Book Notes: Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked

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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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24 Responses

  1. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    The online issue is an interesting parallel, bit I think it must be paralleling rather than dovetailing the reasons one stalks. Stalkers, after all, pre-dated the popular internet.

    The idea that a stalker seeks a messiah and finds a satan (never mind that the other party thinks the relationship is slight) is also not new, but probably the best theory out there.

    Does Lasdun ever find actual stalkers, or their mental health care professionals, to get their insights? It would be too much to expect that he’d interview Nasteen, even if such a thing were possible, and understandable if he was gunshy about initiating contact with another obsessive. Still, that’s a voice unheard, it seems, and a voice that while unpleasant might nevertheless yield useful information.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      @burt-likko –
      a voice unheard, it seems, and a voice that while unpleasant might nevertheless yield useful information.

      As I stated below, my particular IRL bête noire stops short of full-on stalking (though this issue has been going on now for nearly a decade – any chance public encounter results in a venomous aside or tirade, depending on the circumstances).

      Several of BN’s best friends have managed to keep some contact with us, though that’s been a difficult and rocky process – because BN comes unhinged at the mere mention of our names, these mutual friends have had to resort to ridiculous subterfuges at times to avoid BN’s spittle-flecked rants.

      Which subterfuges of course only serve to further BN’s paranoia, if and when these subterfuges come to light.

      Self-fulfilling prophecies.

      Anyway, these mutual friends have many times had the “just let it GO, already” conversation with BN, in ways subtle and not-so-subtle. According to them, in rare moments of insight, BN will sometimes admit that BN just…can’t….let it go.

      Like BN knows on some level that it’s not right, or normal, or healthy and wishes they could let it go; but is powerless to change their behavior (worth noting is that BN has a history of severe mental illness in their immediate family, which manifested in that family member at roughly the same age as BN was when BN’s issues began).

      You may ask why these mutual friends stay friends with BN, and the answer is partially loyalty, and partially guilt. BN had a close call with a life-threatening illness; this illness started just before our falling-out. BN recovered, but seemingly transferred their impotent rage at their own body’s betrayal to their external environment, and I happened to be handy.

      It’s a lot easier to be angry at a person than your own body, I suspect.

      And BN has been methodically, metaphorically “quarantining” anyone associated with me in BN’s mind ever since.

      Despite all the venom that’s been directed at me and mine over the years, I’ve only rarely ever given BN much in the way of a reaction, since it quickly became apparent to me that BN wasn’t mentally well, at least in this arena; though I had to mightily restrain myself the time BN insinuated that I was somehow responsible for a friend’s suicide attempt (BN had actually dated said friend at one time).

      I’ve asked my friends to do the same, no matter what BN says or does, and I’ve asked them not to gossip about it (even though some of the stuff BN has said and done is TOTALLY gossip-worthy, ‘cos that shit’s CRAZY).Report

  2. Avatar Glyph says:

    These people, however, can’t quite see anyone as neutral; we’re all either enemies or close friends in their personal melodrama. It’s always personal

    Preach it brother.

    You know, there have been some discussions around here about internet pseudonyms, their pros and cons etc.

    I’m “pro” for a number of reasons, but one I maybe haven’t mentioned is that I have a person IRL like that described above – an ex-friend that’s more like your “one-sided feud” situation, than an actual full-on stalker, but this person has wrecked more than one social gathering (we move in the same circles and have mutual friends) with their obsessive behavior. My wife and I actually kept our wedding plans somewhat on the DL because our worry was that this person might attempt some sort of ‘sabotage’, if not literal then just a barrage of s**t-talk etc. (They certainly pulled some ridiculous stunts at the wedding of a mutual friend).

    The crazy thing is, when I tell people about this situation, they assume this person is an ex-lover, or that there is something more to the story. Well, there is in that person’s mind, but not in reality – they just went through a stressful health situation, and through a weird transference, made *me* the target of what they truly hate & fear (IMO). And now anyone associated with me is “tainted” as well.

    Anyway, it’s one of the reasons I use a pseudonym here: because I don’t particularly want this person to locate me online, where the “cost” of hassling me is next to nothing.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      I’ve had a big internal debate about this post because one would have to be extremely fixated to connect the real world me to this post, which changes some pretty key details about my own situation. I don’t think the dude (who was still fixated on me and waging his campaign as of last November) is that obsessed (or bored) to put 2 and 2 and 2 together. But, I’ve said that before.Report

    • Avatar bluefoot says:

      I’ve had two stalkers. To this day, more than six years after our last contact, one of them still stalks me online. He’s a former friend. I get messages via LinkedIn from him, and of course via LinkedIn he has my workplace, so I get hangups on my work phone. I’m not on social media otherwise, but he keeps tabs on me via my friends posts on Facebook, Instagram, etc and repeatedly tries to stay in the orbit of my friends, colleagues and acquaintances so he can figure out what I’m doing. And he’s done some damage to my friendships and definitely had an impact on my job search when I was unemployed. I use a pseudonym everywhere except on LinkedIn and rarely include more than general info about myself. But not being able to post or comment on professional sites under my real name or citing my experience/expertise has a real impact on my career.Report

  3. Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

    I am largely of the school that almost any person can become anything given the right inputs, outputs, stresses, etc. This includes stalking. Most of us will never become major stalkers. All of his will probably engage in a little google searching and internet stalking.

    I don’t know what turns someone into a stalker but they existed pre-Internet and were probably just as adept back then at using technology and stuff to stay close to their victims.

    As to the criticisms, I think society still subconsciously sees stalking as something creepy men do to women and this is largely true. There is a tendency possibly to think that guys are better at handling stalkers or perhaps did something to encourage women stalking them like lead them on for a one-night stand or something like that.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      …that poor innocent rabbit.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Men and women stalk differently.
      Male stalkers tend to be like Chris-chan, with the nigh infinite belief that if they keep on trying, there will be feelings, dammit!!

      Women tend to stalk after the relationship — and it is, to some extent, something guys can avoid. (“never date crazy”).Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “Male stalkers tend to be like Chris-chan, with the nigh infinite belief that if they keep on trying, there will be feelings, dammit!”

        How many stories and movies and moral fables have had exactly that premise, though? It’s not like that idea just appeared in people’s brains out of quantum fluctuations.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Jim,
        Oh, certainly! What most of these ego-driven guys miss, is that they’re not really “date material.” Women like to be wooed, but they like to be wooed by guys they consider dateable (read has some attractive features).

        Also note: stalking may actually be not the worst case for “undateable man”. A lot of them turn to rape, and become perennial party/date rapists.Report

  4. Avatar Kim says:

    Stalking is what happens when the stalker lacks power.
    When the stalker has power? They delegate, and then your life as you know it ends.
    Lose your house, lose your job, lose your friends.

    There are some people it’s a REALLY bad idea to cross.Report

  5. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Just to clarify something that might not need it- my thesis here is not that the Internet creates new stalkers or that there are stalkers who would not exist without it. Instead, I’m saying that stalkers seem to navigate the online world much better than they do the offline world where they stick out like sore thumbs. Also, interestingly, they seem to be better at using the net than their targets. Some of the cyberstalking techniques I’ve witnessed were diabolically brilliant and certainly things that most of us couldn’t dream up.

    However, I am suggesting that they are innovators in finding new uses for the internet. Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      If you count dressing up as something out of Silence of the Lambs “navigating the online world better than the rest of us”Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

      Crazy isn’t stupid. And people honestly don’t realize how much information there is about them just in open sources. Sure, they don’t immediately present themselves as soon as you open a web browser…but then, that’s kind of why we don’t realize it.

      There’s also the way that the Internet eliminates isolation. When a crazy person is on their own, they generally have more trouble maintaining their delusion. But the Internet lets crazy people get together and think “there are so many of us, we can’t possibly be crazy, because how could we all be crazy the same way at once?”Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        Exactly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone post a long, unhinged rant about someone or something where 80% of the comments are along the lines of “dude, chill out, you don’t look so good here,” and the other 20% are, “Oh my god! We have to DO something!”Report

  6. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    “Online” is just a new medium for an old practice here.

    Long before I knew the Internet even existed, I had a stalker. In truth, I don’t think anyone really called her that back then — I think everyone just said she was crazy — but there are a lot of parallels between what she did and what Lasdun’s student did. (Unlike Ladsun, I did have a brief dating relationship with this person, though it was never a committed one.)

    At frist she just called a lot, sometimes dozens of times a day, to the point where eventually I stopped answering my phone and let her leave a message on the machine. One day early on (when I was just avoiding but not yet hanging up on her) she called and asked me to meet her after work for drinks or dinner, and I declined. I was already planning on going out for drinks with a big group of people from work. I really didn’t want to see her and so I didn’t say where I was going, because she would have just shown up. But she wouldn’t let it go, so finally I lied and told her I was going to my parents for dinner. Later that night I got dropped off at my apartment building by a coworker, and she was waiting on the steps to the main door. She was angry, because she knew I had lied. She knew, it turned out, because she had gone thought the Portland white pages calling every Kelly until she got my parents to see if I was telling the truth and not out on a date with some woman. When she finally got them, of course, they explained I wasn’t there.

    It got progressively worse. She began meeting coworkers of mine fro other departments (usually women) and explaining that we were engaged but I was abusive, and other sorts of stuff. I could never prove it, but I was pretty sure she’d gotten the admin woman in HR to give her a copy of my employee file, because she had copies of work documents as well as my social security number and all kinds of income data.

    There was a whole lot more that doesn’t merit being dragged out in the comments section, but outside my circle of friends and family it amazed me how little anyone cared. When I presented the HR head with copies of documents from my file she had given me or others, he shrugged it off and was convinced I must have given them to her. The police thought it was funny. Coworkers who I didn’t really know because they worked in other departments, when approached by this woman, just assumed that it all must be true. Why else would she have gone out of her way to introduce her self to them?

    It went on for about two years, and then it petered out. By that time I had an unlisted number, was coy with strangers about exactly where I worked, and my friends all knew to give out limited amounts of info about me to anyone they didn’t know asking around about me.

    There was never any concern on my part that she would physically harm me, or vandalize my car, or anything like that. I was pretty sure at the time if I called her up and asked her out she would have happily said yes. So I was never in any kind of real danger. Still, it’s weird the degree that stuff like that makes you feel violated.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      You know, I don’t want to get too off-topic from Rufus’ post, but your story is making me think of Jonathan’s recent “rape culture” post, and the discussions we’ve had around false accusations, which are apparently so rare as to not really worry about, and in any case are easily-resolved by the accused.

      Good thing ALL this woman did was tell people that you were “engaged and abusive”. It’s not like she could figure out where you were at any given time or your personal details, and use that info to concoct an even more sinister – even criminal – story, for which you might have had no good alibi.

      Oh wait, she DID figure out those things.

      But luckily, you had no prior dating relationship. So there was no possibility of any physical evidence being misused against you.

      …what’s that?

      Well, good thing she wasn’t crazy then.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Oh, false accusations do exist. They rarely get to criminal trials for a variety of reasons. Mostly because there are people paid to ensure that REAL rapes don’t get to trial, and the false accusations tend to get caught up in the shuffle.

        “You don’t really want to be a stupid slut shamed by society, do you?”Report

  7. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    “Are mentally unbalanced individuals like Nasreen simply ahead of the curve, heralding a new age of unstable relationships?”

    I’ve often wondered if the rise in autism diagnoses is partly due to the way humans are starting to interact with each other–in bite-size comment-based conversations, subject to being put on a hold of indeterminate length whenever either party doesn’t feel like continuing. It’s not that I’m ignoring you or not talking; I just haven’t got anything to add to that particular conversational thread. And then suddenly you say something I don’t like, and I decide to delete you from my life; unfriend, unfollow, block, log out, ragequit. No explanation given, you know why I did it (and if you don’t then you wouldn’t understand so why bother explaining?)Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      @jim-heffman Huh. That’s a really fascinating thought, Jim. Just how long are the odds that I could talk you into doing a guest post on that?Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        That comment is pretty much my thoughts on the subject. I suppose I could spin it out longer with examples and reasoning, but to do that kind of thing justice there’d be so much effort I’d expect an MS at the end of it.Report

    • Avatar bluefoot says:

      Interesting. I’ve wondered that about ADHD as well. For a long time a couple of colleagues and I joked that we had “acquired ADHD” as a result of running a very large, very complex project. All of us were interrupted many times an hour for over a year. It took all of us a long time (read that as years) to settle down into being able to focus for long periods at a time when previous to the project, it was something we all did easily.Report

  8. Avatar zic says:

    Instead, I’m saying that stalkers seem to navigate the online world much better than they do the offline world where they stick out like sore thumbs. Also, interestingly, they seem to be better at using the net than their targets. Some of the cyberstalking techniques I’ve witnessed were diabolically brilliant and certainly things that most of us couldn’t dream up.

    I’m quite sure that while reporting, the basic research I did on sources probably struck them as stalker like. In part, that’s because most people have a really poor understanding of public record (your property taxes, court proceedings, deeds, etc.) and at the time, early in the internet’s formation, little idea of how easy it was to find people’s on-line presence. But it did give me pause when that was people’s reaction, and I was pretty circumspect and respectful.

    Both my husband and I have ‘fans’ that can seem rather stalker like, too; but neither are big promoters, putting our lifestyle out as part of our branding, and I think this is common enough that some people expect it.

    I was stalked, physically, and it’s the most difficult, frightening, and twisting thing I’ve had happen.

    Even with fandom, I find it kind of creepy; but I’m more interested in living my own life than watching Truman’s.

    I heard an interview with Lasdun, what he went through is horrible; remains horrible. I’ve a young friend, a woman, who’s life has been similarly disrupted by an older woman who’s mentally ill, (she’s going through menopause, hasn’t had her period for a couple of years, and thing’s she’s pregnant with Jesus’ baby ill), and the older woman has a long history of contacting the police and filing charges against this younger woman; really damaging and harassing stuff. I suspect much of this behavior is mental illness to varying degrees, and with the internet, we’ve a whole new way of doing it.

    The cesspits of the human soul.Report

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