☆ October 22, 2010
Part I is here. I left off where I told him to stop, or law enforcement would get involved. He emailed me, apologizing profusely again, but then the next day, he went into overdrive. So many emails, so much obsession. It was sick. Sick and disturbing. At that point, I blocked his comments from appearing on my blogs but they, as well as direct emails, still came through to me – simply because I wanted to be able to keep tabs on him and keep everything for future reference, if necessary.
And then I called the Sheriff’s Dept. The Sergeant I spoke with said I absolutely had grounds to come in and file a Stalking Order (which is akin to a restraining order or a protection order). This is what I learned about the process: 1) the offender must be told, prior to filing, that his behaviour is unwelcome and to stop; otherwise he can say, “Oh, I didn’t know…” Obviously, I had already taken this step. 2) The victim files criminal stalking charges with the police, then it goes to the Prosecuting Attorney and he alone decides if it is worthy of pursuing. If he decides not to, then the victim is SOL or must hire an attorney to take the case in front of a judge (and incur all the expenses thereof, herself). 3) The request for a Stalking Order is taken before a judge and the offender is invited to the hearing. The victim must appear and testify, and her stalker may or may not be present (his choice) to defend himself.
I did not want to be in the same room as this guy. When I questioned the protocol outlined above, I was told by the Prosecuting Attorney’s office that under the constitution, the defendant has the right to face his accuser. So. Even though major business transactions take place via conference calls and video conferencing, the courts still take this literally, with no concern for the psychological trauma a victim of stalking or assault must endure by being in the same room as the perpetrator.
“He already knows what you look like,” I was told, “your picture is on the cover of your book.” Firstly, I had no control over the cover of my books (authors rarely do) and entered into an epic war with my publisher when I found out they were planning to use that photo on the paperback. Moreover, having a predator see your picture is far different than having to sit in front of them in a tiny room. I felt like, regardless of the circumstances surrounding it, he would be getting what he wanted. It boggles my mind that in the age of Skype and CCTV, the courts are not set up to allow the victim to testify via video conferencing from a neighboring room in the courthouse with a bailiff present.
Anyway, I forwarded everything to the Sgt. so he could start a file but chose not to formally file charges at that point because I felt so strongly about not wanting to be face to face with this guy. The Sgt. offered to call the stalker and speak to him directly, that sometimes hearing it from law enforcement can scare a guy straight. I asked him to hold off on that for the time being, hoping that if I just ignored everything, the stalker would lose interest when he got no response, and stop.
Tangent: In the comments of my previous posts on this subject, many of you recommended that I read The Gift Of Fear by Gavin de Becker. I read it last week. Women, girls, those of you who know any women or girls, go read Chapter Four of this book. Fabulous info in Chapter Four. Chapter Four should be photocopied and tacked up in every girl’s locker room in every school.
The author also devotes a section of the book to dealing with stalkers, and while the overarching theme of the book is about trusting intuition, he makes a great point regarding stalkers: once you engage, there is no going back. If you want them to go away quietly, and think this is possible, ignore them from the outset. It may still take six weeks of harassment one must endure, but once you engage, there is no going back to ignoring. Even in telling the guy to stop, a “relationship” has been established (in the stalker’s mind).
It became very clear, very fast, that ignoring him had no effect (since I had already engaged by telling him to stop). It got to the point where I dreaded checking my emails because of this guy. It would derail my days; it robbed me of my time and my focus and my life. One woman said it perfectly in a comment left on this site: Stalking is terrorism at the most personal level.
It got to the point where I could not take it anymore, and I got back in touch with the Sgt and he called and spoke to the stalker directly (because I still wanted to avoid having to be in court with him). The Sgt. called me afterward and told me the guy had been apologetic on the phone and said he would stop (pattern here???) but the very next day, more crazy, obsessive emails came in. That’s when I said “OK, enough!” and went in and filed Criminal Stalking Charges against him.
Part III is HERE