The FOUR warning behaviour signs of stalking are:
It all started from an act of kindness…
This stalker was not an intimate partner and not someone I knew well. So, I didn’t understand their intentions or behaviours. But this acquaintance become obsessed with me and began a yearlong campaign of stalking.
I knew an elderly man who was struggling financially. He was also living alone following the bereavement of his wife. We attended the same community group; that’s I how heard of his struggles. As a Christian, I wanted to help, and so I baked a cake. A simple, kind gesture. I was cooking for my own father and included an extra batch he could freeze and reheat. So it was no trouble.
But then things changed. Shortly after offering him help I’d find him waiting for me when I attended the group. At first, he was polite and kind. But then he started to monopolise my time. He interrupted me when I spoke with others and demanded attention and advice, constantly. I tried pointing him in the direction of other people who could help. But he was not actually seeking help, just my attention.
I tried to spend more time with other members of the group. I hoped it would dissuade or distract him. But then he would wait outside and walk with me to my car.
Invasion of personal space
One day he then visited my home to drop off a thank you card. That’s when he started parking his car by my house, using the excuse that he did the local walks. But he now had a reason to ‘pop by’ a few times a week.
I would return home from work and his car would be on my road, so I’d drive off. I even changed the times I would come and go just to avoid him. Initially, I did not see this as stalking, incredibly irritating, but not stalking.
Others also downplayed the situation. Calling it a ‘harmless infatuation’. Or making comments like ‘there is no fool like an old fool’. I think to many it was ‘funny’ or ‘cute’. After all, he was twice my age!
These obsessive and scary behaviours escalated. If I attempted to avoid him he got angry and demanded to know what he had done wrong. He was approached and spoken to by the leaders of the group we attended. He was asked to leave me alone and told that his actions were harassment. He became indignant and angry with those who warned him. But for a while was less intrusive. However, he would constantly stare at me through group sessions.
It then gradually started again. He turned up more frequently and started following me to events. When I was at hospital with my daughter, he was there. When I played sports, he was there.
Contacting the police
I contacted the police and they asked if he had threatened me which he had not done. So no further action was taken. I stopped attending my regular community group and went to another. Finally, the group leaders realised this was not right. They told him that if he contacted me again he would be reported for stalking.
The stalking finally stopped
For a year I had to change the way I lived my life. I had to change my routine and accommodated the unwanted abusive attention of someone I didn’t want in my life.
This attention was not ‘flattery’. When someone pays you unwanted attention it’s uncomfortable, embarrassing and often frightening. An obsession is not normal behaviour. It’s irrational behaviour that can result in irrational and dangerous acts.
I wish I’d felt comfortable calling out this behaviour from the start. I wish I’d had the confidence to say it was making me uncomfortable and to stop.
We do not have to wait until they frighten, hurt, scare or cause you to change your daily life to avoid their unreasonable behaviours.
Take action! Stop stalking by calling stalking what it is. It’s not infatuation, flattery or harmless attraction. It’s unwanted abuse against your right to live free of harassment. Speak out, name it and shame it!
Always call 999 if there is an emergency.