Amy’s story: Stalked. Now I’m holla’ing back.
Beginning in November of 2009, I have been stalked by a man named Gerard (aka Jerry), who is a resident of a group home near my art gallery in Lambertville, NJ. When I began my business, he would stand in front of a nearby building and stare at me. I thought there was a bus stop there, but there wasn’t. He would stare at me every day. To me, he looked like anyone. I assumed he was a tourist.
By November of 2010, he was trying to talk to me outside of my shop. I had an exhibit of photographs, and he told me he related to the photo of a homeless man sleeping on a bench in Baltimore. He told me he was from Baltimore (which was untrue, I know the accent). I knew he wasn’t playing with a full deck by the way he was talking. He would speak low, but I wasn’t about to get closer to him. I just walked away from him.
In the spring of 2011, I was hanging a show, and he was watching me through the windows. I wasn’t sure who he was; I thought he was a real tourist. He told me he was from Connecticut. We had a few conversations, but then I started to get rid of him. After that, I started to put it all together.
He seemed to know my routine. I would open at 11, and then have a smoke at 11:30. I would see him make a beeline across the street, right to my shop, every day just about, with a half-smoked cigar in his mouth. It was getting on my nerves. I knew he wasn’t going to buy anything ever, and he was creepy and not good for business.
By the time of a popular street festival, I began commiserating about this guy with my fellow merchant/friend located on the next block. She also had been watched (and creeped out) by the same guy and at that point both of us had thrown him out of our respective businesses, for good.
I would occasionally see him around town. He tried to speak to me at a local eatery one time. I did not respond. When I told one of the employees that he made me nervous, she told me he was better than he had been. Apparently, he used to sit and stare at women in there, and laugh. They considered him a customer, and didn’t feel right kicking him out. Stopping in to see another gallerist in town, she had not been bothered by hi m, but told me he was always sitting on any of the benches on the street, staring at women.
At one point, on a busy Saturday afternoon, I was waiting to cross the street downtown, and he was making sure he was directly opposite me, moving to whatever corner I would be crossing, so I would HAVE to walk towards him. After several minutes of that, I went another way quickly, and lost him in the crowd. I took a circuitous route back to my shop, quite scared.
Lately, he’s been increasing his stalking of me. He has walked in front of my car, and even came very close to me as I was exiting the car. When he followed me into a local pizzeria and loomed over me at the register, that’s when I decided to talk to the police.
The police were very helpful, and took the matter seriously. The detective found him, and told him to leave me alone. If the creep sees me, he has been instructed to go the other way. Now if he follows me again, I’m supposed to call them and he will be arrested for harassment.
Let all of your friends know about what is happening to you. You’d be surprised at the support, and some of them might have been bothered by the very same person. And don’t be afraid to go to the police. They can help you, and it is good to get the creep onto their radar. Sometimes the police don’t know about a bad person.