Bloody Letters, Wal-Mart T-shirt
Warning: People triggered by stalking or cutting, this likely isn't for you.
I sent repeated drunken emails telling _____ _____ I was in my car, bleeding, both arms sliced wide fucking open with whatever I had handy -- knife, razor, multi-tool -- in the late spring/early summer of 2003, after my suicide attempt. The first month I even drove by her place a few times in traffic flow.
I warned you. The stories I've told you till now were the tame ones.
This is still pretty much in the tame category but we're starting to get there as we build trust, you and I. There's harder to listen to come.
No one got hurt. She calmed me down by email here and there, and an occasional phone call. I stopped sending her drunken emails. Stopped cutting myself when I got my ankle tattoo at another friend's suggestion -- a tattoo would give me a permanent record, my friend said, thus no need to keep scaring myself to make sure I'd never forget. Worked.
Also, I was starting to gain some control back and cutting is all about having control. My pain then was so enormous, both physically from my injuries but especially emotionally -- not just over the loss of my girlfriend, but from all in a moment discovering the total failure of my whole life, 31 years spent single-mindedly seducing women, how utterly evil I had become claiming to do good, how many lives I'd ruined without thought. And to live with that? Insanity and death, possibly both, were much more attractive.
That I was going to hurt was a given. When, where and how I hurt -- that I kept scrabbling for control over. Once I learned how to be in control of causing hurting myself, under the guidance of my therapist I sloooowly extended control to causing not hurting myself.
She and I met in person one last time a few months later, August 2002, at a previously scheduled conference away from Puget Sound. Spent hours talking with a mutual friend, a highly trained counselor who helped both of us sort out what we wanted from each other.
I wanted her back. She wanted out out out, but was willing to talk to me occasionally if I'd get we were over and let her off the hook. I did. (For certain who I was then was in enormous pain many ways and neither sane or even "me", but that's how it went.) "Let her off the hook?" I cringe just hearing the words now. As if I had some right or she needed to ask my permission.
We emailed perhaps eight to ten times after that. Talked only once. And we were done. (I'd even burned her "special" photos.)
I healed. Have absolutely no clue -- or interest -- in how the woman I'd conned into talk of marriage is doing. I hope well. But not only isn't it my business, I no longer care.
That's called a good result. Does not always end that way.
Feministing Comments (UCLAbodyimage)Wal-Mart's shirt makes a joke of stalking, telling teens and the uninformed stalkings' okay.
David Buss, an evolutionary psychologist, recently published a book called "The Murderer Next Door" which talks about stalking. Based on his study of 13,000 wife killings, he says:
Separation is also a powerful trigger for murder. According to a study of homicides in Chicago, 50 percent of wife killings took place within the first two months of the separation, and an astonishing 85 percent of these women were killed within the first year. In contrast, among the women who contemplated killing their mates, getting dumped accounted for only 13 percent.
Among women killed by a partner they have separated from, 88 PERCENT HAD BEEN STALKED PRIOR TO BEING KILLED” Buss said. “Although most stalkers do not kill their victims, most mate-killing men do stalk their victims. Stalking is one danger sign that women should not ignore.
“Just when women feel as though they have successfully escaped a bad marriage is precisely the time when their lives are most in danger,” he added. “It is likely that the key danger is not the length of time per se but, rather, when the man realizes she will never return to him.”
Based on existing research, Buss concluded for the few mate killings that occur a year or more after estrangement, it seems the couple actually had sexual contact during the year even though the woman had moved out. The hope that she might return, as indicated by sex, offers a protective buffer, lowering the odds the man will try to kill her. But then when the sex stops, and he realizes she will never come back, the woman’s life is in danger.
It's not just creepy. It's scary, wrong, and it can get someone killed.
I was only a danger to me, as it turns out. Many men aren't. I never physically threatened or hurt anyone but me. Even when I was angry with her, I always knew it was all my responsibility.
Everyone involved consistently made the right call on me while I was lost (and this really is one of the tamer stories.) It doesn't always end well.
For the past two years, this woman has been stalked until she feels like a prisoner in her own life. She has been spied upon, bullied and threatened with her life.
She has been in frequent communication with local authorities. Yet, because North Carolina has one of the most vague stalking laws in the nation (a bill is wending its way through the legislature to address that), her recourse has been limited.
So when she saw the T-shirts, clearly aimed for the teen-younger adult set, she didn't see the humor.
"It's reprehensible," said the woman, whose story is well documented but who asked not to be identified for fear that her stalker might retaliate.
"People don't realize how serious stalking is," she said. "You constantly live in fear, look over your shoulder and suffer from psychological and physical symptoms due to the stress of the stalker."
She wondered aloud: What's next?
"Some say it's rape, I call it hot sex"? Or: "Some call it domestic violence, I say I'm just teaching her a lesson"?
The question now is how the world's largest retailer will respond. Tara Stewart, a spokeswoman for the company, forwarded me information about Wal-Mart partnering with the attorney general's office in South Carolina on a public education campaign to combat domestic violence.
"We work hard on this issue and do a great deal to bring awareness and help families in need," she wrote in an e-mail message.
And the T-shirts fit into that public education campaign how?
Repeated calls and e-mail messages elicited promises of answers -- but no answer. No explanation.
What the fuck are they doing?
Stalking isn't something to screw with. People on the edge are explosive.
Why would Wal-Mart possibly contribute to a space already filled with messages of violence, hatred, and coercion in race, between the sexes, and in relationships? Could it be because Wal-Mart itself as a company is violent, coercive, and hated?
Just your friendly all-American anti-woman anti-gay anti-labor anti-health-benefits anti-competition anti-made-in-America pro-Republican pro-domestic-violence pro-stalking neighborhood store.
Rah Team go. Gooooo Wal-Mart!
Hat tip Feministing.