The weird thing about the future, is that thanks to social media we have friends that we’ve never met, but who’s lives have touched your own. Enter Amelia Devore the friends of, apparently, almost all my friends. Devore has been a fixture in the scene for a while now, so I’d seen her name pop up here and there, and connecting on FB I learned why: she’s on point, smart, and fun. It came as a concern to read that she has been the victim of stalking and terroristic threatening, surprising but likely the case that a lot of women can point to. After her most recent attack, where a window was broken out of her business as a hair dresser, her friends had enough and came together to donate to her financial recovery, as the repair costs have mounted over time. You can click here to help out, and read below about her harrowing experiences, the kind of thing that no one should ever have to endure. If you know of anyone facing a threatening relationship, offer to help.
Never Nervous: What can you tell us about your situation? How did your stalking begin and how has it escalated in the interim?
Amelia Devore: After what I initially thought a reasonably amicable breakup I was alerted to a post on social media of my ex bragging about getting good resale value for a nice pair of shoes I had inadvertently left behind. I thought it was pretty lame, because I really liked them and had assumed they’d just gotten misplaced after first vacating the few belongings I’d kept at his place and then moving to a different apartment in the building where I had been living at the time soon after. I did contact him about it, but I was ultimately just willing to chalk it up to a small price to pay to move on with my life.
A few months later I started experiencing online harassment. One of the highlights was having extremely explicit ads put up with my information (Name, phone #, photos), posing as me, in the casual encounters section of CraigsList in major metropolitan areas in the wee hours of the morning so that my phone would blow up with folks thinking they were taking me up on the offer (as an aside, when I alerted every single one of the hundreds of guys looking to hook up that this was a cruel prank, most apologized immediately and one guy offered to beat up the perpetrator, another asked for marital advice and one for a recommendation for a tattoo artist! It was kind of heartening, really)
There was enough of a paper trail to file a civil suit, but criminal charges for this kind of thing were elusive in Kentucky at that time, I’m not sure if the laws have caught up yet, but the local law enforcement definitely has not.
“These incidents are not close together. They occur as soon as I begin to breathe easily again. The police tell me to get a gun and call 911.”
I contacted an attorney and went through the long, slow process of civil justice. During this time there was a string of incidents which could be said to have reasonably corresponded with each milestone reached during the progress of my case. I have had property repeatedly vandalized, like two cars viciously keyed, one covered in profanity, every single panel of each car damaged. There have been threats like the time I found a ceramic skull bank with a butcher knife stuck in the coin slot on my porch (immediately bringing the horse head in the bed from the Godfather to mind…..). I had minors living in my house during part of this time and I felt unsure about the ability to keep all of us safe, I was doing a lot of traveling and my husband was working overseas. Even asking for a house sitter required a disclosure.
These incidents are not close together. They occur as soon as I begin to breathe easily again. The police tell me to get a gun and call 911. I have an envelope full of incident reposts, but no law enforcement action has been taken on anything. Despite winning a civil suit nearly 2 years ago, I have not seen a dime of restitution to help offset the costs of destruction (and therapy!)
And the behavior has not stopped.
NN: What does it mean to you to be a victim of stalking and terroristic threatening?
AD: While I have always felt sympathetic about domestic and partner violence, I have never really completely grasped how you can do all the right things and have it only escalate your situation or feel like a dead end. How deeply changed as a human you can become when you are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. How utterly terrifying the ice machine dumping a load of ice in the freezer can be until you realize it is just the fridge.
NN: Have you at any point along your journey felt or been made to feel that you in any way merited any of this?
AD: I kept pretty quiet about this for a long time in the beginning. I felt a kind of cultural pressure not to be seen as a litigious drama queen. I have always tried to be there for others in any kind of abusive or scary situation, but being on the receiving end of this kind of thing has been pretty eye-opening. I’m grateful to have a network of understanding and supportive people who have very evolved thoughts on this topic. Yes, I have had a couple of disappointing and despicable reactions, but a very tiny minority.
“I felt a kind of cultural pressure not to be seen as a litigious drama queen.”
NN: How does this affect your sense of safety or rather, how have you dealt with that loss of security?
AD: Initially I just beefed up security measures, tried to keep a stiff upper lip and hoped for the best, but as I have shared my experience I have found that being as public as possible is helping me feel safer. Clients and friends tell me that they make it a point to keep an eye out and even go out of their way to check on my shop or cruise my block late at night on the way home.
NN: Has it affected your business in any way?
AD: That would be tough to quantify. My clients are endlessly outraged on my behalf and supportive.
NN: Regarding the GoFundMe, how are you going to employ the funds? What do you hope as the outcome for your efforts?
AD: I’m looking to soften to blow of replacing everything destroyed or damaged that isn’t covered or eats the deductible and to upgrade security measures at the hair salon to hopefully deter or catch the culprit and achieve justice and peace of mind.
NN: To your mind, is this the product of toxic masculinity in our culture, or specific to the individual?
AD: Toxic masculinity in our culture deprives men especially of being able to seek help without being stigmatized or emasculated. Therapy, at its best, can help find coping skills for anger, frustration, and unrealistic emotions that are experienced when a person feel rejected or abandoned. In that respect I believe that personal issues become more catastrophic through the lens of our cultural attitudes.
NN: What advice do you have to anyone else in this situation?
“You don’t have to be alone.”
AD: For me personally, despite doing what I can with security, law enforcement, the court system and personal defense, I think that nothing can top having a broad network of people who care and are looking out for you. You don’t have to be alone.