This is a brief synopsis of what my fiancee and I have been living through for the last 3 years.
My fiancée, Tom's, ex-wife Susan has been stalking us (mainly me) for almost 3 years now. They had been married for 19 years.
Tom was 16 and Susan was 35 when they married. Every time he tried to leave her, she got violent, attacked him or his friends, and stalked him until he went back to her. She made him lose several jobs, and many friends, who were plainly afraid of her.
She was sent to prison for 2 years on an unrelated felony charge and he finally took the opportunity to get away from her, or so he thought.
The harassment and threats began immediately after we started dating. She was in prison then, and called us via third parties constantly. She left very threatening messages on our answering machine, saying she had people following us and would have me raped and killed.
She also had her friends call and threaten me, come to our house at all hours, bang on the windows, and page my work pager (I am a Hospice Nurse) constantly with nasty messages. She threatened to send someone to kill us, to have our home firebombed, and to kill my children. She told me that my children were devil's spawn and didn't deserve to live. She sent several letters from prison, clearly threatening both He and I, and the children.
We reported this to the police, but they were reluctant to take action. We couldn't even get a restraining order because she was incarcerated and not considered a threat. Even with the threatening letters FROM PRISON, with her name on them. We were able to get her friends to stop helping her by threatening legal action against them. On one occasion, she sent someone to our new house (we moved often) who cut our phone and power, and tried to force his way into the house. We called police again, as well as the prison, and eventually the prison suspended her phone privileges. We moved again to be safe, several times. All was fairly quiet until she got work release a few months later. She immediately began stalking us again, calling our friends at their work, and driving by our home. She threatened to come over and "have it out" with me, and to "kick my butt". We informed the prison and documented evidence. They took her off work release, sent her to solitary for a month, and made her serve her entire sentence with no phone calls or letter writing. She is now suing my friend and I for slander and false imprisonment for this. As well as the Sheriff. Of course, the perfect defense against slander is the truth.
Again, life was peaceful. Until she was released from prison. One of her first stops was my office, where she threatened me and assaulted me. She called the office up to 50 times a day. We tried several times to "be friends" with her, which is all she claimed she wanted. We would agree to be friends, and be civil to each other, and my fiancee and I would set limits, such as only calling two or three times a day, not calling during certain hours, etc. Of course, each time, she could not accept any limits, and the phone calls would begin to get out of control again. When she was asked to stop calling so frequently, she became very angry, and very nasty. We had to shut the phones down for a week because no one in the office would answer them. She verbally assaulted anyone who answered. I was admitted for a heart condition to hospital, and she called me there constantly, even after they moved me 3 times, and put me under a fictitious name. While my nurse and my friend, a detective, were in my room, she called and threatened to inject me through my IV line with AIDS and Hepatitis infected blood. Since she has these illnesses, it was a credible threat. She actually called my hospital room (after the threat) and asked to speak to my friend by name. She did not know him, and when asked how she knew he was there, she answered "because I'm always watching you." BINGO! That was enough, with the threat she had made, to meet Florida's requirements for a restraining order (No, the 50 calls a day and prior threats were not enough)
After the restraining order, she actually stepped up the harassment. She made NO attempt to hide her identity. When we blocked her number, she put calls through the operator. This made them easier to subpoena. Even though the R.O. didn't stop her, it DID get Law Enforcement involved. She has violated the order about 56 times so far (and still going) We have been in court 4 times, with no results so far, but closer each time. She has antagonized the police and Judge to no end. One time, when she had been calling and making threats and we called the police, she actually called back and asked to speak to the police officer. She TOLD him she was sitting across from the office watching us, and proceeded to cuss him out! This particular officer has become my personal advocate and is pursuing felony stalking charges with all his might. We have given statements to the D.A.'s office, and we're hopeful that this will end soon. Since it will be her 4th felony conviction, she should go away for a long time. We have recently moved for the 7th time in 3 years, and she called us on an unlisted number 45 minutes after it was connected. She was our first call. She has also driven by, and called to say she was watching us and had a rifle pointed at my head. The closer we get to court, the more bold she gets, and the worse the threats and harassment. I had quit working 6 months ago because of the harassment, and my fiancée recently quit working there also. It was 1/2 his company, even. We discovered that one of our partners, who had been friends with her, was still giving her information about us. She has managed to convince this partner, and some of her friends, that I'M the unstable one, and I'm harassing HER. She called the police and told them I called her and told her there was a bomb in her house. They evacuated the neighborhood, searched the house, and found nothing. When they questioned me, it turns out I was having dinner in a restaurant with my fiancée and a cop. And I don't have a cell phone. They said they were charging her with filing a false report, and her roommates threw her out. Unfortunately, this happens pretty often in stalking cases. There is an entire site devoted to "False Victimisation Syndrome". I have included a link.
I can't begin to describe what this has done to me for the last 3 years. I'm afraid to go anywhere alone. I don't like being home alone. I always feel like someone is watching me. Just hearing her voice on the phone triggers a panic attack. I do my best never to let her know she's getting to me. I am now on medication to deal with the panic attacks. I can't walk past an open window, all the shades have to be drawn. I truly hope this ends soon. People really need to understand what this does to the victim. It's like living in a war zone, always waiting for the bomb to drop. I feel so paranoid sometimes, I wonder if I AM just going crazy. Luckily, enough people have had to deal with her to reassure me that I'm not nuts. I just want to be able to go shopping alone, go walk my dog without total panic, not have my heart race every time I have to answer the phone. I want to be able to open my blinds and let some of this Florida sunshine in. Even just go out to get my mail by myself. I guess what I really want is my nice, normal life back. Just a quiet peaceful life with my husband and our kids, and no looking over our shoulder.
On Feburary 9th, 2001, we went to court on a "Order to Show Cause" hearing. This was the civil court for violation of restraining order. The hearing was rescheduled at Susan's request, because she needed to be assigned a public defender. After the hearing concluded, I was asked to remain seated. Several deputies, and Officer S., came into the courtroom and arrested Susan on charges of Aggravated Stalking. She was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom to jail. At this point, it became a criminal case, and I no longer had to be my own attorney. It felt wonderful that this was finally at an end, or at least, coming to an end.
Susan did get bailed out a few days later, and began calling again within 3 weeks. I no longer needed to collect evidence, and had decided I was not going to subject myself to listening to her anymore, so I just hung up each time. Eventually, we blocked her number again.
On March 12, 2001, we recieved a call from a local funeral home, informing us that Susan had died of unknown causes at home earlier that morning. Her private physician signed the Death Certificate, so there was no autopsy performed. When her storage room was entered, she was found to have seperated all the items into different boxes, labled each box with the name of the person it was to be given to, and left a note for each person. It has been speculated that she possibly committed suicide, although there is no proof, of course. It was decided unanimously, among her friends and family, not to pursue it further. She had been ill for a while.
My fiancee and I planned and paid for her funeral, and called everyone to inform them of her death. This was really very odd, and very difficult, for us both. I did not attend the funeral, but my fiancee did.
Since the funeral, we have both been dealing with a wide assortment of emotions. We both feel some guilt, of course. Maybe more than we should, maybe not enough. I don't know. There are times I forget that she's gone, and still find myself looking over my shoulder, or in my rearview mirror. Sometimes the phone rings, and neither of us makes a move to answer it, frozen, until we remember it can't be her. Then we both kind of giggle nervously and pick up the phone.
I still wish things had been different. This has changed me, and my life, forever. I don't know yet if I'll ever truly be over it. I know I do look at people differently now. I do wish she had been able to accept limits, that she had not forced us to take the legal action we took. Neither of us really WANTED to send a 50-something year old woman to prison for life. We tried so hard to just get her to stop, to back off. We told her SO MANY times that we would drop it all if she would just stop. But, as anyone who's been through learns the hard way, (as we did) you CAN NOT reason with a stalker. No matter how much you try.
If you or anyone you know is going through this, please e-mail me, or sign my guest book. I would love to include other people's stories on this site. And I promise to learn enough HTML to make it look better.
Also, the links on my Links and Resources Page are wonderful resources for victims.