I’m a normal person. I’m a professional woman that busts her ass to take care of her family. I help with homework, plant flowers and believe a family meal at the end of each day really does make a difference. I blend in, am usually cheery and am known for biting sarcasm that makes people laugh. In other words, if you don’t really know me, you’d never know what I’ve gone through for years.
“Jay” and I split years ago, 4 years, to be exact. He is the father of my kids. Our last several months together were frightening. He had fully embraced an alcohol and drug problem, had documented psychotic episodes and had no interest in getting help.
The stable guy was gone for good and I had no choice but to get the kids and me to safety. Jay called, harassed, and threatened the animals I had left behind -- until finally a restraining order was issued, instructing him to have no contact with me or the children. If he wanted visitation, he would have to request it through the court system, and to this day he never has.
Within a few weeks, he was seen on my property. I would wake in the morning to find my porch lights unscrewed, a literal trail of cigarette butts down the sidewalk and left beneath each downstairs window.
One morning, I took my kids to school and in the 20 minutes that I was gone he broke in and shaved in my bathroom sink. My sister figured out that one of my big dining room windows was off its track and that had to be the point of entry. By this time I had been directed to document everything, photographs, write down times, etc.
Then the phone calls started. He blocked the number, but I knew it was him. My home phone would ring until voicemail picked up and then immediately after, my cell would start. He would flip-flop between phones for an hour at a time until I finally changed numbers.
Six weeks after the restraining order was issued, we took Jay to court on contempt charges for violating it. We got the “wrong” (as in easy) judge and Jay was found guilty on 3 counts and given 6 months probation. I foolishly walked out of the courthouse that day thinking I had won the battle. Little did I know it hadn’t even begun yet.
I felt unsafe in my home and knew that I needed to move. We lucked out and found a great house in a better neighborhood, big yard, just perfect. I really believed things were about to turn around for us, and for a few months we had peace.
Jay first popped up about halfway through his probation. I was taking the garbage out on a Sunday night. It was bitter cold and about 2 inches of snow on the ground was half frozen. I heard crunching footsteps behind me and hustled back up my yard. When I got to the porch, he was standing beside my trash cans. It was dark, but not dark enough to mask the figure that I had spent a decade of my life with. He had found us.
By now it had turned into a District Attorney case and a detective was assigned. Jay was getting closer. He would leave things on my front porch like baby photo albums. Or he would simply fuck with my head. Where is my front porch furniture? Oh look, it’s on my back porch!
I’d find metal snow shovels beneath windows and flowers ripped out and left in my garbage can. My doorbell would ring at 2 am with no one there. I would walk around the house every morning, checking for his handiwork. I finally noticed a dining room window looked off. Someone had tried to pry it open and left behind full fingerprints.
By now there were warrants out for his arrest, but they couldn’t catch him. I was a ball of stress, my kids were on edge and I felt like no one was doing anything to help me. Finally a break came. The day his probation was up, he went to turn in his ankle bracelet, thinking he was free. Instead, he was arrested on the spot. Back to court we went, and he was sentenced to a year in jail with 6 months probation upon release.
A year. I had a year to live and breathe and just be normal.
In that year, I again changed everything. We moved, I switched jobs, changed my normal patterns. When he was released I didn’t want him to really know me any more. I couldn’t be predictable to him. I went to sign up for an online credit reporting site and found that I already had an account! I had never registered, but someone else had used my social security number to create an account. That's how he tracked me!
I fought tooth and nail with this company and they refused to delete the bogus account. In their minds, they were protecting ME and my credit. They wouldn’t delete it without the police filing charges against Jay. Police couldn’t file charges without his computer to prove it was him who stole my identity! To this day, that account still exists.
Jay was eventually released, and within three months there were warrants out for his arrest. In jail, he learned how to operate in stealth mode while stalking. He started having people call my family. He found out who I was friends with and infiltrated the group. One weak link handed him info about my whereabouts and it was downhill from there.
He harassed boyfriends. He posted Facebook statuses threatening to come and grab his kids. He left a dead squirrel on my doorstep. Anything to let me know that he was around and if it made me look crazy, even better. He wore this horrible cologne that smelled like old lady perfume. I would walk out my back door and get hit with that smell. He literally sprayed it on my house. Even my kids recognized it without me saying a word. I felt truly trapped.
The detectives couldn’t find him but he was obviously right under their noses. The District Attorney’s office was heavily involved and they installed a security system in my home. Basically, they felt they were failing me, so they took other steps to try and ensure our safety.
They had several detectives going through a year of Jay’s phone records, tying him to all sorts of incidents that I’d reported.
Late last summer, I woke from a dead sleep to a cracking sound. I thought the cats had knocked stuff down and I sleep-walked downstairs holding my Mace and my security system panic button. (I had perfected sleeping holding both).
I noticed the cat staring at my living room picture window and it looked strange to me. There was a huge hole in my window and I was kneeling on a couch full of glass. The police came and documented everything, took pictures and directed me on what to do in the morning. I spent two hours vacuuming glass.
I spent the next three months sleeping downstairs because I didn’t want to get trapped in my house if he came in. I slept sitting up away from windows, in case he broke another one. I directed my kids on what to do if something happened. They knew if they woke to anything scary to lock their door and call 911.
I spent 3 months as a zombie, going through the motions by day and putting on a decent show. If you didn’t know what was happening to me, you certainly wouldn’t have guessed on your own. I was pretty sure I was going to die every night but by day, I had to make money and dinner. I had to have play dates and act normal.
Finally, three months after the window incident, Jay was captured. How long he’ll actually spend in jail this time is anybody’s guess. Felony stalking charges are still being meticulously pieced together. He was found guilty of enough other things that we have time to make sure the case against him sticks.
Again, I moved my family. I also legally have changed my name and my social security number. I have done whatever I can to make it harder for him to stalk me.
According to law enforcement, I have done everything right. I documented EVERYthing. I called the police even about the stupid things because you HAVE to establish a pattern. Having your house sprayed with shitty perfume sounds crazy, but in the grand scheme of things it is one more piece to a very big puzzle. It takes a long time to show the pattern of a stalker.
Most of us just assume you call the police and charges are filed. But it is never that simple.
Even your friends and family get sick of hearing about it. There comes a point in time where a normal person thinks, “God if it’s that bad, they’d do something wouldn’t they?” You end up defending yourself and your sanity to the people you’re relying on for support.
You can’t trust anyone because people talk. I never knew who would sit down beside Jay at a bar. It could be my neighbor, an old friend from high school or even the guy I was dating! I learned quickly to keep my mouth shut. To say being stalked is an isolating experience would be an understatement. You can’t trust a boyfriend/girlfriend, your family questions your honesty, your friends start to pull away because of the drama and you certainly won’t bring new people into the chaos that your life has become.
I am not unique. Three million people this year will experience their own version of what I went through. Three million people will go to bed scared for the safety of themselves and their families. Three million people will feel re-victimized by those closest to them that really don’t have a clue of what they are going through.
Three million is a staggering number. If it’s not you, it’ll be a friend or family member. If it’s not you, it’s your neighbor. If it’s not you, it’s a co-worker. If it’s not you, then please educate yourself so that you can love and support whoever that person may be.