I Wish I Had Known the Warning Signs of Stalking When I was 11 Years Old
by Lesley Coghill, LMSW-Macro
*Trigger warning* – This blog contains personal details about stalking.
It was when I was in college that I realized I had experienced stalking beginning in sixth grade. I didn’t recognize it as stalking then, but I knew it was very unhealthy and made me feel uncomfortable. Now, I see the signs and want others to know that help is available.
Love Bombing & Intensity
On the first day of sixth grade, I was passed a note that made its way to my desk from across the room. It said something to the effect of: I like you. Do you like me? Check “yes” or “no”. He saw my phone number written on the inside of my folder (where my mom had written it in case my folder got lost). He told me that he memorized my number and would never forget it. I began receiving phone calls from this classmate. He expressed that he liked me and began calling me frequently – almost every day after school for several months. He asked me out repeatedly and repeatedly I said “no”.
Unwanted phone calls, including hang-ups and voice messages
Sometimes, he was nice, and we’d talk on the phone for a long time. Usually, the phone call would escalate, and he’d yell or call me names. At times, he would have other boys on the call with him and they would curse and be disrespectful. I often would end the calls. He would call back. He continued to call far too frequently, sometimes hanging up angrily.
Unwanted gift giving
He began leaving gifts on my desk before I sat down, which included a rose, a white wristwatch, and cubic zirconia stud earrings. I often tried to return these gifts and he would insist that he wanted me to have them.
A group of sixth-grade boys sat behind me in music class. We had assigned seats. My stalker was one of these boys. They played a game where one of them would tap or poke me from behind, and when I finally turned around, they wanted me to guess who did it. I wasn’t playing the game – I felt harassed. One day at school, I was walking alone in the quiet hallway. As I walked down the stairwell, this classmate followed me and began grabbing my butt. I told him to stop, and I swiped at his hands and dodged him as he chased me down the stairs. Our reading teacher was standing at the bottom of the staircase and called this classmate over to speak with him about his behavior. I went to the office to report this incident. The secretary told me that it was a bad time and I should return to class.
Unwanted contact, showing up unexpectedly
This classmate moved away in the middle of sixth grade. His phone calls continued into high school from out of state. In high school, he repeatedly attempted to call me collect from a juvenile detention center. When the operator said, “You have a call from: ____”, he would fill the space by pleading for me to pick up. I denied his calls and my mom called the detention center and asked that they prevent him from calling our phone number. The calls stopped.
Junior year, I was home with my younger sister. There was a knock at the door. He showed up at my house with two other men (between the ages of 18-25). I went outside to speak with them, trying to get them to leave. They were all intoxicated to the point of stumbling and behaving very irrationally. Two of them asked me out at different points. I went back inside, and he tried to push his way into the house. I was able to keep him out and locked the glass door. He could see me, and I calmly told him to leave. They finally left. My younger sister told me that he often called our home while I was away at college.
Being stalked is a terrifying experience, but there is help.
We see you. We believe you. Help is available.
If you or someone you know is experiencing stalking, help is available. Advocates at Resilience can assist with Personal Protection Orders and provide support.
For free and confidential support, contact us today:
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