Nicole endured 3 years of stalking. It started with a comment during a kids’ cricket match.

Most of us have made a joke about stalking. We throw the word away, casually, when talking about finding information about someone online (I stalked her on Instagram.). We use it to quip about overly eager people (What a stalker!), or the experience of repeatedly running into someone (Are you stalking me?).

But for Nicole Madigan, stalking is anything but a joke. As a victim-survivor, the journalist believes it’s something that ought to carry weight, to be spoken of with solemnity and urgency. It’s something that deserves to be taken seriously.

As she details in her book 'Obsession', Nicole was stalked for three years by her partner’s ex-girlfriend. This was a woman she didn’t even know. A woman she’d spoken to in passing only once at her son’s cricket match…


“Are you taking pictures of Adam?”

That was the question that started it all.

Nicole was at an off-season gathering for her son Ben’s* AFL team. It was a Summer sausage sizzle at a Brisbane apartment complex. There was a barbeque, swimming, and a friendly game of cricket.

During the match, Nicole had snapped some pictures of Ben in action. As she absentmindedly scrolled through them on her phone, a woman walked past and uttered the question.

“Are you taking pictures of Adam?”

Adam? Nicole was confused. Adam was another team parent. Nicole barely had the chance to answer before the woman walked away.

Watch: Mamamia Confessions: The moment I was caught stalking on social media.. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

It was the first and last time she spoke to the woman directly. Nicole didn’t know it at the time, but the woman was Adam’s ex-girlfriend, Karissa*, whom he’d dated on and off for two years. They’d recently split and were in a ‘let’s try to be friends’ stage at the time of the barbeque.

Later that night, Nicole received a Facebook message from Karissa apologising for the question (“Totally didn’t mean anything by my comment”) and offering a clumsy excuse about wanting a picture of Adam for the team’s social media page.

A week later, she sent another message querying if Nicole was married.

Nicole had recently endured a painful split from her husband of 12 years; something she was entirely unwilling to share with a complete stranger. And so, she ignored the question. But it came again. And again.

Speaking to Mamamia’s No Filter podcast, Nicole said she reached out to Adam flagging her discomfort about the messages. She said he apologised, and explained that Karissa was no longer in his life.

“He sounded embarrassed, but he didn't sound all that surprised to me,” she said. “It didn't seem like total shock.”

Uncomfortable as it was, the conversation opened a line of communication between Nicole and Adam. Over the coming year they developed a close bond, which eventually evolved into a relationship. Karissa and her messages became little more than a strange memory.


Until Nicole and Adam’s relationship became public. “And that’s when it all started,” she said.

Over the course of three years, Karissa subjected Nicole to a campaign of online stalking, which involved barrages of threatening, abusive and intimidating messages. “How do you like my sloppy seconds,” she wrote in one. “Enjoy sleeping in the bed we f***ed in hundreds of times.”


“In those early months, [the messages] were mostly focused on telling me that Adam didn't love me, and he still wanted her,” Nicole said.

Later, it became far more personal, and public.

Karissa started an Instagram account where she posted humiliating and insulting content about Nicole. She found Nicole’s mother and ex-husband online and contacted them. She found out where Karissa and Adam lived and published their address on social media. She did the same with the details of their eventual wedding. She even created an Instagram account using Nicole’s name and profile picture from which she circulated damaging messages.

The ordeal began to consume Nicole. Beyond Adam’s love and support, she wasn’t sure where to turn.

“I found it so hard to talk about,” she said. “I just felt so humiliated by the whole thing. And so helpless.”

“Where is this going to end?” The toll of stalking.

Stalking is a criminal act that affects one in five Australian women and one in 13 men.

It involves harassing someone with repeated unwanted contact or attention, typically as a means of gaining control over them.

It can be physical (for example, following you or showing up uninvited at your home or workplace) or via technology (such as harassing phone calls, social media messages, or monitoring via cameras or tracking devices).


Stalking is incredibly damaging and disruptive for the victim. It can cause them to experience fear, distress, and anxiety. Most victims feel forced to modify their day-to-day behaviour in an attempt to avoid harassment, and some uproot their entire lives.

For Nicole Madigan, the toll was immense. The sound of her phone chiming would leave her stomach in knots. And the constant insults chipped away at her self esteem. She even began to question if she was overreacting.


But as Karissa’s stalking behaviour escalated over the years, Nicole began to fear for her safety. There were constant threats that ‘something’ was about to happen, that ‘shit is going to hit the fan’, and ‘just wait and see’.

“You're always anxious and waiting,” she told Mamamia.

“[I was thinking] Where is this going to end?

“It's just really disconcerting, and it was becoming scary to me that it was going on for so long.”

Nicole and Adam tried ignoring the messages. They tried threatening legal action. Neither approach worked. Nicole contacted police twice, with little outcome. It wasn’t until the third time that she was assigned an officer who took her case seriously.

The challenges to seeking justice against stalking are many. Intimidation. Fear of reprisal. Lack of education about what stalking looks like. Limited police resources and, sadly, attitudes and education of individual officers. Then there are the difficulties in proving a pattern of stalking behaviour.

Listen: Nicole Madigan’s Story. Post continues after podcast.

Nicole was fortunate that she had a detailed record, including dozens of screenshots, of Karissa’s messages. And that once the case reached court, her experience as a journalist meant she was able to write a compelling victim-impact statement.


Karissa was ultimately convicted and handed a two-year probation order. Nicole was also granted a two-year protection order against Karissa. Both expire in January 2024.

Though Nicole is conscious of that date approaching, she has chosen in the meantime to focus on what she can do to help protect others. It’s why she wrote Obsession. She hopes that her story could serve as an example, and that people and institutions start treating the issue with the seriousness that it deserves.

The process has helped Nicole regain a sense of control, of power, too.

“It was a really cathartic feeling to get that all down and say, I'm going to speak out about it,” she said. “But I don't think I would have had the courage to do that if the police hadn't validated the experience. And I think that's the critical thing.”

For more of Nicole Madigan’s story, including what happened when she came face-to-face with her stalker in court, listen to No Filter above or via your favourite podcast app.

*Names (other than Nicole’s) have been changed.

If you are experiencing stalking or harassment, support is available. Call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit the website for resources.

Feature Image: Instagram.