Me Too 2

When I was a senior in college, I had an assignment to write the most frightening experience I had ever had in my life. I wrote about a high school trip to New York where someone pounded on our hotel door in the middle of the night, and we did not know what to do. Scary for a 16 year old, and it must have been something similar to what my classmates wrote because our professor discussed with the class that he did not get the quality he expected, assuming we had never been in life threatening situations.

Except I had. I was. And like then, my mind sometimes can’t comprehend how frightening those months really were.

I was stalked. For several months. By an ex-boyfriend. It became so terrifying that I was convinced it would end in my death. And still today, I believe that if certain people hadn’t acted on my behalf, Campus Safety and the Dean of Students, I would have been killed.

It started with his cheating on me, breaking our engagement, and leaving me half-mad with grief. Once I started to recover from my first heartbreak, I did seek him out to talk and to let go. I didn’t want to hate anyone; I wanted to let it go.

Only he took that as I still had feelings for him.

He sent me e-cards with hearts, sent me messages and emails, invited me to the movies and Disneyland, things we had done as a couple. I ignored the messages and declined the offers. He started parking his car on the street, so that I could see it every time I walked to or from campus. He started eating his meals at the same time I did with my friends. He sat across the patio, staring at me, leaving only when I did.  We didn’t notice until I left to use the bathroom, and a girlfriend noticed he got up too and ran to catch up with me to keep me safe. He began appearing near my classrooms. (Honestly it was weird because he could never remember my schedule when we were together.)

But the most terrifying thing was his body language changed. He walked different. He stood different. He moved different. Even at the time of events, I could not describe what was different, but I knew it was different.

When I told him I could not talk to him any more after a few nights of crying 2am phone calls, he left me notes, describing me as his one true love and how I don’t care about him. Advice from older friends told me to tell him to leave me alone in plain, clear language. When he refused to answer the door, I returned those notes written in plain, clear language, “I don’t want to be your friend. Don’t call me anymore. You’re not my deal.”

That night as I sat alone for dinner in the school cafeteria (God, where was everyone). He walked by and whispered, “Bitch.” At first, I was angry and wanted to tell him off, but then thought, “Fine, I’m a bitch; now leave me alone.”

Except he didn’t.

My dorm had doors that opened to the outside, and I tended to leave mine open for the fresh air and for friends to pop in. I was working on the computer, not minding the outside, when he walked by and threw a note into my room. That sign of aggression freaked me out. The note read: We need to talk.

The phone rang.

I let out a little scream.

I answered it. Hello?

“Fae, we need to-”

I slammed the receiver down. The phone rang and rang and rang and rang. It went to voice mail. Then it rang and rang and rang and rang. It went to voice mail. It rang and rang, and I grabbed my backpack and keys and ran the hell out of there. I scanned the rooms and found one of my friends’ lights on. I pounded on the door and told her what happened. I stayed with her until my roommate came home. When I finally returned home, I had several voice mails, emails, and messages waiting for me.

At lunch, I told my circle of friends, “If I disappear, tell them that Crazy Stalker Boy is after me.” I explained the situation; I told them where to find his parents’ number and address. They already knew what his car looked like. We all knew where it was parked.

I thought he was going to kidnap me and kill me.

I told my friends, “Sunday nights, he escalates.” They decided that someone would always hang out with me Sunday nights. They decided that I was no longer allowed to walk anywhere I alone. I was to call someone, no matter the time, to be escorted anywhere. The boys of the circle volunteered to be first call.

So I told this story to my counselor. Never telling him that I thought I was going to be a statistic. Never telling him I was afraid for my life. Never telling him I needed help. I told him the story of how I talked to my friends and how they had decided to help me. I remember literally saying “I told them that if I disappear.”

Somehow I don’t think my brain, my mind, myself could accept the possibility I was in mortal danger. Maybe it was a defense mechanism to keep me safe and alert, to keep me from freezing.

Luckily for me, my counselor was also the entrance counselor. He saw every student who is asking for services. He saw them 3 times before assigning a counselor for them. So he knew who my Crazy Stalker Boy was because that kid had asked for services. My counselor put two to two together and immediately called the Dean of Students.

What I learned later, within the hour, Campus Safety was notified and was tasked to find Crazy Stalker Boy and bring him to the Dean. The Dean laid into Crazy Stalker Boy, telling him he was no longer allowed to contact me in any capacity for any reason. The Dean threatened Crazy Stalker Boy with explosion.

I was called in and told that Crazy Stalker Boy was dealt with and that I was to let Campus Safety know immediately if anything happened. I was encouraged to tell the RAs and my bosses at the law school. I told everyone. All my classmates. All my professors. One tried to say he didn’t want to hear it, but I told him anyways. I told all the people who I worked with. I figured the more people who knew I was in danger, the more people that could help me.

Crazy Stalker Boy was silent for two days but left his car where I would walk. I considered walking another route, but all other routes would put me in isolated or dark areas. My friends walked with me. Campus Safety began to take their lunches at the table Crazy Stalker Boy was sitting.

Then he messaged me. I saved them and notified Campus Safety.

Then Sunday happened.

My phone rang. Crazy Stalker Boy didn’t get out a full word before I hung up. He called again, leaving a message that he was coming by to give him my notes on Italian that I gave him. I didn’t care. Keep the damn notes. I called a friend, and she came over.

Twenty minutes later, he was at my door. I told him to go away, and he said he wouldn’t until we talked. I told him to leave. He put his foot down where I couldn’t shut the door. He leaned over me. I told him to leave. My friend jumped up and asked if I needed an RA. I said yes.

She ran out of the room. Another friend across the way called out to her, asking if everything was alright because he had seen the Crazy Stalker Boy walking over and decided to stay there, monitoring the situation. She told him no. He called Campus Safety.

The RA came and told Crazy Stalker Boy to leave. He refused. So the RA asked to borrow my phone. I asked him in. The RA called Campus Safety.

After a few minutes, Crazy Stalker Boy left, walking down the hall. At the end, he turned and shouted, “I’ll be back.” I dissolved into nervous giggles.

Campus Safety came. The police came. I was encouraged to sleep somewhere else that night and to get a restraining order. My friends called each other, discussing whose room was the safest. The Dean called me and explained that he was kicking Crazy Stalker Boy out of campus housing and would expel him for one more infraction.

It didn’t end there. But that was the worst night.

I got my restraining order with the help of my best friend, who arrived back from study abroad the next day like a knight in shining armor. Though Crazy Stalker Boy showed up at the hearing and his parents got him a lawyer who fought successfully against a permanent restraining order.While I didn’t hear from him for almost 2 years, he found out where I lived with my boyfriend and left a box of chocolates and a horrid love poem with an email address to write to him. Then a few months later, the day after my wedding, I received a gift from him, a gift left on my parents’ porch. 3 months later I received an envelope of pictures of me entering the church in my wedding dress.

That was when my father called his parents and told them to get a hold of their son or he would.

But I went years feeling panic whenever I saw the same make, model, and color car that he had. I did not register for baby gifts because I was convinced Crazy Stalker Boy found out about my wedding through my registry. He tried to contact me once in the early years of Facebook. I blocked him and hid my profile so well that few can find it. For years, I wondered what I would do if he came after me again. Like I said before when I talked about the MeToo Movement. I’m lucky.

At the first hearing (there were four), when the judge asked Crazy Stalker Boy why he was bothering me, he answered, “Because I need answers.”

Answers to what? I can only assume to why I wouldn’t take him back. Clearly I should want him back. I must have been pining away for him. I must be waiting for him to get over his new girlfriend and come back.

Then when I didn’t want him back, when I clearly stated no, when I refused to talk to him, he decided to push and push and push. Because persistence and not empathizing is how a man wins a woman. He repeatedly left messages saying he loved me and wanted me back and then became angry that I wasn’t returning his calls. How could I care for someone who ignores my boundaries and wishes?

His lawyer described him as a kid madly in love with me. He was 20; he was stalking me. His lawyer said I was playing games and encouraging him. I never did. But I know girls who were friendly to their stalkers, trying to befriend them and convince them nicely to leave. When I proved I was clear about my responses, the lawyer changed the goal post, saying Crazy Stalker Boy wanted the engagement ring back. Here’s your damn ring; choke on it. Then his lawyer said that the school was too small and that I was making it hard for the boy to live his life or do anything. I was a distraction.

In a patriarchal world, I am the prize for one man’s desires; I am the siren that drives one man insane. In our culture, he is a boy because he is a 20-year-old, middle class, white boy, who doesn’t know how best to win his love back. I was crazy for being afraid, and I must be encouraging this behavior. I should reward him for that.

So yeah.

Me too.

Stalker Incident

Again I was planning to write something different, and then I watched Good Morning America.  I’m sure this topic would have come up eventially, just not today.  If you watched Good Morning America (and I do to get the news, weather, and to have something to talk about with people other than pottty training progress and the newest cutest thing), you may have seen the interview with the woman who was stalked for 10 years.  And since I’ve been stalked, and when you have this problem, you need all the information and stories you can get to get through it.

I met my potential stalker, boyfriend, the day may parents left me at college.  To say I was homesick and lonely would have been an understatement, but as I was determined to make it work, I was in self-denial.  When I met him, my first thought was “He’s broken.”  (Let this be a lesson ALWAYS trust your instincts.)  After months of flirting, we started dating, became engaged quickly, and became lovers.  It was a horrible relationship for 2 years.  There were good times.  Dates every weekend.  Sex.  Cute cuddly couple moments (which I have forced myself to foget to protect myself, but I’m sure they were there).  But he was controling, commenting on my weight or my friendship with my best friend.  I would snap back.  It was a horrible cycle.

Near the end of my first semester of my junior year, I became depressed and wondered how you break up an engagement.  My parents urged me to go to counciling for the depression.  When I came back from winter break, I was ready to give it another try.  We were engaged after all.  Only for the next week, he acted strangely, going to his “parents” often, which was weird because he was very stand offish with his family.  We had a fight, and as we made up I said, “It’s not like you were cheating on me.”  The air changed in the room.  And I knew.  I walked into the bathroom and screamed and cried as he knocked on the door to say he was sorry.  Of course, I made a fool of myself begging him to choose and to choose me.  (I look back and wished I had just punched him in the gut and told him to walk the hell out of my life.  But hindsight is 20/20.)  He choose her.

If it wasn’t for the strong circle of friends that closed its ranks tightly around me, I don’t know how long it would have taken to get over him.  They let me cry.  They dragged me out.  They made me laugh.  They forced me to write.  They were great.  I hope they know how much I appreciated those weeks and months.

A month or two later, I decided I had to see my ex.  Not too hard because I went to a small school.  I felt I needed to talk to him to make sure I didn’t hate him.  I didn’t want to hate.  My mom warned me about this, but my dad said it was healthy.  So I talked to him once in a while.  The ex was becoming depressed; while I was having a great time (except my best friend was studying abroad in Africa, it would have been the best semester in college).  Then he started to message me and call me.  One day he said we should go to the movies like old times and he was coming over to pick me up.  There was also an e-card with bears kissing and lots of hearts.  I ran!  I hung out with friends all night, not daring to go back to my room.

Then he started calling me at midnight.  I was a late night owl, so I was up.  But one night he called, I was in bed because I was going to a protest early in the morning.  He was crying.  I said listen I know you’re going through some rough times but I’m not interested.  Find some one else.

The next morning a card was hanging on my door.  And the next morning, which was weird because I didn’t get back until 3am.  Now I was getting spooked.  I mentioned it to a friend at lunch.  As an older more mature girl, she told me to take the cards and hand them to him and make it clear that I was not interested and did NOT want to be his friend any more.  I went to his room, and the jerk wasn’t there.  So I wrote a note on the back of the card saying “I’ don’t want to be your friend.  Go seek help or talk to some other friend.  You’re not my deal anymore.  Don’t call me, talk to me, or contact me in any way.”

That night at dinner, I was alone.  He came up to me and said, “stop playing mind games.”  It was quite menacing.  I ate quickly.  Then I was angry and planned to tell him off, but then I reconsidered.  Let him hate me, just leave me alone.  Now the dorm I stayed in faced the outside, so you opened the door and there was the Southern California outdoors.  As it was a nice day, I left my door open, which most people do.  Then he walked by and throw a note saying something like I should stop acting like a bitch and he needed to talk to me.

The phone rang.  I picked it up.  It was him.  I slammed it down.  It rang and rang and rang.  Then he’d call again.  I ran!  The messages.  Well, we won’t talk about those.

The next day at breakfast I told all my friends.  It now occured to me I was in trouble.  I told them if I disappear, look to the ex.  He had changed his walk.  He sat across the cafeteria leefing at me, waiting for me to leave to follow me.  That day I also had a councilor’s appiontment.  I was telling him the story and mentioned off hand what I had said to my friends.  I think he had the dean of students on the phone the second I left.

Again my friends circled around me.  I was not allowed to go ANY WHERE without some one, perferably one of the guys.  They accompanied me to the library, to class, to midnight runs to the computer lab.  Did I mention I had great friends?  The dean meanwhile (unknown to me) had a long talk with my ex, forbidding him to contact me.  Of course he still IMed me, email me, followed me, watched me.  He even parked his car where I had to pass it.

That next sunday I was doing homework, when the phone rang.  I picked it up.  It was his voice.  I slammed it down.  It rang until voice mail.  I listened to the message.  He was coming over to give me some Italian flash cards I had made and lent him.  I called a friend over.  Since it took so long, we started to laugh at the situation.

Then he was there.  I opened the door to accept the cards, hoping he would leave.  I wasn’t scared, even though I should have been.  I kept my foot behind the door and blocked his entrance.  He kept his foot in the doorjam.  He said he needed to talk to me.  I said I didn’t want to talk to him.  Please leave.  He would not.  My friend asked if she needed to get the Resident Assistant.  I said yes and she left.  Across the quad, another friend asked if he should call the cops.  Yes.  My RA arrived and told my ex he needed to leave, especially since the dean has said the ex couldn’t be near me.  (Guess he was told).  My ex wouldn’t leave.  So the RA said he’d call security.  The ex said fine.  My RA asked to use my phone.  I said sure.  The RA called.  And after a few minutes, the ex left, but not before turning around and saying “i’ll be back.”  I’m sure it was meant to be a threat, but my friend and I thought it was pretty stupid and started laughing (nerves.).

The cops showed up.  They took statements.  THey encouraged me to leave campus, but I didn’t know anyone that I could stay with.  I called my roommate and told her to stay away.  I stayed at some one elses dorm room, and security stayed alert.  The cops encouraged me to seek a restraning order.  The dean called to ask me if I was all right and wanted to know if he should kick my ex off campas right then and there.  I said no because I wanted everyone to know where he was. 

Amazingly my best friend had just returned from Africa and called his mom, who turns out changed all the AZ laws on stalking to become very strict due to my best friend’s crazy dad.  She took me to get the restraining order.  Oh and California has a law where you have to give your stalker 24 hours notice that you are filing a restraining order so that person can deend his/herself.  Lovely.  So I called his dorm phone and left a message.  He was kicked out of the living area.  I was assured most people never show up at court.

Well, guess what.  He did.  And the court could not attest to my safety.  My best friend and I saw him and ducked into another court room until he had gone into our courtroom.  I gave my plea.  Granted the temperary restraining order, with the ex’s help since he told the court he needed answers from me, which stopped the court dead (I mean even the court clerk stop typing).  The balif was kind enough to deliver my restraning order.

The next morning I received a bouquet of beautiful roses.  I called my best friend to ask him if he did it.  He laughed and said no.  His mom got on the phone.  “Get them out of your room.  Leave them outside your door.  He’s watching.  Call security now!”  Great, and I was all alone.  I did as she said.  My best friend called the florist and found out it was the ex.  From then on, the dean and security made it very clear to my ex one more move and he was kicked out of college.  Security had their meals with him and walked him to class in an ever friendly gesture.  If they caught him anywhere near me, they would talk to him.  They beefed up security around my dorm.

A month later I was going to get the real restraining order.  My parents accompanied me.  (I might have failed to mention my father is a police detective in AZ and is very big and intimidatin.)  But the ex didn’t come alone either.  He had his parents and a lawyer, who convienced a judge for more time to present a case. 

So another month, while I was leaving in CA for the summer on campus.  Plans that had been made before the stalking and damn if I was going to let this asshole scare me.  This time the lawyer badgered me on the stand.  Tried to get my testimony thrown out when I called my ex’s voice menacing.  He made me cry.  He got the judge to throw out the evidence of the roses, which was breaking the restraning order.  I did give back the engagement ring in front of the court since that was one of the “reasons” my ex wanted to talk to me.  Hey, he cheated on me.  He broke up with me.  I should have been able to keep the ring and sell it.  The lawyer convinced the judge to keep a temporary restraining order until December and reduce the feet.  My dad told me to take it.  What choice did I have?

Then a week later my father called to say that my ex’s family was willing to put a bond on their son if I would drop the charges.  So if their son contacted me, I would get 100k.  My dad thought that was a good deal.  I felt betrayed by my dad, and I refused.  If I had known what was to come, I would have taken it.  So for the next six months, the ex kept his distance.  When I appeared at court again, I asked for a continuence since it was working so well.  This time I had my new boyfriend with me and my counsilor who was worried I would have no one in my corner.  My ex was alone, and I was granted a continence.

Then a year later, after I had moved in with my boyfriend, now my fiance, our roommate opened the door to the condo to find a box of chocolates and a card for me, with a horribly written poem about me being the ex’s Oestra, and an email to youremyone@yahoo.com.  Back to the police.  But since there was no signature or any witnesses, they couldn’t do much.  I was working at a school and for the Girl Scouts, who I felt it was my duty to tell.  I assured them that the children’s safety was my first prieority.  They assured me they would do their best to protect me.

I got married six months after that in AZ.  The next morning we were opening gifts when I opened a card that a new the handwriting.  I threw the gift and card.  It was from the ex who had left it the night before on my parents’ doorstep.  The card talked about how he hoped I’d be happy and that he promised he would always love me and be there for me.  He was my first love after all.  Fucker.  And for the record he wasn’t.

Another year goes by and I recieve pictures in the mail.  At first I think they are from one of my photography friends.  There’s a picture of the church I got married at from across the street.  Then I noticed the people walking into the church.  It was me and my wedding party.  Would this guy just leave me alone?  Again to the police.  My husband wrote his parents a threatening letter about legal action. 

What I didn’t know until recently.  My dad had had enough.  He called the ex’s parents and told them to get a handle on their son or else.  They claimed he was a grown man.  My father hinted on some serious trouble. 

I haven’t heard from him since.  But we also moved, less then six months later, and are unlisted.  I didn’t register for baby shower because I’m sure the ex found me in an online bridal registry. 

So to recap.  Trust your feelings.  Get help right away.  Tell EVERYONE.  ( I really thought he would kill me if I didn’t get help.)  And sometimes you have to work outside the law.

Now babies are crying and I promise to be more upbeat later.