Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I was surprised to read on the BBC News website today that more than 1 in 10 people experience being stalked. This statistic comes from studies in the US, the UK, Australia and Germany. I would not have expected the number to be quite so high.

I was not at all surprised, however, by some of the other things the article said:
· 90% of victims are female;
· over two-thirds are stalked by a previous boyfriend/husband/partner;
· the most common stalking occurrences are nuisance telephone calls and the stalker loitering outside the victim’s home;
· many victims suffer from anxiety, depression and sleep deprivation; and
· one-third of victims continue to experience emotional distress one year after the stalking has ended.

The article was like a checklist for me. My ex-husband stalked me for about 6 months when I left him. He came to my work, he waited outside my house, he called me on the phone, he rang my doorbell, he went to all of my regular hang-outs, he followed me. I was always anxious, always worried that he was going to turn up wherever I was, and when he did, the feelings of frustration and helplessness were overwhelming.

I never felt physically threatened and I never called the police. I was too charitable towards him – maybe out of guilt for having left him, and I assumed he would get over it sooner or later. I did everything wrong.

From the BBC - Professor David Canter, from the Centre for Investigative Psychology at Liverpool University, advised: "It is essential that the victim does not respond to, react to or acknowledge the stalker in any way, and this must be maintained at all times.”

Of course I talked to him. I tried to reason with him, I yelled and screamed at him. I was simply incapable of ignoring someone who was driving me crazy.

One night he followed me to a birthday party and yelled at me and made a huge scene. My friends wouldn’t let me go home that night.

One night he followed me home from the pub where I moonlighted as a barmaid. I phoned some friends at the bar who just happened to be US Marines, and they came over and chased him away. He came back after they left.

One night he was outside my flat and calling me on the phone. I took my house phone off the hook. He called my mobile; I turned it off. He started ringing my doorbell; I pulled the wires out of the wall. He began throwing rocks at my window. I finally decided I had to ignore it and I went to sleep.

The scariest thing was when he had not stalked me for over a month, our divorce had gone through and I was certain it was all over, when suddenly he turned up again. All the anxiety came back and I feared it would go on forever.

It is very strange to remember now how much I hated him then. Being stalked was just the most totally fucked up thing.

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