I sat, lonely and bored, in the stadium bleachers. It was around 50 degrees out, but my military band uniform made it feel like 100. I was never a fan of football, preferring to spend my time reading or gaming. I noticed the guy next to me playing a game on his smart phone, and, desperate to pass the agonizingly long minutes to halftime, I peered over his shoulder to watch.
Later, I would realize that this moment was the spark that set ablaze two years of hell.
At some point, he had noticed me watching, and we started talking about our favorite games. He seemed impressed with me; I was just excited to meet someone who liked older RPGs.
The next week, he joined me sitting on the rails outside of the band hall as I waited for my mom to pick me up. He asked about my taste in music, and it turned out we both liked metal. He told me that he was the guitarist in his own small band and that if I gave him my email address, he would send me their work in progress.
I thought it was cute, so we exchanged emails.
At the next football game, Marc* asked me out, but I had a crush on my best friend, on top of the fact that I barely knew him. I decided to go with the truth.
"It's fine," he said. And for a few minutes, it was. But then shit got real.
Marc complained of lightheadedness and nausea. I asked if he was OK or needed help.
"I need you!" he pleaded, "I love you!"
Taken by surprise and confused as hell, I said I would think about it over the weekend. On Saturday afternoon, I logged into my email to talk to my friends (none of us had phones) only to find my inbox full of messages from Marc threatening to kill himself if I didn't date him. He was online, so I shot him an IM to make sure he was OK.
"No, I'm not," he replied, followed by a host of dramatic tales, from how a previous girlfriend killed herself and died in his arms to how his father died when he was young and his mother abused him. He accompanied each of his stories with a corresponding Mayday Parade song.
When we returned to school, Marc started following me everywhere, skipping classes to spy on me at lunch, checking with my coaches to see what days I was staying after. He asked me several times a day if I had decided yet.
The few friends that I had thought he was a dick and weirdo, rolling their eyes at me and leaving whenever he came along. I wanted so badly to tell him to go away, but I was scared to be rude or that he might become suicidal, which I believed would be my fault. So I continued to entertain him.
Finally, my best friend and I started a relationship, and I had an excuse. But telling Marc about us only made things worse. The emails started getting more desperate and aggressive.
One night, he actively threatened me, only to claim later that it was his ex who had hacked his account out of jealousy. At school, he handed me several plastic folders overstuffed with what must have been a thousand printed poems. Many of the ones I read alluded to murder and suicide.
He began to spread rumors about us, and I lost almost all of my friends because they thought I was a cheater. When I finally got a phone, he befriended my sister's boyfriend and stole my number off his phone. Pictures I hadn't taken circulated the school, and every day for a month I had guys asking me about hooking up.
By this time, I was just barely there, distracted in my classes, feeling nothing but dread and fear. How far would he go to destroy my life? Should I just surrender and be with him? Would that make it end?
Then, one day after school he grabbed my wrist and led me to his car.
"What is it?" I asked impatiently.
Marc flicked open a case. Inside lay a pistol.
"It's loaded," he said, opening it for me to see. "Come home with me so you can end my life... end my pain."
All I could think in that moment was GET THE FUCK AWAY.
I sprinted through the parking lot, too scared to look back. When I made it to the safety of the bus, I thought to myself that I had to tell someone, but who? All my friends had been turned against me, my experience with teachers taught me they either wouldn't believe me or wouldn't care, and I couldn't tell my parents for other reasons. There was nowhere for me to turn. I was alone.
I didn't go back to school for I don't remember how long. Instead, I would drink a cup of milk every morning to start an allergic reaction so I could stay home "sick."
I lay in bed all day, wondering when I would go back, how I could go back, and then begging myself for just one more day.
Marc's lies got more and more bizarre, claiming he could talk to demons, that he was in the Russian military, that he had gotten engaged, to name a few. He sent me creepy messages saying things like "I wonder what it would be like to fuck you. To fuck a skeleton," which I was never sure was a jab at how skinny I was, or a threat.
I was always scared he would show up at my house in the middle of the night. I had trouble sleeping for a long time. He had made school awful, and I dropped out in the middle of my sophomore year due to illness and other issues, including him.
After my boyfriend and I broke up, Marc constantly reminded me that I "owed" him a relationship because I "promised" (I didn't). But he talked to me less over time. I thought it was completely over, as he hadn't contacted me since almost three years after telling me about how his "fiancée" and their twin babies died in a car wreck.
Recently, though, I received an email through a newer account that he had added me on Google+. I'm worried he might try to make a comeback. But this time, I'm ready. I will record every tiny shred of evidence to turn in to the police if it comes to it.
Stories like mine are all too common. We are forced into fear and silence, often alienated from others who think we are just looking for attention, or those who think we deserve it. Sexual harassment, stalking, assault, and domestic violence are destroying lives, but no matter how loud I've cried, I've feel helpless in stopping it. The first step is believing women and girls.