Dear Dartmouth, I am one of your students, I am being stalked, please let me carry a gun!

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Over the last four years, I have lived with the constant threat from a stalker – a stalker who is now in jail for the third time for violating a restraining order.

Every day I live with these questions: What if today is the day that my stalker posts bail? What if today is the day that he discovers my parents’ new address? What if I go to a lecture on campus and he shows up there?

I feel that I have no control over my life. My family was forced to move. I have had stay indoors, keep drapes closed, avoid posting on social media sites, and even change my car. It’s almost like being held hostage.

If schools and society can’t guarantee my safety and the safety of victims like me, it’s time we have the chance to defend ourselves so we can stop living in fear.

Should myself and other female victims just have to put up with this? The answer, hopefully, is “no.” Women must be able to defend themselves. The most effective way of doing this is by using a gun. When police arrive to enforce a restraining order, it is usually too late.

I have been living such a nightmare for over four years. I was 16 and working a café in San Diego when a 67-year-old man, Richard Bennett, came in the store for coffee. He kept coming back, staring at me for long periods of time, and trying to flirt. He then would sit outside the store for the entire day.

The nightmare soon got much worse. He followed me around outside of work, demanding to talk and saying that he was “trying to protect [me],” then he began bothering my friends, security had to remove him from scholarship pageants that I participated in, and he attempted to attack my then boyfriend in high school. I was forced to take out a restraining order.

Today, Richard Bennett is facing trial for yet another restraining order violation. In June of this year, I returned home to San Diego from Dartmouth College and early the very next morning, Bennett was at my door, wanting to talk.

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