The first text messages arrived nearly two years ago on the social media account of a woman we’ll call Sam.
Last week, Sam decided she wouldn't be shamed on the internet and went to law enforcement for help.
“It's liberating,” Sam said. “I never really thought about going to the Sheriff’s Office about something like this. But it does seem to be the means that it's actually getting somewhere.”
According to a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office affidavit, Brianna Bunch, 21, was arrested for misdemeanor cyber stalking.
The report states Bunch admitted to stalking the victim on social media by “posting links to the victim’s explicit photographs on the internet. The defendant also admitted over the course of a year and a half, she has created several fake names on Facebook and Instagram.”
Sam said she kissed Bunch’s ex-boyfriend and that is what set off the firestorm of social media attacks.
Sam showed ABC Action News dozens of screen grabs that show Bunch threatening to kill Bunch and directing people on social media to explicit photos on the internet.
Sam said she took the photos years ago and has regretted it ever since. Most have been purged from internet sites where they were posted years ago.
But Sam said Bunch found them and brought her past forward for the world to see.
“Telling them how to find these explicit photos of me. She is putting out my full name, age, where I work, the town that I live in, any information possible for someone to find me,” Sam said. “It's scary because you can't get away from it.”
When we arrived at Sam’s home for an interview, her dad answered the door and thought we were there to solicit his daughter. The level of fear Sam said the family is going through because of these pictures and information getting posted on social media has the entire family on edge.
“It's made me a hermit,” Sam said. “My dad’s not sleeping. It’s scary.”
ABC Action News talked to Bunch over the phone. She declined to comment.
Sam said most of the pictures have been removed from Instagram. She said Instagram reacted very fast to removing the fake accounts that were made in her name. Facebook was more difficult.
“You can't get in contact with Facebook. I’ve tried and cannot get in contact with them,” Sam said.
For nearly two years Sam said she has had a dark cloud hanging over her head. She said for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation the best action is not to become a victim and to get help from the authorities.
“My main thing would be not to blame themselves,” Sam said. “I think it's very easy to fall into a depression about something like this and blame yourself and take it out on yourself. If you fear for your life and if you have any fear whatsoever […] trust in the police department to do their job. Because this is illegal and this is an issue, and they are focusing on paying attention, too.”