real life

'Matt was the love of my life. Then I found out he'd stalked me for 3 years before we started dating.'

This post discusses stalking and domestic violence.  

Nikki was in the midst of a messy separation when Matt appeared in her life, seemingly out of nowhere.

It started with a comment on Facebook. Nikki had been Facebook friends with Matt for years. He was one of many though, an old high school friend. She’d recently changed her profile picture to one of her and a friend, and Matt’s was the first public comment. "Gorgeous," he wrote. 

She assumed he was talking about her friend, and they began talking online. He said he was starting a new job selling motorbikes, something Nikki had always wanted. 

Watch: Can I Tell You A Secret  - Trailer. Post continues after the video. 

Video via Netflix. 

"I gave Matt my mobile number, and he started sending me images of motorbikes," says Nikki. They continued messaging well into the night, talking about bikes and life and how he had thought she was beautiful since high school. 

"He even reminded me of when we had 'bumped into each other' a little while before that." At the time she thought nothing of it, she thought it was sweet.


"We spoke about what was important to us both, and I was amazed at how many similarities we had. It was literally like he was inside my head and knew my deepest wants and desires, and I don’t mean sexually but emotionally. 

"He knew exactly what to say, and it was uncanny how much we had in common, like it was 'freaky' how much. We were so similar in so many ways and he seemed to be everything I had ever wanted."

What she didn’t know was that he’d been keeping track of her for years. While he did admit to checking her socials from time to time, she had no idea the extent of it. She wouldn't know for another three years. 

"I thought he was romantic, not stalkerish," she says. "Matt would send me links to songs, and I would be amazed because they would all be my favourites. How did he know exactly what to say and how did he know me so well, know what made me tick?"

The relationship escalated quickly. "I felt like he just 'got me' and knew me so well, he seemed to be everything I'd ever wanted."

Red flags.

The red flags appeared early, but Nikki either didn't recognise them, or dismissed them.  

"Matt sent me a message saying: 'Can I ask you something?'

"Next, I received a photo that instantly sent a shiver down my spine. It was a picture of my street sign, with the caption 'Does this sign look familiar? Lol'.


"My blood ran cold. Was he on my street? How the hell could he know where I live because I had never told him my address or street name?"

Nikki was annoyed, but over the next few days, Matt convinced her he was just trying to be romantic.  

"After that we met up for a walk and the chemistry was electric. All my doubts just melted away and I was once again back up in the clouds. I didn’t even think it was strange that all of his suggestions for things to do together were things I had always wanted to do."

Another time, Nikki was at a play centre with her son, when Matt sent her some poems. He told her she could read them when she got home, specifically naming the place she was at. 

"I never told him where I was but the words of his poems had rendered me speechless. He used manipulation to suck me deeper into his spell and I did not yet realise that this was what he had planned all along."

They shared the same favourite song, and he gushed about wanting his relationship to emulate that of The Notebook, just as she had. 

Looking back now, Nikki sees even more red flags. At the time though, they just made her fall even more in love. She simply didn’t know the lengths he'd gone to in order to understand her inner psyche and manipulate her. 

A sinister turn. 

It was New Year's Eve and Nikki and Matt were celebrating with her friends. They’d noticed how obsessive he seemed, but Nikki brushed it off. 


"All of a sudden, Matt unexpectedly flung me off the porch and into the hedge directly in front of it. He meant it as a 'joke' but the porch is about two metres from the ground and I was rushed to the hospital with fractured ribs."

Somehow, Matt convinced her there was nothing in it, a joke gone wrong, and within months the pair were inseparable and living together. "I was ignoring the red flags or mistaking them for true love and dedication."

Nikki saw Matt’s constant need to know where she was—including putting a tracking app on her mobile—as his protective instinct.

"Matt would check up on everything I said I was doing. For example, I’d be in the nail salon and he would call to pay off the account for me. The girls would come over gushing at how amazing he was, and I lapped it up because I was so lucky. 

"He made me totally reliant on him without me even realising it, he had taken away my independence and isolated me from my nearest and dearest."

Matt would turn on the shower for Nikki, even shave her legs. He'd run a bath and have it ready with a glass of bubbly for when she returned from work. He always had the timing perfect. She thought it was romantic, not stopping to think about how he knew she was on her way. He replaced toiletries for her before she even knew she was running out. 

"We even had an agreement that I wasn’t allowed to pleasure myself because that was his job—I found this deeply sexually arousing instead of seeing it as total control.


"He was everywhere I turned, and I loved it. Now this would make me run for the hills but he got me at a point in my life where I was at my lowest, so this to me looked like true love."

Discovering the truth. 

Despite the subtle red flags, the first time Nikki really felt like something was wrong was when she received a Facebook message from an unknown profile. The writer claimed to be Matt’s ex, and the mother of his child. The message request had been sitting there for 12 months before Nikki saw it. 

"You don’t know me but I’m just warning you to please be wary about your new boyfriend, he ain’t the person he says he is," the message said. 

"He is a scammer and will scam his way to any woman that is in a low place when he meets them. He prays on women with young children and that are vulnerable in some area of their life. I hope he doesn’t hurt you like he has to my children."

As she read the message, Nikki felt light-headed. Like the blood was draining from her body. "My perfect fairytale had started to shatter, but he tried until the very end to keep up the façade."

Nikki spoke to Matt’s mum who confirmed what his ex-partner had said. 

"He would twist everything around to make it seem like I was the crazy one, like I was imagining things or seeing things where there was nothing to see. He did manage to keep it up for almost three years but eventually, cracks would show. 


"He was a cold, calculated, manipulative sociopath who had been stalking me for years. And I wasn’t the only one. He had been studying me using my Facebook posts, photos, likes and dislikes, places visited, events attended, friends, contacts, places of work and anything else he could use to get inside my head and 'groom me'."

Matt used all the information he'd collected from social media over the years to become the person Nikki needed him to be to win her over.  

"He was smart and patient and never forgot any detail — he would often bring something up and it would be something I swore I hadn’t told him, but he would use my 'bad' memory as an excuse for why I didn't remember."

Ultimately, Nikki disentangled herself from Matt, but the fallout has been devastating.

"Matt destroyed love for me. Every time I let someone get close I remember all the signs that I didn’t see at the time with Matt. If someone seems to know 'too much' about me, then it puts me on high alert.

"He destroyed me from the inside out."

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Feature image: Getty.