Olivia Told Me to Write

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

Olivia 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.

Olivia 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.


At a Christmas party in December 2011 with Filipponi.

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 found Olivia. She was tweeting openly about the damage Filipponi had done to her.

Olivia told me that writing about what happened to her helped, so I should try it. Pietro raped Olivia 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 Olivia. 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.) Olivia 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.

For an update, read the post published 12.30.2019 here.

*Name has been changed

** 2019: during upgrades all previous comments on this have been lost, but they were all from other victims of Filipponi. You are not alone and you can reach out to me at zoe@bookishbelle.com to share yours in a safe space.

4 Responses to “Olivia Told Me to Write”

  1. Vicki E. says:

    Dear Zoe,

    My heart absolutely broke as I read of your chronic abuse and pain at the hands of Pietro Filipponi. Your story is prominent in the web search so hopefully, it will continue to be a forum for your healing as you share with others.

    Perhaps a young woman, or any vulnerable, kind, trusting person in his path…might google “Pietro Filipponi” at the early “Red Flag” stage and find all this. I would like to think so, which is why I am chiming in with a sad, weird experience. It was only money, so I am not in the category of others that I’ve read about here so victimized by Pietro Filipponi.

    My Story: I own and run a small vintage Hotel in San Diego 3 blocks from Comic Con. Pietro Filipponi stayed with us for 3 years during Comic Con, from 2013 to 2016. I guess he was sick enough to plan his “Con game” in stages over 3 years. We are a true Mom and Pop but not simple folks. I treat our guests as family. Oh Boy..I must have been live bait for Pietro! All the Red Flags were there…even from his first visit. He was so proud of his “columns”, his star power and always presented himself as too busy to interact. I can’t remember if I began to follow his tweets the first year or the second…but they didn’t fit the experience. He seemed to lie constantly in his posts. He was staying in our little Victorian, not the 5-star suite he wrote about. He chain smoked on our tiny modest balcony…he didn’t hang with the mega stars he wrote about. He didn’t even mix well with others in the Hotel. After he left Year 1, he had rearranged all the furniture in the room, including the bed. Odd behavior, I thought, but maybe he was just ADHD or had some type of disorder.
    The last night of his stay he said he had lost his wallet. I gave him $100 cash for travel and honestly, I think he paid me back somehow or I wouldn’t have been quite such a putz the next year.

    Year #2: He said he would be renting the ENTIRE hotel for his “staff”. We have 20 rooms and an apartment suite. That did not come to fruition…only Pietro came. That was fine, he told me enough in advance that the plan had fallen through, but I was supposed to get the big idea: Pietro was a “Big Shot”. Yes, I think he was setting the hook even then.

    The 3rd year (2016) was his break-out performance. He asked for 8 rooms. I explained I wasn’t hosting for Comic Con that year as I had a critically ill Mother. He worked me and cast his net and I swam right in. I got sitters for my Mom and went back to work. I ramped up housekeeping, bought supplies and gifts for the rooms, decorated…all the things I enjoyed doing for Comic Con. I called all my regulars to come back. Pietro’s 8 rooms shrank to 5, then back to more, and then, “any he could take off my hands” and so on. I realize now, of course, that he was SELLING them online. Yep! I finally invoiced him for 5 rooms, which is what we settled on the NIGHT BEFORE Comic Con…all the while his Paypal just wasn’t working. Yeah, right. We had gone back and forth on PayPal for weeks…talk about Red Flag; I had never had a single PayPal issue ever.

    He offered to bring a “Company Check” as he said he had to close his PayPal account due to all the issues. Because he had stayed for 2 previous years with us and because I feared a lobby full of his co-workers with no place to stay, I ignored my gut and offered to take the check when he arrived. He owed for 5 rooms for 5 nights of 2016 Comic Con.

    So, yes, this true Comic CON pimped our rooms on Twitter. I was savvy enough to find his actual ads later! He kept saying the check was left in the my office. (I was there all day each day and there is a mail slot for after hours.) “Well, I’ll have to send you one when I get back to New York because it was a company check so that’s the only way.”

    When he left and with no further communication, it took about a week to realize that we had been robbed. But it felt worse in some ways. The con part made me feel stupid and guilty. That’s how they work. They leave their victims feeling somehow to blame.

    Funny thing though, after the scam broke, two of “his customers” tried to help us out. I had found enough information in their rooms after they checked out to contact them, as I suspected fraud early. Those guys then contacted PayPal and tried to reverse their payments made to Pietro to us. No go, but they tried. They were horrified to learn they had been scammed…we had all been scammed. So, yes, bottom line, Pietro Filipponi positioned himself as representing our Hotel and sold our property on the open Twitter market. Honestly it felt numbing.

    My mind goes to Pietro every year at Comic Con so I decided to do a fresh google yesterday. It is how I found you, Zoe. I am happy to lend my odd little story. I feel that I am the least injured and I am delighted to be on your support team.

    Please email me if you are ever in San Diego and I will treat you to the BEST restaurant in town and celebrate your survival and bravery! Stay strong and powerful. Big, big hugs too!
    -Vicki E.

  2. Suzanne Frye says:

    My daughter Eliza has been closely associated with this creep for the past 5 years. She forfeited everything- her home, her family, her career and her self worth to satisfy him. She refuses to accept the reality about him, despite all that he has done and what has been written here. She was a decent person before. Not sure that is true any more. Imagine how your blog reads to her mom. I am sickened by it all.

  3. Betty says:

    I just read this, recommended by a girlfriend a work with that dated and has gone through the exact problems with this exact man and does not want to speak up. I want to let you know you have put peace in her heart and I have encouraged her to speak out. God bless.

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