True Story: I Was Stalked

I was stalked

Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is “Molly”, I’m a late twenties writer living in Virginia. I grew up here and only pretend to hate my slight accent.  I love travel, books, crepes, makeup— all the good things.
When were you stalked?
I was stalked when I was 17. It lasted for about a year. It started the summer before my senior year of high school and didn’t completely end until I was in my first year of college.
Who was your stalker?
I had known the guy who stalked me since fourth grade. We were both on the cross country team and we hung out with the same folks. We were really good friends for the last couple years leading up until when he started acting strange. He definitely considered me his best friend. He was a year older than I was, so he’d just graduated and was headed to college when he lost it and things started. I think something about moving away affected him and helped set him off.
How did it begin and how did you deal with it?
It actually began with him telling me something about a party a little bit down the road (we lived out in the country). We  drove to the house and no one was home. What followed was a sexual assault. The odd thing about my story is that it begins with sexual assault and then turns into stalking afterwards.
I didn’t deal with it very well.  My parents and I did as much as we could do to get the law involved. We got a restraining order. Unfortunately, after the assault, I came home and told no one and did nothing, so there wasn’t a lot the police could do without any evidence. Although, he did leave these really disgusting letters in my car about what he’d done to me during the assault. But that wasn’t enough evidence.
The peak of the stalking was that winter when he started coming into the house and watching me sleep.  After a few weekends of feeling like I was crazy for feeling like someone was in the house, I actually woke up with him standing in the doorway of my bedroom.  This was about four months after the assault.
My nerves were completely shot. Even though it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, my fight or flight kicked into gear and I ended up chasing him out of the house. I’m not sure what I would have done if I’d caught him. I think by then I was at my wits’ end, and so I believed I’d be able to hurt him if I could get my hands on him.
By that point, I was really starting to deal with the assault, I’d almost completely stopped eating because my nerves were shot, and I wasn’t sleeping much as you’d imagine.
How did the stalking affect your daily life?
The stalking took over most of my everyday life. I was constantly nervous and developed ulcers. My parents were afraid to leave me alone, so my dad would sit outside of the shoe store I worked at some evenings. I’d close the store alone, and my parents were afraid the guy would catch me in there or on my way out to my car.
I can’t really describe what it felt like to basically have to accept that I wasn’t really safe. Part of me actually felt better once I started to admit that. And I remember that it really frustrated me that my parents wanted to convince me that they could keep me safe. To me, that was refusing to acknowledge what was really happening. I don’t think parents can be prepared to deal with something like that.
What finally put an end to it?
After I woke up with him in the house, I finally told one of my friends about the assault and about what was happening—she was sleeping over that night, so she was asleep in my bed with me. I felt terrible and still do that she experienced what it’s like to wake up with an intruder in the home.
She went home and told her brother almost right away. He was my stalker’s age and was friends with him. Her brother was in a group of generally nerdy, skateboard-riding guys that I was good friends with. Those guys got in someone’s car and drove the four hours south to my stalker’s college. I’m not sure what happened.
I know that the guy was okay afterward because I did hear from him after that, but I think they did what they could to convince him that they’d hurt him if he didn’t leave me alone. We’d all grown up in this tiny place with a high school of about 300 kids. We were all close, and we all knew each other. In that way, it makes me sad that something like that would blow up such a calm circle of friends
What advice would you give to others dealing with something similar?
That’s a hard question. I guess I’d advise anyone going through something similar to try to get the police involved as much as possible. In my case, my stalker came to see me the very next day after he was served with the restraining order. That was his way of letting me know it wasn’t going to affect him. But not getting the police involved won’t help either, and there’s a chance they may be able to do something.
I’d also suggest that they talk to people about what’s happening; my not talking to anyone about it only left me feeling more crazy and isolated. Things got harder once my friends knew what was happening, but it also made what was happening more real to me—in a good way. I think we sometimes have a tendency to try to keep something from being entirely real by just not telling anyone about it.
Have any of you been stalked?  Any questions for Molly?
photo by tim wang // cc

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  1. Anonymous

    I was stalked for a year, despite it being almost 4 years since it stopped I still don't like crowds and loud social situations. I've gone from being a chatty, social individual to one who finds socialising quite difficult. Sadly my friends thought I should have been flattered by the attention! Thank you for this article and to Molly, people need to understand how frightening stalking can be.

    • Anonymous

      I am researching for a documentary about stalking/obsession and would love to hear from you if you would be interested in sharing your story with a wide audience? [email protected]

  2. Caitie

    This is effing terrifying. I just…I've got nothing. I am so sorry that this happened to you, though, and wish you the best at moving forward.

  3. Allie Todd

    Reading this made my stomach drop. I can't even imagine what this truly felt like.

    It absolutely amazes me how much resilence people have. To be able to talk about this and spread the word to other people out there, while coming across so put together is truly incredible.

    I find myself at a loss for words, but wish you all the best in your bright future.

  4. Jess

    Wow, Molly…. So sorry you had to go through that.

    My mother and I were stalked when I was a child. We actually woke up and he was sitting in the room, watching us sleep. So, I can relate to some of what you experienced. I'm very sorry you went through that, too.

    • Anonymous

      I am researching for a documentary about stalking/obsession and would love to hear from you if you would be interested in sharing your story with a wide audience? [email protected]

  5. Rachelia (Bookish Comforts)

    Absolutely terrifying! It bothers me that people (and society in general) don't take stalking seriously. A restraining order is just a piece of paper unless it is reinforced! Stalking also usually escalates to something even more serious, although as Molly points out, her situation was the reverse.

    I think one way we can try and acknowledge the seriousness of stalking is by first changing our language. For example, (and I admit to being guilty of this sometimes too) is not to say we would "stalk a celebrity" or "I love that blog, I've been stalking it".

    Thank you so much for sharing your story Molly. I hope you never have to experience that again!

  6. Jenny

    While a restraining order isn't the protective bubble that we wish it were, it is definitely the first step in the legal process – you need that documentation as soon as possible in order to take further legal action should things escalate! It is a lot harder to take retroactive legal actions, so document early and often!! Hopefully you'll never need to use it – but if you do, you'll make the process much kinder on yourself!

  7. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I was stalked my freshman year of college (I was 17, he was 24), and had nightmares for years despite moving to a different state and changing my phone number multiple times. My stomach sometimes drops when I see the same car he used to drive – and it's now been over 5 years. It's really comforting to know there are people out there who know how I feel.

    • Anonymous

      I am researching for a documentary about stalking/obsession and would love to hear from you if you would be interested in sharing your story with a wide audience? [email protected]

  8. Girliest Nerd

    I'm glad you are safe now. It sounds horrifying!

    What became of him? It couldn't hurt to keep a few tabs on him.

  9. Kelsi

    I was stalked in college… Not nearly to the caliber this brave writer endured, but it was still frightening. He was a socially awkward guy in my dorm that I befriended, though it quickly turned into him showing up to my room every day, calling me all the time, and following me everywhere. He figured out my class schedule and would wait for me after class. It got really creepy, and I talked to my dorm neighbors about it. Later, I was told he came looking for me and a group of them bombarded him with water balloons. He never came back and I never saw him again.

  10. Rachael

    Terrifying. I was stalked by a boy who would ride the public transit at the same time as I did. It started innocently enough – him trying to awkwardly let me know he liked me. I gently said thank you, but no thanks. After that, he always kept coming over and trying to awkwardly chat me up, or sit next to me and stare. I would always make sure to be listening to music or be on the phone. It escalated to him figuring out which bus lines I took and when. I would get off at random stops and walk to a friends house just to throw him off. Luckily, after months of this, it just stopped.
    I've not seen him in years, thank goodness.

  11. Anonymous

    Wow, Molly. I can't imagine how horrifying this must have felt. You're one brave girl. I'm so glad you're safe now!

  12. Anonymous

    Molly here 🙂

    In response to Girliest Nerd's question: He ended up losing contact with most everyone from my hometown and moved out west. I make sure to check on his location maybe once a year. It bothers me to look, but I know it's best that I know whether he's 2,000 miles away or 100. Basically, from what I can tell, he leads a normal life.
    The kicker: facebook suggests I be friends with him every once in a while. The first time his name came up, I felt very sick.

    And thank you for all of the very kind words/comments. I'm so sorry to those of you who have experienced anything like this. But dialogues like this are beautiful.


  13. tarantella

    One of my closest friends is dealing with an ex stalking her. I'm worried for her because he hasn't done anything a lot of people consider dangerous- but I see the danger in what he's done. No matter how many times the police have been involved he keeps contacting her and leaving gifts. It all seems innocuous but it's not. I just see that he's stepped over the line again and again and doesn't realize why anything he's doing is wrong. I'm proud of my friend for making sure to report everything and I'll be supporting her in getting a restraining order against him. I just want anyone reading this to know…if you said no and someone won't leave you alone, no matter what kind of contact they're making…make sure you speak out. Because they may not be "dangerous" now but someone who doesn't know where the line is could easily become dangerous before you know it.

  14. Anonymous

    last year i had an ex-boyfriend come very close to stalking me when we broke up. i was fortunate that when we broke up, we were living 5 hours apart and the distance made it very difficult for him to come to my city. also, several mutual friends stepped in on several occasions to stop any real stalking from beginning, which is something i'm eternally grateful for. in the end, what i endured was "little more" than an emotional roller coaster of harassment that caused me to have intense panic attacks and violently angry feelings towards him. he did this for six months on and off, which was the worst part. once i would start to think he was done, i would begin getting daily texts and phone calls from him again. eventually, he began emailing me about wanting gifts returned to him and threatened to take me to court if i didn't comply with his request. the minute i read that line, i was on the phone with my father and we decided enough was finally enough: we were going to get our lawyer involved first. no more than 24 hours later, my ex had been contacted by the law firm and told to back down before more serious legal consequences would be acted out. thankfully, it worked and i've been free of harassment for eight months.

    even still, i worry that i will be walking down the street one day and i'll see his face. he has no reason to come to my city, since i was the only connection to it that he had, but i can't shake the fear. i have avoided going on a trip with my best friend that involves spending time in the city he was living in during that time because i worry that if he sees me, it will reopen that can of worms. i have to make sure that if i am visiting a mutual friend, he hasn't been planning a visit concurrently. these are all little cracks in my life today that didn't exist before the harassment.

    i've been very lucky to have understanding and protective friends and family during and after the harassment. one mutual friend in particular did a lot to make sure i knew what my ex was thinking about doing when the breaking point was finally reached, calling me whenever he had an update. my parents provided me with emotional support during the six months and were prepared to provide me with financial support when we decided to involve legal assistance, just in case it turned into a costly lawsuit. if it hadn't been for my open and honest communication with those people, i would not have walked away as relatively unscathed as i did.

  15. Anonymous

    I have had two "mild" stalkers. One was from high school till I was 21. He would show up every valentines day with flowers and a dinner invitation. He would sit outside my work when I closed for the night. I eventually made it clear that I was not then, nor would I ever be interested in perusing a relationship, and he faded into the background. I did not feel threatened by him. The second did make me feel threatened often. He would show up at my dorm room, and sit outside and wait for me to finish class. He would leave things there so he had the opportunity to come back. After a while, I moved. About a year later he showed up at my workplace. Then 5 years after that, I ran into him at a take away, and pretended not to see him. That night he showed up at my house. I was terrified and called the police. He then contacted me on Facebook. My husband and I are on the lookout for him everywhere we go, we never really feel safe. It's knowing that the stalker has a 'never give up' attitude that makes them scary. And the violation you feel when they find you again.

  16. Scarred by a stalker

    I was stalked before there was a term for it, in the late 70s-early 80s. The police were USELESS. They would not even take a report! He hadn’t threatened me or damaged property, so the cops viewed ME as a nuisance.

    This guy called me at home and asked for a date. I was confused because I didn’t know him and our number was unlisted. He said he had noticed me at school and was able to pull my number out of student records. That creeped me out, but I told him I wasn’t allowed to date (true) and hung up. That should have been the end of it, or so I thought. I didn’t know this was the beginning of a nightmare that would last for years.

    I got home from school the next day and mom is all excited. This creep had his mother call mine and introduce him. She was so impressed, “what a gentleman!” How sweet, how charming, what good old fashioned manners. I told her I didn’t even know this guy, but he was a great guy because he had his mother introduce him.

    He showed up on Friday and then I recognized him: ashort, fat, freckled guy with glasses so thick his eyes looked bugged out in them. He was a math geek at school that I had seen in the hall a few times. I have no idea how he knew who I was or how he got fixated on me. We didn’t have classes together or anything. Maybe because I was quiet and shy too. Anyway, I figured I could survive one night.

    We went for pizza and a movie, and he talked nonstop. Bragged about his grades and his Atari. We didn’t have an Atari and I didn’t care about getting one, but I just let him rattle so I didn’t have to talk. I was glad when the night was over. Thought we were done.

    Wrong. He thought this one date meant I was his girlfriend now. When he called for another date, I said no, I didn’t think we were a couple and I was’t allowed to date anyway. He had hismother call mine again. I got home to find out I had a string of dates scheduled. I told her I wasn’t interested in him but she said I hadn’t given him a chance. He was perfect and what she always wanted for me.

    I was adopted, with very controlling parents, who thought adoption meant they could order up a daughter like a takeout meal. They wanted a pretty, popular, straight-A prom queen and got an honor student but not straight-A, non-comformist hippie artist. Their bitter disappointment, along with alcohol abuse and family violence, had me counting the years til I could get away from them. This guy, I will call him Rich, was mom’s answer to a prayer. He was perfect, just what she always wanted for me, and probably how she thought she could keep me under control even if I turned 18. He liked her, he listened to her, so the two of them would be in charge of what went in and out of my head for the rest of my life.

    Rich used mom to get what he wanted. He started taking over my life. I had to go on Friday date night. Saturday was tv and Atari at his house. Sunday, as soon as he got up, he would call me. That’s if I didn’t get roped into going to church with his family and out to lunch after. He got angry if he saw me talking to guys at school and accused me of cheating on him. He tried to get rid of my friends by complaining to mom that they didn’t like him (true, because they knew how unhappy I was) and asked mom not to invite them over when he was there. Or this friend is a bad influence on me – “now, I’m not trying to tell you your business, but I would never let MY daughter hang out with somebody like…..” He told mom he hated makeup on girls and said I looked like a streetwalker. He criticized clothes I wore and even tried to get invited along on school clothes shopping!

    I told her I hated him. She blasted me for being so mean to this sweet guy. He just loves you so much, he is jealous because he’s devoted to you and how lucky I am. Did I want to go back to reading alone all weekend instead of being out having a grand time? Telling her I wasn’t having a good time didn’t matter.

    I tried telling him I wasn’t interested in a relationship and didn’t want to see him anymore. While I walked home he called mom in tears to say goodbye, I guess I just didn’t love her enough…. she was waiting when I got home and screamed at me for being so mean to this sweet guy. I am so cruel when he loves me so much. I told her I didn’t care, I was sick of him. They kept calling each other and scheming. He left notes in my locker and cornered me in the hall, crying at school. He sent me flowers at home.

    He never threatened me or abused me physically. I just couldn’t peel him off! The other kids thought he was a nerd but didn’t bully him because he stomped everybody academically.

    I didn’t have the self-confidence I do now, and was real afraid of my adoptive father, who was a serious alcoholic. I did have an aunt and uncle who knew what was really going on at home, and they sheltered me from time to time. There was no way they would help me if I went to the cops about the abuse – never testify against her sister – but I would go stay with them when things were bad. They knew about Rich and thought Mom was pushing me too much because SHE liked him. I moved to their house again for awhile. Mom gave Rich their address and phone number. He called at all hours and came over, trying to get in to see me. My uncle told him to quit but finally they got tired of his disrupting their life and told me I had to leave. Just what Rich and mom wanted.

    I was glad when I turned 18. I moved out and told Rich where to go. This is when the stalking really began. I almost got fired from a job because he wouldn’t quit calling me. He would stand in the doorway at my apartment and scream if I didn’t answer the door. He would wait at the door of my work and follow me, begging and crying.

    The police would do NOTHING!!!! They wouldn’t even TAKE a report. He hadn’t been violent or damaged property, so they couldn’t do anything. I called them once after he called my job over and over, and my boss told them he was hanging around and calling to harass me, but their attitude was that I was a disgruntled girlfriend. One officer GRINNED AND LAUGHED AND WINKED at me, and said oh, he thought I could get rid of this guy if I REALLY wanted to. He said I needed to be more convincing to this man if I wanted nothing to do with him.

    Sometimes he would disappear for months but turn up again, like a bad dream, just when I thought I was rid of him. One afternoon my roommate came home and found him mowing the lawn at the duplex we were renting. I dated a guy who called me up, ranting that I should have told him I was engaged! Rich had followed him from his job and cornered him, yelling and screaming. I got really scared then, because my parents didn’t know I’d been dating him, so Rich must have been following me around or had other people giving him info. I called Rich and told him to leave me alone! He insisted we were soulmates, he couldn’t leave me alone and I would never get away from him. He insisted he was “protecting” me from evil men even if I didn’t think so. I said he was sick and I hated him. He sent notes to my friends, accusing them of turning me against him. Called the cops again, but the notes weren’t threatening enough. Most of the friends didn’t want to get involved and wouldn’t call the cops to file their own complaints.

    This went on until I moved out of town!Thank God he didn’t follow me. Then mom died and I went back for her funeral. One of my aunts (not the same one I sheltered with) mentioned that she’d had a nice chat at the funeral home with “your boyfriend.” I didn’t know what she was talking about and said I wasn’t dating anybody. She seemed puzzled and said, “The little guy with the glasses.” I was horrified. Rich must have seen her death notice in the newspaper. He had gone to one of the evening visitations and introduced himself to everybody as my boyfriend!

    I told the funeral home not to give my contact information to anyone, no matter what they said. Tell them to send flowers and cards through the funeral home ONLY. Yeah – he DID try that. He also tried to call my dad’s house later to express condolences and ask about me. My brother told him to leave me alone.

    I never went to my high school reunions because I was afraid of seeing him there. Since then I have learned about stalking and lots of women say they couldn’t get the cops to help them, either.

    If you are stalked, don’t count on the police to help you. They are supposed to, but some officers will blow you off if you are underaged, writing it off as harmless teenage puppy love, or accuse the girl of just trying to get him in trouble, like they did me. The stalker can get away with it if they do not issue direct threats or damage property. The police considered Rich an annoying pest to me and I was a nuisance to them, wasting their time. Battered Women’s Shelters are more likely to take you seriously. I wish I had known to call them because they would have helped me with support and counseling and helped me deal with the police.

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