Mia Matsumiya has received many supportive messages from fans following her career as a violinist. But for the last 10 years, she's also been receiving something else: creepy, abusive, and harassing messages from strangers.
Matsumiya first noticed the harassment online when she began blogging when she was performing in rock bands in 2003-2010 while living in New York.
"I started getting the messages when I began blogging," she told BuzzFeed News. "My blog ended up with a small following and with it, a bunch of unwanted and frightening attention."
At one point, she said, she received a a death threat, forcing her to stop blogging. She said the police didn't help and told her to "just turn off" her computer.
Later, when she used Myspace to promote her band's music, she received unwarranted attention both online and offline. Today, she's documenting all the abusive messages she's received – from back then to now – on her Instagram account.
"I received an insane number of creepy messages the whole time I was in that band," she said. "I thought for sure that the messages were going to stop at some point, but they've persisted to this day."
She said one moment that particularly disturbed her was when she found out a man who persistently sent her messages was arrested for stalking another Asian woman.
"The guy would write me all the time, and even though his messages weren't over-the-top creepy, they were definitely a little sexually aggressive," she said.
"When the police arrested him at the public library, he was found with a hard drive containing a bunch of pictures of me and hundreds of pages of stories he had written about stalking and raping me. It was really terrifying."
Matsumiya started saving all the messages because she's obsessed with "documenting anything that elicits an emotional response" so she can "study it" later.
"I ended up having to create a folder on my computer entitled 'creepiness' and the creepiness folder accumulated more and more screenshots as time went by," she said.
Matsumiya became a little desensitised to the aggressive messages over time, she said – but as the messages continued to flood her inbox, she grew angry and decided she had enough.
"I didn't deserve to be treated this way and neither did other women," she said. "I decided I needed to do something about it, so I created the Instagram account."
The response to her Instagram account has been mostly supportive, and she said she's had many women tell her that they too have experienced online harassment.
She added: "I've also had a lot of terrified men message me things along the lines of, 'Hey, I think I may have written you something sort of weird seven years ago. I'm really sorry about that.' They're scared I'm going to post their old messages."
Matsumiya stressed that she thinks the messages are "degrading, dehumanising, and disgusting" and does not view them as complimentary in any way.
"I sincerely want the attention to be focused on the messages, and not myself," she said. "I want these messages to demonstrate the crazy, awful, and unacceptable things women receive online."
Rossalyn Warren is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Rossalyn Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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