The invention of the internet is a double-edged sword: The ease and instantaneous nature of advanced technology have guided the evolution of modern communication as much as they’ve given power to the predators lurking in the unsavory corners of the web. Nobody’s Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers, Pervs, and Trolls is a timely work that combines the vulnerability of personal experience and the researched, fact-based reporting of nonfiction.
Goldberg, a victims’ rights attorney based in Brooklyn, doesn’t just empathize with the pain and trauma of her clients; she has firsthand understanding of the hell that a perpetrator can inflict on someone’s life. She writes, “Some people call me ‘a passionate advocate’ or a ‘social justice warrior.’ I’d rather be called a ruthless motherfucker.” Before founding her own law firm in 2014, she was battling a deranged ex-boyfriend who had made it his mission to make her “pay” for ending their relationship. His love and adoration seemed to quickly dissolve into the obsessive need for control. The breakup pulled back the curtain and revealed a man who had declared psychological war: spamming Goldberg’s inbox and phone with threatening and violent messages, filing a false police report and harassing her friends and family. The ex-boyfriend’s campaign of terror lasted for a year. And while it had been a harrowing period of time, Goldberg realized a new purpose: becoming an advocate for victims, the advocate she wished she’d had in her corner while dealing with her ex.
Goldberg’s writing is especially compelling when she focuses on specific clients she has helped. There is no such thing as a “standard” victim; the individuals mentioned in the book hail from different socioeconomic backgrounds, ages, geographical locations and genders. While these clients are certainly victims of the vindictive acts of offenders, whom Goldberg classifies as “psychos, pervs, assholes, and trolls,” she doesn’t frame their misfortunes as signs of character weakness or indicators of personal fault. When Macie, a 17-year-old girl, and her mother wanted to hire Goldberg following a schoolwide leak of the daughter’s intimate photos to her then-boyfriend, Goldberg didn’t shame her. On the contrary, Goldberg was truly angry—angry at the boyfriend for violating Macie’s privacy and trust and angry at the gender-biased judgment of the school administration, who decided to punish Macie and not the boy.
While her tone is more conversational than rigidly academic, Goldberg provides solid research to supplement her anecdotes. An important, harrowing look into the dark underbelly of the internet, this book sheds light on the mistreatment of victims and on the society and justice system that often fail them.