Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Stalker Sagas Continue

Argh.

So there's been a lot of frustration over the past few days.

It seems that as soon as I made the revelation, as detailed in my last post, that I had figured out that I might have a stalker, the stalker decided to affirm that fact-- by calling me eight times in twenty-four hours. Including four calls between midnight and 1am.

Even more frustrating that the simple existance of this cowardly person (I have a theory about who it may be, actually, but without any evidence I'm hesitant to make much of it), is the inability to do anything about it.

You see, although repeated contacts, including calling someone and hanging up multiple times, could technically be construed as criminal harassment, my cell phone provider is of the opinion that unless someone directly threatens to kill me, their privacy is more important than my safety.

In a nutshell, I was told my my cell provider that they would not disclose the identity of this mystery caller unless I had a formal police report. So I filed a police report (first time I've ever had to do something like that in my life-- a little surreal, in all honesty).
At which point, the cell provider told the police that they would not give out the number of this caller unless they had a subpoena or a warrant (not clear-- told different things by different people).

Now, for those of you not familiar with legal-ese, a subpoena is no small feat. It involves going before a judge, and is the type of thing that is done when, for instance, someone needs to be forced to testify at a murder trial.
And this is required to find out the identity of the harasser-- when other cell phone providers have an easy call trace feature-- 100% subpoena free!

So the police say their hands are tied unless I am actually threatened (they say a judge will never grant this for something so minor)-- despite the fact that what this person is doing is against the law.

And the cell phone company is so kind as to waive the charge for getting a new number if I fax them the police report. Gee, thanks!

What really gets me is just how symbolic this is of our justice system as a whole.
Everyone I contact just tells me that the solution is to get a new number.
And, quite frankly, fuck that. I'll be damned if I'm the one who has to be inconvenienced by all this. It's a messed up system when the onus is put on the victim to change their behaviour, rather than actually attempting to catch the perpetrator.
Changing my number does nothing. It causes a tremendous inconvenience to me, it lets the cell phone company pretend they give a shit, and given the fact that this person has my unlisted cell phone, means that they likely know me and can get my new number.

This is the very same system that spends more time and money warning women not to walk home late at night, rather than actually finding the people preying on them. It penalizes victims of credit card fraud if someone they knew stole their credit card.
I'm not disagreeing that you shouldn't try your best to keep safe- but why is the burden always on how we should change our behaviours? Why not on how we can make the world safer so we don't need to worry about everything?

Anyways, on my front, I'm going to try to get out of my cell phone contract and switch to a provider (while keeping the same phone number-- it's mine, dammit!) who prioritizes customer safety over privacy and has a call trace feature. I have a few ideas of how to get them to comply-- anyone else have any advice?

Sorry for the bitterness! It gets aggravating realizing the reality of situations like this, and just spending a day jumping through hoops, only to find nothing can be done. On the bright side, I have decided that, while of course I'm going to be extra-focused on my safety these days, I'm not letting this get to me. I had lots of fun this weekend despite all this, and I'm getting excited for my trip!

And here's a picture of a dog with a cone on its head, just because it's funny, and I wanted to end this post with a smile. Poor little puggly!

38 comments:

iFreud said...

You have every right to be pissed off and feel completely victimized by this whole thing. I wish I had some good advice for you. As for pissing off the caller, it is true, that if you change your number, s/he will be very disappointed, but on the other hand, I see your point about you not having to be the one to make any behavioral changes. Cell phone companies are retarded,and a monopoly. I would complain to the top. Keep going above some heads until you get one that will do something. By the way, do you have to pay for all those calls made to your phone? Isn't there a way they can isolate the number by the times that you provide and block them from calling you without over-riding their stupid privacy policy?

eric313 said...

It sucks, but that's what you should do. Change the cellphone provider for sure. It sucks when people are sick enough to think they can force someone to love them. You are doing everything right and I'm glad you publish these thoughts. Don't compromise yourself, but do defend yourself by whatever means necessary, to quote Malcolm X.

Your friend has some great sounding advice that you should check into. Here's to hoping the best for you. Take care

Yoda said...

This sucks. Any cell phone company should be able to give you any phone number which was used to call YOU. That's a real bummer. At the very least, you should change your cell phone provider to let them know that you're really pissed off.

Does the stalker wait until the call goes to voicemail? Or does s/he hang up before that? If they do wait until it goes to voicemail, then you could play a prank on them. Change your voicemail msg to say that someone's been calling you up at weird hours and you cannot take the call 'coz the police are tracking all incoming calls ... please leave a message after the beep! LOL! That would make the person shit his/her pants.

Dorky Dad said...

I thought that all cell phone providers should have a call trace feature. Does this person's phone number not show up on your cell phone? That just sounds ridiculous. I'd be pretty pissed off if I were you, too. They won't do anything unless he's "threatening you?" Ugh. Sorry to hear about that.

You know ... I do have a hit-man service.

psychgrad said...

Although it does sound like complete corporate BS...I'm not surprise that the phone company would pull this shit. It doesn't solve the larger issue directly, but is there anyway that the telephone company can block this number without providing you information about who the caller is? Oh wait...that's Ifreud's suggestion. Ok...I agree with her.

I also like Yoda's suggestion to leave a voice message regarding tracking incoming calls.

Eve said...

There's nothing cuter than a beconed animal!

Call your provider and speak with the supervisor. Tell them the dates and times you called, the fact that they told you to have a police report, etc., what they said, blah blah, make sure to keep records and take down names! People sure don't like to be held accountable, and they'll hopefully let you out of your contract if you get on their case enough. (That's probably the only thing you can do, since the person hasn't actually threatened you or caused you any real harm other than annoying you by waking you up, which is a huge pain in the ass, and creepy, but anyway.) Then, if you want to track them down, you could probably figure out a way to do it, but that seems like lots of trouble.

Princess Pointful said...

Everyone- My theory about who it is has actually been given more support. I am contemplating about whether to write about the possible perpetrator. It is actually possible that it may be further confirmed soon, although that has yet to be seen. The good thing is that I don't find this particular person very threatening.

iFreud- My plan actually has unlimited incoming calls, so I can't use that as an excuse, unfortunately. If I can't switch cell providers, I should try to block the person!

Eric- Thanks for your kind words. Unfortunately, I think the person calling may be someone who dislikes me, rather than who is trying to convince me to love them.

Yoda- I know! It seems like it would be within my realm of rights! (thanks for coming by, by the way- I like your blog!)
I have actually thought of a few ways to piss them off. I was out with a group of friends on Friday, and I was hoping the individual would call, because I wanted to get everyone to yell "Fuck you stalker!". It would help contradict the idea that I am sitting at home afraid of them!

Dorky Dad- I thought they would, too, but apparently I picked the one cell phone company that doesn't. The phone number is listed as a private number when they call. How are your rates??

Psychgrad- Hopefully I'll find out what can be done if I can't switch cell providers! It certainly fits with the whole view of cell companies as evil!

Eve- Agreed! And I love the term beconed!
I think that is what I'm gonna try. Hopefully, by threatening to go more public with the fact that I was harassed and they wouldn't even give me the identity of my harasser, I am able to just get out of my contract and get to a company that has call trace. Thankfully, The Duke is willing to play persistent phone caller with me, so between the two of us, hopefully we can get something done.

Heart Of Darkness said...

No caller ID detection? Call it in with the police - they miht not be able to actually do anything until he threatens you (and then you get a restraining order), but it's better to have papers on it from the very beginning!


Oh, and the dog...? Yappy, huh? So why did you give him a MEGAPHONE????


;)

Ant said...

That is quite sickening. I'd nearly go so far as to say, that by demanding a subpoena or a warrant and constructively forcing you into this corner, there's a human right to safety being violated by the cell provider. At the very least, as a communications provider, whether they like it or not, they have a responsibility to protect their customers to a degree, and they are woefully (and wilfully) ignoring that.

In addition to the suggestions above, you might want to think about negative media coverage of the story (if you could be bothered)? It wouldn't be huge but it could be an example for the kind of general story that national news likes to run now and then.

Still, safety first - I'm glad to hear you're not feeling too threatened by the perpetrator. I agree wholeheartedly with the other suggestions of telling the caller that the police are tracking them though. Put the shits up them good and proper...

SMARTBuddy said...

I hope stalkerman is exposed and stopped soon. Its interesting that you have an idea of who it might be; gut instincts are right more often that not.

Crashdummie said...

You poor thing! Do you have any ideas who this stalker is? Hmm maybe you should get the adorable puppy and have it as a guard dog?

Airam said...

Wow that's crappy ... I hope that this gets figured out soon.

cdp said...

God love ya. What a nightmare.

As someone all too familiar with legalese and what a royal pain in the ass all of this can be (to say nothing of the staunch injustices underlying the hassle); I say this:

Go ahead and switch providers, but send your current provider a letter detailing your complaints and concerns about their lack of give-a-shit; and then stick this in:"By copy of this letter, I am filing a formal complaint with the FCC, the [local or state] Chamber of Commerce, and the BBB." That should get their attention, if only for a second. What a bunch of buttheads.

I'm so sorry you're dealing with this and I hope it comes to some kind of resolution for you soon.

Psych-o by now said...

I really hope that your stalker loses interest quickly if there is no other avenue of defense against him/her. Good luck with this! I have never had an unknown stalker before, just a few of the scary known variety.

Anonymous said...

You know, I had this problem back aways, and I blew a whistle into the phone each time - I figured it would be more aversive than my voice...

Another reason to hate cellphone providers. Shame, shame on them.

LMizzle said...

You are completely right. You shouldn't have to get a new number, but I might consider it. I mean, yes, we shouldn't have to be the ones to make change in a situation like this, but I would seriously give it some consideration.

It's such bullshit that they won't let you change your number without a police report or a charge to you.

I would actually maybe try to see if the YWCA in Vancouver has a 24 hour emergency line. the one in Calgary does, and I know they would have advice for you. I will look into it for you and see if there's somewhere you can call

LMizzle said...

Okay, so I looked and I think it might be a good idea to call this number:

YWCA Women's Information Centre (provides information, referrals, and resources) 604 895-5790

They might have someone you can call, or they might know a way to help you.

They give free advice, and are always really nice women.

I hope this helps! If not, I can email the head of housing for the YWCA here and see what she can suggest

eric313 said...

Glad to not have that be the case! It's usually how it goes. But this has equall gravity.

I hope you get who it is no matter the motivation. You are doing the right thing by not letting it rule your life. Look at the support you have here! I still hope the best since, love or hate, stalking sucks. The lack of compassion from corporate places shouldn't be a shock, but it still is. Talk to you soon and good luck.

Okami said...

I'm asking a few questions where I work - I just hope I can find out something that might help you with this.

Okami said...

Is this occuring only on your cell, or is there a land line connection as well?

Princess Pointful said...

HoD- A police report has already been filed. Hopefully that will give me some leverage if this keeps on happening-- but right now it isn't helping a heck of a lot given that their perpetrator's identity is staying a mystery!

Ant- I agree completely. This is a messed up society where the privacy of a person breaking the law is valued over another person's sense of safety.
I have actually thought of trying to incite a little negative media coverage. It seems like something they might hook onto, especially when they #1- told me that I could get this information with a police report, then wouldn't do so when I filed the report, and #2 are apparently they only cell phone company not providing a basic call trace feature.

Smartbuddy- Everyone I tell my theory to seems to think it is a serious possibility-- even more so than I do!

Crashy- I wish I was allowed to get a dog! Maybe I could train the evil spider to attack them? As Eric says, he does seem to like me!

Airam- Thanks! Me too!

cdp- Thanks :). I was thinking of something similar, too, with the BBB-- I wish I could find out if there was some sort of standard for call tracing in these situations, because I am so shocked by the fact that this company is so different than every other one on that one factor.

Psych-o- Thanks! I think known stalkers may be just as frightening, depending on who you know them to be.

Anon- You know, someone else told me a similar anecdote, too. As I think I said above, I've contemplated the idea of getting a variety of people to answer their calls if they call again-- better than seeming alone and scared! Unfortunately, Thursday night was the last occurrence, which is not a night I tend to be especially social!

Lmizzle- Thanks! I will try to give a call soon and see if they can tell me anything new. Unfortunately, I called VictimLink a few days ago, and they weren't able to give me anything new. In fact, the lady on the phone started telling me about how I should try to screen negative influences from my life!

Eric- Thanks for your support. It is great to have so many different perspectives on such an issue. I find myself unsure of who to tell in my "real" life-- I don't want to be seen as attention seeking in this issue, but I do want people's theories on it.

It's so funny-- I was speaking to one friend about it, and this is really not a typical thing to happen to me. I have some friends who seem to somehow attract a lot of drama, but it usually isn't the case for me, which is why this is so weird!

Okami- Thanks for the effort. It is greatly appreciated.
I actually only have a cell phone at this time. I do remember a similar call from a private number once before I moved at 3am on my old landline-- but I didn't think to trace it then (as you can do with a landline).

Everyone- As I said, more support has came for the role of a particular individual-- but it remains more circumstantial and characterological, rather than being supported by direct evidence. I'm contemplating whether to make an accusation if they call again (as I said, this individual isn't someone I'm frightened of), or if I should wait for more support in case I'm wrong.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Ah.

I suspect the phone company are counting their pennies on this stalker. It's probably made them a princely wedge of cash.

Boo to them and their capitalist disinterest in your well being.

Sorry to hear about this. I can't imagine how stressfull it must be.

Okami said...

Well, I have found out some info - albeit it may be rather lengthy in explanation if you want me to post it.

Princess Pointful said...

Okami- I sent you a comment with my email on it. Thanks so much!

Psycgirl said...

Can you have your provider block "Prvate" callers? I know of cell phone companies here where you can say you won't take calls from unidentified callers, and then when they call, they get a voice requesting they give their name in order for you to decide if you're going to take the call.

Oh, and if they read the blog and you blog about it, be sure to tell them they're a loser.

Jocelyn said...

This is terrible. The only good thing I can see here is that you're more frustrated and annoyed than terrified. But still.

Suck.

Drama Div@ said...

on and off i still received anonymous calls and sometimes sms from nknown numbers that can be classified as sexual harassment..... but i just ignore them.. it can be creepy sometimes, but if you totally ignore them.. eventually they'll stop.. -->tired of getting no response...

Beth said...

As frustrating and as inconvenient as it may be, do whatever you have to do in order to feel safe and stop those calls.
Taking "on the system" is just going to add to your stress levels.
I'm wondering how committed to privacy issues your present cell phone company will be once you tell them you're switching providers. And if you inform them they will be liable if anything happens to you (God forbid) when they could have done something to prevent it. (I don't know if that's true but it might scare them...)

Okami said...

I searched everywhere on my blog and I didn't see your message!

Sorry...

Indiana James said...

That is completely crazy what the cell phone companies will do sometimes... Trust me, being on the other side it's frustrating for us when we have to deal with them. I don't think you live in Toronto, but if you want some "first hand professional" advice, feel free to drop me a line with any and all questions and I'll get back to you with any answers I can.

Princess Pointful said...

Okami- I actually posted then deleted it. I thought the message would get delivered to your email without me needing to leave my email address available for everyone to see. Maybe check your inbox?

Okami said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eric313 said...

Hope all is well and you post soon, but no rush, of course.

cinemec said...

I had something like this going on for a bit, kept phoning then laughing down the line and stuff. Didn't worry me much, was just annoying as I am a large brave Scotsman. Well.. brave-ish. One thing I did was just answer the phone then lay it down on hold until they hung up. (hey if they want to waste their money on hold that's their look out.) I assume in your case the number is being withheld, when I was getting the prank calls they weren't withholding their number so after a while I copied a short silent mp3 to my phone and set it as their very own ringtone. Bob's your Uncle, silent night.

chris said...

That is a terrible story...I can't believe how many obstacles you're facing in trying to resolve this. In the end though, do what you need to do to keep yourself safe, inconvenient or not.

Jeff said...

I'm really sorry to hear about your stalker problems. It always baffled me that some guys (and its almost always guys) think a woman would find someone calling them at all hours attractive.

As an employee of a landline phone company(don't hate me) I can tell you our reps don't even have access to those call records. It's a privacy thing.

Your best bet is to escalate to a supervisor but even then it's unlikely you are going to find out who this is.

Most stalkers are smart enough to use a phone that even if traced, won't give away their identity.

Bottom line though is you are getting horrible customer service from your provider and I hope it's not the cellular side of my company. At the very least you should be offered a free number change.

I hope it all gets sorted out soon!

distractedspunk said...

So um. This was actually incredibly helpful, especially as I've been having issues with a stalker of my own. Her method is via facebook, but it got to the point where it was creepy enough. I'll tell you in more detail later. But anyhow.

Thanks.

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

I'm not sure if you have sprint, or if there was an update, but you can get out of your contract for nothing through Sprint, because of a billing change loophole:

http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthread.php?sduid=0&t=685423