you crazy. You believe you must be the type of person that you despise. The wrong person perhaps? You second guess yourself all the time. It is not a pleasant thing to endure.
I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again...
Yesterday, when I was being whisked away in an uber to complete a chore, my driver struck up a conversation with me about failing and trying again.
He told me a story about a General a few hundred years ago in China who was fighting a rebellion, and every time he stood up to take arms and fight, he was defeated.
Out of fear for his position, and to keep his head, he decided to write to his boss, the Queen Regent, to beg for her forgiveness for his failures.
A friend of the General saw him doing this and asked him to reconsider his decision. He would surely get his head chopped right off is she was to know he believed he had been failing her this entire time.
The friend advised him to change his wording around and rethink his perspective on the situation.
"Instead of getting up and thinking you are being knocked down," he said to the General. "Why not emphasise that you get knocked down and you stand back up to fight another day?"
The General followed his wise friends' words, and sure enough, he was rewarded for his bravery and determination to keep on fighting for Queen and country.
He even got a shiny medal from his Queen as a token of her appreciation.
It's been over 12 months now of me having to deal with this problem, a situation that has almost broken my resolve and resilience.
Thankfully, the trolling eased up a few months ago but has recently started again in the past few weeks. Ironic, as I just announced overseas tours again coming up soon.
In the socio-trolls downtime, I had enough breathing room to get back up, shake off the down and hard times and start to live happier again.
I regained some control and confidence, that was all I needed, and I am going to be ok. I think I was always going to be; it just doesn't seem like that in the storm.
The troll will try to knock me down again no doubt, but I know how to stand up. I have a better support crew in place now, and I am not done fighting yet, I just got allies, an entire multitude of reinforcements from specialised troll hunters.
I'm no longer fighting on my own
So Extreme It Is A Crime
The internet is a magical place that opens many doors to all kinds of experiences, conveniences and all kinds of people. The worst type of those people are spammers, scammers and cyberbullies (trolls).
These types of humans are the worst kind. Parasites full of venom, they have nothing good and decent left in them, and their lack of human decency and nature is obtuse.
The Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN), defines cyber-bullying as:
"Cyber-bullying or stalking occurs when someone engages in offensive, menacing or harassing behaviour through the use of technology." - ACORN
They go on to explain that any communication via digital means that is imitating, with the intention to hurt or cause someone to fear for their safety is considered an act of cybercrime.
Cybercrimes carries penalties of both jail and fines. Severe online harassment or "stalking" carries a maximum sentence three years in the imprisonment of 30,000 thousand dollars in fines.
The description of what is considered severe harassment should have meant my initial complaints should have been taken seriously 12 months ago.
It's great this is all outlined in writing but getting others to take action on your behalf can be a challenge. This is why I am putting myself out on a limb to let you know there is a help if you need it, I have someone listening, I am not going to allow these shit kickers get away with their indiscretions.
You can read more about what else ACORN have to say by clicking on their banner that I have placed at the end of my post.
I Stand By My Twitter Statement In 2017
Outing other sex workers and endangering their safety could easily be argued as an act of, and an example of cybercrime.
It is a display of disgusting behaviour from adults who know better and hold little care or regard for the overall wellness of others.
To me, outing your peers is something that I described in my statement as “breaking a code of conduct.”
This is an unspoken code between workers that is sacred; it should be carried like a weight of the stone as it is a heavy responsibility to hold. Peoples lives and livelihoods are not a game to be played with for fun.
In my eyes, one of the worst crimes a worker can commit is to out or endanger our own because, despite all our differences, we are on each others team. If we don't support each other, what hope can we possibly have?
The world outside the incestuous confines of our industry is hellish enough, embracing unity as opposed to a conflict is essential to protecting every individual on our community.
Unfortunately, the person who was publicly outed has had to endure an ongoing array of far-reaching negative repercussions. They have also been suffering alone.
That is not my story to tell, and I hope maybe one day they will tell you themselves.
Dear Irrelevant Troll - Your Conclusion
These types of behaviour seemly appear harmless at first, but they are forms of harassment, stalking and intimidation.
They are so harmful that they can be considered a criminal act, with hefty fine and jail time for those caught bullying via devices and endangering or causing another to fear for their safety.
Game Over - Bye Felicia!