RIPBianca: A Case Study in Safe Habits Online

I wanted to stay a little more lighthearted for a while after some of the more serious issues that we have discussed here, but fate’s big ol’ ugly face jumped in and changed those plans. I present this with a heavy heart as it is a terribly disturbing story, and it highlights some of the worst aspects of human behavior in our time.

I woke up yesterday morning to see that a hashtag of RIPBianca was trending. Do NOT search up this hashtag, please. If you do so after my warning, you will learn the harsh reality of the saying cannot be unseen.

The Bianca in the hashtag is Bianca Devins. She was only 17 years old. While there is a lot of misinformation online, I will give the important points.

  • The man who killed her was a stalker who had cyber met her on Discord. There are a lot of websites claiming he was her boyfriend, he was not. He was a stalker.
  • He killed her and the posted pictures of her dead body on Instagram. Instagram was slow to take these pictures down and lowlife scum with nothing better to do started sharing these gruesome photos across many social media platforms.
  • If you shared these photos, you are as sick as the killer.
  • The internet can be a dangerous place if you are not careful. This is not blaming the victim, because she did nothing whatsoever to deserve this.
  • Please learn from this tragedy.

Some things bear repeating. The internet can be/is a dangerous place. There are a whole host of ways in which people can find your personal information online. It can be embedded within a photo you share, it can be accessed on the dark web, and you can make a few missteps and have someone dox you. Or you may simply let your guard down and share information with a person you think you know, even though you have never met them face-to-face.

Remember always, you are your own first line of self-defense.

By all means, share what you wish, but be smart about it. Not everyone is your friend. Certainly, not everyone should be trusted.

Vigilance is key. When self-defense instructors talk about situational awareness, they are talking about vigilance. It isn’t possible, or even healthy to stay in a state of hyper-awareness. No one in their right mind would ever advise this. Vigilance, being aware and on the lookout, this is possible and advisable.

For the Ladies, you are on a different level as far as the need for vigilance. We live in an age where the feminists shout that women shouldn’t need to defend themselves, men should not rape/kill women. While I agree 110% that men shouldn’t be raping and killing women, I have to live in the real world. In that real world, there are men who rape and men who kill. With this being a given fact, women need to practice safe habits.

Please don’t agree to meet in private with someone you only met online. Stalkers online can be reported to authorities to create a paper trail, but also to the social media platform where they are stalking you. Make full use of every avenue of self-protection at your disposal. I assure you, the social media companies could not care less about you or your safety, but they hate lawsuits. They have steps in place to handle many different issues that come up. Use them, but keep law enforcement in the loop.

Get some training in self-protection. Whether this means martial arts, reality-based self-defense, MMA, Filipino blade work, or firearms, become proficient in whatever floats your boat. Train and be prepared for things to go sideways.

Most people in this world wouldn’t hurt you on a dare. Most people in this world will stand by and record you being assaulted on their phone while offering no help to you. A tiny percentage would step in and try to save you. But we cannot allow ourselves to ignore the fact that a tiny percentage will kill you for no reason at all. A 17-year-old kid is dead because a 21-year-old scumbag didn’t care about her life, her plans, her friends, her family, her future. He cared about himself.

Care about yourself. Take care of yourself. Value yourself, because no one will value you as much. I lost a former student of mine to a crazed stalker. These people exist, even when you close your eyes and chant “teach men not to kill”. You shouldn’t have to worry about this happening to you, I get it and agree. But you DO still need to worry about this because pretending it isn’t real doesn’t make it go away.

Be nice to each other, look out for each other, and if there is anything in the world that you think of as good, or worthy, or right – protect it. There are a lot of good people in the world, but there are not enough good people who are willing to look out for those who need it. Be that person.