All women are going to relate to this because I am sure at one time or another us independent girls of the world have had some weird fella giving us unwanted attention which we have found scary, intimidating and makes us feel uncomfortable. We have all been through an experience like it and I’m sure we all have our own story to tell.
I’m not targeting men as the villains here either, I do acknowledge there are women who stalk and intimidate men in a similar way. I used to be friends with a woman who stalked men and she used to turn up to where the men she liked worked – it was very ‘Fatal Attraction’. There’s a lot of people who think if they stalk someone it will make someone want to be with them, but they haven’t read ‘He’s just not that into you’. Not many about our stalking or harassment experiences, and quite often both females and males keep quiet about it. I believe we need to start talking about it, because unwanted attention, stalking and harassment is not acceptable, and sometimes people take silence as acceptance.
I’m going to write something that happened to me about 8 years ago, it was a long time ago now - but I still see this man who did it around and I saw him today, he still gives me the creeps. Nothing serious happenned, I can look back and laugh about it. But we have all had our own unwanted attention moments and it can be icky and uncomfortable to talk about. I think I do get targeted a lot because I have been in relationships - but sometimes I’m single - and people think because if I’m single and because I’m independent - that it’s okay for them to hunt me. It’s wrong to treat people like that, but that’s how many men have behaved through the years, and it’s not cool. So here is my story - I’m sure there are things in this that you can all relate to, especially all the independent women.
I did this course years ago and I wasn’t in it for long and had to leave half way through because I was working at the time (part-time). There was man doing it and he was a little strange. He was overweight with a beer stomach and he dressed exactly like Reg Reagan from The Footy Show (rubber thongs, short shorts and a tight singlet). He was married with about 50 children (ok that’s an over-exaggeration) I think it was about 5 to 6 children. I was always nice and polite to him, but he wasn’t someone I would associate with, he seemed arrogant and rude. For example one day the teacher left the room, and he stood up at the front and started pointed at people and started telling them what to do – he wasn’t joking around he was being completely serious – he wanted to be in charge. I remember once we were standing outside the room and he was telling us all how he believed in aliens (nothing wrong with that) but he said that humans have to wear special sunglasses to see who the aliens are - because the aliens disguise themselves as people - He was really serious when he said it and wasn’t joking around, but I couldn’t help but laugh – after I laughed he got really angry at me because I thought it was funny and I didn’t take what he said seriously - he responded by saying something really nasty and offensive towards me. This man and I had never had any one on one conversations together, I wasn’t there for long and he wasn’t someone I would bond with – he was also at least 10 to 20 years older than me. I have had many weirdo men stalking me and harrassing through my life so I started to become familiar and used to being stalked and harassed. This was just another one, in many. I don’t even bother talking about them anymore, I remember most of them but I’ve had so man- I think I’ve had my fair share, but it just keeps happening to me.
So I never saw him again for like a couple of years, until I worked in retail. Some jobs you aren’t in public view, but when you work in retail you are – so if someone wants to stalk and harass you – there is no escape. I was working one day and he walked past one day he was with another man, and he stopped and said hello to me, and I said hello and asked him if he still worked on computers (because that was the course we were doing) and he said no. So he walked out of the store and then he ran back in and threw a piece of paper at me and screamed at me ‘CALL ME’ so I opened it up and looked at it and saw his phone number (his name wasn’t on it). I didn’t know what to do with it, I know I didn’t want to call him so I just threw it in the bin. If he had something to say to me he could have just said it to me when I was working. I didn’t even know his name, I just knew what he looked like. The stalking and harassing started like this – I worked five days a week – when I was serving a customer I would see him walking past and screaming out or indicating for me to ring him, I just ignored him – he did it so often at the beginning I kind of just laughed after he did it and walked off. He kept doing it like every 3 days but I couldn’t predict what days he would come to our store and I couldn’t predict the times, he was behaving very random – but he was doing it often. He would never come into the store, he would walk past and be at a distance so I couldn’t say anything back at him - he was too far away but close enough for me to see him – he would usually appear and disappear again. I couldn’t scream out at him to leave me alone (for him to hear me) because there was customers and my bosses around so I would have got into trouble if I did that. I never told my co-workers about it, they would have just laughed about it and would not have taken it seriously and my bosses weren’t managers who you could confide in – they treated their staff like Nazis. This man started doing this about three times a week at random times (sometimes more) and this will continue for months. He would just randomly walk past my store at different times to tell me to call him. Sometimes he would walk past with his wife or with a trolley full of kids in it. I never rang him, and you would think if I didn’t ring him he would realise it’s because I didn’t want to ring him.
After months of me not calling him, he decided to come into the store and asked me why I haven’t called him. I thought that was nice of him, it made a change after walking past yelling at me all the time. I asked him “We are really busy at the moment, what is the phone call referring to?” and he asked me “referring?” (he didn’t know what the word meant) - I said “yes what is the phone call about?” and he replied “I just want you to call me”. I said well whatever you want to say on the phone to me you can say it here now. He went silent - he didn’t reply so he walked out of the store without saying anything, it was really weird. But just like the first time he ran back in again and threw his phone number at me on a piece of paper again and screamed at me to call him, and ran out before I could say anything. I also realised he didn’t write his name on it – I had no idea who this guy was. That was in the bin as well.
He never got close enough to tell me anything to my face – it was always him walking past and calling out, sometimes he would stand outside the store – not close – but not too far and he would just stand there staring at me. I wouldn’t know he was there at first. I had this feeling that someone was looking at me, and when I looked up he was there just standing there staring at me – it was creepy, but after I looked up he would walk away – he was happy he got my attention. One day I was starting work at 8:30am and I was in a rush to get to work (because I was started early) I walked past the local bar on my way to work and I saw him in there drinking – I thought that was an early time for someone to be drinking. The same day about 4pm he walked past my work and told me to call him again. I’m presuming he spent all that time drinking near my work and I am also presuming he wasn’t working at the time. Once his wife came to the store and she was looking at something on the shelf that was near the outside of the store, he was standing there next to her – he was staring at me, it was really freaky. I thought it was best just to ignore him, I thought if I ignored him he would eventually go away. But he moved fast and he wasn’t predictable when he was around. This continued for months and happened over a year. I remember one day it was Valentine’s Day – I dreaded working this day because I knew I would see him, the day went by without seeing him so I felt a sense of relief, until in the afternoon a couple of hours before my shift finished he turned up and did his usual routine. The longer he did it, the more scared and intimidated he made me feel, he just made me feel very uncomfortable.
There’s a lot of people out there who say hello to you, and you say hello back so they think this is more than just a polite hello – they believe there is more in it when there isn’t. It makes you feel like you can’t be friendly to anyone anymore because they take it the wrong way.
I hated working in that job (because I hated the rude abusive bosses) – I did not leave because of him, but it was a relief when I did leave because I did kill 2 birds with one stone. Even up to the time I had left, he was still walking past begging me to call him – he never got the message (I don’t’ think he was too bright). After that I got another job – I liked this job more and even though it was part time I was still working 5 days a week and I enjoyed what I was doing and the people I worked with were decent, and even though the managers were strict, they were decent. I worked there for 5 years even though it was close to my previous retail job, he couldn’t enter the building because there was security guards and all that time he didn’t find out where I worked which was a huge relief. I never told anyone from my previous job what I was doing or where I was working, just in case they would pass on the information to this man (or any of the other crazies that harassed me – and I’ve had a few). The worst thing about working in public view and in retail is that it is easy for people to harass you.
Sometimes he would see me in Westfield on the weekends and he would sometimes call out my name (he knew my name because it was on my tag when I worked in retail) but I didn’t know his name, when he called out to me I just ignored him and walked off – I did this a lot of times when I saw him. Once he was at the shops with his wife and I heard him calling me a “weirdo.” I told some of my friends at the time about him, I had so many weirdos harassing me, he was just one many. I nicknamed him my “stalker” because I didn’t know his name and so they knew who I was talking about. He didn’t know me or know anything about me, he just knew my first name and where I worked. He didn’t know my contact details (phone number), he didn’t know where I lived and he didn’t know where I worked next – and I made sure that he didn’t know any of my contacts (friends etc.) I think a lot of times when you are nice, polite and are a good person that people take advantage of it and take it the wrong way. When they find out you aren’t interested in them in that way or you don’t like the way they have treated you – that’s when they go crazy and nasty and all the abuse, stalking and harassment begins and continues over a period of time. It’s hard to be nice to men – you don’t know who the decent men are and who the weirdo ones are – so you are taking a risk at being friendly back – some men are nice back and leave you alone, but a lot of them want something romantic or sexual back in return for a “hello.” But if you don’t say hello to them back because you don’t want another man stalking and harassing you – they will turn around and call you a “rude stuck up bitch”. Women can’t win in this situation – it’s a gamble – and most of the time it’s the woman who doesn’t win.
Today when I saw him I was waiting for public transport and I was sitting next to the timetable (that was a bad decision). I was sitting there reading my book and I was in my own world so I didn’t notice he was there, but I did notice a man standing right next to me looking at the timetable – I did notice this man was standing there for an unusual length of time, that it made me look up to see what he was doing. When I looked up I noticed it was him – he looked the same, but more hairy and messy. I think he did it just to intimidate me, I thought I could either sit there and ignore it and let him intimidate me – but I just had enough of this psycho so I thought FUCK THIS so I just closed my book got up and walked off – away from him. Of course he didn’t use the same transport that I was using, he probably saw me sitting there and went over there just to annoy me (I’ve never seen him there previously or since). Thankfully when I went back to get my transport he was gone.
I did have a friend who had a similar story, she told me she was so scared at the time – it only happened to her on one day and under an hour – but it happened all so fast that it scared the hell out of her. One day she got off the train to go to work and this man said hello to her, she said “hello” back. He started following her and this scared her – I don’t remember all the details to her story (she told me over a year ago) but I do know this man really rattled her and made her nervous. She eventually walked into a building – not where she worked because she didn’t want him to know where she worked. She walked in and closed the door and stood there and waited for a length of time until he went away. She didn’t know if he would follow her in the building or not, that is one of the risks she made – he didn’t. She waited for some time before leaving the building, walking cautiously to work. By the time she got to work she was late and she had to explain to her co-workers what happened to her.
I’m sure everyone has their own “Fatal Attraction” story – there are so many strange people in this world. Most of us have had someone who has stalked us, harassed us and given us un-wanted attention. I just think more people in this world need to read that book “He’s just not that into you,” men should have a similar version. And if you give someone their phone number and they don’t call you…. They just aren’t that into you!