Stalking: It Happened to Me
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|Sat, 05-31-2003 - 1:05am|
Prior to my experience, I had always thought of stalking as something very rare and I think that was based on my attributions that stalking was more or less uncommon, perpetrated by a man (generally an ex-lover or spouse) and happened predominantly to people in large cities. However in the case of my stalker few of these attributions matched; my stalker proved to be a woman.
In the early spring of 1998 my boyfriend at the time, Scott, separated from his former wife to pursue a divorce and a new beginning. The divorce proceedings were already in motion and Scott and I were caught up in the joys that constitute a new relationship. Over the next few months while I was still working on my undergraduate degree, Scott and I became truly inseparable.
When school commenced for the semester for me, Scott helped me move my things out of my dorm and I moved in with him for the summer months. I had no idea that during the time I had been so happily caught up in the throes of my new relationship someone had been watching all along.
The last week in July 1998 while Scott was at work a letter from *Louise (his former wife) came in the mail. I set it aside and gave it to Scott at dinner that evening. Louise had enclosed several pictures of herself in this letter, mainly of her in compromising positions and barely dressed, and a letter informing him that she'd stopped the divorce proceedings before they had been put through, wanting to work out their differences and reconcile.
The next day Louise showed up at Scott's business with more pictures, this time to include wedding photos and more inappropriate photographs. When Scott asked her to leave, she became hysterical and Scott told her he was involved in another relationship. Later that evening Louise began telephoning us at our residence and I finally spoke to her and told her her that I was sorry she was hurting, but her behavior was inappropriate. Scott refused to talk to her and told me that she had a history of mental illness.
Over that next week, Louise showed up at his business several times. In one of these episodes she physically assaulted him in front of over a dozen employees leaving the business for the night. In another episode Louise brought her young teenage daughter (from a relationship prior to her marriage to Scott) to help her spray paint vulgar terms on his vehicle. Louise showed up at our residence the next afternoon and, after having witnessed me leaving for a job I held at a local stationary store, physically assaulted Scott and threatened his property. At this point, the police were called, offered to arrest Louise, and suggested legal action.
Scott and I left that night for our safety, and even had a family member babysit our kitten which we feared Louise might harm if she broke entry into our apartment while we were away. We stayed at a resort for a weekend up in Santa Cruz, shaken but safe. On our way home from our trip, we went immediately to the county courthouse and Scott obtained a temporary restraining order. I was not put on the protective order at this time because I did not feel that Louise was personally dangerous to me. I was wrong.
The day after Louise had been served with the restraining order, Scott received what would be a series of over one hundred hand-written and typed threats via the mail. What was strange was Louise made no point to conceal her identity although she had been prohibited from any contact with Scott. Louise left up to five messages a day on our answering machine, pleading for one of us to pick up the phone and then leaving blatant threats when we did not comply. Scott and I kept and labeled every tape, put every letter in chronological order and took a shopping bag full of these violations to the police department, assured that it was evidence enough to have Louise picked up and put up for a 72 hour evaluation at least. The police department directed us to a sheriff's service center instead and said the best that could be done was to make a report.
Over the next two months, Scott and I had gotten to know every member at the sheriff's station on a first name basis. I still have a shoebox full of the tiny little slips they gave us with case numbers on them. One afternoon in late September or early October 1998, after I had moved back into the dorms on campus, we received word from the District Attorney's office on our answering machine that Louise was being arraigned on several counts of willful violation of a court order.
After this point Louise started to tone down the obvious violations a little, but in no way ceased to violate the court protective order. Soon we received a postcard from Louise with a URL to her own personal website. The website had not only a distinctive hateful message to us personally, but it urged people to harass us for her as well. This site contained links to Scott's residence, as well as his telephone number, his place of employment, etc. It also contained information about me. This is only how the cyber stalking began. Soon Louise had flooded every revenge website on the net with our names, addresses, phone numbers as well as photographs and suggestions on how to harass us. One suggestion came back from someone on one of these sites advising throwing acid in my face to disfigure me.
It was directly following the first arraignment that I testified against Louise in court on Scott's behalf in a related domestic criminal matter. From this point on with Scott's restraining order only protecting him, Louise sought to stalk me full time.
Louise had found out where I was employed part time and soon got into the habit of prank calling the store each time I worked, although she sometimes threatened me with Scott's safety if I would not talk to her or have him call her. In one of her calls she said that if I would not leave him, she would attempt to file falsified domestic violence charges against him because "she was a woman and would arrest him and if she couldn't have him nobody would". She did try to file charges which she claimed were belated by several years; they were investigated briefly and then dismissed entirely.
On a day in November 1998 I came home after a pleasant weekend with Scott in the bay area to find three threats from Louise on the answering machine at my dorm residence. The next afternoon I received what would be the first of the threats in the mail from Louise there. Somehow Louise had gotten inside the building, pretended to be my mother, and someone had innocently walked her to my room. Campus Police came immediately and a staff meeting was held to discuss the matter of my stalker. Safety standards were strictly enforced and a photograph and description of Louise was put in the mailbox of everyone in the residence halls.
The D.A.'s office now had received news that Louise had now started to stalk me on campus and Louise was soon arraigned again on more criminal counts of violation of Scott's protective order. I attended the proceedings and spoke to a victim advocate outside the court room. When Louise saw me sitting there with the victim advocate, she became enraged and physically pushed her way to us so that she could scream expletives and obscenities at the both of us. The victim advocate got a court bailiff to remove her and she left only after screaming that the world would hear 'her story'.
Louise was given 60 hours of community service and time over her head. Part of her probation was to remove her website, as it proved to potentially threaten Scott and my safety and harassed us illegally. The judge also placed me on the protective order. Louise then claimed her First Amendment rights to have been 'violated' and took up a cause with the ACLU and somehow made it on local news stations to scream that she'd been 'violated'. The broadcasts though, much against her desire, did a good job of showing Louise-the-stalker and made a point to explain Louise had violated her probation and therefore her website was not protected by the First Amendment.
Undaunted, Louise soon stopped sending us letters and took to prank calling Scott's residence from about 10pm at night until 6am in the morning. Phone traps with the sheriff's department showed that Louise had been making the majority of these calls from her home phone lines in the initial stages of the harassment, and later only rarely from her home phone lines. Louise also had taken to making police reports involving fabricated stories of interaction between Scott and herself in an attempt to press criminal charges against Scott.
Before Scott moved and while I was still living in the dorms, he changed his telephone number again which ceased the hang-ups, frequent 'wrong numbers', pressing of the touch tone buttons, etc., however it seemed to incite Louise to take up her stalking further on the internet.
Louise began sending weekly letters (sometimes daily) to a member of Scott's family via e-mail in an attempt at third party contact. These letters contained threats of what Louise was going to do if Scott didn't call her and apologize and get down on his knees and beg her to stop (everything from holding up the divorce proceedings to filing fictitious domestic violence charges which she's been trying to do since August of 1998 to no avail.) These letters also contained severe slanderous terms relating to me and continued to threaten my safety at the residence halls as well. In one of her e-mails sent shortly before Scott and I moved into our new home, Louise wrote that she 'had obtained our new telephone numbers' and was going to 'give them out'.
Shortly afterward, I checked for recent internet activity on the part of Louise, as I had begun to do routinely. Two new sites had sprung up, as well as updates on her old ones as to new 'developments' in our personal information. Louise also obtained the telephone number of my family (who live outside Sacramento in another jurisdiction) and threatened them with my safety should the D.A.'s office fail to drop charges against her and insisted hysterically that "Scott really loved her." (see section on Erotomania ). In addition, she also contacted Scott's family and threatened them with his safety. Louise has continued, to date, to persist in her threats of what the outcome will be should the D.A.'s office not drop the mounting criminal charges against her. She has also attempted desperately to locate Scott and I at our new residence, to include having a presumed internet aquaintance telephone my family and pose as a 'long lost high school friend' in an attempt to obtain any information she could. Interestingly enough, I was able to cross reference the number my family gave me which had appeared on caller ID and obtain the names of the individuals living at the address from which the call was made. When I gave them a call back (although they had given my family some bogus phone number for me to call back to make it look authentic), there was immediate panic on the part of the woman who had telephoned my family when I asked her very calmly if in fact she was more interested in speaking with Louise.
On August 4th, 1999 the divorce was bifurcated. Louise served jail time in May 1999, and I was notified of her release through the Sacramento County Sheriff's V.I.N.E. program. On November 5,1999 Louise once again plead guilty to two counts of violation of a criminal protective order issued by a judge, the charges heightened this time from simple violation of a domestic violence restraining order. Louise once again received jail time, mandatory anger management classes, three years of formal probation during which she will meet with a probation officer, etc. Most importantly, the judge granted a search and seizure clause which will allow authorities to search and/or seize Louise's computer in the absence of a warrant should her electronic harassment persist. This also extends to any computer which is tracked to such violations. Scott and I are very pleased with the judge's ruling. In January, 2000 Louise was back again in custody.
Just prior to her sentencing, Louise sent both myself and a family member e-mails harassing us and again containing slander and hysteria. To this day both Scott and myself still are very fearful of Louise. We have taken every precaution possible to ensure both our safety and the safety of our families including the extreme to where we register everything to a postal address in another city. Around Christmas, 1999 while Scott and I were enjoying the holidays with our family and friends, Louise was busily drawing up a frivilous civil suit against us asking for $100,000.00 because she felt 'victimized for going to jail, etc'. The lawsuit was dropped by Louise at the settlement conference when I made a promise via the arbitrator to Louise that if she proceeded with this lawsuit, I would sue her for malicious persecution, but would waive my right to do so if Louise would just voluntarily drop the suit that afternoon. Panicked and indigent with no means to afford an attorney to represent her if she did not comply with my demand, Louise did just that. Previous to her dropping the suit and during the discovery process, Louise tried fervently to obtain my undergraduate transcript, DMV photo, current address, etc. The judge, with knowledge of her criminal history, barred Louise from even obtaining my physical residential address even though standardly a civil litigant has the right to have a physical address for the other party for the purpose of service. The judge additionally forbid Louise from firing off her handmade, improper "subpoenas" to parties such as my undergraduate acedemic institution and to campus police; this greatly upset Louise who had never expected her 22 year old victim would hire an attorney. Even though the lawsuit named Scott as a defendent, the lawsuit was directed solely at me.
Last summer, 2001, Louise obtained a photo of me and posted it on her website along with my social security number, date of birth, mailing address, etc. I filed a police report immediatley upon learning of it as it violated the special conditions of the protective order, and after several months of Louise's public defender delaying hearings Louise was sentenced last December 2001, to further jail time. Louise was taken into custody January 7th, 2002 and served a 6 month sentence. While she was in custody my petition for a new restraining order was heard in court. Under the watch of a warden, Louise was led into the courtroom in handcuffs. The restraining order was immediately granted and, although the judge pro tem would not make a decision on the future of Louise's hate site(s) regarding me after her formal probation expires this November, the DA's office has. Should Louise post anything regarding me, it will construe harassment based on her criminal past and will constitute a violation of the new restraining order which I've been awarded up through 2005.
If you have been a victim of stalking or know anyone who is currently being stalked, please take time to look through the resources I have set up. If you would like to post your story, please send me your comments. I would like to get a variety of cases up on this site so that people can see the spectrum of ways a stalker seeks to pursue his/her stalking. The majority of stalkers do not merely wait and watch from bushes.