Being Stalked: A Firsthand Perspective
Stalking, no one really thinks it will happen to them, I certainly didn’t. Even when it was first happening, I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t stalking, that he just a very persistent suitor who wouldn’t take "no," for an answer. This rationalization only lasted for so long. Eventually I had to face the fact that I was in fact being stalked and needed help.
How It Began
When I was in my early twenties I joined the military reserves. My father was ex-military and encouraged me to do so even though I didn't think it would be for me. I enlisted reluctantly and was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it and met a lot of great people. And it didn't hurt that the ratio of women to men was something ridiculous like 1:10.
When we were first training, the days were gruelling, both mentally and physically. Looking back I now realize it was one of the hardest things I have ever been through in my life. Going through something like that really bonds you with the people you do it with and builds intense relationships. Needless to say there were some very close connections made and a lot of flirtations going on.
It was from one of those harmless flirtations that my stalking nightmare began.
We had come to the end of a challenging week long wilderness course and had decided to celebrate with a few drinks at our favourite watering hole. The alcohol was flowing freely and I was having a great time.
As I stood at the bar waiting to order the next round for my table, a senior ranking officer, who had been an instructor on the course, came over and struck up a conversation with me. This wasn't all that unusual, but there was a rather large age gap between us and I doubted we would have much in common. Still I was happy to chat with him and found him attractive despite our age difference.
It turned out we had quite a lot to talk about as he grew up in the city I was attending University in and ended up spending the rest of the evening chatting. Before i knew it it was closing time and I was feeling more then a little tipsy. So when the Captain asked me to go back to his place it seemed like a good idea, even though this kind of fraternization was frowned upon. We spent the night together.
I woke up the next morning and quickly left to get to my own barracks thinking it had been a pleasant evening, but not one I'd like to repeat, a true one night stand. I didn't want to see him again which I thought wouldn't be a problem because everyone was shipping off to their various postings the next day.
Not Who He Said He Was
I was one of the few people who would be staying on at the base where we had done our training and had the luxury of a few days of leisure time before things kicked off again. The majority of the people on course with me had been sent to other bases, including the officer that I'd had my one night stand with. I had to admit I was relieved. As much as I had enjoyed our evening together, I wasn't looking for anything serious and certainly not with someone so much older then I was.
I had also found out some troubling information about him from someone who knew him far better then I did. Apparently he was living with a woman and they were engaged. Not something he had mentioned to me during our night together. I had no interest in being the "other woman." Finding this information out confirmed that he was a man I definitely did not want to get involved with and I was deeply regretting our night together.
An Indecent Proposal
A few days had passed and I was trying hard to put the unfortunate dalliance with the Captain behind me by preparing for my new posting.
I was doing laundry in our barracks when one of my girlfriends came to get me and told e the military police were waiting for me at the door. I was terrified, what on earth did they want with me?
When I went to speak with them they informed that there was an urgent phone call for me at their office and I needed to join them. I did as they asked and headed to their office. At the time my father was suffering from a heart condition and I was beside myself with worry thinking it was bad news about him. But he was fine, it was another kind of bad news.
It was the Captain. He had contacted me this way because he didn't know how else to get hold of me and couldn't stop thinking of our night together. He was desperate to see me again he told me. Then he proceeded to tell me in great detail how he had rented a hotel room for us for an entire weekend and exactly what his plans for me were. I was instantly repelled and asked him what his fiancé would think of this plan?
He didn't miss a beat and explained that things between them had not been good for a very long time and that he planned on breaking things off with her. I hung up on him and hoped that would be the end of it. I was very wrong. It was at this point that the stalking began.
A Persistent Man
Some might describe what he did next as being persistent rather then stalking, but looking back I can now see his behaviour had all the classic signs of a stalker.
After the phone call I abruptly ended, he sent me flowers and an apologetic note. While all my friends "oohed and ahhed," at the attention I was getting, I was growing more and more uncomfortable. I just wanted this man to leave me alone.
But he refused to give up, he called repeatedly and continued to send me flowers and letters explaining how he had called things off with his fiance and how he was looking for a new place to live. I had never received so much attention from a man in my entire life and was starting to think that I should at least hear him out on the phone. A big mistake.
So the next time he called I answered. And far from showing the signs of being a scary stalker, he was gentlemanly and apologetic, which I now see was a clever disguise. He convinced me that he just wanted to apologize to me in person and pursue a friendship, nothing romantic. Foolishly I agreed.
But We Have a Connection...
We agreed to meet the next weekend and spend the afternoon together. He would come and pick me up. The drive from his base to mine was several hours and I was flattered that he was willing to drive all that way just to see me.
Alarm bells went off almost instantly when I saw him. It was clear by how he greeted me that he had much more then friendship in mind. But rather then listening to my gut I got into his car and went to our planned destination. I foolishly thought I would be able to reason with him and end things on a positive note. There was a part of me that felt like I was responsible for what was happening because I had slept with him and somehow led him on.
It didn't take long for me to realize he wasn't interested in what I had to say. He had his own agenda. He explained that a connection like ours was a once in a lifetime occurrence and that I was just too young to understand what was happening between us. When I bluntly told him I wasn't interested in him and didn't want to see him again he responded by telling me that I didn't know what I wanted.
Surprisingly he returned me to the base when I asked him to, but I knew things were far from over between us. So I took immediate action and went directly to the military police to make it clear I did not want to be contacted by the Captain under any circumstances. Thankfully they took my concerns seriously and I did not receive another phone call from him while I completed the rest of my two month posting. I did receive several letters from him that I threw out unopened. In retrospect I should have opened them and kept them in the event I needed to go to the police. At the time I just wanted to have nothing to do with him and was embarrassed thinking I had brought this on myself by sleeping with someone I didn't know very well. I was reluctant to tell anyone about it, and did not mention it at all to my family. Another big mistake on my part.
Calm Before the Storm
I completed my posting without any further contact from the Captain and prepared to head back to school for the fall term. It had been a difficult summer, but I thought the worst was behind me. I chalked the entire experience up to a hard life lesson and vowed to never have a one night stand again.
The first month of school had me very busy and living in apartment in the city for the first time. Prior to that I had lived in residence on the University campus. It was an exciting time for me and I was enjoying my independence.
But that enjoyment was short lived after a a call from my father. He was quite excited to tell me that a "buddy," of mine from the reserves had called him looking for my number and address so he could connect with me when he came to town. My dad had happily given it to him, clearly thrilled that I knew a Captain. I was speechless.
Had I been upfront with my difficulties over the summer, he would have never given out these details. Now this man knew how to find me. And still I told him nothing about the situation believing that I had brought it on myself by my initial lack of judgement.
And so I waited in fear, dreading the inevitable.
Hey Kitty Cat
I didn't have to wait long. Two days after my dad told me that he had given out my contact details, my roommate gave me what she thought was an innocuous message from an old friend.
"Hey Kitty Cat, I'm in town for a few days and thought we could catch up. Call me."
I broke into a cold sweat hearing that appalling pet name he had decided on for me. I was paralyzed with fear. Unable to hide my feelings anymore I confided in my roommate who in turn let her rather large boyfriend know of the situation and we hatched a plan.
It was a ridiculously simple and completely ineffective plan. I wouldn't answer his calls, her boyfriend would start sleeping over all the time and answering the door and I would just ignore him until he got the hint. A horrible plan I know, but that's what happens when a bunch of young twenty somethings think they can handle something this serious.
After several days of multiple phone calls, the Captain arrived at my door and was none to pleased to be greeted by my roommate's boyfriend or his suggestion to "just leave her alone dude." So he altered his plan of attack.
The Captain laid for a few days and stopped contacting me, making me hopeful it was finally over. But about a week later he cornered me at school and promised me that if I would just have coffee with him and hear him out this one time he would leave me alone for good. Like a complete idiot I said "yes," thinking I could reason with him and put an end to this harassment once and for all. I still felt like this unwanted attention was my fault and didn't want to have to admit to my parents or the authorities that I had slept with this man.
So we agreed to meet after my class and I heard him out. For two non-stop hours I heard him out and continually rebuffed him as he reached for my hands and tried to touch my face. There would be no reasoning, there would be no anything with this lunatic.
As we sat at the cafe, I started to question whether he would actually let me go and began to get very scared. The only thing I could think of to do was say I was going to the bathroom, make a run for and hope to find a pay phone to call my roommate for help. This was before the age of cell phones so my options were limited.
Again, I should have spoken to someone who worked at the restaurant and told them I needed help, but a feeling of shame prevented me from doing so. My pervading thought throughout this entire ordeal was that I had somehow brought this on myself.
So I left and jumped into the first cab I saw and headed home, shaking with fear the entire way. When I got there both my roommate and boyfriend were there and could see that from my demeanour that he was back.
In less then an hour he was back at my door insisting he talk to me. I was so scared, I actually hid in my bedroom under my blankets like a little girl.
Tired of the situation my roommate's boyfriend decided to take matters into his own rather large hands and had a word with the Captain outside.
To this day I am not sure what happened between them and I don't want to know. The end result is that I never heard from him again.
I wish I could say that that was the end of it, but the experience had a lasting traumatic impact. Although I never saw him again, I lived in fear for the next year and ended up failing a number of courses at school and moving back home. The stress of the situation was more then I could bare.
When I returned home I told my family nothing of what had happened to me and retreated into myself for several months. I was depressed and scared and unwillingly to get the help I needed.
After several months I was able to return to school and finally sought out counselling to help me deal with my feelings of guilt and shame over what had happened to me. It was a long road back to mental health, but one I could have only found with the help of a professional.
As a result of being stalked, my relationships with men were heavily impacted and I did not date for several years as I was unable to trust people's intentions. Luckily, seven years later I met my wonderful husband who was able to break down my walls of fear and sadness and help me to trust again. Healing is possible.
If You Think You Are Being Stalked
- trust your gut, you are not overreacting
- it is not your fault, you did not cause this to happen
- tell someone immediately, family and friends, a counsellor or teacher, employer
- avoid going places alone if possible
- change your patterns, walk a different route, go different places
- change your phone number and locks
- record all contact between you and the person you think is stalking you in the event you have to got to the police
- get the police involved the second you fear for your safety
- get counselling to deal with the emotional impact