Surviving Harassment (How We Beat the Bad Guy)

(The following text is a transcript of the above video)

This is going to be a video unlike any I’ve done before and will probably ever do again. I’ll be talking about something I really don’t want to talk about because it is personal to me & my wife but I’ve been convinced by others that I should tell this story because it is relevant to the topic at hand which is the supposed myth of male harassment of women.

I’m guessing there’s a reason you don’t get lots of examples like ours showing that the problem of harassment of women by men and the protection of those harassers by our society really does exist because women and their family members who have been harassed and stalked don’t want to talk about it.

I suspect that like us they just want to put it behind them and forget about it. That’s what my wife and I did. Frankly, we resent that the discussion over harassment in this community has become so childish and stupid that we should have to talk about what is to us just bad memories that we’d prefer remain our private business.

There’s been a lot of talk in what we refer to as the skeptic’s community on the issue of harassment and conventions; specifically on whether it is a problem and whether women are over reacting or men are over reacting and I get the impression this issue isn’t just limited to our community of self proclaimed skeptics. I get the impression that it is pretty universal so it doesn’t matter what community you’re from; this still applies to you.

Instead I’m going to take a different approach from everyone else on this issue here. I’m not going to really address the arguments presented by both sides of this debate or the personalities involved. I’m of the opinion there’s plenty of blame to go around and when you are all ready to discuss it maturely you can join me and some of the others at the adult table.

.I’m going to take some time to tell you all about the incident my wife and I went through some time ago where we had to deal with a stalker.

An in real life stalker, not a cyber-stalker.

This situation dragged on for almost a year with us going in and out of the courts, with over a score of visits by the police and finally culminated in the stalker snapping and attacking us in full view of a number of witnesses.

But we’ll get to all that in a bit. What I’m going to do first is preemptively address some of the bad argumentation that I suspect will be made against this video.

First: tldw (Too Long Didn’t Watch).

Okay.

Rather than take the time to listen to someone present actual evidence that a problem exists you’d rather just blow it off since it’s far to difficult for you to actually learn something that conflicts with your narrow world view.

As far as me being concerned about what you think and your position on the topic of women and harassment at conventions whoops; pardon me I just dropped the fuck I was about to give it rolled under the table and I cannot be bothered to dig it out from under there.

Second: You say;

“Pooka this happened in your neighborhood and not at a convention. Therefore the situation is different.”

Well, let’s see.

All the people involved in this story are self proclaimed skeptics.

We are skeptics and the stalker considered himself a skeptic. So the next time you’re at TAM or some other convention turn to your right or left and come up with a reason why this self proclaimed skeptic who is a stalker wouldn’t be standing right next to you with a big grin on his face holding out his hand for you to shake.

Please, explain to all of us the magical power that allows us to use bariminology to classify conventions using the creationist kinds system that would place a convention in the; “Places stalkers don’t go to” kind.
What exactly about the; “Kind” that is “skeptic conventions” makes them so special that a stalker like the one I’m about to describe wouldn’t show up there?

And finally 3rd, you say;

“Pooka your experience is an exception to the rule and we resent that you are implying that all men are stalkers or that I am specifically because I like to have fun.”

The purpose of this story is to show that sometimes inappropriate behavior does happen.

People make excuses for it, allow it and blame the wrong people for it, and sometimes bad shit happens because of it, sometimes it is an indicator of a warped personality that needs to be blocked. If you feel that bringing up what you think of as a rare case of extreme behavior is offensive and insulting to yourself or men in general then oh my god grow a pair.

Seriously. When did men become such pussies?

This all happened some time ago. We weren’t living in NYC at the time and there was a fellow who lived down the hall from us in our apartment building.

He was a big, friendly guy. Older guy. He had a reputation in the neighborhood for being slow of mind but well meaning. We’d run into him in the hall (he lived down the hall from us) and he’d make jokes that some might consider mildly inappropriate but we didn’t think it was a big deal, we’d just laugh it off and just say ;“that’s Jim being Jim” just like everyone else did.

We had a stray cat issue in the area and Jim was obsessed with the stray cats. He’d often go on about how terrible it was that they suffered being strays.

We worked with a few groups who did animal rescue and so we reached out to a woman we knew who worked with a rescue group in the area and she generously offered to do some work catching and placing area strays in homes.

This made the idiot happy; that’s what I call him by the way. The idiot. I call him that because he is an idiot. I also refer to him as“the der” so when you here me refer to “the idiot” or “the der” I’m referring to this guy. Jim; and no Jim isn’t his name I’m not using his real name for numerous reasons.

At first everything went smoothly but slowly. Too slowly it turns out for the idiot.

We got a call from Cindy, our contact in the group complaining that the idiot kept calling her obsessively about; “when she was going to come out and do more about the stray cats”, he was even calling her workplace. He was sometimes abrasive and it was getting to the point of harassment. She asked; Since we were his neighbor, could we do something about it?

We figured; sure, why not? The guy was a bit odd but surely if we spoke to him he’d be reasonable, right? We were working on the assumption that Cindy, like most crazy cat ladies was being over sensitive.

My wife stopped by to speak to the idiot and to make a long story short, The idiot stopped obsessing on Cindy and started focusing on my wife.

We learned a few things about the der; the idiot if you prefer, during this time.

First; he had a reputation in the neighborhood for getting in trouble for inappropriate behavior. His idea of being funny was say, when standing near the condom or feminine hygiene display in the store to stop strangers (women in this case who were shopping or passing by) and make off color jokes to them.

We discovered that this behavior and behavior like it had gotten the Der a number of temporary bans from the shopping store in the area over the years. I never understood why they let him come back in; the best I could figure is that they never really took the complaints too seriously and eventually his wife would intercede for him and get him permission to be on the premises of the store again.

Remember, we’re talking about someone who had been in the neighborhood for around 50 years, plus having your wife enabling your behavior goes a long way to untarnishing your reputation.

Second; the idiot felt he always had to be right. So much so that if he offended a female he literally couldn’t understand why she could be so offended and would therefore follow her to her car, the bus stop, her home, wherever.

All while he would obsessively try to make her see the error of her ways.

By the way, the idiot had had a tumor removed from his head which we quickly learned was one of the reasons he got a pass for a lot of the crap he did. The general assumption was that he couldn’t help himself, didn’t understand that what he was doing was wrong, and that he was pretty much harmless so generally if the police got called, not much came of it.

On one of the occasions we spoke to his wife about all this she slipped and said he had always behaved this way, even before the tumor which was the opposite of what she said publicly so make of that what you will.

So the idiot began to focus on my wife. He would pop by and knock on our door at all hours because he was convinced there was some emergency going on that needed the expertise of my wife who had been doing animal rescue for years and so had picked up a decent amount of knowledge on the topic.

This was incredibly frustrating by the way. You have to be up for work in four hours and you get a knock on the door at 3am because your neighbor saw a stray cat with a runny nose? You’d be frustrated too. None of it was genuine emergencies it was always what I refer to as; “silly shit” and we got fed up with it really fast.

We tried to set down rules for when he could stop by or call which he would agree to and then never obey because there were always exceptions in his mind that made each case different.

The last straw for us? Was when he sent his wife to ask my wife to come to their place because they had a stray kitten he caught that was hiding under the bed.

My wife went over, went into the bedroom and saw that the idiot was in there wearing nothing but a pair of shorts.

She turned around and left.

We told him later on that that was it; we wouldn’t associate with him anymore.

He was furious over the insult to his character and flipped out.

It was around this time that we were beginning to hear stories about his exploits around the neighborhood and how he’d harass women although the general consensus was that he wasn’t dangerous just really irritating and tiresome so while we found his harassment irritating and worrisome we assumed he would lose focus and move on to another target as was his pattern.

The first thing he did was to start obsessively listening at his door for when we were coming or going. He’d pop out and follow my wife and harangue her and demand that she talk to him. I stepped in and told him to stay the hell away from my wife which resulted in a loud verbal argument that ended with the police being called which; you can guess how useful that was.

He kept it up and we realized that we had a genuine stalker on our hands and the problem wasn’t going to just go away.

I’m going to take a moment to show you this. This is our stalker kit. You see, when you have a stalker your supposed to document everything that happens between you and the stalker for a number of reasons.

Pictures, video, receipts, a journal, court records, it’s all in here.

We keep this box in storage despite many years having passed because you just never know when a stalker may show up again. If he shows up and kills both of us at least the police will find this filebox in storage and have a lead on who might have killed us.

Here, I’ll describe some of the contents we have in the box, that’s probably the easiest way to give you an idea of what it’s like to deal with a stalker.

Actually before I do that I’m going to tell you the first thing we learned about dealing with a stalker and his harassment.

Rule one of dealing with harassment;

The more you complain about being harassed, the more people assume there’s something wrong with you. Most people have trouble envisioning that people like the idiot exist out there; they know stalkers exist in theory but running into one in real life? That’s just too foreign a concept for them to handle. Notice how early on in all this we assumed it was Cindy who was at fault and she was being over sensitive about the idiot harassing her?

Yeah, that irony was not lost on us.

The second thing we learned is that dealing with a stalker’s harassment is like stepping in shit.

When people do believe you? They’re sympathetic but they don’t want to deal with it. All they see is a potential hassle that will inconvenience them in their lives and they don’t want to get involved.

They don’t want to be around the smell of shit that is a stalker like the idiot we dealt with entering your life.

After giving us a notarized statement that the idiot had harassed her Cindy stopped returning our calls which upset us but I can’t totally blame her.

On a number of occasions when people witnessed incidents they rushed to get the hell out of their. Obviously because they didn’t want to get involved and say, have to end up missing work so they could testify in a court room.

We went down to speak to a lawyer about all this. First he told us there was no winning with this sort of thing. These cases just eat up your time and money and the only way to win is to either move or get so severely hurt that the police have to take the whole thing seriously.

The second thing he told us is that we couldn’t get a restraining order right off because my wife hadn’t been romantically involved with the idiot.

I want to stress this point to all the people who go on about how the court system favors women in this country.

My wife had a stalker and the court system wouldn’t take it seriously because there’s an assumption that a man can’t really be that much of a problem to a woman unless she’s having sex with him.

We even contemplated lying and saying they had had an affair so we could get a restraining order but in the end run she just couldn’t do it and I totally understood her not being able to do it. Can you imagine how terrible it would make you feel to have to lie about having sex with someone you find physically repulsive, someone who wants to do you harm?

The third thing the lawyer told us is that the mission of this type of stalker and the harassment was to try to get me out of the picture. That a victory for him was if I attacked the idiot and ended up in jail for assaulting him which I already knew this. If I went to jail, my wife would be all alone in dealing with him.

Which is what he wanted.

Finally the lawyer told us that this whole thing would get expensive even if we didn’t hire him. He was right. We were getting by well enough (albeit modestly) financially then and all of our extra money went to dealing with the stalker.

Cabs to ensure my wife could get to and from our home without being followed to-or-from the bus stop, missed pay because we had to truncate our work schedules to be sure I could be there when she was coming and going from our home, disposable cameras, audio records, documentation, digital development, all sorts of things.

We would have moved but we couldn’t afford to. And you have to realize that we didn’t think it would go on as long as it did. For the entire eight months we went through this after the idiot started stalking my wife we though that we only had to get through a few more weeks tops and that would be the end of it. because that’s how the timing on this sort of thing goes. We didn’t know it would take almost a year because we had no previous experience with being harassed and stalked so we didn’t know that it was a lengthy process.

So even if we could afford to move we figured why should we be the ones to have to leave? He’s the guy who doesn’t know ho w to control himself, not us. All we wanted was to be left alone and not be included in his twisted fantasy construct.

Let’s take a look at the stalker file.

This is a stack of complaints. Early on one of the police officers helped us out by telling us to go down to the court and file a complaint against the der, that way there’s a physical record and you don’t have to call the police every time you go out your door. The der tended to loiter in the main hallway and he would stand trying to take up as much space as possible so when we went by him he could try to force a confrontation or do a little body rubbing.

Considering he was about six two and weighed about 300 pounds it wasn’t hard for him to be an obstacle.

Our landlord couldn’t understand why we couldn’t make it stop or that this was an issue. All he cared about was the police kept showing up at his building. And he knew what this guy was like but he couldn’t imagine that he could be dangerous. He just figured he was just being a bit exuberant and we were being over sensitive.

Then one day we came home and saw that the idiot had moved some stuff to partially block the hallway and left a two foot gap which he was standing in. We got lucky and he didn’t see us so we got the building manager to come to our hallway to see what he was doing and when he saw what was going on he had a fit. We actually got some of that on video. The idiot’s reaction to being busted is actually sort of funny.

Normally he’d follow us at a distance, stare and glare, make threatening gestures, that sort of thing.

One problem we had is when he realized all you had to do was go to the courthouse and stand in line to fill out one of these forms to take out a complaint against someone he started doing it back at us.

I remember the first one we got when he filed a complaint saying I threatened violence against him and his wife, the police stopped by over it.

I was lucky I’d been in a port authority coffee shop at the time so there was plenty of evidence to show he was lying.

But we realized we’d have to start saving receipts to prove that we were elsewhere in case he tried doing it again so as a rule we’d pay for everything with credit card, even a cup of coffee on the off chance we needed to prove that we weren’t in the area and show his complaints against us were lies.

Also useful is a disposable camera. They’re great because you don’t have to tie up your cell phone filming your stalker when you need to say, call the police. They’re also pretty tough and don’t break easy. Your stalker will try to break them when you use them (ours did). He was offended at the idea we were violating his right to privacy when it came to stalking us.

Every time we stepped out in the hallway we’d have one of these cameras up and ready to record. It was a great defensive weapon. He came rushing out when he heard us coming or going, see the camera and stand there all furious that he couldn’t do his shit.

I remember at one point during all this I went to take the garbage out one night and my wife said; “don’t forget the camera”.

Just stop and think about that for a moment. Think about being under siege in your own home to the point that you can’t step outside to take the garbage out without having a recording device in preparation for a potential attack.

Around this time the der tried a new strategy. He’d stand outside our door and just talk for anywhere up to an hour. He’d just spew out all sorts of nasty shit and conjectures about us and our personal habits. You name it he’d accuse us of it. If we opened the door to capture it on video he’d just quickly walk back to his apartment.

So I picked up an audio recording device and when he’d start doing one of his derish tirades I’d set it up by the front door and let it record him going on like he did.

After a couple of weeks we had a few hours of him doing this (I’ve got a stack of about 12 one hour in length mini-cassette tapes) and I got tired of it so one day I came across him loitering in the main atrium. So I took out the recorder and just held up and let it play.

I sat there staring at him while the gears in his idiot mind slowly spun and he connected two and two and got a furious look on his face and stomped off.

I’m going to point out that we had decided early on that we would never speak to or responded to him. For six months we did not once issue a word in his presence until the very end when we had him bent over a barrel in court. We referred to that as “rule number four”.

Never speak to or address your harasser. Don’t give him or her what she wants.

Which brings me to the fifth rule of dealing with harassment and stalking. These people have a low cunning for operating in a manner that prevents you from gaining tangible evidence of their stalking which is why harassment and stalking is so insidious. It is very difficult to prove because predators are very good at predating. They know their shit. So you have to persevere.

Unfortunately for this predator, I was better at him when it came to psychological warfare or all this would have been neigh impossible because remember; the system favors the harasser unless you say you’re having sex with him.

We were better than him.

My wife was absolutely a star at dealing with this asshole and it is a very comforting feeling to know that the woman you are married to when things get bad and nasty? She’s got your back. She was impressively tough as nails. I know of no other woman who is as tough as her, on or off the internet.

So this went on and on and on. I could tell you all kinds of stories, things like how at one point during what was becoming a long, drawn out series of court appearances we discovered he’d been going through our garbage in a desperate attempt to find some sort of evidence to use to discredit us in court, how faced with our indomitable refusal to allow him to win he began to unravel and the police finally began to believe us when he called the police and accused my five foot, barely 100 pound wife of menacing and assaulting him; it was one of those hysterical moments you get where the cop is looking at my tiny wife, then he looks at this big, six foot 2 300 pound guy and you see the; “This guy is full of shit” cop shutter drop down over his face.

The police actually got pretty helpful at that point, they even offered to give my wife a ride home a few times when I couldn’t get away from work which they weren’t supposed to do but; they did it anyway. This sort of thing was happening in the last few weeks before the idiot lost it and attacked us.

It was the day before what we were hoping was our final court appearance and we were crossing a street heading to a bus stop when we realized the idiot was behind us and running across the street towards us. I told my wife to get out her phone and call the police and I turned towards him camera in hand.

Now, you have to realize that despite him being a big guy I was aware that he was basically a pussy. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that even though he was a pussy he could still do a lot a damage given half a chance, especially someone with his weight. And I’d promised my wife that I would not get arrested hurting this asshole.

I had already decided some time ago that if the idiot actually took a swing at me I was going to let him hit me. In my mind, it was worth it. So I do some bleeding, big deal. It’s not like I haven’t done it before. At last count my nose has been broken six times in my life for all manner of reasons from stupid stunts to stupid fights.

If it meant he’d get arrested for assault I figured it was worth it for the hard, tangible evidence and the felony charge he’d be facing.

So I saw him swing at me and instead of dealing with it as one normally would I let him connect. Well, here I’ve got the footage from the incident so you can look at it for yourself.

Yeah, there’s not much to see here.

The fourth thing we learned is that video evidence is only so good because life isn’t a movie. Generally by the time you get the camera rolling things are already almost done, plus chances are you aren’t going to have a good shot because you don’t have a film crew with you.

So I let the idiot hit me, I got stunned and then he stupidly tried to grab my wife’s phone to prevent her from talking to the police operator she was on with, all while a whole bunch of construction workers were watching from about 100 feet away.

Look at that! Evidence! Keep in mind that we’re dealing with 8 months of stalking and harassment here, and in terms of evidence there’s not much to show for it. Because stalking is all about psychological harassment and that sort of evidence doesn’t show up well. 100’s of hours of stalking, all of it our word against his. Hundred’s of hours of filming to get just a few minutes of somewhat clear, obvious film footage to show what he was doing. Not to mention the audio recordings, notarized statements from the previous victim, rambling letters admitting he has a problem and begging us not to press charges that he’s slipped under our door and the multiple cross-complaints some of which we weren’t even in the state on the date he accused us of harassing him.

There ya go. Not a lot to show in a court room considering the length of time involved and everything we went through.

Which brings us to the sixth rule of dealing with harassment and stalking.

The reality is that evidence is very hard to come by because it is the nature of this sort of harassment that it is very difficult to document and since we live in a society where the harasser is given the benefit of the doubt the deck is absolutely stacked against you.

And by the way? The flip side of this is you do need to learn some responsibility in recognizing what is so inappropriate it requires action and what isn’t. But don’t be mad at the victims of harassment here. Be mad at the harassers. Because all us victims ever wanted in the almost year of harassment we went through was to be left alone. You want to be an abusive douche-bag pick up a 24 inch dildo and go to work on yourself but leave the rest of us out of it.

I shouldn’t refer to Bunny & me as victims, this is actually a case of what happens when a bunch of predators go at it and the weaker one loses. Because if there’s one thing my wife and I aren’t; it is prey. The only difference is we prey on those who are the enemies of rationality and reason and want to use the government or some other large institution to force us to follow their beliefs. Our harassment consists of presenting arguments based on reason and evidence to show others why they are wrong.

His harassment consists of following women, saying inappropriate things to them and trying to rub up against them for cheap thrills and a feeling of power.

I guess not all skeptics have the same goals despite being skeptics.

Ironically about 5 minutes later when the police and an ambulance showed up I was looking in a side view mirror at my face and I was pissed because I had allowed this six foot two 300 pound dumb-ass who worked out every day and wore muscle t-shirts to show off his arms and chest he was so proud of? I had allowed this pathetic dirt-bag to hit me, I gave him a total free shot, didn’t block him or anything and the most he managed to do was give me a tiny cut on my lip.

I laugh about that to this day, by the way. When we got inside I was going off about the state of the world and how even today’s stalkers suck because they must all be wimps who don’t know shit about hitting someone!”

The next day we’re in court and the DA tells us that we’ve got one of two choices. He’s willing to make the whole thing end right there if we agree to allowing the idiot to be sent for a mandatory psych evaluation or we can press full charges which means we’ll be tied up in the courts longer as they’d have to reset a trial date in the light of the new charges.

We talked about it and despite how satisfying it would have been to press full charges we said screw it, we just wanted the whole thing to stop and be done so we agreed to the psych evaluation and we were done with it.

We moved shortly after that and we didn’t see the idiot in those final weeks although we were aware that he was back on the street right away because that’s the nature of our justice system.

We heard later on that he screwed up majorly when he went after a young woman who turned out to be a very mature looking 15 year old which meant he wasn’t just harassing some woman who people could dismiss as being over-sensitive about a guy who in the end run didn’t mean any harm, that he was just being a guy’s guy; he was actually stalking and harassing a kid which I’m guessing opened up a whole new world of hurt for him.

But for us? It was somebody else’s problem. We would have liked it to have been everyone’s problem a long time ago so who knows how many countless women over the years would not have had to deal with being harassed by the idiot but we learned from our almost a year of dealing with stalking and harassment that for the most part?

You’re on your own. Everyone assumes that the fault is yours and that YOU are the enemy, not the stalker.

We were also very lucky. Most stalkers don’t get taken seriously until the bodies they create have hit the floor or the hospital ward beds but we got a confluence of events and witnesses that worked out perfectly for us. True, it took almost a year and hundreds of hours of being harassed and stalked before it happened but it did happen.

Now for those of you who have been saying that having a clear policy against stalking and harassment isn’t necessary I give you this story.

People will have different reactions to exactly when the idiot stepped over the line from just having a bit of fun or wanting to be part of a good cause to harassing behavior.

And in the light of that vague confusion over when it stops being fun and starts being harassment or stalking we need to set policy in place for when this sort of thing inevitably happens and yes it is inevitable because someone always steps in shit eventually.

We need clear, obvious policy set.

Especially because from what I’ve seen it is very obvious that there are people; self proclaimed skeptics who have no problem with dismissing this sort of thing rather than acknowledge it could happen in their community.

For those who say women have it easy and this is a woman’s world and men are at a clear disadvantage I give you this story. Look at that, the world is not a straight forward, cut and dry place.

Women still have some fighting left to do to keep from being discriminated against. There’s two examples of discrimination against women I’ve given you in two weeks (the other being my video on feminism and the draft).

And the next time someone brings up the issue of how we need clear policy and protections when it comes to dealing with inappropriate or harassing behavior and you want to say there’s no need for it; it isn’t an issue – feel free to call me up and I’ll put on one of these audio tapes and you can listen to it while I go get some important work done.

Because harassment and stalking of women is still a problem in this society and clearly, we don’t address it very well. Because if we did?

What my wife and I went through would never have dragged on as long as it did and gone the way it did.

Our stalker harassed us successfully because our society is prejudiced against the victims in these cases.

Yes we experienced what was to us a very obvious cultural more that involved in in the absence of clear evidence? That there is an assumption of guilt on the part of the victim.

Which when I last checked?

Is a bias in the favor of the harasser in this case; men.

So the next time a woman asks for some consideration or care to be taken at a convention or store or in your neighborhood or – wherever.

How about using a little of that skepticism that so many of you boast about in applying some civility and consideration to the situation. Even if you don’t believe her; if you think she’s full of shit; fine.

But be careful not to take a tone that is dismissive of the very real need for the issue of harassment and stalking to be addressed.

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2 thoughts on “Surviving Harassment (How We Beat the Bad Guy)

  1. Reblogged this on ryoki9 and commented:
    The True Pooka is a metered and intelligent voice I have listened to on youtube and read here on his blog for a few years now. In other words: Listen to this dude. he knows what he’s talking about. -Connie Walker / ryoki9

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