HONEY ROCK DAWN

Part IV

Earlier posts:
Intro, Intro Addendum
Part I, Part II, Part III

My best friend has always said that I get the “shrapnel version” of events.  The bombs in her life tend to go off right in her lap, whereas the bombs in my life leave me with shrapnel here and there rather than blowing me to bits.

On a Saturday afternoon, an email came in from the stalker.  “I have to see you.  I’m packing a bag and driving up there…. If you don’t want me to come or if you’re going to tell the Sheriff’s department, just email me and tell me so.”

The last time I had responded to his emails was exactly one month prior, when I had said, “Stop, or I will get law enforcement involved.”  He, of course, had continued, sending me hundreds of emails, to which I did not respond but had forwarded to the Sergeant who had taken my case.

When this email came in, my immediate urge was to write back and say “NO!  What part of NO don’t you get???”  But instead I called Dispatch.  The Sgt. was not in but I was transferred to the Lieutenant on duty, who knew the details of my case as well.  She said, “Don’t write him back.  He will only interpret that as contact, even if you are saying, ‘don’t contact me.’  If he emails you again with his whereabouts, call back.  I’m working an event tonight and dispatch will patch you through.  If he enters the county, he enters our jurisdiction and we can take him in.  If he shows up at your house, call 911.”  At this point, I knew what the stalker looked like and I knew what he drove.  I was remarkably calm, thanks to the internal transformation described in Part III, and went about my day.

Mike came down at dusk.  He had a holstered pistol slung around his shoulder with baling twine, the twine fuzzy from years of use.
“I dusted off my ol’ .44 Magnum,” he said.
“Bailing twine?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said.  “This thing’ll stop a grizzly bear, but you got to keep it close to your body.”
Mike spent years guiding pack trips in the mountains surrounding Cody, an area rife with grizzlies.  “If a grizzly shows up and there’s a horse wreck on the trail, and you fly off and your horse runs away, your gun does you no good if it’s tied to the saddle.  Gotta keep it on your body,” he said, patting the holster at his ribs.
“May I see it?” I asked.  I had seen it before but had paid little attention.  He unholstered the gun for me.  Black, heavy.  His initials were engraved in the handle.
“I don’t ever want you to have to shoot this gun,” he said.  “The recoil would probably break your wrist.  Shoot a guy in the leg with this, and he’ll fly back thirty feet.”

Mike and I played with Charlie and Chloe, then walked Daisy & Co. down to the corrals and tucked them in for the night.  When we got back to my place, I checked my email.  I grabbed my phone and was patched through to the Lt in seconds, and read her the email that had just come in. “I’m at the motel in Ten Sleep, room XX.  I need about an hour to freshen up and then we can meet.”

This is what I mean about the shrapnel version.  I still can barely wrap my head around the cocktail of insanity, narcissism, and stupidity that swirled through this guy’s veins and brain.  He pretty much served himself up on a platter, but ONLY because I had done my due diligence in the steps I had taken with law enforcement.

“We’re on the way,” she said.  “Sit tight, stay safe, I’ll be in touch.”

Mike and I sat outside.  It got dark.  Headlights approached and we could tell from the starlight that it was one of the deputy’s trucks.  He drove slowly past the driveway.  We could hear his radio crackling but couldn’t make out what was said.  “Is he lost?” Mike wondered aloud.  Just beyond the driveway, his truck squealed in a tight U-turn, sending gravel flying.  “Apparently!” I said.  But he didn’t turn up the driveway; he sped back towards town at full speed.  “Something’s going on,” I said, looking at Mike, who was looking at me.

Fifteen minutes later, the Lt. called.  “We got him,” she said.  “We arrested him at the motel on stalking charges and we’re taking him in.  Call the prosecuting attorney Monday morning, he’ll tell you what happens next.  Make sure you ask him to set a high bond.  [the Sgt’s name] and I will be back Tuesday.”

Part V is HERE

Part III

Earlier posts:
Intro
Intro Addendum
Part I
Part II

I filed stalking charges.  The stalker did not know this; as outlined in Part II, the paperwork still had to go in front of the Prosecuting Attorney and he would decide whether or not he would press charges.  I hated the fact that the decision was out of my hands, but I had done everything I could do.

Meanwhile, I continued to be inundated with messages from the stalker.  I also got a present in the mail.  Not from him!  From my Fairy Godmother.  I have an Internet Godmother (hi J!) and an Internet Fairy Godmother (Hi E!) and, though she knew nothing of what was going on (or did she….), my Fairy Godmother sent me a box of flower essences.  I will do a full post on flower essences, but the short explanation is that these are drops, distilled from different plants, that work energetically; they do not alter one’s physiological makeup the way homeopathics, herbs, or pharmaceuticals do.

Included in this box were flower essences called Pack Leader, Caretaker, and Golden Armor.  The arrived on a particularly trying afternoon, email-wise, and I put drops of the aforementioned three under my tongue.  I sat in my big chair and stared at the wall, for that was all I could do, then fell asleep in my chair.

When I woke up that evening, I asked myself, “why am I so bothered by these emails?” The words themselves did not matter.  They were just words.  What bothered me, the root of my anxiety, was the threat they carried.  The threat that he would show up to harm me or the Farmily.  And I was not confident that I would be able to win a physical confrontation.  I’d taken self-defense classes but I had never fought a human foe.  I didn’t know, when it came right down to it, if I could, because I didn’t have the skills or the practice.

But then, in a flash, I realized – and I attribute this epiphany to the flower essences – I do have the skills and the practice.  I’ve done hand-to-hand combat with a coyote.  I can stop a charging bull in his tracks.  I’ve been afoot in the middle of a horse fight and dodged flying hooves and kept myself unharmed.  I’ve learned to notice the tiniest changes in muscle tone to predict an animal’s next move.  And I can apply all of this to a physical fight with a person.  And suddenly, I wanted to. I began to prepare for it.

Mike has years of karate and bar brawls under his belt and I picked his brain.  As with anything, technique is essential and I learned the proper way to punch, to block, to kick, to turn a hold into a broken arm (take that bad guy!).  And it’s not complicated.  The most complicated part, for me, was getting over the societal conditioning that “girls aren’t supposed to fight. The flashing neon sign in the house in which I grew up declared “females are polite and accommodating no matter what.”  Like many girls, I was raised with the message that physical fighting was not the answer, not an option. What a disservice! Through the stalking, I realized it was an important skill to master.  To cross the chasm between my past and my present, I again looked to animals to help me.

I saw, for the first time, how adept female animals are at fighting and defending themselves and their young.  In the wild, female coyotes are far more strategic and vicious than the males.  I have been slowly taming a female feral cat, and when she climbs on my lap and kneads with pleasure, I gasp in pain – her claws are so sharp!  Sharper than any cat I’ve ever known.  Sharper than Eli’s, and they have a similar lifestyle.  Perhaps you saw these photos of a cow taking on a bear to save her calf.  She sustained scrapes on her face from the fight but the bear retreated, most surely with broken ribs and potentially fatal internal damage.  A mother cow, a prey animal herself, will attack dogs, humans, coyotes, and bears to protect her calf.  In fact, one of the largest ranches in my area frowns upon coyote hunting on their land.  If a cow comes in from pasture without a calf, she is sold, the sentiment being, “if she doesn’t protect her calf, she ain’t a good mother.”

Through these observations and more, the “stigma” of physical fighting and defense, as a woman, disappeared.  I realized how ridiculous it is that this skill set is withheld from human females in our culture.

In addition to practicing the physical elements of fighting, I studied my environment.  To the women out there: no one knows your environment better than you do. I analyzed my space and surroundings, noticed all the seemingly innocuous items I could use as weapons wherever I happened to be, made note of possible routes, exits, ambushes, strategies.

And my anxiety was gone.

Part IV is HERE

Part II

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

Part I

OK, finally!  Blogging is a tricky thing for me.  I have started so many topics and series and then never finished them because life keeps going at a million miles and hour and when I find the time to update, it’s about something in the moment (like Sir Baby rubbing his head in the dirt – how could I ignore that?)

But finally, here is the story of the stalker, or at least the beginning of it.  I have no problem sharing this – some commenters showed concern that the man who stalked me might read these posts and get off on them and honestly, I really do not care.  If that’s what gives him a thrill, then his life is very, very empty.  More importantly, he is the least significant part of the story.  His role is generic and not that compelling – I am much more interested in everything that happened in me and in the courtroom.  That’s where the real story is.

But for the sake of background: this guy was a stranger.  He lives in Wyoming about three hours away.  He was a “regular” on the websites – I read every comment I get and if people post often enough I start recognizing names.  He emailed me now and then and it was all very tame and normal.  I responded when I could – those of you who have emailed me knows how this goes.  This guy was no different.

Then, out of the blue, I got an insane, disgusting, INSANE email from him.  And then about six more, tamer, but totally off-kilter.  After a few days I wrote him one line, “Your emails in the past week have been totally outside the bounds of decency and respect, I’m pretty annoyed.”  Silence from him for about a week, then he sent a long apology – so long, I didn’t even read the whole thing.  He was already permanently on my shit list by that point and I wasn’t about to spend my time reading a lengthy apology.  I didn’t care.  And by shit list I mean, I give my energy to everyone until they abuse it.  And then I stop.  That’s it.

Things were mellow and he commented here and there on the sites but nothing weird, and I really didn’t give it or him another thought.  Then, maybe a week later, he sent another series of emails; these were love-obsessive, one after another.  I wrote back and said, “Your emails continue to be in bad taste.  Mike and I find them completely disrespectful to us both.  If you choose to continue I will forward all your emails to the Sheriff’s Department and the FBI, who have jurisdiction over the internet.”

And that’s when all hell broke loose and the full-on stalking began.  Obsessive emails about how much he loved me, sometimes more than 50 in one day.

Now, feel free to discuss whether or not I should have responded either time.  In this case, what’s done is done, but perhaps a discussion will help others know how to proceed if they find themselves in a similar situation.  I know with trolls (hate mail), not responding works really well. Over the past three years, I’ve learned there’s no point in responding to hate mail, and it no longer bothers me – it goes in one eye and out the back of my head.  But this bothered me.

I naively thought, just as I thought three years ago when it came to hate mail, that if I addressed it head on, it would stop.  Ironically, in learning how to fight {more on that coming soon}, I have learned how to temper that impulse in favor of strategy.  I am also quite certain that if this ever happened again, it would not bother me.  It would join the ranks of hate mail, the ranks of “if that’s how people want to spend their time, fine, but it has no effect on me.”  But that’s because of what I….. well, explaining it won’t make sense until I finish the story.

Part II is HERE

Socks = knocked off

Wow, wow, and wow ~ thank you so much for the incredible support after my Summer 2010 post, via comments, personal emails, and your own telepathic replies.  I’m speechless.  Thank you.

Before I go into the story itself I wanted to address some of the questions left in the comment section.

I will not be displaying his photo, name, or contact info on my blog because:
a) those who need to know all that stuff, know it.
b) he’d probably sue me for harassment.  *vomit*

I’ll be sharing some of the “measures of defense” I am implementing, but not everything.  As one commenter put it, there are certain things I must keep under my hat :)

Thank you for all the offers to help ~ if something comes to mind I will definitely let you know.  The massive support from you and from my community has left me in awe.

This has been hard on Mike, too ~ I’ve had to keep the reins very tight, if you know what I mean.  But he has been a phenomenal partner through all of this.  Our relationship catapulted into a whole other realm over the summer and is even stronger than it was.  Sometimes I was particularly needy, sometimes I was withdrawn, and through it all he has been so patient and so solid.  He’s incredible.

As are all of you.

On to Part I: click HERE

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