I have never thought of myself as a feminist; I love wearing dresses, I want to be a housewife, I spend more time finding recipes on Pinterest than I do on my calculus homework, I have never voted in an election, I’m pro-life, and I believe that the guy should always make the first move. But I do think I have the right to say no to a guy. And for the past three years I have been denied that right.
When I was 15, I began dating Ben. He was never late to our dates and called me every night. I was convinced I had found “The One.” Well, I was until I met Bobby. Bobby was funny and charming; two characteristics that Ben did not have. Bobby quickly won me over. The week before Halloween, I finally got the courage to leave Ben for Bobby. I assumed Ben would be mad or upset, but never assumed he would hold a grudge against me for three years!
Over the next week I got over 100 text messages and phone calls from Ben asking me to give him a second chance or to try to work things out. Although his messages were annoying, I didn’t pay that much attention to them. I figured if I ignored them long enough, he would go away.
As time went on, Bobby and I started to get what I like to call ‘high school-serious.’ I spent Christmas at his parents’ house, and one day, we put pictures of us together up on Facebook. The next morning when I woke up, our Facebook photos had been erased and I had two text messages: one from Bobby saying that he was breaking up with me, and one from Ben asking if I was okay from the break-up. Strange coincidence that Ben knew so quickly, but I only assumed that he was just quick to find out about the break-up; I never thought he might have caused the break-up. I found out after New Year’s that Bobby had received an anonymous message saying I was still involved with Ben, which had caused him to break up with me.
Over the next two years I had bad luck with all my relationships. Andrew cheated on me with his ex-girlfriend, James drunk-texted me saying how he was secretly into other men, and the list went on. And throughout every relationship, Ben was right there, still texting and calling me. My family even relocated across the country to Boston for my parents’ job, and although I was over 700 miles away from Ben, nothing changed. It would always go like this: I would meet a guy with whom I was happy and everything was going great, and then, suddenly, something would change; he would act weird and never talk to me again. I still had not made the connection between Ben and all my failed relationships. I assumed all high school boys were immature and didn’t know how to have real relationships.
Finally it was time to go to college. I was excited because this meant I would have a whole new pool of guys to choose from. Immediately, I met Marc; he was sweet and kind. The day we posted our official relationship status on Facebook, Marc started getting harassing texts from a number he didn’t recognize claiming that I was still “in love with my ex-boyfriend.” I checked the number, and sure enough, it was Ben!
I was furious. I angrily called Ben and informed him to stay away. I was not going to let him ruin this relationship. Unfortunately, Ben didn’t stop; he continued to text Marc constantly with new ways to break us up; he once even pretended to be another girl and texted me saying Marc was cheating.
Things took a very dramatic turn when I went on a weekend trip to the beach last January, over three years after Ben and I had broken up. I turned off my phone for the weekend, hoping to take a break and enjoy myself. When I came home, I found my relationship with Marc had been blown to shreds. Marc had not only broken up with me, but was convinced that I was a liar. I was devastated; I had no idea what had even happened. I immediately called one of my best friends, Victoria, who offered to find out what had actually happened. After talking to Marc and then Ben, Victoria, being the sexy and exceptionally smart, redhead detective that she is, found out that Ben had been texting Marc all weekend from my number creating a plan to break us up. Ben had planted a virus in my phone and was able to access anything on my phone through his computer. Ben had used technology to completely destroy all of my high school relationships, and then, as his final act, he destroyed my relationship with my college boyfriend.
The next few months were a complete whirlwind. I spent my days talking to detectives and lawyers about what had happened. Finally, I had enough evidence to press charges. Ben was arrested for aggravated stalking in the 3rd degree—a felony that could cause him to serve two years in prison. He was also charged with planting an illegal spyware device in my iPhone which enabled him to read all my texts, access all my social media accounts and completely control my life. Even today, I am still waiting for the court date which will formally sentence him to years in prison. I have not heard from him since he was arrested, and even when he is released from prison, I’ll feel safe knowing I have a good restraining order in place the protects me and my friends. I am finally relieved knowing that my next relationship can be ex-boyfriend free.
I initially thought I could blame myself for letting all of this happen. I may have been too mean when I broke up with Ben, and I ignored the serious warning signs. But what I’ve realized is that it’s not my fault; I have a right to say no. So while I may never be a true “feminist,” I do support a woman’s right to make relationship decisions. It’s my life, and I want to have control over whom I share it with.
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