I am, this week, marking my second month stalker-free. This, by the way, doesn’t mean there’s a vacancy to fill. It does mean that the space I had for breathing easy has now been returned to me. The stalking itself lasted eight months, but its impact will stick around longer than that.
My stalker was someone I knew, but with whom I never socialised, who suddenly wanted to take on a ‘protective friend’ role as I was going abroad. He had my email and phone contact details from others and added me on Facebook – sending messages to ask how I was. He apologised for not being friendlier when we lived in the same town and said he wished he’d taken the time to get to know me then. I believed he was simply socially inept and accepted his apologies.
I now know I should have kept the distance I’d maintained before. Although I was thousands of miles away – on another continent – it soon became apparent he wanted to get closer and closer. He became more and more demanding. I ceased any contact. He infected my email, my Facebook account, my LinkedIn account, my cell phone, my postal address (to which he sent a photo of me with a note scrawled on the back). In fact, he infected all the ways I had of keeping in touch with friends and family far away.
The first person I told asked what I’d done to encourage him. Wrong. If you’re stalked it is not about what you’ve done, it is about who you are. The second person I told said I was a strong person, so I should get over it. Wrong again. You don’t need to be in tears to be hurting. I waited and waited for it to stop – the contact wasn’t daily or even weekly, but it started to make me fearful when I opened my email, or switched on my phone. I’d blocked him on Facebook, couldn’t do it on LinkedIn. He was using other people’s phone numbers and other people’s email addresses to keep getting through. By February, I’d had enough and came off Facebook and LinkedIn altogether.
The messages always came in pairs – so, I learned to wait for the second one. The first would be almost conciliatory and rational, along the lines of ‘well, if you don’t want to keep in touch that’s your choice’. The second would (put politely) describe me as up myself; asking what was wrong with me and why on earth I didn’t want to be with him. I knew I had to tackle the issue, but still hoped it would just go away. The final straw came one night when I was on my own, and had two phone calls, two messages, two texts. I was physically sick.
I lawyered-up – a great guy in the City of London who told me clearly and concisely that a crime had been committed and advised me of my options. What I decided to do in the end, with the help, support and love of friends, may have worked. I live in hope.