My Ex Stalked Me for 11 Years
December 4, 2015 2:21 PM   Subscribe

 
From the comments in that article:
To the editors: am I the only one seeing the irony in you advising victims to call 911? As Julie’s case (and many other cases) attest, law enforcement is abysmal at taking stalking seriously. Our entire society romanticizes it. Pieces like Julie’s are so important, and will hopefully be read by the same law enforcement officers who let her down so badly. They should be ashamed.
posted by el io at 2:29 PM on December 4, 2015 [29 favorites]


I'm a little mystified why any friend of hers would think she'd be *upset* by his well-deserved death, though...
posted by tavella at 2:33 PM on December 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Because the death of a human being one knew well is upsetting, even if it's also liberating?
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:41 PM on December 4, 2015 [27 favorites]


Xavier is dead.

I say the words but they do not compute. They will not compute for years, I’m told.


They don't compute in part because she didn't get to go the funeral and see it with her own eyes. He kept tabs on her but information was a one way street. She knew relatively little about his life.

I'm a little mystified why any friend of hers would think she'd be *upset* by his well-deserved death, though...

First, people tend to assume that if you are decent human being, anyone's death should upset you. Second, I have known at least one woman who mourned the death of the man that shot himself after assaulting her rather than let the cops pick him up for assaulting her. So some people really do get upset. Sometimes the "I wish he were dead, it is the only way out" is just another way they poison your soul and another thing you don't want to embrace, another thing you don't want this monster to have done to you.

Third, only her close friends seemed to know. Maybe this friend didn't have all the details and only knew that Xavier was an ex-boyfriend.
posted by Michele in California at 2:44 PM on December 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


Because the death of a human being one knew well is upsetting, even if it's also liberating?


Yeah dog. Plus an ex- is someone you maybe loved once, even if they were / are a dangerous shitheel.
posted by grobstein at 2:46 PM on December 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm sure that if I were the friend telling her, I'd feel bad about mentioning his name at all, even in the context of letting her know about his death.
posted by skybluepink at 2:49 PM on December 4, 2015 [11 favorites]


What a profoundly upsetting story. That someone with her resources, knowlege, and experience was still unable to get authorities to respond appropriately to her situation, and forced to live in fear, would be shocking, if it weren't so bloody common. Imagine how much more difficult it must be for the vast majority of stalkees to take any effective action. The Ottawa police should hang their heads in shame.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:12 PM on December 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


This story is harrowing to read. I'm sad that she had to endure this for so long. But her strength and resolve is inspiring.

Side-note: Julie is fairly active on twitter and worth following: @JulieSLalonde.
posted by Fizz at 3:12 PM on December 4, 2015


I was anxious and had a knot in my stomach just reading this; it must've been beyond fucking awful to live this for eleven years. And now, no real closure offered except whatever she can claw out of this traumatic nightmare after the fact.

protect women at all costs.
posted by Phire at 3:37 PM on December 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


Imagine its you that has a cunning and persistent stalker each every time after this when you read about privacy rights and safeguards inevitably being eroded.

ya...
posted by Fupped Duck at 3:38 PM on December 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just... 11 years. Fucking hell.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 3:41 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the worst things about stalking is that there really isn't much you can do about it effectively.

Someone just following someone around and being vaguely threatening isn't enough to lock them away for the rest of their lives or anything like that, but as long as they're walking around free, you just can't be sure they're not right behind you.

I was stalked for about ten years that I know of by a guy I'd dated. I'd not hear from him for a while and sort of let my guard down when he'd pop back up again. So I have to check up on him periodically, just to see where he is. He was in Florida for a while, racking up traffic violations according to those blackmail mugshot sites, but this reminded me that I was overdue checking on him, and I just found out he's moved to a neighboring city about a 20 minute drive from my house.

Odds are pretty good he's forgotten about me. It's been a while. He might not even recognize me if he saw me now, or if he did, maybe I've gotten old and ugly enough that he'd lose interest. But as long as we're both alive, I'll actually never know. I've thought I was in the clear before, only to have him show back up. And the last time I saw him in person, he tried to kidnap me and got really violent and unhinged when he failed.

So that's the real kicker: Even if he's moved on, I don't get to. It's not a daily concern, and I don't worry about it a lot or anything, but I always have to keep track of him.

It's a really horrific crime, not least because it is so hard to quantify and there's not much you can do to protect the victims until it escalates.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:49 PM on December 4, 2015 [75 favorites]


It's a really horrific crime, not least because it is so hard to quantify and there's not much you can do to protect the victims until it escalates.

And what you can do is limited by the authorities' callous indifference to it and a culture which enables it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:50 PM on December 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm not surprised at her mixed feelings, but I was relieved for her when it turned out her stalker had died. That's terrible, but at least he'll never mess with her again.
posted by immlass at 3:57 PM on December 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


We follow each other on Twitter. Julie Lalonde does incredible work for feminist and women's right that I have seen some of the horrible shit lobbed at her (I know, just another day of being a woman on the Internet) and I am glad she is here. This story is all kinds of horrifying.
posted by Kitteh at 4:32 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


MOVED INTO THE HOUSE BEHIND HER APARTMENT jfc wow
posted by radiosilents at 4:58 PM on December 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


at least he'll never mess with her again.

There are many worse things than no longer being alive.
posted by dry white toast at 4:59 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


It would really help if we had a whole lot less "stalker is romantic" tropes in films and tv. Stalking is lazy screenwriter shorthand for male love. (and female unbalance, but that's a different story)
posted by frumiousb at 5:13 PM on December 4, 2015 [29 favorites]


Lest we forget: Helen DeWitt.
posted by languagehat at 5:28 PM on December 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I assumed she told her friends not to mention him to her and that's why the friend apologized.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:45 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


"To the editors: am I the only one seeing the irony in you advising victims to call 911? As Julie’s case (and many other cases) attest, law enforcement is abysmal at taking stalking seriously."

I'm not sure what jurisdiction you're referring to, but overall, that's absolutely not true. Restraining orders are commonplace. The consequences of contravening it? Arrest, a court date, and depending on the circumstances, incarceration. Repeat infractions has swift and crushing consequences.
posted by huron at 5:49 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what jurisdiction you're referring to, but overall, that's absolutely not true.

The writer's? She had at least two interactions with law enforcement that diminished her concerns and experiences and told her that he was just a harmless lovesick non-threat. (Also, just to be clear, your quote was taken from a comment on the article, not anyone here, so there's no one here to directly address as "you.")

Restraining orders are commonplace. The consequences of contravening it? Arrest, a court date, and depending on the circumstances, incarceration. Repeat infractions has swift and crushing consequences.

I'm sorry, but this is just laughably naive. The sudden imposition of "consequences" does not stop stalkers like Julie Lalonde's. That's why restraining orders are so commonplace and why they so commonly have no effect on the situation. Implying that a restraining order would have changed the outcome is, again, diminishing her concerns and experience. It also contributes to the all-too-common reaction to stories like this, which is "Well, why didn't she just ___________?"
posted by mudpuppie at 6:13 PM on December 4, 2015 [65 favorites]


In the society we’ll never get to have, early on he would have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution that had a program to treat his illness. This would be the routine course of action in such cases; the police and courts would be set up to handle this appropriately. If he was incurable he would be held for life or some other arrangement would be made that would prevent him from bothering her again.

Institutions for the mentally ill would be well-funded, nonprofit, and have plenty of oversight/transparency in their operation. But of course we can’t have that because *gasp* socialism.
posted by D.C. at 6:41 PM on December 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Suppose you were one of her parents. How do you handle this in an enlightened way?
posted by humanfont at 6:46 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


They don't compute in part because she didn't get to go the funeral and see it with her own eyes

I suspect it has zero to do with this. My guess is that it has much more to do with how long it will take to no longer live in a haze of fear, victimisation and powerlessness that was her constant companion of 11 years. To be free of that is an enormous life shift and will take a lot of adjustment.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:52 PM on December 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


The cop's logic has some implicit sexism in it: "See, the stalker cried in front of me, which is a weak feminine behavior, therefore he is a helpless lovesick puppy."
posted by benzenedream at 6:56 PM on December 4, 2015 [13 favorites]


The cop's logic has some implicit sexism in it....

See also: Unquestioningly taking the man's word over the woman's.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:06 PM on December 4, 2015 [31 favorites]


Restraining orders don't do fuck all.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:08 PM on December 4, 2015 [14 favorites]


Suppose you were one of her parents. How do you handle this in an enlightened way?

Murder does not count as enlightened, I suppose, but that's my immediate answer. Stalking is a form of psychological torture.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:15 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Her parents could contact him and demolish his self esteem, tell him they will never accept him, they have hired an attorney and called the police. Their plan is to ruin him.

(OK this keyboard is getting to me, first it was zelf esteem. I thought no, too Freudian. Then I tried to erase the Z and replace it with an S but no, the S went somewhere, leaving me with his elf esteem. The gold here is the concept of elf esteem.)
posted by Oyéah at 7:58 PM on December 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


> I'm not sure what jurisdiction you're referring to, but overall, that's absolutely not true.

A thread from last year on the blue about another woman dealing with a stalker (in Vermont) and how she called the police and pretty much nothing could be/was done and how lots of people "solved" her problem by "she should just..." -ing it.

The particulars may be particular but the overall arc is totally the norm. It is not in the least unusual.
posted by rtha at 8:05 PM on December 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


Sometimes the "I wish he were dead, it is the only way out" is just another way they poison your soul and another thing you don't want to embrace, another thing you don't want this monster to have done to you.


Wow, this is really well said.
posted by sweetkid at 8:26 PM on December 4, 2015 [13 favorites]


Suppose you were one of her parents. How do you handle this in an enlightened way?

Trick question! The answer is listen to her, accept what she says, and ask her what you can do to help, without deciding anything beforehand.
posted by No-sword at 8:34 PM on December 4, 2015 [12 favorites]


Horrifying. All of the systems failed her. Shit is fucked up and bullshit.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:39 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Suppose you were one of her parents. How do you handle this in an enlightened way?

Ask her how I can support her, trusting her judgment as a savvy adult woman. Let her know I'm there for her whatever she needs.
posted by salvia at 11:34 PM on December 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


I sent this thread-link to Julie in a DM and she was appreciative of the kind words expressed in this thread. Just passing this on to everyone here.
posted by Fizz at 5:27 AM on December 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


One of the worst things about stalking is that there really isn't much you can do about it effectively.

In my case I was very lucky. My stalker would sit in her car down the street from my place. I'd see it there frequently and she would watch who I was with and where I was going. Occasionally she'd show up at my door uninvited and try to guilt me into going out with her (I'll hang myself off your tree type of stuff). Constant phone calls where she'd tell me I wasn't appreciating the proper way to live life (with her) and that when we're going out I was not allowed to speak to any other woman except family and women at stores. I stopped answering as reason was obviously not going to work. I'd be at a restaurant or a club and there she'd be threatening any woman I was with or spoke to. Myself and whomever I was with had to leave multiple times in these situations. I'd wake up in the morning and look outside and there she was in her car just down the street.

After a couple of months I moved and changed my number and she lost track of me (this is well before social media). I had to time the move on a day I knew she'd be at work (so couldn't move on the weekend). I was told by a friend's father who was a cop that if I went to the police they'd do nothing but laugh at me so I never bothered.
posted by juiceCake at 5:52 AM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Xavier is dead.

I say the words but they do not compute. They will not compute for years, I’m told.


It takes years, yes. When I was 12, my mother started working for a place. She had freelanced until then. The CEO of the place had a stepson he despised; 16 years old. Incredibly cute, sweet guy, spoke fluent Russian, had lived a few months in Novosibirsk. I read Russian well but spoke it haltingly, and as chance would have it, had a pen pal from Novosibirsk. We hit it off immediately, talking about Russian literature and language, sharing the early computer games – Space Quest, Kings Quest, text adventure games – and telephoning each other about walkthroughs.

He went on to major in Russian, encouraging my French studies and sharing how great the Russian profs were, so I should definitely think about taking a year of Russian if I wanted.

Then rumors that he'd started doing cocaine came in. I didn't believe them; his father was an asshole and he was the main person spreading the rumors. I was now 15. We started getting strange phone calls.

Then his sister confirmed he was on drugs. And my mother was fired from the place, which she sued for wrongful termination (she ended up winning). The phone calls got threatening. We'd get some when I was the only one home; things the guy said showed he was either filming me or was somewhere watching me. I was 16. I 'd hang up as soon as I recognized the voice – this was in the days before caller ID, but even when we did get caller ID, they always came in as anonymous. Eventually I'd let the answering machine take them. This meant a lot of lost calls from friends who assumed I wasn't home if I let it go to the answering machine.

The calls became death threats when my mother won her suit. They – we always figured the father put him up to it – probably figured my parents would be more frightened at their daughter being threatened then threats to my parents themselves. They did not count on my parents also being assholes. My parents being the "wonderful" parents they were (abusive and hateful), they never mentioned the threats against me to police. I was a girl and any male attention was my fault; if I did end up killed it was up to "god".

The phone calls continued. My friends were phoned in the middle of the night; he'd say I'd told him to call, or imitate my voice, pretending to be me. It also could have been recordings of my voice, I'll never know. A couple friends were convinced, then surprised I had no idea what was going on.

Yeah, wouldn't it have been a great idea for a 16-year-old to tell friends and teachers about all that shit when my parents thought it was nothing and my fault? Hell no. Police? Pfffffft. There was no proof. Zero.

At university he finally outed himself. Of course I picked up the phone the first time he called; I had a dorm room, how could he have gotten my number? It was unlisted and only my parents had it. (Yeah. I finally put two and two together a few years later.) He'd phone every evening. It was him, the son. No caller ID, so I'd answer, hear heavy breathing, hang up. Rinse and repeat. Then emails. I set up filters. On and on and on for three more years.

I went to France my fourth year of university; the calls had still been coming. A year later, the first year I had finally been free of those damned phone calls, he died of a cocaine overdose.

It took me years to overcome my aversion to the phone. Years to get over obsessively hiding every time I wanted to change clothes. Years wondering... had I been sleep phoning friends? If I had a phone, would I eventually hear from friends saying I'd called in the middle of the night? Seventeen years now, and none of my friends have been called since he died.

He wasn't even that bad of a stalker compared to others; he never physically threatened me in person, only at a distance. There was "just" this low-level hum that my life was not my own. Add that to family abuse that said the same thing, AND societal treatment of women dealing with this sort of shit... is it any surprise it takes years to overcome?
posted by fraula at 7:45 AM on December 5, 2015 [20 favorites]


In the society we’ll never get to have, early on he would have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution that had a program to treat his illness. This would be the routine course of action in such

In the society I would like to see, we would be more pro family and fewer kids would grow up so emotionally empty and warped to begin with as to become stalkers. I don't think it is inevitable that society routinely produces monsters. I think it says something about how warped society is that we can't seem to imagine a society where stalking is not a common place occurrence to begin with and we think the fix should occur at the point where things have already gone badly wrong, not earlier.

That society would be one where everyone around her would have looked askance at the earliest signs of his controlling, deranged behavior and said "Honey, don't let this guy move in with you. These are the wrong reasons to live with him. It only geys worse if you go along with this shit." It would be a world where a young woman would not feel compelled to cover up her boyfriend's warped behavior and pretend everything was okay for the sake of appearances.

Everything I have ever read and experienced indicates that things like this can sometimes be stopped, but only if you act extremely early. Going along with his shit while everyone around you is nonplused that a man is that controlling towards his girlfriend is ferttile ground for crap like this. I would like to see a society where just being that controlling gets pushback from all quarters long before she becomes one of the 58% of stalked women whose former SO is the perp.

Re my comment that it didn't sink in because she didn't attend the funeral: I think my observation is correct. The fact of his death "sinking in" is a separate issue from the long, slow road of recovery from something like PTSD or whatever syndrome name this merits. It can help to know for a fact that he is dead, but knowing for a fact that he is dead does not magically cause the pain and paranoia to go away. Humans often have a hard time accepting that X fact is True if they did not see it with their own eyes or hear it from an extremely reliable source, like reading the official death certificate or the obit in the paper. A friend calling you up and telling you X is True leaves a lot of room for doubt. Given how much impact this fact has on her life, it is the kind of thing one's mind tends to want irrefutable proof for.
posted by Michele in California at 11:31 AM on December 5, 2015


My ex stalked me for 15 years. He managed to ruin every single relationship I had (including just friends) during that period. My closest relationship with a man turned out bad as the ex - well I won't go through it, I feel desperate just trying to write about it. However, this dear friend and lover and father of my child ironically met a woman who then also started stalking me.

There were restraining orders on both, and while I did feel safer because of those, it never stopped the mails, letters, notes via friends etc. Another thing it didn't change was the effect of gas-lighting. At one point, almost a decade ago, I was invited to a party. I was extremely scared of going there, and arrived an hour late. I imagined they had only invited me out of pity, and that I would be forced to be in the same space as that ex. In reality, I had been invited as a guest of honor, and the host was offended that I arrived so late. My explanation made no sense to him, because he had long seen my ex as crazy.

I hate blaming other people for my fate, and I always during these years have tried to focus on how to get ahead. But there is no doubt that the terror has changed and limited my life.
posted by mumimor at 3:55 PM on December 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


I was stalked on and off for... 8 years? 10? As mentioned in this thread, how do I tell it's 'over'? He contacted me incessantly for months, then years, and about 3 years ago I thought it was over, but then out of the blue, I received a voicemail from him that curdled my blood - him telling me he found my new address and was coming to rape me in my own bed.

He might be done with me now, but every time an unknown number comes up, I think of him and hope to god I don't hear his horrible voice.
posted by rachaelfaith at 6:40 AM on December 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ugh - this morning I got to work to find some had posted a "message request" on my Facebook. I've never received a message request before so I clicked on it - apparently it's a way for people you blocked to contact you anyway because it was a message from a guy who I guess is stalking me - he used to send me pornographic pictures and inappropriate messages but nothing violent or hateful so I just ignored it. I'm also aware that he's schizophrenic and lives a thousand miles away. Today, however, he sent me a photo of my husband and I with his family that he must have downloaded from Facebook before I blocked him with a message calling my husband a racial slur. Now I'm seriously creeped and angry and I don't know why I'm telling you guys this other than I need to tell somebody to get the gross feeling out of my stomach.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:26 AM on December 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


It would really help if we had a whole lot less "stalker is romantic" tropes in films and tv.

Isn't this sort of what that Adele song is (I know the genders aren't the same) "Called you 1000 times ... I need to go over things form forever ago.... clearly doesn't tear YOU apart...." etc.
posted by jessamyn at 11:18 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


(I know the genders aren't the same)

I think that's the rub, though -- female stalkers in pop culture are treated as pathetic or dangerous, while male stalkers are treated as go-getters who often end up with their "love" interest.
posted by jaguar at 11:23 AM on December 7, 2015


Agreed, I just see this song being portrayed as some sort of a "love song" even if it's sort of in the poignant nostalgia vein and not "The person singing this in unhinged" as in, for example Richard Thompson's Cold Kisses. I think both sort of portrayals are troubling.
posted by jessamyn at 11:26 AM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ah, gotcha.
posted by jaguar at 11:27 AM on December 7, 2015


Isn't this sort of what that Adele song is (I know the genders aren't the same) "Called you 1000 times ... I need to go over things form forever ago.... clearly doesn't tear YOU apart...." etc.

I still think that song (Hello) is her realizing that her attentions are unwanted, and coming to terms with that fact.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:56 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


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