My Life With A Stalker
Having a stalker is something I joke about on and off because that’s how I deal with trauma (and because I have a dark sense of humor). But the truth of it is; life with a stalker is not funny. It is terrifying. I didn’t realize how much my stalker affected my life until I watched an Investigation Discovery show about stalking incidents. I listened to the survivors’ stories and how the experience with their stalker had such a large impact on their life. As I watched I felt a piece of me surface, a piece that I had been suppressing for years because I did not understand what it was. It was a feeling but not one I can describe very well: it is a fear combined with an anger combined with an open wound that you want people to acknowledge is there and that it must hurt like hell. I wanted someone else to know that I have a stalker. Stalking is real and it is life altering, even after the incident passes and you get away from the person.
A stalker does not have to be an ex –lover (although it often is in domestic violence cases). A stalker can be anyone. Literally, anyone. You may not even know you have a stalker until you have that one encounter. That encounter where you realize that this person has been following your movements, both physically and via social media. This person has scoured your friends and associated themselves with people you know. Your stalker knows your routine based on bits of information that they gather from the web or from interactions with others. They are obsessed with you and they will do anything to have you in their life but yet they hurt you, physically, emotionally and psychologically on a daily basis. The obsession is confusing. Why you were the one targeted is never understood. If there is one thing I could scream out loud it would be that, “THIS IS NOT FAIR! WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS? I WAS ONLY TRYING TO BE NICE AND DO THE RIGHT THING TO HELP THEM OUT.” No good deed goes unpunished with some people.
Living with a stalker impacts your life in such small ways that it is hard to recognize. There are certain cities or places that you adamantly avoid in the one off chance you will encounter them. You refuse to go to places alone because you know they are less likely to approach you when there are witnesses. The darkness gives you anxiety. You triple check your doors at night to ensure they are locked. You have a weapon of some kind nearby and you’ve come to terms with the fact that you may have to defend your life one day. When you see a car that looks like theirs your heart skips a beat and you start to sweat a little. When they make contact your anxiety peaks, your hands shake, your mind goes blank. Your natural reaction is to curl up in a ball and hide from this person.
The reason for stalking is complicated. A common theme that appeared during the testimonies I watched was that the stalker had created an ideal lifestyle in their mind that involved their victims. Stalkers have followed their victims with attempts to reconcile despite consistent rejection and requests to stop. They have followed their victims with the intent to obtain something. Sometimes stalking escalates to violence. Sometimes stalkers end up killing their victims because in their mind, if they can’t be with you then no one can.
If you have a stalker, you need to tell someone. You need to document every single thing they do. Dates, times, things said, people involved. Laws on stalking in this country are pretty lax for the most part. 3 years is the maximum sentencing in the most severe cases. Be prepared to present your documentation to law enforcement before they will take you seriously. Just know that there is not a lot they can do without physical evidence that a person presents a danger to you. Video recording, witnesses and documentation are key and will hold up in court. That brings me to another point, be prepared to go to court. Even with a restraining order, if the person disputes the order, you will need to appear in court.
If you are scared, I understand. If you wake up from a dream with your heart racing because your stalker was there, in your dream; your most private of thoughts. If you have anxiety, if you fear certain people or places, please reach out for help. Many stalking victims do not get help until it is too late. If you are too scared to go to court alone, we will accompany you. Shoot us an email if you need us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck my friend. May good overcome the bad. May your experience empower you and show you that you are indeed a badass and can take anything that comes your way. You got this.