this is what happened.

by - May 23, 2018

 I mentioned something happened to me last Sunday at a Hobby Lobby on some of my social media the other day- mainly because I wanted to talk about what happened and make people aware of it. I posted about how a man came up behind me and was trying to film up my dress at 1pm in the afternoon with my aunt by my side.
 The reason I posted about it was solely to inform people of what had happened and sort of also saying "hey ladies, be careful". But let's discuss what happened further because I need to talk about it so I can let it go. "You'll lose it, if you talk about it" Ernest Hemingway has said and I whole heartedly believe that.
 What happened was I noticed a man in a navy blue shirt following me in the back of Hobby Lobby by the paint section. At first I thought he was trying to rob my aunt or I. With my 'elite training' thanks to SVU and every other crime show (Blue Bloods made me memorize his shoes just in case he ran) I picked up on the guy pretty easily. I made my way to the front of the store and let my aunt go get a cart so I could see who he followed. He followed me, obviously. I still thought he was trying to pick pocket me so I grabbed my phone out of my purse and turned off my music to listen to his footsteps. I moved to this little station of white and blue pottery and stayed there. I would hear him walk quickly right up behind me, slowly walk past me without saying "excuse me" though he was literally right on me, then walk quickly away. He kept doing it until I realized what he was doing. I remembered a video clip of a guy in a Georgia CVS doing the same thing. I turned around and said nervously "Sir, I know what you're doing. You're trying to film up my skirt. If you continue I'm going to have to ask you to leave." He apologized, then started to leave the store. I ran up to the checkout about two feet away screaming "call security, call the police, he was trying to film up my skirt" and put my items on the counter. In an all white with red roses little sun dress and blister giving sandals I booked it down a few blocks after him screaming the same thing over and over again. "Stop him! He was trying to film up my skirt! Call the police!" Five separate cars of people went around the Party City to find him. Man after man drove back and said they didn't see any trace of him and apologized for not being able to find him. One young man said his mom was on the phone with police and they should be here soon. A few moments later a woman came up to me with the police on the phone saying she was a Crisis Consoler and she'd stay here with me. I told the police what happened as a red car full of women started calling me over. Like my statement said, a woman had found him in the port-o-potty behind the Party City being built and grabbed him. This wonderful woman kicked his ass. Police came maybe three minutes later and arrested him. Two detectives and a few police officers helped me out and made sure I was okay as I was okay while taking my statement, asking if I needed a medic, and joking with me that I should've had my pepper spray on me to get him. They were all so wonderful and so nice to me, through the entire experience. After about half an hour I was given a Victims Rights pamphlet, the detective's number, a hundred hugs, and a promise to keep me updated. That night I looked up the county's jail records until I found who he was and was able to keep tabs on if he was in custody.
 The next day, the 15th, I got call telling me about the case. What he would be charged with, when his arraignment was (that morning at 9am), and how pre-trial was on the 22nd. Later that day I got a call he was being released on OR bond- aka he just had to sign his name. His charges were misdemeanors, please keep that in mind. I was told I would get a call from the victims advocate center soon since they hadn't already been in touch. I was asked if I wanted to put a zone on his GPS anklet so he couldn't come around my house. I asked if the person knew my name at all and the woman said no, and they would not release it to him either. So I put no zone on downtown and thanked the officer for letting me know. 
 The day after that, the 16th, I had just gotten home from running errands when I got a call from an unknown number. I let it go to voicemail and then clicked on it to listen- it was an officer saying he wanted to go over some information on my case. I called back immediately and I could come up to their offices right away. I drove up and was greeted by a few officers right past their front lobby. I was taken into a conference room and had the door shut behind me- I knew instantly something was up. I watch cops shows and even though, yes dear lord they are scripted tv shows, but the only time I've seen victims go into conference rooms have been on NCIS when they're told bad news. I figured it was going to be something along the lines of he is going to get off. Or that I will have to go to court and have him learn my name. Or just something bad against me.
 But instead they told me that the man had committed suicide. My mouth dropped and I started to tear up. Instantly the cops explained.
 This wasn't my fault. He had mentioned the night before that he had been doing this for nineteen years. This was his end game, this was his way out- and he had been planning it for a while. They said they found letters, or notes. I didn't register a lot because I was mixed with emotions. They said when they looked into his phones they found I was not his first victim. This started with a porn addiction and escalated to this. They were in the process of downloading his computer. I was his last victim and it was a good thing I stopped him. Him killing himself was not my fault. He was wanted for another case from a year ago. He escalated so who knows what he could have escalated to next. Him committing suicide was not my fault.
 I still cried though. I don't know why and I feel weird for crying but I did. All I could think of is that if this 43 year old's mom is still alive she just lost her son and the whole idea of who her son was and was handed this disgusting truth about him. And also that my actions of stopping him led to this.
 I went to my grandmothers after and cried. I told her how I don't know how to feel and I don't feel like this is my real life. I feel like I'm in an episode of SVU and I'm seeing this through someone else's eyes. I didn't know how to feel so I posted what happened to this support group I'm in. Everyone helped me tremendously with advice.
 "Don't be sad about this, he made you a victim a second time and that's not fair." "Call the victims advocate and schedule a therapy session." "You are a hero by ending almost 20 years of this." "You are so strong for going after this guy and saying 'fuck politeness'." And much more.
 Right now I'm not sleeping much. I keep the lights on in my kitchen. If I do sleep, I sleep with my back to my wall and my face towards the kitchen. I sage my place every night and day. I'm constantly anxious thinking I can see his face right outside my line of sight. I'm anxious going out and doing things now. I finally got a call from the Victims Advocate yesterday and called her back but haven't heard anything. It's a Saturday as I'm writing this so I understand I might have to wait till Monday. I scheduled an emergency therapy session with a therapist for Tuesday who is aware of my situation.
 I know this could have been much worse, I've been through much worse- but it still took a toll on me. But I'm strong. I can get through this. I know I can handle the fact that someone tried to do and did do this to me. I can handle the fact that he killed himself. I knew I could handle a trial. If it was some 14 year old who knows if they would have said anything or even noticed? Who knows if they could handle the fact that in some way but no fault to their own- them speaking up ended his life? Who knows if it would've stopped with them? Who knows how far he could've escalated in another 20 years? Who knows?

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