Dangerous stalkers: How to spot them & how to be safe

I realize this is quite a different type of post compared to my usual sense of "uplifting and enlightening" things I write about, but this post will hopefully help some of you out there who have dealt with stalkers, or might be dealing with one right now, because believe me, I know better than anyone how the behavior and "wrath" of one stalker - just one individual - can absolutely ruin your life, steal your time, wreak havoc on your entire existence and become the most mentally and emotional taxing experience of a lifetime. It can cost you time, energy, money, and basically drive you to distraction, not to mention the ripple-effect of eternal damage they can cause to one's family, friends and loved ones.

I'm going to share a story with you, one that I've not spoken of or even wanted to speak of for the last 25 years. We'll call my stalker, "Jay." 

Back in the day, I was in my very young 20's, was a single mom at the time and living with my parents. I had a nice little romance going with a boy named Ricky who was a few years my senior and he was kind, wonderful with my daughter and my family liked him a right smart. We'd dated for a few months when he mentioned he'd had a best friend named Jay who he'd known since he was a little boy. Apparently, Jay had been wondering what was keeping Ricky so occupied and wanted to meet me because Ricky not been spending the usual amount of time hanging out with him. So, Ricky and I decided to invite Jay along on a date. Jay seemed nice and said he was in the police academy and volunteered for the local sheriff's office on weekends. Since I knew that those were pretty upstanding activities, my initial opinion of Jay was rather positive.

Exactly 2 weeks after hanging out with Jay on our "double date," I received a letter in the mail from Ricky. The letter was very hurtful. It read something like, "I really cared for you and your daughter and I'm really hurt, is all I can say. Just know I wish you and your daughter the very best because I'll always care even though you've hurt me to the core."

Having absolutely NO CLUE what he was talking about or how I'd hurt him, I immediately tried calling Ricky. He refused my calls and even when I sent a letter back asking what on earth he was talking about, I received no response. The same week the "kiss off" letter had arrived from Ricky, Jay began popping up - by total happenstance - wherever I happened to be. Because it was a small town, I totally ignored this as it was common to bump into people randomly and I wanted to see the good in everything and everyone back then. Jay would randomly happen by and would give me things. For example, a cassette tape he'd made of himself singing for his church. Jay was very proud of his accomplishments and his many talents and yes, he was extremely talented. He was a perfectionist and handsome and had many attributes.

Eventually I decided, since apparently Ricky was out of my life for good, to begin dating again. So, I began dating a decent guy, a fella named Steven who lived one town north of where I lived with my parents. One night I was en route home in the passenger side of his car and I looked to my right and who do I see? It's Jay. How interesting, no? Jay was driving very slowly next to my date, Steven's car and rolling down his window. He shouted something in our direction about having a nice car and drove on. Just random, right? Then my date says to me, "Funny..you know that guy? He's been following right behind us since we got on the highway." (This would've meant that he'd actually been in the town my date and I had been in. So far as I knew it, Jay had no reason to be anywhere near us.) But... I of course let that slide too.

On one of Jay's many pop ups, he asked me if I'd like to go dancing. I accepted, thinking that we'd have a nice time. At first I did enjoy his company. Slowly but surely though, one friend of mine at a time, Jay managed to sever me away from each and everyone I knew. How? Oh, he did many things.

He called friends I knew and said terrible things. He confabulated stories and even faked things that sounded and looked scary enough that my friends called me on the phone asking who the heck this insane "Jay guy" was. Eventually even the most understanding of friends don't want to hang out with someone who obviously has a creeper. Jay would show up when I was shopping at stores and drop rather humiliating items into my cart when I wasn't looking. He'd sit outside my classes, restaurants I visited, literally everywhere.

I even recall once when his sister called me on my mobile asking me if I'd just been to Chili's restaurant because apparently, Jay had asked (actually, demanded) to use her car and traded cars with her for the night, and she had spotted her own car with him sitting in it at the Chili's parking lot watching through the windows. I remember her saying, "Now I know why he wanted to borrow my car so badly, it was to follow you around so you wouldn't recognize his car." Then, she gave me an earful about two other girls he'd done this exact same kind of thing to before. I wasn't his only victim. Apparently he would attach to one girl after the next and systematically encroach on her space and when he was rejected, he'd do anything and everything possible to make her life hell and ruin her chances at happiness.

Jay did so many creepy, twisted things. He stalked my family. He called my work. He spotted me out and about with friends, would look them up to find out who they were by running their car plates then he'd call and harass them. He even tried turning one of my friends into the police for a crime she didn't even commit. That's how twisted he was. He even tried separating me from my daughter. That is what sociopaths do; they try and alienate you from everyone - except them. How? How could he do that? I'll tell you. He actually tried making a call to the dept. of children and families saying that I was a terrible mother so they'd take my little daughter away - so that the ONLY person I could possibly be around was HIM because he would systematically pull each and every person away from me. Lucky for me, I'd started dating someone else by that point who was a real live active duty police officer who happened to know the social worker who came about my daughter and Jay ended up in some trouble for his actions! He had to write an official apology letter to me and to the state. Do you think that stopped him, though? Of course not. 

He turned up everywhere I went. Hiding did not work for me. He even tried to sue me for ignoring him. He also tried suing a friend of mine for ignoring him. (Yes, stalkers can stalk your friends, too.) Of course the judge threw his cases out but then he amended it and tried again. Of course the judge laughed at him and Jay was harshly warned about wasting valuable time with such things. But still all of this cost me time, money and a whole lot of stress. The next thing that happened was when he held me at gunpoint and simultaneously threatened suicide. I escaped with my life by the skin of my teeth and Jay was subsequently carted off to the mental asylum and was stripped of his opportunity as sheriff's volunteer and booted from the police academy. (Good, as the last thing we need in this world is an unstable deputy.) 

I immediately filed for an injunction for protection and entered trauma therapy after the gun incident. Another officer who was a family friend actually accompanied me to the court house to file the restraining order and when I didn't have the amount needed to file the paperwork, a kind person in there actually paid for the fee just so the order could be filed and served that same night as the court house was about to close for the day. (I sent him a check for the reimbursement and a thank you card and a holiday card every year thereafter for a long time.) The deputy who served Jay with the order received one too, as he checked up on me repeatedly after that order was served. That really does go above and beyond the call of duty and I sincerely appreciated it. The judge even ordered TWO injunctions, so that when Jay violated it, he'd technically get a double-whammy for violating two orders simultaneously. But did that stop him? Nope...

I had a short moment (almost a year) of quiet relief totally absent of Jay, as did my entire family. It was coming up to the time when that restraining order was due to expire when it arrived. My heart sunk. 

Some event was apparently happening in Jay's life where he needed a date. I received a letter from him in the post inviting me to attend whatever it was. I don't even remember what it was, what that event happened to be. I've really put it out of my mind, or at least tried to. I should have reported him to the police for violating that order however a reaction was exactly what he wanted and apparently, he knew no honor, no boundaries and no respect. I tore up his letter. I knew that with a maniac like him, "out of sight out of mind" might eventually work.

It did. However, occasionally I bumped into him when I'd be out and about. I'd sense him around and I'd hide. The things that Jay did...I've only touched on a few of the high points. If I gave you the play-by-play of what he did, you'd never believe me. It was just horrible. Spying and secretly videotaping me, things like that, that's just the tip of the iceberg. While I have shared a lot, I really don't want to go into the whole story because there are certain things I really don't ever want to talk about again due to the intensity of the experience, but he almost ruined my life on 4 different occasions and he almost killed me once and he ended up costing me in excess of $9,000. I had to hire 2 different attorneys, move twice and go into hiding. I had to change jobs twice and change my appearance. He stole years of my life during which time all I did was sit around afraid of him, scared to leave the house or even go get the mail by myself. Even if you KNOW he isn't outside, the fear is still alive and well inside you...like a rock in your gut...if you've been stalked, then you understand this sickening feeling.

The thing is, I could label him as a "Karmic Soulmate" though I was not in a long relationship with him or anything like that. In reality, we didn't even really know one another all that well. At least, I sure didn't know the true him. I remember that officer's words to me. He said, "This guy's got a real fixation on you. If he needs a cause, he should join UNICEF because they'd probably love all that attention if it's a cause he's after." Yep, this guy hunted me as though it were his job.

So, I'm not talking about an obsessive weird-o or some person who just really has a deep attachment. I'm talking about a real stalker. I'm talking about someone who is unstable. A lot of times, stalkers will "stalk" and they really aren't causing you or anyone else any trouble. What I mean is, there's "interest" and then there's real, actual, creepy STALKING. Heck, everyone in the world has probably looked up their love interest's social media or something, look and see what they're up to. I'm not talking about that stuff. I'm talking about STALKING. The kind of situation where it's dangerous. I'm going to give some pointers on how to spot it because I never want this to happen to anyone else. Ever.

Here are a few pointers on how to spot creepy behavior:

- If they are somehow strangely aware of what you're doing, yet you've not told them. For example let's say they casually ask you, "Did you like watching The OA on Netflix in your bedroom last night?" How in the heck do they know what you watched at all since you've not told anyone at all...and how do they know you were watching it in your bedroom in the first place?

- They know things about you that no one knows, and that no one should know.

- When you talk with them, you get a distinct feeling they've been somehow, secretly encroaching on your personal privacy. 

- If they randomly pop round WAY too often. I'm not talking about the overly friendly neighbor. I'm talking about...they just happen to be near your home, work or school, your gym, or place of worship or where you hang out. All. The. Time. To test this, try changing up your schedule and patterns. If your Zumba class is Tuesday at 4, change it to Friday at 7. See if it stops.It's always a good idea to vary your patterns.

- If you have never been in a romance with them and they are treating you as though you are, and not in a good way. (See my story, above.)

- If they appear to have a vendetta against you.

- If you have said "no thanks" before (once is enough but you've probably turned them down a lot) and yet they don't seem to take no for an answer. They're not hearing you because your feelings don't matter. 

- If your friends start telling you that they're acting strangely or calling them and asking odd questions about you.

- If they act as though you "owe" them attention, time, etc. 

- If really strange things begin happening and they're there to "rescue you" in some way each and every time. Random flat on the highway 75 miles from home? My goodness, what a lucky (and extremely odd) thing they're right there with a jack and a spare that perfectly fits your car!

- If you catch them in lies. 

- If you feel at any time that you've been going through such horrible experiences and those experiences are a direct result of them, and it makes you feel as though you've had enough karma to last you 10 lifetimes.

- If they try to make you feel guilty through manipulation for not giving them attention.

- If they try to negatively impact or even ruin any aspect of your life, it is NOT love and it's not a positive connection at all. 

- If they attempt in any way at all (often covertly) to separate you from your friends, family, loved ones, other relationships, kids, workmates, anyone at all. One thing that these people sometimes do is try and get you to willingly sever ties with those close to you. If this doesn't work, then they attempt more brash tactics such as taking matters into their own hands (talking negatively about you, trying to have your children taken from you, trying to get you to pull away from friends and family in any way at all.)

Here is a list of traits of a sociopath. I retrieved much of this from the internet but if you do a search, you should be able to find many more scary traits. These are just a few.

- Superficial charm, glibness.

- Manipulative, they put the rights and respect of others aside and are very self-serving.

- They likely know no honor, respect or boundaries.

- They likely think they have high empathy yet they have shallow emotions and are extremely self-centered.

- Pathological lying, lying in general or being someone who never says anything about themselves that could remotely reflect negatively.

- They lack remorse, guilt and shame.

- Constant need for stimulation. In other words, they may have a pattern of drama in their lives. They might seem to live on the edge in some ways. They might be really, really focused on appearances, how their outward appearance looks. 

- Incapacity for experiencing and understanding actual love as we know it.

- People who reject them are "wrong" in some way. Sometimes, they even like to be vindictive to try to take back control in some way, if rejected (just look at my story!)

- Poor impulse control / emotional outbursts are common especially in disagreements or if they feel shame or rejected in any way.

- They cannot wrap their brain around the fact that someone might actually want to cut ties with them, especially if fed up with their drama because in their mind, they're so wonderful. 

- They're not accountable and are irresponsible. They're excellent excuse makers. They expect YOU to do exactly what THEY want you to do.

- They do not believe anything is wrong with them. Everyone else is to blame. If they ever blame themselves, it's because they are trying not to look like a narcissistic sociopath. Everyone around them is a target for blame. 

- Authoritarian, secretive, sometimes paranoid, extreme narcissism and grandiose. They may have a theme of dominance. May switch back and forth between extreme charm and outburst/demanding or poor behavior. 

- They try and play on your sympathy. 

- Goal of enslavement and control of their victims.

Because of Jay, I learned how to spot a narcissistic sociopath a mile away.

Remember, sociopaths are predators so you might end up with a gut feeling that you sense - even if you can't quite put your finger on it - as though you're afraid of them in some way. This is your natural gut instinct responding. Kind of like a deer in the woods. You may not see the deer hunter but you can sense that danger is nearby. Remember, not every sociopath has ever harmed a small animal or been a Ted Bundy type. Sometimes, spotting this type of creepy life-eater is really hard to do because they seem like everyone else on the planet. A few of the "traits" I listed above can be within a perfectly normal human being who isn't scary. So, these people are oftentimes pretty hard to spot. I mean, I'm pretty sure they know what they're doing, they might not know they're an insane maniac, though. So, we have to be careful to limit our contact with them when we come across a dangerous situation. If you feel at all afraid, please don't be scared to report suspicious behavior. It's best to think of your own safety. Please do be careful out there. Remember, safety first!

Blessings xoxo

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