Content warning: this story describes forms of cyber violence against women and girls
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I met this guy at a student party. We’d been to the same school but had never spoken before. Now we were studying at the same college. It was nice to see a familiar face among so many new ones. We chatted like old friends—he was easy to talk to. Later, he walked me home to make sure I got back safely. I felt safe. After all, we were from the same city and even the same school.
The next morning he sent a text with a rose emoji. I thought it was a joke and didn’t reply. That weekend I returned from a night out with friends to find 24 missed calls from him. I tried to laugh it off, saying he must have butt-dialled me.
I met the guy again in college and we talked for a while. In the evening I saw another 20 missed calls. When I confronted him, he joked that he must have fallen asleep on his phone. He offered to meet up. I told him I’m in a relationship and it's better we just stay friends.
The next day, on my way to lectures, I saw him close to my apartment, even though he lives elsewhere. He kept popping up: appearing around a corner; hanging at the bus stop. One time I caught him standing outside my window. That’s when it became disturbing. All the while he kept sending me rose emoji messages. I asked him to stop, reminding him I have a boyfriend. Eventually, I stopped reacting.
Then I found my phone full of dirty pictures from him. He called me disgusting names. I blocked his phone. But the fear and discomfort wouldn’t go. I felt unsafe, scared and feared the unexpected because it was like my every step was being watched. He knew where I was, who I was with and what I was doing. It was a total invasion of privacy, which made me feel so many things at the same time: anger, helplessness, irritated and this sense of pressure all over me.
I found information online about the Specialised Comprehensive Assistance Centre (SKPC). I called, we talked and they listened. They gave me legal and safety advice. They helped me realise this was psychological and sexual abuse. That none of it was my fault. And I’m not alone.
— Alina, 20 years old.