Stalking is perhaps the worst thing a person can do to another person aside from rape and murder, etc. although stalking has in fact led to that too many times. We have all read and heard far too many stories about women* who have been driven from their lives, their homes, their jobs, their families by a man who just cannot let go.
This is not about love. This is not about friendship. This is about claiming power and entitlement over another human being and treating another human being like an object for one’s personal gratification.
Margaret Atwood stated that men fear that women will laugh at them and women fear that men will kill them. Murders of passion have happened throughout history, but in a time and place where rejected men like Elliot Rodger can easily purchase a gun and go on a rampage that statement rings even more true.
I am lucky that no one has ever seriously threatened me at this point, however I have recently had the experience of someone harassing me via phone and social media and the scary thing is, this person does not understand what they are doing is wrong.
A common tactic of abusers and stalkers is “gaslighting.” Making the person being abused or stalked think that they are the crazy one. The term comes from a film starring Ingrid Bergman in which her character’s husband tries to make her feel she is going insane by, among other things, subtly changing the lighting.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslight_(1944_film)
When I asked this person who was harassing me for the final time to stop contacting me he told me that I am the one with “issues” and that “all [he] wanted was to get to know who [I] am as a person” and “is that too much to ask for.” Yes, that is too much to ask for if I have been disturbed by previous inappropriate communications and have previously indicated that I did not wish to have any contact with this person. My final request for communication to stop had been preceded by multiple text messages, Facebook messages, a request to be friends again after I removed them, and calls from a hidden phone number in the middle of the night after I blocked them from all other modes of communication. That is not how one treats a friend. That is how someone tries to intimidate another person and demonstrates that they have no respect for someone’s individual choices.
No one owes anyone anything, period. It may seem mean, it may seem unfair, but not everyone has to like everyone no matter how silly or petty the reason. No means no, end of. I understand the hurt when a friendship ends or the hurt when someone you want to be friends with doesn’t like you back. It sucks a lot and I have been there done that, but the only healthy thing to do is to move on and find people who do appreciate you.
I feel that stalkers never truly care about the target of their obsession. Because if one really cares about a person, why scare them and infringe upon their personal space and time like that? And why deny their actions were wrong and blame the other person? This person who was sending me harassing messages claimed he “never bothered me.” To be unable to see that these actions were “bothering” me especially after I had asked him once already to stop is profoundly disturbing and shows a complete lack of understanding or caring about how his actions impact me.
I don’t think this person is out to murder me, but plenty of people who start out like this do try to harm or kill their target of obsession. Stalking or harassment is a crime that is easily dismissed as simple paranoia on the end of the person being stalked or harassed and it can be difficult to prove or be found to be an actual crime if the perpetrator is not making outright threats. States and legislatures are making progress with criminalizing this kind of behavior and protecting the rights of victims, but it is increasingly difficult with online methods of communication, using fake accounts, blocked number, etc.
I am hoping that my harasser will stop contacting me, but I am fearful of what he may do to someone else if he does not understand that his actions are wrong and continues to believe that how he behaves is an appropriate way to interact with people. I am also fearful of those who escalate to outright violence after starting out in a “mild” fashion like this.
*Men are the victims of stalking as well and have been murdered by women who are obsessed and do not respect their autonomy. My intention is not to make their stories less important, however my focus for this is primarily on women as I am a woman and statistically women are more likely to be targeted by a man such as what happened in my personal situation. As an aside, women can and have also been stalked by other women, so this really truly can happen to and by anyone of any gender.