My Personal Stalking Experience, Part 4

As part of our #FightStalking campaign we are asking people to share how stalking has affected them personally.  This is part 4 of my experience.  You can catch up here with Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3.

The arrest warrant and serving of the order of protection took time…too much time.  The emails, notes, drives by my house and now phone calls continued.  She taunted me with claims that she would not be arrested.  According to her, she knew the “right people” who would take care of it and there was nothing I could do.

The calls were constant to my work phone.  I could barely get any work done throughout the day and my evenings were filled with police reports when I was not at the shooting range.  My entire life was about keeping myself and my family safe.  There was no time for fun or relaxation it was all about fielding the calls and filing more reports.

After the order of protection had not been served for two weeks I got suspicious.  Maybe she did know someone so a friend/private investigator pulled an arrest report on the stalker.  Multiple arrests.  You hear the term “rap sheet a mile long” well this was her! Everything from small charges to more serious charges with one thing in common.  She was arrested, but never convicted.  The realization began to set in that for whatever reason if my family stayed in New Mexico I would never feel safe and this might never end.

The stress was immense! One evening I couldn’t take it anymore and lashed out at my husband.  Every couple argues especially under these circumstances.  The difference in this argument was the turning point in how the stalker was getting the information.  John and I argued.  He consoled me and we went to bed.  The next day both of us slept in which was outside of our normal activities.  About 9:00 a.m. I got an anonymous email from the stalker that repeated our argument.  Both of us were in shock.  The stalker had never been in our home (to our knowledge).  Our minds raced with thoughts of bad spy movies.  Had something been put into the home while it was under construction?  Not really possible, but our phones were in the room during the argument.

My Blackberry had all the normal applications, but John’s had a new application. Some web searches indicated it was spyware. Spyware that could be activated remotely allowing the stalker to see text messages or emails, hear phone calls and even activate the speaker phone to hear the conversation in a room.  The realization that nothing in our lives was private anymore was infuriating to us both.  Love notes, bank statements, arguments, emails discussing what to do everything had potentially been seen by the stalker. Unsure we could ever fully remove the software we got new phones.  The financial burden of stalking victims is incredible while they are just trying to remain safe.

The temporary order of protection was finally served just a few days before the court hearing on the permanent order and we prepared for court.  I was scared.  My husband tried to console me, but for two years I had heard the worst endings to stalking stories.  I knew exactly how bad it could get.  With my daughter still safe in Kansas, my husband and I set off for court.  I prayed that she would simply not show up resulting in the order made permanent, but as we turned into the parking lot I knew I would be forced to be face-to-face with the person whose sole purpose seemed to be to make my life hell.  We parked and as I got out of the car my feet felt heavy as I walked into the court house.  You would think that the police presence, metal detectors and my husband’s support would have lessened the fear.  I don’t know if it were pure anger or the fact that just months before Jodi’s killer’s trial had concluded, but nothing could console me at that point.

The judge called us all into the courtroom and began by asking my husband and I if we still wanted the order in place.  She barely got the words out before we were saying yes.  Then she asked the stalker if “she minded” if the order remained in place and explained by saying too often she sits here for hours only to have both parties say they don’t care if it is in place or not.  The stalker took it. Hook, line and sinker!  After all, what would she say at that point?  That she could not have the order in place because she had made it her life’s mission to stalk me?

I was so relieved I wanted to jump up and hug the judge.  Since that would have been horribly inappropriate I remained seated while the judge explained the order of protection.  Both parties could violate.  The stalker was not allowed within 1000 feet of our home, workplaces or my daughter’s school.  My husband and I signed.  As the bailiff placed the order in front of the stalker she must have realized the magnitude of what she was signing and began protest to the judge.  The judge put a stop to it quickly, but to me it seemed like an eternity.  She signed.

We had to wait for the bailiff to make copies and file the order then we could leave.  Finally!  I was beginning to feel like my life might be mine again!  It got quiet for a couple days.  I relaxed a little, but it was short-lived.  Within days it all started again…the emails, the calls, the notes all of it and she was mad! The detective confirmed that the arrest warrant had been issued.  I had given them her work schedule.  Why had she not been arrested?

By mid-July we decided this would not end.  We needed to make a choice to take back our lives.  We decided to move to another state.  It was not an easy decision at all.  I had dreamed of living under the blue New Mexico skies since I was 10 years old.  The dream house we had built was less than a year old.  The economy was awful and we both had great and secure jobs, but we needed to live.  Nothing material mattered anymore.  All the “things” the stalker was so focused on did not mean a thing to us.  We just wanted to be safe and together.  So the decision was made we would move.  Leave behind our jobs. Our homes. Our friends.  But we would be together and safe.

The next few weeks were spent preparing for the move.  I had just unpacked these boxes into this home, but now I repacked them.  Many of our friends did not even know where we were going since we simply could not understand how the stalker was getting information.  About a week before we moved it got quiet.  Really quiet.  Too quiet.  We did give some thought to staying at that point, but within a few days it all came back and with yet more anger than before.  Unaware of what had happened we increased our security even to the point of registering for the moving truck under a different name and continued with our plans to move.

I could no longer go to the restroom by myself at work.  I had to be escorted everywhere after entering the restroom to a woman waiting.  She asked if I was Angela and I responded no and left.  Such a basic thing yet I couldn’t even do that alone.  We wanted to ensure our safety, but we were also just tired of dealing with it all.  For whatever reasons, the case was not being handled appropriately and it was time to relocate to a place that we were confident in the law enforcement.

The calls were non-stop.  It got to the point that I would leave the phone off the hook at work just to get some work done.  Frustrated I picked up the phone to call the police again.  Angry that an arrest warrant had been issued over a month ago I asked for a supervisor.  The supervisor informed me that during that “quiet time” the stalker had been arrested for aggravated stalking and a drive-by on a house (not mine).  I couldn’t believe that I had not been informed on her arrest or especially on her release, but I was not.  Her words of knowing the “right people” rang in my ears and I knew my family was doing the right thing by moving.  We left town two days later.  I have never been back and I am not sure I will ever feel safe enough to go back, but we did get our lives back and we are happy in our new permanent location.