Is #MeToo For Me Too?:

Raissa Simone
8 min readMay 30, 2021

On Surviving Stalking Enacted By A Woman

The Me Too movement brought visibility to survivors of gendered violence and ignited a multi-national conversation about power and violence. The movement largely directed its gaze at accused wealthy, powerful men and the experiences of young Hollywood women; Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behaviour was commented on by endless actresses and Bill Cosby’s assaults were ultimately met with a prison sentence. Every month, the name of a man with previously unquestioned assaults made an unceremonious splash on the internet. The era of silent victims flying under a tinsil-towned radar had clearly come to its end.

But, the movement has had a spotted lens — there had yet to be a high-profile woman accused in the Me Too cultural shift.

In 2014, I began experiencing what became a four-year-long barrage of stalking, assaults, and defamation by a woman.

I met her at a small city Ontario arts collective house. At a fish and chips bar, after an art opening at the collective home, I sat with a glass of chilled wine with a few friends, and Stephanie straddled my chair and ferociously kissed me. In the infrequent moments when I saw Stephanie in the coming months, she kept a status-quo: an aggressive grab-and-kiss on her part, followed by her flustered attempt at courtship. She would ask me to date her and I would find soft ways to say no.

When I wouldn’t date her, both Stephanie and her friends’ hostility was apparent. There seemed to be an unspoken expectation that Stephanie be responded to in positive terms and without contestation. I maintained to anyone who asked me — I simply didn’t want to date her.

When Stephanie moved into the bedroom beside mine in the arts collective home we had met in over a year before, I felt too intimidated to contest her move-in. The previous tenant left abruptly and proposed Stephanie as a new roommate only days before she moved in. I was very hesitant and uncomfortable with the choice, but I kept the opinion to myself. What followed was a chaos that made me wish more for my own vigilance.

The demand from Stephanie that I date her continued. I maintained a friendly, while uninterested approach to the topic. Soonafter, the collective house we both lived in began erupting in drug overuse and chaos. I made attempts to keep to myself as much as possible. House meetings became solely devoted to addressing Stephanie’s discontentments. I began experiencing sexual harassment; Stephanie would ask others in the home if they had ‘fucked me yet.’ As I began staying at friends’ homes to avoid the ongoing disturbances at my own home, I remained terrified of being near the house. On one night that I stayed at the home, Stephanie physically attacked me in a hallway, blocking me from my bedroom, and screaming slurs. With my back in a corner, Stephanie screamed further threats to assault me, as I mentally gambled over whether police would help me if I were to call 911 or if I would be further traumatized by the police. Finally, another roommate yanked Stephanie aside and minutes later she was downstairs, in the house kitchen, laughing and inviting her friends over. I slipped into my bedroom, sleepless and shaking. Sleep never came. I called my parents, who urged me to immediately leave the home. I dissociated and thought of what later seemed like frivolous issues — what about my Dad’s books in the home, a valuable collection, that he’d given me? What about the labour I’d invested into the arts collective the home had been running? In a zombied shock, I went about my day-to-day life. Days later, I found many of my items destroyed, smeared in a red paste and burnt by fire. My blank haze continued. At moments of clarity, I wondered if Stephanie would attack me again. I bought a lock for my door. I took photos of the ruined items. I packed my things. I moved into a friend’s basement. I smoked cigarettes. I was still.

The use of social justice language by Stephanie’s social group, who described themselves as feminists, to justify the assault was apparent; I was ‘overreacting.’ I was causing ‘drama.’ I was creating ‘community division.’ I had ‘deserved it.’ I was ‘falsely accusing a feminist.’

In the years after, Stephanie screamed at me and physically assaulted me anytime we were in the same space. She continued to sexually harass me; she regularly messaged my acquaintances to tell them that I was a “dick cozy.” Stephanie began posting online about a sexual assault I had survived long before — she posted repeatedly about the very personal incident, stating that I had lied about it, using my full name, and seeming to make a declarative statement that she could authoratively state that the sexual assault hadn’t occurred.

Her behavior escalated; every accusation she made online was so bizarre that I was constantly in a state of defense, while also protecting myself from ongoing physical aggression when she physically found me in public. On one occasion, she found me at a concert and before I saw her, I felt ice and glass smash against my face. She had thrown a drink at me and left cuts along my neck. The following day, she made online posts about being victimized by me at the same concert. It was as strange as it was infuriating. I was keeping a strong calm throughout the baffling and frightening behaviour, but I was starting to feel like a fool.

I began seeing online posts made by my roommate as we sought a new apartment being shared online by Stephanie also, discouraging other apartment seekers to live with me. She would learn who I lived with or who moved into my apartment. Stephanie began sharing my geographic location online, encouraging others to assault me, showing up at shows I was performing at, and sharing the geographic information of my close friends online, and ultimately making death threats. I was, I later realized, not only assaulted, but being stalked.

As Stephanie harassed and messaged anyone I knew, people I knew met with me to say that they were scared of her and what she would do to them if they didn’t immediately delete me on any online platform. She somehow learned of my doctorate program, my university, and would contact anyone associated with me. Stephanie began tracking when I travelled between cities. She eventually made an online Facebook group about me.

All the while, Stephanie’s claims became as odd as they were delusional. I began receiving messages from Stephanie’s friends claiming that I had engaged in various obscure harms while I was in a different city. She began making bizarre police reports that I didn’t know how to begin answering. It became completely emotionally impossible to engage with the strange onslaught of accusations.

I began to worry in my personal life that at any time, as years went on, Stephanie may contact anyone I met. When I attempted to initiate a civil case regarding the harassment, I broke down sobbing in the courtroom, unable to continue, and ultimately being forced to pay Stephanie’s lawyer. Myself and my family remained terrified, and received no reparations for court fees in the efforts to stop her harassment or for all the items she and her friends had destroyed. I knew that Stephanie was intent on endangering me, but even after I made a police report, my workplaces continually received bizarre contact from her. I remained aware that her harassment was continuing and that, at worst, if she found out my address, I could be killed.

Our cultural vocabulary still largely fails when attempting to describe women who are stalkers and acting abusively, and often relies on misogyny. Women who kill are infamously addressed as ‘black widows,’ usually imagined as dangerously beautiful beings with sly, malicious intent. If two women are perceived as at odds, the two people and their differences are reduced to a ‘cat fight.’

The waning and often unreliable hope I had that other women might empathize with the horrors of the abuse, with the quiet reality women often know of such violence, was absent — after all, in my experience, it wasn’t deemed a matter of “violence against women,” as there was no man committing the violence. It was a conflict. A cat fight. It was a matter of siding with your friend and sneering at the other. Women participated in the misogyny of the situation — that if it could be reduced to a perceived battle of equals, of lowers, of two disgruntled women, that it could not possibly be abuse or stalking. That I was experiencing all of the violent behaviours from Stephanie that are often outlined in brochures on domestic abuse — assaults, intimidation, stalking, gaslighting, smear campaigns — was posited against the fact of her womanhood, her implied experience of oppression.

It took me years, until the Me Too movement, to wholly realize the extent of the violence I’d lived through from Stephanie.

While violence is often extremely gendered, to ignore the fact that there are women who engage in abuse is faulty, harmful, and inaccurate. This assumption itself implies a lack of agency in women, a “benevolent” misogyny, which further silences the victims of violence enacted by women. Women do have agency to commit violence. This absence of dialogue further neglects a more nuanced conversation around intersectionality; the complications of abuse aren’t easily unwound.

The Me Too movement has beacons of hope lining its offerings. There are possibilities of survivors of assault voicing experiences after years or even decades of silence. This vocalization should not be limited to those who experienced violence by a man. For the Me Too movement to restrict dialogue to assault or harassment by a man limits those who keep secrets of abuse enacted by women and further enforces a stigma around us.

As Stephanie’s abuse unfolded, many people who were themselves marginalized encouraged and endorsed her stalking and threats of ongoing violence. Many women echoed Stephanie’s smear campaigns and themselves joined in. Reducing assault to a flattened outline of “woman-on-woman” or “man-on-woman” harm only reinforces benevolent sexism and ignores the social dynamics that have the potential to lead to abuse and power disparity.

I became hesitant in speaking about my experience with Stephanie and her friend group with others; in its most total and accurate telling, it still seemed fantastical. A woman felt rejected by you, so she convinced a group of her friends that you’d somehow emotionally harmed her, and began a tirade of violence and monitoring against you? Conversationally, it felt awkward and confessional, while being far outside the purview of most people’s experiences. It seemed too odd to be empathized with.

Stephanie utilized both physical violence and ongoing psychological abuse to manipulate her victim into silence and manipulate others into social compliance. We perceive women as unable to use the structures or methods at hand to enact violence. But this seems to be a misreading of what violence is — if Me Too and any similar movements focus exclusively on one domain of violence, we lose sight of the complexities of abuse and the multi-dimensional harm that occurs in the world. Abusers don’t recognize themselves as abusers; they develop a distorted logic to convince themselves and others that their behaviour is justified. If a working definition of violence could be ‘using available tools/structures to violate, oppress, or inflict pain on another’ then it hardly seems that women are outside of the realm of capability of doing this.

For the Me Too movement to more fully encompass experiences of violence, assuming a Harvey Weinstein protoype (a rich white man harasses rich white woman) is only a disservice to people who were abused by women or gender non-conforming people. I was stalked and abused by someone who wouldn’t be considered a ‘threat’ under the heavily gendered, non-intersectional Me Too movement. The reality is, some of us have abusers who are not high-profile, not millionaires, not men, but people who are themselves in pain, who are young, who are women. And this abuse is still wholly real. It is untrue that “women wouldn’t do this to you.”

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