Stalkers can be terrifying – as we know from the media: even when they are not, they can still be a real nuisance. I know, because I have been dealing with one for a long time. I will call my stalker Frau M. for short. She is utterly irrepressible and has been following me around for twenty years. Nothing will stop her, it seems, from harassing me with her unwelcome approaches.
Frau M. first showed up after I had taught a seminar on Wittgenstein at the University of Hamburg, She approached me at the time as someone seriously engaged with this philosopher. But her work proved quickly uninspiring and I tried to tell her so. But then the tone began to change. She had somehow come to convince herself that I was attracted to her as a person. That was, in fact, far from the case as I sought to communicate to her repeatedly. But my protestations had no effect.
Since she lives abroad, Frau M.’s harassment takes the form mostly of an endless stream of emails – sometimes two or three a day. She writes to me about sex, about wanting a child from me, about wanting to marry me, about prospective visits; she writes also about the details of her own life, attaching photos to her messages. But there have also been occasions when she showed up in Berkeley. Suddenly she would sit in my lecture room and take photographs of me as I am lecturing; or she would scratch unexpectedly at my office door, trying to hand me a present. After she found out where I live, my neighbors heard her caterwauling outside my door. In desperation I went to the local police to lodge a complaint against her – but it is difficult to pursue this matter since she is not a US resident. She was warned, though, to stay away from me – not that this has had any effect.
In a recent emails she writes: “I will happily marry you, e.g. in Las Vegas or San Francisco; then I will stay forever.” What gives her the idea that I would be remotely interested, since I never respond to her emails? In a subsequent email she announces another visit to Berkeley: “As I have said, it would me important for me that we spend a beautiful time together. I am coming because of you. As I have previously come because of you. We could rent a holiday house through Airbnb, then we would be undisturbed. Or we cold take a vacation in your house in Berkeley.” I am totally nauseated by the possibility. Fortunately, I will be away from Berkeley this summer and so I may escape her unwanted advances this time around.
But what can I do to stop this madness once and for all? Perhaps, someone out there has a useful suggestion. That’s why I am making this public. I bear no ill will to Frau M. I feel, in fact, sorry to see her caught in her delusions. All I need is to be relieved of her impositions.