“I only really realized how badly Linda was being persecuted when I unexpectedly visited her shortly before her death. The gate was locked and the shutters were down. This is crazy, I thought, because she should just be at home. I decided to close myself off in because I had her key. Linda was sitting in the living room and was shocked when she saw me. “Why don’t you let me know you’re coming,” she said indignantly.
“I knew she was being harassed, but in that moment I realized for the first time the fear she lived in all the time. She told how her ex J. jumped over the fence and knocked on her windows. He had sent her a picture of a gun, he threatened to kill her. I didn’t know what to say. She said she had already been to the police, had taken all precautions, so there was nothing I could advise her about. “I want to hear from you every day,” I said. “Even if it’s an app that tells you everything is okay.” She did that afterwards. Sometimes it was just a thumbs up, but then I knew enough. Until August 10, it was quiet.”
“Linda and I were very close from an early age. She was always cheerful and spontaneous and was ready for everyone. Her friends called her Sunshine and it really suited her. She was also sunshine in our house. When I was twelve and she was fourteen, our mother died in a traffic accident. The grief was enormous and Linda took care of me like a second mother. In any case, my father, older brother, Linda and I grew closer because of the loss of my mother. When Linda gave birth to a son at 24, I was thrilled to be an aunt. Even though she lived 75 kilometers away, we saw each other often.”
But when the relationship with my nephew’s father ended after a number of years, she decided to move closer to us again. I loved it! She was now a single mother of a small child and I tried to help her where I could. I was not only Aunt Suus, but also almost a second mother to my nephew. After Linda moved back, she met J. I liked for her that she had a new love in her life again. But after a year, she put an end to the relationship. J. was not feeling very well mentally, she told me.”
“His behavior became more and more erratic, where he could become violent. She had tried to help him, encouraged him to seek psychological help, offered to go to the doctor. That’s how she was, she was a nurse. But he refused her help and so she decided to end the relationship. It was crazy to hear all that, but she kept things to herself more often than not, she didn’t want others to worry about her. I was glad to hear that she chose to end the relationship. She would probably run into someone else again. With her blonde hair and wide smile, she had enough attention.”
“But J. would not accept that Linda would not continue with him. Then the stalking started. He visited her, called her and watched her all day. In the last weeks before she passed away, the stalking took increasingly extreme forms. Linda kept reporting, but nothing was done about it. Not even when she reported to the police that he had a firearm. We still don’t understand why nothing was done. “If anything happens to me, get out of here because he’s dangerous,” she told me after the day I showed up at her house unexpectedly.
He had told her: “I know where they live. I will kill you first, then your sister, then your father and your brother.’ It terrified me to hear her talk like that. She also made me promise that if anything happened to her, I would take care of her child. I promised. But you can’t fathom that something could really happen, you don’t want to think about it either. It was hard as an outsider to know what you could do to help.”
“A few days before she was killed, Linda wanted to meet my brother and me with her son and my brother’s daughter. We have never done anything else. We went to a big playground and had a few drinks together. It was a very pleasant day, although I noticed that she looked around regularly. A few days later it happened. Sometimes I think: did she unconsciously sense that it might happen, and therefore did she want to go out together again?
This Real Life is from Flair 3-2023. You can read the full story of Suzanne in Flair.