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When we hear the word stalking, usually the first thought that comes to mind is that of a crazed fan or the relentless paparazzi, in pursuit of a larger than life celebrity. For the rich and famous, stalking is a frequent occurrence that comes with the territory. For a victim of domestic violence, stalking is a frequent occurrence that comes with the territory.
If you haven't had the experience of going through your daily activities while constantly looking over your shoulder, driving while focusing on your rear-view mirror, or spending an evening peering out a slot in your blinds, you couldn't even begin to imagine how it feels to be stalked.
The fact that your stalker is someone you know and once had a relationship with, makes it no less frightening.
Upon returning to my apartment one evening, I was taken by surprise to find my estranged husband standing next to my vehicle, as I put my car into park. He tried to open my car door, but was unable to. I was immediately grateful for buying a vehicle with automatic door locks. As he firmly repeated, "Open this door, I want to talk to you.", my thoughts whirled. How did he find out where I live? How did he get through the front gate that requires an electronic pass? The realization hit me. My new found independence and sense of security were gone in an instant.
It was 9 PM. My eyes scanned the apartment parking lot. There wasn't a person in sight. My heart was racing and my adrenaline was flowing. I was nervous. No, I thought, I wasn't just nervous, or merely caught off guard…I was scared! As his voice and his demands became louder and more adamant, I decided to open the window about a half an inch, so he could hear me. "What do you want?" I asked. "I want to talk to you! Open this door!" he bellowed, as he slid his fingers through the space in the window, so I would be unable to put the window back up. "Get out of this car and let's go for a walk!" he demanded, as he motioned with his free hand towards a dimly lit walking trail on the side of my apartment building.
"I have nothing to say to you." I replied, "And I'm definitely NOT taking a walk with you." Now he was enraged. He began yelling and calling me a bitch, as well as another derogatory word used to describe a part of the female anatomy. When he turned and walked away, I was relieved and quickly pressed the button to close the window.
Headlights reflected in my rear-view mirror as my estranged husband parked his vehicle behind mine, and shut the engine off. Now I was blocked in. There was no escape.
As he again approached my driver side window, I mentally beat myself up for not leaving when I had the chance. Why didn't I think to back out and just drive away? At that point he did have his fingers through the window…maybe that's why I hadn't thought to leave. It didn't matter now. I was so scared, I couldn't even think straight.
Finally, I picked up my cell phone and dialed 911. "I'm calling the cops!!" I shouted, so he could hear me over his uncontrollable, boisterous, rant. He stood outside my vehicle and continued to scream. "Fine, call the f***ing cops, you bitch!!! I don't care!!!" Slowly he turned, as he continued his verbal attack, got in his car, and drove away.
I sat in my vehicle for what seemed like an eternity before the police arrived. I sat and cried. I cried because I was relieved it was over. I cried because I wasn't completely sure he had left the parking lot. I cried because I knew that I was no longer safe in the one place that I had finally found some peace. When the police arrived they escorted me to my apartment. They proceeded to check each of the rooms, hoping that I would calm down and regain my composure, when I felt safe.
Later that night I received a call from a friend. She was upset because my ex-husband had picked her 12 year old son up the previous morning, and driven him to the bus stop, without her knowledge. She said that my ex-husband had used the ride to grill her son about where I was living. She also informed me that she was contacting the police because my ex-husband had no right to drive her son, in his vehicle.
Unfortunately, for myself and so many other women, stalking is a real and frightening consequence of leaving a domestic violence relationship. Stalking is more about loss of power and control, than it is about finding out the exact whereabouts of the person being stalked. For victims of domestic violence, it is also a form of continued abuse, that comes with the territory.

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