Christina McLaughlin is a freshman environmental science major. She is the opinions editor at The Current.
In high school I was on the varsity bowling team. We would spend every day after school in the bowling alley where all of the neighboring high schools would practice. One day I was practicing with my teammates when a bowler from another high school introduced himself to us. After the first ten minutes, I noticed he took a keen interest in me. Every time I would score a strike or spare he would come up to me and say something like, “Good job, friend! We’re still friends right?” I shrugged it off and figured he was just trying to be nice. Maybe he had trouble making friends? I would politely smile, say thank you and carry on.
When I went to the bathroom to change, I came out to find him standing outside and blocking my path. He started to berate me with questions: “You go to SJV right? Where do you live? Do you have a boyfriend? What are you doing later?”
He must have noticed my startled reaction so he immediately started to apologize. ”Sorry, sorry, we’re still friends right?” I felt uncomfortable, so I told him I had a boyfriend and forced my way past him. After this incident, I had this gut feeling that I had to distance myself from him. Whenever he would try to approach me, I would turn away or strike up a conversation with my dad or coach.
When the season ended I thought that would be the end, but I was wrong. He sent me a friend request on Facebook — which I ignored C but he then began sending me requests from new accounts, all with variations of his name. If that wasn’t odd enough, he started doing the same thing on other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. I continued ignoring the requests, thinking eventually it would go away.
Months went by and I was in the mall shopping with my friend when my phone rang. I was waiting for a phone call from work so I just answered it. The line was silent for a second or two before: “Hey, is this Christina? You go to SJV right? Where do you live? We’re still friends, right? Right?”
I was so shocked I just hung up. Immediately after, his number blew up my phone with texts saying, “Sorry, I got the wrong number. Sorry. You’re from SJV right? Sorry.”
I immediately knew it was him because of his voice and the repeated “sorry-s.” So many questions were racing through my mind, but the biggest and scariest was, “How did he get my number?”
I was beyond freaked out. My teammates were the only ones he knew and they would never give him my number. It’s wasn’t listed on any of my social media profiles, so this really freaked me out. I began wondering what else he knew. Did he know where I lived? Was he following me? My mind was drawing blanks and I was shaking. I tried talking to other people to get some advice and a lot of them claimed that I was in the wrong. People would say that I was being a prude because I wouldn’t go out on a date with him. Others, mainly adults, thought that he just had a harmless crush on me and eventually it would go away. But to me, this kid was a complete stranger, yet knew so much information about me. I didn’t know what he was capable of, and I was honestly scared. What if he was dangerous? A friend eventually suggested I talk to the dean of our school, who happened to be a former police officer.
I showed the dean all of the accounts and told him the whole story. He advised me to file a police report, so at least the police would be informed. He decided to investigate further with his contacts to see if he had a record.
After a week had passed, the only information that my dean was able to find out about my stalker was his age and that he had been placed in a special program at his school. The dean then gave me his personal number in case anything else happened, but it’s been quiet ever since. Though even now, there have been six accounts that have tried to add me on Snapchat, all made with variations of my stalker’s name.
After conducting some recent snooping of my own, I discovered that Kyle is actually engaged and has been dating his fiance for about a year. This made me realize that anyone can be a stalker, because even someone who is “happily engaged” and starting a new life still feels the need to reach out to me.
I get a new account request every once in a while, but there’s not much I can do. I’m still scared that he might pop up suddenly, but I can’t do anything until he does. The only thing that makes me feel safer is that I’m now at a college that is 1,000 miles away.
According to Merriam-Webster, a stalker is someone who “follows, watches, and bothers someone constantly in a way that is frightening, dangerous.” If this story sounds similar to your own or someone you may know, don’t be afraid to reach out like I was. There are many resources available to support your situation. Visit victimsofcrime.org for online resources from the Stalking Resource Center. Additionally, if you feel like you are being stalked, don’t be afraid to reach out to your local law enforcement agencies. While on campus, you can always contact the Public Safety NOVALERT Hotline by calling 954-262-8999.