Anna Rowe Defends Her Anti-Catfishing Petition

I came across CJ Grace’s blog, Anna Rowe’s Anti-Catfishing Petition Misguided, and disagreed with some of her assumptions, so I contacted her to explain my point of view. We began a dialogue together and CJ, the author of Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not, invited me to post this guest blog on her website

I live in Britain, which has taken a strong stance against grooming children—building an emotional connection with a child to gain his or her trust for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Legislation is in place to protect children up to the age of 15 years and 364 days old, but as soon as you turn 16, there is nothing to protect you against these same abusers.

We all read about the horrific ‘rape’ cases that occur in the press. You can envisage the dark night, the struggle, the violence, or the club where a girl has her drink spiked and wakes up not knowing where she is.

BUT… what if that man is clever? What if he creates an entire fake online identity so that he can’t be found out when his game needs to be concluded? What if he’s not interested in a violent struggle for sex or drugging women who may be unresponsive to his touch? But his need, his addiction, is to be with as many women as he can. His thrill is the different experiences each woman brings. His thrill is knowing that he has deceived those women into believing he wants a ‘real relationship’ with them. His deception gives his game longevity. It gives him control over the other person. This man’s ‘story’ is just what women want to hear: He’s a decent guy looking for something long term. He’s not into hook ups and doesn’t want to be one of those guys who uses women to just get laid.

He carries out his deception. He grooms his targets, he builds the trust, he walks into these women’s lives, their homes. Sex becomes part of that ‘loving’ relationship. He can, under the guise of his deceit, manipulate each woman to behave as he wants her to behave.

You then discover he doesn’t exist. You discover this man has been doing the same thing for a long time. He has been doing the same thing to several other women at the same time as you. Constantly online, looking for and grooming his next targets, as this is all part of the thrill he so loves.

He was never in the ‘relationships.’ He just wanted an easy way to get sex. No struggle, no drugs, but a ‘bank’ of women who gave him that ‘honeymoon period’ adoration and a familiar homely environment to use and abuse them until he had the next lot hooked and in place to renew his thrill-seeking.

What about that man? That man is the new breed of Catfish.

My petition is not to make ‘fake profiles’ illegal. I completely understand the need for there to be anonymity for some people including the likes of one of my 5 brothers, who is a policeman and uses a different name on his profile. I understand domestic violence victims who need to be protected. It’s not my petition title.

My petition is asking to make Catfishing profiles, which are fake profiles used for initiating online romance, used to obtain sex, a crime. In the UK you are committing a crime when using a fake profile to ‘troll or post revenge porn pics’ and I want it also to be illegal when fake profiles are used to initiate and exploit women or men for sexual activity.

Fact is, despite ours being married (I am 1 of 11 so far) not all Catfish are married. This isn’t about infidelity. I’ve had communications with lots of ‘Catfish’ since, who think it’s OK to come and communicate with me asking why I want to stop their fun… ‘it’s what’s expected today’ well no, sorry, I don’t agree.

This man was not a man chancing his arm to hook up with a few women for one night stands, lying about his name or job, in a bar on a Friday night when he saw a women he fancied. If I’m honest that’s not OK to me either but you will never legislate against that. Nor should there be legislation to prosecute passive lying on normal profiles where superficial things are exaggerated, like weight or height, age or even a job/money. These are things that shouldn’t matter if you really care about someone or you’re a decent human being in the first place. If you are that materialistically oriented well more fool you.

Our Catfish acted with absolute premeditation and intent. His behaviour was completely planned and thought through in fine detail. He had a full set of fake social Media accounts he used as a back up of his story, with likes he would have mentioned to us in conversation. He had fake Skype accounts and email accounts, all to back up his story and then there was his phone of course.

This phone was used for his ‘bank of women’. He collected images, videos of women who had opened up to him after some time and then some started a relationship with him in person being tricked into believing he was looking for exactly the same as them, as that’s exactly what he wanted us to believe.

They coerce and ’emotionally manipulate’ (Love Bombing) to extort intimate images or videos and then in worst case scenario they come offline and also coerce these women for sex.

I now know he had at least 3 of us on the go at the same time as me. They overlapped during different parts of our ‘relationship’. This as well as his wife of course.

The traits he exhibits, his ability to convince and appear so genuine are because he likely believes the double life he had led for at least a decade and his story. He cried in front of me when he told me his mother had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. He went through the symptoms in detail. He went through her appointments with the doctor and the findings and the treatments. He begged me not to leave him if he had to change our plans to help out at his parents.

He is a sexual predator, using technology to aid his grooming and need to abuse and control women. He loved the power and control he possessed over us through his deception. He enjoyed the thrill of getting us to buy things for him as part of the game he played. This kind of man needs to be stopped.

I am left doubting every thought in my head. The trust issues I had before we met are now tenfold. I feel violated in body and mind by what this man has done to me and the butterfly effect he has had on my children and family.

I lost my job for coming forward with my story to promote the petition, to help others not go through what I have been through. The Catfish who did this is a lawyer sitting happily in his office, untouched, other than I’ve possibly curbed his ‘fun’ for a while.

These are not men seeking affairs. There is something infinitely more sinister to their behaviour. You can learn how to spot Catfish signs on my website

Guest blogger Anna Rowe, a single mother of two boys, lives in England  and qualified as a primary school teacher in 2002. After being catfished by a man with a fake online identity, she has become an accidental campaigner for victims of this behaviour and is now an advocate working with many organisations for safer online dating.

One thought on “Anna Rowe Defends Her Anti-Catfishing Petition

  1. I have heard this story from women who ‘fall in love’ with a married man, who of course never tells them he is married. His cover is good because he doesn’t move in the with the the women he’s ‘dating.’ I know many women who fall for con men and never check them out until it’s too late. I feel some of this speaks to the loneliness of many women who want so much to be loved, cared for, talked with, listened to, that they don’t even pay attention to the signs of the ‘Catfish.’ Good post. I hope it starts up more conversation about this.

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