I had a stalker in high school.
In grade 11, I had a falling out with my parents in a big way. I moved in with a friend whose parents owned a motel. They let me stay in one of the rooms with their daughter and in exchange, I helped out as a chambermaid on weekends. They were a wonderful, accepting family.
During this time at school, I took drama class as one of my high school electives. It was a mix of grade 11 and 12 students, including a grade 12 student named Doug (not his real name.) Doug was huge. I mean HUGE. He was about 6’4 and I’m guessing well over 250 pounds. He liked drumming and weed and skipping school for the most part.
In class, he would find ways to talk to me. And he didn’t have a lot of friends, so you know, I’d talk with him, no big deal. I was bullied a lot in younger grades, and I knew all about not having friends. I didn’t see the harm.
Over time, he became increasing insistent I skip school with him. I kept making excuses, because something about him bothered me. I tried to partner up quickly whenever we had to do so in Drama, because Doug would always make a beeline for me.
One morning when my friend and I left for school, we found an empty 26er of Jack Daniels outside our door. We got into trouble over it, because her mom assumed it was ours and we’d drank it or our friends did. We had no idea who had left it.
The next day, another empty bottle. And the next. I started to get a sinking feeling. After all, it was no secret at school where I lived. The next Drama class, I asked Doug, and he admitted it was him. I didn’t know what to do, other than I felt it wouldn’t be a good idea to make a big guy like him upset. So, I carefully told him not to come by because I was getting into trouble over the bottles. I figured if he thought he was creating problems for me living there, he would stop. And he did.
The next drama class, I performed a monologue where I was covered in fake blood. (I think I was a car crash victim or something.) Anyway, after it was over I went to clean up. When I got out of the washroom, I found out everyone had paired up for the next assignment and by default, I ended up with Doug. Worse, he had picked our play, one that had a kissing scene in it.
I didn’t know what to do. How could I go to my teacher and explain? All I knew is that there was no way I could do this play. So I managed to convince Doug that the script was lame and we should write our own. We created one about two people in line talking back and forth and it’s only at the end you realize they are both dead and waiting in line to go to the Hot Place (yeah, that’s a dark window into my teen years, pretty much.)
Rehearsing this play was the most terrifying part. We had to use these soundproof music rooms at the end of a hallway buried in the drama auditorium, somewhere no one but band and drama kids went. One time as we practiced our lines, Doug got this look on his face. My gut shriveled. The room felt so small, the door had only had a slit window. All I could think about was how no one would be able to hear me. No one. I got out of there, fast. Said I was sick and had to go home.
Bottles started appearing on my doorstep again. And then finally a note. Twenty-one pages of rambling and poetry that made up a “If I can’t be with you…” letter. Something inside me snapped. I was done trying to not make waves, done trying to keep everything under control. I confronted Doug about the note and said if he ever came near me again, I would take it to the principal and the police. I told him I had given it to a friend for safe-keeping. Thankfully it was near the end of the school year. Doug graduated, and I didn’t see him again.
Looking back, I should have gone to someone sooner. But I was embarrassed–embarrassed by Doug’s creepy attention, embarrassed that I would be the talk of school if it got out. Too, I figured my teacher or the principal would think I was overreacting. How could I try and convince them “I had a feeling” that something was off? I had no real proof, not until that note.
It scares me how it could have turned out differently. If I had stayed in that room that day. If I’d let it go on any longer. If I hadn’t listened to my intuition.
Why am I telling you this story? Because my friend Stina Lindenblatt is doing a blog hop to raise awareness of this very issue: stalking. It’s something we don’t talk about and we should. Men can be the target, but often it’s women. Looking for the signs, listening to what our bodies tell us…this is how we protect ourselves.
Stina’s debut New Adult novel releases on January 20th, and it deals with stalking. I know this is a touchy topic, one that some may want to avoid because it hit close to home. I completely understand this. But I love Stina’s writing, and I want everyone out there to have a chance to experience it. So if you’d like to read Tell Me When, leave me a comment here, and I’ll put your name in a draw to win a preorder of her book. Here’s the sound bite:
She shouldn’t be waking up her college roommate with screaming nightmares. She shouldn’t be flashing back, reliving the three weeks of hell she barely survived last year. And she definitely shouldn’t be spending time with sexy player Marcus Reid.
But engineering student Marcus is the only one keeping Amber from failing her math course, so she grudgingly lets him into her life. She never expects the king of hookups will share his painful past. Or that she’ll tell him her secrets in return, opening up and trusting him in a way she thought she’d never be able to again.
When their fragile future together is threatened by a stalker Amber thought was locked away for good, Marcus is determined to protect her–and Amber is determined to protect Marcus…even if that means pushing him away.
I’d love to get some dialogue going on about this topic. If you want to comment but protect your identity, please use the Anonymous function. Share your stories, or what we can do to protect ourselves from being a target. And…thanks for reading this. I haven’t really talked about what happened to me before, and I feel better at getting this story out.
One last thing: Becca is visiting Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Mystery Writing Is Murder and unlike me, discussing something writer-centric: How Morals and Basic Needs Influence a Character’s Positive Traits. Rumor has it she’s doing a giveaway as well, so please stop in.
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