Scammed Into Love? This YouTube Star Says It Could Happen to You, Too.

Brittani Louise Taylor glanced around her gorgeous Los Angeles home. Thirty-one and newly single, she was surrounded by relics from a life she worked diligently to build. An enviable wardrobe. Plush decor. Funny costumes and meaningful artifacts from her exciting and wacky adventures in Hollywood. She’d forged a thriving career as a video content creator—lending her multifaceted talents to big-dollar brands like Kodak, Velveeta, and Wonderful Pistachios—just to name a few. Known for her sunny disposition, she curated a popular YouTube channel, creating larger-than-life characters and serving up hysterical parodies of popular music videos, drawing fans from all corners of the world. Still, something was missing. She ached for love. She wanted someone to share it all with.

A Sedona, Arizona native, she had grown disheartened from the black hole of opportunism that threatened to swallow so many of the souls that stayed in Hollywood too long. She downloaded the popular dating app, Tinder, just as all of her friends had done. It was at least worth a try.

She matched with a string of potential suitors, but none who struck her fancy too much. Until she met a handsome blue-eyed doctor from Serbia who said all of the right things, and never any of the wrong things. His name was Milos Mihajlovic, and he was a rarity in Los Angeles—genuinely searching for something real, and crazy about her. He wooed her with his charismatic affections and praise—brushing her long brown hair away from her face and confessing how beautiful he thought she was, how deep of a connection they shared, how uncommon it was for two people to find each other and experience such a mutual attraction. Everything appeared as perfect as a Hollywood script, sure to unfold a cinematic ending—until it wasn’t.

The charming blue-eyed doctor, she discovered, reeked with inconsistencies. His mask began coming off more frequently, and behind it was no Romeo. Soon, she was supporting him financially, while struggling to see through the smoke he blew into her every search for clarity. After an unexpected pregnancy, she found herself physically and emotionally bankrupt—tiptoeing through his web of manipulations and dodging his violent outbursts. The police and court system were forced to intervene, and she was running for not only her life, but that of her infant son, spending her days in hiding and looking over her shoulder—literally. “I was living my worst nightmare,” Taylor says. “He ended up taking everything from me—not just my finances, but my sense of safety and my self-esteem.”

In the midst of untangling from the terror, Taylor, now 35, poured every ghastly detail of it into a book, A Sucky Love Story: Overcoming Unhappily Ever After, which released in December 2018 and became an instant bestseller on Amazon. The candid page-turner unravels a harrowing tale that compels the reader to reach through its pages in hopes of saving her. Through its raw and conversational writing style, she isn’t hoping to taint your perspective on love and romance, or make you side-eye every person who intrigues you, or shatter your dream of a happy family. She asks only that you not get swept away until the background check is complete.

Taylor recalls the tender days when the two first met. He was accomplished, articulate, well-dressed and gorgeous. His smile was dreamy and his accent made her swoon. But something from deep inside of her wasn’t buying what he was selling.

Her instincts were sounding warning bells and throwing up one caution flag after another, though, on paper, everything appeared so perfect that she questioned her sanity. “Early on, I had the most horrible anxiety before every date,” Taylor says. “I would sit in my car and sweat. He would go to touch me and I’d flinch. I thought, why am I not over the moon that this gorgeous doctor is interested in me? But I was anxious and couldn’t understand why.”

He told her he had practiced medicine in Europe, and had come to the U.S. for an exciting change. All he needed was to pass his board exams so that he could secure his medical residency. Financially supporting himself by teaching tennis lessons in Marina Del Rey, he was exhausted and spinning his wheels—discarding hours of his day commuting to and from the city. “He told me, ‘I need two uninterrupted months to focus and study so that I can practice medicine here,’ so I agreed to cover his bills for a short while, because I knew it would be worth it in the long run,” Taylor says.

What was a two-month sacrifice of serving as breadwinner, for the purpose of helping the man she loved secure employment—a man who was a doctor, after all, right? But, those two months turned into four, and then to six. After a long conundrum of delays, an unknown woman contacted Taylor, claiming to be having a secret relationship with Mihajlovic. She sent screenshots of email and text conversations exchanged between them. Taylor was gutted, confronting him in a fury.

Mihajlovic fired back, claiming the woman was a call girl who he had briefly met through mutual friends, and who was seeking vengeance because he failed to return the affections she held for him. He spun a web of a convincing story, swearing she was crazy and that the emails were fictitious, painting himself as a victim of blackmail, layering on the promises of undying devotion—even bringing in one of his friends to back up his claims. Then he dropped another bomb: He was married to an elderly Russian woman, though they were not in a relationship. He had done it only so that he could secure his Green Card and remain in the U.S. to continue his relationship with Taylor. Everything questionable he had ever done, he swore, was because of his love for her.

“It felt very messed up, but also kind of romantic that he would go to such extremes and give his last penny to date me,” Taylor says. She was rendered disoriented while trying to navigate the confounding maze she had followed him into.

Things kept getting more twisted and weird. He was a classical pianist and a composer, yet she had never seen him play. He owned businesses—a coffee company, an architectural company, and a furniture company, but couldn’t speak in depth about them. He was his family’s golden child, involved in import and export for oil and wood, but there was no proof of it. He had extreme wealth, but couldn’t access it because he had angered his family by refusing to return to Serbia. He was an affluent doctor, yet he didn’t know where his spleen was. One night, while he was doubled over in stomach pain, Taylor asked him what part of his stomach was causing him distress. In between moans, he pointed to the area of his spleen, though he couldn’t identify the organ. Taylor’s mother, who had taken basic anatomy classes in college, enlightened him. And he still had not passed his board exams.

Then began the patterns of explosive yelling. He would shout insults at Taylor and revolt into tantrums until she crawled into corners, sobbing. The apologies always poured once he had provoked her to tears, leaving her dizzy from the extreme lows and highs. “I made excuses for him, thinking of how much stress he was under. He had always been so wealthy, and now had no money. It was my fault because he didn’t want to leave the U.S.,” Taylor says.

She was tired—of being his emotional punching bag, of financially supporting him, of growing emotional bruises while waiting for things to be what he promised they would. She needed her independence back. She needed her sense of self back. Then, as fate would have it, she discovered she was pregnant. She then resolved to make it work as best as she could. She wanted a family, and that dream wouldn’t be something she would let die easily, no matter how treacherous the relationship had been.

She documented the unfolding events of her pregnancy and birth in real time on her YouTube channel. In a video posted July 2, 2016, titled, “I’m Engaged… and Pregnant!” Taylor asks Mihajlovic, “Are you happy you’re marrying me?” He responds, “I’m the happiest man on the planet,” grinning sheepishly. Dressed in a blue polo and a ball cap, he seems demure, kind, dripping with boy-next-door charm—passive, even. They talk about their first ultrasound, and he confesses “how proud” he felt upon seeing their baby. He is bashful and nervous while staring directly into the camera—as though he is looking to Taylor for confidence and validation. Even after having read the book, for a moment, I almost believe him.

Taylor pictured with her son, Rex.

In another video, posted February 11, 2017, Taylor, Mihajlovic, and their son traipse across Southern California, posing for family pictures. First in a park, and then on the beach in Coronado. The ocean waves crash behind them. Taylor looks radiant and gorgeous, and as a family, they appear carefree and happy. In another scene, the baby is cooing and flailing his arms and legs wildly to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” stretched across his father’s lap. Mihajlovic looks like any other doting new father.

But in a video posted just two months later, on April 8, 2017, titled “Life Changes,” there offers the onset of clues that something in paradise is awry—that perhaps the picture painted of a happy family isn’t that at all. There is no evidence of Mihajlovic in the video, and in a scene where Taylor is shown sitting alone in her car, speaking directly to the camera, she says, in a somewhat exasperated tone, “There are some big life changes happening right now…” then adding, “Everything will make sense in time, but right now, I’m just not ready…”

Taylor now admits that almost all of the happy times she shared publicly were often followed by episodes of sobbing into her pillow until she fell asleep. Financially, YouTube was supporting her, so she was determined to maintain a cheerful presence online for as long as possible. “After having my son, Rex, I was exhausted and healing, and I was in complete hell with Milos. What should have been the happiest time in my life was pretty terrible,” Taylor says. “But I was just trying to survive it privately so that I could continue supporting myself and my son.”

When she finally decided to sever ties with Mihajlovic, it was not a matter of being fed up with his corruption and trickery, but a matter of urgency. One night, a few weeks prior, he shouted uncontrollably at her while she held their son, then launched toward her when she attempted to make a phone call for help. Even more frightening, Taylor began noticing odd occurrences that pointed to Mihajlovic and his mother plotting to kidnap the child and take him to Serbia, never to be seen by Taylor again. With a four-month-old in tow, she contacted the police, filed a restraining order, retreated to her mother’s quiet haven in Sedona, and prepared for the fight of her life in court.

While in Sedona, Taylor slowly began unearthing the truth. It turned out—the “elderly grandma” Mihajlovic married for his Green Card was an exotically beautiful and well-preserved Russian woman in her early 40s who lived a glamorous life with private jets and sprawling properties all across the world—a far cry from the person he claimed she was. When interviewed by the private investigator Taylor hired, the woman admitted to being another one of his victims. “I thought he loved me,” she said. The call girl with a vendetta against him? She wasn’t a call girl at all, but a feisty, gorgeous, and savvy business woman who was well-respected in Los Angeles. It turned out—Mihajlovic had written all of those texts and emails to her, and he was a masterful chameleon who morphed into whoever he needed to be for the person he was trying to victimize.

Admitting to having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the early aftermath of making her escape, Taylor says she had trouble holding a simple conversation. She’d stare out of a window at her mother’s house, see a neighbor pass by and start shaking uncontrollably. “When the trial began, I didn’t have any physical scars to show,” Taylor says. “I remember thinking that I wished the judge could look inside of my heart and see how battered and bleeding I was.”

Most mental health professionals agree that emotional abuse, as Taylor endured, is oftentimes the most daunting to process. If one has a black eye staring back at them in their mirror’s reflection, it’s horrible and violating, but it’s difficult to deny what can be seen. But, when entangled in a web of extreme lows and highs, control, and fear tactics, one may wonder, “Am I provoking this? Did I cause this?” The victim may feel confused and unsure about the sequence of when and how things happened, unable to navigate it all clearly. Reality blurs with the dark fantasy that the perpetrator has been pitching, and the victim starts roaming aimlessly through the nightmare of it all.

“A master manipulator makes you feel like everything is your fault. They slowly get you more and more into their little box until you don’t recognize your life or yourself anymore,” Taylor says.

As for the book, she says every chapter flowed from her organically. It became her beloved purging—a cathartic mode of attempting to make sense from the chaos he created, while hoping to raise awareness for other woman suffering as she did. “When I started writing the book, it was never for vengeance or for making money,” Taylor says. “It was because I was deep into the trial, and I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone about my situation. It was my therapy while I was living it, and I knew it would help somebody else one day.”

She gathered police reports. Witness statements. Court transcripts. Text messages. She used everything she had, while calling upon her most formidable memories, to write it. “Mostly,” she says, “The book is for Rex. Because when he is old enough, he is going to need to understand why I had to leave his dad. He will need to understand what I did for him.”

Often compared to the wildly popular Dirty John, a true crime story that began as an LA Times feature which spawned a podcast and television series on Bravo, Taylor admits she still has a difficult time engaging with it, recognizing so many parallels to her own story: The love at first sight. The extreme acceleration of the relationship’s progression. The endless charm and larger-than-life displays of romance from the perpetrator. The things swept under the rug and the red flags waving high, but ignored for too long—all in the name of a once-in-a-lifetime love.

Now, being on the other side of the experience, Taylor is infused with a calling to raise awareness about what she feels victimized by most of all: the unjust pressures society often places upon women. “Everything we read and watch pushes this ideal of what it means to have a happy life, and it almost always involves a family and a husband. If we as women don’t acquire this, we may believe we’ll let our parents down, society down, and ourselves down. So we put up with things we shouldn’t just for the sake of hanging onto the possibility of having that. I stayed in that relationship long after I should have—all because I didn’t want to be a failure.”

This book, at the end of the day, is a testament to one recognizing the voice of their instinct. To paying attention, and following the fragrance of one’s inner wisdom. It’s a lesson on never, ever betraying yourself for the hope and fantasy of being loved by someone else—no matter how much has been invested.

As the saying goes, you don’t have to hang onto a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it. Taylor was a classic follower of this common fallacy, and admits she betrayed herself for the sake of hanging onto a fantasy. She now wishes to play a role in wiping away the stain of single motherhood. “When a man divorces or leaves a relationship after having a child, society lets him move on with no problem,” Taylor says. “But, for women, we are sometimes perceived as ‘used goods’ in a way, which is ridiculous and unfair.”

Taylor believes this societal stigma illuminates why so many women stay in relationships and marriages long after they have been victims of infidelity, abuse and other forms of mistreatment—when the most empowering move they could ever make is walking away. “I was that woman with Milos, but I’ll never be that woman again. And I’m determined to spend my days motivating other women to love themselves enough to walk away from the relationships that are threatening to destroy them, too.”

Follow Brittani Louise Taylor on Instagram.

Lacey Johnson

Madam Wonder: Founding Editor

Lacey Johnson is an award-winning editor, essayist and journalist who earned her degree from Belmont University in 2011. She has worked with a broad range of celebrities and entrepreneurs — including the likes of Betsey Johnson, Deepak Chopra, Shark Tank's Daymond John and Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson. She is editor-in-chief for The Connect magazine, and her work can be read in a variety of print and digital media sources including Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day, Mirabella, PopSugar, and others. With a deep intrigue for human beings, and fiery passion for smacking her readers in the face with the truth, she writes and reports boldly about topics that challenge the status quo — in the realms of love and relationships, popular culture, travel, spirituality, women’s issues and the nuances of a fulfilling life. She is also deep in the process of co-authoring her first book, which is a gutsy exploration of the illusions of fame, power and success, told through narratives involving some of the people the world most idolizes.

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