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We've all uttered the expression, "I know exactly how you feel." But do you really? Check out our three frightening scenarios and see if you can imagine what it was like to be in these guys' shoes.
 

WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE STALKED

Brad, 28, from Los Angeles, had dated Nathan for about six months before he started to realize just how jealous Nathan could get. "At first I thought it was just his way of protecting our relationship," Brad laments. "But then he started calling me up at weird hours of the night- that is, when he wasn't spending the night at my place - and asking if I had anybody over. The first time I joked around and said that, yeah, I had two guys that I picked up that night at the bar sleeping next to me.
Next thing I know I hear a dial tone. Nathan was over at my place in no time, ringing my doorbell frantically. When I opened the door he burst in and started looking around my apartment. "Hey, I was just kidding," I said. Nathan looked at me with rage in his eyes. He ran into my bedroom, checked out my bathroom, and even looked in my storage closet. He didn't find anyone, but now I think he must of thought the two imaginary guys had made it out just before he arrived.

And that wasn't the last time he freaked out. Nathan wanted me all to himself. I couldn't go out with friends without him tagging along. I stopped going out to clubs and bars, even if he was with me, because he'd have a minor fit if I so much as looked at another guy. After talking with some of my friends, I realized that it wasn't going to work out with Nathan - which is when it got worse.

I broke up with Nathan in person, telling him exactly how I felt. He was actually pretty calm, and assured me that he was so protective because he had had boyfriends cheat on him in the past. I said I understood, but I still wanted to step back and let things cool off for a while. He said that was fine, got up from my couch and left. I didn't see him again until two weeks later.

I was walking down the street on my way to the grocery store when I recognized Nathan's car on the other side of the road. I noticed he was sitting in the car, staring at me. I stopped walking and stared back, waved, but he just started up the engine and drove off. I started becoming more aware of my surroundings after that, and started to see Nathan around town - a lot. Places I thought he never went, like my favorite restaurants, the music store, my local supermarket, he was there, but always walked off when I noticed him.

Then, one day, I came home from work and realized that my apartment had been broken into. I hadn't given Nathan a key, thankfully, but I couldn't figure how somebody had gotten in. Nothing was stolen, so it wasn't a robbery, but a lot of my personal files were scattered around in my office. Credit card bills, cards from my family, work-related notes - all of these were out on my desk and on my floor. I don't know why it came to my head just then, but I raced into my bedroom and look in my drawer for my journal. It was gone. I looked in my closet to make sure the box that held all my past diaries was still there, but it was gone, too. Nathan was somewhere reading my life story.

I called the police, but they said they couldn't get a warrant to search his place unless I was sure it was him. Although stalking is considered a crime in California, it's gathering proof that's the hard part. So, I had to change my phone number so I wouldn't get any hang-up phone calls. My work number had to change, too, which was embarrassing; all my calls had to be screened. I had friends over to spend the night on a regular basis, and I felt so helpless because I couldn't do anything about it.

Then, one day I saw Nathan as I was coming out of my gym. I started to walk towards him but he started walking away from me. I ran after him and eventually caught up to him. "Listen," I almost yelled, "I'm sorry you're fucked up in the head, but I'd like my journals back. Now!" he just smiled at me and tried to continue walking away. I put my hand on his shoulder to hold him back. He turned around and pushed me back. I don't know why I said it, but I felt at that moment I wanted to spite him: "I'm glad I fucked around on you, asshole!" I screamed.

Then he got that crazed look in his eye and he jumped on me, tackling me to the ground. Some passerbys pulled him off of me, but that attack was enough for the police to go pick him up. At his apartment they found my journals and a stack of unsent letters that basically said that he was going to get me back - whatever the cost.

After a psychiatric evaluation, Nathan confessed to stalking me. I pressed charges and after a trial where he was pretty much bragging about stalking me, Nutty Nathan was sent away for ten months to prison. He's still in there for three more months, but I'm afraid of what he might do once he gets out. I don't want to think about it.

Illustration: JOHN KISSEE Text: SAMUEL REISS © Instinct Magazine, All Rights Reserved
www.instinctmag.com

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