Ask A Feminist #7: A personal story
Laura // 20 March 2012
This week I’m handing over to Linda, who got in touch to ask if she could share her story of being stalked after being left by her ex. She would appreciate any comments and thoughts from readers, particularly those who have had similar experiences.
This is my story.
I was being stalked. Not by my ex, but by his and his girlfriend’s friends. I went to the police and I worked with them to catch the main culprits.
There were many, many people doing this. I counted over one hundred, all strangers to me. All recognised me straight away. All either laughed in my face, shouted at me or called me the most disgusting names. Some even threatened my physical safety. This was mob rule of the worst kind.
I became very, very frightened. I was recently forced to leave the city I lived in because of this. I became very ill from it. These people knew that this was hurting me. They openly enjoyed watching me suffer. This could happen any time of the day or night, and even just when I was walking to a nearby shop. In these people’s eyes I stalked and hurt my ex. He did, indeed, get hurt, but no stalking occurred.
So I gave full information to the police as to my whereabouts/activities on any days my ex called into question, to clear up any perceived misunderstandings. They also questioned my ex, and he flatly denied setting up any circumstances where I could be harassed by his friends. But I clearly heard them use his name when they were slandering me. The police agreed that something pre-orchestrated and deliberate appeared to be going on.
The most reasonable explanation that we could come up with was that my ex, or his girlfriend, or their friends, used a popular social networking site, emails and texts to spread my photo around so that people would recognise me and spread lies about me; it was cyber-bullying. I also believe that some of them may have attempted to look into my private financial information.
So I began to fear for my safety in a city that I used to adore. These people pursued me relentlessly for over a year. And I cried in fear and humiliation, almost every day of that year.
Friends said that this was just blatant jealousy. That was all very well, but it did not feel like that when I was in the middle of a gang of them and they were jeering at me. Or slowing down their cars at night, to scream at me in his/her name.
Jealousy or not, I do know that this was sexism. My ex and I had a very stupid and ill-advised affair, some time ago. He went back to his girlfriend. They are still together. But as I explained to the police, it’s like he got everything he wanted from both of us. And yet, I was the one being punished on a daily basis, by this harassment.
No doubt about it, I acted like a fool for a guy I cared deeply about. You see, I pursued him for sex. I initiated much of our sexual activity. I was hurt, but not destroyed, after he chose her and left, again. I continued to walk the streets with my head held high.
But I did not deserve full-on mob judgement and daily fear from his peers. These people were punishing me for supposedly hurting my ex. This, I now realise, was about petty revenge, not justice. He got hurt. I got hurt. But my feelings, my humanness, did not seem to matter to these people.
This was objectification in the extreme.
And I feel that this story clearly highlights the underlying misogyny that society pretends does not really exist, that is, until a woman steps out of her role as a victim and continues on with her life as normal.
I would appreciate any support or advice you can offer. I am currently receiving therapy for the trauma I suffered. I am safe and I have moved away. And this is partly an opportunity to vent, I have to say! But I guess it is also a plea for some logical thoughts from all of you in the F-Word community. I am proud to say that I am one of you.