Sufferer Back in it. Being stalked and symptoms are worse.

StartingFire

New Here
Hi everyone. I had some gnarly PTSD hit me hard I guess four years ago now. There was a lot of stuff from childhood (and a few traumatic events as an adult) which I'd shoved down for years mainly by drinking. I got sober, and didn't have that as a coping mechanism anymore, and my controlling spouse was mirroring some of the dynamics I'd grown up in. It was a bad time.

I relapsed, got divorced, got an amazing trauma trained therapist, got sober again, and things were going pretty good there for a while. But I'm spiralling out again and I don't know what to do.

I got involved with an unsuitable guy when I was in the midst of the last breakdown. I've done all I can to get away from him but he's stalking me and playing mind games. I don't even know what's real anymore.

I'm beating myself up like crazy for getting myself into this mess. I'd be in a pretty good place without it, but as it is, I can't function at all right now and I'm having suicidal thoughts. I've lost my hope for the future, I'm disassociating like crazy, having panic attacks, the works. And I don't know how to ask for help, largely because I can't "prove" what he's doing.

And I feel ashamed. I'm ashamed for jumping into another abusive situation, ashamed that I tried to make it work with this guy AFTER he'd started stalking me.... I don't know. I'm ashamed to admit what's going on, but I'm breaking down completely. I have a hard time using my phone or computer to talk to people because I suspect that he's found a way to infiltrate them (he's very tech saavy, and I know that he's been able to track my location even after I changed phones.)

PTSD is getting worse. I don't feel safe anywhere, even in my own home. I'm on high alert 24/7. I'm barely leaving the house. And with the pandemic, I'm afraid to go back to my therapist because sessions are on video now, and I'm scared about my stalker seeing them. I don't know what's safe, and my system is shutting down. So yeah. That's me.
 

Friday

Moderator
I think it's pretty far fetched that your ex can track you or infiltrate your devices.
There’s an app for that. Technically, these days, hundreds of apps. The average person has at least a dozen on their phone.

Mostly people install them, themselves... under various social networking / stay connected with family & friends, so your über driver can find you, or the take-away/curbside pickup knows which car, so the carpool knows when you’re running late, geotagging all your pics in your various cloud drives, dating sites... most people’s phones are broadcasting their (or their phone’s) precise location -aaaaaaaand anything else they selected, or didn’t opt out of to all the people in “their network” 24/7/365. Easily enough an app someone downloaded for 8 minutes, 2 years ago, & off-loaded, but on auto-update; as one they still “use” but just runs in the background, or use all the time for different features and you didn’t even know it also does XYZ. Dozens and dozens of apps. Still merrily sending out the info you agreed to. Just think about how many times the “Use your locarion?” prompt comes up when you’re online (if you have location services turned off, and privacy settings to max). Order a pizza? Your phone and the drivers phone now share info. As do the 75 dating mining companies that were in the 20 pages of TOS no one ever reads. People are coooooonstantly clicking “agree” “yes” “allow” “connect”.

Unless you’re an average 12yo, work in Mobile/Telecom, or are a hacker? The “security” measures most people use on their phones, tablets, computers, etc. is the rough equivalent of locking your front door, after knocking down the entire back wall of your house.

But that’s just the stuff people agree to.

Spyware is hardly new... but the “concerned parent” & “Is he/she CHEATING?!?” (Roll eyes) markets are both ginormous, super cheap ($20 for a key logger to send in an email... they open the email, and voila! You now get the user name and passwords to everything they use on their phone/tablet... in addition to admin access/ parental controls/ VARs (voice activated recording, using the Mic on your phone/tablet/computer to record any time there’s sound... not just calls placed, but conversations, etc.)... but for $50? Skip the 2010 nonsense and just straight up clone all devices, and have total remote access/mirroring.

And this is all just tip of the iceberg, as far as dealing with a tech stalker who knows your phone number, your IP address, your favorite apps/sites/social media, & your dingbat relatives most likely to select “friends of friends” on their settings.

It is a MASSIVE pain in the arse to be dealing with. All your old devices have to go. None of your new ones can have things ported (or along comes the spyware, or shared accounts, or dingbat relatives and the NOT SECURE security settings), all new emails, passwords, accounts, VPNs, list goes on and on and on.

It’s expensive.
it’s miserable.
And it’s pretty much pointless.

(Except that doing things in person was “weird” even before Covid, if not downright impossible. I couldn’t even pay my utilities bill by mail or in person. It HAD to be done over the phone or online. And, you know, trying to live some kind of normal life after leaving an abuser? Is something most people value.)

And all they have to do, to “make” you do it all over again? Walk within 5 feet of you to snag your info by scanning for devices on the app, or call your mom/sister/neighbor/school/etc. and ask for your number. Phone in a bag of rice is all the “Oh! We’ve all done that!” to get the contact info zapped to you. <<< Even with 11 restraining orders? On file with my son’s school, sports teams, etc.? All it takes is ONE person wanting to be helpful, or one teacher clicking “reply to group Math 1st period parents” or ONE parent volunteer sending out Yay! Homecoming!!! to all sophomores and you’re f*cked. I had about a week before my exHusband would have all my contact info & just gave up trying to get schools and doctors etc. to follow the court orders. They got the number to the phone that lived in my PO Box, and the address at the state capital for domestic violence victims to give to anyone who would mail them anything. IE school, work, creditors, etc. all mail to Address A, who then forward it to my real address.

The upside to physical stalking is thay most stalkers either get bored or kill you in the first 1-2 years.

Exes using tech to stalk? Takes them about as much effort as using Facebook, or Instagram, or scanning today’s headlines in their news apps.

And the person who will break into your house and assault you? Will spend $50 on the stupid spyware without batting an eye.

It is a MASSIVE problem growing exponentially in modern domestic violence and stalking cases...

Even worse? whilst newer and newer tech means it’s mostly not even “illegal”... because the laws haven’t caught up to whatever shiny thing has just hit the infidelity-sites & paranoid-parent sites... but what is? Requires hundreds of cybercrime forensic police man hours per charge. That no department or agency is willing to spend on “a domestic squabble”. Because child porn, bank fraud, trafficking, & terrorism are what the people who would usually investigate multistate cross-jurisdictional clusterf*cks, whilst local cybercrime cops are eyeballs deep in online bullying, local drugs crimes & prostitution facilitated online, & identity theft... when they’re not helping out on a murder investigation. Because that’s the level of “stalking” their budget allows for. Once there are already bodies dropped. And even then? The DA usually has their own investigators do the deep dives needed, because the backlog is years long. Corporations? Have their own teams of investigators for all of their online crime needs, and unlike any other area of law enforcement, their investigations & evidence hold... again, because law enforcement doesn’t have the resources to even begin to cope.

Stalking by strangers? Is as rare online as IRL. It happens, but it’s stalking by former lovers/spouses that’s seriously problematic.

@StartingFire THERE ARE WAYS to make a clean start. And, yes, they’re about as obnoxious as ditching an IRL stalker, where you have to change your name and leave the state/country and change your name again. AS WELL AS WAYS to limit the amount of access they have to your life without having to use the nuclear option... and still get to keep your friends/family/work/etc. relatively intact.

If you haven’t, yet, there are domestic violence networks that can help you with that.

@Survivor3 ... Dont get me wrong, I am 100% with you that paranoia is a motherf*cker. And the only thing paranoia does when you’re being stalked? Is make everything worse. One of my best tricks @Starfire is to draw a really hard line between what I’m afraid of my ex doing (that he hasn’t) // and what he’s actually done or doing.

Okay - Annoyed by what’s actually happening. 😡
Nope! - Paranoid IE Afraid of things that aren’t 😱

Reality checks? Are quality of lifesavers. Because being stalked is brutal enough without adding whipped cream and cherries to that particular shit sandwich. 💩
 
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AngelkeeperJ

Sponsor
Welcome to the Forum🙂 You have found an amazing place full of amazing people! I know it's hard to hold on when your mind is on fire but it's by resolving to not quit, that you will make it through!

You are not alone☮️💟 and you have not quit, in spite of the trauma you have survived. Your situation will get better!
 

StartingFire

New Here
Hi @StartingFire, welcome to the site. Don't let paranoia get in the way of your life. I think it's pretty far fetched that your ex can track you or infiltrate your devices. Keep going with the therapy because it sounds like you need it. Good luck! S3 🙂
He actually has tracked me via my phone (I think?) and stalked me to locations where he had no reason to know I would be. I live in a big city, it's not a coincidence. That's not paranoia, that's happened repeatedly.
 

StartingFire

New Here
There’s an app for that. Technically, these days, hundreds of apps. The average person has at least a dozen on their phone.

Mostly people install them, themselves... under various social networking / stay connected with family & friends, so your über driver can find you, or the take-away/curbside pickup knows which car, so the carpool knows when you’re running late, geotagging all your pics in your various cloud drives, dating sites... most people’s phones are broadcasting their (or their phone’s) precise location -aaaaaaaand anything else they selected, or didn’t opt out of to all the people in “their network” 24/7/365. Easily enough an app someone downloaded for 8 minutes, 2 years ago, & off-loaded, but on auto-update; as one they still “use” but just runs in the background, or use all the time for different features and you didn’t even know it also does XYZ. Dozens and dozens of apps. Still merrily sending out the info you agreed to. Just think about how many times the “Use your locarion?” prompt comes up when you’re online (if you have location services turned off, and privacy settings to max). Order a pizza? Your phone and the drivers phone now share info. As do the 75 dating mining companies that were in the 20 pages of TOS no one ever reads. People are coooooonstantly clicking “agree” “yes” “allow” “connect”.

Unless you’re an average 12yo, work in Mobile/Telecom, or are a hacker? The “security” measures most people use on their phones, tablets, computers, etc. is the rough equivalent of locking your front door, after knocking down the entire back wall of your house.

But that’s just the stuff people agree to.

Spyware is hardly new... but the “concerned parent” & “Is he/she CHEATING?!?” (Roll eyes) markets are both ginormous, super cheap ($20 for a key logger to send in an email... they open the email, and voila! You now get the user name and passwords to everything they use on their phone/tablet... in addition to admin access/ parental controls/ VARs (voice activated recording, using the Mic on your phone/tablet/computer to record any time there’s sound... not just calls placed, but conversations, etc.)... but for $50? Skip the 2010 nonsense and just straight up clone all devices, and have total remote access/mirroring.

And this is all just tip of the iceberg, as far as dealing with a tech stalker who knows your phone number, your IP address, your favorite apps/sites/social media, & your dingbat relatives most likely to select “friends of friends” on their settings.

It is a MASSIVE pain in the arse to be dealing with. All your old devices have to go. None of your new ones can have things ported (or along comes the spyware, or shared accounts, or dingbat relatives and the NOT SECURE security settings), all new emails, passwords, accounts, VPNs, list goes on and on and on.

It’s expensive.
it’s miserable.
And it’s pretty much pointless.

(Except that doing things in person was “weird” even before Covid, if not downright impossible. I couldn’t even pay my utilities bill by mail or in person. It HAD to be done over the phone or online. And, you know, trying to live some kind of normal life after leaving an abuser? Is something most people value.)

And all they have to do, to “make” you do it all over again? Walk within 5 feet of you to snag your info by scanning for devices on the app, or call your mom/sister/neighbor/school/etc. and ask for your number. Phone in a bag of rice is all the “Oh! We’ve all done that!” to get the contact info zapped to you. <<< Even with 11 restraining orders? On file with my son’s school, sports teams, etc.? All it takes is ONE person wanting to be helpful, or one teacher clicking “reply to group Math 1st period parents” or ONE parent volunteer sending out Yay! Homecoming!!! to all sophomores and you’re f*cked. I had about a week before my exHusband would have all my contact info & just gave up trying to get schools and doctors etc. to follow the court orders. They got the number to the phone that lived in my PO Box, and the address at the state capital for domestic violence victims to give to anyone who would mail them anything. IE school, work, creditors, etc. all mail to Address A, who then forward it to my real address.

The upside to physical stalking is thay most stalkers either get bored or kill you in the first 1-2 years.

Exes using tech to stalk? Takes them about as much effort as using Facebook, or Instagram, or scanning today’s headlines in their news apps.

And the person who will break into your house and assault you? Will spend $50 on the stupid spyware without batting an eye.

It is a MASSIVE problem growing exponentially in modern domestic violence and stalking cases...

Even worse? whilst newer and newer tech means it’s mostly not even “illegal”... because the laws haven’t caught up to whatever shiny thing has just hit the infidelity-sites & paranoid-parent sites... but what is? Requires hundreds of cybercrime forensic police man hours per charge. That no department or agency is willing to spend on “a domestic squabble”. Because child porn, bank fraud, trafficking, & terrorism are what the people who would usually investigate multistate cross-jurisdictional clusterf*cks, whilst local cybercrime cops are eyeballs deep in online bullying, local drugs crimes & prostitution facilitated online, & identity theft... when they’re not helping out on a murder investigation. Because that’s the level of “stalking” their budget allows for. Once there are already bodies dropped. And even then? The DA usually has their own investigators do the deep dives needed, because the backlog is years long. Corporations? Have their own teams of investigators for all of their online crime needs, and unlike any other area of law enforcement, their investigations & evidence hold... again, because law enforcement doesn’t have the resources to even begin to cope.

Stalking by strangers? Is as rare online as IRL. It happens, but it’s stalking by former lovers/spouses that’s seriously problematic.

@StartingFire THERE ARE WAYS to make a clean start. And, yes, they’re about as obnoxious as ditching an IRL stalker, where you have to change your name and leave the state/country and change your name again. AS WELL AS WAYS to limit the amount of access they have to your life without having to use the nuclear option... and still get to keep your friends/family/work/etc. relatively intact.

If you haven’t, yet, there are domestic violence networks that can help you with that.

@Survivor3 ... Dont get me wrong, I am 100% with you that paranoia is a motherf*cker. And the only thing paranoia does when you’re being stalked? Is make everything worse. One of my best tricks @Starfire is to draw a really hard line between what I’m afraid of my ex doing (that he hasn’t) // and what he’s actually done or doing.

Okay - Annoyed by what’s actually happening. 😡
Nope! - Paranoid IE Afraid of things that aren’t 😱

Reality checks? Are quality of lifesavers. Because being stalked is brutal enough without adding whipped cream and cherries to that particular shit sandwich. 💩
Thank you so much! I am already off of social media. I ditched the old phone and laptop, got a new number, didn't port anything from the old phone or laptop... It's just exhausting trying to figure out what is going on.

Like with other forms of abuse, stalking is definitely about taking power away and creating a prison in the target's head where they just give up, stop trying to escape the abuse, and give power and control over to the abuser.

My stalker has been really blunt about telling me that he's always watching me and he will do whatever it takes to make sure that I can't get away from him. Because he "loves" me. Intellectually I know that he can't be watching me every minute of every day, but I don't know WHEN he's watching me or what he knows, so my hyper-vigilance from preexisting PTSD has kicked into high gear. And I'm having a hard time calming it because, while intellectually I know that he's not watching EVERYTHING, I also know that he's a really obsessive and controlling guy who is in a position to devote much of his time (and considerable tech knowledge and intelligence) to stalking me.

I don't know how to calm PTSD from an active trauma. Everything I know relates to dealing with past trauma, but how can I turn off the alarm bells when I know that I'm not currently safe? The alarm bells are there for a reason. My body knows that I'm not safe. Just wish that I'd seen the red flags and gotten out BEFORE it escalated to this state. But I can't change that now, I can only deal with it moving forward.

I am considering making a major move and doing a name change, but giving up the stability and support that I've established in my life apart from this situation seems risky too.

RE: Reality checks, that's an incredibly good point. I am at the point of seeing my feelings as facts (I feel like he might be doing that, so it's a possibility that he is.) I need to sit down and write out a list of what I actually know that he's done vs. what I think he could be doing.

Thank you for your response. It helps so much to know that I'm not alone. I'm extremely grateful.
 

StartingFire

New Here
Welcome to the Forum🙂 You have found an amazing place full of amazing people! I know it's hard to hold on when your mind is on fire but it's by resolving to not quit, that you will make it through!

You are not alone☮️💟 and you have not quit, in spite of the trauma you have survived. Your situation will get better!
Thank you! It's so helpful to find a space where I can talk about this stuff with people who understand. Helps me not feel like I'm drowning so much.
 
This sounds really scary. I totally understand why you feel without hope and anxious. Such a shitty feeling. I am so sorry my friend. HUGSSSSSSSSSSS please keep us updated on how you are doing. Please stay safe.
 
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