The Stranger in The Darkness

It was a normal quiet Monday night when I got the first email. It was after eleven o’clock and I was winding down for the night while watching tv, who could be emailing me I wondered, pinkfoxxphoenix?? Who the hell is this?

“Hello miss, I just wanted to tell you I think you’re amazing. I’ve been watching you, I admire you. I admire your beauty, just want you to know I <3 you, I want you.

Love, your admirer”

Admirer?  I’ve got an admirer? I couldn’t help but to laugh a little, while also feeling a tad bit honored. But this was so strange, and honestly, a little spooky, but I found myself curious… Then came the next email,

“Can I call you? I know your number, I also know where you live. I wanna be with you exclusively, I’m gonna go out of my way to have you, ps, I love your pic”

He knows where I live??? Now I was scared. What pic was he talking about???  How did he get my number??? This was how the nightmare began.

Over the next few days, the emails would continue to come and they progressively got worse. He went on to threaten the lives of my girlfriend and her kids, says that they had to be gotten out of the way because I belonged to him. He threatened the safety of my animals and claimed to have killed my dog with antifreeze, and in fact, my dog had not been home for three days.

I continued to speak with him fishing for information in hopes that he would slip up and give me something I could use, “Why don’t you text me?” I asked, hoping to get his phone number that could be tracked, “Meet me someplace public like Walmart” I said, hoping to get a description of him or catch him on camera, but he seemed to know to avoid all my traps and fell for none of them.

For several days before his first email he said that he had been watching me from the woods, and he indeed knew things that no one could know without being on my property. He knew when the kids went out to play. He told me that my girlfriend’s car had a flat. He pointed out that my shed was unlocked. He told me what I was wearing, and when I went outside and shined my flashlight towards the woods he told me to stop shining my light. I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest.

Early on he claimed that we had known each other in the past, that we had been in a sexual relationship together, but then later admitted that we didn’t know each other but that he had seen me in town and followed me home. I had never before been in a situation as truly frightening as this before, someone I didn’t know watching me from the darkness of the woods, threatening to kill those I love or burn my house to the ground if he couldn’t have me.

Though I knew I had nothing in the way of evidence to give, I had no name or description of any kind, I had never even heard his voice, but I had to finally call the police. They arrived at two AM on Friday morning, they looked all around the house and found nothing so they filed a report but said that there was nothing more that they could do without more information. They offered to step up patrols at night and promised to have someone nearby if I should need to call, but that was all they could do.  I haven’t seen or heard anything from my stalker since… but that was only two days ago at the writing of this blog.

The last two days have been mostly back to normal, but then again, I’m not sure that normal will ever again be a possibility. Never again will I be able to go to town and not wonder who is watching me, never again will I drive home with headlights in my rear view mirror so they can see where I live, and never again will I look at the woods the same.  The safety of home has been lost.

I wanted to share this experience with you ladies because how many of us as women have experienced similar situations, if it’s not a dangerous stalker “admirer”, perhaps it’s the unwanted attention of a man who won’t get the hint that we’re not interested or won’t take no for an answer.  It can be scary, and sometimes the fear can consume us, fear that’s only exacerbated by law enforcement that say they can do nothing to really protect us (until something bad happens).

So what do we do? How do we deal with the aftermath of such a traumatic experience, the fear and insecurity in your own home, the paranoia of wondering if we’re being watched or followed.  The unfortunate truth is that there’s not much we can do. We can call police who can usually only file a report and step up patrols and give us a piece of paper that does nothing to protect us, but 1 in 6 women have experienced stalking in their lifetime so know that you’re not alone, and even more importantly it’s not your fault. Reach out to your sisters, your family, your community. Seek the advice of professionals in domestic violence shelters. If you google “stalking help” you can find a variety of resources, like the 24/7 Crime Victims Hotline at 1-866-689-help (4357), or the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-621-hope (4673), or the Rape and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-212-227-3000, and finally, seek a professional therapist.

But these phone numbers are only someone to talk to, perhaps they can connect us with police who can give us paper or maybe direct us to other resources, but they can only advise us and document our trauma, they can’t physically help us from the other side of the phone.  So what do we do to feel safe again and take our lives back?  Retreating and isolating ourselves in our home is not the answer, neither is moving away the right thing to do. Personally I refuse to be chased away from my own home, my land that I own and have long worked to develop, the home where I raised my children and have past pets buried in the backyard.  No, leaving is definitely not an option for me, this is where I take my stand, from here I will fight back.  I will do what must be done to defend myself, my girlfriend and her children, my pets, and my home.

How we do this gets personal, everyone has differing viewpoints and beliefs about this, and there’s no right way to do it that someone won’t disagree with.  Some women choose to take self-defense classes and have determined to fight back by physical means. Some women buy mace or tasers to stun an attacker’s assault long enough to get away. Some women buy expensive home security systems and for some none of these options are enough, for some women only a firearm can provide the safety and peace of mind they need to sleep at night or leave the house feeling secure about their safety.

The right option, or combination of options, is for each woman to choose for themselves. Women may face ire for the decisions they make to protect themselves but we should try to hold our judgements to ourselves. This is a very personal decision that every woman should have the right to choose. Personally, I bought a home security camera system, and though I hate guns, I own one and have for years for home defense though it’s been packed in the top of the closet for many years. But after my stalker watching me for weeks, threatening my family, my pets, and my home I dug it back out. I ask that you don’t judge me, but I WILL protect myself and my home, I WILL NOT run and hide and isolate myself from the world. I REFUSE to live in fear.  What would you do?  This is a decision that only you can make, and I don’t care what choices you make as long as you’re not living in terror, this is not an option, that’s no way to live, don’t give your attacker the rest of your life, they don’t deserve to dominate your imagination and destroy your inner peace, however you choose to do it, TAKE IT BACK!!

Please feel free to comment below and share your views on this issue with me, just please be nice and respectful.

P.S.- at the writing of this blog, our dog (or perhaps I should say, the stray that my kids adopted), came back home ok, so she wasn’t killed after all

(Note from The Well Project—the blog was sent on 10.30.18, and we apologize for the delay in posting it)

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Lovinglife101's picture

Katie,

Reading your words brought me back to almost 16 years ago when I had a similar experience.  As I sit here typing this, tears are running down my face.  I haven't been feeling well the past week and I think I am exhausted and re-feeling the fear I once went through is overwhelming.  And know you are facing this breaks my heart.

Unlike you, I knew my stalker, he was my neighbor and I thought a friend.  We lived in the same condominium complex.  I lived on one side of the complex and he lived on the other.  We were just friends.  I knew that he had some mental health concerns but I did not fear him and I thought he was pretty harmless.  He would stop by on a weekly basis and I would let him walk my dogs.  Sometimes I was just too tired to walk them myself.  The friendship continued for about a year until his behavior started to change.  He started acting erratically and then I found out he had been arrested for physically hurting someone at the Burger King not far from us.  So the next time he came over to walk the dogs, I told him I had just walked them and that I was very busy with my school work.  He got very angry and I asked him to leave. 

This is when the horror began.  I won't get into all the details, they are too traumatizing to relive right now.  But I did all the things you talked about.  I called the police, they wrote a report and one of the deputies began coming to my home on a regular basis to check on me.  We knew I was being terrorized but we had no proof, there was nothing we could do. 

I took self-defense classes, as I was scared to even walk outside of my home.  The tires on my car were slashed on a weekly basis, my friend's tires were also slashed when they came to visit.  Some of my other neighbors actually witnessed things, but said they were too scared to come forward and "they didn't want to get involved". 

One of the deputies told me "to move because this kind of harassment doesn't stop".  I wasn't moving, this was my home, so I took self-defense classes, purchased a stun gun, and bought a home security system with a video, which finally caught him in the act.  I had four big Sherriff's Deputies in my home viewing the video and they were so excited that we finally had proof.  I was so relieved that I could finally officially press charges.

However, the nightmare didn't stop there.  Applying for and getting a restraining order was difficult and took longer than it should have.  Going into a courtroom with the stalker right there was nerve-racking and I was an emotional disaster.  It took about six months before he was finally banned from the property.  He had been living in his mother's condo and she was forced to sell.  I can still see his face and the thought of his name still brings chills down my spine.

I am so sorry you are going through this and hope you are able to free yourself from this situation.  Please take care of yourself and your family.  I love you!!

Vickie

 

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Thank you both for sharing

kmartel's picture

Reading Katie's blog and hearing what she has been going through has been so scary. I'm sorry, Vickie, you went something similar, but thank you for sharing. It is truly unbelievable what women go through, and have so little resources to protect ourselves. Sending much love to you both. <3 

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I love you

Lovinglife101's picture

Katie,

Reading your words brought me back to almost 16 years ago when I had a similar experience.  As I sit here typing this, tears are running down my face.  I haven't been feeling well the past week and I think I am exhausted and re-feeling the fear I once went through is overwhelming.  And knowing you are facing this breaks my heart.

Unlike you, I knew my stalker, he was my neighbor and I thought a friend.  We lived in the same condominium complex.  I lived on one side of the complex and he lived on the other.  We were just friends.  I knew that he had some mental health concerns but I did not fear him and I thought he was pretty harmless.  He would stop by on a weekly basis and I would let him walk my dogs.  Sometimes I was just too tired to walk them myself.  The friendship continued for about a year until his behavior started to change.  He started acting erratically and then I found out he had been arrested for physically hurting someone at the Burger King not far from us.  So the next time he came over to walk the dogs, I told him I had just walked them and that I was very busy with my school work.  He got very angry and I asked him to leave. 

This is when the horror began.  I won't get into all the details, they are too traumatizing to relive right now.  But I did all the things you talked about.  I called the police, they wrote a report and one of the deputies began coming to my home on a regular basis to check on me.  We knew I was being terrorized but we had no proof, there was nothing we could do. 

I took self-defense classes, as I was scared to even walk outside of my home.  The tires on my car were slashed on a weekly basis, my friend's tires were also slashed when they came to visit.  Some of my other neighbors actually witnessed things, but said they were too scared to come forward and "they didn't want to get involved". 

One of the deputies told me "to move because this kind of harassment doesn't stop".  I wasn't moving, this was my home, so I took self-defense classes, purchased a stun gun, and bought a home security system with a video, which finally caught him in the act.  I had four big Sherriff's Deputies in my home viewing the video and they were so excited that we finally had proof.  I was so relieved that I could finally officially press charges.

However, the nightmare didn't stop there.  Applying for and getting a restraining order was difficult and took longer than it should have.  Going into a courtroom with the stalker right there was nerve-racking and I was an emotional disaster.  It took about six months before he was finally banned from the property.  He had been living in his mother's condo and she was forced to sell.  I can still see his face and the thought of his name still brings chills down my spine.

I am so sorry you are going through this and hope you are able to free yourself from this situation.  Please take care of yourself and your family.  I love you!!

Vickie

 

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