‘People spat at me in the street’ – mum-of-three suffers after ex-partner’s fake Facebook claims
PUBLISHED: 19:00 09 December 2018 | UPDATED: 15:21 11 December 2018
A Suffolk mum-of-three subjected to a campaign of online harassment by her ex-partner said people spat and swore at her in the street and boycotted her business over the ordeal.
Jennifer Pearson from Felixstowe claims she had dog mess shoved through her letter box, her tyres slashed, and even had people spit at her – leaving her youngest daughter in tears.
The 36-year-old salon owner spoke of the emotional rollercoaster she has endured in the last year – and urged Facebook to better police their network.
Her remarks came as her ex-boyfriend and father of her five-year-old daughter Colin Rivers was handed a suspended prison sentence after publishing various Facebook posts about Miss Pearson, her family and her business.
Rivers, 49, of Hogarth Square, Ipswich, had admitted writing the posts, designed to “name and shame” his former partner over the way he perceived she had treated him.
“The whole ordeal has been incredibly stressful – it’s made me ill,” said Miss Pearson, who felt forced to change her hair colour and lost £30,000 in takings after the harassment ordeal.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for me. It’s affected my children – the older ones couldn’t even walk to school.”
She continued: “I’d get spat at, which made her cry. I had my car scratched, tyres slashed, dog mess put through the letterbox.”
She added: “It has been a horrendous, huge ordeal for me – it was really upsetting. I didn’t even feel safe in my own home.”
Rivers appeared at Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on November 21 and was sentenced for causing harassment, alarm or distress to Miss Pearson.
The charge, which he admitted, related to a period between December 11, 2017 and December 16, 2017.
His behaviour during those five days, which involved several social media posts, was found to have amounted to harassment.
Miss Pearson said the posts caused an “immediate eruption” and went ‘locally viral’ on social media.
But before police were able to act and arrest Rivers, she had to seek an order from the civil courts. This banned Rivers from making further comments, but the mum said preparing for court hearings in December last year “ruined Christmas”.
“I had to go through two individual hearings to be able to get the result I needed to stop it completely,” she said.
“It totally ruined Christmas for myself, my family and my children. I had to log every single comment to build up a picture.
“It was very upsetting to read them back.”
She added: “I did report the harassment, but Facebook said it didn’t breach their community standards. At this point I felt there was nothing I could do.
“I also think Facebook should police their page a bit better, so that if comments are made they should have the power to take them down.
“It shouldn’t be for the individual to have to go privately and wait weeks and weeks to get the same result.
“The police were as helpful as they could be but their hands are fairly tied.
“I also feel cyber-bullying should be viewed more seriously so that things can be dealt with straight away rather than having to wait.”
Miss Pearson, who owns hair and beauty business The Salon in Felixstowe, said people boycotted it after the online harassment.
“People have felt like they can’t come into my salon, they either felt they didn’t want to be involved or be in the limelight,” she added.
She wants to correct that and said: “I think it’s important for my message to go out that I’m not the person he [Rivers] perceived me to be, and hopefully people will now start coming in and using my business.”
She now plans to build her business back up, and wants a fresh start in the New Year.
Rivers was given a 16-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, and made to pay £900 when he appeared before magistrates on November 21.
He was also given a five-year restraining order.
A Facebook spokesman said the social media giant was investigating this case and looking over reported posts relating to it. They were unable to provide a full statement in time for publication.