Let me be the first to say, I hope this article never becomes relevant to you. Being stalked by my ex was one of the most stressful and scariest times in my life, but my hope is that by reading this, you’ll be able to recognize these signs sooner and protect yourself.
- They call you “theirs.” Many couples have pet names and nicknames that they call each other like babe, honey, etc. They’re terms of endearment for the feelings of love and enjoyment we give and receive from our partners. My ex was obsessed with Johnny Cash and started calling me “his June.” Did you catch that? HIS June. Throughout the course of our relationship, this little possessive pronoun turned into a possessive view of me. I wasn’t his partner, I was his possession and he treated me as such.
- You’re forced to make his plans your plans. While I was still with my ex, I was given the illusion of choice. We would make plans but then later he would derail them, apologize, and suggest we do what he wanted to do. All of this charade of changing plans and saying sorry was just to make him feel like he had the power to keep an eye on me in a place he felt comfortable.
- They steal or go through your phone while you’re asleep or busy. While I would cook dinner, go to the bathroom, go for a run, or fall asleep, he would go through my phone and look through my texts and Instagram. That invasion of privacy was bad enough in and of itself. What’s worse is that he would sometimes text people pretending to be me and tell them I was too busy to see them, cancel plans I had made, or start an argument with me about why I talked to some of my friends.
- They start asking other people for details about your life. After I broke up with him, he continued to try to insert himself into my life. I would get texts or calls from friends asking why he was asking them about my daily routine—things like my class schedule, where I would be on the weekend and if I was talking to anyone new. Thankfully, most of my friends never gave him any information about me and told him to stop contacting them.
- They change their phone number multiple times even though you keep blocking them. I blocked his number after we broke up because I was getting multiple calls from him every day. Apparently that was not enough of a hint that I didn’t want to communicate. He changed his number five separate times after I blocked each one. He even tried to contact me with each number on WhatsApp. Eventually, I had to ask my cell provider to block any numbers with his name attached.
- They change their email address and bombard your inbox. In addition to the multiple daily calls, he was constantly bombarding my email inbox with up to 20 emails every day. I’d block his email address and the next day he would make another one. He even started to make email addresses with both of our names. I ended up keeping all of the emails in a folder in case I needed to show the authorities.
- They befriend bartenders at your regular spots in order to keep tabs on you. When you live in a city of eight million people, you tend to have a predictable set of regular bars and restaurants where you go to meet friends or just hang out. Little did I know at the time that he’d befriended those bartenders and given them his number. He would ask them to text him when I showed up at their establishment and try to get information about who I was with and what I was doing. Luckily, some of the bartenders caught on and refused to tell him about my life.
- They “surprise” you when you’re out with friends. There would be nights that I wanted to go out with my friends and try to relax and forget about my ex. Little did I know that because of his efforts to befriend bartenders or use his friends as his personal information sources, he would inevitably find out where I was with my friends. Then he would show up with an excuse to “surprise” me or say that he was in the area (he lived across the river in a different state). It got so bad that I stopped going out with my friends until I knew the ordeal was over. I only spent time with friends in our apartments because I was afraid he might show up and cause a scene.
- They threaten to send compromising photos of you to your school and work. My ex and I took private photos, as do others in relationships. They were meant for us and for our relationship only. After I broke up with him, he threatened to send these photos to my school administration and work contacts. He wanted to scare me into getting back with him. Fortunately for me, I refused to comply with his hollow demands. He never sent the pictures and I was not coerced back into an abusive relationship. I don’t regret taking the photos but I do regret not being more careful and setting boundaries and rules on how those pictures should have been used or destroyed.
- They threaten to come by your home unannounced. More than once, my ex (with one of his new phone numbers) threatened to show up at my house unannounced. He’d tell me that he was on his way already and not to try to stop him. It was scary to think that someone I had no desire to see and was emotionally abusive thought it was OK to show up at my apartment whenever they wanted. I felt like I had no security or peace of mind in my own home. There would even be nights that I would ask friends if I could sleep on their couches because I didn’t feel safe.
If you feel that you may have someone stalking you The National Center for Victims of Crime Stalking Resource Center has a multitude of resources available to help you. But, if you are in immediate danger or your safety is threatened please call 911 immediately. If you feel like something is wrong, listen to your intuition and get help. Do not communicate with your stalker, save all texts, emails or lists of calls, and let your friends, family, and security at work or school know that you may have a stalker so you have a support system to keep yourself safe.