One of the Lucky Ones

It had been a long week. I returned to my on-campus apartment after work and stretched out on the bed for a nap. I woke up at sunset to long bars of golden light streaming through the blinds, and to the feeling that I wasn’t alone.

He was sitting on the edge of my bed, watching me sleep. He smiled when I woke up, like I’d be delighted that he’d been clever enough to trick a janitor into letting him into my apartment. To this day I think that the flood of outrage and betrayal I felt are what saved me from anything worse. If I’d shown fear, there’s no telling what might have happened.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I said in my coldest voice, jumping up from the bed. He stood up, and I advanced, backing him towards the door. “Get out of here. Now!” I gestured impatiently towards the front of the apartment, raised my voice to a command. He stammered an apology, an explanation, but retreated all the same.

Once the door closed behind him I locked it and collapsed against it in tears. It wasn’t until a month later, when he banged on my door on and off for an hour and then sat there waiting for me to come out, that I was able to call the police, file a report and request a restraining order.

###

A different apartment, a couple of years later. It’s nighttime. My phone rings. It’s him. “Come to the window,” he says. I don’t want to, but oh-so-quietly I glide across the living room and peek through the blinds. He’s standing outside, backlit by the single flickering light in the alley, peering in. I call the police, but he leaves before they arrive. This escalating behavior along with the incredibly insane messages he’s left on my then-boyfriend’s phone are enough to warrant police action, but he leaves town before anything happens.

###

Ten years later. The phone rings. I pick it up – nothing. Just like the countless other times – morning, afternoon, middle of the night – that I’ve picked up the receiver to the deceptively simple sound of silence. We can’t change our number – an elderly relative will get confused if we get a new number. We’ve reported it to the police twice, and they dismissed it, so it’s pointless to try again. So I go outside with the dog in our isolated yard, wondering if someone is watching from the trees, wondering if she’s safe, if we’re safe, if I’m safe. Fortunately for me, he was doing the same thing to a woman in a different state. She was able to get a detective assigned to her case. When they finally caught him, they contacted me because my number showed up over and over again in his call records.

###

Three different men. I knew them all. The first had been a boyfriend, the second a friend’s ex-boyfriend, the third an acquaintance.

Stalking is no joke. It’s not flattering, or funny. It doesn’t show you care. It’s not romantic. It has nothing to do with love.

Stalking is about power, and fear, and intimidation. It’s about isolation, and hopelessness. It’s ugly, and sad, and pathetic.

There are times when I feel ashamed that I’ve been stalked three times, like there’s something that I’ve done to make it happen so often. Like it’s my fault. It’s certainly made me more cautious in my friendships – far more skittish and reluctant to trust. There are other times when I get angry – why me? Will it happen again?

And I’m one of the lucky ones.

This is why the 12for12k charity this month – Jodi’s Voice  – resonated so deeply with me. Jodi’s Voice is an organization dedicated to increasing awareness surrounding the crime of stalking and providing services for an estimated 3.4 million victims each year.

I wanted to share my story not to elicit pity, but rather to inspire others to action. If you or someone you know is in a situation like this, it’s not okay. Document everything. Report what you can. Be strong. Don’t be intimidated into silence.

I’ve shared the smallest taste of what it was like: the way your heart jumps when the phone rings or there’s a knock on the door, the horrible feeling of wondering if someone is watching, the helplessness and frustration of knowing that most of the time you have to wait for something truly bad to happen (to you or to someone you love) before anyone takes you seriously.

How can you help?

You can donate, write a blog post, share this blog post, raise awareness and help spread the call to action. More information is here: http://12for12k.org/jodisvoice/. Thank you.

Photo credits:
Some rights reserved by pangalactic gargleblaster and the heart of gold
Some rights reserved by massdistraction

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25 Comments

Filed under 12for12k, non-profits

25 responses to “One of the Lucky Ones

  1. Shared this one myself.. Great post.. Been there.. done that.. n still goin through it.. Mine does nothing that can be traced well either.. just little things to let me know he’s there..

    • Kimmie,

      I understand. I hear from victims all the time that have hard to trace stalkers (mine is hard to trace as well). I would love to talk to you more about your case. mystory at jodisvoice dot org

    • Mickey

      Kimmie, I’m so sorry to hear that. I’ll defer to Angela (below) at Jodi’s Voice – for her advice and guidance, but I’ll add that I hope you’re documenting everything (in the hopes that once the person is identified you can use that information to help things move along more quickly). Please be strong and be safe.

  2. Mickey,

    Thank you for sharing your story! Stalking is very scary! You are a very brave person who is also great fun!

    No one should have to live with that kind of fear! It’s good to know that there is an organized group that is dedicated to shining a light on stalking and making sure we become more aware. May Jodi’s Voice continue its important work!

    • Mickey

      Thanks, Elli, for taking the time to read and comment – it’s always great to hear from you! And I agree, any support we can give to organizations raising awareness and providing resources to those affected by stalking is so critically important.

  3. Powerful words, Mickey, amplified by the comments of others whose chords were touched. Thank you for sharing, and for contributing to helping others.

    • Mickey

      Thanks, John! Considering how much I admire your writing, this is high praise indeed. 🙂 I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

  4. Mickey

    Wow. Great post. So brave of you to write it and to raise awareness. I haven’t seen a better summary of Stalking than this:

    “Stalking is no joke. It’s not flattering, or funny. It doesn’t show you care. It’s not romantic. It has nothing to do with love. Stalking is about power, and fear, and intimidation. It’s about isolation, and hopelessness. It’s ugly, and sad, and pathetic.”

    Will now be sharing this post to others. Thanks again.

    Cheers, Iggy

    • Mickey

      Wow, Iggy! Thanks first for the kind words, and second for sharing with your incredibly extensive network. As you can tell, this issue is important to me, so whatever exposure we can get for Jodi’s Voice, 12for12k, and any local organizations that people know about addressing issues related to stalking, the better. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support.

  5. suz colvin

    you are an amazing person mickey. i knew that when i first met you in my LHC class. thank you for having the courage to tell this story.

  6. I agree with what Gini said. I was on my second experience with stalking before I recognized that for what it was. And of course, the second one has more escalated behavior – it wasn’t until I went through that when I realized that something was wrong with the first incident.

    And as long as we don’t talk about it, or think that it was our fault, or think that we did something to attract these kinds of people, or are ashamed that it happened to us so many times… those quiet places are where the ignorance can hide. And there are so many women of all ages who will be able to grow brave from this, who will know the signs and have a better idea of what to do, and know that they aren’t alone. So thank you for your voice. Voices are how the laws get changed.

    • Mickey

      Tinu, you are such an eloquent writer. “…those quiet places are where the ignorance can hide.” – what a powerful phrase. And so very true. The more we can demystify the concept of stalking, the better, and if we can encourage people to take action early in the cycle, maybe they’ll head it off before it escalates. Thanks so much for stopping by and for adding your story and your voice.

  7. Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz

    Mickey – I am horrified by what you’ve been through and in awe of your strength. Thank you for sharing your story and encouraging others to do the same – and to send support in whatever form they can. I sure will be. xoxo

    • Mickey

      Thanks so much, Buffy! Your support means a great deal, and I am so gratified that you were moved to action (and that you let me know). That’s really why I shared this, so others might learn from it and are hopefully moved to talk about it, or donate (either to Jodi’s Voice or a local nonprofit addressing stalking), or write about it, or support people they know who may be in a similar situation. It’s definitely a crime the relies heavily on the shadows, and the more light we can shine on it, the better. Thanks again. xo

  8. Mickey,
    One can only imagine going through such a frightening ordeal. You’ve illustrated the reality of being stalked so beautifully in your writng. The written word can have such power. Unfortunately, it’s been bastardized by SEO, feedburner subscriptions, & keywords. Your honesty has resonated with me and I will take action.
    Thank you for not only sharing your story but for renewing my faith in the power of the written word (if only for a day).
    Hugs.

    • Mickey

      Thanks so much, Dan, for taking the time to read and comment. I guess one of the nice thing about having a blog that flies under the radar, so to speak, is I that don’t pay a lot of attention to keywords. 🙂 I am so glad that you were moved to action by my post – it means a great deal and I appreciate you letting me know.

  9. Wow. Thanks so much for sharing this – both you and Gini know that by telling your stories, you can empower others. Such bravery. I’m in awe of you both. Even more.

    Thank you.

    Shelly

    • Mickey

      Thank you, Shelly, for taking the time to comment and share. Your support means a great deal to me and is much appreciated.

  10. Mickey,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with stalking! It is such a misunderstood crime. One of the questions I get the most often is ‘how long did Jodi date her killer?’ They never dated, but people want to try to assign a reason for the behavior and a way it could never happen to them. The truth is it can happen to anyone and it does! Thank you for having the courage to share your stories!

    • Mickey

      Thank you, Angela, for all that you’re doing with Jodi’s Voice! I hear what you’re saying, though, and as you point out, there’s no rhyme or reason for why it happens. It is often a misunderstood issue that could happen to anyone regardless of gender or situation. I hope we’re able to shine a light on the issue through 12for12k and beyond.

  11. WOW Mickey and Gini,
    It truly makes these stories about “every woman” when it happens to someone you know. Very brave to share your stories. My hope is that you NEVER have to deal with these men or anyone like them again. Nor should anyone have to. This is a noble, worthy and important cause. Thanks for shining a very bright light on it for all to see and know about.

    • Mickey

      Heidi, thanks so much for stopping by! I never thought I’d write about it, but I figured if it helps a single person or raises one extra dollar it’s well worth it. Your support means a great deal.

  12. Mickey

    Thanks, Gini, for stopping by! I don’t know if you realize it, but your post is what inspired me to share my experiences.

    I tried to think in terms of vignettes – thumbnails that would capture the essence of each of the experiences. There was so much more involved in the first two situations that I chose not to include. You’re right, though – there’s a spectrum of behaviors related to stalking – some obvious, some not so obvious – and not addressing them can cause things to escalate.

    I’m sorry for what you went through – there’s just no excuse. And you’re right, it has to stop.

  13. Thank you for sharing your stories! You know what is most meaningful about these? So many of these things have happened to all of us, but we don’t think about it as stalking, in the traditional sense. I had a boyfriend who beat the crap out of me and, when I finally got up the nerve to break up with him, he sent his thug friends to my dorm room with guns. You’re right; it’s about power, intimidation, and control. It can be by strangers or someone close to you. And it has to stop.

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