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On Stalking

Let's start with the updates ... page proofs of The Stepsister Scheme [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] are read and marked up. Hopefully tonight I'll finish writing them all into an e-mail to DAW, and I'll be officially done with that book. Just in time to talk to my editor about Mermaid revisions :-)

After the first 24 hours, the auction for Stepsister Scheme is up to $103.50. That means whoever wins, you'll be getting at least one bonus prize in addition to the ARC. Thank you everyone who bid, and/or who spread the word about the auction. I obviously hope that price will continue to climb, but even if it doesn't, we've still raised over $100 for NCADV.

Which, in a weird way, transitions into what I wanted to write about today. Originally I was going to post a photo of our house with its nice new roof, with no rusting basketball hoop, no crumbling shingles ... it's very exciting*.

Except that I can't. For the same reason we pay the phone company an extra fee every month to remain unlisted. Because my family had has ... let's call them stalker issues.

It's weird. I don't want to call him a stalker. As soon as the word was down, I wanted to start explaining how it wasn't that bad, and he wasn't a real stalker, not as dangerous as he could have been. I'm absolutely certain he wouldn't consider what he did to be stalking. And it's true, on the grand scale of things, this wasn't as bad as it could have been. When we refused to invite him over, he'd show up anyway, staking out a spot in the driveway and waiting. If we didn't come home after a while, he'd head over to my wife's parents' place.

There are other issues as well, things I won't talk about here**. However much I want to minimize it though, the fact is that when we moved four years ago, we did start paying the extra monthly fee to make sure he couldn't find us. When we went through the court system, we asked them to remove our address from all of the official paperwork. And I still feel uncomfortable posting a photo of my house on a public blog, because it's easy enough to find my hometown, and that photo could be enough for him to find my family.

I wonder if he's shown up at my parents' house yet. My father's name is also Jim and they live in the same town, so if this guy checks the phonebook for Jim Hines, he's going to end up at their place. If so, he didn't stick around long enough for my parents to notice***.

It's annoying. We ended up in court several times, and the judge basically handed him his own ass on a platter. We haven't seen the man in several years. He is an insecure, paranoid, spoiled, and clueless little child of a man, and we've done just about everything to take away any power he might have had. Yet I still worry.

For a long time, our justice system didn't recognize stalking as a crime. "So he followed you around. He didn't actually hurt you, right? Go away and come back after he beats you. Then (maybe) we'll press charges." That's changed some over time, with the advent of stalking laws and personal protection orders and such. But even a PPO can't guarantee your safety. It might guarantee consequences for the stalker if he chooses to continue, but those are still after-the-fact consequences.

It's about power. It's about the stalker planting that idea in your head, making you lie awake at night thinking, Sure, he hasn't done anything yet, but.... So much about domestic violence is mental and emotional rather than physical. Messing with your brain. Physical violence is only one tactic. Those tactics can be economic, emotional, physical, or in most cases, a combination. The goal is power and control over another human being. They don't necessarily have to hurt you; they just need to make you realize that they could, that the threat, however small it might have been in our case, is still real.

In our case, after several years, this man is an irritant. We've fought our battles, and he lost in every way that matters. Even so, the tactic works. He's still got that one hook in my brain. I may not waste a lot of time thinking about him, but every once in a while he still has the power to affect my choices. Even writing this blog entry, a part of me wonders if he's going to read it. If he's going to take it as a victory.

This is one of the reasons I chose NCADV to be the beneficiary for the Stepsister auction. I think we've made progress in how we deal with stalking and DV and such, but it's still not something we talk about as much as we should. Heck, I'm still fighting the urge to scrub this entry because I know this isn't as bad as it could have been, and maybe it's not a big deal anymore, and maybe I've been overreacting, and....

But maybe that's just more reason to post it.

-----
*Well, it's exciting to me. I suspect a lot of you might have been bored stiff. So maybe it's better that I didn't go that route.

**A few of you probably know who I'm talking about, and how complicated it got. Obviously, I'd prefer those details not be brought up here. Thanks!

***My parents also have big, loud dogs who like to bark at visitors :-)

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( 57 comments — Leave a comment )
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sandratayler
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:26 pm (UTC)
If you haven't yet read the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBekker, you should. It has whole sections on stalking. The book changed the way I view both violence and fear. After reading it I am far less afraid than I was and I know how to manage potential problem behaviors early on.
jimhines
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:30 pm (UTC)
I spent a few years as the male outreach coordinator at MSU's DV program, working with guys to help them recognize this sort of power tactic, but that book isn't one I'd come across. Thanks!

It's not so much fear at this point, I think, as much as anger that this guy still has the ability to influence my choices.
(no subject) - sandratayler - Oct. 14th, 2008 01:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Oct. 14th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
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cathschaffstump
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:30 pm (UTC)
First of all, I'm sorry you have a stalker. What an awful situation to find yourself in. I'm glad you've taken legal, appropriate action.

Thankfully, I've never been stalked, but there are dangerous people in my immediate family. I've always been blessed that the criminals in my life just aren't very good at organization. :) Still, sometimes late at night, those paranoid thoughts get you going.

Let's end on a positive note. Good job raising muchos cash for a good cause.

Catherine

jimhines
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
My wife is much better than I am at turning off those thoughts. She's tried to help me learn, but I think I might just have a defective brain :-)

And thank you! I'm expecting a lull in bidding for a while, but I'm hoping the price jumps again next week as the auction draws to an end.
marthawells
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:31 pm (UTC)
You are so right about this. I was stalked after I graduated college. It was amazing how, even after he left me a note threatening to kill me, people kept telling me that I was making a big deal out of nothing. One "friend" tried to talk me out of going to the police, saying that the police would question me and accuse me of having sex with him, and ask me a bunch of personal questions. (They didn't.) I was lucky, because he was stupid enough to leave the note, and though there wasn't enough evidence to press charges, dealing with the police scared the crap out of him and he backed off. Though he still followed me around at SF/F conventions for years afterward.

I wish more people would understand this. It's not a big deal about nothing. It's a big deal because it's someone choosing to deliberately mentally torture you, and the more they're allowed to get away with it, the worse it could get.
jimhines
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry you had to deal with this, but I'm glad the police took you seriously, and the guy backed off ... somewhat, at least.

Sometimes the mental/emotional scars can be a lot deeper, and last far longer than the physical.
(Deleted comment)
jimhines
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC)
The 9/11 analogy is an interesting one. I remember seven years ago thinking about how the sense of violation and fear and anger had a lot in common to the reactions of someone who's been raped. And it's a strong, fairly universal (at least in this country) experience that a lot of people will be able to connect to.
selimthegrim
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
I just want to second the Gavin de Becker recommendation. The Gift of Fear is an excellent book and has some great tips for dealing with stalking.
jimhines
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:57 pm (UTC)
It sounds like a good book, given that three people have now suggested it :-) I'll try to check it out.
amy34
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
What an awful situation! I wish we had a better way, in our justice system, to deal with stalkers before they commit a crime. That Gavin de Becker book is quite good. I've never had to deal with a real stalker, but I've had a couple of people not quite right in the head wander into my life, and the book gave me some clear direction on how to discourage them.
jimhines
Oct. 14th, 2008 02:00 pm (UTC)
It gets tricky ... we can't punish someone for a crime they haven't committed yet, right? But if we have reasonable suspicion that someone's going to commit a crime, what do we do? We can bust terrorist cells before they blow something up. How do we get that level of response to a would-be stalker or abuser?

I don't know ... what I'd suggest is to take these people seriously and start enforcing consequences now before they escalate. Stronger punishment for stalking and intervention for the first DV incident rather than waiting, you know? I think "the system" still needs to take the stuff more seriously.
ginasketch
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:59 pm (UTC)
Are you sure it's safe to make this post public if you're being stalked?
jimhines
Oct. 14th, 2008 02:04 pm (UTC)
He doesn't know where we live or how to find us. This doesn't change that fact. And again trying to keep this nonspecific, he hasn't been interested in me personally. I think he's actually avoided situations where he thought I might be there, so I don't see him popping up to raise a fuss here on the blog, either.

I don't think posting this is going to change things or create any real risk.
(no subject) - ginasketch - Oct. 14th, 2008 02:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Oct. 14th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginasketch - Oct. 14th, 2008 02:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
brownkitty
Oct. 14th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC)
Heck, I'm still fighting the urge to scrub this entry because I know this isn't as bad as it could have been, and maybe it's not a big deal anymore, and maybe I've been overreacting, and....

But maybe that's just more reason to post it.


Yes. Exactly.

Could you obtain some big loud dogs of your own? Or is that not feasible at this point?
jimhines
Oct. 14th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
We have two dogs (one of which gets to star in her very on LJ icon :-) And also a three-legged cat who will sneeze snot on anyone who even looks at him funny. More importantly, I don't believe there's any way for him to find out where we live, beyond the city. I intend to keep it that way.
(no subject) - brownkitty - Oct. 14th, 2008 02:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Oct. 14th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
dr_phil_physics
Oct. 14th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry, Jim. That you have to think of the consequences of showing off a shiny new roof to the world, well, words fail me.

Congrats on the auction breaking the first hundred dollar barrier. Regrets that I shall be making no bids since it exceeded my charitable limits.

Oh, and enjoy the roof. "It looks fine from here." And... does it have a German accent? Since I recall it was the German royalties which prompted your making playdates with contractors.

Dr. Phil
jimhines
Oct. 14th, 2008 02:30 pm (UTC)
There was a time when I lost a lot of sleep over this guy. These days, it's just that every once in a while something comes up, and I have to stop and say, "Oh yeah. Can't do that." It's ... annoying, as much as anything.

I definitely understand on the charitable limits. I'll just have to hit you up in January to buy one of the $7.99 copies :-)

As for the roof, no accent, but it was a little weird to see all those contractors up there in their lederhosen...
(no subject) - dr_phil_physics - Oct. 14th, 2008 06:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
kenakeri
Oct. 14th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
I had two experiences with stalkers when I was younger, and although like yours they weren't as bad as they could have been, it still leaves scars.

Hearing someone I didn't know whisper "I love you", and refuse to identify themselves when I answered the phone turned me into a paranoid mess when I was a teen. Thankfully we got it to stop, but I still hesitiate to answer the telephone to this day.

tk42one
Oct. 14th, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
Ditto the Gift of Fear recommendation. I read it ages ago and, while the tips it gives are fairly obvious, it's that smack to the head that you need to realize what little clues you're missing out on.

There are times where I wish I were famous enough to have my own stalker, but I think in the end I'd be in jail after I shot them. I'm very protective of my family and would certainly not want to expose them to that.
michaeldthomas
Oct. 14th, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry. Like many, I had my own experience with a stalker many years ago.


snapes_angel
Oct. 14th, 2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
Yay, big, loud dogs who like to bark at visitors!
jimhines
Oct. 14th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
And don't forget little 3-legged cats with attitude who like to sneeze on them!
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Oct. 14th, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
ravens_writ
Oct. 14th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
Congrats on the auction $$, and also on having the sense to both live in the world and duck any obvious dangers. Such a delicate balancing act, that.

I found the comments about 911 interesting...we lived in DC at the time, and that morning remains one of the more frightening times of my life, given that my husband was possibly within the danger zone but I wasn't able to get ahold of him. The analogy of abuse/trauma to that experience is apt.

Congrats on finihing the proofs for Stepsister, too!

Suanne
jimhines
Oct. 14th, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC)
Hi Suanne,

Thanks for the congrats! (I was wondering if anyone would comment on the page proofs :-)

9/11 was definitely a trauma, and obviously much more so to those with a personal connection. Damn ... I get nervous when I come home and my wife took the kids over to visit her brother without leaving a note! I can't imagine how scared I'd be in a 9/11 type situation.
(no subject) - ravens_writ - Oct. 14th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Oct. 14th, 2008 10:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
jadesfire55
Oct. 14th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
Thankfully, I've never been physically stalked. There were some scammers that repeatedly called my cell phone. They sounded foreigh, and they claimed they had a package for me and needed to confirm my address. No idea what they were up to. They called so often I eventually called the police. The officer was very nice but he couldn't do anything for me because the scammers hadn't threatened me in any way. After that I ignored the calls until they stopped. My paranoia level never got very high; I was more upset knowing that there were people that would fall for it I couldn't do anything to make them stop.

Thanks for sharing your story, Jim.
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