Have any of you ever seen a voyeur? I have. Inspired from a true story.
I don’t know how many of you have ever seen a voyeur – for being stealthy is their trademark – but this experience freaked the living daylights out of me.
My roommates were both home, leaving me alone and bored in a mostly moved-in apartment. I called a friend over for a welcome distraction, which ended shortly after midnight. I moved back to my room, with my laptop, and went about doing whatever I was doing – seems my memory got wiped clean. Around 1A.M., I was ready to go sleep and still needed to change into my sleeping shirt. Assuming my blinds were closed, I pulled off my shirt, walked to my bed and unhooked my bra, about to put my shirt on when I saw a silver camera. There was a two inch gap, because I hadn’t realized my blinds were slanted. But someone else did.
My mind froze, but my instincts took over. I threw myself on the bed, my heart pounding and my thoughts racing: What the-- They saw me! … taking pictures!? … leave? What do I do!? While I fumbled to put on my shirt nearly horizontally, I heard a car leaving. By the time I was standing and looking through the blinds, quite frightened and in shock, the parking lot was empty. I could feel myself shaking, and I had to collect my thoughts. Turn on the computer, talk to someone—come on, faster! … talk to someone--
I log onto facebook and AIM, searching for my late night friends and screaming for advice as a very brief urge to cry overcomes me. Do I even call the cops? The guy’s long gone, but I’m still freaking out. Even though I won’t sleep tonight, I need them to reassure me and say they checked the area. So I call, and talk to a thorough dispatcher. Life has a way of changing your perspective on things, because had this happened in a movie, I would’ve noticed the offender’s sweater, or even get a glimpse of his face or skin tone. But this, no. All I saw was a silver camera, I didn’t even spot fingers! I was completely frozen in shock, and any kind of movement seemed unthinkable.
So I waited, retelling my story to different friends – all as horrified as I was – but I was still shaking. New thoughts emerged: What if he had taken pictures? The camera hadn’t “appeared” as far as I could tell, it had been held steadily. A soft knock about 20 minutes later jolted me out of my room, where I’d been confining myself, afraid that every noise was someone in the apartment. A young, short police officer was there and asked to come in. He inquired for information I couldn’t provide, details I hadn’t seen or registered in my terrified mind. I showed him the room and described what I remembered. How could I not have pushed up the blinds to see the guy’s face? I already knew there was no chance of him getting caught.
After he gave me all the information and left, I was alone once again, in a very empty – now scary – apartment. I went back online, my brain awakening quickly now that I’d gone through the story many times. I could set a trap, try to catch that sucker on camera. It was kind of thrilling, but scary, to see where my thoughts took me – a strange way of coping. I couldn’t take the picture by myself, I’d need a friend, or perhaps two, who could maybe wait on the patio and try to run after him. I couldn’t set the trap in my room either, but my roommate’s room might work. Red flags went up: Hold up, what if the trespasser was armed and someone got hurt? So maybe setting a trap isn’t the best idea, but at least it kept me occupied and stabilized my frantic mind.
I wasn’t about to sleep, but music, reading and TV shows would in no way stop my buzzing thoughts. Writing was the best option. Here, I can pause, rationalize, and analyze my reactions. I still don’t know if my reaction to duck and cover was “normal,” or if I’m freaking out too much or not enough. Why hadn’t I tried to see his face? I couldn’t think, and why would I want to? Could he have taken any pictures of me? Probably yes; a discomforting thought, but one I’d have to live with – small price to pay for future vigilance. The more I try to remember, the harder it is. And every time I look at the window, my stomach feels queasy. Long night ahead, plenty of time to look for curtains – which I had already planned on getting, this simply added urgency.
By 5A.M., my buddy lists were nearly devoid of people and I could feel my eyes stinging, begging for relief. I gave in to a friend’s advice, plugged in a night light and slowly crept in bed. I can’t get over the feeling of having my safe place violated, and all kinds of thoughts still swirled relentlessly in my paranoid mind. Needless to say, I had trouble falling asleep, staring at the corner where the camera had been. Every noise I heard sounded like him, even if it was just the wind shuffling leaves outside. I hugged my stuffed animal and wondered how my parents would react to the news. My mother will probably hint this was one of the reasons she didn’t want three girls living on the first floor. You’d think by now, I’d know to weigh motherly advice more carefully, as mothers are, after all, quite wise.