Overcoming an online stalking nightmare

Hayley enjoyed life and felt proud of her successful beauty business, she loved meeting and treating her clients.  However, this changed when she met Zac.

lady with hands on head in despair with laptop open in front of her

The beginning 

Hayley met Zac on Tinder, Hayley said ‘he seemed so nice, I had no hesitation in wanting to meet him’. Her first date was enjoyable and they met a couple of times after, however she felt he was becoming intense, talking about the future and living together.

Hayley told Zac she would be travelling to London. During her trip Zac bombarded her with calls and messages, prompting Hayley to distance from him.  When Hayley returned home Zac was waiting for her at the train station with a bunch of flowers, this concerned Hayley as she had not mentioned which train she would be catching. Hayley immediately ended their two week relationship and said ‘I thought that would be it but my nightmare had just begun’.

What came next

Over the next six months Zac infiltrated Hayley’s social media accounts. She closed her personal social media pages but he targeted her business profiles, where she had worked hard to build a following. She blocked Zac but he made fake accounts and new profiles. He continuously contacted her pretending to be clients, he added bad reviews about her service causing loss of business which impacted her finances.  Zac then started to contact Hayley’s family and friends with fake stories.  Hayley felt alone, fearful and sick with worry, not knowing what to do or where to turn.  She reported the incidents to the police but it was challenging to describe her experience, having deleted most of the messages she did not have much evidence.

Reaching out for help

Hayley reached out to Compass, who put her in touch with Olivia from Changing Pathways.  Olivia is an Independent Stalking Advocacy Case Worker (ISAC) and supported Hayley throughout her journey explaining all options available, she no longer felt alone.  It was such a relief for Hayley to be heard and believed.

Olivia completed a safety plan with Hayley, including how to protect herself online, she provided emotional support and helped her work with the police to gain a stalking protection order (SPO).  Hayley is now gradually rebuilding her beauty business and beginning to see light through the darkness.

Find out more about stalking and gain further support.

Stalking is a crime, if something doesn’t feel right, there is help available through Essex Compass, call

0330 333 7 444 or visit their website Essex Compass

If you are in immediate danger, always call 999.