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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Stalker




When hearing stories about people being 'stalked', I'd often picture a woman walking down a dark alley with a man following closely behind in the shadows. I never thought I would be the one looking over my shoulder, or I'd really feel threatened by a cyber stalker.
I guess I also never thought much about any dangers associated with being a television personality either. To me, it was just like any other profession; at the end of the day I would leave the station and go about my business. But recently I was reminded of just how 'special' people on television can seem to some; how a small faction of fans will follow 'local celebrities'....literally. They're not the paparazzi, they're the chosen few we let in to our inner circles who eventually become our close friends.

I've heard how some have made it their mission to appear to be our new BFF's online. Then there are those who subtly seduce us over time by slipping into our hearts so they can, one day, be granted full access to our private lives. Problem is, they don't always have the best intentions; these people can be the most dangerous. 

For me, this is not a comfortable topic. For one thing, I think it's egotistical to suggest someone wants to be a friend just because a person is on television. It's the last thing I would want to believe, even when my longtime friends have told me it's painfully obvious. I don't want to jump to conclusions and falsely convict someone of using me, that would be arrogant and presumptive. I hope for the best and don't want to assume anything. I also have a hard time zeroing in on suspicious activity when it's happening close to my heart.

Without going in to great detail, I will say that I've had a couple of traditional 'stalkers' through the years but nothing too serious. One of the more significant incidents involved someone close to me who essentially tried to 'steal my life' after I chose to move far away from that person. I had just accepted a new job in a new city. After settling in, my 'friend' began hacking into my social media sites and posting bizarre and embarrassing messages. This person had somehow retrieved my passwords from my computer before I had moved. More disturbing, this person later sent me emails stating they had acquired my medical records and other sensitive personal information - for what reason, I still don't know.

To make matters worse, this person soon contacted my new employer to discredit me, saying I was unreliable and couldn't be trusted. (Not exactly something you want your new boss to bothered with.) I endured about a month of harassing emails and calls. The final straw was when I found out this person had previously stolen several of my checks and later cashed them. I then took legal action. After a quick arrest and a restraining order things finally quieted down.

Turns out this person was just bitter that I had moved away and moved on with my life. Friends did later tell me how this person often 'bragged' to others about the fact I was on television, it seemed to them this had been an unhealthy obsession from the beginning. I wasn't aware of it. I guess you live and you learn. I don't want to be jaded by this, or any prior incident, and am generally quite trusting of others. If I find myself walking down a dark alley I may, however, look over my shoulder from now on.

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