I recently had my blog reviewed by someone who hated it. He was condescending in general, and called my blog "annoying".
He did, however, offer me this bit of insight: Do Try This at Home is a Mommy-Blog. And here I hadn't been able to figure out my niche: I had really hoped it was a Humor-Blog.
But, whether this is a Mommy-Blog or a Humor-Blog, some things are worth getting serious about, which is why I was SO excited to have been invited by Blogher - SheKnows Media, and Public Radio International to join the Women's Lives campaign!
Condescending-guy-who-reviewed-my-blog-last-week said it was useless, and it looked like just a way to get free stuff.
Well. What can I say? I actually like running giveaways every so often.
But mostly I like to make people laugh. I feel like it's my main reason to be on the internet in the first place: to make someone's day a little better with a laugh. Because, to totally twist around and misquote Ella Fitzgerald and whoever all else sang it...what else can you do most of the time in this crazy life but just laugh to keep from crying?
So when I got the invite for for Women's Lives I thought: it's worth stopping laughing long enough to talk about women's issues and our place in the news.
And so...I'm here to talk stalking:
For one thing, ONE in FIVE women are stalked, which I think is pretty unbelieveable.
And one of them was me. Of course...because with odds like that, why wouldn't it be?
It took me about two years to be able to write about the stalking, because I had this irrational fear that despite the fact that only bloggers read blogs back then, the stalker might see my post and remember to terrorize me.
So I waited two years. And now, a few years later for the Women's Lives campaign, I'm posting it again:
Being stalked takes a very long time and most of it is excruciatingly boring to everyone except the recipient of the stalking. So here is the short version:
Basically an acquaintance, a racquetball buddy of my ex-husband, called me from out of the blue to say he was separated and getting a divorce. He had moved into my apartment complex. He only called a couple times a day at first, but then he started to call a lot. A lot, a lot, a lot. The messages he left on my machine got more and more urgent - he HAD to talk to me.
The calls started to come at less and less socially acceptable times of day. I would leave for an hour and come home to 14 calls on my caller ID at any time of day or night.
Apparently my ex-husband had engaged in some locker room talk with Racquetball-Ball-Buddy-Turned-Stalker-Guy. I don't blame my ex-husband; women do that stuff too.
I could tell Raquetball-Guy-Turned-Stalker knew more than he should about my body because he accidentally left a long, detailed message on my answering machine in which he THOUGHT he had hung up and was just talking to whoever was in the room with him.
But my answering machine was recording the whole conversation, personal anatomical details and all.
I felt extremely exposed during all of this, because the apartment complex had a public walkway that went right past my bedroom window. So when he called the next time at 3:00 AM, I waited for the ringing to end, called my brother, and burst into tears.
My brother told me to call the police.
"But what do I tell them?" I asked.
"Tell them you're a woman at home alone with her child and you're terrified because this guy won't stop calling."
"Oh!!! I'm terrified!" I replied incredulously.
Well that was certainly news to me, but it explained my sudden tears.
My brother assured me that the police would have had weirder calls that night, and that if they didn't feel it was worthy of their time, they would tell me so.
The police came, a man and a woman. They were kind and reassuring. I've been told that isn't always the case, and that stalking is not always taken seriously, but the officers who came to my apartment calmed me, and exuded nothing but confidence and professionalism.
As I was explaining the situation to them, Stalker-Guy called, but I did not pick up the phone. They told me that if I felt comfortable, I should answer and tell him to stop calling. I decided to wait until morning, because talking to stalker-guy-who-lived-in-my-apartment-building-and-had-easy-access-to-my-bedroom-window seemed way too scary to do at night.
When I answered the phone the next time I told him never to call me again, EVER. And my tone of voice was, as my dad would say, "the way you talk to a dog".
And then my boyfriend called him and left him a message in the tone of voice that I imagine was, "the way you talk to a guy who's terrifying your girlfriend." My cousin called and repeated the message, just for good measure.
And thankfully, I never heard from him again, except my son was in the same homeroom as his kid a year later. And they were assigned a project together, but it was an in-school assignment and I did not have to interact with Stalker-Guy at all.
The moral of my story is that you can be all kinds of careful on blogs and Facebook and all OVER the internet and STILL pick up a random stalker from real life.
Due to the internet, the incidence of stalking have really skyrocketed since my experience, as Stephanie Dolce explains here.
I don't really know that I have a better moral to the story now that so many years have passed. But I do know that the Women's Lives project is a good one, and that Stephanie Dolce's idea of support for women who have been or are being stalked is also a good idea.
Thanks for taking a break from the general silliness to consider this very serious issue. Two great semi-related stories that you may want to check out from PRI include:
A Dating Site That Gives Women More Control
This Member of Congress Has a Plan to Curtail Revenge Porn
I originally posted My Stalking Story here.
Photography from Dollar Photo Club.