I met a cute guy at my neighborhood bar. We casually hung out a half dozen times over a couple of months, then amicably went separate ways. Or so I thought.

It started about three months after we “broke up” with a string of hot and cold emails. He said he missed me and could we hang out, and when I ignored those messages, they got hostile and threatening, like I better not be dating other people because that was “cheating” on him. This was the first red flag.

I replied only once, politely but firmly asking him to leave me alone and stop contacting me or I would have to block his email address. I then set up a filter to collect all of his emails into a separate folder, so I wouldn’t have to see them. JUST IN CASE. I also reached out to a police officer friend of a friend, who advised me to file a police report at my local station and request a temporary restraining order. The latter seemed a bit severe to me (the guy in question had never seemed dangerous and was graduate of a top university), but my officer friend assured me that it would only be temporary and was often a good way to scare some sense into a person. The emails had ceased since my one reply, so I held off and crossed my fingers.

Fast forward a few more months and this was all but forgotten. I went on plenty of dates with new suitors and maintained a healthy social life, not worrying about the other guy anymore. Then one day I received a large envelope in the mail with a very disturbing, delusional, handwritten letter as well as a very creepy children’s story (if you can call it that) with crude drawings to accompany it. Basically, it was a fantasy story depicting our future together and our children-to-be. Needless to say, I was very freaked out as was my roommate, whose mother was a psychiatric nurse and suggested the guy might be bipolar or schizophrenic (generally not dangerous but there are obviously exceptions). Unfortunately, I was leaving that same night for a work-trip to Asia, so I promised to file for the restraining order as soon as I returned.

I landed in Hong Kong to a series of hysterical voicemail messages from my roommate. Apparently things had escalated — he had left obviously fake eviction notices and threatening signs on the front of our house. My roommate immediately contacted the police, but they said they couldn’t help her until I was back to file the paperwork, so she went to stay with her sister.

After much drama and honestly not much assistance or sympathy from the police, I did get the temporary restraining order served and a court date to request a more permanent one. We didn’t hear a peep from him after that. He didn’t show up to the hearing, so the judge happily granted the three year restraining order. Success! We felt like we had scared him off and returned to our home after a few weeks of staying with friends.

That very night, around 2AM, our front door buzzer started going off over and over again and when we answered, it was him acting crazy. I immediately called the police, but when they showed up over 10 minutes later, he was nowhere to be found. They did discover illegal camping/squatting supplies in the vacant property next door. Had he been watching me? I pointed out that he was in violation of the restraining order, but the police shrugged and said unless he physically attacked me, there was not much they would do. “Next time try to get him to stick around until we get here.” Were they joking? I didn’t want to find out.

Scared for my safety and that of my roommate, I had to reset my whole life and home situation, regardless of time and money. Thousand of dollars (broken lease and unsympathetic landlord) and many tears later, I moved to a small apartment in a more mature, quiet neighborhood, got a P.O. Box and became very unlisted.

Thank goodness for the amazing support of my family, friends and company I worked for at the time. They helped me get through a very unexpected, scary situation, and unlike the sadly indifferent police department, agreed that I needed to put my own safety first.

It took me a while to try dating after that. I decided I couldn’t go out with “strangers” anymore — only friends of friends. Fortunately, less than a year later, I met my wonderful husband at a friend’s wedding and the rest is history.