Another day, another police horror story

by

I have a very creepy male neighbor who has left a number of notes on my door saying things like, “You are so beautiful,” and “I still think you are beautiful, you keep me up at night.” At first, all I knew was that someone was watching me on a regular basis, and the notes were benign, so I installed another lock on my door, bought some pepper spray, and went about my business.

I continued to receive notes, and eventually I figured out the identity of my watcher – a guy in the condo across from mine. His living room sliding glass door and mine face each other. When I Googled him, I ran across an exceptionally alarming blog featuring unexpectedly violent vignettes. Of particular concern was a story told from the perspective of a guy walking his dog, who sees a stunning female stranger across the street. The guy then looks down at the dog, and when he looks back up, the beautiful stranger has stepped into traffic and been killed instantly. Another one ended with a shattered vodka bottle lodged in the throat of the guy’s girlfriend.

Needless to say, this guy frightens me. I called the police to ask for advice – should I file a report, can I obtain a stalking protective order, do you have any other recommendations, etc. The officer I spoke with asked me what the notes said, so I read some of them. His response? “Well. Maybe you ARE beautiful.” SO NOT THE POINT.

I guess every male who sees me has the right to watch me secretly, and repeatedly state his opinion of my looks, even when his manner of doing so terrifies me and keeps me inside with the shades drawn most of the time. In fact, as long as a guy thinks I’m beautiful, what could I possibly have to complain about? I should be grateful a dude (a) thinks I’m hot, and (b) cares enough to let me know. And honestly, what else can I expect, what with my coming and going from work every day? I’m asking for it, obviously. #MFIF

AEH, Oregon, USA

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36 Responses to “Another day, another police horror story”

  1. sz Says:

    Terrifying.

    Can you try again? Persist until someone listens to you? Show them this print out and tell them you’re scared?

  2. Lucy Says:

    Bloody hell. There are no words to even respond to this…what a huge failure on the part of the police! Have the notes stopped? I really hope you somehow get a better response from any of the appropriate authorities – I just can’t believe what they said to you!

  3. Sabine Engelhardt Says:

    Unbelievable. It is known and should also be known by police, that stalking against strangers often begins with harmless words like this, brought to the attention of the victim again and again without the sender showing up. I hope that AEH finds help before something happens to her.

    Greetings from Germany
    Sabine

  4. Jessica Says:

    Try again! Please?

  5. Rayne Says:

    Generally speaking, the attitude is “Oh, it can’t be as dangerous as she thinks. He sounds harmless enough.” not “She should be grateful someone thinks she’s hot!” But… you know… go with the latter. It seems to be working for you.

    • Alibelle Says:

      What exactly are you trying to say? Are you telling her she’s wrong it’s sexism it’s just simple stupidity? What? Because I know a lot of people who respond to people with stalkers by telling them they should be grateful someone is paying attention to them. I’ve had people get angry at a friend of mine for “bragging” when she mentioned how upset she was about her stalker.

      So you’re wrong, that’s not how it “generally” is. But good job telling someone that she’s wrong about her own experiences.

      • Rayne Says:

        Yeah. That’s exactly what I’m saying.

        In this case, by her own admission, the officer didn’t say, or even hint at the idea, that she should be grateful for the interest. His disinterest, from her telling of the story, was based on his own, well-meaning, albeit ignorant, belief that because the compliments are harmless, so is the person making them.

        That’s not sexism, it’s stupidity. And to paint it as anything else, based on your own personal experience (Which, I have to say, probably has more to do with the people you spend your time with than society as a whole. The “victim-blamers” are the exception, not the rule.), rather than the situation at hand, really doesn’t do much for your cause.

        I call things like I see them. And in this case, she’s wrong.

      • Delibes Says:

        Rayne, just because it’s sexism based on ignorance rather than intent doesn’t make it less sexist. The police officer called it as he saw it, and needs an eye-test. I’m sure most of the people on this blog could recommend a good optician.

    • Alibelle Says:

      “His response? “Well. Maybe you ARE beautiful.” SO NOT THE POINT.”

      Yeah, that sounds a lot like “you should be flattered” to me. And are you new or something? Victimblamers are the exception? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha Yeah, sure.

    • CM Says:

      Oh look, another privileged dude wandered into the wrong place.

      Way to tell a woman how she feels. Anyone who stands up for a stalker or a dismissive cop wants to protect the privilege of being one.

      • Rayne Says:

        a) I’m female.

        b) I used to be a sex worker, and I live in the ghetto… privileged my ass.

        c) I didn’t tell anyone how they felt. I told her that she was wrong to come to the conclusion she did based on one remark from a stupid cop. And I stand by my position.

      • Ruby Says:

        Rayne, who are you to tell her point-blank that she’s absolutely and demonstrably wrong? It’s not like she’s just declared Ireland is a country is Southeast Asia. It’s a situation that’s open to interpretation, and it’s a situation about which she knows vastly more than you, considering she was privy to the entire conversation, including things like context and intonation. Your position is therefore based on more ignorance and assumption than hers, and to act as though you can divine the absolute! truth! about the situation despite this really does very little for your own credibility.

        “The “victim-blamers” are the exception, not the rule.” Except for study after study after study demonstrating that victim blamers make up quite a shocking percentage of the population. You are the one assuming that your social circle is representative of the world at large when things like “actual facts” point to a very different picture.

  6. H Says:

    That’s terrifying. Did you show them the blog? I really think you need to persist in talking to the police, even if they are being assholes, and in fact if they continue to be so, you should write to the head of your local police department, reminding him of what Sabine says about how stalking begins.

  7. Jo Says:

    Don’t give up until someone listens. Seriously.

  8. Alex Says:

    Disgusting! How could the police be so dismissive about the situation? Were there any female officers around? They might be more understanding to the situation and actually take action.

  9. Trix Says:

    Keep the notes (date them), do not confront the guy, read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. The book describes this kind of situation to a tee – and escalating things unnecessarily can case more trouble than may otherwise have resulted.

    No harm getting advice from the cops, but perhaps ask to talk to a domestic violence or stalking specialist (rather than the idiot manning the phones that day). Or call up a women’s crisis line and explain that you have concerns about your neighbour and ask what referrals they might have (they might be able to direct you to a suitable contact at the police).

  10. IMTB Says:

    The most important thing is to keep a diary of events with dates and times, which can be used as evidence. If you see him watching you, write it in, everytime he leaves a note, write in what time you found it and where. Also, ask to speak to a female officer.

  11. yolanda Says:

    I’m so sorry you have to suffer this particularily excruciating fear. It’s torture, and it’s illegal, and if you can’t get it resolved soon it will impact your life from the stress if not the danger the man poses. You will likely wind up having to move at the least if something isn’t done and quickly. as the others have said, gather your evidence. Definitely save some pages or screenshots from this freak’s site as well, maybe print off some of the more icky stuff. Take the collection with you and appear at the police station in person with it. Demand with all the temerity in your soul to be taken seriously and given some concrete steps to take about your safety. If you feel patronized, get louder, scold the MF and ask to see someone else. Women die from this stuff.

  12. Ayla Says:

    YES, you definitely need to KEEP TRYING. Talk to WHOEVER you need to talk to to get something done. This guy is NOT OK and what he is doing is WRONG.

  13. Melen Says:

    I understand how this can make someone uncomfortable. There’s no doubt I would be fairly creeped out if someone started leaving rayne notes. It definitely should be dealt with. I’d have to agree that you should probably keep calling the police station. Try and talk to a detective, the same one each time. See if they’ll at least stop by and have a chat with him. A protective order is all nice and good, but it’s a piece of paper. Just going by the information in this post, so I obviously don’t have the whole story, but there’s a pretty big distance between leaving notes saying you’re beautiful and assault. I’m assuming if there was something more aggressive that’s happened that you would’ve put it in this post.

    I couldn’t tell from the post, but you mentioned you googled him. Are you sure you were browsing websites related to him? If you googled my real name the first billion google pages would be about a serial killer. I’m sure someone could be overly dramatic and try to assign some sort of guilt to me that I had nothing to do with (said serial killer has been dead for decades, but you wouldn’t believe how little people actually research before shooting their mouths off).

    It definitely has to be dealt with, but to elevate someone to the level of murderer, rapist or assailant because of some creepy notes isn’t very logical.

    Just to clarify, I’m not saying it should be ignored. What I’m saying is so far all he’s apparently done is leave you some notes. That’s still a far cry from “torture”. If leaving notes like that was “torture” and “illegal” I suspect many of us wouldn’t be here, our parents never having flirted and “done the deed” in the first place. Gonna suck for this guy if he’s just (ineptly, badly, and without taste) flirting and you try and ruin his life.

    • l.j. Says:

      Melen, being watched or stalked prompts a feeling a lot stronger than “uncomfortable.” While I’m glad you acknowledged that this man’s behavior shouldn’t be ignored, you made a grave mistake in comparing his behavior to flirting. Leaving repeated notes on a stranger’s door (despite their lack of response) is not leaving a note on your crush’s locker in high school. It’s not unreasonable to believe his behavior could escalate.

      As for the comparison of stalking to torture, have you ever been stalked? You find yourself checking the locks again and again. You’re afraid to look out the window. You can’t walk anywhere without looking like you’re doing something illegal because you spend so much time checking over your shoulder. It feels like the walls are closing in. It feels quite a bit like torture.

    • Alibelle Says:

      Wow, your idea of flirting is really fucked up. That means there is something wrong with you. Seriously. You need help if that seems even remotely like flirting to you, and I’m not kidding.

      That guy is stalking not flirting, the difference is not that difficult to see.

      • Rayne Says:

        Actually, most of middle and high school my friends and I left notes in the lockers of guys we liked. So immature, yes. Stalking? Probably not.

      • Melen Says:

        Apparently “ineptly, badly and without taste” didn’t clarify my position to you.

        Reading comprehension goes a long way. Obviously I wouldn’t think his flirting is “inept”, “bad” and “without taste” if that was “my idea of flirting”.

        But I suppose responding to what I actually said wouldn’t be as dramatic.

    • Alibelle Says:

      Calling stalking behavoir “flirting” is perpetuating rape culture, even if you call it inept flirting. I’ve heard the rationalization of stalkers and creepy assholes on the bus with the same “your parents had to do the same thing” “without this I would have never been born.” Street harassment could be called flirting too I guess. But in any case she should probably just feel flattered someone is paying attention and feel pity that they’re so shy right?

      And leaving a note in someone’s locker in a public place without repeatedly doing it and also being able to look into where that person lived is so not the same as leaving notes on the private and in theory safe place where a lone woman lives. Repeated notes no less, with no positive response to mean that they are recieved well. And notes to a strange woman who you’ve never spoken to but can view from the privacy of your own home aren’t really the same as leaving notes to a boy who you shared a class with or had at least the basic introduction of going to the same school with.

      Also, am I confused, because I’m pretty sure this woman isn’t in high school so acting as if what you and dozens of other HIGH SCHOOL students did to one another is the same as what a grown man did is pretty ridiculous. High school students also give each other wedgies and swirlies, immature is the right way to describe how you behaved mostly because you know, you weren’t mature yet.

      Oh and saying something is flirting literally means that that is your idea of flirting. Since you said it was flirting that means it fits the definition and idea of flirting in your mind. It doesn’t matter if it’s your particular METHOD of flirting.

      • Melen Says:

        Wow. I tend to not debate or discuss things with people who intentionally misinterpret what I say to give themselves a foundation on which to argue from.

        I’m sure I’m alone in this position, but people like you scare me. Not creeps who write unwanted letters.

        The creep can be dealt with. Unfortunately, you’ll be allowed your interesting method of interpretation, because “everyone’s is entitled to their opinion”, afterall.

      • Alibelle Says:

        Yeah, okay sure. The stalker creep who can make someone fearful in their own home is small potatoes compared to me because you assume every word that comes out of your mouth should be given the benefit of the doubt because you’re a dude. Cool. If you can tell me how saying something is flirting doesn’t literally mean that it fits the qualifications and definitions of flirting according to your idea of flirting well then maybe I might reconsider. Until then, go ahead and encourage people to behave in scary inappropriate ways and never question your words, they’re clearly the good guys. It’s us bad women who label scary behavoir as stalking and refuse to agree with your every word that are ruining the world.

        Also, not quite sure why you put “‘everyone’s entitled to their opinion'” in quotation marks, since I didn’t say it. Quotation marks are not used for emphasis, they’re used for quotations. Totally has nothing to do with what you were arguing but, I figured since you insulted my reading comprehension (rather than question your own ability to make your point understood, since I’m not reading you right apparently, though you still haven’t explained what you were actually saying) it would be cool if I insulted you in the same way.

        And by the way, denying a person’s feelings of fear and trying to tell them they made a “grave mistake” with their own instincts is called gaslighting, and it makes it very difficult for people to trust their feelings and often as a result puts them in serious danger. Many commenters have recommended the OP read The Gift of Fear, I suggest you do the same.

      • Ruby Says:

        Yeah, leaving anonymous notes like that is fucked up bullshit. If this guy is her neighbor, he could have found a way to introduce himself face-to-face, or he could have identified himself on the notes, or written something introductory and not about her body. Instead, he decided to simply let her know that a strange man was watching her and obsessing over her (and before you freak out over me exaggerating, being kept up at night by someone you’ve barely know or don’t know at all is obsessing- not terrible by itself, but to decide to let her know this in an uber-creepy fashion is twisted) without giving her any idea of why or where or when. If he had been a remotely considerate person, it would have occurred to him that that would be considered intimidating by most people, especially by most women, and that she might have been a survivor of stalking or rape or abuse and thus would have even more reason to be fearful.

        Melen, you are the only one here without adequate reading comprehension, and yours is “interesting method of interpretation” which is skewing the situation. Note that you’ve decided to “elevate” her calling the police for advice to her “trying to ruin his life,” while decrying her elevation of “someone to the level of murderer, rapist or assailant because of some creepy notes.”

        And note that you’ve decided that Alibelle is worth fearing on the basis of her having called the guy a stalker while you are dismissing the fears of a woman being anonymously and creepily contacted by a strange man with violent fantasies who has apparently been watching her through her living room window.

        God, I hate hypocrites.

      • Ruby Says:

        Oh, also: when he’s guarenteed that she cannot respond to his missives, that pretty much automatically makes it not flirting. That makes her the target of attentions which she can do nothing about: she can’t tell him she likes it and she can’t tell him to stop and she can’t flirt back because she knows nothing about him (or so he intended). The “flirter” here has designed the situation so that he has the power and she has none. So this isn’t just being “inept” and “without taste.” It’s about who has power and who doesn’t, which is the core issue in stalking and abuse.

    • Maria Says:

      Some roommates and I were in a similar situation to the OP at one point. The guy seemed harmless, it was just silly (creepy, but silly) notes that he left. And then small gifts, which we always respectfully rejected (chocolate bars, mix CDs). But hey, it was just harmless “flirting”. We thought it was creepy, but we didn’t report it or anything.

      Until it escalated and he decided he should knock on our door at 3am to try to persuade us to let him in (we said no). And then, soon after, he tried to break into out apartment in the middle of the night. (Unsuccessfully, but he only left when arrested). This all was over a period of maybe 4-6 months.

      It’s not appropriate for this guy to be leaving the notes, and it’s not a huge leap to assume that this guy’s actions have the potential to escalate dangerously. And even if we assume that the guy is really totally cool, just socially inept, it’s best if the OP gets the situation dealt with so that she can live comfortably in her apartment. And in this case, the cops are the ones who should be helping her deal with it.

  14. kly Says:

    A women’s crisis centre would be helpful. But also, move. Your gut is telling you something that really matters here – this guy is dangerous. You are not wrong. Please do read Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear – it nails this. Your intuition is telling you something you really need to know.

    And I cannot BELIEVE the police treated it that way. Who is this idiot? Go in with the evidence and demand to speak to another officer. I hope you got the name of the last one. Because this is scary.

    But also: seriously consider moving.

  15. Grafton Says:

    Um. OMFG.

    Maybe if you go to the police station you can more easily pick who to speak to. At mine most of the time you can find a woman officer. Maybe that’ll help. Anyway, yes. Try again.

  16. Dude Says:

    It’s good to see so much positive advice here.

  17. Muk Says:

    I would second the suggestion to read Gift of Fear. If you happen to have the means, it might be worth a consultation with a threat assessment expert. Unfortunately, in some places, police intervention isn’t uniformly helpful.

  18. AEH Says:

    A follow-up – sorry for the length!

    Thanks to everyone who voiced support and concern, and as many of you surmised, there is naturally quite a bit more to the story than what was included in my MFIF submission. I thought I would take a moment to answer some of the questions and criticisms leveled in the comments.

    First, let me assure you all who recommended “Gift of Fear” that pulling it off my bookshelf was one of the first things I did. Its advice is helpful, although less so for stranger-stalking than for domestic violence situations. Nevertheless, per its recommendations, I decided not to engage this guy because I was, and am, afraid doing so will provoke him or cause him to reach some kind of tipping point.

    Second, when I found the first note on my door, at first I was filled with warm fuzzies, but then immediately looked around wondering who was watching me come in and out of my place. Still, I thought it might just be from a neighbor too shy to approach me. I put the note into a plastic baggie, and brought it into my office the next day (they’re all in plastic baggies with dates). I’m 28, and an attorney, and I work with four young men of similar age. I asked the dudes of the office whether this was just a shy admirer or whether I needed to be concerned. To a one, the guys in my office declared the note to be concerning, their rationale being that a guy bold enough to walk up to my door to leave me a note but too shy to initiate conversation would have left me a way to respond, or at least a first name. Since the notes were all anonymous, it seemed this person wasn’t just too shy to talk to me but rather preferred watching from afar. At a bare minimum, that is a dude with a serious misunderstanding of appropriate social interaction.

    Regarding the officer, I felt very much as though his tone was patronizing and condescending; I inferred he felt I was overreacting. The implication was that I should be flattered to have an anonymous admirer, and that the manner in which that admiration was expressed – someone watching me secretly and coming up to my door – was irrelevant. It’s difficult to think of a corollary for a male – so often we can say, “Oh, he never would have said that to a guy;” perhaps if a male had called on my behalf the officer wouldn’t have focused as much on the content of the notes, but I honestly don’t know. I felt that the officer’s focus on my appearance was sexist and, as I said, completely and utterly irrelevant and beside the point. And by the way, yes. I AM attractive. I don’t need some lurking creep to tell me so.

    Finally, regarding the blog entries. I had yet to find them, or identify the guy, when I spoke with the police. The way I learned the identity of this person is as follows: I was on my balcony reading one day when a neighbor came by on the central sidewalk and asked me the names of my cats, who were also out with me. I live on the second floor, but the development is like a split-level – those on the bottom floor are actually below ground level. So this neighbor was chatting with me from three feet or so below the floor of my balcony. He introduced himself, we talked about several topics including sports and our cats, his live-in girlfriend(!), as well as my profession and the fact that our HOA has filed a lawsuit. He got a phone call and then returned to our conversation and handed me a note with his first name and email address, and asked me to email him if I knew or learned anything else about the HOA lawsuit. I recognized the handwriting immediately. The email address wasn’t your standard jsmith@wherever.com, it was a handle along the lines of archduke_awesome. I googled both the full email and the handle alone, and found the blog, the author of whom had the same first name as my neighbor and listed our town as his location. I feel confident that the blog is his.

    As I said, I’m an attorney, so I did some research into obtaining a stalking protective order and learned that I have to communicate to him that his attention is unwanted before the court will grant one. And as many of you pointed out, a protective order can make the situation worse. On the positive side, I also have access to criminal records in the state of Oregon and this guy does not have one, nor does he have a federal criminal record.

    At this point, the notes have stopped, but the watching has not. I see him almost every day on my way into my place, and if I open my shades he stays outside or at his window waiting for me to come out onto the balcony. I wait until he’s gone to water my plants, then go back inside immediately. One thing that I have done is have several guy friends come over and sit on my balcony with me. My hope is that he thinks I often have male company and if he tries something he might run into more than he bargained for. On the other hand, he might just think I’m promiscuous and decide he’s entitled to a piece as well. It is difficult to guess what his thoughts are. Also, although he said he’s got a live-in girlfriend, I have yet to see her. In his more sinister moments, sometimes I wonder whether she’s in pieces in his freezer.

    I have been in contact with a women’s crisis center and also with a family and domestic violence advocate at the court, and through their counsel I have decided to ignore him to the best of my ability. The security guards who patrol my complex 24/7 have also been apprised. Some of you have suggested that I move, but that’s not an option for a couple of reasons: (1) I own my condo, and it’s a terrible time to sell, and (2) No creepy asshole is going to force me out of the home that I love, damn it!

    Thanks again to all who’ve been supportive. To those with questions, I hope I’ve answered some of them satisfactorily. To those who disagree with my interpretation of the situation, fair enough. YMMV. Maria’s experience is exactly what I fear – it’s the potential for escalation, not just what’s happened thus far. I’d rather overreact and be proactive in attempting to secure my safety, than ignore warning signs and be unexpectedly accosted in my entryway.

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