A Massachusetts woman who has been been dealing with a stalker who has assaulted her three times in the last year has taken matters into her own hands by creating and posting a sketch of her stalker on her Facebook page.
In an interview with The Daily Dot, 29-year-old Lyndsey Aho explained that since she moved to Marlborough, Massachusetts from Michigan, she has been assaulted three times by the same man near her apartment complex.
According to Aho, the man grabbed her crotch the first time before offering her money for sex.
“I was walking on a path, so I kind of stumbled, and he grabbed me to steady me. But he grabbed me by the shoulder and by the crotch,” she told news station WMCT. “And I thought that maybe it was just an accident, but then he offered me money for sexual favors, and then he grabbed my crotch again.”
After her third encounter with the man, Aho realized that he must be stalking her, saying, “[That] terrified me, because the two times he attacked me before then, it kind of seemed opportunistic, but then it was obvious that he must actually be following/watching me.”
Believing that the man might be living in her apartment complex, she turned to the police, but they were of little help.
“[The police] kept telling me to try to get a picture of him, which a) is a little hard to do when you’re being attacked, and b) is pretty much pointless when you have a phone that is one step up from a flip phone,” she stated.
Unhappy with the police who were less than helpful, Aho turned to the Internet where she discovered a police sketch generator that allowed her to create an image of her attacker before posting it to her Facebook page, encouraging social media sleuths to lend a hand.
“I sent it to the detective working on my case and also shared it on Facebook,” Aho detailed. “I hadn’t heard of anyone doing that before, but obviously we’re all aware of the reaches of social media, and it at least made me feel like I was taking control of the situation to some degree.”
From there, Leo DeSouza — who is Aho’s boss at a local restaurant — reposted the picture on the restaurant’s Facebook page, plainly stating that harassment of women on the street is a serious issue.
“I figured we should spread the news and the picture outside our circle, and hopefully this person will get caught,” DeSouza explained. “[Street harassment is] a real issue. It happens to women everywhere, and at times they feel embarrassed, shy, and guilty about what happens. But I think it should be the opposite.”
Since that time, the post and picture have gone viral, picking up over 50,000 views.
Police were unaware that Aho took matters into her own hands, saying they wish she had let them do the police sketch, but admitted that it had led to some leads.
“It might be best if she had let us create the sketch; there are artists that we can contact,” said Marlborough Police Lt. David Giorgi. “But it’s not hurting the case, I don’t think. It’s generated some calls. I understand why she did it.”
According to Aho, since publicly acknowledging that she is the victim of a stalker, she has received support from the community including offers to escort her home at night from her job.
“I’ve gotten a lot of support and some decent leads, which is 1000x more than I had before I turned to social media,” Aho explained.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Aho said she has not seen her assailant in the past month.
Watch an interview with Aho below from WMCT: