Living with a limb loss would be a lot easier if I didn't have to contend with aggressive devotees. I find myself constantly looking over my shoulder when I am out alone, worried that I am being followed or stalked by somebody attracted to what is perceived as my weakness: my amputation. Over the years I've had several experiences of being trailed through stores, verbally compromised, and photographed without my permission. I have to say, not much surprises me anymore when dealing with this seedy population!
A few nights ago while I was trying to get Robby wound down and ready for bed, our home phone rang. Instinctively I looked at the caller ID and, not recognizing the number, proceeded to answer the phone. That was my first mistake of the evening.
The caller, a deep voiced man, asked to speak with Peggy. He claimed to working on a project surveying amputees across the country. Immediately my suspicions were aroused. Where did he receive my name, and how did he know if I were an amputee?
When I asked these questions, the man began to stammer. He finally said that he was a telemarketer who was just given the list, and that it probably came from the white pages. I knew he was lying. I am not that naive!
My second mistake of the evening was not hanging up the phone immediately. At first the inquiries were basic and did not seem extraordinary. I began to relax, thinking that I was being a worrywart.
My comfort did not last long. The caller began to pepper me with a series of highly inappropriate questions. After asking me to take my leg off (I did not comply) he asked me to describe what my "tender sexy stump" felt like. I heard him say, "I sure would love to smell and lick that beautiful bony stump" as I hung up. The one downside of cordless phones- slamming down the receiver loses its impact!
The confrontation shook me, and I was uneasy for the rest of the night. This man, this perverted and pathetic person, knew that I was an amputee and he knew my phone number. Thoughts of him coming to the house kept me awake. I finally drifted off to sleep after I found my crutch and put it next to the bed- just in case I needed a weapon. In the morning I stopped by the police station, providing them with a detailed account of the call and the number that was displayed on the caller ID.
Living with a limb loss has left me with a vulnerability that I detest. Statistically, I have a higher chance of being assaulted because I am an easier target. I know that I can't run away as quickly if I am confronted. This experience has forced me to reflect on increasing my own levels of defense. I'm going to make some phone calls this morning and sign up for a self-defense class. I hope that I never need the skills, but I will rest better knowing that I am competent protecting myself. I can't live "hoping" that nothing bad happens anymore.