It’s 5:30 am, I roll over shut off the alarm and pick up my phone. I have emails and messages. My eyes begin to focus and my phone reveals evidence of my ex cyber stalking us.
I have been dealing with my ex stalking us for years. I should be used to this. Every time something new happens or he finds a new way to add stress to my life I fight a battle with myself. Initially I used to have full on panic attacks thankfully, I have finally reached a point where the battle is small and I can wrestle my reactions in my mind and no one on the outside even knows I am having trouble.
The action that proves the stalking doesn’t even matter anymore. All that matters is my reaction to his behavior.
So back to bed and reading my emails; my heart racing and my head pounding. I closed my eyes and decided to begin my day again. I put my phone down on the nightstand, do my breathing exercises and after a few minutes when ready I picked my phone back up.
I read the emails, made a mental list of things I needed to do in response to the emails and then I put my phone down. I laid it face down, a deliberate physical move to reinforce the emotional reaction I was controlling. Breathe in and out, evaluate the situation. Make a list of things I can control and things I cannot control. I throw away the list of things I cannot control and begin working my way through the list of things I can control.
Knowing that difference, can control vs. cannot control is empowering. It allows me to take the bull by the horns and make a mental to do list of the things I can control and need to adjust for my peace of mind.
Once my mental list is made, I’m able to set it aside and start my day. The cyber stalking becomes a non-issue now that I have a plan of action.
I have code words on all my accounts, even businesses that aren’t used to people in this situation have cooperated with me and found a way to give an added layer of protection. My credit union is awesome, my insurance, utilities, everyone has worked with me once I explained my situation. The sad thing is when you are married to someone for 16 years they know all your personal details and it’s easy for them to get someone to impersonate you.
I do not let my ex know that I am even aware of his cyber stalking. If I feel our safety is threatened I notify the police who keep a close eye on him when necessary. These tactics have proven to be quite successful; the intensity and frequency of his attacks have decreased. Does he try every day? Yes.
He strangely makes sure our kids know what he is doing. However, when I stopped reacting emotionally I removed his power, I have safe guards in place that make it more difficult for him. It isn’t nearly as much fun for him if I don’t react. Similar to a toddler throwing a tantrum if you ignore them they will stop, if you react to the tantrum they will keep going and getting louder.
What is my plan of action?
I use code words on important online accounts. If anyone tries to access my records they have to give the code word or they cannot retrieve any information.
This one was difficult for me at first because he knows my mothers maiden name, the name of the town where I was born etc. The solution is relatively easy. Use completely random answers. No matter what the question is. For example:
Mother’s maiden name: Burger king
Your first boyfriend: Papa Johns
City where you were born: McDonalds
You get the idea. Just use the same answers. Don’t switch them up or you will get confused. It doesn’t need to be fast food chains; you can use colors, names of songs or bands…whatever as long as they are answers you will remember. When it is something random you can put it in your passcodes app or notes app on your phone and no one will be the wiser. If the different answers are confusing you can use the same answer for every security question, example:
Mothers Maiden Name: Hardees
Your first boyfriend: Hardees
City where you were born: Hardees
I have relocated 3 times, he has followed and found ways to watch our home in two of the places. This time when we moved, I wanted a place that would make his stalking difficult. I asked our police department for assistance. We found a home with privacy fencing so he cannot see in our backyard or garage – he cannot tell if we are home and when I have guests over they park in the garage and he cannot take pictures of their license plates or even tell if I have anyone over.
If you are dealing with a stalker, enlist your local police force. I have become friends with our police department, involve them in key decisions such as our last move and file reports instead of pressing charges. If I lived in a state with better anti-stalking laws I would pursue a restraining order so don’t write this option off if your state has better protection. Do your research, know your state’s stalking laws and figure out what is your best option for protection.