My Ex is Stalking Me: One Woman’s Story to Fight Abuse

Cayla* broke up with her boyfriend, but he decided he didn’t want to break up with her, no matter what she said.

“If I kept my eyes open, I might have seen some signs of craziness and anger management,” said Cayla.

Her ex-boyfriend was in prison for eight months after serving time for gun possession and assault, but when she met him, he’d turned his life around. “He was signing up to go to school and seemed to be going in the same direction I was,” said Cayla. “He wanted to better his life and make better decisions. I wanted to support him and be there for him.”

But four years later, Cayla was fed up with the arguing and wanted her ex-boyfriend out of her life and her apartment. She’d been thinking about it for some time, and her mother already thought because of his background that he was physically abusing her.

“I honestly didn’t think that he’d ever put his hands on me. My mother always thought he ‘beat’ me. Every time he and I had an argument, she’d stare at my face for bruises. He never did but one time. It only took one time for me though,” said Cayla.

That one time was after Cayla decided her ex-boyfriend had to go, and she kicked him out of their apartment. After having the locks changed, they had a dispute.

Her ex-boyfriend pushed her three times that night. Cayla said she was shocked and “couldn’t believe that I was beginning to hate the man who I used to love so deeply.” After staying at her father’s house the next night, she came back to yet another argument. Arguments have not stopped from April 5, 2008 until present day.

According to Cayla, her ex denies hitting her and says, “I didn’t hit you. You’re not bruised or going to work wearing sunglasses. I just pushed you.” But to Cayla, that was enough to head out the door.

Unfortunately Cayla’s boyfriend still believed that the relationship could be rekindled. According to Cayla, he showed up to her apartment in the middle of the night, knocked on windows, and disappeared before the police came. When the police did come, Cayla felt they were no help.

“They told me he could stand outside my window holding a knife and motion to me that he’s going to stab, and I couldn’t do anything,” Cayla said. “When I talked to them about a restraining order, I not only would have to go to court to file for one, he’d be there too. Then it would take weeks for the judge to decide if I deserve one. In the mean time, I’m walking in the street with a target on my back. The police didn’t help at all.”

According to Officer Davis of the Chicago Police Department, “The victim needs to convince the judge of validity. In Illinois, there is no law of who gets the residence. It’s up to the responding officer and the judge to be fair, impartial, reasonable, and just.”

While Cayla tries her best to ignore the many daily phone calls she gets from her job, she has moved to a different apartment after having her laptop stolen.

Because her ex was friends with the janitor in her building, Cayla’s ex was given a new key. Her ex-boyfriend knew just what to take of hers that would make her meet with him-her laptop. Cayla is a fiction writer with several novels out, and all of her creations were on that laptop. In order to get it back, she had to meet him. She brought her father with her. Her ex-boyfriend felt threatened and annoyed that she brought another person, said the laptop was not with him, and he’d have to meet her in an alternate location if she wanted it back. She wouldn’t go.

“When I called the [police] about my laptop, they said to me, ‘How do we know that it’s not his laptop and you’re not trying to take it out of spite?'” Cayla explained.

According to Officer Brown of the Chicago Police Department, without a serial number, the person being accused of stealing the laptop “could sue the police” if the police believed her word over his and returned the item to her only to later find out the laptop could’ve been his.

Throughout the experience, Cayla refuses to quit her job or move out of the city she lives in, and her family is stressed out too.

“[My family] has been very worried about me,” Cayla said. “In fact, if I don’t call them when I get home, they freak out. They worry about him getting at me. They hate what’s been going on, but they’ve been supporting me as much as they can.”

Cayla was shocked to find out her ex-boyfriend had become a stalker. Although he’d allegedly gone through her purse several times and broken into her laptop, she never expected him to be as persistent as he has been to get back with her. But Cayla has moved on and is now dating someone else. She’s decided to let her life be as normal as possible and won’t let one man break her.

For others who are dealing with an ex who can’t seem to comprehend the words “It’s over,” here are some tips.

1. Don’t agree to meetings with him to discuss the past. Reminiscing about the good times is the reason why it took you so long to break up with him in the first place. Don’t fall into that trap again.

2. No late night rendezvous. If you tell your ex that the relationship is over, this includes the sex. Females usually connect emotions with sex, and he knows it. As long as you two are having sex, he knows you still have feelings for him. This time period is also when people tend to be careless with contraception. A woman may stop taking her birth control pills or shot because she’s not having sex with anyone. A possible pregnancy with someone you don’t want to be in a relationship with could cause two bitter parents.

3. Give back all his possessions and vice versa. This way, you avoid the “I forgot something” home or outside meetings.

4. File for an Order of Protection (also commonly known as a restraining order) if your ex won’t leave you alone. (Note: In Chicago, the address to get this Order of Protection is 555 West Harrison, but no matter what city, there is a location for you to get the proper paperwork. Call your local non-emergency number to find out the address.) The Order of Protection does not necessarily mean that your ex has to stay a certain distance from you, but it does establish boundaries. Although it may seem fair for the “abused” person to stay in the joint living location, depending on who has somewhere else to go, this can change too. The Order of Protection varies and can include people in the same home, according to Officer Brown.

Officer Davis elaborates that if one person has alternate living choices, such as a parent’s or friend’s home, it may be suggested that that person stay with a family member or friend until the situation is cleared up, especially if the other person has nowhere to go (ex. moved in from out of town and has no relatives or friends to fall back on).

If both names are on the lease of a couple’s apartment, who has to leave is up to the landlord, not the two people. If there is noticeable physical abuse, the decision of the landlord can also be persuaded by legal enforcement. Chances are the landlord will want as little drama as possible happening on her property.

5. If you have the proper documentation to have your ex removed from your household, in the case that you two used to live together, have the locks changed. Surprise visits from an unwanted guest causes unnecessary tension, and no one should ever be in your home that you don’t want there. Your landlord may have to get involved for this to happen, but then you have some type of record so the landlord knows who has the right to a new set of keys.

6. Keep records of what merchandise you own (ex. receipts, photos and serial numbers). In the example with Cayla’s laptop, since her ex took the laptop while she wasn’t there and she had no record of ownership, she could not prove that he’d entered her home, Order of Protection or not.

7. Notify family and friends about what is going on between you and your ex. If no one knows about the situation between you and your ex and it gets serious, this could potentially hinder witnesses from stepping forward on your behalf.

8. Change phone numbers, and if necessary, your address. If there is a security guard in your new building, let him know what this person looks like. Some phone numbers are more difficult to change than others, such as your work extension. Most people like to keep their private life confidential and may not want to tell their boss about why they want to change phone lines or why the receptionist should not transfer certain calls. However, if the situation is abusive, and the situation with your ex affects your work performance, it’s advisable to let your boss know what’s going on. Maybe you can temporarily be moved into another department.

*Cayla’s real name has been changed to protect this person’s privacy.

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