*Names used in this item have been removed and / or changed for personal safety and legal reasons.
Trigger warning: this items deals with abuse and may be distressing for some readers or triggering for survivors of abuse.
I always wanted a stalker when I was young. It seemed sexy. It seemed mysterious and dangerous and almost rebellious. I’m sure the 1996 box office bomb ‘Fear’ had something to do with this, amongst many of my hair-brained adolescent ponderings. Perhaps it was the way the film eroticised themes of controlled and possessive lust, and of course, Marky Mark’s bare abs. God bless that six pack…
It’s crazy now to think of how I used to romanticise being harassed and controlled by a socially inept, woman-hating creep. I live the reality of that every day now, and I can tell you: the experience is anything but sexy.
I met Nigel properly when I was 23. I had just finished my uni degrees, travelled a bit through Europe, and much to my parents’ dismay, I had taken a job tending bar at my local, in the small country town I had grown up in. Nigel was a regular. Now you may be expecting this next sentence to involve some kind of small town post-qualification fling, but you’ll be sadly disappointed. I never had a romantic relationship with Nigel. I never shagged him. I never kissed him. I never even flirted with him. These are the facts I would in years to come recount to many a colleague, friend and family member when they would ask me, sometimes with a naive but expectant look on their face, what on earth I had done to provoke Nigel’s fanatical behaviour.
When I officially met Nigel, he was known to me as the town creep. This was the label he carried almost with pride. He was renowned throughout the town and its surrounding suburbs as a pest. An outsider with an eerie, peculiar manner, and the uncanny ability to make even the most generous of heart deeply uncomfortable. He took pleasure out of rumour-mongering and injecting himself into the private affairs of those he envied. He was supercilious and arrogant. He considered himself an intellectual.
I had heard about Nigel’s unwelcomed advances and obsessive behaviours towards numerous young girls and women. He would strut around town wearing his tweed flat cap with his ear phones in, leering at whatever poor unsuspecting mother and daughter had the misfortune of coming across him. He considered himself a hopeless romantic. A poet. The kind of man who would write a strange haiku professing his undying love for an acquaintance. The kind of man who would label himself a “nice guy” in the same breath as calling a 15 year old school girl a cunt for dismissing his revolting romantic advances. Nigel approached the world as though every woman he met was: a) Rose from ‘Titanic’ (the object of his infantile fantasies), and b) gagging for it.
This behaviour went on for years without anyone intervening. Because Nigel was cunning enough to know what kind of behaviour would draw the attention of the police, and what would merely get him a reputation. And he didn’t mind the reputation – it was probably the only thing which set him apart from the pack, and he enjoyed the notoriety.