Facing harassment from spiteful former partners following a breakup seems to be a progressively prevalent issue growing more normalised as resentful exes turn to several forms of blackmail and humiliation to manipulate their victims – and we’re not just talking about revenge porn.
In many cases, abusers exploit the relationship’s history or “soft spot” the victim holds for them, swaying and toying with their emotions to create sympathy. Often, the abuser successfully victimises themselves, and the actual victim may never realise that they were being manipulated.
Today, we uncover telltale signs of harassment by exes, with psychological reasoning behind the toxic gesture.
For this piece, we spoke to real-life victims residing within the country who chose to share their yarn with JUICE. These stories will highlight some of the abuse that victims had to sit through and remember, it takes a lot of courage for them to finally speak about their traumas in public.
Let’s uncover these harrowing stories…
Disclaimer: Angel’s name was changed to protect her privacy.
Abusive behaviour is not limited to age. While many see harassment as an ‘adult’ issue, some victims are faced with such instances from the time they are teenagers. This is not a matter of lacking closure or ending on bad terms either.
“In many cases, some people just cannot move on. The end of the relationship is a huge blow to their ego, especially when they weren’t the ones to initiate the breakup,” said 22-year-old Angel, who is contemplating seeking legal help to counter the online harassment she is undergoing six years after a supposedly mutual breakup.
This is her story:
Evidently, manipulators and abusers cannot be coerced by kindness, nor do the boundaries get any clearer when you put them in their place. It only gets more foul from there.
Following that, Angel noted that between them, the two shared a few mutual friends who she feared would compromise her safety and reveal her home address.
“He already knows the area in which I live in. This is someone who cannot comprehend boundaries and does not recognise the depth of his actions.
“If this isn’t already bad enough, many of his posts discuss his alcohol and nicotine addictions and his ‘short-breathiness’. I do worry for his well-being but projecting his mental state onto me is unfair.
“I will be seeking legal help if this continues as he revealed his name in one of the posts. For now, I personally contacted his friends asking him to stop. I don’t want this to be blown out of proportion but protecting myself is now a priority.
“If you feel the need to talk to someone, there are better, more civil ways to do it,” she explained.
Harassment is a spectrum. It is not limited to bruises and scars. In many cases, victims walk away with untainted bodies, but clouded minds.
Victimising and threatening to inflict harmful behaviour towards oneself are forms of manipulation which effectively guilt the victim and trap them in a cycle of illogical obligation.
“He leaked my phone number to thousands of Tumblr users”
Disclaimer: Nadia and Razak’s names were changed to protect their privacy.
We’ve learned from the previous story that some exes just find it extremely difficult to leave us alone and would go the extra mile to harass us.
Kyra started dating a 23-year-old man when she was 18 years old through the horrifying app, Tinder.
Everything seemed well at first but after only a month of dating, she found that her partner, Razak, was cheating on her.
The person Razak was getting in touch with was Nadia, a Twitter celebrity and ex-lover.
After finding out about her boyfriend’s infidelity, Kyra confronted her partner and decided that it was best for them to part ways.
Soon after they broke up, Kyra received hundreds of text messages from random men asking if she was open for some ‘fun’ time. The men who texted Kyra stated that they received her phone number through Tumblr.
“Some of them showed concern and asked me if I was aware that my phone number was just out there in public. I wasn’t. I wasn’t aware at all,” said Kyra.
Kyra, curious, explored the site by entering her name and phone number in the respective search fields. Unbeknownst to her, her phone number had been released along with images and a description of how much of a slut Kyra is.
It wasn’t long for Kyra to figure out that the assailant was indeed Razak.
After failing to ask him to remove the post, Kyra suddenly received another random phone call. She was hesitant to pick it up at first but she braced herself and decided to face whatever that was waiting in the other line.
Kyra picked up the call and heard a woman’s voice who asked, “Hey, do you know Razak?” to which Kyra replied that she does.
After the long conversation, Kyra found out that Razak was in a relationship with 10 different women all at once including herself.
“He would use the same lines, the same excuses to all of us if he couldn’t pick up his phone. He would tell us that he’s busy juggling multiple jobs,” said Kyra.
To make it worse, Razak also raped and sexually assaulted some of these girls.
Kyra entered a group chat with the other 9 girls, but she tweeted about the man’s abuse first to protect the other victims and any other women he was seeing.
After doing so, Kyra was attacked by Nadia who called her hundred thousand followers to also cyberbully Kyra. Nadia stated that Kyra ruined her relationship with Razak to all of her followers and shared a link to Kyra’s Curiouscat account.
She started receiving hundreds of messages calling her fat, ugly, smelly and that she was a slut.
Kyra was depressed for a long time because of the abuse she had suffered at the hands of Razak. She stopped using any dating apps after that and changed her phone number.
Kyra was never apologised to either by Nadia or Razak. Nadia is now married to a different man, but her devoted following continues to shower her with praise.
Now that you’ve read some heart-wrenching stories, let’s look into some facts.
Even though no gender is immune to harassment post-breakup, one-third of women have experienced online abuse from a partner, either current or past, according to a study by Women’s Aid. This figure is higher for women compared to men.
Users have said that Facebook and email are the most prevalent places where they encounter abuse, but we suspect that abusers would also go on other social media platforms as told by the stories we collected.
41% of women said that a boyfriend, husband, or ex-boyfriend monitored their internet activity.
In response to this study, 37% of respondents claimed they have experienced actual threats.
Out of the outstanding figure, only 30% of women acknowledged that they had been cyberstalked or harassed by an ex- or current partner, despite the fact that this behaviour constitutes criminal conduct.
According to Women’s Aid, this number is likely lower than it is since people aren’t aware that if they feel threatened by such behaviour online, it’s likely to constitute harassment.
Now let’s move on to the psychological reason why your ex is acting like an idiot.
Journal of Personality released research in December 2021 that investigates the root reasons for stalking, such as obsessive love and the dread of being left behind.
There are 8 factors to consider before accusing your ex of stalking.
1. Hyper-intimacy: refers to excessive displays of romantic interest.
2. Making efforts to interact with the victim face to face on many occasions.
3. Communicating via intermediaries (or “mediators”) (e.g., cyberstalking).
4. Surveillance: the process of gathering information on a person or group without their knowledge.
5. Invasion: any kind of boundary violation, whether actual or metaphorical (e.g., trespassing, stealing information).
6. Intimidation and harassment: using aggressive tactics to coerce a stalker victim into submission.
7. Covert or overt threats to the victim of the stalking
8. Coercive violence: Physical or sexual abuse
Although frequent phone calls and online messages are a common method stalkers start harassing their victims, this is not necessarily where the harassment stops.
Although many incidents of stalking begin after a relationship ends, there is no foolproof way to predict who will and will not develop stalking tendencies.
Obsessive ex-partners are motivated to stalk by a combination of factors including rejection, obsession, false imagination/fantasy, and narcissism.
If your ex accuses you or creates crises to get sympathy, they might be categorised as an abuser.
Most of them will try to gaslight you into thinking you are overreacting. Sometimes, the rationale behind this idea is to make you seem “crazy” or unhinged so that you will depend on them for comfort or help.
They could also be categorised as an abuser if they make bogus promises to extend contact, blackmail you, play on your fears and make unsubstantiated allegations, and distort your words to fit their goal.
If you have been in more than one relationship, we can guarantee that you’ve faced at least one form of abuse mentioned above. We’re here to tell you that you’re not alone and there are ways where you could get help and reach out to professionals.
In Malaysia, the laws against these harsh acts are existent but narrow.
Sexual harassment is defined by the Employment (Amendment) Act 2012, Sections 81A to 81G as “Any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, visual, gestural or physical, directed at a person which is offensive or humiliating or is a threat to his well-being, arising out of and in the course of his employment.”
The punishment for convicted felons poses a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, or a fine, whipping, or any two of these.
Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act criminalises any speech made with the intention to “annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person”. This section was made to specifically counter cyberbullying.
There are no explicit laws against stalking within the country at the moment.
That concludes our piece.
If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, do not hesitate to seek help.
- WAO Hotline: +603 3000 8858 (24 hours)
- SMS/WhatsApp TINA: +6018 988 8058 (24 hours)
- AWAM women’s Helpline: 03 7877 0224.
- Abuse helplines: (60) 03 7960 3030 / 7956 3488.