This Dangerous Mistake Some Women Make Can Lead to Stalking

Missy Crystal

Photo by Vera Arsic from Pexels

It started with an email.

There was nothing special about the message. It wasn’t overly interesting, excessively friendly, or anything else that would have triggered my mental caution button.

It was just an email.

I still had Myspace, although I didn’t use it often. When I saw I had an email from somebody named Triple C, I browsed my account to see if anything rang a bell. Lots of people used nicknames online, and my email address was listed on my profile.

“Hey Missy, what’s up?”, the email read. “I’m having a party with some old friends. Can you come?”

I realized Triple C was a guy I used to work with named Cameron— 7 years ago. He seemed like a nice enough guy back then, and although I had no intention of going to his party, I wrote back, “Sure, I’ll try to stop by.”

Back then I had a hard time telling people no, so I felt like saying I’d try to come was the polite thing to do. I made a bit of small talk, asking how he was doing and how his life was going. We had a few mutual friends, and Cameron asked about them as well.

Again, nothing out of the ordinary. Thanks to social networking, I received random emails like this all the time from people I hadn’t seen in years.

It was just a regular email.

We became Facebook friends

A few days went by, and I forgot all about the party. And the email.

Cameron sent me a friend request on Facebook. I used to add anybody back then, so I accepted. Like I said before, he was a nice enough guy, and we used to work together.

Things started to get a bit weird after that — not that I noticed right away. I was fairly naive in my early 20s.

Cameron liked and responded to all of my Facebook status updates and photos as soon as I added him. It was an obvious red flag, but I figured he was just bored. I’m a social networking junkie, so who am I to judge how much time somebody spends on there? Maybe he just wanted to catch up on how life was going over the years.

Then other people began pointing out that Cameron’s behavior seemed a bit weird. Not only was he liking every status, he was leaving comments. Comments where he started arguments with other males.

My friends started referring to Cameron as my Facebook stalker. I laughed it off and told them they were overreacting. I mean yeah, Cameron was getting out of line, but some people love drama. Maybe he just needed more excitement in his life.

Then the emails started

Cameron knew where my house was because I had invited him and some other coworkers over when we still worked together. I hadn’t moved since then, and he used to date my neighbor (which I never knew until he mentioned it) — so he had spent years hanging out in my condo complex, right down the street from me.

Cameron began sending me emails that were a bit annoying. I can’t handle clingy people, and his emails said things like, “Oh, you can’t respond to my email, but you have time to leave a comment on so-and-so’s wall.”

I try to be a patient person, but I’m not going to make myself available 24/7 for anyone except my family. I’ll admit that I went off on Cameron— just completely blew up on him. I’m talking F-bombs and everything.

I was surprised when he immediately wrote back as if nothing had happened and asked if I wanted to hang out. I made up some excuse and said I wasn’t home.

“Oh,” Cameron said. “That’s weird, because your lights were just on.”

Uh oh. Creeper alert.

Then I remembered he used to date my neighbor. I figured maybe they were still friends and he happened to be in the neighborhood visiting her. I used to make a lot of excuses for people.

I asked Cameron why he was driving by my house, expecting him to say he stopped by to see my neighbor or another friend.

His response shocked me. “I wanted to see if you were home,” he replied.

I went off again. I told Cameron that his actions were just plain weird and to never drive by uninvited or unannounced again. I angrily texted back, “That’s what stalkers do.”

Then the emails got weirder

Cameron ignored my comment about being a stalker and continued to email me. I received dozens of emails from him each day via my AOL account.

Each email was an explosion of bad grammar and intense feelings where he proclaimed his love for me. Keep in mind I never dated Cameron or had a fling with him. I barely knew him even though we worked together in the past. We had worked opposite shifts, so I usually saw him for an hour or two as I finished up my workday.

I started feeling really uneasy about the endless stream of messages and blocked Cameron on AOL and Facebook. I didn’t check Myspace often, so I figured I’d leave that open and let him keep sending emails there. I was scared that if I cut off all forms of communication, he’d come after me. I felt safer keeping Myspace available.

Cameron began sending Myspace messages about how much he loved me and how he knew we’d get married one day. Here’s a copy of an actual message from him that the police included in his criminal case:

I just wanted to let you know, that i mean everything i say to you, I wouldn’t ever bull you at all, wouldn’t want to loose you, and it hurts not talking to you, I know you have the same feelings for me and I’m trying to understand how come I can’t see you, or hold you and let you know everything will be ok because it will, you know I really care about you and one day we will get married its just im trying so hard to get my life back on track and its really hard with you shutting me out of your life and your a very smart person and I wish you could help me, because I know your a very caring person, you have always have been to me, I don’t want to loose you and I really thinking I just might have already, I want you to have a wonderful birthday, and it hurts so bad for me to think you don’t want me a part of it at all, im very serious and always have been to you, I never lied to you and you know that for sure, I have always been honest to you when i see you, you ask me and I tell you everything that’s going on word for word, its just I really do love you and it hurts to think sometimes you don’t love me like I have always loved you, I have always tried to help you every chance I get, so I would love for you to help me, and maybe we could help each other, I hope you understand that I’m not lying to you, and I hope to hear from you soon love you missy

I’ll never know what made him think we were in love. He was just a former coworker.

The messages just kept on coming

It got to the point where I couldn’t handle receiving messages from Cameron anymore. I tried ignoring them, but he abandoned Myspace and joined Facebook under a new name.

I also knew Cameron was driving by my house constantly. I saw him several times, and my neighbors even mentioned it.

I messaged Cameron and told him to leave me alone. I said, “I do not love you, I have never loved you, and I never will love you. We’ve never even dated, and we aren’t really even friends. I don’t understand why you think that we would ever get married. Please stop emailing me and coming by my house.”

But he didn’t stop.

In fact, he got worse after I responded to his message on Myspace. Cameron began emailing me from a new account on Facebook, sending messages on Myspace, leaving detailed posts about me on Craigslist, and sending emails to my email account. He even started emailing my friends.

I did my best to ignore him once again, but eventually, it got to be too much.

I emailed Cameron and warned him this was his final chance to stop before I reported him for stalking.

He responded by telling me that he knew deep down that I loved him the way he loved me.

I started getting scared

Stalking is terrifying. There’s no other way to describe it.

And yet I felt silly calling the police to report a bunch of unwanted emails from some weirdo who kept driving by my house — especially since Cameron claimed to be friends with several police officers.

The police didn’t act like my report was silly, though. “We take stalking very seriously, ma’am,” they said when I called.

Within in minutes, officers were at my house, filling out a police report.

Turns out my stalker had a criminal record, so they knew exactly where to find him. They went and picked up Cameron, then called and encouraged me to file a restraining order while he was in custody. I did, and he was served the paperwork for the restraining order in his jail cell.

While Cameron was at the police station, he confessed to everything and promised to leave me alone. The police called and said that he agreed to stop, but to still be careful.

I was happy, though. I figured that brief 72-hour stint in jail was enough to scare him straight.

I was wrong.

Stalkers don’t waste any time

Cameron began emailing me again immediately after he got out of jail. I ignored him.

He didn’t like that, so he drove to my house and pounded on my door for what felt like an eternity. I blocked the door with furniture and hid under the kitchen table with my young daughter. I’ll never forget how scared she was.

I had kidney problems that landed me in the hospital, so that gave me a temporary break from his craziness. Well, until I came home and found a love note on my front porch along with a bunch of gifts. There was a figurine for my shelf, a stuffed animal, flowers, and several other things that went straight in the dumpster.

Somehow Cameron even knew I was sick. There was a card with Get Well Soon stamped across the front.

Keep in mind that this guy was already arrested for admitting he stalked me. He was not supposed to be anywhere near my house.

I reported him again, and the police went to his house. Cameron confessed to everything. That always confused me — the fact that he confessed each time. I guess he didn’t think his behavior was wrong.

The police took Cameron to jail for a second time, but he was released a few days later and given a trial date.

I became terrified of leaving the house

I became terrified to leave the house or let my daughter go play at a friend’s house.

I stopped taking out the trash. I stopped checking the mail. I jumped every time my phone rang or my inbox beeped with a new message.

I didn’t want to tell anyone what was happening. I blamed myself for being stupid enough to answer Cameron’s email months ago. I shouldn’t have ignored so many red flags.

I blocked Cameron’s number, but he still found ways to call. I blocked him from social networking sites and my email, but he just kept creating new accounts.

I thought he’d never leave me alone.

Then my friend convinced me that I couldn’t spend my life trapped inside, hiding from my stalker. After all, Cameron was just communicating digitally since his most recent arrest rather than cruising my neighborhood. I agreed to let down my guard a bit and began jogging around the neighborhood each morning.

They tell stalking victims to switch up your routine, but I didn’t know that at the time. I felt safer doing things the same way, at the same time, each day. I’ve always been a creature of habit. My neighbors knew when and where I jogged, so that also gave me peace of mind. I figured they’d notice if anything happened.

A neighborhood near me was under construction, and I often jogged from my neighborhood to there. I was in pretty good physical shape and enjoyed the lengthy route.

The constant emails from Cameron still hadn’t stopped, but I tried not to live in fear. I convinced myself that my love for jogging would help me run away quickly if anything went wrong.

I didn’t realize how true that was until it was almost too late.

He was waiting

The new neighborhood was a popular spot for walkers and joggers. I usually ran into other neighbors during my morning jobs, so I wasn’t surprised to see a guy up ahead of me. Woods surrounded the neighborhood, and the man was standing behind some bushes, his upper body partially concealed by a tree.

I used to jog without my glasses, so he could have been anybody. I continued running until I was about 50 feet away.

The man turned toward me and screamed my name, and I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was him. It was really him.

Cameron was waiting for me.

I froze. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. My thoughts raced as I tried to calm down and get myself out of there.

He is going to kill me right now. I am going to die right here. This was a mistake. That’s all I could think as I stood in the grass, paralyzed by fear.

Then something came over me, and I ran faster than I ever realized I could. I sprinted up the grassy hill and ran and ran and ran.

I could hear Cameron running after me, but I didn’t stop to see how close he was. I just ran and didn’t stop until I was safely locked inside of my house.

I still didn’t feel safe, though.

I grabbed a knife and checked each closet, then searched under the beds. For all I knew, Cameron beat me home and was now waiting to kill me in my own house.

He wasn’t, and I was safe.

I called the police, and Cameron was arrested down the street from my home. They found him sitting near my mailbox, staring at my condo. Again, he admitted to everything.

Cameron didn’t get out of jail right away this time. His bond was set at $20,000, and he was not given a release date.

Apparently somebody had $20K

A few days later, the police called to let me know that Cameron was bailed out of jail.

I couldn’t breathe. I just began sobbing hysterically and hung up the phone.

Even while he was in jail, I was terrified to leave my house. Now that he was out, it was only going to get worse.

He was going to do this forever. I was convinced there was no way to escape him.

I got a letter about victim’s restitution in the mail and tossed it in the recycle bin. I didn’t want money. I wanted Cameron to go away and never return.

To make a long story short…

Cameron slowed down on the emails and messages, but he didn’t stop completely. Every time I made a new account, he found it. Every time I blocked him, he messaged me from a different username.

At his court date, he was found guilty of stalking and received a felony charge. This landed him in jail for more than 30 days, and he was ordered to complete a rehabilitation program.

When Cameron got out of jail, he left me alone but badmouthed me constantly to others. He began telling friends and coworkers that I was a heroin addict who begged him to come over and bring me drugs.

I was pretty upset because his claims were completely untrue. I’m not a drug addict — or even a recreational user. I barely even drink.

Not that Cameron cared. He set out to destroy my name, saying anything that he could to hurt me and make me look bad.

Then he got a new girlfriend. I felt bad for her, but it was nice to have a break from his constant messages and calls. Cameron finally stopped harassing me for good after his girlfriend got pregnant.

I don’t know where Cameron is now or what he’s doing today. I broke my lease and got out of there while he was still in jail. I only stayed at my next place for a few months before moving where I live now. I just didn’t feel safe.

I eventually moved several cities away from my condo. I still hate visiting my previous city and try to avoid appointments or events there.

Moving forward

The stalking happened more than 10 years ago, but many people still don’t know about it. It took a long time before I was ready to tell anyone. I didn’t want them to judge me.

I was embarrassed by the situation and hated myself for letting it happen. I felt like I should have done more to stop Cameron even though it might not have helped. If only I had ignored his email, maybe things would have been different.

For years, I hated taking out the trash, checking the mail, or talking to new people. I finally started walking outdoors again after a couple years, but it took a while for me to get comfortable in public. Even now, I’m constantly looking over my shoulder.

I no longer accept friend requests from strangers on Facebook. I don’t respond to random messages just to be polite. When a guy I don’t know messages me and I’m not interested, I don’t engage whatsoever.

I don’t want to take any chances.

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Full-time mom, student, and writer. I cover everything from parenting and personal finance to relationships and health.

O Fallon, MO

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