Adventures of the charmingly odd

April Told Me to Write.

(This piece contains graphic descriptions and topics. Readers be advised.)

April told me to write. She is fierce and strong and young. I would not have been as strong as she is if I was her age and this had happened to me. I don’t know what to do. There is a current trend of women taking down men; high profile accusations happening every day. I am not here for the trend but I do have a story to tell. I don’t know how.

April told me to write. So I will try.

For three years I was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship by a man named Pietro Filipponi. Pietro Filipponi is a sociopath, a thief, a liar, and a rapist. A few months ago a doctor told me that I had a protruding disk in my upper spine, causing full body nerve pain. This could only have happened from a direct injury to my neck. This sociopath is the one that did this.

But let’s start at the beginning.

In July 2011 I was a 21 year old, still in college, and working for a comic shop in Times Square. I had interviewed famous comic book writers. I was going to San Diego Comic Con in a few weeks- my first trip all by myself! I was young, enthusiastic, and ready to take on the world!

Friends I met through the comic shop introduced me via Twitter to a colleague of theirs. This 28 year old man lived outside of Washington, D.C. and was the editor in chief of a website that reviewed popular culture. And this man, Pietro Filipponi, pursued me through Twitter, quickly offering me a job as their New York correspondent.

Me! 21 years old and getting to see movies not just for free, but months in advance! I would get to interview movie stars. I met Filipponi for lunch in Manhattan. He was 45 minutes late to this lunch because apparently he said he had witnessed a man attacking a woman on the subway, and in turn arrested the attacker. Filipponi had to take the man to the police station and file a report. He could do this because he was military police. He had a badge and a gun and everything. He showed me.

Back then, I didn’t think people lied about that sort of thing.

Our lunch was a series of equally outlandish claims. He ran a huge news outlet out of DC and needed someone in New York to attend red carpet events and review new movies. I told him that was my dream and that I couldn’t be more honored. It makes me nauseous to recall how blinded by my dreams I was. 

He then ran off, claiming to go have tea with the cast of the last Harry Potter movie for work. I was enchanted. I was duped. I was naive. 

Filipponi and I stayed in touch in the weeks leading up to Comic Con. At the last minute he said the hotel fucked up his reservation and had no where to stay. Since I had a hotel suite with a bedroom, he asked if could stay on the couch. He said he could get me into press events and the big parties at the convention. It felt like a fairy tale; so I let him stay in my hotel room.

We hooked up, it was consensual. That time.

The same night, a few hours later I woke up to him yelling and throwing stuff in the living room. He said he was in love with me and he knew that I would never love him back. I sat on the bed, confused and petrified. I sat there while he stormed off with his suitcases, this grown man crying and furious over god knows what. He left and I spent my next day at the convention forgetting about him.

The following afternoon I got a phone call from him. He had stolen a room key and was wasted in my hotel room. He claimed that he went to interview Tom Hardy for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and that he told Hardy how some girl had broken his heart. Hardy then supposedly took the most expensive bottle of tequila the hotel had(on Warner Bros tab) and got Filipponi shit faced.

Filipponi was now sitting in my hotel bathroom crying hysterically and wasted because he loved me. I told him he needed to get the hell out of my hotel room and to give me back all my room keys. He then took out a needle and stabbed himself in the leg, saying it was some sort of drug the military used to sober someone up.

I was terrified.

I wish I could say our interaction ended here. But he did what all sociopaths are able to do: they make you think that this situation is your fault and that they deserve to be loved by you. I was scared and unsure. I told him he could rest in my room while I went out back to the convention that day.

On the last day he texted me asking if I wanted to meet Nathan Fillion, from Firefly fame. I couldn’t say not to that. Filipponi got us to cut the line and Fillion shook my hand, complimented me on my smile, and signed a few things. I decided that I could tolerate being this maniac’s friend.

When it was time to fly back home (New Jersey for me, D.C. for him) he said he felt like he was never going to see me again. I shrugged it off. I wanted the job too much to pay attention to the warning alarms going off in my head.

After I sat down on the plane, I look up at one point and Filipponi is standing in the aisle. He looks to the young man to my right and says, “I’ll trade you my first class ticket so I can sit next to my girlfriend.” The guy took the ticket without any question. I was dumbfounded.

“Don’t you see how crazy I am about you? I bought a first class ticket that cost me thousands of dollars and gave it to some kid just to spend a few extra hours with you.” It felt like a movie moment. Maybe this is how adults acted. He was someone who had served two tours overseas and “worked at the Pentagon”; maybe this extreme and dramatic kind of romance was what real life was like.

Spoiler: its not.

After that Filipponi came up to New York once a week to meet me for movie events. He took me to famed screening rooms in Times Square and in skyscrapers that held actual Academy Awards. The first famous actor I interviewed was Colin Firth. I was starstruck. Filipponi called me his girlfriend and I let him. If this is what it took to achieve my dreams, I was going to be able to put up with his crazy shit.

By the end of August he suddenly had moved up to New York. He claimed that he “gave” his ex wife his house, his car, and abandoned his kids “all for you”. When he would throw temper tantrums in the middle of Times Square, it was because I didn’t love him. I didn’t. He was constantly throwing it in my face that he gave up his life for me.

I would constantly break up with him (if you could count what we had as a real relationship) and not speak to him for days. But then it was always, something. He would bribe me with tickets to the new Broadway show I was dying to see, that we could go see. As friends.

During this time period I was still in college and living with my parents in New Jersey. He was living with his two old aunts, sleeping on their couch in White Plains, NY. Once a week we would meet in Manhattan and hang out. After about a year I tried yet again to break things off for good. He went to Virginia, to stay with his ex wife and kids.

A month or so later he borrowed money from his parents and got an apartment on the Upper West Side, half a block from Central Park. He knew this was my ultimate dream: to live in a brownstone on the UWS, just like Meg Ryan in ‘You’ve Got Mail’. He said he did it for me, that he would hold onto the lease until I was able to finish my last year of college and then I could take it over.

This is what our interaction was like. I know I used him for my dream job, but he knew that and used it to his advantage. Every day I feel like an idiot and a fool and that I deserve every shitty thing he eventually did to me. I know from therapy and growth that this is not the case. But I doubt that I will ever not feel guilt or shame.

So I started talking to him again and as a result I met and interviewed more and more famous people. He got me an interview with Steven Spielberg at the TinTin press junket. The same day. he also cornered me in that hotel hallway, yelling at me in front of other journalist how I was a child and embarrassing him. But then I was able to interview Peter Jackson, Liam Neeson, and Winona Ryder. I got to hug and tell these filmmakers I adored how much their work meant to me.

 

It was a constant whirlwind of chaos. One moment Filipponi would suddenly start screaming at me in a Starbucks leaving me mortified and crying. I hated him and wanted to run away. But there was always one more interview, one more breakfast at the Waldorf Astoria with Oprah and Lenny Kravitz.

My parents despise him. The one time he met my mom, he showed her a photo album of his tours in Iraq, including dead bodies. My friends were at first charmed by him and the promises of the grand things he could do for them. But slowly all these friends disappeared. He told me the girls had tried sleeping with him. He said the guys were trying to fuck me. He hated my family and routinely trash talked my parents and siblings.

I should have known better. It eats away at my insides. I should have known better.

I moved to Manhattan in September 2012 after I graduated from college. I had my very own apartment, separate and away from him. A year passed with the same ups and down, the endless fighting and celebrity filled days.

In 2013,  I fell on an escalator. My arm was in a cast and I couldn’t do things like climb into my loft bed or carry my laundry down to the basement. So I had a choice: give up living in Manhattan and move back to NJ. Or move in with Filipponi.

If I had moved home I would have been a failure. I would just be another one of those girls who “couldn’t make it in New York City”. I thought I would rather kill myself. So I moved in with him for a year.

That third year of knowing him was the worst year of my life. Filipponi was the biggest piece of shit. He always said he was going on job interviews or check ins with the military. But I would come home from work and see him sitting on the couch in the exact same pajamas. When I asked him about it, it caused a fight.

He told me I was lazy, a naive little girl who didn’t know anything, that I was getting fat, that nobody on the Internet would think I was attractive anymore because I had let myself go. I would sneak out to work in the morning to leave without having to talk to him. He only slept on the couch, since he had insomnia from his war PTSD. Thank god.

He had routinely invited girls he “knew” from the Internet –  friends of his – to sleep over. And that I should go stay with my parents for the weekend or else I would make them uncomfortable. I told him how uncomfortable that made me, and how I was being kicked out of my own home. He said I was being rude and a horrible person for not putting “our guest” first.

I could go on for days. You wouldn’t believe the crazy shit I have seen this man do.

Meanwhile, my pain management doctor told me he wouldn’t treat me anymore unless I was seeing a therapist for my obvious depression. My therapist wanted to have Filipponi come with me to therapy. I refused, terrified of how he would deny everything I said.

This horrid person would scream at me that I was pathetic for having to see someone about my “non existent” problems. He would yell and accuse me of trash talking him to my therapist. He said I was a piece of shit because I didn’t know how to love someone. That I was the one making him fat because I created such a negative environment. The list goes on.

And I believed him. For three years he had gotten into my mind and soul, convincing me that the “love” he was giving me was the only thing I deserved. That I was a nothing. 

At one point, I broke up with him yet again and went to stay in NJ. That night he texted me a picture of the inside of an ambulance, no caption. Later, he said he was in the hospital from a heart attack and asked if I could go back to the city to take care of our cats. I did, to find him sitting on the couch. He said the heart attack was real and that they released him. By this point I was tired of his utter bullshit and I was too exhausted to argue back.

Everything he ever said was a lie.

He was mad I didn’t call out of work to go to an event with him. So he told me he sat next to Tom Hanks at the ‘House of Cards’ season 1 premiere. He gave me a notebook with Hanks’s autograph in it. (It was fake.)

He said he once had a threesome with Adrienne Curry and another girl dressed as Slave Leia at a comic book convention.

He would steal from nearly every store we went into, because he truly believed he deserved it.

I remember all the places I cried on the Upper West Side. The front steps of that white painted brownstone on 75th street. The Starbucks next to the Beacon Theater. The diner where I would eat alone after a fight that left me leaving the apartment in angry tears.

He would tell me how much of a push over I was. How spineless and worthless I was. But when I would try to defend myself against him, he said not to stand up to him, he wasn’t the enemy.

He would grab me by the throat, thumbs in my mouth, and push me into a couch out of frustration. Afterwards, he said it was my fault. That I had raised my hand to hit him and he was only protecting himself. 

That is a thing this man has done. 

Time and again he would be evicted from an apartment he was living in. In the last one, where I lived too, we were evicted and I had no idea until it was time to figure out how to sneak all of our shit out in the middle of the night. I had been paying for the utility bills, the groceries, his cell phone – with the deal that he was paying the rent. He obviously was not. Filipponi once scammed a girl we had met out of $10,000. I saw her write the check myself. It was for “stock” in his website. He also would call his parents living in Florida, asking them for money. Telling them that it was to pay for my medical bills. (bullshit) So I thought that’s how he was paying it. He certainly wasn’t making any money being a journalist.

Casually, I began to mail my stuff back to NJ to “keep it there” so that I could “stay with my parents for a few weeks” while he sorted out a new place to live. He threatened to hurt my cat if I didn’t sign a lease for him for a new place. I was 24 and scared for my life. So I did. (He never paid that rent either.)

My parents never knew. Nobody ever did. I was too prideful to admit that I had gotten myself into this situation. It was my mistake and I was going to clean it up by myself. My parents believed me when I told them I had finally had enough of the city and wanted to move back to NJ. I broke up with Filipponi one last time over the phone, safe and far enough away from him. I changed my number and blocked him everywhere online.

In a recent  NYTimes story, “Cat Person”, readers were explained how obligatory sex on the women’s behalf worked. I had no idea other women felt this way until I read that story. The sex I had with that monster was because I was afraid of what would happen if I said no. It wasn’t “rape” because I never said no, but I had wanted to.

I saw a 5th pain management in October 2017. This doctor told me that I had a protruding disk in my spine from a past injury. The only neck injury I had experience was from Filipponi. When I spoke on Twitter for the first time in detail about what this man had done to me, a friend of mine foundApril. She was tweeting openly about the damage Filipponi had done to her.

April told me that writing about what happened to her helped, so I should try it. Pietro raped April a year ago. No amount of writing can cure the guilt I feel for not speaking out about what he did to me, in hopes it would have warned other young women off. Women like April. I could have protected her.

#TimesUp and #MetToo is a trend right now. Part of me feels that I’m a fake by throwing in my horror story because it’s “all the rage right now”. But no. The only reason I am even capable of imagining putting this out on the internet is because of all the women who have told their stories before me, telling me it was safe to finally talk about it.

Pietro Filipponi is a sociopath, a thief, a liar, and a rapist. I now know that everything he ever said to me was him just projecting his own insecurities, like a fucking child.  If you come across him and Google PIETRO FILIPPONI to find out about him- this better show up. Because he is someone you must stay very far away from. He is currently pretending to be a RAD Systems instructor. (The Rape Aggression Defense System. Isn’t that fucking ironic.) April and I have both contacted them and they are investigating this further.

 

There is a bench outside of the Museum of Natural History that I would sit on in the middle of the night in the dead of winter, sobbing after a fight with him. I was alone, I would be freezing, constantly asking myself how the fuck did my life end up here? Years after leaving New York, I walked by the museum with my current boyfriend, Steven. I paused and ask him to sit down next to me. I started sobbing. I told him how many nights I had spent on this bench, wishing that there was someone out there who would one day love me and make me feel safe. That I needed to sit on that bench with him, just for a moment, while I felt safe and loved. And maybe this feeling would travel back in time to that version of me curled up on the bench to let her know, the bad guys don’t win. Not if we continue to stand up to them.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for believing me.

 

*In the original piece the name April was replaced with Olivia for her privacy. She has since given me permission to use her real name. – Zoë 

11 Responses to “April Told Me to Write.”

  1. SPA says:

    I believe you.

  2. Nathan Schulz says:

    I can’t even begin to express the depths of how sorry I am that you went through this nightmare. I’m so proud of you that you found your way out. That you found a healthier life, and built such a safe home for yourself. You are so much stronger than you realize. I hope the pain eases more and more. You deserve happiness and love. All the love to you.

  3. Bill Fitzmaurice says:

    I don’t know how to start. I’m a 40 year old man, reading this, I’ve followed you for years. Since your Peggy Carter cosplay I, think.

    I’m in tears.

    I put the Wonder Woman score on as background to get through.

    You are so brave for sharing this.

    Thank you

  4. Hi Zoe,

    Thank you for sharing your story. we don’t really know each other outside of social media but after reading this I wish that we did. I wish that you didn’t have to go through this, at the very least not alone. It’s so crazy to me that this happened. i was mildy familiar with Pietro from your posts on twitter and instagram and from his site. (which I’d never heard of until you did your articles there) I just wanted to say that I admire your bravery in writing this. I hope that you don’t get too down on yourself, its not your fault. for what its worth, you’ve got a friend down here in DC.

  5. Matthew Gill says:

    Dear God…Just when I think I couldn’t possibly get any angrier about what happened to you, I see this.

    I’m 39 years old, and I can count on one hand the number of times in all those years of life that I’ve been as thoroughly furious as I am right now. I feel physically ill.

  6. John Morrissey says:

    Zoe:

    I’ve been a long time follower of yours on Twitter. I’m awestruck at the amount of bravery it took to post your story. I’m even more struck by the amount of courage you possess to get through that harrowing time, and to move forward. Thank you for sharing this with us all. I will be using your story to continue show my two young boys (13 and 11) that respecting women is part of being a man. I believe you.

    John

  7. Denise says:

    Hi Zoe,

    I’m lying here crying as I read your post because I “dated” Pietro from about April 2015 through December 2015 and over the course of those 9 months he lied to me constantly, emotionally abused me and managed to steal $40,000 from me. This was money I had worked hard for, money that was for my future and money that I will never get back. I don’t think I’ll ever truly get over the way he took advantage of me and my desire to “help” him. He knew from the moment he met me that I was an empathetic person who would give a stranger the shirt off my back if they needed it and he used that to his advantage. He is a sociopath and December of 2015 was the lowest I had ever felt in my entire life – I’d always been an optimistic, positive person and I had never felt anxiety, depression and heartache like I did then. And I was ANGRY at myself because I too saw the red flags and ignored them because he always found a way to make me feel like I was the crazy one, like I was at fault. I would LOVE to talk to you about this more if you’re up for it. My email is neese706@gmail.com. Please reach out me at your convenience. xoxo – Denise

  8. Jo says:

    Zoe:
    I dated him right after you (2014-2015). He used to give me the “crazy ex” stories so that the claims on your blog wouldn’t render his efforts to manipulate invalid. I received many of the same excuses, similar threats, etc. I doubted his claims to the point where I started going through his stuff to figure out what I was dealing with. He’d shrug off inappropriate messages with other women and went so far as to make me feel like I was crazy. He’d pretty much convinced a woman I consider a second mother that I needed therapy. I have a hole in my wall I never got around to fixing because I’m rarely there. This list goes on….
    I’m sorry this happened to you, me, us.. All the ladies he’s gotten to. As much as I feel like I could’ve somehow prevented this, he was very good at making exes feel like they were crazy so we’d disregard their claims, and that he’d give us the world. We could’ve gotten the word out, and I admit, I’d read a post of yours years ago about his abusive behavior, but chances are they’ll still ignore it… Like I did… Because I was promised the world.

  9. Jim says:

    Sorry to hear about your experience with that evil S.O.B. If you recall, I tried to warn you about him early on, but he was able to sweet talk you and the other writers that followed him from my site that he was going to make you all rich. Any clout he had in the entertainment industry came from him claiming to be THE chief editor of comicbookmovie.com. Lies and ego have kept that pathetic jerk afloat for far too long, but it seems like your efforts may be having an effect. Keep up god’s work, and good riddance to the dailyblam.com.

  10. BLP says:

    I would first like to tell you that I am deeply sorry for everything you went through. I did some investigation into Pietro several years ago when he was pursuing a friend of mine who was not interested and made this clear to him but said they could be friends. He continued to be inappropriate and relentlessly pursue her despite her clear stance.

    We did some heavy research one night and what we found was deeply disturbing. Allegations from his ex-wife that he had molested their children and a google image labeling him as a child molester and a rapist. She claimed he never went to jail because of his military connections. These allegations have since been removed from the internet at least from my attempt at finding the source after reading your story.

    This was so disturbing that his name was permanently ingrained into my memory. I happened to google him as he came to mind for some reason which is when I came across your story. It confirmed everything I felt about this creep. It seems every woman he’s trapped in his web of lies and deceit has suffered at his hands and while I am glad my friend avoided such destruction I am saddened to hear what he’s done and caused to others.

    I commend you and his other victims for your bravery. This is the second hit on Google so hopefully it helps to deter other women from being hurt by this psycho. I really hope something can be done in the future regarding his freedom. He belongs in jail, especially if his ex-wife’s allegations are true. I am sorry for what you went through it seems that you have regains control of your life and found happiness. You are a strong woman and I wish you the best.

  11. BLP-

    Thank you for your kind comment♥️ I would like to clarify that I have become friends with his ex wife and the accusations of molestation are false according to her. However other forms of abuse did occur.

    Anyone woman who or man that comes across this post- I hope this is enough warning to stay away from Pietro Filipponi. My email is always open for whomever wants to discuss this further.

Leave a Reply