Before contemplating creating this post, I sent out requests for stalking victims to share their personal tales with me.The stories provided me with a simple glimpse into the normal everyday things that can serve as springboards of when adoration leads to obsession. I was surprised at how easy things began between the stalker and victim and also encouraged by how these victims regained their freedom.
“When I met him, I was with a group of girls, and he offered to buy me a drink. His smile lit up his handsome face, and that night, we hit it off. But, although for me, it was something casual, for him, it was so much more.” –M.
What is stalking?
According to the article, In the Mind of a Stalker, “Stalking is defined as repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.”
Unfortunately, Hollywood has often depicted stalking in a positive light, as if it should have romantic overtones, and be a sign of the hero’s undying love. Elements thereof can be seen in the popular movies from classic movies, like the Graduate, to more modern films like Twilight. (check out this interesting list)
“He’d park his car between two other cars and watch me.” — M
Dr. Mindy Mechanic, Ph.D, in the Fact Sheet on Stalking, described the players of stalking, and that “[m]en commit most stalkings. Four out of every five stalking victims are women.” What is important to note, just like in most crimes that I’ve researched, “[m]ost stalking occurs between people who know each other…. Women are most likely to be stalked by a current or former intimate partner during the relationship, after it ends, or at both points in time.”
Stalking is usually not something that happens one day and is over the next, but can extend into years.
The victim, at times, is almost trapped, and often isolated by the stalker’s ploys. One individual’s moves were constantly watched, as if she belonged to him like cattle on a farm. Belligerent when she didn’t respond to him, he attempted any means possible to control her, including manipulating her friendship circle, “checking-up” on her, and even following her to her babysitter, to make sure she had to pick up her kids. Her episode lasted years until she left the state, out of his reach.
“You can’t do anything, always watching your back. It’s nerve-racking, scary and you have to be careful about what might make them explode.” — M
Most seemed to know their stalker, but not all them did.
“I was walking home from the T stop and it was dark. I noticed someone was following me whistling the tune to “three blind mice” like a psychopath. I panicked, knocking on a door of a church that was closed. I tried seeing if a bar was open, but it was also closed. The man was still behind me, following me, taunting me. I decided to start walking home fast. He pursued. I took a different route than usual hoping I’d lose him, but he still followed. Then, I thought he was going to follow me all the way home so there was going to have to be a confrontation.” —E.
What I admired about these women is that they found a way to overcome the power of their stalkers. One used the power of her local police department to curb her stalker’s enthusiasm. When R’s stalker called to harass her, she “put the house phone to the cell phone and let him talk to the police dispatcher.” But what ended it, and her worry was the security in knowing she had power to protect herself, including his threats on tape, and a firearm just in case.
Stalking and love are not one in the same, any more than rice and apples are. The truth of the matter is that stalking can be a dangerous situation, precarious, whereby one’s safety and life could be threatened. It shouldn’t be taken lightly.
One stalker victim was proactive in her attempt to annihilate the threat, and her tale raised hairs on the back of my neck.
“I didn’t have my pepper spray that day, but he didn’t know that. My best weapon was my sharp, strong fingernails. I decided based on some self-defense advice I had heard that I was going to rip his eyes out with those nails. My arms hung at my sides with my hands ready. I took a deep breath and ran with all my might up the hill towards my stalker, I may have even roared like a crazy woman. I charged, being a fit 19 year old and he most likely a 40 year old smoker. He was tall and thin with greasy thinning hair and light jeans that looked like they had seen better days. His sorry ass got scared and ran up alongside a house. I looked and he was gone, so I ran home as fast as I could. I never saw him again.”–E
If you are being stalked, what should you do?
The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services offers a wonderful guide as to what you can do in such a situation. (The below is quoted from their guide).
- Imminent Danger – Call 911. Go to a safe place.
- Tell Everyone – Report the incident to law enforcement; notify the Commonwealth’s Attorney and ask for help from your local victim/witness program. Let them know you are afraid. Give friends, co-workers, and neighbors a description of the stalker and ask them to document anything they see and record the time of the occurrence.
- File Charges – Call police or go to the magistrate immediately and request a warrant each time the stalker breaks the law.
- Obtain a protective order
- Record witness names, dates, times, locations and what the stalker was doing, saying, wearing, driving, etc.
- Gather evidence – physical evidence is a key component to convicting a stalker.
Remember, stalking is illegal, and the victim thereof isn’t to be blame.
Have you ever been stalked? How did you deal with the unwanted attention?
* A special thanks to the brave women, who opened up and told me their stories. Thank you!
TINA GLASNECK is a crime fiction writer, who enjoys doing the research to create dark tales. Her monthly column attempts to expose tidbits of her research, and to share what she’s found to be the most interesting. To connect with Tina, please visit her website at www.TinaGlasneck.com