Teasing

I rarely went out, I didn’t have much money and I had been pretty much hiding for 2 years by this point, so a night out with a friend to see a concert was a big treat for me.

My friend K and I had managed to get tickets to see Bastille months ago and finally the date was here. We decided to go for some food first and after a little hunting of the unfamiliar area we found a Nando’s.

We ordered sangria, and toasted to good luck for the future, I had a couple of interviews coming up which I was excited about and we were going to see a great band live!

I was relaxed and happy with my friend thinking this is what life should be like, I am young and single. I lived in one of the most exciting cities in the world and I had been hiding away scared for too long!

We were just getting ready to leave when my phone pinged with a new e mail. I had been waiting for confirmation of my interview time early next week so I opened up my emails. What I found wasn’t interview details; it was the details of a house for sale.

The email was from an agent in Essex- Waltham Abbey to be exact, the town M’s house was in and the details were for his house- once our house.

I could have screamed in frustration! This was M teasing me, poking me from afar- I can still get to you!

Of course the email wasn’t from him directly, but chillingly I realised he had one of my new e mail addresses. I turned to K and she looked at my phone, she quickly realised what was up and gathered me in a hug.

She was fully aware of M’s actions in the past and declared that he wouldn’t ruin our night- he would get his, what goes around comes around and what M had coming would knock him sideways.

K was a good friend; I quickly forwarded the offending e mail to R and fired off a quick explanation. Then trying to salvage the mood, I went back to the e mail and showed K what M had done to the house- the kitchen was now sugarplum pink- celling and all!

We had a good laugh at his lack of taste, got a quick round in and cheered to his demise.

We went to the gig and it was impossible not to enjoy ourselves, the music was awesome, the lead singer totally gorgeous and the atmosphere was electric. I left thinking that this was it this was the start of my new life, the life I wanted and M might poke me but K was right M’s court date was only a  few weeks away now- just on the other side of Christmas.

With that thought I smiled and went home feeling truly happy for the first time in a long while.

C xo

©2015 C xo

 

Bad Cycle

Mostly watch Netflix would be the answer.

Despite  my CV being picked up be several recruiters the next day there was still a lull. So I thought oh free trial of  Netflix why not? I wasn’t keen on going out a lot I was still a bit fearful of M turning up.

I was fairly sure he didn’t know where I lived but then he waited a long time to act on the website so maybe he was biding his time! The anklet he had to wear didn’t track his movements just his location during the hours he was curfewed to.

So that is how I got hooked on Breaking Bad- I watched the whole thing in two weeks and by then I was itching about work. I had a couple interviews lined up but I didn’t do well. I was nervous and reluctant to go into my reasons for leaving the job I had before being made redundant so quickly.

So I started doing projects, things to keep my occupied at home where I was safe. I soon found myself making jams and chutneys thinking that at least if I didn’t get a job soon I would have something to give my family at Christmas!

16 days into my redundancy R called. M had filed a new defence and I had to make a counter statement. I didn’t want to go but I had to. I was so tired of statements and waiting- I wanted him to have to face up to what he had done to me, what he was still doing to me!

But I had to so in I went and I could hardly believe what I read.

M was claiming that he hadn’t stalked me at all, that it was actually a 16 year old boy called Will Smith- yes I know firstly I tend not to put names in full on here but you had to understand the audacity of M! Further to his statement the police had this week received a phone call from a young man claiming to be Will Smith and claiming that he had been stalking C for the last 18 months.

Unsurprisingly they were a bit suspect about all this, but they had to investigate, and it turned out that there was a boy with that name and he really was 16. The poor kid, the police suspected M had approached him with cash to make the call. Very naively and unknowingly this kid had committed a serious offence and if it was proved in court he would have a record.

I was furious, ruining my life wasn’t enough for M, he had to push a kid into crime just to satisfy his sick actions and to try to save his own skin.

R thought it was hilarious and that M was simply adding nails to his own coffin. I hoped he was right it seemed so far-fetched but I knew that M had hired a fancy lawyer and that worried me.

So in late Oct the police started investigating W and M’s relationship, to piece together the evidence.

I started temping out of desperation to still be able to pay my rent. It was actually nice, no one had a clue about my past and the temp desk was very lively. I was in central London and after a week there, I decided I should try running again, I didn’t want M to control my life and my fear was winning at the moment.

So I got my gear together and I did it, I ran home. Admittedly it wasn’t a direct route and I did look over my shoulder every 30 seconds or so. I actually ran into a tree doing that, luckily it was only a little one so I didn’t hurt myself.

But god it felt good when I got in!

I had done what I wanted to do and I was home safe and sound

C xo

©2015 C xo

I didn’t ask for this

I knew I wasn’t giving my best at work, but it was the best the current me could do. I kept very much to myself and despite the warnings about bullying whispers continued to fly whenever I walked past. I hated my job but I desperately needed it.

I was the only one I could count on for my bills and if I didn’t have a job I would be in serious trouble.

So I carried on and tried to hide the real me, I wish I had been stronger and realised earlier that I didn’t ask for this, it wasn’t my fault and in actual fact I had missed just 3 days of work over this situation. Which looking back now was an actually miracle. I worked earlier on the days I had therapy and I learnt quickly what my manager thought of me having emotional reactions at work.

I understood that it was a business, but an employer must take certain circumstance into account, if I had broken my leg I would be signed off for 6 weeks! So 3 days didn’t seem to be too much when you consider the emotional and physical stress I had been under.

I took heart from this and was reassured that my call times were good, and that the projects nearing completion were on track. I wasn’t a social butterfly and I left the office as soon as my working day was done, but I was there and I was working as hard as I could.

But in late September, the day after my 31st birthday, my manger asked to see me in the meeting room at 2pm. She talked animatedly to me on our way through the office, asking me how my projects were going (which incidentally were going pretty well, considering the mess they were in when I had started). So it was a bit of a surprise when I was handed a letter telling me I was being made redundant.

They were terminating my contract 8 days before I had been there for a year, which meant I got nothing, not a penny in my ‘redundancy package’.

I read through the letter and I looked up in shock,

‘Why?’

‘It’s nothing personal C, we are restructuring and we are terminating several roles, unfortunately we don’t have another role to offer you. We will be sorry to see you go.’

I started at her, sorry my ass! I was being fired for being stalked but they were dressing it up as a redundancy. I knew I couldn’t fight this and what was more why would I want to?

They had treated me like an annoying employee who calls in sick often and lazes about, when in fact I had done my best to be there every day despite the crap I was dealing with which they knew about, they knew the extremes and yet they saw me at my desk day in and day out.

They had not offered me any support, and I couldn’t believe how uncompassionate and cold they were to someone who had worked for them for a year.

I held my head up high and I walked out of the meeting room and gathered my things. My manger had said it was immediate and so with that I left the office only saying goodbye to J the receptionist.

I walked calmly to my car, texting my friend K as I did, she had been my only true friend at the office and had left for a better job a month or so ago, she felt as I did. The company were spineless bastards and they could go screw themselves!

I drove home, and went inside fired up my laptop and re wrote my CV. I reactivated my accounts on online job sites and emailed my CV to several recruiters.

Then I sat down and wondered what I would do tomorrow.
C xo

©2015 C xo

The Delay

The next few days were a blur for me, sleep once again was elusive and brief and I was struggling severely.

I had my last session with my therapist 2 days after the website incident and she was shocked and appalled a new at the turn of events. But we had little time to dwell on it as she wanted to help me progress past all of this and concentrate on the future.

I understood none of this was my fault and that I couldn’t logically understand why M was doing this, fundamentally those two facts were my grounding. I had to hang onto them otherwise I wouldn’t be able to move on.

She said something which stuck me and has stayed with me as almost a talisman of hope,; she said that she was extremely surprised that I hadn’t formed an addiction to help me cope with this she would expect a dependency on alcohol drugs or personal contact but I hadn’t gone down that road which was extraordinary. She went on to say that I was one of the strongest and bravest young woman she had ever met and that I should be proud of myself.

It was an odd way to end my sessions with her, but walking away a little bud of confidence grew inside me that maybe I was strong despite feeling hopeless, maybe if I held on then I could get past this and be truly happy again and free of M finally.

M was arrested that morning at 6am, since he was on curfew as part of his bail conditions from March the police knew where he was. (He had to sleep at his house every night and be there from 8pm to 6.30am, he had an anklet that proved alerted the police if he wasn’t there during those times.)

The actual arrested was a pretty big deal, they raided his house and confiscate all computer equipment. Which I knew included two apple computers, which would definitely piss M off!

He was held for 9 days in prison before he was granted bail and his conditions were changed to include, no use of the internet and he was not allowed to have access to the internet in his home.
The judge also revised his earlier condition of not being allowed to enter certain London postcodes to not being able to be in any London postcode without prior written notification from his lawyer.

I was thrilled and felt a certain sense of relief at being able to confidently walk out of my door and go to work without the threat of M physically being there.

This new development in the case changed the court date. It was now set for January 2014, which to me was a huge blow. I understood that the police need time to build their case but waiting for the court case was a horrible form of torture for me and this delay of 4 months felt like years.

On top of the waiting I had to make my formal statement about the website and then there was several follow ups going over all the details. It was exhausting and I could barely keep my eyes open at my desk.

My work was suffering there was no doubt about that. Then in the second week of September I found out some terrifying news.

The police had had to apply for a warrant to gain access to all the URL logins to my website form my American host. This had taken a while to come through but when it did it was truly shocking.

The document showed that M had been logging onto my website since November 2012, sometimes 2-3 time a day all over London and around his home area as well as at his house.

It proved that he had been planning his attack on my website for 7 months and had waited for his moment to strike.

The realisation that this was all so calculated truly terrified and unnerved me, and the harsher bail conditions no longer comforted me. The only time I felt safe was when M was locked in a cell.

I still had months to wait for the trial and even then I was not guaranteed he would be found guilty and if he was then the judge might not give jail time.

C xo

©2015 C xo

Waiting Game

We got to my car and I could tell R was worried about me, I told him I would be calling my Mum and that that always helps me. He seemed happier that in a way I wouldn’t be alone. But I could see he wanted to say something else.

‘We see a lot of cases of harassment, but I have never seen one on this level, C I am going to do everything I can to help send M down for this. It isn’t right and I know this is hard but you’re doing brilliantly. I will work as hard as I can to get you justice, I promise.’

I smiled weakly.

‘Thank you, I know you’re doing everything you can. I will wait for the call; do you think it will be tonight?’

‘I don’t know, but I asked them to be a quick as possible, but they need to gather every detail before you delete it. That’s very important so try to be patient, ok?’

I tried to smile again but it came out a grimace.

‘OK, Thanks again, Bye.’

‘Bye, C. Drive safe ok.’

I got into my car and turned on the engine struggling to hold back the flood of emotion that was threatening to engulf me completely.

I got around the corner before I had to pull over. I cried and bellowed and screamed but nothing felt better. So I tried my calming techniques and managed to get myself under control enough to drive the short journey home.

As soon as I parked my car I called my Mum, she answered and the gates of emotion opened full tilt I howled down the phone feeling such anguish at the position I was in. I didn’t know what else I could do. I had followed all the advice, I had changed all my contact details and the passwords on all online accounts, including my website and yet here I was.

My Mum was patient and calm and tried to reason that very few people would have seen the site and not many that knew me personally and if they did know me they would have realised that this wasn’t me. I wouldn’t do that.

I understood her reasoning, but at that point it was no comfort. I felt so powerless.

After about 20 minutes I felt calm enough to go inside, I bolted straight upstairs and locked my door. Silly I know since M hadn’t attacked me physically but I needed all the security I could get.

It was 7.57pm I had known about my website now since 6.23pm, just 1 hour 34 minutes and I was beside myself with the need to log on and delete every damn photo and all the sick words that M had posted about me.

But I couldn’t, I had to wait.

I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t thirsty, I couldn’t concentrate on TV or a book. I sat and stared at my phone, occasionally getting up and pacing my room then settling back down with my phone in my hands.

I tried not to think about the number of officers who were screen shooting my website, seeing the images of me but I couldn’t stop myself.

Twice I had to run to the bathroom to be ill, despite there being nothing in my system.

Time was edging by so slowly that I thought maybe my phone was broken, so I turned on my laptop to see the time, and it confirmed that my phone was correct.

I sat and fidgeted like that for 4 hours and 17 minutes, and then finally the call came, I could delete it.

I flung my phone to one side and jabbed at my laptop and logged onto my website. As it loaded I felt myself retch again. I hadn’t seen it full screen before only on my phone. On a 17” screen it looked so much worse, so in your face provocative and lewd.

I calmed myself and set about the task at hand getting the site offline. It took 18 minutes for me to close down every page and the store items.

Then I set about deleting the content, I was a little out of it so it was maybe just luck that I clicked the dashboard and saw that M had changed me SEO settings and that my google paragraph read a lot like the website had.

I deleted all the words and then went to the image library.

What I saw made me bulk with shock, he had uploaded every image I had sent him not just the rude ones but images of us looking happy together too. I felt sick again and suddenly everything went black.

I woke up on my bed where luckily for me I had been sitting before I fainted. My laptop had slide off my lap onto the floor but was undamaged as my bed was low to the floor.

Dizzily I sat up, my head felt heavy and slow. I grabbed at my glass of water and glugged it down.

I still had work to do; I still had to delete all the images.
C xo

©2015 C xo

Shock

I sat in the office trying desperately to control the panic and humiliation that was rising inside me. I tried to recall my relaxation techniques from therapy but all I could see in my head was my website and me as a prostitute for anyone to see.

R came back in the room carrying my statement and took one look at me and asked what had happened. I tried to talk but I was in too much of a panic, it took several minutes before I found my voice again.

With burning cheeks I told him what I had found. A look of pity crossed R’s face and he took a deep breath.

‘Ok C, I know this is hard but we need to get this into evidence ASAP. I need your URL for the website and the login details for the admin site behind it. Can you do that?’

I nodded, and shakily wrote down the details they needed. I hated that I was in this position again, those images had never meant to be for anyone but M. He had sent me stuff too but I hadn’t kept it. I couldn’t believe he had done this again, three times now he had abused that trust and this time i.e. was the worst.

To make me into a prostitute, to write those descriptions of what I would do! It was sick and it would have taken hours to set up.

I turned my head away too embarrassed to look R in the face. At least R had the tact to take the details he needed for evidence out of the room rather than screen shot the website in front of me.

I waited for ages with shame washing over me, round and round my head the thoughts who had seen it, who had thought I was a prostitute, who had made contact, how long had it been like this?

I racked my brains and thought about the last time I had logged in. It must have been a few months at least. It was August now and I couldn’t remember checking it since maybe April. With that I realised that M could have changed my site 4 months ago.

The world could have seen me as that woman he portrayed, someone who would willingly do things that I honestly hadn’t ever imagined. The panic swirled back into me and I put my head between my knees. I needed to calm down.

R came back in and was so apologetic but he needed me to make a statement, he said that he understood that I couldn’t put it all in detail now. But an initial statement was needed, then an arrested warrant could be issued and they hoped to get M in custody within 24 hours.

Somehow I managed to articulate 4 sentences and R said that was enough for now. I stood up and was a little wobbly on my feet he grabbed my arm to steady me, and again shame washed over me. He had just seen all those pictures of me, there must have been about 20 that I saw.

I started to walk to the door, and R stopped me and asked if I needed a lift home. I shook my head, my car was here. He looked doubtful he thought I wasn’t fit to drive.

I assured him my home was less than 2 miles away and I would take it slowly. I knew he felt sorry for me and that made me even more uncomfortable. He insisted he would walk me to my car and so I walked through the station crying and red faced.

R told me just before I left that I would have to wait for a call to confirm I could take the site down, they needed to get all the evidence safe and secure first. So I wasn’t to do anything until they let me know it was ok.

I nodded I understood why but all I wanted to do was close the site down, to get my image off the page and to never have to see it again.

I knew none of that was realistic but I wanted it so badly.

C xo

©2015 C xo

Prostitute

The court case was drawing nearer and my nerves were getting rawer with every passing day, I knew I would have to stand up in front of a jury and go back over the last few months including the cards, which they would see and I was dreading it.

Of course if M pleaded guilty then I wouldn’t have to go through the ordeal of standing there but he was steadfastly saying not guilty as he had done throughout the entire case.

I was yet again at the station with R, this time responding to M’s final defence statement which had been given in at the last possible moment and was really odd. He was claiming I had stolen a postcard from our fridge when we were together and posted from New York to my mums house. Despite his writing and finger prints on the postcard I had received, it being addressed to me and the police having his flight and passport details from his trip to New York just before Valentine’s Day, when the card arrived!

I had also had to bring in copies of the official deed pole forms from both name changes, of course my new name would not be disclosed in evidence but the court would need to see what I had had to do to protect myself.

As far as statement sessions go, it had been a fairly light-hearted one. Nothing new had happened and M’s claims of my thievery were actually laughable.

We were almost done, R just needed to print copies of my statement for me to sign. The printer on that floor was broken so he had to head downstairs. After a couple minutes of waiting I started fiddling with my phone.

I had noticed some nice flowers in one of the officers as we had walked in earlier and it had reminded me of my photography and that I had done nothing with my website for ages. (My work is fine art photography mostly of flowers and nature.)

So I typed in the address thinking I would see where I had got to and that I should really do something more with it. I remembered uploading my images and setting up several galleries of my work but not setting up the online store.

When my website had loaded I looked down and dropped my phone in shock.

My images of flowers and nature had gone and in their place were images of me, the images I had sent M when we had been together. Naked, topless and worse.

With shaking hands I picked my phone up and looked again. My fine art photography site had been turned into a prostitute’s site offering my services for money. Detailing all the things I would do for men if they paid me.

The store was full of sick acts and my image attached to them.

Tears rolled down my face as I scrolled through, I was sickened by the depravity of the offerings and the realisation that this was live on the internet under my name.

Anyone could have seen it.

C xo

©2015 C xo

The Others

Of course in the months running up to the case, the police were busy looking into every detail of M that was relevant and I was called into the station to confirm details or to respond to statements made by M.

R called me to arrange most of these meetings and tried to keep as much as he could on the phone to save me time. It was a sunny July afternoon when he called and told me that there were others.

By this he meant I wasn’t the first woman M had stalked, he asked me to come in to check some dates and details. The idea that he had practised this sent chills through me. I had not known him at all, despite being with him for 5 years!

I went to the station the next evening and sat and listened to the evidence R had collected. One stood out to me the woman who lived on Eastbrook Road who M had been engaged to, who he had mildly stalked the year before. Nothing to extreme, just some texts and some intimidation but he had stalked her none the less.

Of course I had met her, she had told me about their engagement and his activates. I had ignored her, scared of the truth and yet I had not imagined the depths of his hate and how far he would take things.

Then there was A, I had met her too. The ‘tenant’ and the woman that had worked with M at Tompson Reuters. She was actually his partner and the house was co-owned by M and her. He had tried to run her out of the house and gain solely ownership through a campaign of bullying and she had been beaten up outside her office, her story bore a lot of similarities to my own experience but I had been lucky with kind strangers. She had not.

R told me of one other woman who I didn’t know anything about; he said that they were all his learning victims. He had adapted his techniques and refined his approach through them and I was the victim he wanted the most.

Bizarrely my reactions was,

‘How flattering.’ I think I was in shock.

My therapist found this all very interesting and asked me how I felt about the others. I had thought about this a lot prior to the session and all I felt was sorrow for their pain. I didn’t care that M had lied and cheated on me anymore, that was the least of it. I was so over him in terms of a relationship that bounced right off of me.

I wondered if they had pressed charges, but their details were of course private. So I would never know. I asked R to let them know I was proceeding to crown court against him. Maybe that would help them.

The waiting isn’t easy. He was still walking around and he still knew where I worked. Of course for them he knew where they lived. I wondered how they managed to sleep at all, but then remembered R’s words. They were just his practise runs, I was the main event.

I wondered what he had left, honestly I couldn’t imagine. I had now stopped trying to understand his actions. My therapist was pretty certain M was a psychopath and so I couldn’t understand his actions as to me they aren’t logical. I have empathy and he doesn’t.

C xo

©2015 C xo

Bullies

Work, was still hard for me, not least because another e mail had gone out a week after the first announcing my new new name.

Add to that the police coming in and taking my finger prints and J the receptionists too, so that they could remove our prints from the ones found on the cards. The ink was so sticky it took ages to scrub off, and even then our hands looked grubby. J was lovely about it though and I was glad again for her tact. But since our meeting rooms have glass walls, everyone saw it and that caused a lot of gossip.

The girls on my team whispered about me and my only real friend at the office K told me she had heard them laughing about me at lunch. She didn’t want to hurt my feelings but thought I should tell my manager what they had been saying as it was bullying.

She had heard them as they sat outside the pub down the road at lunch. They were shrieking and exclaiming,

‘Oh that man looked at me, oh no I will have to change my name now!’

‘Oh no and now that one has smiled at me and looked at me, I will have to change it again! How many times is that now this week? 4? I can’t remember what my name is today!’

My eyes stung with tears as K told me, and she gently pulled me into a hug, she was a good friend and she was right.

So I told my manager, I didn’t mention K. I said no names just that a group of girls from our team. I said maybe it is because they don’t understand the situation fully but that it was very hurtful none the less and god forbid they ever are put in the same situation.

I was worried she would think I was causing trouble, but I felt strongly about this. Abuse isn’t spoken about often I know and I myself had been hiding away from the looks and muttering over the last few months. But that had to change; I didn’t deserve to be ridiculed for protecting myself.

C xo

©2015 C xo

What’s in a name?

The Paladin agency contacted me weekly for check-ups on my situation and referred me to a local council assembly that looks at ‘at risk’ cases in their area and how they can support them. They gave me advise and I came to the conclusion that to be safe, to be able to hide from M in the future and to be able to move on I would have to change my name.

That way searching online wouldn’t work, and maybe I could be normal again, maybe I could use social media and my past would stay in the past.

I spoke to mum about and she cried, she had given me my name and I was her C. Changing my name would hurt, but she understood why I needed to do it.

I thought on it for a week and decided that I would change my name to a different spelling of my name, luckily there was about 6 different ways to spell C. I choose one which began with K and I took on my mother’s maiden name. I wanted to be linked to my family still, and I felt comfortable with the spelling change of my name and that it wouldn’t impact me too much in day to day life as it was still pronounced the same.

I found a deep pole company online and filled out the forms, and paid £20 and that was it as simple as that my name was changed. Of course I had to change all the official things, driving license, passport, tax etc.

But for a few days I just wanted to revel in the fact that I was going to have a future, one where I could hide form M without hiding away from the rest of the world.

I was so giddy with excitement I set up a new Facebook page, the first time since that night in August. It was a sort of test for me. I had to get past what had happened and my therapy was helping to realise that letting go was important, my right now wasn’t forever.

I put the highest privacy settings I could on my profile and that comforted me, and I began friending my friends, it felt good. It felt normal.

So I began to build a new life as K, at work an email went around announcing my name change for personal reasons and my email changed too. That was awkward and embarrassing but I kept my head down and tried to ignore the whispers.

But just 47 hours after I set up my Facebook page in my new name M found it. I hadn’t thought that he would be monitoring my friend’s pages and seeing who their new friends were.

But at 2.13am I received an email letting me know that I had had a password change request but not enough information had been given to proceed. I instantly knew it was M and realised that he knew I had changed my name.

It felt like I was powerless again, and I felt stupid for giving him the path to find me.

For less than two days, I had felt safe and in touch with my forma life. But that had been shattered and I had to accept the fact that I would have to change my name again and this time I couldn’t keep my name and spell it differently and I couldn’t have my mother’s maiden name.

I could never go back to social media as me; It just wasn’t worth the risk of M finding me.

So I set about trying to think of a new name. This isn’t easy! There is a reason you don’t name yourself! I like names like Anastasia but to name yourself after a princess? Well that’s just a little odd.

I began to panic as to what I would name myself, I wanted it to feel right and comfortable but it had to be different. So I called my mum for help and she came up with the idea of looking back at our family tree for first names.
She read names of relations she had been searching for recently for the family tree and one stood out to me.

I told her which one, and she said she liked it too. I won’t say what me name is now I shall leave you knowing me as C. But I officially changed my name for the second time 4 days after M found me as K. My new name would remain off the internet, and I would protect it fiercely, for it made me feel safe.

C xo

©2015 C xo