Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Stalking: A True Story

Bitch Ph.D.'s well-written commentary on fear of stalking and the differences in attitudes between men and women struck an uncomfortable note in my heart. My own adrenaline started pumping as I read.
I wager that, with the exception of rape, men are more likely to be the victims of random street crime. But all the precautions about avoiding it are aimed at women, and they are all implicitly about avoiding rape. Even though we know that most rapes are not random street crime, but are committed by friends, dates, acquaintances, and so on. So not only is this advice bad advice to women, the unspoken corrolary--that men don't need to worry as much as women--is really bad advice to men. And the problem is, by giving women but not men this advice, we perpetuate the idea that violence is sexualized (and therefore men, who are not sexualized, do not have to worry about it), and we turn reasonable things like walking home with a friend into things women do out of fear and men don't do at all.
This brought home something I already inherently knew, even random violence is sexualized.

A little earlier in another post she writes:
But most "advice" to women focuses on avoiding *situations*, rather than trusting yourself and avoiding *people* who make you feel uneasy. I think that's exactly backwards.
Yeah, it took me far too many years to begin to understand this ... far too many.

The story that started this commentary is this from Letters From A Broad, in which Chanson describes being stalked by her boyfriend and the danger her life was in because she had been conditioned to not to trust her instincts and to believe that she must help those in trouble before she helps herself.
So when he started behaving in a pathological manner, I felt frightened and angry, but I also felt sorry for him because he was someone I knew and had some feelings for, and I could see that he was having serious problems. Additionally, I felt somewhat responsible because I knew basically from the beginning that the relationship was more serious for him than it was for me. So I felt guilty when he accused me of having led him on.
It's compelling reading and does sound, as Chanson admits, like it was something that would happen in a movie or a book. But it happened.

My own experiences with a sociopath (now called antisocial personality disorder by the psychiatric community) match the experiences Chanson had an ocean away in France. Although my life was never in physical danger; the phone calls, the anger, the manipulation were all very real and very demoralizing. My situation was compounded by the fact I could not move out and when I demanded he move out, he would go to my roommate who owned the place and hated confrontation so much he would say anything to get out of it.

After 18 months, it took 2 very large men who loved me and were far more ruthless to get this punk out of the house and out of our lives. The phone calls didn't stop completely for almost a year but they were less of the "how could you, you owe me" sort and more of the "I need this from you so I can repay the money I owe you," which was never repaid, of course.

The lesson I took away from this, is the same the Bitch Ph.D. and Chanson reiterate, listen to your instincts and don't feel that you owe someone just because they have had a crappy life. Their crappy life is not your responsibility and if they aren't willing to treat you with the respect and dignity you deserve, run away.


Blogger Lyssa Strada said...

And don't feel you have to look back, either. It's okay to move on.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Thursday Next said...


8:55 PM  

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