Can I Tell You a Secret? Netflix's new series explores the terrifying world of cyberstalking

When women are in danger, how does society respond? A new docu-series investigates.

In a world where true crime often places more emphasis on the perpetrators than the victims, Can I Tell You a Secret? sets a new standard. This Netflix two-part series, in collaboration with Louis Theroux's Mindhouse production company and The Guardian, doesn't just cover the crimes of cyberstalker Matthew Hardy. It's a deep dive into the lives of the women he targeted, shedding light on the impact of cyberstalking and the societal norms that fail to protect women.

A woman sits on a lounge looking nervous.
The gripping two-part Netflix series, Can I Tell You a Secret?, tells the chilling saga of cyberstalker Matthew Hardy, who inflicted terror upon numerous women over a span of years. Photo: Netflix

Hardy's victims weren't just inconvenienced. They were terrorised, to the point that some slept with weapons for safety. And although he was ultimately prosecuted, it took more than a decade to bring him to justice.


Based on Sirin Kale's investigation for The Guardian, the series showcases the harrowing paths to justice the victims had to endure, and has ignited outrage from viewers worldwide.

The victims

Can I Tell You a Secret? puts faces to the statistics. It immerses viewers in the lives of three women - Abby, Zoe, and Lia - who faced Hardy's relentless campaign of cyberstalking. These women initially engaged with an online persona, only to be bombarded with harassment, including fake profiles, sexual content, and threatening messages.

When they sought help from the police, they were met with dismissal.

Lia Hambly is pictured crying.
Lia Hambly is one of the women to share her story in the documentary. Photo: Netflix

It wasn't until one officer, PC Kevin Anderson, took the matter seriously that the investigation began. Eventually, the extent of Hardy's cyberstalking was revealed, but the harm had already been done. Victims like Amy, who had previously received up to 60 calls a day from Hardy, found that restraining orders were not enough to protect them.

"Three women's lives are changed forever when a prolific stalker infiltrates their social media accounts. And they're only a fraction of his many victims," the show's description reads. "In the face of mounting evidence and an ever-growing number of victims, how did Hardy manage to get away with his crimes for over a decade?"

Who is Matthew Hardy?

Matthew Hardy, a resident of Cheshire, gained notoriety for his heinous acts of cyberstalking, which included impersonation and stalking-related charges resulting in multiple arrests. His reign of terror is believed to have spanned from 2011 to 2022, during which he targeted more than 62 women.

According to a Guardian report, Hardy often initiated contact with his victims using the phrase "Can I tell you a secret?" He would then proceed to fabricate private information about their lives, such as allegations of adultery or backstabbing.

Matthew Hardy is pictured in a police mug shot.
Matthew Hardy targeted and terrorised numerous women between 2011 and 2022. Photo: Cheshire Police

Women who blocked Hardy's anonymous messages were subjected to relentless, disturbing phone calls, with someone audibly breathing on the other end. Hardy's deceit extended beyond digital interactions; he maliciously spread falsehoods about his victims to their friends, family, and colleagues. He would also assume their identities to engage in sexually explicit conversations.

Shockingly, Hardy went as far as stealing photographs of one victim, leading to severe emotional distress and diagnoses of depression and anxiety among his targets.

Where is Matthew Hardy now?

In January 2022 Hardy received the longest sentence handed down in the UK for online stalking: nine years.


Police response

The documentary also follows PC Kevin Anderson, the officer who finally took the Hardy case seriously. Anderson's investigation revealed a disturbing history of cyberstalking spanning Hardy's teenage years when undiagnosed autism often led to his problematic behaviours.

However, as the story unfolds, it becomes evident that the root of Hardy's actions lies not in his autism but in a calculated and sinister disregard for his victims' wellbeing.

PC Kevin Anderson is seen sitting at this desk.
PC Kevin Anderson helped bring Hardy to justice. Photo: Netflix

The series' approach

The documentary skillfully tells the stories of the women targeted by Hardy without glorifying or focusing excessively on the perpetrator. It's a reminder that the victims' stories matter most. As Hardy's disturbing communications with his victims are dramatised, the series underscores the psychological harm inflicted by cyberstalking. Through expertly crafted scenes and interviews, viewers are confronted with the chilling reality of this digital-age terror.

Can I Tell You a Secret? is not just a crime thriller; it's a wake-up call. It brings attention to the fact that the dangers of cyberstalking are often underestimated or ignored, especially when it comes to women. This is a must-watch for anyone interested in understanding the true impact of cyberstalking and the urgent need for better protection for victims.

Can I Tell You a Secret? is available to stream on Netflix.

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