A hiatus of sorts

I’ve been blogging for over ten years. Some of you have been with me from the start. Others have joined more recently. You’ve seen me share my ups and downs, the mundane and my soapbox issues. You’ve seen me grow chronologically and emotionally. You’ve read my creative pieces and given wonderful feedback. And you’ve become friends with me over the years.

Some of my long-term followers may have noticed a decrease in the personal nature of my posts in the last year. The weekly gratitude posts and the monthly wrap-up posts are the main posts that continue to be more personal in nature with a smattering of other ones. This is very different from the years before when almost all my posts were personal. And there is a reason for this.

I have been a target of stalking.

NSW law refers to stalking as “a persistent course of conduct or actions by a person which are intended to maintain contact with or exercise power and control over another person. These actions cause distress, loss of control, fear or harassment to another person and occur more than once.” Additionally, you can be a victim of stalking if someone is “Repeatedly sending you unwanted or offensive emails, letters, text messages etc.; Leaving unwanted gifts or items for you” {Bold bits apply to my situation}

It started harmlessly and I would occasionally respond to their unhelpful comments trying to get my point across. But then, it got to a stage where I had to put clear boundaries and requested them to stop contacting me and told them I would cease replying to them. This was back in November 2017. I haven’t communicated with them since except through lawyers and police.

But they have not stopped.

It was easy to block them on the phone and my personal Facebook account. They still tried calling me but I think it went straight to voicemail which I didn’t bother listening to. They tried adding me on Facebook with different accounts but I didn’t accept it. When I set boundaries, I’d also requested they stop reading and following my blog. And yet, they continue to send unsolicited emails and messages on Facebook and my blog.

I don’t read the emails because thankfully, when I started dating a guy who works in IT sometime last year, he recommended blocking or redirecting the emails {side note: that was a fun conversation at the start of a relationship – oh, by the way, I am being stalked!}. I did the latter in case I needed to go to court. So I have someone independent who is looking through the emails, printing them out, but not telling me the content of it unless I need to take it further.

While that’s seemingly easy to do, it’s harder on the blog and social media. I have been receiving unsolicited communication through the blog’s Facebook page and through the ‘contact me’ page on the blog or as comments on posts. I don’t respond. I block this person on Facebook but they create new accounts. Or they deactivate an account before I can block them. But yes, these are messages I have ended up seeing.

Last year, this person also contacted my friends and family about me. Unknown to this person, all it did was make people concerned about my wellbeing and look out for me. Because I hadn’t actually told people close to me any of this and was dealing with it all on my own.

Anyway, earlier this week, I received an email from this person from a new email account. I didn’t read it but redirected it to the person I have reading these emails. There has been continued contact via email even after a cease and desist letter sent by my lawyer in August last year. There has also been contact via the blog. The person filtering my emails has told me that the content of these emails while not threatening, have the flavour that this person believes I am communicating with them through my blog posts – either my creative stuff or my personal posts – and are continuing to communicate with me as though we are having a conversation! So while I don’t know the details of what they have said, it still creeps me out that they think I’m having a conversation with them when they are not worth my time and energy. It reminds me of the book {and now Netflix series}, You.

Consequently, I’ve had to make the tough decision to change accessibility on my beloved blog.

I will continue to post book reviews publicly but I am going to password protect all my personal posts {those of you keen to continue following know how to contact me for the same!}. I don’t want to shut down the blog yet though I considered it when this problem first began almost 18 months ago. I will also be limiting my personal Instagram posts {I don’t want to go private yet because I love some of the bands and authors that find and follow me for my music and writing interests}. It makes me angry that I have to change things as it is an invasion of my space on the web.

It’s a real shame. I love blogging and I love the online community that I’ve been part of for the last decade. I have loved seeing it evolve and I don’t actually think social media is the devil. But unfortunately, sometimes, there are some people who ruin it for others. And while I pursue my legal options, I will go a bit quiet here.

It also sucks because it has me rethinking my life as well. I am looking at moving from current address because they know where I live. I am also thinking when I eventually do move back to Sydney, I won’t be able to move back to my beloved unit because they know the address there too and instead, I am looking at other options in terms of residence. At one point, early on in this whole escapade, I was looking at how to migrate to Canada {until I realised I couldn’t deal with the cold and the lack of beaches!}

To those who will give me advice to seek legal help, I have already done that and we are exploring options but that involves me having to take time off work to go to court. Which is a hassle. And even though this person doesn’t deserve the time of day, it has impacted my life. I no longer answer calls from private numbers which means friends who have private numbers, have to let me know before they call me. I avoid certain areas in Sydney when I’m there. Last year, it increased my anxiety ten-fold and I was extremely hypervigilant. And of course, it impacted on my ability to write freely.

But, at the same time, I can see the silver lining in this all. This person’s actions brought me closer to people. I reached out to friends here who have been supportive and helpful. My friends in Sydney reached out to me and continue to check-in with me. My family, despite their anxiety being far away, have been supportive. My workplace was helpful and allowed me to take time to seek legal advice.

So yes, it’ll be a hiatus of sorts. I might lose followers on the Facebook page. But really, none of that matters if my mental health and those of my loved ones will eventually be impacted. I know the ones of you I truly connect with will continue to read. And for that, I love you guys!

Thanks for hanging around!

P.S. I have disabled comments for this post as the purpose was to let you know why some personal posts henceforth will be password protected

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