1. You guys voted, and I will be reviewing The Diviners and Ring of Endless Light. I'm thinking of doing a review of books I've really loved every couple weeks so I can stay excited about blogging (and not feel like reading is work. Because reading is never work unless it is nonfiction and/or assigned to you in school haha)
2. A couple weeks ago I won my first giveaway! And then like a day later I won another one which is AWESOME. To celebrate I'll definitely be doing a giveaway for The Magic Warbler won off Vailia's Page Turner sometime in the next month (or month and a bit). The other book, Saving Laura (won on Goodreads), I may or may not do a giveaway for as it isn't a YA book, but we'll see.
3 - 5. So I'm on to a much more serious topic which is going to take up a bit of space and I haven't been dealing with much else this week anyway.
For the past 4 months I have been harassed by a guy that to my knowledge I don't know, have never met, and have no mutual aquaintances with. I'm not going to go into too many details because I don't feel comfortable sharing them, but it is an experience that I want people to know about so that they know it is more common than people would like to think, and how to deal with it.
I received a text about 4 months ago from a random number. I responded, believing it was a friend messing with me. Needless to say, this was not the case. I kept texting to be polite and because he seemed like an ok guy. I know most of you are already banging your head against the wall about my stupidity (don't worry I did too). After I had not responded for about 10 minutes he called me numerous times and texted me an almost uncountable number of times (counting's not my strong point anyway :p). At this point I realized I was dealing with a deranged person and I didn't respond to his text messages. That was mistake number 2. Not that I didn't respond - don't EVER engage your harasser if you can avoid it. But you need to make sure you ask them to stop immediately so you have documentation of it. And there's always the chance they actually will stop.
This continued over the past few months, and I not once responded. The texts were a little creepy, but more annoying than anything, so I just tried ignoring them. I tried to laugh it off, as I felt like I was overreacting and that people would think I was just paranoid. But then this week happened. He changed his number. Maybe he just got a new phone, but I'm not unaware there is a chance he got a new number because I was not responding to his old number. He began texting me sexually explicit content. Again, I won't go into details, but they were terrifying to read. At this point I realized I had made a huge mistake in not dealing with this sooner. After some freaking out, logical thinking, and a few glasses of wine I knew that responding was going to make it worse, but it also had to be done. I sent a simple text asking him to stop contacting me. The content became less offensive but the texting continued. And I'm talking multiple texts per minute. And then he got mad I wasn't responding and that's when the...explicit pictures started, and more bashing of my character ensued.
I have since filed a police report and changed my number. I am taking a big chance posting this in a blog. I'm more than a little concerned about it too. But I feel this is important enough to share so other girls know they are not alone, and that it can happen to anyone. And that it is never, never your fault no matter how much you might feel you played a part in it. I chose to respond to his original texts, and it made me feel like it was my fault it they continued the way it did. I felt embarrassed that the texts bothered me so much, and that there wasn't anything I could do to make them stop. It seemed like an overreaction to do anything other than block the number. (And I have since discovered that AT&T charges $5 a month to block numbers. That is unacceptable. While my situation was in no way ok, there are people out there who are in a MUCH more serious situation than I am. You are going to make victims pay for the crimes of the perpetrators?)
My inner Olivia Benson was outraged.
I want everyone to know that no matter who it is, if you are feeling uncomfortable with what is happening you NEED to speak up. I didn't respond to this guy for months and it escalated way beyond just being uncomfortable. Engaging the person usually makes it escalate even faster. It's easier to deal with if you don't know the person, but no matter who it is, you need to deal with it. If you ignore it, it will NEVER get better, and it will likely get worse. Don't let anyone, including the voice in your head, tell you that you are overreacting and that is not a big deal (None of my friends said that. That one is all on me.) If you can, get documentation of the harassment or stalking. Save evidence of EVERYTHING so that if you need to press charges you can. Be clear that you wish the attention to stop, and document it. That's all you need to do. If you ask someone to stop and they continue, legally (as far as I can tell), you have grounds to file a charge. Even if it doesn't seem like a big deal - when the guy first started texting me, it was mostly conversational and slightly personal questions (what I do, how old I am, etc). That doesn't seem like a big deal, right? Sure it was a little weird he kept contacting me when I didn't respond and that he would send me 20 texts in 5 minutes, but that's just annoying, not dangerous, right? I had warning bells going off in my head for all the right reasons, and I ignored them. Don't doubt yourself. Your instincts are 99% right. If this doesn't happen to you, I guarantee it will happen to someone you know. I was not exaggerating when I said that it happens way more often than you think (and it only happens to people off in a distant place, right?) Be the voice of reason for your friends and family if this happens to them. Have them ask the person stop the action, and if you are in a situation where you can do so, stop contact immediately. As soon as the other person steps a toe across the line, contact the police. You/he/she might feel silly doing so, but it is always, always better to be safe than sorry. The consequences of not dealing with it sooner can destroy your life.
There is still a small part of me trying to rationalize what happened, and telling me that I overreacted, that it wasn't a big deal. Despite all the proof to the contrary, I still feel like I'm being silly. And that is what is scariest to me. I feel like I am wrong, even though I KNOW I'm not. And it's made me feel scared and out of control. I think I'm partly publicly posting this part of my life out of defiance. I also love blogging. I don't want to give it up until I have to, and maybe posting this experience is another stupid choice on my part. I have not been contacted by him outside of my phone, so I am hopeful. He does not know my full name, but doing a reverse search is shockingly easy and cheap to do. I think I am going to delete my Google + profile, just to be safe. If you follow me through Google + and wish to continue following my blog, I'd recommend you follow me through e-mail, Bloglovin, or the feed thingie. Also, don't be offended if I delete some of your comments. If they contain references to personal information about them, I'm deleting them :(
And on that long depressing note, that was my week. How was yours? Hopefully better than mine - give me some lovely stories so I can feel better about life!