(Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series to give just a glimpse into the world of support which West Niagara Second Stage Housing supplies to West Niagara)
It was the eve of Kara and Dan’s one-year anniversary as boyfriend and girlfriend and everything seemed perfect, until their dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town.
Dan claimed that the waiter was hitting on Kara and blamed it on the “provocative” dress she was wearing. Kara was confused since Dan had told her earlier that the dress was perfect. Dan had always been a jealous guy but he never blamed it on her before. This was new.
That incident was not the last, though.
After their anniversary, Dan started picking out what Kara would wear to go out with her friends, to work, and even to the gym. He would always ask her where she was going, what time she would be home, who she was going with, and if there would be any other men going with her. Kara felt like she was a teenager again, being questioned by her parents. Whenever she would stay out later than expected, Dan would go to the place where she was and embarrass her in front of all her friends.
The weekend of her cousin’s wedding, Kara bought a beautiful, expensive gown to wear that looked very flattering on her. She figured it was okay to show a little skin since Dan would be there right beside her. Although, when Dan saw the dress, he reacted a lot differently than Kara expected. He immediately told her to throw it out and when Kara refused to, Dan ripped it from her hands and broke the straps off and threw it in the garbage. Kara knew this was the last straw.
The next day, Kara called Dan and told him it was over. Dan was furious and would not accept the break up.
Kara figured he would calm down and get over it in the next couple of days, but this was not the case.
Kara moved into her parent’s home. Dan started showing up unannounced and demanding to see her, and would become hysterical when her parents would refuse his demands.
Then he started showing up at Kara’s place of work and harassing her to come and talk to him. Kara would give in since she didn’t want him to cause a scene in front of her co-workers. When they would talk, he would cry and try to make her feel guilty with threats of suicide. Kara had no idea what to do or what to say when he would do this. She didn’t want him to hurt himself, but she also knew she could not go back to him. Kara also noticed that his car would be everywhere she would be. She started to become scared of leaving her house.
That was the day she called us at West Niagara Second Stage. We informed her that stalking is illegal and Dan can be charged with Criminal Harassment.
With our help, Kara received counselling and created a safety plan for her and her family.
Dan was charged with criminal harassment and has had a restraining order to stay away from Kara.
This is what West Niagara Second Stage represents.
Criminal Harassment includes:
1. Repeatedly following the victim, or anyone known to them from place to place.
2. Repeatedly communicating directly or indirectly with victim ie. E-mail, text messaging, facebook, or through other people.
3. Watching a place where the victim or anyone known to them resides including work/home or another place where the victim happens to be.
Criminal Harassment: what you need to know, steps to take:
1. Give the stalker verbal or written warning (preferred). Be clear and concise that you need them to end all communication with you.
2. Do NOT return any communication in the future.
3. Collect evidence – text messages, emails, times & dates or incidences etc.
4. Call Police Station, speak to Domestic Violence team representatives. State you are fearful of your stalker.
West Niagara Second Stage Housing & Counselling (WNSS) is a non-profit charity that assists women and their children leaving abusive relationships. WNSS has four apartments within the community to assist with the transition of living a violence free life. WNSS also has outreach services for those women that do not seek immediate housing or on the waiting list.