“Growing up, I’ve always heard, ‘it’s the quiet ones you have to look out for,’ when it comes to people stalking you or committing gruesome crimes. While I’m sure this isn’t always the case, it was the case for me. My mom always told me to be nice to everyone, even if other people are being mean, so that’s what I did.
The first time I ever had any type of experience with a stalker, I was in 9th grade. We rode the same bus to and from school, and my bus stop was in front of my house, so he knew where I lived. Eventually we made conversation, though he was incredibly shy and somewhat socially awkward. I felt bad that no one ever talked to him, so I made an effort to be nice to him. He would never talk to me, but he would text me while we were on the bus. He would typically sit two seats behind me. The texts would usually be, ‘Hey how are you?’ or ‘what are you up to after school?’ But sometimes he would send things like, ‘I see you.’ I always thought it was weird but I just brushed it off as him being shy. Eventually he began to text me when we weren’t on the bus.
I vividly remember the first time he said something that made me feel uneasy. He had texted me to ask what I had been up to. Me, being naive and friendly, told him I just got done dancing in the rain (I always loved this growing up, it felt so refreshing). And he said, ‘I want to come over and watch you dance in the rain.’ This may not seem like that big of a deal but it was creepy to me. It ruined dancing in the rain for me by turning it into something dirty. My brother was friends with his brother and when my brother would go to their house, Keith would always ask what I was doing or if I had a boyfriend. He would excessively text me and I eventually stopped answering. After a few months with no response, he stopped.
My second experience was not so much him stalking me, but becoming emotionally manipulative of me. It was tenth grade. Our teacher assigned seats alphabetically by last name. So I sat next to this boy, who was the kind of guy that wanted to be a class clown but did so by teasing people, so most people didn’t like him. But my mom always told me to be nice, so I was. At first it started off okay, we became friends and would talk occasionally outside of class. He missed a lot of class due to chronic illness, so I would let him know what we did in class. I don’t remember when he changed gears and started to become possessive. He suffered from depression, so I think he felt unloved and I gave him the attention he craved. I lost track of the number of times I talked him out of committing suicide. It seemed like every other day I was talking him down. Of course I don’t mind listening to someone who is having a hard time, but almost daily? It was emotionally and mentally exhausting. Eventually it got to the point that if I didn’t answer immediately, he would say, ‘You’re ignoring me. I’m going to end my life now.’ Being in high school, that was terrifying! I didn’t want to be the reason someone ended their life. Eventually he turned everything into an argument, no matter what I said or did, he always wanted to fight about it. Our friendship lasted over the course of 1.5-2 years.
My mom noticed a difference in my emotional state and she asked me what was going on. When I told her about the conversations, she immediately said, ‘Honey, that is not a healthy relationship. And if it is taking a toll on you, it’s okay to tell him you need some space.’ Hesitantly, I advised him that I didn’t have the emotional capacity right now and I had my own issues I needed to sort out. I was in college and I needed to concentrate on that. Of course this came back with retaliation and him telling me I wanted him to kill himself and that I would be better without him. The day I broke the cycle of manipulation, I felt such a relief.
My mom was not as relieved. She was worried he was going to come looking for me and possibly hurt me. I ended up telling my work that if anyone called asking for my schedule, they were not to give it out to anyone. He would text me numerous times a day, even though I wasn’t replying to him. Every night he would say goodnight. Over the course of a year, I had hundreds of texts from him. Most I ignored but occasionally I would reply, usually when he would wish me a happy holiday or something of that nature. He would ask if I sorted my problems out yet and would get angry when I said I hadn’t. Eventually the number of texts lessened and lessened. Although I have only gotten sporadic texts the last 4-5 years, I still always wonder if he is planning something against me. I eventually told my boyfriend at the time and showed him his picture because I was so paranoid he would show up somewhere. I still worry. I find myself looking in crowds to see if he’s there. Thankfully, he has never shown up anywhere that I’m aware of, but the thought of him showing up rarely leaves my mind.
My last experience was shortly after I graduated high school. I received a friend request from a guy on Facebook. He looked familiar but I didn’t remember ever meeting him. I never added people I didn’t know, so I sent him a message asking if I knew him. He replied back with ‘No, but I want to get to know you.’ I didn’t reply. He would message me randomly demanding I call him or text him.
After telling him it wasn’t a good time, he would get angry that I wasn’t answering him or giving him my phone number so he could call or text me. I ended up blocking him. Shortly after, I got another friend request from him from a different profile. Again, I blocked him. Since then, I have blocked 4 or 5 other profiles on Facebook that he has added me on, as well as 2 or 3 different Instagram profiles. Eventually I stopped blocking him and just left the friend request in my requests. If I deleted it, I would get another friend request the next day. I don’t know why he was drawn to me. I don’t know why he was so insistent on adding me or texting me.
While I am thankful that these experiences never escalated to anything violent, it doesn’t make it any less scary. You truly never know what people are capable of. I make sure to take a different route every so often so that I don’t have a ‘routine.’ I constantly look over my shoulder to make sure no one is following me. I’ve told numerous friends about these people in hopes that if they ever saw them, they could give me a heads up. I walk with my keys in between my knuckles. I constantly am looking around me to see what the closest object would be that I could use to hit them, if one of them were to attack me. The messages and threats may have ended, but the emotional whiplash and trauma never will.”
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