My harasser

*** I’m heading this post with a trigger warning. If you are sensitive to discussion about online harassment and rape, please do not read on. ***

I’ve ummed and ahhed about writing this post for quite some time now for a number of reasons. The main one has been that I just didn’t want to talk about it. The second one has been that this has, until recently, involved a minor. But last night something changed, and I stopped being angered and upset by the situation and instead felt an immense amount of pity and, well… schadenfreude.

So here I am to tell you the tale of my internet harasser. Not because I want to publicly shame him (there will be no name and shame here) but to talk about this experience that I’ve had; to add another number to the data of women who are harassed online simply for existing; to let others who may be affected by this know that they aren’t alone. And to laugh. Oh how we’ll laugh.

Let me start at the start.

This is a story about a fellow we’re going to call Blah (no, that’s not his real or gamer name, I just can’t be bothered dignifying him with anything other than boredom).

When I first joined my now ex-guild about a year ago now, I was keen to make some new friends and make a good impression. I was excited about joining a mythic raiding team, after all! I liked to help out when people needed help or answer questions if they needed them, let people know of rare spawns etc. and just generally have a bit of a chat in game. You know, what most humans who play WoW do.

I got along fine with most people and made some friends pretty quickly – all was going well. I hadn’t raided with anyone yet so this limited time in guild chat was the extent of the contact with anyone. A couple of weeks after I had joined I saw Blah had made a comment about something or other in guild chat. I asked a question about it – no response. Someone else asked a question and Blah responded, so I asked another question. I received a rude response back , and then he just stopped talking to me. At the time I thought it was incredibly rude (especially given he was happily chatting away to others at the time) but I ignored it and went on with my day. If he didn’t want to talk, fine. I wasn’t going to go out of my way to engage with someone who didn’t want to talk, so I just didn’t bother.

Not long after, I was brought in to the raid team, as a healer had left and they needed me in. Huzzah! I was so excited about it all. During raiding Blah was just a generally gross human being. Aside from the usual rubbish of someone who doesn’t care about a team, (like showing up whenever he wanted, not doing mechanics or anything or listening when he was there, and talking shit to/at everyone) it became apparent very quickly that he was in a level of his own filth. It was the way he would “speak”. He would “joke” about rape pretty openly and harshly about girls that he knew in real life. He would laugh about it, and make derogatory comments about other girls in the team. It was disgusting and disturbing.

Legion came along, and his behaviour didn’t change. The guild jumped on the Discord band wagon, which quickly turned into a cesspool. Most of it I could ignore. This, I could not ignore:

img_2796

Yeah…

The first time

The raid team progressed through Emerald Nightmare pretty quickly when it first came out, clearing heroic in the first week. We were all pretty pumped. But it was early in October when we hit a slight bump when it came to mythic Ursoc. We had a tense night of wipes on that fight, having to call it before we got the kill. We were all running back in after the last wipe and the raid lead was talking about how to improve for the next night, when in chat I see

Blah spits on you.

I was grossed out, and angry, but waited to see how many others he would decide to /spit on (such a team player!) The answer was none. No-one else was going to be spat on, just me. He sat there, went through the raid frames, found my name, and spat on me. I was livid. I got up to calm myself, then sat down again and said to my heal lead, “Is it ok if I don’t heal certain people in the raid anymore?” I was half joking, but frustrated – this was really shitty behaviour! My heal lead said “Blah?” to which I said “yes”. He replied “We saw. We’re talking about it in officer chat now.”

I felt immediately better. This act hadn’t gone unnoticed. And more than that, the fact that the officers were talking about it indicated that I wasn’t overreacting and it was a shit thing to happen.

This is the part where guild leadership is an important part of determining whether or not a guild is going to be right for you. It doesn’t matter how many officers or fellow guildies might feel about a situation, if the guild master doesn’t agree, nothing much happens. Which was the case here. Blah was given a warning by one of the officers, but that was as much as they were able to do given (from what I understand) the guild master didn’t see this, or anything else Blah had done/said as a problem. (I don’t fault the officers for this at all. They have been brilliant throughout all of this.)

The next time

The warning seemed to have at least a small impact on Blah, and he was quiet for almost an entire month. I (stupidly) thought this meant everyone had moved on and we were done with it. Remember, I don’t engage with this person at all. I don’t speak to him, I just go about my business healing people and doing my thing. Which is what makes it all worse, I think. So many times I’ve sat here asking myself “what did I do?? What was it that I did that made him hate me??” And I come up empty. It always seems to come down to the fact that I just exist, and that I am a female.

I’m getting off track, but in some ways, I’m not. Because what happened next quite literally came out of nowhere at all.

I’ll preface this part by saying that I don’t talk about my blog or podcasts in guild. Mostly because I don’t think anyone would be interested in them, but also because sometimes it just feels like showing off. So they don’t come up.

On Tuesday evenings we live stream our recording of Reins of Azeroth on Twitch. It’s fun! We get a couple of people come along in the chat, and it feels more like we’re actually talking to other people rather than just each other. On this particular evening in mid-November we were in the process of setting up when Spazz comments that someone is already in our twitch chat room. Then he went a bit quiet. I asked what the comments were (I wasn’t logged on yet) and he said something about “Blah says you’re a shit healer”. It took a bit to register, because like I said, I don’t have anything to do with this guy. And what’s more, I’ve never spoken to him or anyone else in guild about that podcast, so it took a bit to put two and two together.

I asked Spazz to send me a screenshot of what was said.

img_2795

The text is small, but it reads
“blah says you’re *** healer”

I then looked at who was in the chat at the time and saw Blah with 2 of his mates. This was an attack perpetrated by Blah, and they were all sitting in twitch chat waiting for me.

I’m going to interject here with a note: I don’t care what people have to say about my healing. I really don’t. I’m not the best healer in the world – I certainly don’t proclaim to be! – but I’m not the worst and I do the best that I can. I’m not offended by someone saying I’m shit – sometimes I am!

So believe me when I tell you that it wasn’t the comment that upset me and freaked me out.

Here’s what did freak me out. Firstly, this is a person who thinks rape is funny. Secondly, the amount of work involved to find where I was going to be at that specific point in time is too much for this to not be premeditated. As I said, there’s no previous discussion of my blog or podcasts anywhere. So for him to find me he had to:

  1. google my toon name
  2. find my blog
  3. find the podcasts I worked on
  4. see that Reins was recorded live on twitch
  5. set a reminder to go to our twitch page at the time we start recording
  6. and then have someone harass me on there while he watched.

That’s a lot of effort. That’s also a lot of evidence that it was a targeted attack designed to publicly shame me. He could have just tweeted abuse at me if he wanted to, but he chose to do this in a public space, to publicly humiliate me.

The users were banned from the channel, and they were reported for harassment to twitch. Which is about all you can do in these situations.

The kick & the aftermath

I still had a show to do, so after taking a breath to calm down and talking with Thor, we got on with recording. That was fun! /s But while we were recording Thor logged in game and immediately talked to one of the officers that he gets along well with. Thor explained what had happened, and showed him the screenshots of what was said and who was there. I understand that a quick discussion was held with officers who were logged on at the time, and shortly after Blah and all of his alts were removed from the guild, regardless of what the GM thought.

After recording, I warily logged into WoW and immediately received a whisper from the officer Thor had spoken to – he was checking up on me to make sure that I was ok. We had a bit of a chat. It was greatly appreciated. (Like I said, the officers have been great).

The aftermath was unexpected, though. I went to bed that night feeling hot with shame. Why is that? I hear this a lot from women who have been harassed, and one of the first emotions they feel is shame. Where does that come from? What on earth did I have to be shameful of? I racked my brains to figure out what I had done or said to Blah that made him hate me. What did I do?Β  I would replay the raid nights over and over in my head trying to pinpoint the moment that made me a target, and I couldn’t find it.

Then the anxiety and the fear joined in with the shame. It was a lovely cocktail that kept me from sleeping properly for quite some time. In the middle of the night I panicked about ways Blah might find my personal information, and had Thor calm me down by setting a few things differently to help me feel better. (What would I do without Thor? He has been my rock).

It wasn’t a good time.

I worked really hard to push that cocktail of emotions aside. I had to go to work and function as a human being. And I sure as hell was not going to let a useless turd stop me from playing WoW (which I guessed is was goal?!). So I went into raid, and it was great. Not having the constant negativity from Blah made it a really great time for everyone. And so I tweeted as such afterwards.

Blah decided to reply:

img_2797

Again, I can’t stress enough that I don’t give a hoot about what a person like Blah thinks of my healing. It’s not his words that are the problem here – it’s the targeted harassment that is the problem.

Except this time, he messed up. He tweeted from an account that uses his real name. So not only is he a disgusting, rapey asshole, but he’s a stupid one at that. This was the first time that I actually laughed about the whole situation. How could someone be that stupid. It took literally 5 seconds to google his name and find his facebook page which showed where he lived, what school he went to, and who his family were. I had a face to the name. It was also apparent from this publicly facing information that he was underage (17), which immediately stopped me from naming a shaming or progressing with anything publicly any further.

What I did do is start writing a letter to his mother to let her know about his behaviour. It was therapeutic for me to write it, and so by the time I finished it, I had calmed down and I didn’t send it. Also by then, time had passed and I thought things would end because Blah was no longer in the guild and would find something else to occupy his time.

This was not the case.

Again and again…

Since being removed from the guild over 3 months ago, Blah came been back time and time again to harass me in new and interesting ways.

He came back to another live recording on twitch:

cropped_ndhjo2oa
You know there are other words, right?

This one was interesting – he logged on to our team speak server during raid one night (so in front of the entire raid team). He kept logging on and off and on again, making a sound in the channel each time it happened. So we checked the log to see what was going on, and he’d done this:

ts_blah

Hi-larious! He was banned from the server.

Up until this point, the worst thing that he’d said was that I was a bad healer. But then he started to bring in more profanities. And in this case below, other people.

This was posted on the guild’s Discord server at around 11:30pm one evening:

img_3005
In this instance, white male = Blah

 

Delightful. And not only was he attacking me, he lashed out one of the people who had stood up for him in the past. Again, he’s not the brightest crayon. This was quietly deleted from the discord server by the GM in the middle of the night. Part of me is glad to have seen it when it happened – it just adds to my body of evidence.

During all of this there were comments made in guild and raid chat from his friends who were still in the guild, saying things like “Let Blah out!” etc. It made it easy to know who to avoid. (A side note – I did find it incredibly amusing that his “friends” didn’t jump ship with him. Rather than sticking with their friend, they stayed in the guild and just bitched for awhile before giving up. I can only assume they weren’t all really good friends after all, or didn’t care enough to follow him.)

Then the guild fallout happened and we all split up. When the new guild was formed, it was very easy to know who would not be invited to join the team. People who wanted to be immature and harass other people could go their own way, and the rest of us who weren’t like that could go the other way. I truly thought that would have been the end of all of it. The guild fell apart, his mates were free to play with him if they wanted to – it should have been over.

But we wouldn’t be here if it were, would we? πŸ™‚

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This Tuesday just gone, Valentine’s Day, was a recording night for Reins of Azeroth again on Twitch. We were having a nice time talking about WoW reputations and things like that, when this appeared in chat:

e_nkqgr0_cropped

For those who can’t read the name, it’s posted from “Cindersllut”.

This was a new one – I’m a slut now?

The comment was deleted from twitch very quickly by speedy Spazz, and the user banned from the channel. Sure enough, a few minutes later in the list of viewers, Blah’s twitch handle appears, confirming that he was the perpetrator.

This time, though, it didn’t bother me. I actually laughed. As lame as it may sound, I was in a nice guild! That’s apparently something to be ashamed of? That’s something to try an embarrass someone about? I mean, you’re really reaching with that one.

I spoke to Thor about the latest Blah episode after we had finished recording and he said:
“So you’re telling me, on Valentine’s Day – a day that you spend with people you love and who love you – Blah had nothing else better to do than go on twitch and harass you? He had no-one to be with?”

It really doesn’t get any more pathetic than that, does it?

This was the big turning point for me. I had always known Blah was a waste of space and oxygen, but the image of him being completely and utterly alone on Valentine’s Day, and choosing to harass someone as a way of dealing with that was just plain and simply sad and pathetic. It’s where the schadenfreude comes in. Every single time he has harassed me, he has done so in a public way, with the goal of trying to make me look stupid in front of other people. Which means he was tracking my movements, know where I would be and when I’d be there. It’s creepy, yes, but it also means other people are seeing him behave this way, seeing how pathetic he is.

This whole thing isn’t about me. It never has been. Blah is not a happy person, and I am. I work hard, I have fun, I laugh with friends – I have a good time, and a good life that I am immensely grateful for, and I think that shows. He does not have that. I didn’t do anything to make him treat me this way other than live my life and be happy. He sees that and can’t stand it, and tries to shoot me down. Well, I’m the personification of this song πŸ™‚

It.won’t.work.

youhavenopower

What next?

I’m bored of this, I really am. I don’t have time for someone who gets their jollies by bringing others down. It’s gone on long enough. I have kept a record of every time Blah harasses me, and I’ve already built up quite a collection of evidence. 4 months, 5 different platforms and multiple instances of tracking down my location at a specific time are all enough for police action to be taken. And thanks to Blah’s non-existent facebook privacy settings, they will have no troubles finding him.

As for me, I’m not going to stop playing WoW, or stop being a nice person or enjoying my life. I will continue to block and report any attempts Blah makes to humiliate and harass me – and I will watch him self-destruct as fewer and fewer people want to be around him as a result. Because at the end of all of this, he’s not making me look bad, he’s just showing the world what a pitiful human he is.

 

Thank you to Thor, Spazz, Sirius, my guild officers, Z, and Spanky for their (sometimes unknowing!) support in all of this. If you are being harassed online, please talk to someone. If you are in Australia, visit the SmartSafe website for more information on where to go and what to do.

 

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27 Comments Add yours

  1. this seriously sux.
    i have to say its not only women who cop online harrasment.
    i have had it a few times while i was gm.
    i ended up gathering all the stuff i had collected & sending it in a email with a letter.
    both times it was by young guys 16 & 17 & their parents were totally oblivious to what they were doing.
    the parents where extremely apologetic & assured me that it would be sorted.
    i found out through other people that both the harrassers were taught a lesson by the parents on things you dont do cause online matters to your future.

    its up to you if you follow through or not.
    just remember, my ears are here if you need them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cinder says:

      πŸ™‚ Thanks Spanky. Yeah, I figured going to parents was a better approach, but haven’t done so at this stage. I’m glad that emailing your harasser’s parents worked out well, though! Helps me think it might actually work.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Marathal says:

      It is absolutely the worst feeling when you are targeted by a person. For me it was a woman in her mid 40’s that was the GM of another guild, but had asked to join our guild on an Alt. She had told me her guild was dead, no one was ever on, and she wanted an active guild to be a part of. Eventually it lead to her telling me that I had to make people acknowledge her when she logged in. I happened to be online one evening when she did, she never said hello or hi to anyone, at the time we had upwards of 40 people on and people were talking. After about 15 minutes the whispers started, “See this is what I am talking about, no one is willing to talk to me, this guild is just a hangout for misogynistic man children” When I asked what she meant, she told me that men should always stop what they are doing and recognize that a woman has entered. My husband and sons know that I do not tolerate this kind of behavior. I demand to be respected. I said that while I was sorry it appeared people were not talking to her, that it was also a two way street, perhaps since she did not say anything people just thought she did not want to talk to anyone. And it spiraled out of control from there, to calling me less of a man, a worthless human being that did not know my place, and on and on for near an hour. At some point I started screen capping the conversation because of the nature, even to threats that she could and would destroy the guild. I left it at, perhaps we are not what you are looking for in a guild and maybe it would be best if you left, where she gave me a few choice expletives and quit. Followed by weeks of bashing me and the guild in trade on multiple characters, even her sisters account. All I was told by Blizzard was to put all of her characters on ignore and to not interact. It was probably the only time in years of being a GM that I seriously questioned why even bother trying to run a guild. I still see her in town on occasion, but I do not say anything to her. I have heard that she occasionally tosses a comment or two at me, but I have moved on. There was only one other person that stalked me on Twitter, but it was more sad to me since I knew they had some mental health issues, and seemed to focus on me personally being all the problems they had in game.

      I am sorry to read that you had to go through something like this, but am glad that it has made you strong enough to just move on.

      Like

      1. Cinder says:

        That is absolutely awful! I’m so sorry you went through that situation.
        It’s hard because the only support you can get from places like WoW and twitter etc. are to say to block the people and not interact with them. Which is of course a good place to start, but it doesn’t stop the person – it just stops you from seeing it.
        I’m glad that you were able to move on, though. *hugs*

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Marathal says:

        I’m an older adult. It was more surprising because she had told me prior to all that she was in her 40’s with grown kids. Age knows no boundaries.

        Like

      3. Cinder says:

        Yes, it does make you wonder what kind of upbringing those children have had.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. AnnInWonderland says:

    I’m so sorry this is happening to you, dear. People can be awful, especially to women. From my friends’ experiences, emailing the parents really help. Just blocking them won’t teach them as much as someone punishing them and/or explaining them how to behave online (and IRL). Stay strong! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cinder says:

      It looks like this might be the way to go. Thank you hon ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mama Druid says:

    I’m so sorry this happened, and is happening. Ugh. Thank you for sharing and contributing to the voice of “this behavior is not ok.” To help end toxic masculinity, it’s important to give parents of boys like this the opportunity to correct them before they leave home. Assuming they would care, and we can only hope for the best!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Cinder says:

      I think that’s been my biggest concern about contacting his parents, is what if they don’t care? But I think it’s a good first step at least.
      Thank you for reading and for your kind words πŸ™‚

      Like

  4. Zeirah says:

    I knew he was a little shit but I didn’t realise how bad, some of your post is new to me 😦 I wish I had known just how much of a @&$&$$& prick he was being. I would probably have flown off the deep end even more though.
    You and I are different and I’m so proud of how you haven’t stopped playing and stopped podcasting and haven’t stopped doing what you love because of one absolute scumbag.I still say that you should look into proper legal action but how well it would work, I don’t know. If you decided to contact his mother, let’s hope his mother isn’t a douche bag like her son is and will actually take it seriously but he’s not a young young child, will his parent even have an impact on him? If he’s grown up to the be the jerk that he is now, well I ‘m guessing words from his parents will fall on deaf ears, and you don’t just wake up one morning with no morals and think it’s ok to treat someone that way.

    I admire the way you’ve addressed this, me I wouldn’t be so calm or rational. You’re a very strong and awesome woman. And this little crapper – well I hope that one day he gets all that he deserves and more.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cinder says:

      Thank you sweet pea – you have just been such a lovely support to me throughout all of this and I am incredibly grateful for your friendship ❀

      Like

  5. “Because at the end of all of this, he’s not making me look bad, he’s just showing the world what a pitiful human he is.”

    Well done.

    I hope with this story others may face their own toxic individuals, both online and offline.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cinder says:

      I hope so too. It’s one of the main reasons for writing about my situation.
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting ❀

      Like

  6. Cymre says:

    Oh Cinder, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Sending the screenshots/letter to his parents sounds like a good idea. Glad to hear you were able to move above it and not let it affect what you love about the game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cinder says:

      Thanks lovely. Yep, I think the letter will be a weekend job for sure – definitely lots of support for it from everyone so I’ll give it a go. Thanks hon πŸ™‚

      Like

  7. Thank you for sharing your story, that probably was not easy.
    I think the others have said it better so I’ll just add that I like the mail idea. A letter, in an envelope, sent to their mail box with no return address or any name on your part. Expose him to his family, I think that would be best; but very hard to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cinder says:

      Thanks lovely πŸ™‚
      The email is in the works. Just need a few spare moments to sort it all out and figure out how to get it to him Mum.

      Like

      1. From your own real address? Maybe make a new one up just for this.

        Like

      2. Cinder says:

        Yeah will definitely be sending from a new temporary one!

        Like

  8. Raphael says:

    This is the first post of yours I’ve read. It was a heck of an introduction.

    I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this and glad you can laugh about it. I was reading and kept wondering when we would get to the laughing point; him using a twitter account associated with his real name was pretty epic.

    Good on you for keeping your head up.

    Like

    1. Cinder says:

      Yeah I figure getting upset about the situation will only spur him on. Much better to just beat him by being happy. πŸ™‚

      Like

  9. gnomecore says:

    Yep, being targeted really sucks.
    However, “don’t feed the troll” rule works. Ignoring and excluding such a person from your information field is the thing – as every possible internet and mobile service have those options. And once the legal borders are crossed, it’s time for police to act.
    I think it’s best not wasting time and attention on assholes as long as you can ban them from your activities.

    Like

    1. Cinder says:

      Yep agree – he’s been blocked and reported for harassment on twitter and twitch, and blocked everywhere else possible. Which is why he’s taken to making fake accounts to get to me. It’s not going to stop me from enjoying what I’m doing though, and I will continue to block and report as long as it takes. πŸ™‚

      Like

  10. Navimie says:

    I knew it had been terrible but I did not know it started again. I am sorry you had to go through it all but I am not sorry you did all the right things as well as make this post.

    What I hope everyone takes away from this is that you cannot ignore bad behaviour. You must get on top of it and deal with it swiftly. If you ignore bad behaviour you condone it. You don’t have to confront or attack the person because it makes you the same as them, but merely saying “Err, xxx I don’t think that kind of behaviour is acceptable” or “there is no need for that kind of language here thanks”. If you are the first to speak up then people will follow suit. If someone else said it first you are lending support. Either way you win.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve also been harassed in WoW, mine was by a female (I’m also female) and she got her husband and side-piece in on it as well. I didn’t resort to telling her husband about her affair, although it was tempting. Especially after she told people that I was on mood-altering drugs (I’m not), and that I stalked HER (also no). My anger peaked when she started to make fun of my health condition in General Chat, but a lot of the people on that server came together and actually got her perma-banned. A real-life friend of hers that was angry at her for her actions let me know about the ban. Her two boy-toys also left, and I haven’t seen any of them since. btw, I have MS – that makes little difference, any health issue would have been a target for her, she would’ve exploited whatever she could have.

    I still have absolutely no idea why she started her campaign. The theory is that she wasn’t getting enough attention from males in our guild. There were other females in the guild, but I was well-liked and seemed like a good target I guess. I’ve since switched serves and become less active due to time constraints, but she’s not even a smear on the pavement to me. It was very satisfying to see the community band together when she took her vendetta public, and I’ve felt a lot of love for the game and the people ever since.

    I’m glad you can get past your harasser as well. Once you see *them* as the unhappy and lonely one, it’s much easier to do so. Look within and find the happiness in your own life, then once they are stopped (I await the day all bullies are stopped quickly), they can be a speck in the rear view.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cinder says:

      Im fascinated by motives in these situations sometimes. It makes me sad that someone sees a person like yourself, who is lovely and having a good time, and rather than thinking “I’d love to join them!” they think “I want that, I’m going to take it from you”.
      I’m sorry that you went through this. It was heartwarming to read your server banded behind you like that. And I’m glad you’ve been able to move on. Thanks so much for sharing your story. xo

      Liked by 1 person

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