(TW: Sexual assault, death)
I believe I’ve met the devil. I truly do. Sadly, he was disguised as a man, who masked his harassment as affection. A man I believed cared for me, whilst clearly displaying narcissistic tendencies and abusive behaviour. I was blind. I let this man disrupt and destroy me for over a year.
Our tale begins May 2019. A time before words like social distancing, lockdown and COVID-19 became our everyday lexicon. A time when I lived in London, and hammered the dating apps like a woodpecker on an oak tree. I had been single for 3 years, the longest I had ever been single. I was lonely and desperate to have a partner; to fill the void I was experiencing. I was knee-deep in the dating app world, so my choices were solely based on aesthetics. I wanted the most visually appealing man to call my own. Therein lies trouble itself.
I spent my evenings swiping left and right, having mundane conversations about jobs, studies, what our favourite alcoholic drink was, which did we prefer cats or dogs? Many failed talking stages, many bad dates, some good dates, too many one-night stands. I was your classic ‘Tinderella.’
I began to realise how maybe I needed to realign my choices. The cool, fit, presenting man was not achieving me much success. Time to cast the net a little wider. Go for some guys off my beaten track.
Up pops this man. He was not my type visually. I can’t even remember what his profile said, but fuck it, in that moment I swiped right. Little know did I know who I was letting into my world.
We chatted on the app, and he had good conversation. He worked in a cool industry, and intrigued me. ‘Oh okay, maybe I have been doing it wrong and I should move away from looks based swiping and give more guys a chance.’ We exchanged numbers and started chatting on what’s app.
He was a little too persistent. Major turn off for me. I like the chase. I began to ignore him. During this time several other guys came and went who held my attention better. He kept messaging though. I began to feel annoyed when my phone went off and it was a message from him. ‘Uh, again?!’ However, I clearly liked the attention somewhat because I didn’t block him. He would reply to my Instagram stories, send me photos from his day. I began to think, actually maybe is this a guy who would care for me? He’s investing time to message me right now. That’s a good sign, right? Here I was chasing and failing with others, so in that moment I decided ‘fuck it, let’s give him a chance.’
Toy Story 4 was coming out and I posted on my story did anyone want to go? He pops up ‘I do!’ so I thought ‘why not meet him, then I can decide.’ We did not go and see Toy Story 4. We kept planning and he kept having his plans change. I went with friends. Fine. However, by now I had been chatting to him daily. I liked the attention; I thought his constant pestering was affection and not borderline harassment. He literally ground me down, I can see that now.
Fast-forward a few weeks. I am drunk, I have been out with friends and gotten home still pretty awake (wired as fuck to be honest). He pops up on my messages, we had been messaging earlier and I had invited him to join us. He had declined but now was saying how much he regretted not coming and meeting us, and asked what I was up to now? I said in bed, but couldn’t sleep. Then this, dear reader, is when it all changed. He asked me to come to his flat (it’s about 2am, mind) he’ll pay for the uber. I go. I give a man, who is essentially a stranger, my address to send a car to collect me to take me to his. Sweet Jesus, this is so unbelievably dangerous – and I wish I could say this was the one and only time I’ve done this, but we aren’t talking about those now. We are talking about dancing with the devil.
The thing about the devil is he disguises himself. He doesn’t announce himself. He courts you; he knows how to entice you. No one willingly makes a deal with Satan himself. So, of course, we have a really great time. Despite it being the small hours of the morning. We really get on. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t given him a chance sooner.
(Side note: I should mention at this point it was towards the end of June 2019 and my Mum had been admitted to hospital in the last stages of her life.)
In the morning, I had to leave as I was going back to the hospital to be with Mum. He paid for my uber home and said ‘would you like to do this again?’ – suggesting some ideas for dates. ‘Oh my god. I have a boyfriend!’ I thought (calm down, Meg, you’re embarrassing yourself). I called my best friend in the Uber and relayed my night. She affirmed my belief, ‘oh my god. You have a boyfriend!’ He had text me whilst I was in the uber to make sure I was okay, when I didn’t reply because I was on the phone he messaged again, seemingly worried and apologetic for booty-calling me etc etc. I thought it was all so sweet. Here’s a real man. Apologetic behaviour. Admirable.
So far so good, huh? I had lucked out, right?
I was besotted. We messaged constantly. However, when it came to actual dates, he was Captain Flake. Always had an excuse, travelled with work, cancelled last minute. It was weeks before I saw him again. Again, he invited me over, via paid uber one night. A Sunday. I gave him credit for it being earlier in the evening. I declined the paid uber and said I was happy to drive, he invited me to stay over so I turned up with wine. Expecting a cute evening in, with a guy I had built up in my mind. This is where it gets horrid. I said I didn’t want to have sex on his sofa. He pushed, and pushed, and pushed. I kept saying no. No wasn’t in his vocabulary. I didn’t want to upset him. I didn’t want him to go off me. Now, I want to scream at this Meg, tell her to pick up her stuff and get out. I didn’t. I wish I had but I didn’t. I gave him what he wanted. Despite him knowing I didn’t want to, but 20 no’s and a yes was a yes to him. He then told me he had to go to bed early and I probably should go home. I cried the whole drive back. I was also most likely over the drink-drive limit.
I was a people pleaser for him. I did not see his actions as sexual assault, abuse, or any of the like. I just wanted someone, and I wanted him to like me. I wanted him to love me. When in reality he did not give a shit about me. Yet I hung on his every word, awaited his every message.
I was starting to hurt, emotionally, in regards to him. I knew something was off, but I was addicted. He said everything I wanted to hear; he gave me the attention (via what’s app) I so desperately craved. He talked about falling in love, babies, a future. Everything I was so desperate for as my Mum lay dying. It didn’t matter the sex was on his terms. I overlooked that aspect of the relationship.
It was months since we had started speaking and we had still not had a single proper date. I had never seen him outside his flat. He did not know or care about my friends or family names. If I ever spoke of mum, he would talk about his ex whose parents had died. He never asked me how I was, and I see that now.
I called it off with him. I realised, through the help of my girlfriends, he wasn’t going to put in the investment that I wanted. That did not stop the addiction though. I told him to stop messaging and leave me alone.
Did he listen? Of course he fucking didn’t. He ‘missed me’ he ‘cared about me.’ He did not leave me alone for a single day.
Then mum died. 6 August 2019. I told close friends and family, and then put it on my Instagram story. Many people were aware she was dying, and I just did not want to the job of breaking the news to each and every person I knew. So, I put up a short message ‘the sky will have an extra star tonight, goodbye mum’ – and guess who fucking pops up.
The Devil. I am obviously not in a clear head, my Mum just died. Whilst I was stood next to her bed. Yet, Queen Of Supressing Emotions (me), sought any distraction from the unfathomable pain of what I had just gone through. Fuck it, fine. I’ll entertain you. My brother was there with his wife, and I so wanted that support. I wanted a shoulder to cry on. I let him back in.
He was not careful with how I was feeling that day. He was all about himself. It was not long before he turned the chat sexual. Absolute disregard for me, my emotions, or what I had just been through.
Ladies and Gentlemen, he asked me for naked photos.
The day my mum died. He asked me to take naked photos for him. Oh, and sent me several photos of him naked, videos too – unsolicited.
What the actual fuck. Exploiting weakness – an absolute favourite trend of the Devil. Especially when it’s for personal gain.
I knew this behaviour was sickening. I bailed again. I called him out on these requests he made the day mum died. He told me he was ‘just trying to be a distraction for me’ because he ‘cared.’ He made me feel guilty. That I was ungrateful that he had been trying to help. It was my fault I didn’t see it that way.
I asked him to leave me alone. I met someone else. He did not like this. If he saw this new person on my Instagram he would message me about how upset he was, how he wished things had been different. I did too. Wished things had been different. Whilst I fought so hard to have him out of my life, blocking him, ignoring him. He would find a way back in. Just because I knew he was awful, it didn’t stop the addiction, the addiction still had hold. I couldn’t just switch that off.
Safe to say, it did not work out with the new guy. Sadly, as he was really sound, but we wanted different things. So went our separate ways. The Devil was waiting in the wings. More late-night invitations, especially when he knew I had been drinking. He knew it was Mums funeral, didn’t ask how I was. Yet waited until I was smashed at the wake to solicit my attention. He wanted to know he always had access to me, and I let him.
I cried myself to sleep many nights, I made playlists about him. I blocked and unblocked him repeatedly, every time thinking he would change. Believed ‘this time’ he would want to be the man I had created in my mind from his fake promises. He never changed. He was always on my mind. I thought I was seeking closure when actually it was just an excuse to speak to him. Get that dopamine hit he had managed to trigger in my brain, then the withdrawal was all the more painful.
It was damaging, it was soul destroying. My friends hated him. I hid that I would speak to him, or go to his house. In that, I was unable to share when I felt disgusted with myself. When I felt dirty, used and wrong. He knew this, I think he got a kick out of being my dirty little secret. I blamed myself. I believed he would change, he never did.
Thankfully this year’s lockdown in March put a stop to the late-night rendezvous. It gave me space and clarity, of him physically. Despite him crawling into my messages every time I unblocked him. Just ‘to see.’
I tried to hurt him like he hurt me. It didn’t work, because he didn’t care. I wanted him. I wanted him so badly. Despite him being the literal Devil. He always found a way to contact me, get access to me, grind me down for his sick power play. This, dear reader, went on until September of this year. The start of September, I moved away from London. I had blocked and unblocked him more times than I could count. He planned a trip to my new city, he was visiting friends and wanted to see me. Thank god I had a trip booked over that weekend and wouldn’t be in the country. He then offered me money. Money for sexually explicit photos, videos and to sleep with him. He sent me money. I won’t say how much, but he paid for my gym membership for a year. I didn’t sleep with him, but he got the photos. At the time I thought it was some kind of retribution on my part, when ultimately it wasn’t. It was manipulation and it was another form of control and a power trip for him.
Then finally I managed it. I blocked him. On everything. I deleted my old Instagram, blocked him on my new one. Blocked his twitter, number, what’s app. You name it, he’s barred.
Like any addiction he pops up in my mind. When I’m feeling vulnerable, drunk, alone I think about unblocking him. I haven’t yet, and hope I never do. I can’t imagine our paths will ever cross again. I’m stronger now. I don’t hate him. I did. Now I feel nothing. I mourn the time I lost, the effort I invested. I still beat myself up for keeping going to see him when I knew what was going to happen whether I wanted it or not. Now I can see I meant well, I believed the best, and it wasn’t my fault he was the worst. I checked the block list on my new phone the other day to check he was still there. He was. Seeing his photo made me want to be physically sick. My body now has a physical convulsive reaction to him.
I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone, not even my worst enemy. I was love-bombed, assaulted, exploited, manipulated, and gaslighted. It was not my fault. As time goes on it gets easier to accept. I’ve learnt what I will and will not stand for anymore. I’m more closed off, less trusting. There’s a higher wall of protection around me now. I won’t say I’ll never forgive him, because I don’t want to hold anything to him. I don’t want any negative emotion to affect me any more than it already has. However, I don’t think I can say I have forgiven him. I’d prefer to just forget him.
I wanted to tell this story to reclaim it for myself. To share with others who have been through, or are going through, an equally challenging time. Being addicted to someone who is the devil; the devil doesn’t appear overnight, and it is not your fault you didn’t ‘realise’ sooner. None of what they did was your fault. Also, you are not alone. There is help and support out there.
If any of this subject matter has affected you in any way and you need support you can contact the below services (UK):
Relate: All aspects of relationship help and can also guide you to a counsellor, or someone to speak to
Cruse: Support for bereavement and grief can be contacted on 0808 808 1677
You can also google for services in your relevant country. If you need help or support in finding these services you can message me via my Instagram @megundressed