I remember feeling stunned, then sick. Sitting at my desk at a New York City consulting firm in 2009, I had randomly Googled my name. The jarring result: a series of strange montages on YouTube–all containing snapshots of me, along with the label “whore.” The photos, cobbled together from various corners of the Internet, were shots from a beauty pageant and a few acting jobs I had held in the past, when I was signed with a regional modeling agency. My mind raced. Who hated me this much to post these things? Who would call me a whore?
And then I knew exactly who had done it.
I had first met Shon Moss four years earlier, in December of 2005. At the time, I had recently transferred to Philadelphia from Austin, Texas, while working as a software consultant for IBM. I was excited to be in Philadelphia–it was a nice change of pace from North Carolina, where I’d grown up in a small town, later going to college at Duke. I met Shon at a networking mixer; he was getting his MBA at Wharton. I was in my late 20s, looking to make new friends, applying to business school, doing some modeling for catalogs and commercials, just for fun. When I told Shon I was working on MBA applications, he offered to help.
And with that, he began a quest that spanned more than half a decade–harassing me, stalking me, eventually becoming a cyberbully. I’m telling my story now so that other women can learn from my experience. Law enforcement has not caught up to technology when it comes to online harassment. I want to change that. This month, I filed a lawsuit against Shon. I will not be his victim.
That winter in Philadelphia, I traveled a lot for work, enjoying the single life and dating casually. I went out with Shon a few times. I remember some red flags. He seemed a bit testy, angry, as if the world were against him. For instance, I sent him a jokey e-card for his birthday, and he accused me of viewing him as a joke. One night, he got furious that his rugby teammates hadn’t invited him to a party; we crashed the party and an awkward evening ensued, as he aggressively introduced me to everyone as a model–an apparent attempt to one-up the guys. Another night, when he started grilling me about other men, I suspected that he had peeked at my cellphone texts. We argued. We had been on just a few dates; we were not a couple–I hardly even knew him. I told him this wasn’t going to work, and stopped communicating with him.
In the spring of 2006, I got accepted into the MBA program at Columbia University in New York City. As I packed up to leave Philadelphia, I decided to tie up loose ends, including Shon. I sent him a brief goodbye email, wishing him luck and saying I thought he would do well in life. I was young, naïve; I didn’t want anyone to have bad feelings toward me. Looking back, I can see that the friendly gesture was a misstep. He wrote back: “You’re FOS.” In other words, “full of shit.” Suddenly I had no problem writing him off.