The menace you cannot escape

One woman, who must remain anonymous, describes the effect a perverse fixation has had on her life
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The Independent Online
I could not imagine it happening to me. I still can't see an obvious reason why the stalker became fixated as I'm neither a celebrity nor strikingly attractive. However, as rapists and attackers are often known to their victims, so too was I introduced to my stalker professionally.

At first, he merely created an uncomfortable atmosphere by gazing at me intently and hovering around without actually speaking. Gradually, there was no getting away from the fact that he was building up a picture of our relationship that was purely fictitious.

And he built up the image rapidly. "You and I are perfect together, aren't we? Do you know what I want to do to you?" I would walk away as he continued his litany of fantasies. Even then, it was annoying rather than menacing but the darker side of his personality didn't take too long to emerge. Ignoring him and pretending not to notice his presence infuriated him.

He would relieve this by frantically leaving a succession of threatening messages on my answerphone, often sounding drunk and calling in the early hours of the morning.

Distressing though this was, it was nothing compared to the one time I accidentally picked up the phone. I had begun to screen all my calls, but one Sunday evening I was caught off guard when expecting a call from abroad.

The amount of filth he packed into a 30-second call before I put the phone down left me in tears. When I pulled myself together, I decided I had to take a course of action.

Avoiding him wherever possible meant changing the sort of jobs I was doing.

I started taping his phone messages so that I had something concrete to take to the police but instead of feeling relieved, it left me more wary. Why did he need to do this? He is successful, has good connections and most people on first meeting him find him charming. A far cry from the image of a lonely, frustrated individual cut off from society.

At a party we both attended, I tried to creep away without him noticing, but he was too quick for me.

"Where do you think you are going?" he said, grabbing my wrists. Yet eerily, he continued smiling so that from a distance no one would notice anything untoward. "Don't think you're leaving now. You're coming back with me."

I approached the police about what I should do next. Keeping evidence, they said, was a good start. Noting times and places when he followed me on the street and to record incidents of verbal abuse or intimidation.

While the fear remains that he may reappear at any time, short of taking an injunction out on him to ensure that he is not allowed within a certain distance of my presence, the next best thing I can do is to make sure that our paths don't meet wherever possible.

Most worrying is that deep down I feel somehow responsible. If I had handled it differently ... if I had shouted at him ... but there is no guidebook on how to deal with people like this.

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