I remember the day I met him. It was the first day of classes, I walked into my dreaded math class and looked around for a familiar face, seeing none. It was a night class and man, I was so not about it because I was an English major at heart. I walked to the back and prayed my corner seat was available. It wasn't, a boy was settled in my desired spot so I settled for second best and sat next to him.
I smiled and unpacked my snacks. I laid out fruit snacks and flavored water, a semi-healthy day for me.
The boy leans over and said, "Hey, I'm Sam.*"
I turned and said, "Hi Sam. I'm Cat."
We chatted casually for a few minutes and I was happy with my seating choice. I felt I got even luckier as a few weeks passed because my neighbor was super good at math, like genius good. He offered to help me if I got stuck. This one was off to a good start.
Of course, this story has to go sour and it did, pretty quickly. Sam had begun passing me notes throughout class with questions on them.
How old are you?
Have you had sex before?
Do you want kids?
The questions got more and more personal, which is when I stopped answering and scooted away from him, thinking he was a little weird.
I knew he liked me, even had a crush on me, and I made a point to shut him down any chance I got. He didn't care. He didn't care when I told him he was asking rude, personal questions. He didn't care when I said I had a boyfriend, even though I didn't.
You see, stalkers don't care about you. Not really, they make it seem like they do but they only care about themselves.
They make it seem like you are the center of their world but really you are just a tool to get them what they want.
I remember the first time I felt warning bells go off. We were in class, as usual, and I wasn't talkative or friendly. I began dodging him and his creepy notes. The moment will forever be with me. It scared me into tears, and if you know me, you know I don't cry easily.
I was in my seat, getting my snacks out for class like usual. I put out two bags of chips and a Dr. Pepper. Sam tried to talk to me but I ignored him and kept my head down. Finally, Sam had had enough of my silence and grabbed my arm turning me slightly. He said, "Are you feeling okay?"
I said I was fine.
Then he turned and said, "You're menstruating. It's that time, I did the math. I can tell by the food you eat and your last cycle was exactly one month ago."
I sat, stupefied. And he continued.
"You usually have Dr. Pepper and Sour Cream and Cheddar chips. You crave those most often. And on the first day of class, you had fruit snacks and flavored water, which is what I used as my control."
My heart was pounding in my ears. Do you know how much attention he had to be paying to me to observe the food I eat when?
The worst part of it all was that he was right. He was right. I did have my period and that scared me the most.
I remember I slammed up out of my seat so fast, it tipped. Everyone in class watched, the professor asking what was wrong.
I couldn't answer, I just stood, staring at Sam.
To some people that may not seem scary but knowing someone who sat next to you in class kept track of your period better than you did? It's horrifying.
I moved my seat the next class, as far as I could get and reported it to the professor. He did nothing.
I went to social media and denied his requests to be friends with me and sent him a message to leave me alone.
While I was on his social media blocking him, I noticed posts...about me.
"I wish the pretty girl was in Math class today...I wonder where she is?" Maybe it wasn't about me. I thought. It was...I wasn't in class the day he posted that. I scrolled farther down...
"Why won't she notice me? I see her, all I see is her."
"She's beautiful, and I'm lonely. I'm going to try to get her attention tomorrow."
"Her eyes sparkle when she texts others, one day she'll text me. One day."
"She smiles at other boys, JUST LOOK AT ME!?"
They were all about me. Every single one. I reported them to my professor and the school. Still, they did nothing.
I told my self-defense professor and he took me seriously. He walked me to my car because I noticed Sam happened to be around when I was there. I said he was following me. I was right.
My self-defense Professor taught me more moves in his own time. He also taught me how to kill someone. He told me to never use it unless I felt threatened, but that this kid wasn't taking no for an answer and I should be prepared to defend myself.
He went to the school too. They didn't listen to him either.
They finally listened after I sent the message telling him to stop following me and to leave me alone. The next day, Sam left class five minutes after it started and came back an hour later.
He sliced my tires. I had three professionals tell me a knife was used to stab the tires.
The school didn't believe me.
But they finally called a meeting with him.
They believed me only after talking to him.
You know what he said that made them finally see my side? When they asked him why he was so into me, he said, "I had to see if she was going to be a good mate. That's why I followed her. I had to see if she was smart enough to be my mate."
They believed me then.
Wanna know what happened to him?
They took him out of my class and told him to stay fifty feet away from me.
So stalking may not seem relevant or serious, whether it's with celebrities or normal people like me, it's a problem. It's a problem that gets ignored because girls are "hysterical."
Let me ask you...Was I being dramatic? Was I a "hysterical woman?" Was what he did not crossing the line?
Pay attention and help girls.
Believe them when they say something isn't right...and get them justice for when they are stalked and, inevitably, assaulted.
I wish more had been done for me.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit http://victimsofcrime.org for more information.
* name has been changed