Before beginning Part II of this story, take a look at Part I here. If you've already read Part I, here's a quick recap! I accidentally ran into the man who stalked me and threatened my life 6 years ago. Flashback to my freshman year of college when I first called the police to seek protection from my stalker. I was 18 years old.
At that point, I knew I needed to tell my parents. They knew nothing about this, only about the initial gift of 1984. I called my dad the next morning and told him the bare minimum. X from the theatre wouldn’t leave me alone. I told him to go away. He didn’t. The police were now involved. He was understandably shocked and concerned. Luckily, he was friends with the police chief of our hometown and called him up to help expedite my case. Soon after, I received a call from a detective. She and her partner needed to come ask me more questions. She was willing to meet me in my dorm room. She was friendly and warm. I had to rehash my entire story again from the beginning, and she asked questions along the way. She reassured me that this definitely was a solid stalking case, and that she would work very hard to find him and further investigate the situation should I decide to press charges, or at the very least so I could obtain a restraining order.
Thus began the long process of the legal system. One of my close friends had been incredibly smart, keeping tabs on X’s Facebook page and screen-shotting anything that had to do with me, our university, or the locations where I was. At some point, I had started putting X’s letters in a file and logging my interactions with X in a notebook, in case I should need them. I gathered the screen shots, letters, notebook, and printed out my text message records with X. My first trip to the courthouse, I waited in an endless line to file paperwork for a restraining order with X, turning in all of my evidence. Because the case was life threatening, I was granted a hearing with a judge for an emergency protection order. An emergency protection order is like a restraining order, but temporary until an actual restraining order is able to be obtained. It’s for cases like mine, where you could die the next time you see the perpetrator. The police could arrest him on site if he visited me in person.
At school, my poor roommate and I were faced with starting to move to a different dorm at the suggestion of the campus safety office. However, we quickly decided to stay where we were at the suggestion of the campus victim advocate, because everyone in my dorm knew what X looked like and also knew to call the police if they saw him. This would not be the case at a new dorm. Still, I had to be escorted to and from class by either campus safety officers or friends. I was constantly having to rely on the bravery of my friends so that I would never be alone.
It took a longer time than expected to finally hold a hearing for my restraining order. The police could not find X. His parents didn’t know his location and he did not have his own apartment or house. Out of the blue, I received a message from X. He had heard I contacted the police and was extremely agitated with me. It turns out he had befriended a girl on campus to get into the cafeteria. She finally heard about my case and selfishly decided to text him that he should be ashamed of himself and they could no longer be friends. I was terrified. This was the first time X had heard of legal action against him. He hadn’t been served papers yet. I thought that might be my last night on earth.
Ultimately, the detective found him staying with a friend, he was served, and the hearing was scheduled. At the door of the county building, I was met and escorted by two police officers to a hallway outside the courtroom. Likewise, another pair of police officers escorted X into the courtroom at a separate entrance. They stood with me in the hallway until it was time for my case, and then they escorted me into the courtroom through a back door and to the front of the room behind a podium, standing only ten feet from X. My dad and some of my college friends attended the hearing. It was too much to handle for my mom. She stayed home.
I remember the judge, a woman, asked X if he had anything to say to the court. He read from a letter he had written to the judge, speaking about suffering from mental illness, and that he did nothing wrong. He claimed that I had spurred this all on and then taken it out of proportion. He said that I had pursued him romantically and that he had only reciprocated my feelings. I was an evil person.
I stood there while he read his letter, my knees trembling, sweating profusely in my little black dress I used for music auditions. At the time, it was the nicest dress I owned. I couldn’t look at him. I just looked down at my hands clinging onto the edge of the podium, concentrating on trying to get my legs to stop shaking.
When he finished, the judge asked me if there was anything I’d like to add to my report. I had to listen very carefully to her words. To add to my report. That meant I didn’t have to address anything he just said. I didn’t want to. I told her that no, I had nothing to add to the report I gave to the court. She said that given the evidence, she was going to grant my restraining order, which would expire in two years. X could not come to my school, my workplace, or within 300 feet of me.
She asked X to sign a set of papers for the court. X started to shake his head. “I don’t understand,” he said. He grew extremely restless and agitated, shaking his head, saying over and over how he didn’t understand and didn’t want to sign. My two police escorts quickly grabbed me and led me out a back door. I watched X as they led me away. His two officer escorts sat him down and tried to calm him.
That was supposed to be the last time I saw him.
That is - until I saw him again.
Check in tomorrow for Part III of my story. This is the second piece of a four part series.