Harassment victim cannot serve restraining order to homeless har - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Harassment victim cannot serve restraining order to homeless harasser

Until recently, all she had gotten were those phone calls and text messages, so she took no action. But within the last month, she says her harasser has started vandalizing areas he knows she visits with messages for her. (Source: WMBF News) Until recently, all she had gotten were those phone calls and text messages, so she took no action. But within the last month, she says her harasser has started vandalizing areas he knows she visits with messages for her. (Source: WMBF News)
Jeffrey Stephens allegedly vandalized areas where he suspected the victim would be. (Source: WMBF News. Victim's name blurred to protect her identity.) Jeffrey Stephens allegedly vandalized areas where he suspected the victim would be. (Source: WMBF News. Victim's name blurred to protect her identity.)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - An Horry County woman is in a legal battle for her very safety, she said. One night she received nearly 70 phone calls in addition to text messages and voice mails, according to police.

The victim has had trouble taking legal action against her harasser, though.

“I filled out the paperwork and was told I could not get a restraining order for a homeless person because I do not have a physical address for them,” the victim said.

Until recently, all she had gotten were those phone calls and text messages, so she took no action. But within the last month, she says her harasser has started vandalizing areas he knows she visits with messages for her.

That was the action that scared her into going to police for help. When she turned to the police, though, she says she felt like she was worse off than she was before.

“But if they went to serve him and he was not there, then my restraining order would be denied,” she said. “I would be charged a $55 fee, and if I did not pay that $55 fee, there would be a bench warrant out for my arrest.”

She says it’s entirely unfair to put the responsibility of finding her harasser on the shoulders of the victim. The entire process just to get help has been daunting for this woman. The stress is almost too much to bear, she said.

“It’s awful. It’s helpless. I never reported the numerous things he had said and messaged me before an incident where he destroyed property because I was afraid the police wouldn’t take it seriously,” she said.

This woman has not been able to go out in public alone for weeks, she said.

“I’m at a loss for words. I mean, it is, it is the most helpless I’ve ever felt. I feel like, I feel like I’m being treated like a criminal. Like I’m doing something wrong in fighting this,” she said.

Police reports name 58-year-old Jeffrey Stephens as the suspect in this case.

When Stephens and the victim worked together, Stephens was homeless, the victim said.

"I can’t even go to the store. Or go see a movie. I can’t go Christmas shopping,” she said. “I feel like a prisoner in my own home.”

Copyright WMBF News 2016. All rights reserved.

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