When I was 14, a 19-year-old man with a penchant for maiming small animals decided I was his new object of interest. He happened to be in my first year French class, even though he was a second year senior. The beginning was subtle. I noticed him staring at me in class, and one day he pulled me aside to chat. Not knowing about his history of violence, I was naive and flattered by the compliments he showered on me. Even with the flattery, I refused to give him my number. Unfortunately, I was dumb enough to give it to his younger brother - who seemed normal enough.
That first phone call woke me up to a world I didn't know existed. He talked about the unnatural attraction he had for animals and a vile litany spewed forth. I quickly hung up only to have the phone ring again and again. The phone calls turned into him showing up outside all of my classes, walking around our house, leaving notes detailing what he wanted to do to me, and finally leaving threats in my friends' lockers. My friends were terrified and had no interest in eliciting a violent reaction from my new shadow; I was slowly isolated from peers.
The most heart breaking aspect of the experience was how I was treated. My friends avoiding me I could understand. The lawyer's stance was ridiculous. His girlfriend confronting me because he insisted on calling her by my name was insane. But the worst of it was how I was treated by the people in charge. As a child, you are taught to trust that people of authority will do the right thing. The principal refused to move him to a different school. The police rolled their eyes and made fun of me when they issued the restraining order or responded to a violation. People assumed I was a scrawny kid with a need for attention - that I was doing something wrong or making it up.
I was lucky. After stubbornly attending class and reporting violations, the principal was forced to move my stalker to another high school. Not because I was convincing. He split his dad's head open during an argument and the police were sure to alert the principal that he had been arrested. It took an act of violence for everyone to finally grasp how simple it would have been to target me instead. Unfortunately, the move to a new school didn't stop him. Death threats made frequent appearances in my two remaining friends' lockers until even they gave up. I fled the school and was eventually forgotten. Like I said, I was lucky.
Two years later, I was volunteering through my new high school at a community housing unit, planting flowers to make the place a little more cheery. One of the officers who had issued my restraining order recognized me and walked up to me. I didn't remember him until he explained how he knew me and then he shocked the hell out of me. He apologized. He wanted me to know how sorry he was for his behavior. He assumed I was just a bratty teenager blowing things out of proportion, but because I was visibly shaking, he decided to read the detailed report I submitted with the request. He said I had every right to do what I did and that he was wrong. He hoped things turned out well for me and was happy to hear that my stalker had left me alone for two years. He said he had learned to take things more seriously.
I wasn't able to say much in return. I think I thanked him. I remember crying that night, but it wasn't because I was upset or angry. I was relieved.
My stalker provided me with inspiration for a book and fuel for character development, but the policeman gave me hope that there are some people in charge who will do the right thing.
The National Center for Victims of Crime: Stalking Resource Center