Dear Friends and Readers, I wanted to take a moment to apologize for my long absences from social media, sporadic communications, and for losing touch with so many of you over the past many years. In 2020, the Department of Justice put an end to the malicious targeting of my books and other work, though many of the negative reviews and ratings caused by these hateful activities remain at Amazon.com and Goodreads.com. As the DOJ stated in their indictments, in exchange for bribes, corrupted Amazon staff facilitated attacks against competitors of those paying the bribes, using their inside access to Amazon's network to suspend competitors' accounts and product listings, remove favorable reviews and commentary, write fictitious negative product reviews designed to hurt sales, post spurious comments to intimidate victims and drive away customers, and much more. All much as I had experienced it and blogged about for many years, including naming names of the competitors responsible.
To be clear, I do not know specifically the particular individuals indicted and convicted were involved in the malicious targeting of my work, as the DOJ tracked the criminal activities of these individuals for a very specific (and brief) time and prosecuted based on the criminal activities identified in this very specific (and brief) time, and not for the entire period of operation. What I do know for certain is the immediate, chilling effect the multiple arrests and indictments by the Department of Justice had on the malicious targeting of my books and other work. Beyond this, as a very few know, I have been dealing with a stalker for many years. This has all been a terrible, untenable situation that just would not end. The experience has been incredibly traumatic, emotionally draining, and has left my health in tatters. I no longer know where I end and the trauma begins, the me that I was no longer exists. All this has made it impossible for me to communicate openly and freely with anyone, including my friends and family. I felt like I had to constantly watch my back and be cautious about what I shared online or anywhere.
As a result, I wasn't able to maintain the same level of communication with many of you as I would have liked. I wasn't able to participate in social events. I wasn't able to even openly share my thoughts and experiences on social media. I know that this must have been frustrating and confusing for many of you, and for that, I am truly sorry. I want you to know that it wasn't my intention to distance myself or cut ties with anyone. I was simply trying to protect myself from harassment, from my stalker, from a situation that would not end, and did not want to put anyone else at risk by sharing too much information online or in person.
Now that the DOJ has done their work, now that my stalker has been imprisoned, I feel like I finally can breathe a little easier and start to reconnect with the people who have meant so much to me over the years. I know that it won't be easy to pick up where we left off, especially as so many years have passed since this long ordeal began, but I am committed to rebuilding those connections and strengthening the relationships that I've had. I hope that you can forgive me for my absences, miscommunications, whatever, and understand that it wasn't personal. I was just trying to survive an impossible situation.
Please also know that this is going to take a very long time. There is no me that I was left, due to all this and for all the years it went on. Though my past work continues to be released, sometimes as if new, I stopped writing, drawing, and painting nearly a decade ago, and don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back to any of it.
Some few know I suffered a stroke and a heart attack in 2016 which were caused by the stress and emotional rollercoaster that I went through due to being targeted online. I have previously pointed out those competitors responsible, but have never before been able to talk openly about my stalker. This person’s relentless pursuit of me took a significant, catastrophic toll on my physical and emotional health. I was constantly looking over my shoulder, worrying about what this person might do next. The stress of the situation became so overwhelming that it destroyed my life. After my stroke and a heart attack, I was hospitalized for several weeks, but the torment of this individual didn’t end there. As this person had been unsuccessful in killing me, which was their stated intent, this person then began a campaign of terror to make me attempt suicide and to convince others, including my readers, that I had died, and in particular by connecting obituaries and death announcements to me online and in social media.
It may be a long time for me to feel somewhat like myself again, or I may never get there, but I wanted to let you know. My health issues affected all aspects of my life. I was unable to work for an extended period of time, and I had to rely on the support of others to get through each day. I felt like my life had been turned upside down, and I struggled to find a sense of normalcy. I don’t even know what normal looks like. My stalker's actions caused me to feel afraid, anxious, worse. I felt like I couldn't trust anyone, and I was constantly on edge. Even after my stalker is finally imprisoned, I find it difficult to move on and let go of the fear and anxiety that had taken hold of me. Despite the terrible ordeal, I have learned a lot about myself and the importance of seeking help and support. I also have discovered the resilience and strength that I possess, even in the face of overwhelming adversity.
I want to take a moment to thank all of those who stood by me during all these difficult years. Your support and encouragement were instrumental in helping me get through the toughest moments. To anyone else who may be going through a similar situation, I want you to know that you are not alone. There is help available, and it's okay to ask for it. No one who’s trying to communicate about all this should have their posts hidden by their stalker reporting them. No one seeking help or to talk about what’s happening to them should be driven into silence or made to feel like they can’t talk about what’s happening to them. No one should have to suffer in silence or feel like they are alone in their struggles.
In conclusion, I wanted to share this story with you not only to provide context for my posts over these past many years, but also to raise awareness about the devastating impact that stalking and online harassment can have on a person's life. I hope that by sharing my story, I can help others who may be going through a similar situation feel less alone and more empowered to seek help and support.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and for your continued support and readership.
William Robert Stanek www.williamrstanek.com