A while ago I posted something on my Facebook wall and the butch acquaintance I had dined with that night got offended because I talked about her as a lurker instead of as a stalker. I had to do a second take and reread the text message she sent me. Yes, she was offended because I called her “lurker” (IMO and I think common knowledge: someone who reads someone else’s FB wall without ever commenting or liking anything) instead of “stalker” (someone much more sinister and dangerous). That small thing reminded me of the proverbial butch/femme rumor mill and how nowadays everyone who is someone seems to have not one but seven million stalkers.
We use the S word so easily and gratuitously. Oh those damsel in distress femmes who go from one stalker to another. You know: they change the locks because a butch (let’s call her Z) is stalking them, then they move in with Z, when they get tired of Z, they start dating another butch (let’s call her B) and when B calls them on their shit they tell everyone that B is stalking them and go back to Z. Oh those butches who block you on Facebook and twitter, but go out of their way to make sure mutual friends send you screenshots of their saying how much they despise you and how stalked they feel because 10 years ago you dared look in their direction. Barf. Please don’t get me started on the butches and femmes who go from victims to perpetrators by spreading rumors about their alleged stalkers and their friends as potential accomplices because, you know, their lives and their every move are oh so interesting.
Let me make something perfectly clear: stalking is a very serious crime. Stalking is something you don’t fuck with. Something you don’t wait to act on. If someone is stalking you and you happen to live in a state with anti harassment laws, you RUN (don’t walk) to the closest precinct and get a restraining order. If you ain’t got time for that, you surely shouldn’t have time to trace your alleged stalker every move and harass that person online or in real life. Can’t have it both ways, darlings.
Here is what to do if you are being stalked:
1. If the stalker happens to be your ex or a creepy acquaintance, do not respond to her emails. Do not pick up the phone when she calls. Don’t try to see things from her perspective. Don’t try to walk in her shoes. Just go No Contact.
2. Keep a log of all the unwanted contacts.
3. Gather material. Print or save PDF copies of all her emails and save the tape with all the messages s/he leaves on your mailbox. If s/he sends you flowers or chocolate, keep her notes and a receipt from the vendor/delivery person.
4. Find out if your state has anti stalking and anti harassing laws. Even without them, you can always get a restraining order. Do not hesitate to ask for one.
5. Build a safety net: tell your friends where you are going to be and don’t be afraid to call them at 4:00 am if you think your stalker is outside your apartment or following you down the street. Even if you can’t see that person – trust your gut feeling. It’s ok to be a little paranoid.
6. Anti-stalking 101: set your Facebook, twitter, ello and whatever to private. Yes, I just wrote it is ok to be a little paranoid, but you can’t go around telling people you are being stalked by one of more people, block them without prior warning on Facebook, and keep having an open profile. If you are really being stalked, the person who is stalking you can easily create a new profile without your knowledge and stay current on your business. Same goes for twitter – where one doesn’t even need to have an account to check your feed. Plus the police and your acquaintances may think that something doesn’t add up there. Femme Who Cried Wolf anyone?
By the way, did you know January is the National Stalking Awareness Month in the US? Follow this link for more info.