A short trip on the bandwagon

It's been difficult to avoid hearing the daily release of taped "conversations" between two people, one of whom is supposed to be Mel Gibson. My guess is that it likely is him, you'd have to be nuts to try and get away with making all this up, plus I've done this myself. Recorded someone without them knowing. It's a handy way to capture the bad behavior of people who have a tendency to act in unbelievable ways when you're alone with them, a way to share their words with others who may or may not be skeptical.

When listening to the aforementioned recordings that are all over the "news" I can't help but be taken back to a time in my life when I was stalked by a guy I'd been dating but broken up with, twice. There's been one other thing that really made that time in my life hit home and that was a movie called The Burning Bed, which starred Farrah Fawcett. Everything that had happened was fairly fresh when that movie was released so the impact was much different than the feelings and thoughts I have now about all that I hear and read regarding Mel Gibson and his, I presume, ex girlfriend and mother to his newest child.

It was the most recent recording I heard yesterday that struck me. It was the way the male in the recording spoke, the wildness in his voice, the threats of harm to himself or someone else that made me shudder, and remember. I remember to this day the sound of a shotgun being reloaded over the telephone and the voice saying he was going to kill himself. I remember the pure fear of it happening, the reluctance to hang up in case he really did it, being held hostage by his power.

It was a very difficult time for me. Back then there was no recognition of stalking by the police. I was dismissed when I talked to them, told to change my phone number, move, not go out, get a different job. help there, at all. I remember the cops I spoke to, and when it was that I did. I'd just been receiving repeated calls from this guy at the store I managed. The calls were manic, full of threats and name calling, screaming and yelling. They were non stop with the only solution being to take the phone off the hook of a business line that had no call waiting or answering service that cut in to replace a busy signal. It was one male and one female police officer that were walking through the mall that I flagged down and asked for help. They both listened but it was only the male who spoke to me, with the female endorsing his solution by her silence. I remember feeling incredulous. Over the years I've cheered new laws and recognition of stalking and it's existence. It still may not be enough, but it's more than what existed when I experienced the horror of stalking.

It made me sick. I lost weight, sleep, friends, and existed in a state of fear. The security door of my apartment building was regularly opened to my stalker, something to this day I think about when going in and out of apartment buildings. You know, those awkward moments when there's a person who is at the entrance at the same time as you. It's uncomfortable to say, "sorry, I can't just let you in", but it's what we all should be doing. That's what security doors are for, to keep unwanted people out.

Since my stalker was in the bouncer business he had contacts at the clubs in town. If I was out he'd appear or call me later to tell me what I'd been wearing that night or grill me about who I'd been there with or had talked to over the course of the evening. It got to the point where I had only one male friend left who refused to be intimidated into not being seen in public with me. I remember, years later, meeting up with one of my stalker's informants and asking him if he realized what he'd done to me, how he'd contributed to the problem.

There were 3 things that happened to put a stop to the madness. The first was the realization that this man was manipulating me with threats of suicide. It was a friend who was somehow able to convince me the threats were idle, that I needed to stop being controlled by them. I clearly remember saying "go ahead". It was terrifying to do but essential in this case because it not only set him off balance but summoned up a rage in me at what he was doing that allowed me to be more angry than scared, to start doing some proactive things that ultimately put an end to the abuse, the anger being the second thing that helped me get control of the situation. I remember one particular night being at my apartment with a girlfriend and my ex once again calling repeatedly only to show up, stand in the parking lot below my balcony screaming up at us, only to be let in by yet another intimidated tenant. I became so furious I grabbed a large knife from the drawer and was ready for him when he came to my door. My friend was terrified of what might happen and begged me to put it away but I was finished, fed up with the situation and was determined to protect myself and her as his rage this particular evening was directed toward her as well as me. See he'd decided to accuse us of being lovers, "that black bitch" and myself. His madness knew no boundaries, had no logic.

When I let him in he was surprised by my anger, by the knife in my hand, by my ability to look him in the eye and mean it when I said get out of here or I'll kill you. My friend was silent behind me, knowing full well my 5'3" 108lb body, even with a knife, was no match physically for this 6'6" monster who used to be my boyfriend. But, it was mentally. He left, of course mocking me as he did, trying to make me feel ridiculous for my reaction and make himself feel like a man by "letting" me win. I remember being violently ill as soon as he was gone and the door was shut and locked. I remember meeting secretly with his mom and sister to tell them what was going on and that they needed to do something, which they did. This was the 3rd thing that happened to put an end to it all. These women loved their son and brother and worked together to get him into therapy which worked for him. It all stopped and I've only run into him once since that I recall. I rarely think about him or that time and for the most part only at times like these when I hear about similar situations.

I have thoughts about people condemning Whoopie Goldberg's assessment of this Mel Gibson drama. I feel it's unfair and agree that people who call up her receptionist and rant on her or him about Whoopie are no better than the man on the recording or my old boyfriend who stalked me. I call Mel Gibson's girlfriend on her decision to have a baby with a man like him and then think about how his ex wife had multiple children with him. I think about the circumstances when I met the boyfriend who stalked and abused me. How it was in a violent situation where I defended an acquaintance from him that he was throwing out of a bar and yet I still went out with him. How the first time he grabbed me by the back of the neck and accused me of cheating I'd broken up with him only to get back together when he told me he couldn't see me anymore because of how he'd treated me and how he'd vowed to himself if he ever treated a woman like he'd treated me he'd never see her again. How although he'd sounded racist when accusing me of sleeping with my friend, he wasn't. How it would be easy to have called him a misogynist, he wasn't. He loved and respected the women in his family and other women in his life. I think about how his mom told me how when he was a boy his dad would pour lemon juice on his knuckles that were raw from being chewed on in anticipation of his father's return from "the road" and the inevitable abuse that would ensue. How he'd bravely protect his mom and siblings fully knowing how his dad's anger and demons would become his problem.

There's not much in life that's black and white, cut and dried, without gray. It's more common than not that both people in stormy relationships have a certain amount of responsibility, although I believe it's usually not an equal responsibility. I think often one of the two is damaged in some way, and the other enables by ignoring or trying to save, fix, change, or just be the one it will be different with. I bet right now there are women thinking well, Mel wouldn't have treated me like that because I'd know how to make him "happy".

I knew what my abusive boyfriend was like before I ever went out with him, I'd seen it. I knew what he was like when I got back together with him against my own better judgment. But, if he was THAT sorry that I had to beg him to see me again, he wouldn't hurt me again, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong, and if anyone reading this happens to find themselves in the same situation that I did, do yourself (and your possible future children) a favor and get out while you can or at the very least insist your damaged fixer upper get legitimate therapy BEFORE becoming involved romantically with him or her.

If you can't do it for yourself, if you're not worth it, do it for them, your work in progress, or your existing family and your future children, or for my kids and my kids' future kids. We're all in this world together and we owe it to each other to try harder to fix what we've done and are doing and put an end to, instead of perpetuating, cycles of abuse.

Can't someone get that man some help?!


  1. Wow. I was on the edge of my seat reading this. Harrowing. I can picture you standing there with the knife in hand and my stomach is in my throat.

    I am a survivor of a different kind of abuse and yes - we owe it to each other to stop the cycle.

    So sorry Campbell. I know that you are ok now but it is so wrong that the law didn't protect you.

  2. I know eh Diane? Thankfully things have changed a bit for the better. You're right though, I am more than ok now : )

    I'm glad you see the point of this post. My fear is that some will see it as "blaming the victim" which I realize I am, in a way.

    I know there are many circumstances where a victim is without responsibility but in this case, I wasn't. It's not that I or anyone else deserves abuse but I believe it's important to be honest with ourselves and our kids about how these situations are perpetuated, and behaviors are learned.

    In thinking about this time after I read your comment I remembered an occasion during the mayhem that ended up being a funny memory I'm kind of fond of. So, on a lighter note...

    I'd had this lovely rock musician I was trying to date at my apartment overnight and of course the ex boyfriend appeared in the morning to do his damage, not knowing who was with me, if anyone at all.

    Diane I'll never forget that poor guy scrambling around my apartment on hands and knees so as not to be seen and the two of us making our escape down the building's stairs, out the back door and onto the first bus that past, going who knows where.

    I can safely say that my sexy guitarist was not all that concerned for my life, or even his, but rather his hands which he kept yelling about the entire time we made our escape.

    Heh : )

  3. Thanks for the comment private "d"


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