I want to touch on something today that is very seldom talked about...stalking. Unfortunately, many of us will have to deal with a stalker in some way or another at some point in their lives. It may be an ex-boyfriend or acquaintance...or, it may be the spouse of your ex. It may be someone you work with, someone you were friends with or someone you simply said 'hello' to at the supermarket. It can be someone who wants to be with you or someone who is purposely setting out to play "mind games" with you. Regardless of who, or how, it is a very frightening experience; at its worst, it can be dangerous and deadly.
We've all heard the jokes, read the funny cards and heard it referred to as "intense research". I can tell you this, if you've ever been a victim of stalking, it's very real and absolutely not funny. It's not a compliment, it's a nightmare.
Let me share with you my story.
When I was in college, I started dating a boy. Not long into the relationship, I started noticing a few "red flags". Then came the story of his ex-girlfriend. He told me of how she broke up with him and it infuriated him. So he waited until she left her house, went in and put a pan of grease on her stove and turned the burner on high. Essentially, he burnt her house down. Was this story true? I have no idea. Was it meant to scare me? Absolutely. And it worked.
As the relationship went on, It turned abusive mentally and physically. At one point, he even told me he wanted to shoot my mom because she didn't agree with our relationship. Just one more way for him to add fear and keep me under his thumb.
One day, while sitting in class chatting with my friends, I finally got up the courage to end it. With help from my friends, we devised a plan. He lived a half-hour from me. So, I knew if I did it over the phone it would take him at least a half hour to get there. If I packed my bag ahead of time, I could leave as soon as we hung up. That would give me time to get in my car and drive to a friends house.
I was scared to death, my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest, but I picked up the phone to make that call.
As soon as I said the words "I want to break up", he was instantly furious; screaming, swearing and breaking things. In the background his mom started yelling to me to run, he was on his way to my house. With that, I hung up the phone and ran out the door. I drove to a friends house an hour away. I will never forget that drive and the fear I felt the entire time.
The next morning, as I pulled into college my heart dropped. He was standing there waiting for me. He had spent the entire night walking the 40 miles to my school. I had some super amazing friends that surrounded me and walked me in to my class. As class started, I looked out the door and there he stood, glaring at me. He stood there through that class, and the next two. Finally, my amazing mama came to the school and put the run on him.
I wish I could say it ended there.
Three days later he was admitted to the mental home by his parents. When he got out, the stalking began. I was followed all over, I had rocks spun all over my car, I was chased and nearly run off the road and I cannot count the phone calls I received. At one point he stopped at my house and recounted my entire previous weekend.
I will never forget the day I was home alone and he pulled in. Thankfully I already had all the doors locked. I hid under my bed and called my friend as he pounded on the door. I told her what he was doing, saying and driving so if anything DID happen to me, someone would know. The fear was so real, just thinking of it can take me back to that day.
A few months later I started dating my husband. He told me about a night, before we met, where he had actually spoken to the stalker. He noticed that in the stalkers car, he had a ton of pictures of me taped to his dash. When he asked him about it, my stalker told him it was his girlfriend. He then pulled a gun out from under his seat and showed him. He said that if he ever found her with another guy he was going to shoot the guy, shoot her and then shoot himself. Praise the Lord that never happened.
If you have taken the time to read my story, you can see stalking is very real...very scary...and very dangerous. It's not cute or funny. It's not something to be done to just "pass the time" or to get back at someone.
With technology, stalking has taken a different form. Now it's called cyberstalking. Cyberstalking uses the internet to harass a person. This can be through false accusations, fake facebook profiles, anonymous blog comments, identity theft, random emails, encouraging others to harass the victim and gathering information that may be used to harass. Online stalking, as with offline, is all about wanting to control someone.
But thankfully now, also with technology, it's easy to trace online stalkers. For example, on this blog I have hidden trackers. So the people that comment and think it's anonymous, I know exactly who you are. I have your IP address, your location, your computer make and model and even what system you're browsing on. That makes it pretty hard to dispute it was you. And it also holds up pretty well in court. Stalking is a crime. Period.
Just FYI, in the state of Pennsylvania, cyberstalking is a crime. If you care to read the harassment law, HERE it is. As you can see, Section 2709 A.5 says communicates repeatedly in an anonymous manner. Would that include anonymous blog comments? Repeated fake facebook friend requests? As the police told me, absolutely.
The difference between me then, as a scared to death teenager, and now is I know fear only gives the stalker power. Which I refuse to do. What I have done is continued to pray for them, their situation and their heart. I took the power from them and gave it to God. Oh, how I wish I had done this during my teenage stalking times.
If the current stalker is reading this, which I'm sure they are, I want you to know one thing...God loves you. He always has and He always will. Regardless of your mistakes. He still is passionately pursuing your heart. He wants to take you, wrap you in your hurt situation, and bring you to Him. This life is so so so so hard without Him by our side. Allow Him in. And know daily that I'm still praying for you.