I Outed A Sexual Predator & Became A Social Pariah. I’m Good With It.
For the past year and a half, give or take a few months, I was in a group chat made up of women and AFAB non-binary individuals that was started in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of us already knew each other, others were mutual friends of someone in the chat, but we all eventually became family. Many of us socialized as often as every day, sharing our triumphs, trials and tribulations. These were people that I would have trusted with my life.
Just about a week ago, it was brought to my attention by someone outside of the group that the husband of one of the group chat members was a creep and had gone to jail for a minor-related charge. Now I don’t know if it was pure intuition or the fact that I quite literally grew up watching Criminal Minds, but something told me to do a quick search in the local court records to see if I could confirm this. I did, fairly quickly and easily. I will be completely honest with you, dear readers, I did not know immediately what to do with this information. Well, I did, but it’s really more like I knew what the consequences would be if I brought this to anyone’s attention. I basically went into the situation from there on out knowing that socially, I would lose.
I knew this in spite of the fact that I had seen multiple group members share those memes that say something along the lines of, “Tell me if I’m friends with your abuser and I’ll unfriend/block them.” Most of us considered ourselves feminists, and definitely never before had an issue calling out people who were problematic and/or predatory. Even with that knowledge, I knew this information wasn’t going to go over well. I knew also that I had a responsibility to protect the people I cared about and a responsibility to not be a raging hypocrite. A predator is a predator, no matter who they are or who they know.
By the time I was ready to tell anyone what I knew, I decided to make a small group chat of only the mutual friends I had with the predator on Facebook. This included a couple people outside of the original group chat and excluded his wife and her best friend, who I was told already knew. I figured, if anything, it would help to minimize the fall out. I sent the message in a factual and unbiased manner and let them know I was doing this for their safety. Almost immediately, someone screenshot my message and sent it back to the original group chat, which I had already left. I knew what was coming and I wasn’t going to sit and listen to someone defend a predator that by this point I had heard several different accounts of predatory behavior about. I just wasn’t.
The gaslighting started immediately. I was crazy. I was manic. I must be off my meds. I must have a personal agenda. Of course, his wife was in the group chat attempting to explain away his minor-related charge and she was very quick to use information she received through her job to dead name me publicly on Facebook, drag up my own criminal record (which I am happy to discuss with anyone who asks) and attempt to destroy any credibility I had. It was all a distraction in an attempt to deflect the heat on her and her husband.
The most recent rumor I have heard is that this man worked for me and my husband at our now-defunct retail vapor shop, and that I sat on this information for years before now suddenly deciding to out him. Not only was he never employed by me, neither my husband or I have ever met him. A stupid lie to tell, really, given how many of my former employees can confirm this.
Shortly after this information got out, those screenshots somehow went public on an anonymous local Gossip Girl-esque Facebook page. It got around that I was the one who sent the message originally, and almost immediately my inbox flooded with people sending me messages describing their own disgusting encounters with this predator. Every share that post got before being taken down was filled with the same type of reports made by even more people. The allegations ranged from sending unsolicited nudes to sexual propositions, to encounters with him when they were minors, to even more disturbing situations.
Since I had already planned on permanently deleting my Facebook account before any of this happened, I’ve also been accused of wanting to make this my “grand finale before leaving the internet.” Although that thought hadn’t occurred to me, I’m fine with it. Out of around 20 people in that group chat, I’m still speaking to only 3 of them. The rest had no interest in coming to my defense or admitting that I had done the right thing, not even privately.
I couldn’t help but sit here and think to myself how hypocritical that was. It’s only okay to call out people who we don’t associate with and people we don’t like? Not in my book. Not to sound grandiose about myself and my integrity, but I couldn’t just sit on this information. Not when I knew this predator had interacted frequently online with several friends and preyed upon even more. It was causing me so much stress that I had hardly eaten in the days since I first found out about him.
Regardless of how any of these people feel about me now, I maintain that I did the right thing and I always will. That’s why I’m so okay with this. I would become a social pariah a hundred times if it meant unburdening the people who messaged me with sincere gratitude. I would do this over a hundred times more if it meant protecting people I once considered my family. There is no amount of mudslinging or name-calling that would make me regret my decision. Once upon a time I would have taken the path of least resistance and looked the other way, but that person doesn’t exist anymore. I am more interested in doing what’s right instead of just doing what’s easy. I’m more interested in believing women than protecting predators.