When I left off, the stalker had been unable to pay his bond to get out of jail before the trial; he had requested that his bail be waived and, during that hearing, gone into a graphic tirade about a double-murder fantasy of his while on the stand. His request was denied and bail remained at $10,000.
At that point, I was finally able to move everything about this to the back of my mind for the first time since the stalking began ~ he was obviously stuck in jail and the trial was six weeks away. But the relative peace I enjoyed did not last long, for I soon received another call from the Victim’s Advocate.
She told me the stalker had changed his plea ~ to Guilty. This was not some sudden bout of conscience; this was simply strategy, to speed up the process and, in his mind, hopefully get out of jail before the trial would even have taken place. The Prosecuting Attorney was able to require a mental evaluation, which had to be scheduled and completed before the sentencing hearing could be scheduled.
The eval was scheduled, then it was rescheduled, then it was canceled, then rescheduled. It came out during the sentencing that the individual who finally did administer the mental evaluation considered the stalker “outside their realm of expertise” and recommended he be seen by someone with more focused qualifications, but, due to the disorganization surrounding the initial eval or, perhaps, just a general disorganization and ball-dropping by the Prosecuting Attorney, that never happened. The only good thing that came from the mess surrounding the mental evaluation was that it did keep the stalker in jail for another three weeks.
And then it was time for the sentencing hearing. I did not have to go but I chose to go, and when the stalker’s public defender saw me in the courtroom she threw a fit, literally shouting, “Why is she here? She doesn’t need to be here, we’re going to change our plea back to Not Guilty.” She muttered nasty stuff under her breath about me before the judge arrived, loud enough to be sure I heard it all, and then she really did try to change the plea back to Not Guilty but it was not allowed.
There was a short hearing which consisted of the Prosecuting Attorney and the public defender each stating why they were right and the other wrong, and then the judge made his pronouncement. This was the same judge who had presided over the bond hearing, when the stalker had described his elaborate plan to murder two innocents, and I was convinced he would give the stalker the maximum sentence of six months to be served in jail.
The judge did sentence him to the maximum sentence of six months. I was sitting next to the Victim’s Advocate and got excited when I heard this. “Don’t get excited yet,” she whispered with the dry resignation of having seen this over and over again. And she was right. The judge went on, citing this and that and time served while held on bond and probation and waived court fees and then, speaking directly to the stalker: “you’ll be free to go at 7am tomorrow morning.” This is what I wrote in my notebook at the time: I hold bullshit in too high esteem to call this bullshit. This is disgusting irresponsibility. This is a system that fails the responsible and the innocent, one that is hideously mired with subtle and not-so-subtle misogyny.
Afterward, I met breifly, separately, with both the Victim’s Advocate and the Prosecuting Attorney. Both said, “Don’t worry about him bothering you anymore; you’ve been too difficult, caused him too much trouble. He’ll find someone else.”
* * *
I did not write this series for catharsis. I found catharsis with my handgun. I wrote this for others, because I would have liked to have read something like this when I was going through it myself. It would have helped me.
I also feel that violence against women is a topic that is still too ignored. I took self defense classes in my teens and 20’s but still found myself unprepared in my ability to respond to the physical and psychological demands of being stalked. It wasn’t until I started thinking like a fighter and had a crash course in strategy and fighting back ~ which I lived and breathed every day for months ~ that I gained the skills and the mindset that brought clarity and confidence. And now, I don’t have to stay in that zone, because I know I can access it any time I might need to.
My longwinded point is, don’t wait for a reason. Learn these skills now. Hone your inner fighter and let her live inside you, quietly dormant but agile when you need her. I had the shrapnel version. I wasn’t beaten, raped, killed, or permanently disabled like so many women are every day.
I love knowing I can fight. I love knowing that by writing this, other girls and women are accepting (yes, accepting) their own power, as well.
Today, the snow is melting so suddenly and completely, I hear sounds of waterfalls as the the melt runs over the large gravel of the driveway, then plummets steeply down the draw, creating a fleeting lake below.
I love the beauty of winter, the severity, the glitter of ice in the air. But I hate the separation it requires. Layers of clothing. Shoes. Having to keep my shelter buttoned up and closed against the cold.
Today, I’ve had the front door and the back door flung open since dawn.
Air from outside, the breath of Nature, moving through my space. My bare skin moving through the air as I tiptoe about the yard in a loose camisole and bare feet. Hours spent outside, no barriers between the earth and my body.
No false layers between the air and my body, nothing between the breath of Nature and myself. I need her breath on my skin to feel fully alive, fully free. Winter robs me of this. But not for much longer. Not today.
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The first calf of 2011 was born the morning of the last day of February…. which marks the beginning of an exciting time of year full of CUTENESS and BABIES! This calf also happens to be the first of Sir Baby’s babies, born to a heifer (first time mom) without stress, strain or incident. Hurrah! Much of the ease of birth, particularly for first-time heifers, has to do with the bull. A cigar for Sir Baby!
And a cozy, sun-filled spot in the corrals, thick with straw, for mama and baby. Daisy, the den mother, awaits!