I have been toying with the idea of writing this post for a few weeks, ever since Netflix released YOU as a series and lots of women found the stalker Joe romantic or “hot”. I’m not a big fan of sharing my personal life on my blog. I write about books, not myself, but since this is somewhat book related I thought I would share a thing or twenty.
I read YOU a few years ago and it terrified me. I won’t be watching the tv series as I am too scared to do so. You see, I am a stalking victim.
Yup, I have had my own personal Joe. I actually dated one for a while.
I am going to try to keep this story as short as I possibly can. I won’t be sharing the more gruesome personal things that happened, because no one needs to read those things. I just think sharing an experience might show those who think stalking is cute or romantic that it really isn’t. It is terrifying, it drives you insane and yes, it is possible to be stalked by your own boyfriend.
To keep with the theme I am going to refer to my stalker as Joseph.
My stalking story:
I met Joseph when I was 17 at a Goth club. He was quiet and awkward, but he was a friend of a friend so I spoke to him. He was pretty cute; he had a kinda Marilyn Manson look about him. (Don’t judge teenage me for my bad taste). Joseph and I swapped numbers because texting was the thing to do at the time. You had to have as many numbers on your phone as possible and I was pretty social.
This is when things got weird. Joseph would call and text me, constantly. Even during the school day, I would have to drop everything and talk to him. I was happy that a boy was paying me a lot of attention (dumb teenage girl logic) and I didn’t spot the red flags. I liked that my school friends were saying they were jealous because a boy called me all the time. Joseph would get mad if he heard people in the background of our conversations or if I sounded too happy or bored in any way. He would say he was worried about me and wanted to check in on me, and if I took too long to answer he would turn on the water works to show just how worried he was.
Somehow, I ended up being his girlfriend. I somehow because it just sort of happened after months of talking and me burning through my mobile phone minutes and my parents’ phone bill talking to him.
He then turned his attention to my friends. He now hated them, even the ones we shared. He wanted them gone so he could have me all to myself. Joseph started to lie. He would claim that he had heard my friends talking about how much they hated me, or that they were a bad influence on me. If I voiced any annoyances about my friends he would fuel the fire and make things worse. All of this was done with the logic of it being for my own good and he knew better. Eventually he hacked my facebook and deleted friends he didn’t approve of. He would also go through my phone to read messages between me and my new uni pals.
University made him WORSE. He didn’t get into uni but I did. My secondary school had been all girls but now I was in the world of uni parties, mixed gender classes and making new male friends. He hated all of it. I couldn’t go to parties without him throwing a tantrum, he would stand outside my uni gates to “check that I was ok” or “surprise” me, and he once snuck into one of my lectures and sat at the back.
Uni wasn’t the only place I was followed; Joseph would also follow me to work. As a teenager and young adult I worked a few part time jobs in shops and he would constantly show up as a customer. He would lurk around the shop and then throw a tantrum if he saw me talking to male customers or co-workers. In one job I was actually told not to come back because he wouldn’t stop hanging around the shop.
Another one of his favourite tactics was to create fake social media profiles, pretending to be his friend or a random stranger online. They would add me as a friend so they could see if any posts were hidden from his Joseph account or they would try to flirt with me to trap me into a fight with him. He would also use them to troll and abuse my male friends online.
I am not going to explain the end of our relationship because it was scary. I will just say that it got to a point where I couldn’t shower and was locked in his room. I will leave it at that. But I am never 100% rid of him. My Joseph still regularly checks my social media accounts. I don’t bother blocking him because I have already done so 5 times and he just makes new ones. I don’t find it threatening any more, I just find it sad.
I had had to reconnect with a lot of the friends Joseph shoved out of my life. They all knew it was his fault so they never blamed me. I even made some unlikely new ones, because I am not the only person he has done this to. I was just his first. Joseph is still out there and he has done the exact same thing to other women, all of whom have looked me up once his behaviour got intolerable for them. So I ended up with an online circle of gal pals who were all abused and stalked by the same man. He hates this by this by the way. I guess every cloud has a silver lining.
I just wanted to share my story to show that abuse and stalking isn’t cute and that it is real. It happens to normal people all the time. It can cost you friendships, family and jobs. Thousands of women are killed every year because of abuse and stalking. You shouldn’t find it romantic.
I know some people might judge some of my decisions in my story, like staying with him for so long, but I was a teenager when it started. If anything it is a warning to teenage girls of what can happen if you ignore bad behaviour in relationships.