Sally sat in the auditorium at a special event entitled, “Fear Controlled Me” listening to Anthea Marsden’s story shaking uncontrollably. Fear was a horrific tool that when yielded long enough worked well, turning your entire world upside down.
The story as related by Anthea Marsden was so eerily similar to her own, that as it unfolded, she realized she knew every emotion every thought as though she were giving the speech herself.
Sally wasn’t surprised when Anthea spoke of extreme exhaustion day and night until she lost the ability to form cohesive thought and how it became nearly impossible to function. She understood the woman second-guessing herself, every movement, every sound, everyone and their motives whether it was a kind gesture or even a smile. Anthea explained how she’d literally come to a point where she didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t and if you’d told her the moon was blue, she’d have believed it.
Anthea recounted how she and her husband had hired a construction firm to redo the attic and turn it into an escape for the teens to use as their music/entertainment area, leaving the rest of the house in peace for the adults.
Since her husband was away a great deal of the time on business trips, it fell to Anthea to oversee the construction work and she was happy to undertake the job. It was down to the tradesmen finishing the extra plumbing and electrical required and once they were done, they would move on with the owner of the company left to finish the job.
Anthea explained her mistake. She’d always been gregarious outgoing and generous. After making a pot of coffee, she’d offered a cup to the Harold Renfrew on several occasions thinking nothing of it since he’d been putting in long hours. He mistook her kind act as an invitation of some sort which she immediately and firmly explained was only a gesture of kindness, nothing more. Although he’d nodded and smiled before turning away, she wasn’t able to dismiss the look in his eyes or the odd smile he’d given her.
After that, she made sure she was never alone in the house with him, that a friend or family member was always present. Nothing more happened so she put it out of her mind.
Not long after the renovations were finished, she began receiving eerie emails then unexpected package on the doorstep. She’d dismissed the emails as a prank and thrown the ‘gifts’ in the garbage.
Then came a disturbing email that told her she was an ungrateful bitch, throwing something away that had been hand-picked with affection care and time, on her behalf. The emails took an even more menacing turn, indicating the individual knew where she lived, her routine, her boy’s routine, even knew when her husband was out of town and there was no escape. She was on high alert, looking over her shoulder.
Odd things began happening. For no apparent reason, the lights on the car would flash on and off, music would begin playing upstairs, the alarm on the car would go off, she’d find items moved around the house or worse yet, missing.
She was tormented daily with photos of herself or her family and their activities and always with accompanying threats about what could happen to any of them at any given time.
He told her he’d placed a bomb underneath her car and that if she wanted to go anywhere, she’d have to call him first so he could disconnect it. Paranoia ran rampant and she’d hustled outside after dark and shone a flashlight under the car, dragging herself from one end to the other looking for it.
Then the fateful day came when a man knocked on the door, she’d gone to see who it was, and he’d shouldered his way inside brandishing a gun. He held it to her head and told her to do exactly what he said. Hours went by as he ranted and raved.
Her husband was overseeing the introduction of a new branch of the company and had taken up temporary residence across the country. In order to keep her boys safe, she’d sent one off to live with him and the other went to university. She never told anyone even her husband how serious the situation had become, fearing for his or her son’s lives.
The culmination of events came late months later when the contractor showed up at her house, once again brandishing a gun. She’d put the car in reverse and sped backward onto the road as bullets pelted the car. Terrified, she’d raced for blocks, she wasn’t sure at that point how far she’d travelled, but she finally pulled the car to the side of the road and called 911 and told the dispatcher she’d been shot and was aware enough at that point to explain where she was.
She recalled an officer reaching inside and holding his hand on the bullet wound in her side. Vaguely aware of lights noise and movement around her, she was placed on a gurney and taken to hospital where around the clock guards had been placed until the gunman was apprehended.
Anthea explained that it was the fear of possibilities the threats against her family that had kept her stuck for so long. She advised other women, whether in a domestic situation or stalking situation, to tell someone else, particularly the police.
Sally walked up to her after the speech was done and said, “I know. I understand.”
Anthea knew from the look in the woman’s eyes that she was living a very real nightmare, one she’d barely escaped from with her life and wrapping her arms around the woman said, “Would you like to go to the police?”
The more she