It was not some faceless and unknown boogeyman wreaking havoc on my life. I knew who my stalker was, which on one hand made the situation easier to handle while on the other added a whole new element of fear. The man harassing me, leaving me nasty notes, walking my property at night, and entering my home uninvited was a neighbor. At one point, I had even considered him a family friend. Of course, it did take me a bit to figure that out. I mean . . . who wants to suspect a “friend” of turning your world upside down? Who wants to believe a “friend” is capable of turning on you that way, of scaring you? Though I was lucky to finally figure out who was terrorizing me, it was disconcerting to wonder how long it had been going on before I was even aware, of how I could have been so blind. What had I overlooked? Why hadn’t I been suspicious of his character all along? Even now, years later, I can’t answer those questions, and that makes me wonder if such a thing could happen again. I suppose that is just one more reason why I remain a tad reclusive. It was one more event in my life that proved to me there is danger in trusting others.
Though I have a solid respect for those who serve in roles of law enforcement, being the victim of stalking gave me conflicting opinions there too. I can’t say enough about the officers who showed up at my house time and time again to take statements and ensure that my mom and I were momentarily safe. It was comforting to be told they would patrol the neighborhood whenever they were in the area. Several times I came home to find a note on my door stating that they had been by, walked the property, and noted all seemed to be in order. The officers really went above and beyond to make me feel protected. The detective assigned to the case was a different story. Logically, I know his hands were somewhat tied, that he could only do so much. The department didn’t have the budget or manpower to run DNA tests and such, at least not quickly. His words were scary though. Perhaps he was too blunt when he told me that until I was raped or murdered, I was a low-priority case. Now, I know he wasn’t telling me that to be mean or rude; he was simply being honest. He didn’t want to give me false hope. He didn’t want me to let my guard down. He wanted me to know I was in for a long battle.
I was one of the fortunate ones. After a year of turmoil, my situation just simply disappeared. During that year, I had done everything in my power to seek justice. I contacted the National Center for Victims of Crime to seek help and resources. I called the police each time there was an incident. I regularly called the detective to keep him interested. I got legal representation. I remained hyper-vigilant and documented everything. I pushed for my stalker to be arrested, even though I knew there wasn’t enough concrete evidence to hold him just yet. I wanted him to know that I refused to be vulnerable or intimidated, that I would fight back. Eventually, he backed off. He even moved a few hours away. I’ve seen him twice since then. The first time I was walking my dog and saw him parked at the end of the street (which, of course, scared the crap out of me and once again made me question my safety). The other time we passed by each other at the mall, both of us with our families.
With time, the sense of fear and powerlessness faded, though I still remain extremely vigilant; I am always aware of my surroundings, always looking over my shoulder in public and such. For those of you going through similar situations, I hope your situations resolve sooner rather than later, and without significant harm coming to you. I urge you to get all of the assistance you can. Call the police for every incident, contact the National Center for Victims of Crime, get a victim’s advocate, take out protective orders, etc. It is hard enough to be a victim; at least, be one who fights back. I wish you all the best.