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Mon 1 Feb 2010 In: True Stories View at Wayback View at NDHA

When 19-year-old Aucklander Amiee (not her real name) met a nice girl online, she couldn't have been happier. They soon met up, and swapped numbers - but then the strange texts started... Almost a year on from her fearful experience with a stalker, Amiee tells her story to I met this girl on NZDating, she was a little older than me - 25 - and she seemed great! We talked online for ages and seemed to have a lot incommon. We met up about two weeks before Christmas 2008 and exchanged numbers. We were txting a bit but she'd changed - she became so different to what she was like on NZD. She started asking me very private questions about myself. Weird questions. She would ask me if I'm good in bed, and if my ex-partner enjoyed me... things that were very private and personal. She would also ask things like my weight and bra size. Things that were very personal to me, and things that no one needs to know about my previous relationship that were not the kind of things you ever ask someone. After about a week I started to get creeped out by the things she was saying, especially the "I love you" txts, and she even asked me to txt her that I love her so she could get to sleep. When I said that I couldn't do that - for what I thought were acceptable reasons - she started flipping out on me. She would send me threatening messages and then apologise the next day. I stopped txting back in hope that she would leave me alone, but she got hold of my home number and started calling constantly, saying she was my girlfriend and that we were supposed to be meeting. She even asked my mum for my address. Then a whole new ball game started. She would come to my house a lot. I would pretend I wasn't home, but she would wait outside at night for me to come home or go out.   I used to hate coming home just in case she was there. For me it was a constant internal struggle of "should I go home today or not?" I don't think that I was concerned for my safety so much as for my mental stability, because she was constantly around me and I couldn't handle coming home just in case. I couldn't go for a smoke on the deck because she would see me. I couldn't open my bedroom curtains because I was scared she would want to come in and she weirded me out. I didn't want her near me. I was exhausted and infuriated. The nights I cried, or I spent lying down in the back of the car and sneaking into my own house like some kind of criminal, are something I look back on and think "you are an idiot". But her threatening messages said things like "I will find you" and "I won't leave till I see you." And there were a few times that she sent txts like "f*ckin come out of Ill fight my way in." Eventually I called vodafone and blocked her number, and called the police. They were awesome! If I ever called to say she was there, they would respond immediately, sending someone to get rid of her. I also got to know a few of the guys on the force who would wait outside at night just in case she came back, and one really special one who sat out here on Christmas for a few hours so I could spend time with my family in peace. That's something I will never forget and will always be truly thankful for. It only went on for about eight weeks but that's way long enough to be honest. The fear and everything is really hard to deal with. The whole experience has made me think twice about who I give my number to and especially be very careful of who I meet offline and online. Many months later, I still have problems sleeping for fear she may find me. Now we have even moved away so she can't locate me. When we go to our old place to collect some of the mail that still finds its way there, she has sent letters saying she is still in love with me and we will be together soon. Every now and again she still txts me off her friends phones, but I just delete it.   It would be great if my story can help someone else not get stalked. If you're going to meet someone new, do it somewhere VERY public. Of course not everyone is a weirdo but you need to protect yourself. Don't go into it totally blind - have a few friends with you just in case you don't feel comfortable. Don't straight up invite someone to your house or anything like that. Get to know them, and take it slow. The police say... Stalking behaviour is more common than you'd think, and the police regularly deal with cases involving same-sex couples, says Auckland Police Diversity Liaison Officer Constable Brent Clark. "It can be a scary time if you're being targeting by someone who just won't leave you alone. The police are there to help if anyone is worried for their safety," he reminds readers. "Aimee did the right thing by calling the police, and the advice she gives at the end of her story is great. Always be very careful how much personal information you give to a person you are meeting for the first time, and always meet in a public place first. Trust your instincts."     Matt Akersten - 1st February 2010

Credit: Matt Akersten

First published: Monday, 1st February 2010 - 10:56am

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