Court

Finally after what seemed like a year but what was in reality 5 months since the attack the court date came around. Since the case had started in Essex the case was been held at the Harlow Magistrates Court. I stayed at my mums the night before as we had to be there early.

I was worried about seeing M, and I couldn’t sleep that night. Several times I got up and looked outside to check on my car and then I went downstairs to check the locks. By the time morning came around I was exhausted.

I couldn’t eat I was too nervous so we set off early, and thank god we did as we got caught up in traffic. I have a pet hate for being late and I am generally early to most things so this panicked me further.

We arrived just 5 minutes after the time stated on my letter and found our way to the entrance, my Mum, my brother and T had come with me for support and my Dad meet us there. It was an odd family reunion as my parents don’t get on but they were all there for me and seemed to ignore everything else.

We went in and were lead to the Witness unit, it had a door code and I was assured M was not able to come into this area. However if I wanted the loo I would have to go out into the main hallway and he had access to that.

I decided to not drink anything as I didn’t want to go into the hallway, a man from the Witness care service came to see me and he gently explained the process of the court proceedings. He was very nice and comforting and made things sound a lot easier then I had believed they would be.

Then we waited, after 50 minutes a young lady come in and introduced herself to us as my prosecutor. She seemed very young and as with all magistrates cases she had only received the case file that morning. Despite appearing young she seemed on top of things, she explained we were on 3rd so there would be a bit of a wait so to get comfy and hold tight.

So we sat there, everyone but me trying to make light conversation, I couldn’t talk. My mouth was dry and my empty stomach churned with anxiety. I would be standing in court going over everything he had done to me. Would I remember the order? I was scared they would think I had made it up if I didn’t but there was so much to remember!

I started to panic and suddenly the room seemed stuffy and hot, I needed to go outside for some air but I too scared to leave the witness unit. My brother came and sat next to me and tried to help, eventually he realised why I wouldn’t go outside and he went to check the coast was clear.

He came back and said he had seen M he had been getting chocolate from a vending machine in the hallway but now he had gone inside a room to the right.

Nervously I got up and followed my brother down the hall to the door. I made him check again and when he gave the thumbs up I dashed across the hall, almost tripping over in my rush to be out of the building.

We only stayed outside for a couple minutes, my nerve gave out and I wanted to be in the secure unit again. So huddled behind my brother I went back inside.

Another hour and 25 minutes later my brief returned and I realised it was now; it was really happening this was it I was going to have to stand up and recount everything with M staring at me.

I was wrong, apparently some of my statements had not made it into the court documents and so she had pushed for an adjournment and the judge had granted it.

I sagged back into my chair in relief, that today was over and I didn’t have to go into that room. But of course it wasn’t over it was delayed. I would have to at some point. If I wanted this to stop I needed to stand up and be brave.

C xo

©2015 C xo

De Ja Vu

I had been at my new job for 2 ½ weeks when I started getting phone calls and voicemails to my direct line. This doesn’t sound terrible I know, but the phone calls were not normal, numbers being pressed in tunes and a man laughing- that man was M. He had found me at my new job and it was starting all over again.

Just like last time he was making plenty of phone calls. But this time straight to my place of work, the first time I heard him laugh on the phone I had a panic attack, I dropped the phone and tried to move to go to the toilets. People were looking at me, curious and concerned and I desperately didn’t want them to see this, to know that I had a stalker and to see me fall apart.

My manager followed me out to the hall, and tried to calm me down. She had no idea of the cause but eventually she managed to help me regulate my breathing and I was able to explain. I realised if he knew where I worked I would have to tell her.

My fresh start was no such thing, I realised then that I couldn’t run away from this. I had moved, I had changed jobs, I had changed mobile numbers 3 times and I had changed my email and yet M was still there taunting me.

He may have just been laughing down the phone but to me it was as sinister as him telling me he was going to kill me. It was also humiliating.

I wanted to impress my new boss not cause problems. But here I was less than a month in having a panic attack and having nuisance calls to my direct line.

At lunch time called the police, I didn’t want to do it at the office so I walked outside and down the road. Only when I was about 100m from the office did I realise that if he knew my direct dial he knew the office address.

My chest grew tight again as I wildly looked around, there was a man walking up the street in a hoodie and I had a flashback to the day M had attacked me at my old office. As I was transferred to my case officer I hung up and I turned and ran away from the man. I tore into the office, tears running down my face.

What should I do? People were coming back from the shops and looking at me with curiosity, I bolted to the toilets. I was having another panic attack. I tried desperately to calm myself down and I dialled my mum’s number. She answered and realised I needed help to calm my breathing down and she succeeded.

That day I left work early, I didn’t want to but I was such a nervous wreck my manager told me to go home early.

Walking to my car I clutched my phone and my car keys to my chest and walked as quickly as I could. Everyone who walked past me seemed to be too close and I kept thinking I had seen M.

I saw the police that night and they arranged for me to have a special alert phone. I could hold down any key and it would send out an emergency response request to all nearby units and the nearest had to respond. They would have all the details of my case.

Finally they were taking this seriously! But that scared me even more, M had attacked me once and threatened violence what was to stop him doing it again?

From then I almost ran flat out from my car to the office each morning with the phone in my pocket and my finger ready to hold down a key. I did the same in reverse each evening and I never drove home the same way for fear of being followed.

My home was my one last safe place, despite my continued nightmares and manic night checks of the locks. I knew that if M knew my address he would have turned up by now.

The magistrates’ court date was due in early December; several more calls came through each week. But M didn’t show up, well I didn’t see him; as far as I knew he hadn’t come to my office.

I just had to wait it out, the court could issue a restraining order and that was my goal. If I had one M would be in serious trouble if he continued to stalk me.

So I waited.

C xo

©2015 C xo

New job, New Tricks

I started my new job a couple of days later and revelled in the anonymity of my situation. I could be whoever I wanted to be, care free and happy and no one would know any different. I went to work and practised being normal. I smiled and laughed with my co-workers and no one saw me cry.

My nightmares didn’t change and I was still only managing a few hours’ sleep a night, but that seemed normal now. I still panicked when walking alone on the street and often thought I was being followed, but at work I felt safe. M didn’t know I was here.

I got stuck into my new responsibilities part of which was communicating with clients worldwide, LinkedIn would be part of that and although I was nervous about social media I thought that I would be ok. I had never had a LinkedIn account and so M wouldn’t think to look for me on there, and it was a pretty essential part of my job.

I actually enjoyed being able to interact online again, and in just a few days I had built up a number of useful contacts. It seemed to me that this was the fresh start I had hoped for before, I was finally getting it!

Two weeks, that’s how long my peace lasted, I made a simple phone call to my previous office chasing up my last pay cheque, only to find that my details had been changed. M had been notified that I was leaving by a letter they had sent out to my old address- M’s house!

They had written to me at M’s house detailing my last day at the office and the amount due to be paid on the 10th September, which was today. Despite me changing my address with them the day I had started to my mum’s address and then again when I had moved. How M’s address was still on their system I had no idea!

M had responded as me, forging my signature and thanking them for the update and request they make sure my last pay went into my new account- his account.

They checked and confirmed that my money had gone into M’s account that morning; I dropped the phone in shock. Surely this wasn’t possible, surely they would have checked with me? How would I pay my rent? My bills? How would I be able to afford petrol to get to work? He had all my money!

I picked up my phone, and walked out of the office quickly trying to hold back my tears whilst quietly explaining what they had done and that it was M who had changed my details.

I was transferred to the head of the accounts department and he explained that they would have to try to reverse the payment as it had already gone out. This could take over a week to complete, he was very sorry and emailed me a scanned copy of the letter. I hung up the phone exhausted and panicked.

Not here, I tried to calm myself, I was at my new office and I didn’t want them to know about this part of my life. Wearily I called the police, it was only 11.25am they wanted to send someone to my office to take a statement but I persuaded them to come to my house later that evening.

I wanted to protect my new job the best I could, M knew now that I had left my old job, he would be looking for me, I had no doubt about that.

As usual the police took down my details and promised they would be in touch. I waited two days and then got a call; they would not be pressing charges as the CPD felt they could not prove without reasonable doubt in court that M had done this.

I was outraged! Of course he had done this, the officer explained that M had a lodger and that since he could have opened the letter and sent the letter back it wasn’t a viable case and they would not be continuing with it.

I couldn’t believe it and I felt a rush of anger towards M that was white hot, how dare he do this and to be getting away with it too! I managed to hold it together at work, and made excuses not to join people at the pub. I rang all of my direct debits and explained the situation and gave them the police number.

I wondered if my life would ever be simple and easy again. Each day seemed to get harder and harder no matter what I did to try to change it. My saving grace was that I was still just C at work, not poor C or that strange girl that cries a lot, not that girl that got attacked or that one who can’t walk to the station alone.

I was just C and that was my one happiness, I held onto it and spent my days smiling and my nights crying.

C xo

©2015 C xo

Living Hell

The days following the attack were some of the worst of my life; I became more and more paranoid. I wasn’t able to walk down the street without jumping every time someone walked past me, even worse if someone was running or accidently brushed past me I would scream out loud in panic.

I had dreams of that day outside my office, but in my dreams each time he caught up with me again and followed me home. I had to get up 3-4 times a night to check that the front door and the back door was safety locked and then I would lock myself back into my room. I wasn’t able to sleep for more than 40 minutes at a time and it often took an hour to get back to sleep after I had checked the locks.

Work was getting harder and harder, just being near the building made my chest tight and I would turn in circles looking over my shoulder and around me all the way to the door clutching my phone with 999 already dialled. The security guards were again walking me to the station after work.

At work itself the emails continued and there wasn’t a day that passed that I didn’t break down and run to the loos to try and find sanctuary and to hide my tears. I was worried for my job and by extension how I would cope if I was fired. It was surely only a matter of time, my sales performance was appalling and I hid away in a corner of the building café every lunch, afraid to go outside.

I still didn’t want to explain what was going on it seemed stupid saying it out loud, I mean the police had arrested M so many times now and the court date was set for December at a magistrates court but if he had really done something wrong surely they could hold him, was I over reacting?

I didn’t know, my case officer asked me to come in and go through all the details I could remember of my time with M, it took hours and was so stressful. I had worked hard to put that time out of my head and to try to move on. But she wanted to know everything, to present the background of my case to the court.

My current life however seemed so much worse in comparison to when I was with M. I was hiding away at weekends and evenings, afraid to leave my house convinced that M knew where I was and that it was only a matter of time until he turned up.

I told my housemates a bit about M and what was happening and put up a photo of him by the front door saying to not let him in or speak to him but to tell me asap if they saw him anywhere near the house.
I hated walking past that photo every day, but at the same time it grimly reassured me that there would be 10 extra pairs of eyes looking out for M.

I was so worried about my job by the end of August that I started looking elsewhere; I thought about it long and hard and decided that I would be better off leaving sales. Exhibition sales roles are limited in London to a handful of companies and M would be bound to check them if I was no longer at my current company.

So I re wrote my CV, and politely turned down all the offers of sales roles that predictably came in. It seemed that there was no way of avoiding them, but then a recruiter contacted me with a seemingly perfect role, I was put forward and got an interview. The best thing was that the job was out West. Not in town, nowhere near my current office and a new industry for me, I went to the interview feeling like the weight of my whole future was balanced on my shoulders.

I got a second interview but it would be 2 weeks until I was due to go in and present to the company. Work went steadily downhill, I was taken to one side and told that although they understood my personal circumstances were difficult I was on a warning about my performance.

My confidence deserted me at the office and I failed to improve, I went to the office each day panicked about being followed, panicked about looing my job and panicked about losing my car and my home. M was taking my life away piece by piece and I couldn’t stop him.

The day before my second interview, I was spoken to again. My manger looked so uncomfortable when he sat me down and I was sure I was done for. I quickly decided it would be far better to hand my notice in than to be fired for poor performance. So before he could fire me I quit.

I went to my interview early the next morning before what was to be my last day at my current job; they didn’t want me to work my notice. They were happy to let me go. I was so nervous when I arrived, I had worked on my presentation obsessively for the past two weeks and knew it by heart and felt it was good.

I walked in with my head held high knowing that they would not be able to judge me on what was happening to me, it was a clean slate here and I did my best.

Leaving I thought it had gone well, I got onto the train and 3 minutes later my phone rang, it was my recruiter and he was ringing with an offer! I was thrilled and all my worries fell away for a moment I had a job, I no longer had to go back to that building every day. M wouldn’t know where I was!

I had been right to quit.

I tided my desk and left with hope in my heart that day. I thanked the security guard who walked me to the station that afternoon and went home hoping this would mean a change. M wouldn’t know my place of work, my mobile number or my email. What could he do?

C xo

©2015 C xo

Attack

I still had my fears that he might turn up so the next day I arranged flexi hours and I went to work an hour early and left an hour early, I figured this way I wasn’t being predictable and if M was going to turn up after work I would have already left.

I changed into my gear and left the office it was a bright late August afternoon, and I could tell it was going to be a hot run, I walked down towards the crossing thinking a little walking would be a good warm up. I noticed one of my laces had come loose so I stooped down to fix it and put my phone on the floor next to my foot.

As I was tying my lace I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder and then the weight of a person as they vaulted over me and as they did so they grabbed my phone with their other hand. Their weight unbalanced me and I stumbled backwards as they took off towards the crossing in a run. In a daze I looked after him thought; Oh Shit, I have been mugged!
‘Stop him, someone stop him he has stolen my phone!’ I yelled pointing after him.

Miraculously 3 guys looked around at my plea and saw the guy running towards them and went to grab my thief. I struggled to my feet and dusted myself off and went over to them, the guy was wearing a hoodie and the hood was up covering his face. Odd I thought considering how hot it was, but then there were cameras on this street; I knew that as I had checked in my paranoia.

I snatched my phone from his hand, and froze when I heard his voice.
‘Nice to see you again C.’ Drawled M.
‘No!’ I backed away immediately and one of the guys looked around,
‘Hey are you ok? Did he hurt you? Do you want to call the police?’
‘I know him.’ I said. Not knowing how to say what I needed to.
‘Still doesn’t make it ok!’ Said another of my rescuers.
‘I just want to go, thank you. I have my phone now. So it’s ok.’ I said as I backed away. Then I flew into a run almost getting hit by a van as I did so.

I ran as fast as I could away from M and suddenly realised I need to call the police, I stopped and looked back behind me, the coast seemed to be clear. I was fiddling with my phone trying to unlock it to dial 999 but my hands were shaking too much, when I heard footsteps. I looked up and saw M crossing the road towards me. He had followed me on the otherside and when I had looked back I hadn’t looked actross the road.

I stumbled backwards and tripped over painfully hitting my elbow as I hit the pavement. I scrambled backwards trying to get to my feet as he slowly walked towards me.
‘Ah C, what’s wrong why are you running away from me? Don’t you want to play?’
‘Please just leave me alone, please!’ I sobbed.

He laughed and looked around,
‘No one to save you now is there? I want my money C, you owe me that much! I mean you just left you ran out on me when I took care of you! You took the car you took my stuff and you left!’

I stared at him, thinking desperately how I could get out of this situation; if I tried to dial the police I was sure M would just take my phone. We were on a much quieter part of the road now, and it was still early people hadn’t left work yet.

I was still on the floor and I scrambled to my feet, never taking my eyes off of M.
‘I don’t have any money and I don’t owe you anything! Just leave me alone! I will call the police. You attacked me!’ M looked at me and smiled,
‘I attacked you? Ha you think that’s bad? Well if you don’t pay me I will arrange for two guys you have never met to come and break your legs. I will be sat in a bar surrounded by witnesses proving it wasn’t me.’

I stared at him in shock, and tried to back away but M simply followed me.
‘I will tell the police, I will tell them everything!’ He laughed again and lunged forward and pushed me so I stumbled.
‘Stop it, just stop it!!!!’ I screamed.

He laughed and pushed me again,
‘What’s wrong C, are you not having fun? What about your mum? I know where she lives. I tell you what I am in a giving mood how about I give you until your birthday, that’s a whole month to put £1,500 i otherwise your legs will get broken and I suppose I could get creative with your mum! How about that C?’ I looked at him and saw that he was serious, I honestly didn’t have money to give to him I was struggling myself having moved in haste. Besides that I din’t owe him anything! I had been wrong to give in to his treats in April and I knew that. The police would take this attack seriously, they had to!

‘I don’t have any money, I can’t…’ I was crying unconrolably now and desperately thinking of how to escape him. I heard footsteps behind me and a couple of guys had just left a building and were walking towards us.
‘Please this man is threatening me. I can’t get away from him he is following me!’ They looked at me and saw my bleeding elbow and scuffed clothes and looked at M who was standing there staring at me.
‘Alright mate, leave her alone. She isn’t interested ok?’ The larger of the two guys said.

M laughed.
‘Fuck off, she’s my girlfriend. Leave us alone. Mate!’ I started in horror, what if they believed him, I shook my head at them,
‘He is lying he is my ex I left him months ago, he won’t leave me alone!’ The guys turned back to M and said,
‘She doesn’t seem to agree, so how about we stay here and make sure you don’t follow her and she can be on her way?
‘How does that sound, Love?’
‘Thank you so much, thank you!’
‘It’s cool, off you go we will make sure he doesn’t follow you.’

I didn’t need to be told again, I turned and ran as fast as my shaky legs would carry me, I ran and ran, getting lost fearing M would follow me, so taking different turns to the way I was supposed to go. Finally I rounded a corner and saw I had somehow looped around and joined back onto my normal route home.

I must have run at least 2 miles, my throat was hoarse and my legs felt like jelly. I had stumbled and fallen over several times in my haste to get away from M. Both my knees were bleeding and my hands were grazed. But I carried on.

I wanted to be at home, I wanted to lock the door and run up the stairs and lock myself in my room. I wneeded to be safe.

Suddenly my phone burst into life, I looked down and I saw that my dad was calling. I stopped finally and answered the phone, looking around me wildly to check M wasn’t there.

‘Oh Daddy, I was so scared!’ I cried.

C xo

©2015 C xo

Intimidation

My journey to work was blissfully short and easy and although I was still getting emails to my work address, my safe journey made a difference to my day. I wanted to get fit so I started running home from work a few days a week, it was a few miles so it was a good work out and I was saving money on my train fares.

Work was still difficult for me, I had had to tell my manager about my situation and it turned out he used to be a police officer and was greatly sympathetic. That helped me a bit, but I was still aware that my performance was being affected and I wasn’t really part of the team so I resolved to try harder.

I put in more effort to hold it together at the office and managed to pick things up a bit and I soon got a few meetings in my diary. in late August I left the office to go to a meeting in town at 11am. I returned at 2.35pm and almost instantly an email popped into my account.

My heart sank it was from M. As I read through it all the air left my body and I shrank back into my chair. He had been watching me, following me to and from my meeting. He was somewhere near the office now!
I looked around me and everything seemed normal, we were on the third floor so I knew I was safe, but what about when I left for the day? Panic set in and I bolted to the loos. Inside a cubicle I called the police and reported todays email and my fear of M waiting for me outside the office. I was advised to not leave the office alone and to be vigilant and if I was worried to call the police.

I couldn’t believe it, I was terrified and pleading for help and all they could do was say keep an eye out!

I didn’t really have much choice and as the afternoon wore on I worried that M would be there waiting for me and what he would do. I didn’t want to ask a colleague or my manager to walk me to the station, it was too embarrassing and personal, so I asked the security guard downstairs.

It was humiliating explaining to him and my cheeks flamed and I spoke, but he was lovely and he arranged cover for the desk and walked me to the station.

The next morning I practically ran from the statin to my office, but nothing happened. In the evening the security guard walked me to the station again and so it continued for a week. It was embarrassing bit I felt safer. I had stopped running as I was too scared to be out in the open alone and what if M followed me home?

The following Tuesday I walked up the steps from the station onto the main road, I had gotten better at just walking quickly rather than running, I rounded the corner to my office, as I went up to the revolving doors a figure stepped out from behind a pillar it was M.

I stopped dead, fear spiking through my body, I looked around and people were in their normal morning rush in their own world not noticing M or me.
‘Hello C, you look good.’ I was rooted to the spot, my eyes darted from M to the door, he was blocking it.
‘Just leave me alone! Please just stop this!!’ He cocked his head to one side and took a step forward, I instinctively stepped back trying to keep the distance between us. His expression changed to one of surprise.
‘You’re scared of me? C, why would you be scared of me?’ I couldn’t believe him, was he serious? After what he had done in the last few months? After the years of abuse?
‘Please leave me alone, I will call the police. You’re not supposed to be here, they told you to stay away from me!’ I looked around for help and saw that the security guard inside had noticed me and was walking towards the glass doors.
‘C, I love you why would you be scared of me?’ He purred in a sickly sweet voice, unaware of the security guard. He was laughing at me.
‘Is everything alright love?’
‘No, can you please ask this man to leave the premises he has been harassing me and the police are aware.’ I sent a silent prayer of thanks, and edged towards the guard. He regarded M for a moment and then took an authoritative step in front of me.
‘Sir, please can you leave, this is private property and this lady works here and you are making her uncomfortable.’

M looked at the guard shrugged his shoulders and walked off, whistling as he did so.
‘Thank you, so much!’ I gushed.
‘No problem love, let’s get you inside.’

I went into work in a daze and like a zombie found my way to my desk, I turned my computer on and tried to act normal. I sat staring at my computer not seeing it, I was in shock.
A very unproductive hour later an email popped into my inbox. It was M, I looked around half expecting him to be standing behind me.

The e mail was long and rambling, M declaring that loved me dearly and he hated seeing me scared that he often thought of me and wanted more than anything for me to give him a chance to prove his love.
I got angry reading it. He was acting as though we had just had an argument or I had caught him cheating on me!

I fumed for a few days straight over his attitude, puzzled by his behaviour and his words. The police arrested M again, and again charged him and let him go. Now the Met police were involved I thought maybe things might improve and I don’t know if it was because of them or maybe it was due to the now large and ever growing file on my case but I now had a case office who I could contact directly, someone who knew the whole case and who was fighting my corner.

I decided my life was my life not his! I wouldn’t let him chase me out of a job I had worked hard to get and I wanted to get fit, so I would get fit!

Fuck M I was going to start running again! It may seem like a little thing, but I had spent weeks afraid to walk out of the office alone.

C xo

©2015 C xo

Moving

The days after the Facebook hack were very hard for me. I couldn’t sleep, the image of my Facebook page haunted me and I continued to feel humiliated. I obsessively counted the number of texts and calls I had received and worked out how many people had seen it, I burned with shame. I had sent those photos to M willingly!

I just wanted to hide away, looking anyone in the face was hard, especially my brother. He was being so sweet and supportive. But I couldn’t feel comfortable; I hid away in my room, despite many messages of support from friends and my family trying to rally around me.

It only dawned on me the following Tuesday that M had seen my inbox and that he would have seen emails with details of the houses I had been viewing. My new number was on emails to agents too.
Sure enough the calls started again.

M had been arrested and charged with harassment again over the Facebook and e mail hack but the police had no grounds to hold him so he was let go and a court date was pending. They needed time to put evidence together. I spent hours with the police detailing everything and my brother had to make statements too.

This time M left messages on my phone mentioning areas in south London he liked to visit, areas I had viewed houses in and my plans of another new start seemed to fade. I didn’t know what to do, it seemed that he was there at every turn.

Everything I did to try and get away from him failed, I didn’t know what else to do. I had changed my email of course, which is actually not an easy task, and again I changed my mobile number, that I was getting used to. But I held out little hope that this would be the end of things.

I became more and more paranoid, especially on my way to and from work and regularly spent a good 10 minutes looking outside through windows before I left the house. I didn’t feel safe at my mum’s alone anymore and so my family tried to make sure I had company all the time. I closed down my Facebook profile realising that I couldn’t stand another night like that of the previous Friday; I didn’t want to see my profile page anymore anyway. It haunted me.

My life wasn’t much fun; at work I was withdrawn and quiet. I didn’t want to share my private life and I was often upset. I was very jumpy and often got shocks just from people walking the other way through a door towards me, or slamming a book onto a desk. I was a nervous wreck.

Then the emails started at work, M had worked out my work email and on the first day he sent 10 messages, I fled to the loos as the e mails appeared in my inbox. I was such a wreck that just a few words set me off having a panic attack or bursting into tears.

I had to carefully print and save each message for the police and then block the email. All I wanted to do was hit delete each time a new one popped up. But I knew I couldn’t.

Sadly blocking his email had little effect as soon M just made a new e mail address and started emailing me from there, I blocked it and he made a new one and carried on sending messages until I blocked that too, and then he created another one.

Some were about missing me and how much he still loved me and others were aimed to provoking fear, which by now didn’t take very much.

It seemed I could do nothing to stop him invading my life.

The one chink of light in my life was that I had found somewhere to live, I found a house share in south London that was affordable and the house was big and bright. I didn’t have the details to it in my emails when M had hacked them so I felt that it was secure. I moved in not having met any of the other 10 people living in the house. It was scary but I felt a little bit liberated.

Knowing that my journey to work would be totally different meant I could relax a bit, which made a big difference to me. I relaxed a bit as we drove my things over, my mum and T helped me move and soon I was unpacking in my new room.

It was the 10th August 2012 and a beautiful sunny day, my skylight was wide open and sunlight flooded my new home. I had meet 4 of my new housemates and they were all really friendly. My Mum and T took me to lunch to celebrate the move and left shortly after. I was so grateful for their love and support, but I was glad to have my own place.

I set about unpacking boxes and I looked around me and for the first time in what seemed an age I felt safe.

C xo

©2015 C xo

Breaking Point

I cut back on all spending as best I could, and my mum helped me by letting me stay at the house for free. I tried to do little things to help her out and I knew times were not great for her either so she was helping me out the best she could. I appreciated this so much and felt bad for trying to get away, but she knew that I had to go.

I started looking at places to live in South London, it was a completely new area for me and I spent lunch breaks and time after work going to look at flats. It was actually very depressing.

On my budget the places available were really horrible. Some I didn’t even want to view once I arrived. I had wanted to avoid a house share if possible since I had seen them go wrong with my brother and friends. But it seemed if I wanted to move that would be my only option.

I was trying to get on with things best I could at work, but I was struggling, I was panicked walking to and from the station to the office, constantly looking around me and I had changed my number again. I was a nervous wreck and my family tried to make sure that I wasn’t left alone.

A week after the attack on my car, I was sat in my mum’s lounge with my brother watching TV. It was Friday night, I didn’t want to go anywhere, I felt safe inside my mum’s home and reassured that my big brother was there with me.

My phone pinged with a text.

‘Your Facebook has been hacked; you need to shut it down immediately.’ It was from my friend J. I re read the text puzzled, hacked?

I tried to look on my Facebook app on my phone but it had signed me out, so I signed back in but it said incorrect login details. That was odd, I tried again and as I did so, 7 more texts came in; all from friends letting me know my Facebook had been hacked.

Several simply said ‘M has hacked your Facebook.’ I tried to login again, my hands were shaking and I kept typing the wrong letters. Three times in a row I typed in my details and 3 times I failed to login. By now I had received 32 texts and panic had set in.

My brother suggested I login on the computer upstairs, we raced up the stairs two at a time and started up the computer, it seemed to take ages. Finally it was on and I tapped in my details, and realised that the login had been changed, my password wasn’t valid.

I tapped forgotten password and Facebook said it had sent an email to my account and to follow the instructions.

I went to Hotmail and to my dismay my Hotmail account password was also not valid. My brother tried to help and I screamed at him to leave me alone, I needed to login I had to sort this out! Did he not understand? How could he help?

Some of the messages had indicated images were on my Facebook page and a few from random colleagues at my old office had been really vulgar and suggestive.

My poor brother backed off and hovered near by as I went through the extensive process of getting back into my emails. I had to put in all sorts of information and details of recently sent and received emails and finally after 17 minutes sat at the computer I got into my Hotmail.

All the while my phone pinged and rang, I ignored it.

I saw an email from an hour ago from Facebook regarding my password change, I clicked it open and saw the option ‘if you did not request this password change click here’.

I clicked and had to go through another 4 minutes of processes to right my password and finally I could login.

What I saw when my page loaded horrified me.

My profile picture was a picture of me naked, a picture I had sent to M years ago, I lunged for the keyboard stabbing at the delete button and my brother stepped in.
‘No, C you can’t delete it, its evidence. We need to take screen shots!’
‘Get off me, no I need to take it down, everyone can see it!’ I screamed, struggling wildly. But my brother kept a firm hold of me and took me downstairs.
‘Call the police, C. Do it now.’
‘No, I need to get it down, please R I have to get it off!’
‘I will go take the screen shots, and change your privacy settings so that no one can see your page. C, calm down.’
‘But..’
‘C I promise I will make sure no one else will see it ok? You call the police and I will sort this out.’

Finally I nodded and he handed me the phone before sprinting back up the stairs.

I called the police, they said they would be there within an hour; I sat on the sofa staring forward as shame and humiliation washed over me.

I knew that every person who had texted me had seen the image and I felt sick. Friends and family had texted me, my step dad had texted me, people from my old office had texted me.
Tears ran down my cheeks, I wanted to die; I wanted to curl up and disappear. How could I ever look anyone in the face again?

Fifteen minutes later my brother came down stairs and hugged me,
‘It’s ok Boo, no one can see it now. It’s closed to everyone and I have secured your Hotmail too.’ Relief flooded through me, it was closed no one else could look now.
‘Thank you, I am sorry for shouting at you.’
‘It’s ok, are the police coming?’ I nodded.
‘Ok well, I am going to set up a folder to email to them, so they can see what happened. Do you want me to sit with you until they come?’ I looked at him, this was my brother and he had seen images of me no brother should ever have to see, he was being so calm and kind. But I couldn’t bear him looking at me, re faced and shamed I shook my head.
‘It’s ok go do the file thing.’
‘Ok Boo.’

I never did see the full extent of M’s attack on my Facebook profile, I know from what the police told me later after R showed them the files, that M had uploaded a further 8 images onto my wall and then tagged me and messaged my friends and 27 people had reported abuse to Facebook on my behalf.

The police assured me that an arrest warrant had been issued and M would be in custody by the morning, but I was numb. I listened to their words and it was like they were far away, my ears buzzed and my head replayed the image of my Facebook page over and over.

C xo

©2015 C xo

Real Fear

On the last weekend in July 2012 my nightmare got worse.

I walked out of my Mum’s house to the drive, I was heading out to my friend J’s birthday party and what I found stopped me in my tracks.

My car had been doused in petrol.

The smell was overwhelming and panic flooded me, I was at the house alone and M had clearly been here. Was he still here?

I turned on the spot and ran into the house fumbling for my keys as I went. I got inside and locked the door behind me; my chest was tight with panic as I pulled out my phone and dialled 101. The operator had to ask me to calm down so she could ascertain what to do.

I was told to take photos of my car, get as much detail as possible and then to wash it. I looked out the windows trying to see if M might still be there. I wanted to call my mum but I didn’t want to worry her, this was her weekend too and she was out with T.

I looked for about 20 minutes and couldn’t see M, so cautiously I unlocked the door and went out to the drive; I had my phone ready in one hand to call 999 and my digital camera in my other hand. I looked at my car, every inch was covered in petrol the smell invaded my lungs and I coughed and my eyes stung at the intensity, it was so strong.

I looked around me again, and satisfied that I couldn’t see M I started taking pictures, the sheen on my car was obvious and my Mum’s drive was covered in petrol with it’s rainbow like reflection and in some places it appeared to have eaten away at the driveway.

I snapped away, stopping every few seconds to check around for signs of M and when I got around to the other side of my car I gasped.

There was 4 matches on the floor, all had been lit and now had blackened heads. He had tried to set fire to my car!

I dropped my phone and my knees went from beneath me. I felt sick, this was such a violent act, he would have had to drive over 40 minutes to get here to do this, and since my Mum and T hadn’t noticed it on their way out early this morning it had happened after 8am. In broad daylight!

I hurriedly took more pictures, making sure I got the matches and went back inside to check that they showed everything. I didn’t want to be outside alone, it felt too exposed.

The police wouldn’t be coming until the evening and I had been told to wash the petrol off my car before starting the engine and to make sure I cleaned the drive properly also, to ensure there were no accidents.

But this wasn’t an accident, M had planned this, he wasn’t just trying to scare me he wanted to hurt me badly. I started to panic again and I called my Mum and she and T set out to come back immediately.
Cleaning the car took hours the petrol was hard to get off and I was twisting my head around trying to see if I was in any danger every 20 seconds or so. I moved my car to get at the driveway and saw something in the gutter a few feet up from my Mum’s house.

I approached it, and my stomach dropped again, it was the vintage rugby ball I had brought M for his birthday the year before. It was slashed open and inside M had stuffed what looked like the Valentines balloon he had given me2 years ago.

I ran back into the house and locked the doors, this was too much. Tears slid silentley down my face as I sat on the bathroom floor the door locked, I couldn’t take this.

Why was he doing this, I didn’t understand the logic, to go so out of his way to come out to Essex and try to burn my car. This wasn’t a punch or a harsh word. He had meant to cause a fire and maybe an explosian right here at my mum’s house.

Finally my Mum and T arrived, I felt safe as my my mum hugged me and checked I was ok as T checked for any other signs of damage around the outside of the house.

The police came, and took down my statement. But since there was no proof that M had been the one to douse my car in petrol they couldn’t act on it. They took the rugby ball and assured me they would dust for prints.

Great, yet again I could do nothing but sit and wait for the next blow. Why were the police not seeing how terrifying this was?

I had to change something, and I had to be the one to do it.

I would have to move. I needed to anyway since living at my mums house at 29 and my commute to work were not at all ideal, but money was an issue. I had not saved up enough to put down a deposit and pay rent.

I needed a way to stop this and at that point moving seemed like the answer, if I wasn’t here he couldn’t attack my mums home or terrorise me with slashed objects, if I wasn’t travelling the same journey to work and back then he couldn’t stalk me on my route.

I knew he would still know where I worked but it was a big building with a security guard and besides he would have to be crazy to do anything in London. There were would be too many witnesses and cameras about.

I had to move I had to find a way.

C xo

©2015 C xo

Despair

I drove home feeling panicked and on edge, my mum was right the lack of sleep and constant fear was affecting me, I was finding it very hard to concentrate at work and I was on edge all the time jumping at the smallest of things.

I pulled into the driveway, looking around me it all seemed normal. I got out the car and was walking to the side gate when I noticed something on the front door step. I walked over again looking all around me, and slowly bent down to see what it was.

I knew immediately M had left this to scare me, the item wasn’t the issue it was what he had done to it that scared me. Once a large print of one of my photos, he had ripped it from its frame and punched a hole in the middle then slashed at it with a knife. It was in shreds.

My mum had heard me pull up and had come out to find out what was holding me up, she found me on the front step holding the ruined picture crying.
‘Oh, darling, I am so sorry, come here.’ She gathered me in her arms and gentle rocked me.
‘Come on now, come inside.’ Gently she pulled me up and we went into the house.
‘Right, let’s put that in a bag and we can call the police they need to take it for evidence. Do you want a hot drink?’

I smiled at my mum, she was being so strong and I was grateful, I had no energy left to be strong and needed all the help I could get.
‘No it’s ok, let’s just call the police, I’m tired and it will take ages for them to take a statement.’
‘Ok, Darling.’

The police came and picked up the picture and took my statement, it felt like I was on a never ending merry go round. I had sat down with so many different officers and gone back over the fear of each incident with them and yet it seemed that it was for nothing. What had really happened to M?

He had been arrested and let go, told to stop contacting me and none of that had had any effect on his actions. He knew where I lived, he knew where I worked, he knew how I travelled to and from work.
Two days later the calls and texts started again, M had got my new number.

I didn’t know what to do, how could I stop him? I had changed my number yet he had found out my new number in only a few weeks. I changed my number again, I was so tired and so exhausted.

Why couldn’t he just stop?

C xo

©2015 C xo