Sunday, November 14, 2010

Stalkers and Why They Suck

Since this is my resurrected writing blog and I haven’t really advertised it yet, that I’m doing this, I’d like to discuss something that makes me very uncomfortable; stalking.Yes folks, it’s a rant. I’m writing this up for two reasons, one, for the record, and two, I’m curious how you would deal with such an annoying and unwelcome situation. My desperate stalker has resurfaced and refuses to stop making attempts via email to communicate with me and to continue to suggest that “we be friends”. Some background, I dated him in the late 90s for a few months until it was evident that he was not someone I wanted to be dating, and so I stopped. That was when the stalking started. He wrote to me many times a day at first, so I had his email blocked. That’s when he started writing from different email addresses. Every time I’d block one, he’d make a new one. And then I changed my email, but he did a ‘whois’ search and discovered my new one. Every email uses my name as the subject heading. One day after deciding that I wasn’t reading his letters, since I wasn’t responding to them, he sent some 60 odd emails with the letter typed into the subject headings. At this point I contacted the police, and an officer came over and gave him a call and asked him not to bug me anymore, that I didn’t want further contact with him. The officer told me that without some kind of threat of violence in the emails, there was nothing that could really be done. It was just an annoyance and I’d have to learn to deal with it unless I got a restraining order. The officer also warned that restraining orders can have untoward effects by potentially causing him to become enraged and violent, so advised I be very careful before I decided to go that route. (Once when being interviewed as a juror for a stalking case, I was chided by a judge for not getting that restraining order. I didn’t get selected due to obvious bias against stalking…).
The officer’s call had no effect on his behavior, he continued to pursue me via email. When I got back together with a former boyfriend a few months down the line, my very alpha boyfriend wrote to him and tried to use common sense and reasoning (intermingled with a ‘she’s mine’ attitude) to get him to stop bugging me. That worked for a while, I think it helped that stalker-dude knew I was with someone else and no longer available. However, that only lasted for a year or so and after that, I have continued to get letters from him a couple of times a year every year since, and it is now 11 years. It tapered off for a while, but after I started keeping a blog, he started writing again, speaking on points he'd read about in my blog. He wrote to me last year, pleading for friendship, saying how much he missed me, etc. and you may recall that I called him out on my blog and clearly restated my boundaries in public for all the world to see. Many of you spoke to him via the comment section, and I thank you for supporting me there. He saw it, wrote me a letter saying my post was ‘creepy’ and ‘goodbye’. Since then, he wrote again a few months ago, again pleading for friendship and speaking idealistically. I didn’t answer that one. 
He wrote to me again last week, again pleading for friendship. I wrote him back this time, again restating my boundaries. He again wrote back and called me an asshole. He also stated, ‘I know more about you than you would feel comfortable discussing.’ I wrote him again and stated that since our interactions — when I choose to interact — always end up in him calling me names, why can’t he just have mercy on both of us and leave me alone forever! He wrote back and said he didn’t read my email. I left it at that, and now I’m writing this on my blog. I’ve saved all the emails since 2007 as evidence should it come to that.
The thing is, if you Google how to handle cyberstalkers, you will get a long list of how to get your information offline from every possible place. The problem is, if you have a website, your information is public via a ‘whois’ search. He knows this trick well, I learned that 11 years ago. I have a very public online persona, and I simply can’t afford to be offline as a businesswoman. The internet is a powerful marketing tool, and I want people who are interested in my art or writing to be able to find me, which means the stalker can find me, and that is really a problem. The laws about what to do about the stalkers themselves, those are horribly out of date. This Internet universe is still relatively new, and it takes a long long time for laws to be made and enforced. Especially laws that cross state lines. But no one should have to put up with this kind of harassment from anyone! And yet this kind of harassment exists, and it leaves the victims feeling helpless, violated, and a very unpleasant shroud of fear to interact normally with people. That fear extends beyond the internet, as I gotta tell you from experience folks. Although I do think I handle it pretty well, I notice the tendrils of mistrust that worm their way into my life as a result of this harasser’s very unwelcome attempts to communicate. There is the option of a civil suit, but frankly I don’t have time or money to engage in a civil suit. Nor do I want the ‘opportunity’ to have to be anywhere at all near this guy. All I really want is for the whole thing to just go away. There are reasons for good clear boundaries, and anyone who violates a clear boundary that you have made, the circle of protection that you have placed around yourself, is essentially committing a crime of the spirit.

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