#TalkingStalking | ‘His Acts Affected Me in Ways I Can’t Explain’

‘How did he get my address, I will never know!’

3 min read
The falling number of women in the workforce suggest how women have to fight several battles to step out of the house for work. 

I'm a computer engineering student at University of British Columbia, UBC. I'm an international student hailing from Mumbai. I did an internship in a reputed organisation. There I ran into another computer engineering student who was my junior, and who I had never met before.

He worked in a different department and we only ran into each other at lunch time. Whenever I met him during lunch, he would often make sexist, derogatory, and insulting remarks.

One day, having had dealt with enough sexism (as I'm always only one or few of the girls in a male-dominated field), I confronted him by asking if he knew the meaning of the word "needler", proceeding which I read it out and said it matches his behaviour.

He stood tall and in a legitimately intimidating way, said, “I’m bullying you”, and then talked about how his grades were stellar, as if that pardons his meanness.

Something in me snapped and I stopped going to the lunch room to avoid him and making a scene. I had been humiliated enough. I proceeded to perform excellently at my job, and my supervisor expressed to my co-op coordinator about how he would love to have me back after graduation.

Once I returned to complete my education at UBC, I got the shock of my life when I spotted this junior sitting outside my dorm on a regular basis.

I didn’t give him my address or my number, and I’m clueless as to how he gained this information. He sat next to the door that is the entrance to the tower where I was staying, so I had no choice but to pass him while he sat there.

I remember when I told the front desk people, the man at the time told me that I had no reason to get worried, whereas the women immediately understood my plight and told me that they'd keep a watch on him.

I even had to report this behaviour to the residence life manager. Either ways, the universe did me a favour and a huge poster on consent was hung on the wall, right in front of where that person used to sit.

He stopped coming eventually, but it affected me in ways I can’t really communicate. You feel horrified and shocked that someone can be capable of taking such steps to intimidate you.

I understood his intention was to apologise for his prior behaviour towards me but bulldozing someone into accepting apology by showing up at their dorm room –uninvited – was just the limit. I didn't feel like it was a conducive atmosphere to make peace or deal with a situation as I was shell shocked to find that he felt the need to ambush me like that.

I put so much energy into maintaining a strong face because I was absolutely sure about the fact that I could not let him have the upper hand by showing my fear, or just the sheer shock honestly that it affected me deeply in other parts of my life, like my schoolwork and just the general activities I indulged in. It made me feel very conscious, very naked and exposed. Moreover, it made me feel violated emotionally and mentally, even though I never actually touched this person.

This can happen to any woman, irrespective of how beautiful or intelligent she is deemed by society. Honestly people need to wake up and realise this is not acceptable. This shouldn't be normal or expected to deal with. I can talk about it more freely now, but for months, I still carried that deep seated fear.

I'm not ashamed of anything that went downhill after my interactions with that person because It was tough for me and I got myself through a difficult situation stronger and better. I guess I just empathise with anyone who's been through something like this.

(#TalkingStalking: Have you ever been stalked? Share your experience with The Quint and inspire others to shatter the silence surrounding stalking. Send your stories to editor@thequint.com or WhatsApp @ +919999008335.)

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