From Advocate to Victim…What I’ve Learned.

Before January 2007 when Jodi was murdered I had not thought much about stalking or stalkers. Other than hearing on the news about a few celebrities having a problem that is, but as the details began to unfold regarding Jodi’s case I learned just how wide-spread of a problem stalking is. I began researching why the laws were not there to protect the victims and learned that it is a difficult case to prove in many instances. I have worked to successfully change the laws in Kansas and New Mexico and continue to work in other states. I vowed to not stop until all 50 states have sufficient stalking laws and I will not despite gaining my own stalker in the process.

Through my research, I learned the startling statistic that 1 in 12 women will become a victim of stalking at some point in their life. I joined that statistic in March 2009 when I became a victim of stalking. I cannot release many details of the case at this time as there is not a conviction despite the fact the New Mexico’s version of Jodi’s Law went into effect on July 1, 2009. However, I will share what I learned from the standpoint of an advocate turned victim.

1. I learned that no amount of empathy for a victim of stalking compares to what he/she feels. I felt like I understood what the victims went through based on my research and murder of Jodi. I was wrong. Victims question everything and everyone around them as they try to comprehend just how the stalker is finding out the information. In my case, it apparently was spyware on a cell phone that allowed her to see and hear everything and hacking my gmail account.

2. I learned that a lifelong beliefs the guns were bad can be put aside very quickly when you have your life threatened. I own three handguns and a shot gun and have become a very good shot within the last three months.

3. I learned just how hard it is for the victim to track everything. Stalking cases are frustrating for law enforcement. They often only see the harassment side of the crime unless the victim shows the officer a continued behavior. (The Stalking Resource Center has a printable log to help victims keep track of occurrences.) However, as a victim I learned that every time you have to take out the log to add another entry you are reminded of just how much this pathetic stalker is disrupting your life. However, the tracking is extremely important in getting a conviction.

4. I learned just how insensitive people can be. I learned this in several ways. First and foremost, I learned how much the average person does not understand what stalking truly is. I have had co-workers state that they have a stalker when the situation is far from true stalking and not in any way dangerous. I have had people state “you have a girl stalker that is so hot.” Stalking is not a joke and it is not in any way “hot” it is a crime pure and simple. It is a crime that disrupts not only the victim’s life but the lives of those around them.

5. I learned the legal system does not move as quickly as I would like it to move regardless of the number of threats I receive. But I have also learned that evidence adds up quickly and turns what would have initially been a misdemeanor into a felony (aggravated stalking under the new Jodi’s Law) so my stalker will spend more time in jail when the time comes.