“You know how there are certain moments that change everything forever? At the time, they seem simple, minor, unnoticeable. But they are not; it is only months, years, or even weeks later that we begin to blame those moments. For me, it was something as simple as accepting an invitation to a party. The party itself was nothing spectacular, but it was a spark with a flame that would burn everything.
“We became friends, inseparable. At times, we stayed up until 4:00 in the morning talking about everything, yet nothing. I was in love. I loved myself when I was around her. I loved having someone to talk to. I loved her.
“And then, I fell out of love. Instead of sharing laughter and lightness and fun she shared her depression and cigarettes and alcoholism with me. I believed I could ‘cure’ her, but I was completely out of my league. Ultimately, my good intentions produced the most disastrous results. Together we had created a monster.
“In the end, she was the one who broke up with me. I was shocked, torn inside out; yet filled with a kind of euphoria, which was quickly followed by fear. While our break-up was inevitable, she would not let me go. I began picturing myself, a lost swimmer drowning in the ocean. Every time my head was above water, she would reach out and pull me under. Contacting me through Facebook, texts, and email, she was determined to find me just as I was determined to abandon her.
“Sometimes at night I would wake up, sweating, believing that there was a figure outside my window, sometimes real, sometimes imagined—but always her. Then one day, she followed me home from work and waited for one of my housemates to let her inside. They did, accidentally. She then stood outside my door knocking for what felt like hours. That was the moment when something clicked. I filed a restraining order.
“Who knew what she was capable of? Anything, probably. To this day, I still see her, in random strangers and passersby. I take precautions and vary my routine.”
Since January is Stalking Awareness Month, this is an opportune time to discuss the facts. According to the Stalking Resource Center, approximately 7.5 million people are stalked in one year in the United States; that is larger than the population of Los Angeles and Chicago combined. Interestingly, most stalkers choose to stalk someone they know and will contact their target at least once per week (Stalking Resource Center). For some people, it seems like their nightmare will never end, approximately 11 percent of stalking victims are stalked for 5 years or more (Stalking Resource Center).
Stalking is illegal in all 50 states and U.S. Territories. If you or someone you know has been affected by stalking, Turning Points Network is here to help you at 1-800-639-3130.
OUR TURN is a public service series by Turning Points Network (TPN) serving all of Sullivan County with offices in Claremont and Newport. We provide wraparound supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking and we present violence-prevention education programs in our schools. For more than 40 years, TPN has helped people of all ages move from the darkness of abuse toward the light of respect, healing and hope. For information contact 1.800.639.3130 or www.turningpointsnetwork.org or find us on Facebook.