I didn’t know whether to write this post. I’m still not sure I want to, but I think that I should, for my own sanity, and also because if it helps one other person, then I’m happy. This is something I’ve not really spoken to anyone about, outside of the Police, my bosses, close friends and family. As it’s the subject of an ongoing police investigation, I will just use an initial instead of a name.
The use of the internet and rise in social media makes people think they can have access to you. It’s often fine, but sometimes very much unwanted.
My stalker was someone I met through a friend of a friend at university. We met once and only once, with a group of friends, and apparently I made enough of an impression for him to not leave me alone for the next 6 years.
As I said above, I met A once. (Not the A of Pretty Little Liars fame, but still awful)
It was with a group of friends at university and we all spent a maximum of 5 hours together on a day out. We had nothing in common, we would never have mixed in a normal situation and I had no interest in being friends with him. I made that very clear. After that, the Facebook messages began, the friend requests, the constant barrage of unwanted contact.
Eventually he gave up for a few months, then it would start again. Creepy messages full of information that I’d not made publicly available, fake twitter accounts sending me abusive, threatening messages for turning down his friendship, friends and family being contacted. I blocked every one… I had a police reference number at this point as I’d reported him for harassment.
To date, there are 17 Facebook accounts for A blocked, 22 Twitter accounts, 6 email addresses… The Police have now classed this as online stalking.
It was on and off until last summer, when it hit a new high. My blog email inbox was full, daily, with creepy messages, threats and abuse as well as phone numbers to call. I ignored every one, but saved screenshots of every account I’d blocked, every message I’d been sent. I now have 3GB of it. His mum eventually emailed me as he copied her in to one. I explained everything to her and told her to end it. She apologised wholeheartedly and said she didn’t realise what had been going on. It made no difference. He even contacted one of my friends from that same day out, as he was getting nowhere with contacting me. I thought about deleting my blog a number of times and just disappearing off the face of the earth, but then he’d have won.
I stopped sleeping, it made me ill, I wouldn’t post where I was going, I didn’t want to go and visit friends in Plymouth in case he was there, I was paranoid about living on my own and scared he’d turn up at my office, locking myself in daily. The only relief I found was on Kilimanjaro, where I had no phone, no emails, no access with the outside world and I could switch off. Unfortunately, the day I came down from the mountain I turned my phone on to another 27 emails.
I got the police involved . They contacted him 3 times (as he kept emailing me his phone number) and he refused to believe it was actually the police. Why would I report him?! The Police gave me the following information, which is what I would advise anyone in this situation follows.
Make No Contact
Make the point that this attention is unwanted. People harassing you want a reaction… by not giving that to them, eventually they should (but not always) get bored. If contact continues. ensure that you ignore it, and keep thorough records, chronologically with date and time listed. The Police should be the only people to make contact.
Tell Other People
Most people are reluctant to do this, but the support is needed. As well as this network, if people close to you are contacted, they know how to react/to keep the messages for the police. It also provides extra evidence in case it needs to go to court.
Increase Your Protection
Whilst all of the harassment I received was over the internet, I was so paranoid that I would keep the details of my local police station on me at all times, I have all the relevant numbers still stored in my phone, including my liaison officer, I still ignore unknown numbers (although he could not have had my phone number). Always make sure your personal social media settings are set to private.
The Police dealt with it and found out that A was actually sectioned in a hospital, and as such they couldn’t formally charge him, but they managed to contact his consultant, banned his access to a phone and the internet until such time as he is deemed well enough to be aware of his actions. If it then continues, he will be charged. If he’s released, the Police will contact me beforehand, but it’s a long way off that I think.
That was December, I’ve had nothing since. I finally sleep well again, not every night, but it’s better. I can be excited about events before I go. I can talk about my life (the public parts of it) through my blog without having to wait for emails to roll in and I can continue sharing my adventures with the world.
If you want further information on what is classed as stalking and what to do if you think you’re being stalked or harassed, visit the Suzy Lamplugh Trust Website here.