Insights

Some of my insights come from having been the target of so-called “sadistic stalking” including extensive hacking for over 12 years.

Many elements in my case seem to come straight out of the case described in the video below, but are updated, more sophisticated versions. I only discovered this on 2 October 2020. That was a local case (Gosport, Fareham). The stalker in question later went to prison for life with a minimum of seven years after he tried to kill his next target, sadly.

Stalkers are looking for a sense of connection and when what they are doing is called stalking, their world often seems to fall apart and they explode in powerless anger. The more you fight them, the angrier they can get. They often need and crave a safe middle of the road environment but have no idea how to create it for themselves and can become incredibly clingy as a result. But stalkers – Caspars and poltergeists – come in all kinds of flavours. The kind that I mostly deal with is essentially stranger stalking and variations thereof, not ex-partner stalking.

Boundaries… Many of us do not have good boundaries whereas others’ are too rigid. None of us live in a vacuum after all. There are also many people who do not understand or who deliberately disrespect other people’s boundaries.

What’s also been really helpful is that I recently found out that I have a good friend who has a narcissistic personality disorder. She was my friend for decades, but the friendship suffered after I discovered she has (covert) NPD because I didn’t deal with it well. (There is so much negative information about this condition on the internet.) I have learned a lot from my friend and not just about NPD.

People with NPD can engage in what can be experienced as bullying behaviours by others. I was teamed up with my then future friend at her place of work because she was chasing all the other volunteers away or so I was told. I was expected to be able to handle her, by contrast. I was. I learned a lot from the experience and also from our friendship. There should be much better information available about NPD. It is not a character flaw. You cannot blame someone for having it. It is a brain-based condition and nobody chooses to have it but it does not always have to be very negative and dramatic.

My friend has a lot of insight in her NPD. In fact, she had been telling me about it over the years, me having no idea what she was going on about. It later all clicked into place. The better I got to know her, the more I started liking her.

I am a scientist so I am largely driven by curiosity and the joy of learning as well as by the challenge of finding practical solutions and improvements for a wide range of hurdles, issues and phenomena.

This often makes me sound highly critical, but it’s actually the fun factor of making things better for everyone that sparks my often pretty blunt criticisms.

I am direct. Life is too short to waste on time-consuming games that serve little purpose. If people who play no role within a specific context don’t get me and get their panties in a twist over anything I say because they made the wrong assumptions, that is their loss. 

That may sound harsh, sure.

I waste no time explaining things when I feel that it won’t serve any purpose and that I will just end up wasting not only my time but also the time of the people I’d be explaining my views to. If that makes some people conclude that I’m a nincompoop, then that too is essentially their loss. Not mine.

Please note that I often adopt a softer persona when dealing with people who have NPD. In that situation, any kind of criticism tends to be reflected right back at you. It can cause conversations to spiral out of control unless you understand what you are dealing with. The manifestations of NPD can be like sneezes from people who have a cold or flu. You normally do not want them to sneeze in your face.

I love learning. I consider it one of life’s greatest joys. I know that not everyone feels that way and that’s cool.

Where that wisdom comes from? I said I was going to explain that, didn’t I? So keep reading.

My parents had little more than a primary school education. My mother had learned how to cook and clean. She was a homemaker and a fan of Jackie Kennedy’s style. She also had Jackie Kennedy’s broad smile, dark hair and dark eyebrows. My dad had learned how to handle raw dairy and taught my sisters and me how to wash and dry our hands properly, which I have only realized very recently, now that we’re in this pandemic. He ran a dairy and groceries business and occasionally picked me up from kindergarten to go along to his customers.

So, yes, I learned how to restock at a young age. Around Christmas, my dad often did not even arrive home until after midnight and needed lots of helping hands. Easter was busy too, but not as crazy as Christmas. This was in the pre supermarket era. My dad learned the trade in his eldest brother’s business, in the days when milk was still delivered to customers in a horse-drawn cart.

My dad drove a Ford van with a pretty massive custom-made trailer behind it, however. He was an expert at manoeuvring this combination, even up and down snow-covered slopes in the hilly landscape that I grew up in. We had a huge custom-built garage, with a grease pit, an asbestos-clad cooling facility, the whole works. We also had a pretty humongous garden in which we grew lots of different fruits and vegetables. And flowers and shrubs, of course. I had my own garden patch in it.

Though my dad was not a bad guy at all and was very good at solving practical problems, I think that he had a pretty severe borderline personality disorder. That diagnosis did not exist yet in those days. I decided a long time ago that something was “wrong” with him because he sometimes said things that made no sense, that were lacking in plain logic, and I could see that. My dad essentially taught me to be myself no matter what and shrug often about things that don’t really matter within the grand scheme of things. (Life.)

My dad also probably taught me great negotiating skills. When, for example, you’re a young teenager sitting in a car next to a man whose brain has developed a short-circuit again – because that is how his crises came across to me, as if his brain suddenly short-circuited – and floors the gas on a German Autobahn claiming to want to kill us all, while your sisters are sitting helplessly in the back of the car, trust me, you learn to negotiate. You learn to figure out what to say to get the guy off that roof top and make him let go of the gas. You just do it. At that age, you have no idea whether your dad really intends to do what he says he is going to do.

I later found myself negotiating instantly in some situations, for instance when I was robbed in Florida while walking home with my groceries from the local Winn-Dixie. I wanted my ID back, at the very least. But I also took the rest of the day to process what had happened as I’ve learned that processing something asap is important.

(That said, English people tend to negotiate very differently from many people in the rest of the world.)

(This may even be the main reason behind the Brexit negotiations debacle. The English style confuses and antagonizes, often causing a gridlock. Chris Voss of Black Swan has identified that style and can help you deal with it. So can I. It is not entirely exclusively English.)

As you may imagine, you kinda get tired of the kind of shit storms that my dad often produced. Dealing with them is emotionally draining and it forces you to focus all your attention on what may be going on in your dad’s mind, all the time. When he comes home from work, the first thing you do is try to gauge what mood he is in and you take it from there.

(To avoid and minimize conflict with my dad and also to limit being manipulated emotionally by him, I often tended to downplay who I was and keep most of my thoughts and wishes to myself. This may be why I may be good at avoiding friction around people with NPD.)

I remember a day when I was doing laundry, in buckets, and he came home and he angrily picked up the buckets with laundry and dropped them into each other, making me feel that I had to start all over again. I could have cried. Earlier, my mother had told me that he used to kick away toys and teddy bears too when we were still toddlers and that she talked about it with the GP and that the GP said “there will be a time when he wishes there were still toys and teddy bears around” (because kids grow up quickly).

You get so tired of all those stupid crises. You just want peace and quiet in your life. Harmony. That is not the same as boredom! (Boredom can be highly stressful.) It’s just much more fun to do something constructive. I love crises but I like them to be constructive, with solving them benefiting people and I like having the practical power to do something. (I don’t like the “we haven’t been told what to do yet” attitude that I see around me a lot right now that serves only to shift responsibility and blame in case something goes wrong.) Dealing with crises created by people with borderline is merely a highly draining experience. Conditions like dissociative identity disorder and narcissistic personality disorder have humour in them and other nice aspects. There is no fun aspect to borderline.

I cut off all contact with my dad in my early twenties because while he often had a major negative impact on me, I had to acknowledge that nothing I did actually made a difference to him, to his life, even though he often claimed very differently. I could not “heal” him. I felt that I had to choose in favour of my own survival, as harsh as that may sound.

In my opinion, people with a borderline personality disorder are often very hard to deal with. I don’t know if I have ever run into someone else with that condition, but my guess is that I probably avoid people with BPD automatically. (Sorry. I am only human. I too have limits.)

My dad passed away at the end of 2016.

My mother developed breast cancer not long after I was born, but she was misdiagnosed twice and passed away when she was 42, and my sisters and I were 8, 11 and 14. I was the eldest. When my mother’s illness became too severe and the supermarkets had eroded my dad’s profits, he closed up his business and started working as a gardener for the city. Park keeping. It meant he had regular hours now. Everyone expected him to fall apart in that role, as he had been his own boss for so long, but he didn’t. He loved gardening. Both my sisters run their own businesses, too, by the way. We clearly did not get this entrepreneurial spirit from a stranger.

All of this was just “life”. No evil intentions involved.

Me, I have pigment dispersion syndrome in both eyes, minor respiratory issues and an increasing number (and/or severity) of minor allergies. The latter means that I am gaining knowledge that helps me make life better for me. I think I struggled with allergies from a young age. But I was chastised for being a picky eater and for often taking so long to eat my sandwiches. Ignoring my allergies meant that I had sinus issues and later even sometimes trouble swallowing, with an increased chance of food going into my trachea, and so on and so forth.

Psychologically, I am pretty plain vanilla, though I’ve also been called “a real survivor” with a touch of admiration. (Because I have a tendency to explain negatives positively.) That was nice to hear, certainly coming from a psychologist. In addition, I was blessed with a decent IQ (133), which means that I am pretty versatile and good at analyzing.

I initially worked in tourism and hospitality in Amsterdam, then quit my job and enrolled full-time at university when I was in my mid twenties. I graduated with distinction, with a Master’s in Geology and an additional diploma for Chemical Oceanography research concerning the ocean around Antarctica (REEs).

I became self-employed in October 1997 when I was still living in vibrant Amsterdam, to which I had returned after a few years in the US. (And yes, I love the US! I lived in Florida. It hardly gets any better than that, for me. This was totally unexpected.) At the end of 2004, I moved to Hampshire in the UK.

I became plagued by increasingly disruptive hacking since the summer of 2008 within the context of so-called sadistic stalking. The hacking included that I usually was and maybe often still am on someone else’s network and access the internet (when he allows me to, depending on which website it is, partly) via his computer. It included complete control of my equipment. It has also included tampering with databases elsewhere.

In 2010, when my stalker/hacker blocked my access to my own business e-mail as punishment for having written online about what was going on, I managed to grab a traceroute, right before my stalker caught on and then blocked that too. I was so pleased that I beat him, that I had piped it to LPT1, hence didn’t merely have some numbers on the screen that I couldn’t save, but had a printout. (I also piped it to a file, I think.)

This is the kind of hard evidence that you very rarely get in such a case. It showed what was being done and who was doing it. I never took it to the police because I knew that no police officer would know what it was, let alone what to do with it. I might even have gotten ridiculed. They’d likely have taken the mickey.

Police officers are so utterly astonishingly clueless that it is quite shocking to discover. Part of the reason is complacency. Most officers mistakenly seem to think that they are super smart and super well informed, way ahead of the crowd. In reality, most officers’ knowledge in fields like IT and stalking is basic and decades behind. 

At one point in 2010, my stalker personally gave police officers evidence that he was hacking into my computers (and he repeated a version of that stunt a few months later). Same story. Like many lay people, police officers are pretty clueless about stalking or digital technologies. They didn’t catch it. I did. So bloody frustrating. And there is nothing you can do about it.

Not that much later, I lost my home – “proof” that I didn’t have a stalker but was merely crazy, of course – and all my belongings were turned into garbage. So then I lost that tracert too along with the info from AutoTrader. (Keep reading.)

The stalking began within 24 hours of having met someone for repairs. I filed the first police report (44080 461347)  in October 2008, in Southampton, was told to investigate the matter myself, which I did. AutoTrader was very helpful, but AsdaCard was not. I still had no idea what or who I was dealing with then, but I suddenly remembered one message left on my voicemail that somehow seemed to hold a clue. It mentioned a distance, which was odd, but I had already erased the message when I decided to circle the distance on a map, measured from my home. Then I knew. (But it was only half of the story. It took a few more years for me to discover the other half.)

The employee in the shop to whom I explained why I needed a new phone gave me a tip for how to get back at the person next time I sat next to him in the pub. Huh?! I thought it was a bizarre but isolated incident. I was about to move away anyway.

I guess you could say that my life more or less on hold since then, though everything is relative, not absolute. It’s not all been only negative.

Because after my relocation, my stalking really took off. But what I didn’t know yet was that the stalking was mostly done by someone else who pretended to be someone else. That took me until the beginning of 2011 to find out, after that person made contact with me. The two work in tandem and with an army of flying monkeys.

(Flying monkeys are people asked, paid or tricked into doing things to others. Stalking targets. In places with a culture of intolerance or where too many people have too little to do, flying monkeys are a dime a dozen and stalking can be easily masked by community bullying, which also forces people to cover each other’s asses and thereby protect stalkers.)

A heck of a lot of smoke and mirrors work is involved and as far as I can tell after having dealt with them for more than a decade, the two gentlemen in question both fall in the tail end of the long tail of neurodiversity. They’re likely psychopaths, but that is mostly a term we all know from Hollywood movies and books and that does not do psychopaths justice. They can’t help being psychopaths and our medical knowledge of brain-based conditions is still fairly rudimental. Rejection, punishment and abandonment will only result in these behaviours escalating further and further over time. Prison time usually does not resolve stalking.

A lot of what has happened was humourous, some of it kind, but some of it was highly sadistic and in my 10+ years in Portsmouth, I have not encountered even one person yet who is willing to admit having heard of either of the gentlemen, let alone to admit knowing them. This even goes for people who most definitely know them. That is peculiar and in itself is likely highly significant.

It’s a complicated story and a complicated phenomenon, which became even more complicated by people suggesting that I was merely dealing with cultural differences and that it was a form of hazing peculiar to Portsmouth that would eventually fade away.

(English humour is pretty bizarre and often sadistic. How can you tell the difference between sadistic stalking and English humour?)

That alone explains a big chunk of why it happened. I was a migrant who didn’t know anyone in England, was very easy to target and also very easy to taint.

The second part may have been that I reminded someone of his mother. Hard to tell, as so much of what you are being “informed of” is no more than intended to be manipulative. How can you tell what’s what?

While it’s often highly frustrating to be at the receiving end of something like that, it also raised my scientific curiosity. I am scientist,  someone who investigates things and wants explanations and solutions. What is going on on the side of a stalker is intriguing and so I started looking for answers. 

Lots of people entertain romantic notions about stalkers, unfortunately, but stalking can work out as very slowly killing someone, even if the stalker never directly attacks the target. It starts with how badly your health suffers under the physiological stress. You have no idea what or even who you are dealing with, how to deal with it, what to expect and when. Your sense of safety becomes eroded.

How I dealt with it after things really started getting out of hand? I cried a lot. I screamed my head off at times. I acted out at times. I slowly got used to the whole thing. I learned to keep more and more of it to myself, but recently – September and October 2020 – made a lot more noise about it because I had to. It becomes a fight for survival, quite literally. (You have to do quite crazy things to force people to take notice here in England. It’s ridiculous. It’s likely related to that class thing that they have here.)

The powerlessness you feel when you are being stalked is often immense. It can feel like you are very slowly being suffocated. I started drinking more and more alcohol and I also often relied on herbal meds to relax and sleep better. It’s been going on for so long, though, that I became increasingly better at keeping my stress under control.

But I largely live(d) in a box, a cage, to which someone else controls the keys.

I often got through the day by promising myself that when/if I really couldn’t take it any longer, I would get to leave it all behind me. I planned my suicide many times, yes, just for the feeling of having an option. At one point, the stalker, before I knew that he was picking the locks all the time and going into my flat, realized that and played with that too. (I had a huge stash of paracetamol for a while. It was my insurance policy.)

Particularly when you are self-employed, having a resident hacker or so-called sadistic stalker is often a big pain in the behind, as you can imagine. You don’t want to know how many phones and phone batteries got fried as a result of the hacking, for example.

My situation changed dramatically on 29 September 2020 when “he” (one of my poltergeists) interfered with a EUR 800,000 grant proposal. It meant that the risk for my academic clients in the Netherlands and elsewhere was now becoming unacceptably high. Also for myself. Think law suits.

Think also “if animals get killed and hurt just to spite me, the threshold towards hurting clients – via IT – just to spite me must be low too”. Because, yes, that too has happened (once in my home even while I was out).

It meant needed to break free from the stalking because my life had now become entirely unliveable.

A month before, I had already lost access to my business website and e-mail and either someone set up a LinkedIn profile using my business e-mail or I am getting spoofed mails from LinkedIn that merely suggest that.