Watched**Stalked**Traumatised

He was watching, from across the road, as I stepped off the bus.

He was (also) watching from across the road, as I came out of church with my friends.

He watched as I walked down the hill from the school gates.

He drove past, three times in half an hour, as I was sitting in my friend’s car chatting.

He was sitting on his motorbike watching as I came out of work.

It took about one to two weeks for him to track me down after I had shifted house. And there he would watch as I arrived home.

He sent flowers. My skin crawled. The flowers were ugly and I gave them away.

My flatmates were interrogated, either on the phone or at the gate. What was their relationship to me?

I was visiting my friends and he saw my car parked outside. They were his friends too. As he knocked on the front door, I snuck out the back door. I never visited my friends at home again.

I came out of a church from my friend’s funeral. She had died in a car crash. He was across the road, on his motorbike, watching waiting for me. He “just wanted to talk”.

He was watching, waiting, always. But he never touched me.

♦♦♦

I was stalked by two men at the same time. They weren’t aware of each other. They never touched me while stalking me, and in those days that meant the NZ Police couldn’t do anything. The Police gave me advice, but I knew all that by now.

Constantly trying to avoid, trying to hide where I was, confidential phone numbers. The only friends I spent time with were those who would support my demand for privacy. The stalking went on for around 14 years in total. It started when I was 14, and I finally brought a stop to it when I left the city permanently at 28. It was a long time to convince myself that leaving town wasn’t giving in. It was taking control.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was diagnosed some years later, when I finally sought help (when I knew that help was actually available). You see, it wasn’t until after the stalking that I let out a breath and could finally feel my fear. I crashed. But relief didn’t come until I had the help. Meanwhile, I was still hiding, mistrustful of all.

♦♦♦

The triggers started to play on me… they included, but weren’t confined to…

Every man, who wasn’t a blood relative, was potentially unsafe to me.

Anyone who expressed a romantic interest in me, especially if they were ‘too keen’.

A gap in the curtains still meant someone could be watching me.

Motorbikes, especially the sight of them.

Going back to the city where it happened brought on terror in some suburbs and hypervigilance in all places.

Church

Dreams, nightmares.

The gift of flowers.

Later on, ‘friend requests’ on social media.

And many, many more.

After years of therapy for these and other issues, I really thought I’d finally beat the PTSD. The triggers controlling my life had lasted much long than the stalking, even though that had been long enough. It had been a long time since I had felt that all too familiar fears.

Then a few weeks ago, a man shifted into the house next door. Because of where I am living (temporary housing for earthquake recovery) our houses are very close. His kitchen looks into my bedroom. Our lounges look in on each other.

When I first shifted here there was a woman living in the house, and it was her practice to keep all her curtains pulled shut all of the time. Now I could start to understand why. I didn’t want anyone looking in on my bedroom and I have taken to keeping the curtains permanently shut for the windows facing his kitchen. Regardless of who he is, and what he does, I see him as a threat.

I hadn’t met him at this stage… but when I eventually did, I felt that familiar feeling. Elements of his personality ring warning bells for me. The fear instantly builds, and I admit that I don’t have much rational thought. I’d describe the type of man, but I can’t. And it wouldn’t be fair. Rationally I know he has done nothing to make me afraid, but this is exactly what PTSD does to me.

I just don’t want to be anywhere near that sort of man.  I’m simply afraid. It’s difficult to know that this is about memories, and feelings, from a long time ago.

I’m afraid, and while I thought I had completely dealt with PTSD, I realise I haven’t. It’s not over for me yet.

Since meeting the man I have simply done my best to stay away, but I irrationally want to move out. I’m terrified that this man is going to do what I refer to as “turn into another stalker”. I know he has done nothing to stir up this fear. I know it is completely irrational. And actually, I irrationally think that every man will eventually “turn into another stalker”.

And do you know what? It really pisses me off that those stalkers of years ago can continue to have such a hold on me. I thought I was truly over it, but this man has shown me (by doing nothing) that I’m not. And that is so disappointing.

Thanks for reading

 

Cate

Both images contained in this post remain the property of  Healing From Trauma: Welcome To My World. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to visit this great Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Watched**Stalked**Traumatised

  1. First and foremost, I am so incredibly sorry for what you went through, at such a young age and for so long. The fact that you are who you are now is a testament to your incredible strength.

    As for the PTSD — well, I know I’ve said this to you before and will undoubtedly say it again, but PTSD is the gift that just keeps on giving. I truly believe we can never be “cured” of it; we can move on and manage it and be strong and not let it control us, but it will linger always.

    Finally, though this will probably win the award for leas helpful blog comment of 2016, don’t dismiss the feeling you have about him as irrational, or say you’re overreacting, or try to talk yourself out of it. I’m not trying to scare you, but that feeling is there for a reason. I talked to a good friend about how once you have been in a relationship with an emotional/psychological abuser, you develop a sixth sense, an instinct. I met a friend’s sort-of boyfriend a few years ago and I knew. We were introduced, I went cold all over, my stomach clenched. . .

    He (your neighbor) is quite probably harmless. But don’t ever let anyone (especially yourself!) try to tell you that you are overreacting or being irrational.

    1. I think you’re right, on all counts and yes, it is the gift that keeps on giving. Damn it! You’re also quite right about instinct, and I need the reminder. Unfortunately a few years back I lost faith in my gut instinct and have ever since thought of it as over-reacting and irrational. I know it is wrong, it’s just I can’t quite trust my gut instinct just yet. You know that feeling when you think you’ve healed a hurt, but I tiny piece keeps gnawing at you, telling you not to trust? That’s me, but I’ll get there. Thanks Ruby.

  2. UGH… totally understand the PTSD I recently discovered I am not at all “over” something from my past.

    The fact you can analyse it, talk about it… KNOW it… still doesn’t stop the knee-jerk reactions.

    And yeah, I wish I could turn my irrational fears off as well. 😥

    BIG HUG Cate

  3. Thanks for posting this, Cate.

    I also agree with Ruby Tuesday that you should trust your instinct. Of course it might be wrong, but please put your own safety first in this situation, and if it means you have to be unkind to the guy at some point, so be it.

    Keep on posting.

    1. Thanks for your concern Christopher. There is a part of me that knows what you say is right, and largely that is what I am doing. Sadly though there is another part of me which bases decisions on my upbringing. That tells me to put other people ahead of myself. That’s a nice way to live if you don’t run into the types of people I have encountered. Basically it’s confusing, but thankfully I have learnt.

      As for keeping on posting, again thank you. I haven’t been well since this post so I admit all I have achieved is half written but unpublished posts. In time I hope to actually publish. Right now that would be a big achievement.

      I hope you are well. It is a long time since we were in contact. I blame myself for that. I think of you often and wonder how you are doing.

      Cate

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