I was young and vulnerable girl, still in school completing my A’levels. That was when I first met him online.
He sounded like a fun teenage guy, someone who I could relate to, and loved chatting with. It was just like any other internet friendships in the beginning. We would catch up every few days, and ask each other about their everyday lives, routines and hobbies.
Gradually, the innocent friendship blossomed into something more special. We would look forward to seeing each other online. We shared our personal numbers and started chatting all day long.
He was very possessive about me. He would want me to speak to him all day long, and said he couldn’t afford to share me with anyone else. I felt special. After all, it is definitely true love when you can’t live without each other.
Years went by, and it had been six years since we started dating over the net. We finally met for the first time, when I visited his country for a friend’s wedding. We were in a long-distance relationship. Although it had its ups and downs, but we were ready to sacrifice anything that came in the way of our love. I had already changed the way I dressed, and socialized. Even my studies had taken a backseat because he wanted us to talk all the time.
Everything was going smooth, just as we had expected. Until my family started pressurizing me to get married. I belong to a conservative background where having boyfriends was frowned upon, and as soon as a girl reaches 20, the whole family starts looking for a suitable match.
I explained the entire situation to him, and how we needed to take a step to take our relationship to the next level. Unfortunately, he said he couldn’t do much but couldn’t afford to lose me either.
That was the first time when I decided I had probably given in too much in a relationship, where I wasn’t getting anything in return. Hence, I went ahead with my parent’s choice and got engaged to a wonderful man, who was ready to accept me with my past.
It looked like a new beginning for me. My past, had been rightly buried in the books of yesterday, and the future looked like a bright start.
However, little did I know, my past wasn’t going to leave me so easily. He had his plans of crawling back into my life to make me miserable than I ever was!
It started with a fake Facebook account created in my name. He posted numerous pictures of me, those that I had innocently sent to him, thinking he would keep them safe with him. He started adding each and everyone of my family members and friends.
I had never kept a single picture of me on the social media, and this was his attempt to blackmail me to go back to him.
My life at that point felt like I was living a nightmare. I felt every eye that looked at me, knew of all the wrong things he was doing under my name.
Before I could get a chance to react or do anything about it, he hacked all my personal social media accounts. From my Facebook to my Gmail. I had access to none of the accounts – he had completely taken over my social media presence!
One day I decided to burn every letter, cards and gifts he sent me to completely delete him from my life. I gathered everything that reminded me of him in my room and set it on fire, one by one. To my oblivion, the fire started catching up, almost burning my whole room down. Luckily, I came out of my room before it could catch a fire and the fire was taken under control.
The incident itself spoke of my mental and emotional state at that stage. I regretted every second of those six years that I wasted with a monster. How naive I could have been? How did I not realize what he could possibly do to me, given all the information I had happily fed him about my personal life.
Luckily, there was one person who stood by my side during this time and that was my fiance (now my husband).
While I was losing my mind overthinking about what more he could do, about how he was tarnishing my reputation, about the shame my parents have to go through, about what if my fiance breaks up with me… he reassured nothing of that sort was ever going to happen, and we could fight this together.
My fiance helped me recover some of my social media accounts by hacking them back. However, Facebook was a little tricky. Since he had control of all my previous accounts, Facebook now wanted a solid proof to know if I was the person who the account actually belonged to. They asked me to email my scanned passport copy! After the arduous task of trying to reclaim my account, and sending in vital details and documents, we were finally successful.
But that wasn’t going to stop him!
He made over 20 fake accounts of me to keep a check on everyone from my close family members, to my friends and even my fiance. It was like stepping into quicksand at that moment. I just didn’t know how to take myself out of this mess. The more I thought about it, the deeper I fell into his trap.
Finally, we were somehow able to report all the fake IDs under my name, and I decided to quit the social media for some time.
Today, two years after this incident, I am doing an online Masters course. Yes, recreated social media accounts but under a different name. There are always two-sides to a coin. I have learned to embrace the good side of the social media and my bad experience has helped me draw a healthy line while having online interactions.
I am now happily married to the man who never gave up his faith in me. Who decided I was worth the fight, and who despite having gone through so much of trouble with me, still trusts me and loves me with all his heart.
It is said that love is blind. I would like to quote here that love is not blind. It is true love when you get to know the other person with all your senses. When you know their flaws, their pasts, and their ambitions and still love them for who they are. It can never be true love if it is blind.
I would finally like to add that whatever consequences we are dealing with today, are partially because of our actions in the past. It is easy to put 100% blame on someone when we should be equally responsible for putting ourselves in a place to be taken advantage of.
I could have prevented the ordeal that I went through but it was my choice to share my personal information without really thinking of the consequences. It has been hard forgiving myself. I had to accept that I was partially responsible for the cyber crime committed against me.
It has been a battle with my demons, and now I look forward to informing others about internet security, and the dangers that lurk within the world of the social media.
The story above is a true account of a member of the group, Super Women of East Africa. The story however has been compiled by SWEA admin.