For TWELVE years this man has threatened to kill me.

That’s right folks, for over a decade I’ve been the target of a very sick person.

When he first moved into my neighborhood, all I knew was he made me uncomfortable and l wanted as little to do with him as possible. I had no idea he would pressure me to date him, repeatedly ask me to be alone with him, or continually offer to be my sex toy (which made me vomit in my mouth every time he said it!).

And I would never have dreamed that asking him to leave me alone would escalate things to the point where he would try to drive me off the road, following me everywhere I went, threaten to kill me, and then years later, threaten my children as well.

It boggles my mind that someone can have such an obsession. It boggles my mind that people can be that sick and not receive proper treatment. It boggles my mind that this is a common occurrence and many, many people have been through the fear and living nightmare that stalking brings.

Looking back, I wish I had been more educated. I would have done things different. So, in an effort to help others be prepared for what I hope they never experience, here’s a list of what I learned.

1. Go with your gut! If someone gives you the creeps, don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong or overreacting.

2. The moment things get weird, start documenting. It might seem odd, but I would highly recommend walking into the police station and getting it on record. My number one mistake was that I didn’t tell anyone other than family. But when push comes to shove, you need a non-biased person to verify the truth.

3. Don’t think you can reason with the person. Another mistake I made, I tried to tell him multiple times that he needed to go away. You see, even though I was telling him to buzz off and that I didn’t want to talk to him, all he knew was I was talking to him. Tell them to go away once, and then completely ignore them after that. If you haven’t done step 2 at this point yet, go to the police and get it on record that you’ve asked them to leave you alone.

4. Call the police each and every time you get a note, text, call or visit from the person. Be a pest. The squeaky oil gets the grease.

5. It’s normal to feel embarrassed or ashamed or guilty, but you have the right to be left alone. You have the right to say no. Embarrassment was what kept me from getting the proper documentation. Don’t let that happen to you.

6. Pray for them. A HUGE turning point for me was the day I took to heart the passage of scripture that tells us to pray for our enemies. Praying for this man to be transformed by the renewing of his mind and heart caused me to see him for what he really is…a hurting person who is in desperate need of help. The kind of help only God can give. Praying for him to be freed from the sin that was weighing him down caused me to be able to do step 7.

7. Forgive. This very well could be one of the most challenging things I’ve done, but through the grace of God, I’ve been able to forgive. While forgiveness doesn’t take away the need to be properly protected from harm by setting boundaries, it does take away the need to dwell on the injustice. I still have the protective stalking order in place. And I would be happy if I never saw the man again. By no means does forgiveness mean he is welcome in my life. But what does forgiveness do? It helps us move on and let go of the exhausting job of holding a grudge.

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