County police didn’t do their job

When this nightmare started almost two years ago, I did the first thing all victims are encouraged to do – I called the police. At 2 AM, with my children sleeping upstairs, an officer arrived at my home. He looked down on me and my distress when I asked for help because my ex-boyfriend was threatening to post nude pictures of me online and said, “there’s nothing I can do.” When I went to a local precinct the next day and sat down with an officer, I received the same disinterested, “There’s nothing the police can do” response to my plea for help.  Finally, after leaving messages, sending an email and filing a formal report, I had hoped someone could help me. It seemed that Officer G-, the County officer who took my report, might be able to do something. He didn’t. He, as did all the others, dismissively said, “There’s nothing I can do.” I gave up trying. No one would help me. I was exhausted from calling lawyers, District Attorneys, hotlines, sending emails, leaving messages. I was ashamed and thoroughly helpless.

On 19 September of this year, when my stalker began harassing me again, I immediately went to another local precinct. I was calmer, less panicked and ready to fight. I was scared, yes, but able to abate my tears and compose myself. When I walked into the sunny, high-ceilinged lobby, of the police station, behind the desk was Officer G- from last year. He remembered my case, I remembered him.   And I was absolutely sure he’d take me seriously and do something this time. This time he would protect and serve.

To his credit Officer G- made a feeble attempt to find a crime my stalker committed. He even called out his supervisor who thumbed through the Crimes Index book (not the real name, but you get the idea) and sighed heavily, one can only guess his sighs were due to the inconvenience I was inflicting upon his morning.

This time, they both looked at me and agreed that there was no crime committed. That there was nothing they could do.

They were wrong.

After meeting with the State Trooper from the Computer Crimes Unit on Monday, I learned that my stalker had committed at least three misdemeanors, one with several counts, each carrying a jail sentence.

But there is nothing I can do.

The 1-year statute of limitations for misdemeanors had passed.  My stalker is going to get away with the harassment again because that damn county cop didn’t do his job a year ago. None of them did.

How is it possible that a county law enforcement office is unaware of a state law enforcement unit?  Why didn’t one of those men suggest I contact the State police? Why didn’t one of them contact the State police?

The answer is simple. None of them did their jobs.  And because of their complacency, I have to dwell in fear and anxiety.

Luckily, my Trooper isn’t giving up on me. He is going to talk to the State’s Attorney Monday and ask if a judge might waive the statute of limitations because I did try to get help. He is also going to research other possible crimes that we can charge my stalker with. It’s a very comforting feeling to finally have someone in law enforcement on my side, working for me.

In the meantime, on my Trooper’s advice, I unblocked my stalker from my email accounts in the hopes that he contacts me. Then we can establish a pattern of harassing behavior. What I’m really hoping for is for him to issue a death threat because then the feds can go after him.

Perhaps the most bizarre moments in recent weeks have been when friends and family have sincerely, earnestly said to me, “I hope you get your death threat!”

I hope so, too.

She was, I AM

I’ve been really busy. Like, crazy busy. It’s that kind of busy where I feel like people are calling my name from several different places, and I can see them, but I don’t know to whom I should respond first. My days find me turning my head in all directions, trying to see what is coming next. It’s disorienting and dizzying but also very, very good. I have not been busy like this in a long time. I welcome the chaos and the challenge.

It’s easy for me to slip under the warm blankets of complacency when I get busy like this. So I have finally trained myself not to turn the TV on as soon as the house gets quiet. I also have begun avoiding eye contact when I go out. I loathe creating small talk with people – It’s simply exhausting the whole ritual of, “Hi! How are you? I’m good, thanks! Yes, it is a beautiful day. Weekend plans? Not sure yet. I may drink several bottles of cheap wine and pass out while crawling up the stairs to go hurl in the toilet. You?

Why is that so wrong? It’s sarcasm…good-natured, jovial sarcasm. I mean, really…cheap wine? Never. Those who know me will see right through that one. And I have become almost expert at hurling in the sink when I know I won’t make it up the stairs to the toilet.

But I digress. And upset my mother, I’m sure.

Back to the business of being busy.

Many people have told me that they get tired just reading about my days. But to me an average day in my life leaves me feeling like I accomplished so little. For example, yesterday I washed, dried, folded and put away three loads of laundry. Not too shabby. But there are three more waiting to be washed, dried, folded and put away. Then I logged on to my part-time editing job and spend a three hours editing the HTML of the online courses that are set to launch in 6 weeks. I also re-read the issue of Harper’s magazine I have to analyze for my graduate program. Sounds nice, yes? Reading a magazine. Yeah. Not so much. Harper’s is like War and Peace in magazine format – it is dense, political, intelligent, confusing and pretty damn boring. Thus the second reading. I also walked my puppy. Twice. Our route is almost two miles. Then I checked email, replied to emails, read more emails, replied to those (working in an online environment brings many daily emails). Then I picked up the kids from their respective places of care and education. I cheated on dinner…Subway. I had a yen for a turkey and provolone sub, and little desire to go grocery shopping. Then homework with Ethan, then play time with Laura. Then one washed, teeth brushed, pajama-ed, read to, tucked in and kissed goodnight. Then the Thursday Wii battle ensued. Then I ate crow and supervised the washing, teeth brushing, pajama-ing and reading of the other one. After tucking and kissing, it was time to go back to work. It was time to write.

And here is where the last of my energy is allocated. For my MFA program, I am writing a memoir. It is a collection of essays about events and people in my life, and what I have learned from these events and people, and how they have both hurt me and helped me grow. It’s difficult because I have to take a harsh look at who I was and the dumb-ass mistakes I made. Memories are one thing, but to relive those mistakes, to put myself back in those moments is brutal.  But I do it. Everyday I sink myself back in time and be who I was.  Such masochistic tendencies are the bane of so many memoirists I know. We pick the scabs, poke the bruises and flex the sore muscles in order to feel the pain that must be committed to paper. We do this because we believe, deeply believe that our stories will let someone know that it’s okay to make dumb-ass mistakes.  And that they will show someone else that she isn’t the only frightened little girl, depressed teenager, cocky twenty-something, confused thirty-something.  We hurt so we may reach out to others with the hopes of soothing their pain, easing their confusion.

I write all day long…my head constantly churning and turning words and sentences. So as I am doing laundry, walking the puppy, editing courses, driving, helping with homework, playing, tucking, reading, I am also writing. At night, when it comes time to quiet my self as my house has quieted, I am ready to work.

Night turns into early morning, midnight having long passed. I have purged and edited and revised as many of the events from my past that I can handle, so I return to the confident forty-year-old that I have become, comfortable in my Real home, and thank who I was for being her so that I may be here.

The State Police Have Arrived

Oh, me of little faith…however warranted the having of little faith is, I must say a small mia culpa.

12 days after leaving a message, I received a very apologetic return call from a Sergeant in the State Police Computer Crimes Unit (SPCCU) today.

“Clearly,” he stated confidently after I gave him a quick down-and-dirty of the events of the past 21 months, “you’ve been harassed.” Typically a comment like that would receive a snarky reply from me along the lines of, “no shit,” but he wasn’t being condescending. Sergeant SPCCU was confirming that I have a clear case of harassment. And that he would get an officer to work my case.

I have a case. A Sergeant in the Computer Crimes Unit of the State Police acknowledged that I have a case.

This is tremendous.

He promised an officer will contact me tomorrow.

With all good news, though, there has to be a taint – he reminded me that this State is very liberal (which I never considered a bad thing until now) and as such, the computer crimes laws are not very strict. For example, child pornography is a misdemeanor in this State.

A misdemeanor. Sergeant SPCCU didn’t hide his disgust. Neither did I.

I am ashamed to admit that I never paid much attention to local elections.  Politics has never been of any interest to me. And, as the story often goes, it is not until I need politics and politicians to help me that I am becoming interested. Very interested. So, in the interest of my new interest I will find out who my local senator/representative is and get in touch with that person.

Watch me go.

The beginning

I didn’t do enough the first time this happened.

I was panicked, embarrassed, afraid and ashamed. And while I still feel many of those same emotions, I also feel anger, hate, and fury both at him and at the pathetic law enforcement in this area.

Posing nude was never high on my to-do list in my relationships. But this guy was special – he was my have-to-have. We fell in love while I was in high school. We almost married, but I went off to college and he went off to pursue a music career. Shortly after our separation, we lost contact. Shortly after that I received a phone call that he had died in a car accident. This was long before the Internet or email. No one I knew had a computer or email. And on my college campus only the super-computer literate knew how to work email. And they only communicated with each other.   I mourned deeply.

16 years later we reunited. He sought me out, and I fell for him all over again.  The story of his death was a lie. We picked up where we left off 16 years ago – deeply in love and planning our wedding. I trusted him implicitly. I allowed him to form a  relationship with my children. He was the model of a future stepfather, husband, partner.

He loved me deeply and truly, but his definition of love was vastly different from mine. He saw his role as my lover that of a possessive, protective man.  He saw his beloved as a thing to be controlled. His abusive childhood shaped this approach to love. I understood. I knew I could help him heal. I gave it every effort I could.  But, in the end, he was abusive, and I had to get out.

He was not going to take this break up gently. He was, as he put it, going to destroy me for breaking my promises and lying to him.

He created an Ebay auction. The item up for bids? My body. All 88 pictures I had let him take over a 6-month period. He posted the link to the auction on Facebook pages of my place of employment. After he went into my email account and copied my address book, he emailed links to the auction to my ex-husband, babysitters, and friends. He mailed a printout of the auction page and a CD of the images to my son’s kindergarten teacher at the Catholic school he attends. He mailed the same to the chair of the department where I teach.

My horror, mortification, emotional distress and pain were unbearable. I attempted suicide a couple of times. I yelled at my therapist of two years, begging her to make the hurt go away. I deftly hid it all from my children.

I have not had contact with him in over 14 months. I blocked his and all his friends’ email addresses and phone numbers. I thought of him and what he did to me every day, but the pain was steadily lessening.

Then, on 19 September, 2011, I received an email at work that a profile was made of me by someone acting as me that featured naked pictures of me. It was him. It had to be.

The profile featured my full name and the details of my place of employment. It made me a target. The tagline on the profile read, “Hot for teacher? Come and get it!” A solicitation. I was terrified.

I reported it to the web hosting site, and it came down in three days. It had been active for 15 days and had over 3,000 views.

I also had the images copyrighted in my name. I now own them. They are my intellectual property.

The FBI can’t do anything unless he issues a death threat. The County police are too stupid to know what to do. The State police’s computer crimes division won’t return my calls.

I had to go on medical leave from work for 12 weeks. I am so afraid of who will come find me as a result of seeing the profile, that my hands tremble from anxiety.  I have Type I Diabetes, and the stress has affected my blood sugar levels. My levels skyrocket then plummet leaving me dizzy and disorientated. Stress and Type I Diabetes also exasperates depression and thoughts of suicide.

During these 12 weeks, I will be moving through the process to see new legislation come to pass that protects victims.

I plan to lobby for online harassment, stalking and impersonation to be a crime with considerable penalties.

The law, as it is written, states that since the victim gave consent to have the pictures or videos taken, no crime was committed.

Consent to have them taken does not also imply consent to have them published. That is the crime.

That is where innocents are exploited. That is what I am fighting for.  To see the end of this exploitation.

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