Witness #12 | Sofia*
I am a survivor of stalking and assault, and have not been able to put an end to my horrifying experience, due to there being no protection for victims of stalking. Stalking is not a crime in Malaysia, and it is completely devastating to be a continuous victim. I have to live in constant fear and worry every day that my stalker may harm me or my family.
I met the perpetrator many years ago in 2007, as young students on scholarships studying abroad, and he remained an acquaintance. In 2012, we attended a rock music festival together as friends and he tried to put his hands down my pants, but I elbowed him as I was confused about what he was trying to do, in the middle of the concert crowd. Three years ago, in August 2018, I began a relationship with him, and during this time he gradually exhibited signs of control that intensified even after the relationship ended in early 2019. When we were together, he pressured me to share with him my past relationships and detailed sexual history, and I did so trustingly. Little did I know this information will be used against me on a scale I never imagined, in his harassment.
Immediately after our break-up, he sent me unsolicited pictures and messages which I ignored. In late 2019, he began calling and messaging me incessantly, asking to meet me for dinner to say a final goodbye. Hoping it would stop him from contacting and harassing me, I agreed to have dinner with him on 27 November 2019. After the dinner, he asked to stay over, and I said that he could stay in my spare room. He then demanded to sleep in my room and kept banging on my room door. When I refused, he became violent and ended up trying to strangle me. He also physically restrained me from calling a friend. From 27 November to 6 December, the harassment via calls and text messages continued, and he asked to come over to stay with me. He then threatened to go to my workplace and follow me home. I was terrified for my safety and asked a friend for help.
On 6 December 2019, I made my first police report on the choking incident and other forms of harassment. The Investigating Officer offered to call him in for a statement for investigation purposes. At this point, I chose to report for documentation purposes as I was afraid it could make his actions worse. I informed my condo’s security guards to no longer allow him in the vicinity.
He showed up that night of 6 December 2019 anyway, waiting outside my condominium when I arrived home after the police station visit. He harassed me with threats to call my friends and family (“Don’t make me do things”), via message and voice notes. These threats via WhatsApp were continuous and he persistently requested me to not be “inhumane”, and to let him shower at my place. I was terrified that he would follow up and execute his threats if I refused, as I also had an important virtual interview to attend that same night. I then met him at the main entrance and insisted on getting a security guard to escort us all the way upstairs and to wait with me outside of my unit while he took a shower. After waiting 15 minutes with a guard outside my house, I entered my house only to see him going through my bag and through my personal notebook. I angrily asked him to leave and messaged him afterwards, asking him to never contact me again. However, he messaged again on his birthday (8 December), requesting to see me. I refused.
The messages and calls continued. He would continuously and repeatedly harass me daily and ask persistent questions to inquire more about my personal life and call me derogatory terms such as “slut” and “whore”. These terms will prove to be even more obscene throughout 2020 and 2021 (e.g. “cock carousel rider”, “public toilet”, “cheap whore”, “hoe mummy”, “cum dumpster”, “easy f***ing slut”).
The harassment via WhatsApp peaked on 25 December 2019, where he expressed that he would never leave me alone, and I blocked him across all social media platforms. He then started emailing me from one fake account after another (since I keep blocking the senders), asking to unblock him and respond.
Knowing full well that I am active on LinkedIn and share a lot about work, he began harassing me via fake LinkedIn profiles as he could not reach me through other social media platforms. He even took to finding my close male friend C’s Instagram profile, and began badmouthing him on social media. In February last year (2020), C and I went for a music show in Publika, and he followed us there, filmed us and uploaded this on his Instagram story. A month later, he started to harass my ex-husband on Instagram in efforts to reach me, and continued to harass me daily and message my friends about me.
I launched a second covering police report on 8 June 2021 out of fear. In July last year (2020), the online abuse and harassment intensified, and messages became more obscene. He had created so many fake accounts using my name and child’s name to message me and my friends and family. He shared my private photos and badmouthed my family; my personal details, home address and places I frequent were posted on these fake profiles along with derogatory claims of promiscuity.
It reached a point where I could not take it any longer, I was emotionally and mentally drained and living in fear constantly, fear that he may show up out of nowhere. On 21 July 2020, a friend and I went to his house to literally beg him and his family members to stop the harassment. I have an audio recording of this meeting. All he did was laugh at me and mock me, and did not stop the harassment. A third police report was launched after this to document this meeting.
Between 2020 and the first half of 2021, he called 100 to 200 times continuously from 12:00 midnight to the next morning. I had to ask my network provider to block his number and calls completely, as well as disabling my voice mail or even missed call notifications because the sight of his phone number makes me stressed. Because of this, I no longer have social media, as the threats on social media were persistent. In one message on LinkedIn, he threatened that we will “suffer and die together” if I do not contact him.
He has also ruined my family life — his calls to, and harassment of, my family have made my relationship with my mother very strained as she is constantly bombarded by claims of my ‘promiscuity’. He has also threatened to ruin my career by distributing these fake claims to my employer and our internal platforms. He keeps very close tabs on the online accounts I still have (e.g. LinkedIn and Spotify), using tiny details that he observes (e.g. a new Spotify follower) to harass me through the ongoing emails. In June 2021, one of the emails contained information from an online internal work event I hosted and from another event where I participated in the chatroom (my words there were quoted verbatim in his harassing email). I suspect that he has an informant who works with me, providing him such information. I have had to share my reality and experience with my Human Resource department for them to escalate the matter. Fortunately, the department took it very seriously, and has warned the suspected informant, a university acquaintance of the perpetrator.
In July 2021, the perpetrator ordered a Grabfood delivery to my place — I demanded details from the Grab rider and took a photo of their conversation on the app. I was so worried that he was planning to ambush me when I went to collect the delivery at the lobby.
The most maddening aspect is he just assumes he can demand whatever he wants from me. In August 2021 he emailed, demanding that if I wanted the harassment to stop, I would have to meet him for sex once a week at a minimum, unblock him on all platforms, and divulge every detail about my sex and dating life ever since our relationship ended in 2019.
Only then, he claims, he will promise to stop harassing me, my friends and my family. What I am sharing here today is a very brief timeline of all the horrid things I have had to endure over the past two years. My close friends and family have had a hard time as well receiving his harassment, and also watching me in distress over what the perpetrator has done in these two years.
The emotional and mental impact on me has been so bad, that I feel like my quality of life has completely deteriorated. I cannot rely on the law or police for protection; in fact, when I went to the police station the first time to report, I sensed that they didn’t even believe me. They said, “He just can’t get over you lah tu” and “Apa you buat kat dia?” (“What did you do to him?”). They cannot imagine that such things happen, and worse, they write it off as a lovers' squabble. A stack of printed evidence with obscene threats meant nothing at the police station — to them, it’s merely ‘online’, and does not actually ‘hurt’ or ‘harm’ me.
Recently in October 2021, I found out from mutual friends that he managed to be a part of my condominium’s community football team. I knew he had an acquaintance who lived here and occasionally played badminton in my condominium facility, but I was shocked to see he was part of the team. I reached out to my condo’s Head of Joint Management Committee (JMC), who is a resident here too, to express my serious safety concerns. He said that it now made sense that the perpetrator has shown a strange fondness of coming over to the condominium at every opportunity, to the extent of asking to purchase our community’s t-shirt and asking to use the common facilities’ bathroom as he was "in the area". The perpetrator is now no longer part of the team, and the JMC is working with the building management to get him banned from the condominium premises entirely. I have supplied the JMC with police reports and the perpetrator’s details to support my plea. I am absolutely terrified, disgusted and fearful that he is trying to find his way into my home — one of my last few remaining safe spaces.
I wake up every day, anticipating the emails to be worse than the day before. I have even analysed and predicted the patterns of his harassment in order to be one step ahead in terms of mental and emotional preparation. I am no longer on social media at all, and have to change my email addresses constantly because he tries to hack my account. I don’t feel safe online and off.
I hope this tribunal is able to bring to light and share with everyone in Malaysia the life that survivors of stalking face. There must be so many more who go through this on a daily basis but have no way to speak up. It is high time to make stalking and harassment, offline AND online, criminal. What if some victims do not have the support that I do? Would it drive them to further mental and emotional distress, even self-harm? We must NOT take this chance.
The past two years have been hell. I have focused so much of my energy in trying to avoid him and collect as much evidence as possible, in order to one day be able to convince the Government to do something to help me and eventually end this once and for all. Even his own family is unable to stop him from harassing me. He still harasses my friends and family to this day, and constantly messages them from new accounts and new phone numbers. The messages are the same — relaying threats to me if I don’t pick up his calls or arrange a one-on-one meet up. I will never relent. I don’t want to ever meet my abuser again no matter what, not without law enforcement or legal authorities present. Even if my reputation is on the line — at this point I have nothing else to lose in that regard — this criminal does not deserve any kindness, for what he has done to me, my family and my friends for over two years.