Fear, Isolation, Insomnia: The Real Life Toll Of Being Stalked

Last week, we published a story by Tiffanie Drayton about encountering a strange man multiple times in her neighborhood in the span of a few days, including on her own block, who then hunted her down on social media and sent her creepy and “flirtatious messages.” The experience made her feel incredibly unsafe, understandably so, and I was distressed to see some commenters be quick to dismiss his completely bizarre actions as coincidental or a misinterpretation on her part, mimicking the way some of her friends responded. Unfortunately, I think that happens a lot. On one hand, the instinct to dismiss those concerns — “I’m sure he’s not stalking you, he probably lives on your block/has an innocent crush/won’t actually DO anything to hurt you” — could be a (misguided, but well-meaning) attempt to make the person feel better/safer. On the other hand, they are also an example of the ways in which we tell women to ignore their instincts and give complete strangers, in particular men, the benefit of the doubt and a trust that has not been earned.  There are very, very good reasons for women to not feel safe in this world of ours. The ways in which women’s personal spaces are violated on a regular basis are plentiful, from street harassment to inappropriate comments at work to online threats, and sadly, so too are stories of these behaviors taken to the extreme. As these 12 examples from Whisper illustrate, women who have been stalked are left isolated, do not always get the support they deserve from family, friends and community, and find the fear stays with them even after they’re finally “safe.”

Check out more confessions on Whisper.