Domestic Violence Hits Home
October – National Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Cristal M Clark
On Monday night I wrote an article and mentioned in it that I was currently dealing with a stalker type of situation. From that I received an overwhelming number of emails from individuals worldwide who are experiencing the same type of situation. For most the situation is stemming from a relationship that never made it to the one-year mark, shockingly many more are stemming from a relationship that never made it past the 2-6-month mark.
Two very clear messages jumped out at me as I spent last night reading each email that had been sent, 1. Everyone who had written to me feels helpless, 2. Everyone stated that the police were doing nothing to help them.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, and this type of behavior is technically classified as a form of domestic violence.
Sadly, it’s also a form of DV that is difficult to prosecute without having established a pattern of behavior. It’s really difficult for victims to figure out when unwanted contact turns into criminal contact when no physical violence has taken place and no threats are being made.
Police get these types of calls all of the time, “the person I dated for just a short time is stalking/harassing me.” When it turns out they called three times wanting a second chance.
Since it’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I received so many messages from people going through the same thing I am currently going through, I thought I would put together some helpful tips, share tools and share my own personal story of what I am currently going through and let you know how I handle it, in the hopes that it helps many of you who wrote to me the last two days sharing the same stories asking for help.
When you break it off with someone and you feel that they are stepping over that line from healthy just wanting a second chance to not letting go, becoming obsessive, harassing you, stalking you or staking out known places you go in the hopes of running into you, calling your friends or family trying to locate you, it’s important that you be your own hero and help the police and DA’s to establish a pattern of behavior.
Keep a level head, one young man who wrote to me was stalking his ex who was stalking him in the hopes of catching her drinking and driving, using illegal drugs. I cannot stress this enough, refrain from doing that, not only could that potentially be dangerous for you, it can also be considered criminal behavior just from the stalking aspect.
Keep a level head no matter how worried, scared, nervous, afraid, or upset you are, even if you feel angry, keep a level head and stay calm. Trust me if your ex lover is that obsessed they will dig themselves a grave in due time. And sometimes it takes time and effort to establish a pattern of behavior.
Help yourself and start to establish a pattern of behavior.
A few things about that.
Making this even more difficult is that one of the first things anyone is told is to block your ex lover on your phone and on all social media so that he/she cannot call/contact you. Hands down that is the worst advice. Case in point, mine. I blocked a man I dated for 2 months, of that 2 months I spent month 2, attempting to break things off with him. I ended up blocking him on my phone only to learn a couple of days ago that by doing that, my phone company has no record of his incoming calls or text messages unless he leaves a voicemail, on an iPhone voicemails still come over as blocked messages but my phone company phone records still have no record of those calls.
Thankfully, on an iPhone with the latest update, you can block all unknown numbers from ringing on your phone but they will show up as missed calls, and voicemails show up as just regular voicemails. Blocking someone is not always ideal on your phone because it makes it difficult to establish a pattern of behavior for police unless the person is leaving voicemails.
The other part of that, if you block someone and they start to escalate in terms of asking for a second chance, to asking you to call to threats, through text message which seems to be a popular way of communicating, you are not going to see those messages and I don’t know about any of you here, I don’t like being blindsided.
Most phones will give you an option to send some numbers directly to voicemail without having to block the individual, and as frustrating and unnerving as it might feel to keep seeing countless texts come through, I would ignore them after my own experience and just let them continue to come in.
Be aware of all of your surroundings, home, work, even in the most populated area such as the grocery store, shopping center, coffee shop. I broke things off back in the middle of August with the person I had been seeing, the next weekend I spotted him in the parking lot of the grocery store I normally go to just sitting watching the area I normally park my motorized transport in. Initially when I broke it off with him, I had a feeling given his messages, the fact that he is mentally unwell and he medicates that with very heavy substance abuse that I was going to have some issues with him. All of those reasons by the way are what led me to end things so quickly.
Anyway, I had purposely parked my vehicle closer to this salon in the area and hiked in, using a different door and ensuring that if he did spot me, I was in the most populated part of the entire area. He did not spot me thankfully, I jotted down the date time and location and decided I would do my shopping elsewhere and on a different day of the week moving forward.
The weekend after that, he was sitting in the parking lot to the Starbucks I frequent on the weekends. I kept driving and he did not see me drive past, so, I now frequent a different Starbucks.
I get my fuel at a different gas station, shop at a different Super Target.
These things are not convenient in the least, but to keep myself safe, they are a must. When we date even briefly someone who is mentally unwell and who self medicates with substance abuse we never know if they will at some point completely lose it, when they might do that or what might happen if they become upset and frustrated by us refusing to speak to them, running away etc. I’ll get to that later here because last Friday things could have ended pretty badly.
No matter how humiliated you feel, tell everyone you know what is going on, especially mutual friends and acquaintances, get the word out. The guy I had been seeing was calling my friends about three weeks ago trying to find out where I work. No one told him of course and naturally I was pretty unsettled about it. The last person this guy should have asked was my best friend and turns out that was the first person he asked. Not the smartest move.
I have that documented. I was able to learn from multiple friends after that he has indeed been trying to track me down on a weekly basis, several times a week. When all this started back in August, I decided to lay low hoping it would eventually resolve itself.
I noticed him driving up my street a few times early in the morning, I have the sounds of most of the vehicles on my street memorized, so at around 5:30-6:30 I’d hear a different sounding vehicle I would look out and it was him.
Sadly, that makes me want to move sooner rather than later. Which is easier said than actually done.
I thought by ignoring him it would stop eventually. It hasn’t.
Weekly I have been receiving text messages to the number I use for this website from this man. I delete them and never responded to any of them, with the exception of twice. Sometimes multiple times a week I get a message.
The first time I responded, it was after a slew of rather ugly messages one night right after I ended things, they were directed at me, wild accusations. They started with him playing the part of the heart broken victim, attempting to manipulate me into texting feeling sorry for breaking things off, when I ignored them, he took it up a notch to accusing me of being with someone because it was a Saturday night, I couldn’t possibly be home alone (I was), then he became angry and said some ugly, terrible things to me. I responded just once, stating pretty clearly that if he continued to contact me that I would call the police and that I would file charges. I choose my words carefully which I will explain later.
He backed off for a while.
The messages still came though, once or twice a week to my website phone number, no ugliness but looking for info nonetheless, like what was I up to, with whom, pretending to be happy that my college football team won. Even though I found the messages annoying and I deleted them, I noted times, dates and what was said in them and refused to respond to them.
I kept ignoring them, then suddenly last week starting on Thursday he began calling my cell and leaving me voicemails. First saying he just wanted to talk. I did not call back but I saved the message.
Last Friday, the first time in over a month, my best friend insisted that I go out and stop hiding letting this guy dictate my ability to just enjoy life and time with my friends. I decided to go. My friends and I were not out to get drunk, we just wanted to enjoy our time off from work and catch up. None of us drink and drive we hail ride shares so I thought I’d be safe meeting up with my crew. The guy I was seeing enjoys drinking and driving and usually does it before 7pm, I wasn’t going to be out until after 7 so that further instilled the idea that all would be well.
After a short time, two women I know well walk in and sit next to all of us. They started to share their stories with me about the man I had briefly dated. Turns out, he has a long and documented history of harassing and stalking women. These women came out that night to show me some support after learning that I had been hiding, worried about what this guy may or may not be capable of. I also learnt that his behavior is in fact, escalating from what he had put them through. One of these women expressed that while she has never obtained an order of protection, she knows some officers at Denver PD and they are aware of this man’s behavior and look out for while on duty.
Learning all of this is powerful, not only does it establish a history prior to mine, it also shows that he does this in an attempt to try to control and manipulate women, victimizing them. Me being me, well I am pretty stubborn and sort of already saw that already, I just needed it validated.
We are just chatting when suddenly, past his bedtime, who should walk drunkenly in the door. He sat a few seats down from me, my best friend leaned over and told me not to worry about it, the establishment already knew about the situation. They were ready to ask him to leave when we gave them the signal. None of us acknowledge him and continued our conversation about other things. You could feel him becoming angry. A member of the staff asked him to move to the other side of the bar, he complied but watched all of us becoming visibly more angry, loudly tapping the bar, fidgeting, drinking in gulps not sips. My best friend got up to use the restroom and this guy took the opportunity. He got within two inches of my face, I took exception. He yelled at me, again I took exception and started to reach for my bag after telling him to get the fuck away from me and leave me alone, he yelled “or what”, I said I’ll have you kicked out, he got in my fact again and that was it.
Two things to know here are that one, if I had thought it through we should have called the police because this guy drove to the bar, he was completely drunk, stumbling, slurring his words and he would have been taken in the second he pulled away from the bar because either way I was not drunk they were not kicking me out, second, since learning he had been trying to find out where I work, I have been carrying a weapon in my bag. I was reaching for that weapon at the very moment my best friend was walking out of the bathroom.
I will let all of you know, I was ready to use that in those moments because for the first time in years I actually felt threatened by another individual. I felt he was willing to cause me harm, he was that drunk and angry. My best friend showed up just in time and pulled the guy away and proceeded to ask him to leave the establishment before things get ugly. He complied, my best friend is a big guy who many don’t really like to mess with.
He handled the situation rather beautifully. We all know why I ended things but this guy isn’t getting it, he continued to play the victim, he kept saying “I didn’t do anything, I want to know what I have done.” Michael, my BFF kept responding with “John, it doesn’t matter, she has it in her head you did something so now you need to leave her alone, it would be best if you just leave.” You can’t reason with these types of individuals, you have to reason with them enough to get them to go away sometimes. I do not need to prove shit to this guy at this juncture, his behavior says it all.
I informed this guy clearly why I did not want to pursue a relationship with him. His behavior is classic textbook, he will play the victim, pretending nothing is wrong with him or imply he doesn’t recall being told.
People who do this to us all want a long drawn out explanation, that is a ploy they use in the hopes to manipulate us back to allowing them to be a part of our lives.
The best thing you can do is not get drawn into that, you owe no one an explanation past, you don’t feel the relationship can move forward. It’s not like it was a 25 year marriage.
That being that when everyone’s night ended I made sure to ask my driver to wait to leave until I was in my home, explaining my situation. Most Lyft drivers are happy to do that for riders, I got home safe and sound and for the first time in over two months, actually slept the entire night until morning.
The next day, things were quiet, except that he drove down my street early in the morning. I expected a slew of calls from this guy, he did not call.
Now, I have witnesses to his behavior, several of them. I again note time, date, names of witnesses and detailed what transpired the night before.
Saturday I thought finally, he got the hint, for the first time since I ended things he has not tried to contact me and got it.
I was wrong.
The calls started coming in on Sunday, he was using his roommates phone though. Show of hands, who in the hell answers the phone from a caller you don’t know? Yeah me neither.
I looked up the number up and learnt who the owner was, his roommate I am sure does not know he used his phone to call me.
Here I could choose to call his roommate and show him the call details and enlist his help. The reality is this, if I call the police they are not going to lay in wait at the bar for this guy, that is absurd unless the guy is at the bar intent on driving home right? No they will arrest him at his home, a home he rents a room in, he does not own the place.
So I could call his roommate and trust me I keep thinking about it. But I know that guy, he’s a mutual friend, he’ll toss him out the door straight away, no questions asked.
If he does that, it could potentially cause this guy to snap and come after me, he knows where I live.
I will table this idea and utilize it as a last resort.
Monday, I got back to back to back voicemails, all odd, sounded like he was whimpering, he would say things like, “welp,” then this odd whimpering, 3 to 5 second voicemails. The guy has an iPhone, you don’t arse dial on those so So, I know it was not a mistake.
At this, because I want him to lose my cell number, I attempt to direct the calls and texts back to my website number.
I send out a text message that makes it abundantly clear again, that he is to stop attempting to call me, find me, approach me, it’s over, we are not friends, I want no further contact with him and he needs to stop, only this time I end it with, if you continue, I will call the police and “they” will file charges for harassment and stalking.
Earlier when I initially stated that I had asked him to stop trying to contact me, right after I ended things, I informed him that if he continued, I would call the police and that “I” would file charges. That translates to something like an empty threat, we both know that early on I probably do not have enough to warrant criminal charges.
When you tell someone that you are going to call the police and that the police will file charges you are sending a message to that individual that you are confident you have enough proof to establish criminal behavior.
Now if he were truly mentally insane, he would proceed with contact, even temporary insanity. I know this one firsthand, when someone is truly suffering some mental trauma that could be considered insanity, they do not have a magic shut off they do not truly understand the line between unwanted contact and criminal.
Individuals like many of us are currently dealing with tend to know when to back off then carefully try to venture back in. They want it to look like you or I are overreacting, like we are having mental issues.
In my case because I shared what was going on with so many of our mutual friends, it enabled word to travel around to two other people who have been dealing with this guy, dealing with the same situation.
Him walking in and seeing all of us sitting together had to have freaked him out because at that moment he most likely realized we had shared war stories.
So what happens now?
I don’t know, since my last message he has not attempted contact but he is a drunk in that he generally drinks 8 or more beers a day, gets up still drunk and goes to work, he may snap at some point or he may decide finally that it’s not worth it. That I am not worth him going to jail for, which isn’t such a bad thing.
I have been documenting, choosing my timing when I respond, how I respond, when I respond I have a reason for why I did that, I decide what I say so as to maintain control over my own well being and the situation to the best of my ability. The police would need to know after all that I am not antagonizing or exacerbating the situation.
Above all I continue when I choose to respond to let this individual know, we are over the contact is unwanted.
On the subject of getting a weapon.
Every cop I have ever spoken to has told me that if you feel that someone could potentially cause harm to you, that you should consider getting a weapon for your own protection. Response times of police can very and you need to think about protecting yourself.
Normally, I would balk at the idea but with this guy I took some time to think it over. I did not come to the decision easily or lightly. I opted not to get a gun, my granddaughters dig through my purse, I am good with hand to hand combat and went for something that allows for up close and personal damage.
I practice using it every day, I have for years anyway but not consistently until more recently.
Do what you need to do in order to feel safe. If you do not want to get a weapon, have another plan so as to save yourself. I live in Colorado, sometimes in the winter the police simply cannot get to me fast enough when I need them. Those are facts.
Document, document and document some more. Everything. Be aware enough to notice the tiniest of things out of order. When you go somewhere, make a note of it’s layout especially the exits, not just in and out of a door but on and off of a property. Make an escape plan the second you memorize the layout and carry that plan through over and over again in your mind until it feels like an old habit. Create alternate plans just in case.
Reach out to your local victims advocates too, let them know what is going on and ask for help. Usually they can help you better determine when unwanted contact starts to turn to criminal contact.
Ask police (not 911 folks), ask the DA, ask victims advocates. They would much rather help you navigate that legal system than see you harmed in anyway shape or form. And what’s more is that they will tell you upfront whether you have enough to warrant criminal charges at whatever stage you are at. These guys tend to back off, then fuck up fast, short and quick but then back off right before it becomes a crime.
Establish a pattern of behavior that you can prove. Say it as many times as you need to, rise above being afraid and start to establish that pattern.
Each of you control this outcome. Make choices based off of that.
I cannot stress enough after reading thousands of accounts of my readers who are experiencing this right now, this is not normal behavior. Well adjusted adults as I said might try a few times to make it work but past that, it is not normal. Many of you, like myself are dealing with someone who has something mentally going on but who self medicate.
Readers, that is akin to dealing with the unpredictable. I’d like to say I have the situation under control, but the truth is, I only have me under control.
I am doing everything that I can to protect myself and to document every interaction, attempt at contact or situation so as to enable the police when/if the time comes to place this individual under arrest.
Which makes me, not this guys victim.
If you feel helpless after reading this shoot me a message here or text me. I will help you navigate or point you in the right direction.
Remember this, anyone going through this, you are not alone, reach out for help, trust me, it will reach back.
Cristal M Clark